HC Deb 03 May 1883 vol 278 cc1725-825

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [23rd April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

And which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Sir R. Assheton Cross.)

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


Mr. Speaker, before the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) re-opens the debate, I crave permission to—[Cries of "Order!"]


Order, order!

MR. M'Coan

at once resumed his seat.


Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments upon a matter which is somewhat personal to myself; but I think the House will at once see that it bears upon the question of this Oaths Bill, and is a matter strictly connected with the Resolution of the House, whereby the House permitted Mr. Bradlaugh to sit for some time, subject to any liability by Statute. I suppose that no Member of this House has for so many years been so much occupied by questions relating to the Parliamentary Oaths as the Member who now addresses you. For 11 years I served as Whipper-in upon this question under the late Lord Derby; and I can assure the House that, when allusions are made to that noble Lord having at last consented to the Bill for enabling Jews to take seats in this House, he always maintained the objection which induced him for 11 years actively to oppose that measure. His objection to the admission of Jews, to use his own terse language, was comprised in these words— If you set the door of the House ajar for the admission of the Jew, the day must come when the Atheist will make his rush. I think this, coining, under existing circumstances, from a competent witness, is sufficient to vindicate every Member who opposed the Jew Bill and the introduction of Jews into this House, because that measure half-opened the door for the admission of avowed Atheists. I am now about to mention another cir- cumstance connected with myself. When the Resolution of the House, the Resolution of the 1st of July, 1880, was adopted, I feared that there would be no one to give effect to the last words of the Resolution—"subject to any liability by Statute." In order to test the question whether the fact of Mr. Bradlaugh sitting in this House subjected him to any liability by Statute, I took a certain course. I can assure the House that I was very unwilling to appear to take upon myself any function that the House had not directly assigned to me as one of its Members, knowing the jealousy, the just jealousy, with which this House regards any Member who appears to arrogate to himself a commission from the House for any purpose whatever without direct authorization from the House. I pursued the course which I was recommended to pursue by the late Lord Chelmsford, when the late Sir David Salomons had, in order to test the law, taken his seat in this House without taking the Oaths as then prescribed by law. The late Lord Chelmsford warned me that, connected as I was with Lord Derby, I must not take the matter on my own shoulders, but that I must find someone else who was willing to test, in the Courts, the question which had arisen in the case of the then Mr. Alderman Salomons. That was a most peculiar case. The person who ought to have issued the Writ was eight minutes late, and a collusive action had precedence. The present Lord Bramwell was the counsel retained on one side, and the person who brought the collusive action was named Miller, who retained Mr. Channell. A communication was made to Mr. Channell, afterwards Baron Channell; and although I do not know what passed, I received an assurance from Mr. Bramwell that Mr. Channell would throw up his brief unless the whole of the pleadings -were subjected to his control. By that means, Miller, who might have been a collusive suitor, became an actual suitor. The case was fairly brought before the Court, and a decision was given upon it, to the effect that, until the law was altered, Sir David Salomons had no right to sit in the House and vote, and could not do so without subjecting himself to a penalty of £500. In that case the penalty was imposed and paid. I know this from Sir David Salomons himself, for I was afterwards acquainted with him, and I told him what was the motive of Lord Derby's opposition to the admission of Jews to seats in this House. Sir David Salomons told me at once—"You need not fear that the Jews will vote for the admission of any Atheist;" and the con-duet of the great majority of the Jewish Members of this House has verified Sir David Salomon's assurance. The great majority of the Jews have voted steadily, and one has spoken eloquently, against the admission of Atheists to this House. I come now to the question before the House. I am one of the oldest Members of this House, and I have throughout endeavoured to support and to enforce the law. Nevertheless, it has pleased Lord Coleridge to state from the Bench that my conduct has been legally immoral and bad. That is a serious imputation upon an old Member of this House. I say nothing of the penalty which accompanies the decisions of that noble Lord and that of the Lord Chancellor, and to which I have become subject. 3jet not the House imagine that Mr. Bradlaugh is any longer a victim in a pecuniary sense; the whole burden has been shifted to the shoulders of the humble Member who is now addressing you. If, therefore, Mr. Bradlaugh poses before the Members of this House in the attitude of an ill-used victim, I trust you will relieve your feelings by the assurance I give you that it is not Mr. Bradlaugh, but the Member for North Warwickshire, who is to bear the whole burden—that is, if Lord Coleridge's decision stands. I do not say that this will be so; but I say that his dicta and judgment stand in a very peculiar position. Let me remind the House of the course which has been pursued in the Courts of Law. On July the 22nd, 1881, finding that Clarke, the plaintiff, shrank from meeting the combination of which Mr. Bradlaugh is the representative and the head, because, in a pecuniary sense, he had to meet a conspiracy and not an individual, I acknowledged in the Court of Queen's Bench that I had given Clarke an assurance that I and others would support him under those circumstances. Did Mr. Justice Grove, who heard that admission from me in evidence, say one word reflecting on my conduct? Did the jury think I was guilty? Not in the least. The jury gave a verdict in favour of Clarke. Again, on the 20th of September, I and my solicitor were summoned by Mr. Brad-laugh before the magistrate at Bow Street on a "criminal charge of maintenance." Mr. Bradlaugh was heard. He admitted that actions which followed the action of Clarke were collusive. He admitted that he had received large sums of money—he would not state the amount—by subscription and otherwise, more than £2,000; and then he accused me of "maintenance." He desired to prosecute me criminally for maintenance, and the magistrate simply dismissed the case. Then, again, on the 23rd of February, 1882, Mr. Clarke, owing to the complicated intricacies of Mr. Bradlaugh's proceedings in the Courts, was obliged to apply to the Court of Appeal, where the whole case was reviewed by Lord Chief Justice Brett, Lord Justice Cotton, and Lord Justice Holker. They held the whole proceedings and decisions of the inferior Courts to be good against the assumed legality of Mr. Bradlaugh's having sat in this House, and adjudged him liable to the penalty. The judgment was entirely in the same sense as the judgment of the Court in the case of Miller against Salomons; and against that decision there has not been a whisper of appeal, and not a word was said by the learned Judges reflecting upon my conduct. I hope the House will believe that on finding myself forced into action, because others would not act, I pursued the course I have described in order to vindicate in the Courts the legality of the decision of the majority of this House. Then came the question of the payment of the penalty—the payment of the penalty of £500, for I sought but one penalty—or, rather, Mr. Clarke and I sought but one penalty—and I was particular that it should be the first penalty incurred, because I feared the interposition of collusive actions, and because I had no wish to follow the first penalty of £500 up by seeking cumulative penalties in the sense of persecution. I merely wanted the means of vindicating the majority of the House—of vindicating its opinion, as justified by law, that Mr. Bradlaugh had no legal right to sit or vote in this House. That matter went to the House of Lords, and the Lord Chancellor, with whom I served during the whole period that he sat in this House, and who was the author of the Bill of 1866—the Oaths Bill under which this case has arisen. Surely, Sir, so eminent a lawyer as Sir Roundell Palmer, when he was Attorney General, ought to have known the meaning of the Act he drew. Why did he, when Lord Chancellor, leave all his Colleagues on the Bench in ignorance? At this moment he has failed to convince Lord Blackburn that his interpretation of his own Act is good. The Lord Chancellor seems to have suddenly discovered that, by the omission of certain words from the Oaths Act of 1866, which had stood in the previous Statutes under which we took the Oaths, the whole process of exacting penalties from elected Members who may thrust themselves upon the House to sit and vote, without being duly qualified by having taken the Oaths, had been changed. How came it that Lord Selborne never intimated this opinion to any of his Colleagues? Why did he leave the Lords Justices of Appeal in ignorance of it? Why was this never publicly announced until the 9th of last month? Why was it kept secret? How could a humble layman like myself be supposed to be cognizant of an interpretation of which none of the Judges I have named were aware? And then Lord Coleridge says my conduct is legally discreditable, because I did not know more than the Judges, because I was not more acute than the Court of Appeal, more learned than Lords Blackburn and Bramwell; and because I did not make this wonderful discovery, which the Lord Chancellor has made at last, and induced the House of Lords to adopt, Lord Coleridge thinks fit to say that my conduct in this matter has been legally immoral and bad. This, Sir, induces me to take a glance at the origin of the Oath which we have all taken. I was opposed, in 1866, to the adoption of the Bill then introduced, in which the present curtailed Oath was first formulated. A very singular circumstance happened in connection with the passing of that Bill through the House. It was announced in the Queen's Speech and instantly introduced. When I arrived in London after the Recess to attend the Session of 1866, I was informed that Mr. Disraeli, afterwards Lord Beaconsfield, then the Leader of the Conservative Party in this House, had agreed with Her Majesty's Government, of whom the pre- sent First Lord of the Treasury was one, that the Bill of 1866 should not be contested on the second reading—that its principle should be adopted. I never was more astonished in my life, and I may say that Lord Cairns, then Mr. Cairns, was equally astonished; I believe that Mr. Disraeli was, in some degree, surprised himself. He did not expect that the Government of which the present Prime Minister was Chancellor of the Exchequer would propose to the House, instead of the three Oaths which existed previously, a single Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty personally, and nothing more. Mr. Disraeli did not expect, I believe, such a proposal as that; but that was the proposal made by the then Government. That was the Oath drawn by the present Lord Chancellor for the acceptance of this House—an Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty personally, and nothing more. Why, Sir, that proposal agrees with the proposal of Mr. Bradlaugh in his pamphlet entitled An Impeachment of the House of Brunswick, which has gone through eight editions, and than which nothing more calumnious in regard to the Royal Family, dead and living, I ever read. Mr. Bradlaugh is the avowed proprietor and editor of The National Reformer. That paper avows its principles from week to week as Republican, as Atheistic, and as Malthusian. I say nothing at present as to the Atheism and the Republicanism of that paper. So long as it escapes the Law of Blasphemy it is legal. It has run the Law of Blasphemy very close; but, as yet, it has escaped that pitfall. But when that paper, disseminating the morally-corrupt principles which it does, claims to be Malthusian, I wish to say that I knew Dr. Malthus in early life, for he was the friend of Dr. Otter, my father's tutor and mine, who, at my father's death, when ho was Principal of Ring's College, took me as his pupil. When I was with him I was occasionally in the company of Dr. Malthus, and I have heard the late Bishop of Chichester and Dr. Malthus in friendly converse on various subjects, and I was often the sole witness of what passed; and I can assure the House that there never.was a more scurrilous calumny upon the principles and upon the character of Dr. Malthus than is perpetrated by attaching his name to a newspaper con- ducted on the immoral principles of The National Reformer, the paper, which patronized the circulation of that book, The Fruits of Philosophy, for the publication of which, as obscene, Mr. Bradlaugh was convicted—an imprisonment for which he only escaped by a technicality—that corrupt publication, which circulates still to the detriment of the morals of the lower classes. I thank the House, Sir, for the patience with which it hears me; and I hope that I have proved that, if my conduct does not deserve to be termed "immoral" and "bad," Lord Coleridge must devise some means of relieving his brother Judges and the Courts from participation in that imputation, since they knew for more than a year what my conduct had been — from my evidence they knew that I was supporting Mr. Clarke, as opposed to the combination of Mr. Bradlaugh, How can those Judges escape Lord Coleridge's imputation directed against myself, when he says that my conduct was immoral? I can appeal from that judgment. But, Sir, are not these proceedings somewhat typical of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government? The Lord Chancellor has astonished the world by the announcement that the claims to test the pretensions of persons elected to sit in this House are no longer to be treated as a matter of public right—that the penalty is not to be recovered by the public, but by the Crown. [Cries of "Question!"] It is the Question. And what do I find on the part of the Ministers of the Crown? I feared they would not act—I did not know who would act—and that was the cause of my intervention by costly efforts, though I do not grudge the cost. But supposing the law had been earlier declared, according to the construction of Lord Selborne and the House of Lords, and any person—Mr. Bradlaugh, for instance—had sat in this House without taking the Oath. Whore would have been the action of the Crown? But a few days since I asked the First Lord of the Treasury in this House, after the Lord Chancellor had declared that it was competent to no subject to proceed, or according to the ten our of the ancient law to impugn the right of any of the would-be Representatives of the people to sit here, as though privileged to omit accepting the obligations binding on all other Members. When that was de- clared—when the Lord Chancellor had made no attempt to impugn the fact that the penalty was due—I asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether he would direct the Attorney General to proceed? The House remembers the answer. It was—-"No; certainly not in Mr. Bradlaugh's case." In any future case, perhaps; but not in the case against Mr. Bladlaugh, which, through all the processes of the law, had been shown to be valid. Why not in Mr. Bradlaugh's case? Does not this savour of favouritism? I have not heard a whisper from the Treasury Bench in justification of this favouritism; but I have heard from the First Lord of the Treasury, at the commencement of his eloquent speech last week, the declaration—"I will not attempt to justify the Lord Chancellor." Yet the right lion Gentleman is bound to justify himself. Why is it that he has failed to direct the Attorney General to take up the prosecution against Mr. Bradlaugh for a liability, now confessed, and undisputed? This matter leads to another—the Crown, by the decision of the Lord Chancellor, has obtained the control of the law in this matter. Being an old-fashioned Member, I have looked at the two first clauses of the Bill of Bights, and, with the permission of the House, I will read these clauses; for the constituents of North Warwickshire, Radicals and Conservatives, have trusted me 40 years, because they knew that, cost what it might to myself, I never yet have sacrificed or submitted without a struggle to the sacrifice of any of their rights. The 1st clause of the Bill of Bights—the first and second of William and Mary, 1689—is as follows:— That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of the laws by Regal authority without the consent of Parliament is illegal. And the 2nd clause is to the same effect, but stronger— That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by Regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal. That has reference to the then immediate past; while the 1st clause simply declares suspension of the law, and of the execution thereof without the consent of Parliament, to be illegal. And now the Government have grasped the execution of the law in Mr. Bradlaugh's case, and declare, through the Prime Minister, that they will make an exception in his favour—that they will suspend in his case the law, which they own ought to be applied to every person similarly seeking to become a Member of this House. Is there not some connection between the policy of Her Majesty's Government and the teaching of Mr. Bradlaugh? Remember Sir Roundell Palmer's Bill in 1866; that Bill proposed a personal Oath of Allegiance, and nothing further; and when you look at Mr. Bradlaugh's pamphlet, The Impeachment of the House of Brunswick, is it not reasonable to conclude that there is some approximation in means, if not in objects, between Her Majesty's Government and Mr. Bradlaugh, the Atheist and Republican, when the Ministers of the Crown propose fundamentally to alter the law, so as, for the first time, to admit avowed Atheists? And here I would ask of the Attorney General whether I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman rightly? He said that before the Reign of Elizabeth there was no Oath of Allegiance recognizing the spiritual authority of the Crown.


For Parliamentary purposes.


For Parliamentary purposes. Perhaps he has heard of Mr. Allen's work on the Prerogative as an authority; and Mr. Allen in his learned work declares that from Saxon times every subject of Her Majesty was, after the age of 12 years, called upon to take the Oath of Allegiance in the Courts Leet and Sheriff's Tourns. Has the Attorney General ever heard of the cases of Caudrey and Lalor, preserved by Sir Edward Coke? He pretends to tell us that there was not in the Crown a spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. But since the Conquest, the preservation of the independent authority in the Crown was a perpetual subject of difference between the Roman Catholic Kings of England and encroaching Popes. And yet the Attorney General desires to impress upon the House that the national acknowledgment of the spiritual and ecclesiastical supremacy of the Crown originated with Queen Elizabeth. I beg to refer him to the cases of Caudrey and of Lalor, which were preserved by Sir Edward Coke, and to quote the language of Sir John Davies, in prosecuting Lalor, who, without consent of the Crown, had assumed the position of Vicar General in Ireland. Sir John Davies, the Attorney General, said— Now, Master Lalor, what think you of these things f Did you believe that such laws as these had been made against the Pope two hundred, two hundred-and-fifty, three hundred years since? He had recited these laws, all proving the spiritual and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Crown, from the Conquest— Did you believe that such laws as these had been made against the Pope on his usurpation? Was Henry VIII. the first Prince that opposed the Pope's usurped authority? Were our Protestants the first subjects that ever complained of the Court of Rome P Of what religion, think you, were the propounders and enactors of these laws? Were they good Catholics, or good subjects, or what were they? You will not say they were Protestants before the Reformation, for you will not admit the Reformed religion to be so ancient as those times. But, Sir, I will not weary the House by attempting to recite the historical details given by Sir John Davies in that memorable case, the record of which Lord Coke preserved, and which is to be found in the library of the Inner Temple, if the Attorney General has not seen it. At all events, I hope this may induce the Prime Minister to qualify his assertion that the country never recognized the ecclesiastical and spiritual authority of the Crown before the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. See, then, what an ancient English feeling we should violate, if we, for the first time, were to adopt the principles of the Commune of Paris, and to admit avowed Atheists to legislate for this Christian country! The Prime Minister said that he was impressed with the strength of feeling manifested by the Petitions which have been presented against this Bill. Was he favourably impressed by that exhibition of the attachment of the people of this country—their ancient attachment—to the preservation of Christianity and Christian morality as the basis of their laws? No. The Prime Minister, looking across the House, said —in other words—"The people are not to be trusted on the subject. It is the duty of the Leaders of this House in Parliament to combine to thwart that bigoted exhibition." He spoke, I suppose, as the organ of Mr. Bradlaugh— that popular devotee. In Paris they know that there is no such tyrant as the Commune, when once enabled to grasp the supreme power. Heine, the great German author, wrote to the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, a German paper, in 1841; and he informed his fellow-countrymen that they must beware of the Commune, for that the Commune was Atheist. Atheism lay at the root of the action of the Parisian Commune. How did these Atheistic Communists conduct themselves when Louis Philippe was dethroned? What tyranny and violence there was! How did they conduct themselves towards Louis Napoleon? They forced him to the coup d'état, and to slaughter them by thousands, so that he might restore order. M. Thiers denounced Napoleon III. for thus protecting Paris—he could not believe that these Atheists were such unappeasable tyrants. But we have all witnessed this—that when, in the last difficulties of France, M. Thiers himself undertook to organize the Republic, he found the Atheist Commune as deadly enemies to the restoration of social and political order as Napoleon III. had done; and he could not restore peace and order without resorting to violence, and spilling the blood of those unhappy elements of disorder in the streets. Is this the element which lion. Members desire to introduce into the Parliament of England? And when the people of England, in hundreds of thousands, pray that Parliament will not consent, the Prime Minister proposes a combination of Leaders to put down that exhibition—as I suppose he thought it—of senseless bigotry? Think you that the people of England know nothing of what goes on in Prance? Think you that the fact that M. Thiers, who denounced Napoleon III. for using violence against these Atheists, was then himself obliged to use as much, if not more, violence than his Predecessor in the attempt to restore society and Government is now unremembered? Sir, I think that these Petitioners deserve some gentler treatment at the hands of the Prime Minister. He should, in the height of his philosophy—his philosophical policy—remember the Book out of which these thousands and hundreds of thousands have been taught. They have been taught to receive as the truth—as primary truth—the saying of the inspired poet—"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God!" They learn from the Book of Job— But where shall wisdom he found? and where is the place of understanding? It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. Whence, then, cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? God understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof. And unto man He said, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. That is the teaching of the Old Testament; you expect the Jews to vote for the Atheists, and you are disappointed. What is the teaching of the New Testament? Our Saviour, according to St. Matthew, said.— Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. At present our laws are based upon the laws of God, and our laws govern the Rules of this House. We all acknowledge with the Jews the first dispensation, and from day to day we are employed in enforcing the morality of the Second Table according to the light which it has pleased God to give us. But we are not such fools as to pretend that this sublime morality can be derived from any other than the Almighty. You ask us to admit a man who is a propagator of blasphemy, scorning the Almighty and all His teachings. Can we be deaf to these Petitioners, who know from their Bibles, who know from the traditions of their country, that their fathers and fathers' fathers have always looked to the God of the Bible for all good? We ought, surely, to shrink from exalting and placing in exceptional positions those who go about the country to defame religion, as this man has done—Mr. Bradlaugh, the pretending Member for Northampton. I thank the House sincerely for having allowed me to say these few words. But this I know—that I should have been wanting to those who have trusted me for the last 40 years, if I had not said thus much; and, please God, inculpated as I may be by philosophical and political lawyers, I never will fail in this respect. I have been often separated from the Roman Catholics near whom I now sit j but I rejoice that resistance to this irreligious attempt has formed a bond of union between myself and the Roman Catholic Members of this House. I thank the House cordially for having made allowance for the peculiar position in which I stand with respect to this matter.


said, he was quite sure that, whatever difference of opinion there might be in the House with regard to the question under discussion, there would be no difference of opinion as regarded the perfect honesty and good faith of the hon. Member who had just sat down. He was equally sure that, whatever decision had recently been given with regard to the hon. Member's legal liability in respect of the proceedings he had taken, there was nobody present who believed that in those proceedings he had been actuated otherwise than by an imperative sense of duty. At the same time, a good deal that they had heard from the hon. Member had very little bearing on the question that the House had to determine. The point that they had to consider was, whether the law, as it at present stood, was satisfactory; whether the proposed change would be a wise and a right one? Now, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) challenged them to show in what possible contingency this Bill could apply, except in the case of Mr. Bradlaugh. He (the Solicitor General) was prepared at once to meet that challenge. He did not deny that the measure had arisen for the consideration of the House out of the circumstances connected with Mr. Bradlaugh's election; but when it was suggested that there were no other cases he denied the proposition. The Bill would meet a class of cases which his hon. and learned Friend opposite would, he believed, be desirous to have met. Because, how did the law stand at present as recently declared? It was settled that the only persons who could come to the Table and affirm and claim exemption from taking the Oath were Quakers, ex-Quakers, Separatists, and Moravians. Now, there were a class in this country who had objections just as strong as the Quaker, the Separatist, or the Moravian to taking the Oath—a class more numerous than either Separatists or Moravians. The law had not thought them unworthy of attention. It had interfered by legislative enactment on three several occasions—in 1854, in 1861, and again in 1865, and had relieved them from disability in Courts of Justice, and enabled them to affirm. But as regarded admission to that House the law still remained the same; and those persons would be excluded, if elected as Members of the House, on account of their objection to taking the Oath. He had reason to believe that in the case of a Member actually elected to this present Parliament, it was a matter of very serious and grave doubt and hesitation to him whether he could properly take the Oath at the Table. He had answered the challenge of the hon. and learned Member for Launceston. The truth was, the present law did not exclude, and would not exclude, the Atheist, whom they do-sired to prevent entering; and did exclude, and would exclude, a class of persons whose presence they would willingly welcome. It was all very well to say that this Bill was one totally different from that relating to the political emancipation of the Jews and Roman Catholics. But that was not the view taken by a great many of those who urged opposition to the Bill. Hon. Members were favoured with a great many communications, pamphlets, and resolutions of societies, giving them reasons why they should oppose this Bill. One of the reasons given—[Mr. WARTON: By what society?]—the particular society mattered nothing to the argument. One of the reasons given was this— If men are suffered to enter Parliament, and take part in legislation, who deny that they are Christians, even though it were only one man, the whole standard of the Legislative Body is altered to the provision of that one man. It was obvious that the person who penned that would be equally desirous, if he could, to prevent the entrance of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry de Worms) into the House as the entrance of the individual against whom the declaration was directed. He would read one other communication which had reached him, urging reasons for opposing the Bill— We began with a lie, a huge political lie, called Roman Catholic Emancipation—properly called a power given to an alien and enemy to make laws for British subjects. Have we, with eyes wide awake, to read God's lesson in history and in the Bible, and come to the year 1883 without learning that Atheism is Popery run to seed for murderous anarchy? Was it not obvious that the writer of that would get rid of every Roman Catholic in that House, and that he only regarded that Bill as one further vicious development of the great principle which began with Roman Catholic Emancipation?


Who is it?


It matters nothing, but—


It matters everything. ["Order!"]


said, it mattered nothing to the argument, but showed that there were still in their midst persons— and, perhaps, they were more numerous than was supposed—in whom the old principles of intolerance still lived; and, perhaps, they needed but a little encouragement to be renewed again to active life. A distinction was drawn again between the toleration of all religious belief and the toleration of no religious belief at all. An hon. Member had illustrated the argument by saying that they would tolerate every difference of dress, but they would not tolerate a man coming to the Table with no dress at all. Would the hon. Member be prepared to abide by his argument? They would tolerate, then, every kind and amount of dress in which a man might come to the Table. He might come clothed only in a hat, and they would admit him, and they would only draw the line where he came in undressed altogether. It seemed to him, to adopt their own illustration, that there were forms of religious undress just as appalling and dangerous as naked unbelief. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill"), who held forth learnedly upon the law, had told them that open and notorious Atheism was, even at Common Law, a disqualification for holding any office. He had himself searched in vain for any authority for that proposition. He could not help thinking that the noble Lord's law must be the creature of his own imagination; and when the noble Lord began to evolve the Common Law of England out of his own inner consciousness, the Common Law of England was in some little danger. The noble Lord had said that a part of the Common Law was incorporated in a Statute of William III., and that this was a Statute against open and notorious Atheists, who, it was adjudged, had no right to hold office. But he (the Solicitor General) had taken the trouble to consult the Statute, and found that the noble Lord had adopted an entirely original mode of interpreting it. He had turned the Preamble into the enactment, but left out the enacting part of the Statute altogether, and he tacked the penalty on to the enactment he had so created. The reason was obvious, because the Preamble was framed in very wide and general terms, and seemed to bear out the noble Lord's proposition. This Statute applied only to persons who had been educated or at any time had made profession of the Christian religion; it was confined to them, and it did not apply at all to a man who had always been an Atheist, and had been brought up as such.


Mr. Bradlaugh was brought up in the Christian religion, for at one time he was a Sunday school teacher.


said, that the noble Lord appeared to be much better acquainted with Mr. Bradlaugh's history than he was. The noble Lord's proposition, however, was not limited to Mr. Bradlaugh, but was general. What made the penalty by the Statute? The words wore— If any such person shall deny any one of the Persona of the Holy Trinity to he God, or shall assert that there are more Gods than one, or shall deny the Christian religion to he true, or the Holy Scriptures (the Old and New Testaments) to be of Divine authority. It was obvious that this was not directed against Atheists, and, as a matter of fact, the Statute was directed against Unitarians, but had been practically repealed by the repeal of the provision which prohibited the teaching of any doctrine against the Trinity. But, supposing the noble Lord had established the penalty of disqualification from any civil office upon conviction for such teaching, how would he have proved that that was the Common Law? They did not want a Statute to create a penalty if the penalty already existed at Common Law. He thought, therefore, that he had convinced all who candidly considered the question that the noble Lord had not established the proposition he had laid down. He would now examine with fairness and candour some of the arguments that had been urged against the Bill. The first to which he would refer was that which was practically urged by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), that the Bill would throw over the national recognition of the Supreme Being. Now, he could not fail to remember that when the Bill was passed which allowed the Jews to enter Parliament they were told by hon. Members opposite—with much more justice than the statements made on this occasion—that they were doing away with the national recognition of Christianity. In the Oath then there were the words—"On the faith of a Christian;" the Oath was then a profession of faith by the man who took it; but that profession of faith was struck out. Yet hon. Members opposite now looked with complacency on the admission of the Jews. Did they believe that the omission of those words from the Oath was an abandonment of the national recognition of Christianity? If they did not, then he defied them to show that in any sense in which that was not the case the passing of this Bill would be an abandonment of the national recognition of God. If they did believe so, did they mean to say that they looked with complacency on the abandonment of the national recognition of Christianity, and yet cared to preserve the national recognition of some Deity—any Deity that the mind of man had conceived, or his fancy might hereafter fashion? But how would that national recognition of a Supreme Being be destroyed by the Bill? He ventured to say that if it was passed the Oath would still be taken by the immense majority of those who entered the House. Some few might affirm. If the law was not changed, they would make those men, if unbelievers, take the Oath, or go through the form of taking it; and did they mean to say that this would help to a national recognition of God? It would be a sham and not a reality; they would be losing sight of the substance, and would be resting on a hollow pretence. Another argument urged against the Bill was that the existence of the Oath recognizing a Supreme Being was the only safeguard that those who were admitted to the House would be guided by sound principles, and would act in accordance with the requirements of morality and religion. But was the repetition of this Oath any real guarantee of this? A man might take it—nay, might have taken it—who believed in no Deity whatever; and did the opponents of the Bill mean to say that that amount of recognition of the Supreme Being which was involved in the repetition of the Oath was any guarantee for the morality or religion of the man who made it? In how many thousands of cases year by year was the Oath taken by men of whose morality it was ill to speak, and who professed no religion at all? Why, had not recent events, not far from where they were sitting, shown them that men might even take the words of an Oath, might even appeal to the Deity, to bind them together in the hatching of murderous plots, and to make them true to their fellow-conspirators; that, with murder in their hearts, to bind them to those deeds of murder Oaths were taken in the name of the Almighty? In the face of this, did hon. Members tell him that the mere taking of an Oath was a guarantee of morality and religion? The argument would not bear a moment's close examination. Then it was said that the Bill would strike a serious blow at the religion of the country. He regretted most deeply to hear that argument used. Was the religion of the country so poor and puny a thing—was their faith, which had stood the shock of centuries, so weak, that it was to be imperilled by the omission of an Oath, or the admission of a dozen unbelievers to the House? The noble Lord had said that there were toiling millions in the country who cherished the hope of a better life and a happier lot than that which they had now to suffer and endure, and that this Bill would deprive them of that hope. Now, he, for one, would be the last to desire to do anything which would have that effect; but did hon. Members think that the roots of religion among those classes were struck no deeper than to be affected by a vote or a Resolution of that House? As to the army which it was said had sprung up in defence of Christianity in consequence of this Bill, he believed that army existed before the Bill was introduced, that its numbers had not been increased by one real recruit, though it might, Tinder the circumstances, have found strange or unexpected champions. It was also said that they could not rely upon an Affirmation; that there was not the same security in it that there was in an Oath. However that might be, he could not help thinking that an Affirmation would be as binding on a man whom an Oath would not bind in any special way as if he went through the form of taking the Oath;, and it seemed to him that if there was any danger in an Affirmation, the argument of hon. Members opposite would apply more to Courts of Justice, where it was allowed for the purposes of truth, than to that House. What would they secure by the rejection of the Bill? The hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) had pointed out that the law, as it now stood, would not exclude avowed Atheists—men who had avowed their Atheism outside the House. By rejecting the Bill the exclusion of Atheists from the House was not secured, but exclusion of an Atheist who should in the House make any statement from which his opinions should be inferred, and that could now only be done at bye elections. And what was the price proposed to be paid for this? He was sure the House would remember, when this question was before it at an earlier stage, the eloquent words of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson)— We are asked to allow a man to take an Oath in the presence of God without a sense of the presence of God. One of the most sacred forms of the House was about to he outraged and treated in a way which many would regard as a kind of blasphemy. The price to be paid was that they would render that profanation and blasphemy inevitable. Was not that a somewhat heavy price to pay for the very small gain? Surely, then, their support should be given to a Bill like the present, which would practically prevent such an occurrence in the future. They had been told that there were a vast number of Petitions against the Bill; but, for his own part, he did not think that the number of the Petitioners was always an exact index of the value of a Petition. But he was rather surprised at the sudden enthusiasm of hon. Members opposite on the subject of Petitions, and the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke) had been especially elo- quent on the subject; but be voted against the Resolution of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) the other night, though he (the Solicitor General) ventured to say the proportion of Petitioners in favour of it was prodigiously greater than that against it. Was it not a fact that in the present Parliament the Party opposite had voted on every important question against the great majority of the Petitioners? And would they not continue that practice as each successive popular question arose, whether it had reference to the liquor traffic, the extension of the franchise, or anything else? He believed a great deal of the feeling that existed in this matter arose from a misunderstanding, and he did not wonder at the vast number of Petitions from people who thought that Atheists were coming into the House for the first time. But if they knew that the only difference between passing the Bill and rejecting it would not be the exclusion of an avowed Atheist, but the compelling him to profane the Oath, he ventured to say the views as to the passing of the Bill would be very different to what they were. If, at the end of this Parliament, Mr. Bradlaugh were to come to the Table and take the Oath, as it was very generally admitted he could do, and the country saw him sitting in the House, he was by no means sure there would not be a revulsion of feeling which might have to be reckoned with. The Government had been solemnly appealed to by hon. Members opposite to regard their own interests; and the tender regard they had entertained for the electoral interests of the Government had been in the highest degree touching. There had been appeals which he could not help thinking had some little lack of that Christian charity which one would have had a right to expect from men in such a case. He was fully prepared to meet any such appeals, and to vote at the dictates of his conscience; and he had never given any vote in that House in a more complete sense conscientiously than he would give his vote on this question, because he believed it was his bounden duty in the interests of the country. He believed they were not only supporting that which was just and wise and expedient, but were acting in harmony, and not in conflict, with the best interests of religion.


wished to say a few words as to the result of the rejection or passing of this Bill. If they passed this Bill, Mr. Bradlaugh would at once be admitted to take his seat; but if they rejected it he would remain where he was at present. It was on that account, and as he had, up to the present, taken no part in the debate, that he now wished to make a few remarks. When they were asked some time ago to decide by their votes as to whether Mr. Bradlaugh should or should not be permitted to take the Oath, it was no part of their duty to inquire how far the antecedents or qualifications of that hon. Member rendered it desirable that he should take his place in that Assembly; for they had specific knowledge upon one point in particular, which had been forced upon their notice, and which was sufficient in itself, in his opinion, to determine their course on that occasion. They had had it placed officially before them in the Papers laid upon the Table, and presented to the notice of every Member of the House, that the taking of the Oath to Mr. Bradlaugh was a meaningless and idle form. When, therefore, Mr. Bradlaugh came up to the Table and asked to be allowed to take the Oath, if he (Mr. Chaplin) had sat silent in his place, and allowed him to go through that form without opposition or remonstrance, he should have felt he was a consenting party to an act which he could only regard as profane, and as an act of mockery and insult to the name of the Most High. Accordingly, he gave his vote against him. To-day, they were placed in a somewhat different position, and that position was as follows:—They found a Member of the House, no matter to what circumstances it was owing, debarred from taking his seat in the House. The Government thereupon had come forward with a Bill, the effect of which would be to admit both him and any others who might happen to be placed in a position similar to his own, and to get rid of the difficulties which stood at present in his path. It was a Bill, in fact, which, while it might, no doubt, embrace others in its scope, was introduced in the special interests and for the special necessities of an individual Member of the House, and to make special facilities to enable him to take the seat which he could not take at present. This was a Bill, by hook or by crook, to get Mr. Bradlaugh into the House of Commons. To legislate in any individual case in that way was an unusual, not to say an extreme course, for any Government to take. Before they gave their consent to that unusual and extreme demand, they were bound, not only to inquire of the Government what was their justification for that course, and what were the reasons which should induce them to agree to it, but they were also entitled, and it was their duty, to examine closely into the claims and qualifications of the particular individual in whose interests, and on whose behalf, that special action of the Legislature was called into play. As far as the Government were concerned, everything that could be said in its support had been urged by the Prime Minister, as, probably, no one but himself could have said it; and it was within the four corners of that speech on Thursday last that the justification of the Government, if any, must be found. He listened to that speech with rapt attention from the beginning to the end; and he was quite unable to express the admiration which he felt for the skill and the ability, the sophistry and the ingenuity combined, which the right hon. Gentleman brought to the defence of a really untenable position. But, able and audacious and ingenious as it was, it would not bear examination; and the more it was looked into the more it would be found absolutely devoid of solid argument in favour of the Bill. He thought, also, very much the same of the able speech just delivered by the Solicitor General. When a Government or an individual came forward to propose a change of this unusual and most important nature, they were bound to produce the clearest evidence of its necessity, and of the advantages and public good which might be expected to result from it. But, in this case, the right hon. Gentleman had done nothing of the kind; he had not even attempted to show the smallest necessity which had arisen for the Bill, or the smallest good which it would do to any human being under the sun, excepting this—that its passing would relieve him and his Colleagues from the difficulties they were placed in with regard to Mr. Bradlaugh. And not one single reason did he give directly in favour of the Bill in the whole of the speech which he delivered from begin- ning to end. The reason of this was obvious. There was nothing which he could say. So bad was his case that he had only one resource—the last refuge of the hopeless—to abuse the plaintiff's attorney; and, consequently, the whole of that oration was devoted, not to explaining the advantages, or enlarging upon the necessities of this Bill, but to censures and criticism upon the attitude of Gentlemen on that side, and of the contention which the right hon. Gentleman put into their mouths, but which, with all submission to him, he emphatically repudiated and utterly renounced. He wished to examine that contention for a moment, and the value of the criticisms made upon it. The effect of that contention, according to the right hon. Gentleman, and the result of their attitude, was this—it violated the principles of civil freedom to begin with, and was disparaging, in the highest degree, to Christianity itself. They drew a line, it was true, but only at the point where the abstract denial of a God was severed from the abstract admission of a Deity; and they did nothing oven to touch the specific mischief of the age, by which he understood the right hon. Gentleman to mean what was commonly known as Agnosticism. That was a summary—a fair, he hoped, and an impartial summary— of the grounds of the Prime Minister's objections to the attitude of Gentlemen on that side; and he was willing to admit at once that he was right so far as the latest of these propositions was concerned. It was true that they did nothing to touch the specific mischief which he had referred to. But then he should remember that they were not proposing to legislate at all. They left matters in respect to that specific mischief precisely as they were before, and, at least, did nothing to foster and encourage it. Could the Prime Minister say as much to-night? He doubted it very greatly. But of this, at least, he was quite certain—that should he, by some great misfortune, be successful with this Bill, even he would be unable to deny that he had given hope and great encouragement to those whose views he told them he regarded as the great and the specific mischief of the age. So far, then, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was correct; but, with that exception, the justice or the force of his other propositions he abso- lutely denied. Supposing, however, for a moment, the right hon. Gentleman was right in all that he had said respecting the course adopted by the Opposition; supposing it was true that their attitude to-night really did give rise to all the painful evils which he indicated; supposing that this measure was really introduced at last, and was required because they were disparaging Christianity and violating civil freedom. When did that necessity arise, and what were they to think of the Minister, with this deep conviction in his mind, who had never stirred a finger or a hand to carry measures in their interest and in their behalf during all the years in which this controversy had been going on? Why, he declared the other night, in most emphatic tones—these were his very words— That in his heart and soul, in his belief, the interests of Christianity and religion were concerned in the passing of this measure. But, if that were so, if that was really his sincere belief, if Christianity had been so terribly disparaged as he said it had, why had he delayed this measure until now? What had he been doing all this time? This controversy and this contention of the Tory Party, baneful as he thought it was, was three years old at least. And how came it that this Minister, who regarded this measure to admit an Atheist to the Council of the Nation as vital—Heaven save the mark! —as vital to the interests of true religion, and who posed as the champion of Christianity in the contest they were now engaged in, had been absolutely silent on the subject to this hour—how came it that he never thought of even pressing it on their attention until after menaces and threats, and until the preparations of the Atheist and his friends for a monster demonstration early in this Session were known to be complete? That was his answer to the sophistries and finespun theories of the Minister. That was the question which he put to the Government to-night; and, until it had been answered and replied to, the whole of that magnificent oration—for magnificent it undoubtedly was—would remain to them and to the English people, like the Oath itself to Mr. Bradlaugh, "meaningless and idle words." He would now pass, for the present, from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, for if he found little in its favour, there was plenty still which might be said against the passing of this measure. After all, as was said by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), in his able and admirable speech the other night, this ought to be a matter of "common sense;" and the common-sense view was the view, they might be certain, which would be taken by the people on the subject. Who was Mr. Bradlaugh? What were his claims and his special qualifications that he should have this exceptional legislation? He wished to say a word on this point. The Oath, they must remember, that was taken at that Table bound the man who took it to— Be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, to Her heirs and successors according to law; and to this declaration he solemnly and deliberately called God to witness. And after he had taken it, it was not open to any Member sitting there to call the Throne, or the Succession to the Throne, in question. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: He would be stopped by the Speaker.] Probably that would be the case. But the Oath itself prevented it, for a Member having sworn the Oath would be perjured if he did so; and so the Oath became, in that sense, one of the safeguards of the Constitution. Now, if that were so, the House would see at once how dangerous was the ground which they approached in voting for this Bill, for Mr. Bradlaugh's views upon this question were notorious. One of the main objects of his life had been, and was, the abolition of the reigning Family from the Throne. The other was to make war upon religion, upon what he had declared to be "our accursed creed," and to blacken and defy the very name of God. This much he had learnt from his published writings, which, until the introduction of this Bill, it was never his misfortune to have seen before. These, then, were the objects which the Government asked them to foster and advance and help by consenting to their Bill tonight, objects which were hateful and abhorrent to himself, and of which he was persuaded, and he knew that they shocked, horrified, and outraged every sentiment and every feeling nearest and dearest to the hearts of the people, in every family, in every home, by every fireside, from the palace of the I noble and the rich to the dwellings of the poor and the lowliest cottage in the land — aye, and to millions upon millions of their race besides — wherever the English tongue was spoken on the face of the civilized globe. In the face of Mr. Bradlaugh's open and avowed determination, if he could, to overthrow the Succession to the Throne, he should like to hear how the First Minister of the Queen could reconcile with loyal service to his Sovereign the course which he pursued in placing this Bill before the House. And why was all that to be done? They told them for the sake of justice, Christianity, and freedom; and so they prostituted those sacred names. But justice had two sides. When Mr. Bradlaugh was elected for Northampton, both he and the electors well knew the position of affairs. They knew, and he knew, that he could not take his seat. Their eyes were open, and the consequence, therefore, of their action rested with them. Justice he would give to Mr. Bradlaugh, and justice he believed that he had had. But he said, upon the other hand, that the blackest injustice which they could do would be this—that without appealing to the nation on a question upon which they had never been consulted, they should force a measure on them which they should remember, once accomplished, could probably never be undone, and which, with all his soul, he was convinced was utterly destestable to the country. So, also, he would say with regard to civil freedom, it was not liberty and freedom that was pleaded for, but licence. Licence to Northampton and to its elected to outrage the sense of the whole community at large. And why should they allow that? Why on earth were they expected to go directly out of their way to bring about the very thing they disapproved, which at present, whether by an accident or by whatever means, was happily prevented. Moreover, he wished to ask, if they entered on this path, where it was all to end? They professed, at least, to be a religious Assembly. In that House, each man who took the Oath began his Parliamentary career by the performance of a ceremony which was both a civil and religious ceremony. So, also, every day they commenced their labours there with prayer to the Supreme Being; but to kneel in prayer upon those Benches, to ask of the Almighty day by day his guidance and his blessing on their labours in the one breath, and with the next to shout "Aye" for the admission of the Atheist, whose lifelong occupation was to insult and to deride Him, was to him such a mockery of the Being whom they worshipped that he did not see how it was possible, if they passed this Bill, that any religious service could continue with any consistency at all. Why, the very stone at their door, like the stones in ancient Rome at the time of Cæsar's death, would be moved to rise and mutiny, and would cry aloud to the House to be consistent and remove them from the portals of a Chamber which was false to its highest and holiest traditions. Let them go into that Lobby now beyond the door, and look around and examine what it was on every side that met the eye. There, whichever way they turned, they would find graven deep into the stone upon the walls, and on the floors, tributes, on the one hand, to the God whom they professed to fear, and injunctions, on the other, to be loyal to the Crown. The very motto on the doorstep, that Door through which the Atheist would seek admission, reminded each Member day by day, as he came to take his place within these walls, of the Oath which he had taken in these words—"Fear God, and do honour to the King." But if the House gave their sanction to this measure, and if they deliberately invited to take his seat among them this Atheist, who owned no duty to the one, and who sought to overthrow the other, how could they afterwards with consistency retain those symbols of loyalty and faith of which they made profession upon all sides, even now, with their lips? That might be, perhaps, a matter which was trivial to the minds of some; but he thought that it afforded a useful illustration of the new position they were asked to take up by the First Minister of the Crown. The fact was that the logical results of what they were asked to do that night in admitting this avowed and open Atheist to that place must be to cut deep down to the roots of everything they held so sacred and so dear, to strike, and to strike hard, at the very basis upon which all law, all Government, all order through the world, all sense of right and wrong, and all society throughout the universe, as constituted at the present, both did and must depend. Again, he asked, why were they to tamper with those problems, great and solemn as they were? Why, and at whose bidding was it, they were called on to approach the gulf which was yawning at their feet? It reminded him of some words of one of the greatest of our English bards, which must be familiar to the House— Let ruling Angels from their spheres be hurled, Being on Being wrecked, and world on world; Heaven's whole foundations to the centre nod, And Nature tremble to the Throne of God. All this dread Order break—for whom? for thee? Vile worm!—OhMadness! Pride! Impiety! He thanked the House most sincerely for the kindness and attention it had accorded him. For his part, he confessed that he was sanguine of their cause. For behind the Ministers majority and the present House of Commons, there was the conscience and the voice of England; and to that august tribunal any Member of that House would have to answer for the vote he gave that day. But, be that issue what it might, he rejoiced and he thanked God that he had had the privilege, by voice as well as vote, to give his utmost opposition to this impious, disloyal, and most sacrilegious measure.


Sir, I wish to state to the House the reasons why, on distinctly religious grounds, I intend to support a measure to enable every legally qualified and properly elected Member to testify his allegiance to the Crown by Affirmation instead of by Oath. I do not underrate or undervalue the strength of the religious feeling that has been aroused against this measure. I am aware that political considerations are powerless when opposed to religious convictions; and on that ground I ask permission dispassionately and conscientiously to argue the question whether the rejection of this Bill will be a greater gain to the cause of religion or to the cause of irreligion. Now, Sir, if I may presume to winnow the grain from the chaff of this debate, I gather that the opposition to this Bill rests, in the main, on two propositions. The first is that disbelief in the existence of a Supreme Being is an absolute disqualification for the office of a legislator; and the second proposition is that the condition which requires every legislator, before taking his seat, to repeat an invocation of the Supreme Being in whom he believes, is a bulwark sufficiently strong to exclude all unbelievers, and a test sufficiently stringent to preserve the religious character of this and the other House of Parliament. Now, Sir, I dissent from both of these propositions on account of their inherently irreligious character, as well as on the ground of their utter and hopeless impracticability. The first allegation—namely, that disbelief is a disqualification for the office of a legislator —rests, I take it, on the principle which was so finely put by Burke—that politics are but "enlarged morality;" that all true morality springs from, derives its existence, vitality, and force from religion; that legislation is but the embodiment and enforcement of what one may call corporate morality; and, therefore, religion, morals, and politics are so inseparably connected that you cannot divorce one from the other without results which are both dangerous and disastrous. I recognize the grandeur of this ideal. It is not necessary for the purpose of my argument to-night to stop to inquire whether it ever has been, or, in the present condition of human affairs, it ever can be realized; but what I do disclaim and denounce is the miserable conclusion that is drawn from these noble premises. What is it we are asked by the opponents of this Bill to accept as the practical result of those great principles which, we are told, are the foundation of the English Constitution? Is it that the men who practise politics and enact laws should be religious men? No. Is it that they should declare their belief in the revelation on which the faith of Christendom rests? No. Is it that they should admit such a responsibility to an Almighty Power as would acknowledge their future accountability for their legislative action? No. Is it that they should evidence by their daily lives an acceptance of the rules of even heathen morality? No; but it is that they should have such an infinitesimal shade of belief in the supernatural as to admit the existence of some Supreme Being; and this intangible belief, restricted to no creed, either Jewish, or Christian, or Pagan, is elastic enough to embrace within its limits the mythologies of the venerable superstitions of the East, and the Pantheism of the modern scepticism of the West. I can only say it is incomprehensible, it is in- tolerable that such a proposition should be justified and defended by men who profess to believe that Christianity is part of the Common Law of England, as the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) declares it to be, overruling, with his characteristic ability, the judgment of the Lord Chief Justice of England. This test is too late in the day. The old theory of the identity of the Church and State was perfectly intelligible and perfectly logical. The qualification for membership of the one Corporation was the qualification for citizenship in the other; but when not only Christians who renounced the dogmas and teaching of the National Church, but those whoso creed was a repudiation and denial of Christianity were admitted to all the rights and privileges of citizenship, that theory was swept away, and with it all justification of the claim to impose a condition of religious belief upon the exercise of civil rights and the enjoyment of civil privileges. Dr. Arnold, staunch Liberal as he was, foresaw this difficulty, and he resisted, and resisted to the end, all measures for the emancipation of the Jews. Dr. Arnold laid down that the dividing line in civil matters was Christianity or non-Christianity; and if his theory had been maintained you might have assumed—it would still have been in theory, for it never could have been in practice—that your Legislature was essentially Christian. But having obliterated that dividing line, having ranged side by side in the exercise of every civil right and the enjoyment of every civil privilege, those who accept and those who reject Christianity, what value can you expect us to attach to the flimsy barrier which admits all forms of infidelity but one, and which, while only excluding that lamentable and deplorable section of theoretic unbelief, yet admits men who, by their life-long disregard and defiance of all religion and morality, are, notwithstanding all the Oaths they may profanely take, in the saddest sense of the word, Atheists, men without God in the world? No formula which this Legislature or any other Legislature can devise can secure for you that which you think you can secure by this Oath. No pledges, no profession, will obtain that which, if it exists, will assert its reality, independently of all pledges and professions, and which, if it does not exist, no pledges and no professions will secure. History has proved the futility, I may say the immorality, of these tests. Let us take the 18th century. That was a period when tests reigned supreme, and when this House ought to have been a legislative paradise from which all forms of heresy and all shades of unbelief were shut out. The Roman Catholics were met by the abjuration of one of the central Articles of their Church. The Dissenters, some of whom, at least, were willing to have professed their belief in your Creeds and Articles, and who dissented only from your Liturgy, were barred out by that wicked profanation which degraded, and I might say blasphemed, the most sacred rite of the Christian religion into a passport to political office and into a seal of political corruption. The Jews were proscribed with fanatical zeal. The whole hierarchy of official life was surrounded by tests, declarations, and precautions, which the most ingenious bigotry could devise; and what was the state of Parliament during those halcyon days of legislative orthodoxy? I know the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock will object to my quoting Bolingbroke; but, notwithstanding his objection, I cannot help recording, as an historical fact, that during that period he was one of the most brilliant Leaders of this House, and that Gibbon was one of its most distinguished Members. The noble Lord was inaccurate when he said that Gibbon's great work was not published until after he had ceased to be a Member of this House. It is perfectly true that the first period of his Parliamentary life was over when he sat as Member for Liskeard; but it was after he had published his second volume—that most gorgeous and wicked attack upon all religion which even the 18th century produced—that as Member for Lymington he came to the Table of this House, and took not only that Oath, but all the other string of Oaths required to secure the religious character and orthodoxy of this House. There are many other proofs, without recalling the names of the most prominent unbelievers of their day, that daring the period which intervened between the Reigns of Queen Anne and George III., the personal profligacy and political corruption of Members of both Houses reached their climax; and of this orthodox Legislature it might be said, as Bishop Butler said of the whole upper class of that day— It has come to be taken for granted that Christianity is not so much a subject for inquiry; it is now at length discovered to be fictitious. That stage of our history has happily passed away, and of all the gainers by the change, I think the character of this House and of its Members has been the greatest. But now we are asked to classify the Christian religion and all other religions as of some value to the State—not more, not less. I recall that memorable sentence of Gibbon, in which he described the religious state of the Roman Empire at its zenith. He says— All religions were regarded by the people as equally true, by the philosophers as equally false, and by the magistrates as equally useful. I object to Christianity being placed on that level. I object to Christianity being degraded into such a position; and, on behalf of a very large portion of the Christian section of the people of this country, I enter my protest against the doctrine which has been put forward in reference to this question. A Christian test is opposed to the spirit of Christianity. An omnibus test which huddles together, under the generic name of religion, all the eccentricities of human belief, I consider to be as worthless in morals as I know it to be worthless in politics. It mocks, in the name of religious belief, at the reality of religion. I go further, and say that if you could extract from every Member of this House a solemn declaration of his belief in the One First Great Cause, unaccompanied by anything beyond or by anything else, you would but emphasize with accumulated force the terrific scorn with which the great Jewish Apostle retorted upon those who prided themselves in their Deistic belief—"The devils also believe and tremble." The other proposition to which I referred was the condition— That the repetition of the form of invocation of a Deity in the promise of allegiance was a sufficient test of the belief, to which such value is attached. Now, our forefathers, when they sot about creating a test, did it with a grim determination, which admitted of no evasion and no trifling. They said what they meant, and they made a man say something about which there could be no mistake. The Catholic was made to abjure transubstantiation, and the Jew was required to swear upon the true faith of a Christian. What is this test you value so much? Is it any declaration of belief? Is it such a declaration of belief of a Creator as is contained in the Apostles' Creed? Is it such a declaration that an unbeliever with a sense of honour or conscience could not honourably take? You add to the promise of allegiance to the Throne four words of deep meaning and solemn import to the believer, but of no meaning and no import to the unbeliever. He may use them if he chooses; but you have no right to inquire the sense or mode in which he employs these words. To twist the outward phraseology of the Oath into a declaration of Theistic belief seems to me to minimize and evaporate this vague creed into what is entirely impalpable and incomprehensible. A very distinguished clergyman of the Church of England said this Bill was a Bill for the prevention of profanity. I am old-fashioned enough to believe in the Third Commandment still, and because of that I support this Bill. If it be profanation—and that was the theory on which the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition wore founded—if it be profanation to allow an unbeliever who attaches no meaning to the words to take the Oath, it is also profanation to compel and provoke unbelievers who attach no meaning to the words to take that Oath. I wish to refer now to the denomination to which I have the honour to belong. Some Members who have taken part in this debate, and notably the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), and the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), have communicated to the House the views and feelings of the Wesleyan denomination. I wonder if it did not occur to the noble Lord, with his marvellous political intuition, that as there are, at least, 10 Members of this House who belong to the Wesleyan Body—


They are all Liberals.


And who, echoing the views and feelings of the great majority of the Wesleyan Body, belong to the Liberal Party. Did it not occur to him that a Body which is re- markable for the exclusiveness of its internal arrangements, and for the rigid and almost automatic action of its machinery, would not, if it wished to make any communication to this House, have selected two of the Members of the Fourth Party, but would have made the communication through one of its Representatives?


The information I had was that the hon. Member was asked to present the Petition and "burked" it.


Both these statements are as inaccurate as the others of the hon. Member. On this question I was not asked to present the Petition, and I did not "burke" it. I am not going to trouble the House with all the internal differences of the Wesleyan Body on this matter. I would simply say this—that the only Body that had the slightest scintilla of a claim officially to represent the Wesleyan Body has declined to take any action in this question. A very clever and astute Wesleyan Conservative has made use of, and I would almost say hoaxed, the noble Lord upon this question—a gentleman representing what everybody knows is a limited, an influential, but diminishing section of the Wesleyan Body, the section which opposed Catholic Emancipation, which opposed Jewish Emancipation, which opposed the abolition of Church Rates, which opposed the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, and who, I may say, at present sum up their political creed into abjuring and abhorring the Prime Minister and all his works. You talk about Petitions signed by 1,000 people as representing the Wesleyan Body. When the Wesleyan Body want to come to Parliament, as they did the other day on the question of Sunday Closing, they sent a Petition which no one could carry up the floor of the House, but which had to be rolled in behind the Speaker's Chair, and which is signed by between 500,000 and 600,000 of that Body. I have as much right to speak with confidence and authority as to the views of the Wesleyan Methodists as any Member of this House, except my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Waddy); and I give a most unqualified and absolute contradiction to the opinion that the majority of the Wesleyan Body are opposed to the present measure. I am sorry to have troubled the House so long, and I will add but one other remark upon the general question—the character of the House will reflect the character of the constituencies by whom it is elected. They are the supreme, the final tribunal, who alone have the right to settle all questions of fitness and competence, of orthodoxy or heterodoxy. When you have an irreligious people you will have an irreligious House. But I, as a Christian man, have perfect faith in the constituencies of Great Britain. I do not forget that household suffrage has enthroned the Bible in nearly every one of the elementary schools of Great Britain. I have no fear of the constituencies. What I do dread are those powers of proscription, and persecution, and exclusion, which are, when used against Christianity, her strongest support; and, when used on her behalf, her greatest weakness, I thought that Englishmen, English Churchmen, and English Dissenters had learnt this lesson to its last line. But, Sir, this agitation now developed, and the machinery by which it is being developed, has been another illustration that history, even the history of misguided conscientious zeal, repeats itself. I respect the motives of hon. Gentlemen opposite. No man can feel greater attachment to the principles on which they profess to be acting than I feel. But to them my reply is, the two cardinal articles of civil and religious liberty, the one that the rights, the powers, and the privileges of citizenship are independent of all questions of religious belief, and the other —the far harder to learn, and the far more difficult to practise—that the human mind, in its relations with the Unseen and the Divine, is absolutely, sacredly, totally exempt from the domain of civil interference.


Mr. Speaker—I was anxious, before the debate closed, to state very briefly the reasons why I will be obliged to vote against this Bill; and I am the more anxious to do so, because a number of hon. Members have challenged the attitude of the Irish Party, and have been good enough to threaten us with some terrible pains and penalties—possibly that direst of all penalties in the eyes of an Irish Nationalist—exclusion from an alien House of Commons. I may say at once my reason for voting as I intend to do is certainly not that I can think that Christianity has anything to fear from Mr. Bradlaugh or his friends in or out of this House. I should be very sorry indeed to preach a crusade of the Christian world against so very puny a Saladin. There was one part of the speech of the Prime Minister in which I think a good many people will agree—who can only admire, as I most humbly and sincerely admired— the wonderful ingenuity and power of the remainder. That was where he said that the conflict in our time is not between Christianity and Atheism of the type represented by Mr. Bradlaugh. I believe the number of people who agree in all things with Mr. Bradlaugh is not much greater or more choice than the number of people who would like to go about the streets naked, and I do not apprehend that in this climate the one creed is ever more likely to be popular than the other. But what is the inference from Mr. Bradlaugh's insignificance and isolation? In mere abstract principle I am not very much at variance with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. If this was a Bill to relieve the consciences of any serious and reflective school of persons with doubts about religion, I, for one, would think twice before imposing any disability on men whom I believed to be acting under the influence of a responsible and often a tortured conscience. The mental diseases of to-day are no new things in the history of religion. As the quotation the other night from Lucretius reminded us, they are diseases that, under one form or another, have at all times afflicted philosophers, but have never taken possession of a nation, and I believe never will. But, at least, such men approach that tremendous question of the origin and end of human existence in a spirit of reverential seriousness from which in most cases they sooner or later rise into worship of the one Divine Interpreter who can untangle all our doubts and speculations. But is it to relieve men like these, or is it at their demand that this Bill is being forced on a reluctant and scandalized country? Is it to be believed that such men would use the ignoble shelter of Mr. Bradlaugh's name? Where have they made any demand of their own, or when? Who has made any demand for this Bill except Mr. Bradlaugh? And is the Prime Minister in the same breath in which he tells us of Mr. Bradlaugh's insignificance, and mentions his name with something like a shudder, is he a Christian statesman —perhaps the greatest of Christian statesmen—when he does not put his conscience in the keeping of his advisers in Ireland— is he to ask the Parliament of a Christian nation to remove the emblem of an Almighty Power, because this one man, and this one man alone, in all this land chooses to declare war on it, and bellows at your doors, and translates ćcrasez l'infæme for you into uncleanly and unpalatable English. We have been taunted with disloyalty from the Radical Benches—disloyalty never, thank God, to our God or to our country. I hope Radical Gentlemen can lay their hands on their hearts and say that as much can be said for their own Party. But I admit at once there are Irishmen to whom any pledge of allegiance to Queen Victoria is as repulsive a form of superstition as allegiance to the God who made him is to the sensitive soul of Mr. Bradlaugh. Will the right hon. Gentleman erase the name of Queen Victoria from the Oath for their accommodation as readily as he erases the name of God for the gratification of the subscribers to The Freethinker? Or will you retain all your mediæval reverence for an earthly Sovereign whom you might change to-morrow, while you sacrifice to Mr. Bradlaugh the pledge and the symbol of your allegiance to the Supreme Master of your being? My one great difficulty in opposing this Bill was the feeling of respect for the choice of a constituency; but when, eight years ago, an Irish constituency—the great constituency of Tipperary—pitched its choice upon a man whom to compare with Mr. Bradlaugh is to compare Hyperion with—well, with a person not quite so well favoured; when Tipperary elected John Mitchel, and re-elected him, did the Prime Minister ask the House to amend the law out of respect for the choice of Tipperary? When Michael Davitt was elected for Meath, did we hear anything from the Radical Benches about the sacred doctrine of sovereignty in the constituencies of which we have just heard such an eulogium from the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House? No; but we heard—aye, we heard over in Ireland and will remember—the yell that went up from those same Radical Benches when Michael Davitt was sent back into penal servitude, instead of being lionized as Mr. Bradlaugh is every night in this House. I do not want to do anything to prolong this dreary debate. The House is very naturally anxious to have a speedy end of it; but I wished just to explain that I will vote against the Bill, not because it offers the freest toleration of opinion, or because it dispenses with an Oath, but because it goes just as far as Party expediency requires and no further; because its true scope and purpose and effect are not honestly avowed, and because, under all the circumstances, its success would not be the triumph of religious toleration, but would be a matter of insolent glorification for a man who is the Alpha and Omega of this measure, and for a principle which is the negation of all principle.


said, that on this question they had another instance of those curious alliances that took place between the different sections on the opposite side of the House; and he ventured to call it a holy alliance, owing to the policy pursued by hon. Members on the other side of the House. He could not understand why the Irish Members were so ready to deny that representation to the borough of Northampton which they so strenuously advocated for their own country. Mr. Bradlaugh was simply technically excluded from the House at present, and this Bill would but bring the position into harmony with the absolute facts. The Liberal Party were now fighting for the very same principle as that which secured the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry de Worms) his seat. That principle was that of absolute freedom of thought. There were a large number who said they possessed such profound abhorrence of Mr. Bradlaugh and his views that they were unwilling to submit to the conditions by which he would secure his rights in the House. If those opponents of Mr. Bradlaugh desired to give hint a publicity which no money could purchase, or grant him a position which no skill or power of his own could secure, and if they desired to make him what he was to-day—the mouthpiece of a certain class throughout the country —they could not adopt a more effectual method. As to the popular feeling upon this subject, he might mention that he represented a constituency of 500,000, or one equal to one-fiftieth of the entire population of England. The general opinion of that constituency was that this question should be settled on the lines of the Affirmation Bill. Did not the Irish Members secure their rights upon this same principle of freedom of thought?


We fought for it.


You fought for it. And what did we do? Did we fight for you, or against you?


You fought against us.


said, he denied that such was the case. The men who were supporting this Bill were the men who had fought for civil and religious liberty everywhere; and whether the present battle was lost or won, the victory lay before them in the future, and it would be won by those men who were the Representatives of religious freedom, and who had fought for that principle in the past.


said, that he was much surprised at the speeches of his two hon. and learned Friends who had preceded him, the hon. and learned Solicitor General, and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Bowler). If their arguments had the slightest weight, or were of the slightest value, the Oath should be altogether effaced from the Statute Book, and from Courts of Justice. Another fallacy which pervaded their speeches, and almost every speech from the Government Benches, was that they forgot that not only had the language and form of the Oath changed, hut that its character and object had changed also. They treated the Oath still as a test of religious belief, instead of its now being only a security for truth. Up to the time of Catholic Emancipation it was a religious test; but from that time it ceased to be a test, and became a method merely of securing allegiance to the Sovereign. As the Crown was only a part of the Constitution, and was very much in the power of the House of Commons, which formed now the great motive power in the State, it was thought necessary to confine the Members of the House to those who would owe allegiance to the Crown; and the Oath was retained to bind every Member, on his entering that House, to state in a manner which would insure, as far as it wan possible, the performance of his promise that he was and would remain loyal to the Crown. The Oath or solemn Affirmation was not therefore retained, because those who either took the Oath or made the Affirmation did it with the responsibility of feeling that their promise was made in the presence of, and to the knowledge of, One who was the rewarder of good and evil in a future state; and although it might be, as was stated by Lord Coleridge, that Christianity was not a part of the Common Law of England, yet it was clear that, by the Common Law of England, the word of an Atheist was not admitted in evidence, because there was nothing by which they could insure his speaking the truth. In the interests of suitors in Courts of Law, an Act of Parliament was specially passed, by which the statement of an Atheist was now admitted, subject to the liability of punishment for perjury, if he stated that which was not true; but why should they relax that Common Law disability, for the special purpose of admitting to the House one whom they knew was not loyal, and whoso whole life had been spent in hostility to the Constitution. No one who viewed the Bill in that light could wonder at the warmth of feeling it had excited. No better speech had been delivered in favour of the Bill than that of the hon. and learned Solicitor General, and yet it contained several fallacious and unsatisfactory arguments. The hon. and learned Gentleman's speech clearly pointed to the abolition of all Oaths, a change for which the House and the country were certainly not prepared. Since the admission of the Jews, said the hon. and learned Gentleman, the tangible or Christian part of the Oath had been discarded, and only the intangible or Theistic appeal to the Deity remained. Surely it was singular that such an argument should be urged by a lawyer, who might be presumed to have a lawyer's appreciation of an appeal to the Supreme Awarder of punishments. The Oath, whether of Jew or of Christian, could not be supposed to be valueless. In reference to the speech of the Prime Minister, sufficient praise had not been bestowed upon that speech for its transcendent ability in making those who heard it, and those who read it, believe that it represented the expression of life-long sentiments, and that it was uttered from the fulness of his heart; whereas they knew, from his previous speeches and the previous conduct of the Government, that the speech was a creation for the occasion, and not the occasion which gave opportunity for the speech; that it was made necessary by the blundering conduct of the Government, and in the hopes of getting them out of the mire in which they were floundering. The hon. and learned Attorney General's speech in presenting the Bill was practical; the Prime Minister's speech was theoretical. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General told them that the chief reason for introducing it was the fear of Mr. Bradlaugh's position being increased and strengthened by keeping him out of the House; but the Opposition in that House not having the fear of Mr. Bradlaugh before their eyes, the fear of Bradlaugh fell flat upon the House and country; and the Prime Minister, finding it necessary to stir up the feelings of his followers by some more successful suggestion, endeavoured to raise the debate from the depths of degradation to which the name of Bradlaugh had reduced it; and as he delivered that magnificent speech on civil and religious liberty, and made people think he was asking the House to knock off the last fetter which confined within narrow bounds the energy and vitality of religious liberty, instead of, in reality, asking it to knock down a barrier which did in effect preserve religious liberty by excluding from the House one whose life had been spent in endeavouring to destroy it, and in spreading broadcast over the land the filthy and obscene literature which should deprave the hearts and destroy the purity of our people, believing that, by so doing, he would best sap the foundation of "religion and piety in the land." If the sentiments the Prime Minister uttered last Thursday were genuine, why not give effect to them during the three last years? Why allow the question to become embittered as it had been? Why refuse to follow the guidance of the two Committees of the House, appointed to advise the House upon the subject? Why force Mr. Bradlaugh into the House against the law? Why throw the responsibility of vindicating the law on a private Member of the House, and, by misleading him as to his rights, saddle him with untold costs and expenses, though on the real question in dispute he had entirely succeeded? But if any justification was wanted for the charge against the Prime Minister's genuineness in the sentiments he uttered, he (Mr. Grantham) had only to remind the House of the extraordinary event that happened in his speech. The most important and damaging fact which he had to explain away was in reference to their having altered the character of the Bill, and made it not retrospective. The charge was that that was done advisedly to catch votes, when they found that without that alteration they could never pass it. The right hon. Gentleman deliberately gave at length the most explicit and argumentative reasons, which he said induced them to make the change; but no sooner were they given than he was told by another Member of the Government that he had made a mistake, as the facts were entirely different from what he had then just stated; and he (Mr. Grantham) had to admit that he was unable to give any other explanation than that of having made the change because they thought fit to make it. If there was so much doubt, therefore, as to the honesty of the Government in the arguments they had used, the House was entitled to look to the real motives, if they could find them, which induced them to bring the Bill in. There was an old saying, ex, uno disce omnes; but he thought he might say, in reference to the motives of the Government, ex omnibus disce una, for, although the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) had said that "force was no remedy," yet they would find that force was the first and only cause of any important measure the Government had introduced in this Parliament. What made them bring in the Land Act? Was it not the force brought to bear upon them by the Land League? What, again, made them father the Home Rulers' Arrears Bill?—the force of the continued murders and maimings of the Land League and their myrmidons. What made them dishonour the English flag in the Transvaal, and sign a Convention that they now were unable to enforce? —it was the force of the Boers, as shown at Majuba Hill. What induced them to yield to the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) on Local Option a few weeks back?—not his arguments, which they had always ridiculed, but the force which the great battalions he could now boast of from the increasing strength of the temper- ance movement, and the fear of losing their votes; and it was evident that the same contagious disease, which induced them also to knock under to the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld)—namely, force—had, in the continuity of their weakness, made them permit Mr. Bradlaugh to become their dictator. In the prayers which were offered up every Sunday for the Houses of Parliament, they asked that religion and piety might be established among them; but the extraordinary proposition of the Government—as to Mr. Bradlaugh's notoriety—amounted to this— that they should not oppose wrong lest wrong should be strengthened. He felt sure the House and the country would not forget the remarkable speech of another right hon. and learned Gentleman, a Member of the Government (Mr. Osborne Morgan), who gloried in the triumph of Mr. Bradlaugh. "Oh!" said he, with a shout of pleasure and a gleam of joy, "Mr. Bradlaugh has beaten you all along the line." Yes; it was true he had scored some victories for the moment. Immorality had triumphed over morality; infidelity over religion; technicalities of the law over justice; but the country would never forget, and, he hoped, never forgive, that throughout these unhappy controversies—these attempts to purge the country of some of his immorality and filth—the Liberal Government was never once on the fide of morality, of religion, or of justice, but joined in the shout of triumph that was uttered by Mr. Bradlaugh over their defeat. For those reasons, he should oppose the Bradlaugh Belief Bill with the utmost of his power.


said, that, as representing a Scotch constituency, where the Presbyterian form of religion was dominant, and considering what had been said inside and outside the House with regard to the way in which the Scotch Liberal Members would vote, he thought it right to make a few observations to the House. When the Resolution was moved that Mr. Bradlaugh should be allowed to take his seat he voted with the "Noes," because he voted against the man; but when the general question came up that a man should be allowed to affirm, he voted in its favour, because he voted for a principle. It had been said Scottish Presbyterians were narrow- minded and prejudiced in matters of religion. That statement he thought was untrue. Had the Scottish people forgotten the battle they fought in years gone by? Had they forgotten the name of Cameron and the Covenanters, and had they forgotten Grahame of Claver house, who strove at the point of the sword to force down the throats of an unwilling people a form of religion which they rejected and hated? He listened very attentively to the speech of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), a Gentleman he respected for high religious conviction and belief, one of the champions of the Church of England, and he knew how difficult it must have been for him to argue this question from a Theistic point of view. All the arguments which had emanated from the opposite side of the House had been based upon the fact that Christianity was part of the Common Law; and when hon. Gentlemen opposite tried to argue from the Christian point of view, they were met by that hideous phantom that they had admitted Jews into the Houses of Parliament. That was a very great difficulty. He rejoiced that the Jews had been admitted; but why were Jews admitted? Not because they were Jews and worshipped the God of the Christian religion, but because they were citizens of a great country, and contributed largely towards its Revenue, and had, therefore, a right to share in its application and control. He could not help feeling that the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge must recognize the teaching of the Athanasian Creed. But what did it teach? It taught them that every man, woman, and child who did not believe the doctrine of the Trinity was consigned to everlasting perdition. It made no difference between Theist and Atheist. They were all numbered in the same category. He asked those hon. Gentlemen who attended church on Good Friday if in the Second Collect they did not pray that God would have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Heretics, making no distinction as to these classes? He referred to this in no offensive spirit to Gentlemen of the Jewish persuasion, but Gentlemen opposite, who, starting on the Christian platform, had been obliged to come down to the Theistic one. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge himself had to admit that the Theism which they were bound to accept was one which a man, in order to obtain a seat in the House, must recognize—namely, a belief in the God of the Jews, because he was the God of the Christian. How could the right hon. Gentleman reconcile such an argument with the teaching of the Athanasian Creed? The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had stated in his able speech that Christianity was an integral part of the Common Law of this country; but the noble Lord had to leave the platform of Christianity and come down to that of Theism. The noble Lord had also told them that it was a pure accident that a great part of the Globe was not Arian. For himself, as a Christian, he did not believe in the doctrine of chance. He believed that all these things were regulated by an Omnipotent and a Prescient Being. He did not attach any weight to the prophecies that had been uttered as to the consequences of admitting Mr. Bradlaugh into that House. Surely Arius was a greater man than Mr. Bradlaugh; and if the teachings of Arius 340 years after the birth of Christ had had no influence in shaking the foundations of Christianity, how could they reconcile this fact with the statements of hon. Gentlemen opposite that there was any fear whatsoever from the teachings of such impotent persons as Mr. Bradlaugh and Mr. Foote? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), in a speech he made when this subject was first brought forward, was more liberal than he was now disposed to be. He then said he could not refuse admission to any man who believed in "some God or other." Therefore, he supposed a Polytheist would be one most fitted for a seat in this House, for out of the multiplicity of Deities that he adored, one might be found to recommend himself to the religious scruples of the hon. Gentleman. Then that fiery orator, the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), lectured the Liberal Members on the subject. He would like to ask the hon. Member, who was, no doubt, a sincere professor of the Roman Catholic faith, had the teachings of that faith in Ireland had any effect on the people there sufficiently to impress upon them the value of the Commandment—"Thou shalt not kill?" The hon. Member, who had adorned his speech with the choicest flowers of speech culled from the kitchen garden of rhetoric, had told hon. Members from Scotland that in supporting the Bill they were voting not only against their consciences, but at the risk of their seats. If the Liberal Scottish Members were to lose their seats, if they were to be immolated on the altar of prejudice and narrow-mindedness, then, at least, they would have this consolation. In the words of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, he would say that when the men of the future should read the story—when intolerance had given way to tolerance, when religion should not have given way to so called reason, and when the teaching of the Bible should not have given way to that of The Fruits of Philosophy, people of this country should still bask in the sunshine of Christianity, it would be said of these Scottish Members—"Well, they have done their duty." For his part, if he did lose his seat for voting conscientiously in favour of this Bill, be should always consider that be bad sacrificed and lost it by subscribing to those principles of justice and equity which had been most rightly said to be the very foundation and basis of all true religion.


said, that this Bill must not be considered as a question of Party or of policy; it was far beyond Party or political expediency— it was one vitally affecting the Constitution of the country—and he ventured to hope that on a subject so important, where Christian principles and religious opinions were in the balance and at stake, political partizanship would not intervene and influence their votes. The supporters of the Bill had argued the question principally on the ground of religious toleration; but he emphatically denied that this was a question of civil or religious liberty, or of religious disability. To say that any question of religious toleration or religious freedom was involved in this Bill was a transparent and palpable deception. No one had more successfully and completely demolished this argument in years gone by than the Prime Minister himself. He recognized as fully as any Member of the House the rights of conscience and of religious liberty. He sincerely advocated the principles of religious equality. As he understood the rights of religious liberty, they were that every man should be able to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of his conscience, without incurring civil or religious disabilities. Members of every religious denomination were freely admitted into the House of Commons. There was no objection to any particular form of religion. Hitherto, in the case of Dissenters and Jews, the differences were differences of creed, and not of religion; but, in proposing this Bill, the Government, under the guise and semblance of religious equality, were really inviting the House to abandon nil recognition of religion. The Oaths and Affirmations which were now obligatory upon every Member of the Legislature were not religious tests as distinguishing one religion from another, but simply the recognition of some form of religion. Oaths and Affirmations equally invited an appeal to a Divine Being. A solemn Affirmation was an act of religion; it was equivalent to a sacred obligation. If the Government were consistent, they would omit from the Bill any reference to the "solemnity" of an Affirmation, because the word "solemn" involved a recognition of the presence of a Supreme Being. Solemn meant "in the presence of God;" not a mere promise between man and man. Mr. Bradlaugh could not be disassociated or disconnected from this Bill; it was simply a Bill to enfranchise him; and the true nature of the transaction could not be disguised by any sophistries and evasions, or any special pleading, however ingenious. The Prime Minister had admitted that this Bill was introduced at the instigation of Mr. Bradlaugh. It was a Bill to facilitate the entrance of professed Atheists into Parliament—that was its sole and simple object. This Bill could not properly be said to be an amendment of the Act of 1806, for that Bill was originally introduced to enable Quakers and others who respected and recognized a God to take their seats in Parliament; and he did not think that Quakers would wish to be put into the same category as Mr. Bradlaugh—those who honoured and revered God's written Word, and those who contemptuously rejected and reviled it. If this radical and revolutionary alteration were made, they could not stop there; they must extend the same principle, and must give the same facilities outside as within Parliament in every part of the Con- stitution affected. That would be a disastrous and a dangerous innovation, and a violent disruption of the rule that religion was an essential principle of the Constitution, and that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of the country. The passing of this Bill would be regarded out-of-doors as a triumph of Atheism and Infidelity; it would un Christianize Parliament and scandalize the whole religious feeling of the country; it would be prejudicial to the best interests of the nation, and would raise the righteous indignation of the people of the country. He protested against a direct legislative recognition of absolute Atheism. Why was not this Bill introduced into the programme of the Session, and included in the Royal Speech, for all the other subjects sank into insignificance compared with it? Did Her Majesty object to give a prominent place to this Bill? This was a Constitutional question, upon which the constituencies had not yet had an opportunity of expressing their opinions. If any appeal to the country were required on any question, it was on this. He thought that the people ought to have an opportunity of expressing their opinion before this national crime was perpetrated. On every hand, they heard of people coming forward to express opinions antagonistic to the Bill. The Prime Minister himself had admitted the unpopularity of the measure; and the inconsistency of the Government was very remarkable in declaring the Bill to be of no importance, and then suspending the whole Business of the country in order to pass it. In considering this measure he would rather deal with principles than with men; but, at the same time, it was impossible for hon. Members to conceal from themselves the fact that Mr. Bradlaugh was the champion of Infidelity and the apostle of Atheism and immorality. Never had there been a martyr who was so little worthy of sympathy as Mr. Bradlaugh, who had not only-avowed himself to be an Atheist, but had also declared himself to be a Republican in both his writings and speeches. All religion had been offensively disowned and repudiated by him. He had not only denied the existence of a God, but had derided and contemned the most sacred doctrines of Christianity. No questions had been asked him; he had criminated him- self; he had raised himself the questions which demanded the consideration of the House. It had been said that there were already many Atheists in that House; but, at all events, they had never been admitted into that House as such, and they had made no public avowal of their Atheism. The mere fact that the Bill was not to be retrospective did not alter its principle, neither would it destroy the identity of Mr. Bradlaugh. The hon. Member who had just sat down had referred to the action and feelings of the Nonconformists. He believed, as a body, they were most anxious to uphold the religious character of our national life. In his opinion, religious Dissenters had been much exercised in their minds in reference to this question. He should like to know whether there was any sect of Nonconformists who were going to be Mr. Bradlaugh's religious and political sponsors? He should like to ask the members of such sects whether they had read his writings, whether they had attended his lectures, and whether they, in the remotest degree, sympathized with the principles and the doctrines he enunciated. He believed they abhorred and detested them. Surely this was a time and occasion when every conscientious and right minded man ought to speak his mind fearlessly, not to halt or to hesitate, not to tamper or temporize. If we had faith in our doctrines and principles, if we had confidence in our religious opinions, we ought to have courage in our religious convictions, and do our utmost to uphold and maintain them. In his opinion, the Roman Catholics had set an example with regard to this question that ought to be followed. The other day he saw it stated that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton had just returned from a visit to the Pope, and had issued an address to the Roman Catholics of Northampton in which he warned them against being beguiled in favouring the claims of Atheists to sit in Parliament. The Bishop said— Atheism leads to Socialism, and we must, therefore, band together to keep out of Parliament the Atheist, who has no idea of the first principles of legislation, which are based upon the existence of God. He regretted that the Prime Minister should have used his powerful eloquence and his unexampled personal influence in support of this measure. This was not the first time that they had heard the Prime Minister advocating principles which, for the best part of his life, he had resolutely opposed. No man in the House more admired and respected the transcendent abilities of the right hon. Gentleman. He could only deplore the fact that those abilities should have been so greatly marred by so many grave inconsistencies. He should like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to a speech which he made at Newark in 1837. On that occasion the late Sir William Molesworth was a candidate for Leeds, and he had declined to state whether he was a believer in the Christian religion, whereupon the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in referring to the matter, said— Is it not a time for serious reflection among all moderate and candid men of all Parties whether the tie which connects religion with the whole practice of life is to he cut and severed, and no distinction is to he made between a religious man and the man who is an avowed unbeliever as to his fitness for the performance of political duties? Surely you will say with me that men who have no belief in the Divine revelation are not the men to govern this nation, be they Whigs or Radicals; and certainly such Liberalism affords a tolerable indication of that policy by which they would thus tear up by the roots all that is dear to us, and all that makes life valuable. And yet this Bill, if it became law, would be wholly and entirely due to the personal influence of the Prime Minister. Let him tell the House and the country how he reconciled his expressions then with his practice now. The Bill was very distasteful to many hon. Members on the Government side of the House; and he would only ask hon. Members to weigh the arguments used at Newark, and those employed recently by the same eminent authority—so diametrically opposed to one another—and without favour, without prejudice, and without partizanship, to exercise their own conscientious judgment to which they should give their support. He should like to know whether, if the electors of Northampton had chosen to return a clergyman of the Church of England as their Representative, the Prime Minister would have found equally urgent arguments for modifying the law and altering the Constitution as he now was to pass this measure in obedience to mob agitation? This Bill was a premium on lawlessness, clamour, and intimidation. It was a direct encouragement to future and further agitation, because those outside would feel that agitation led to concession. He did not believe that the House would ever sanction the solemn denial of Almighty God. He did not believe they would ever banish religion from their national institutions. He was satisfied that the Bill was distasteful to hon. Members opposite, and even to some Members of the Government, who, in voting for its second reading, were subjecting their religious opinions to political partizanship. The recognition of religion had been, up to this time, the fundamental principle of our British Constitution—an essential qualification for Membership of that House. He believed it had been the cause and mainspring of our national greatness. He hoped that that religious basis on which the fabric of our national greatness rested would never be abolished.


said, that he did not at all approve of the plan of mixing up Mr. Bradlaugh's personal character and writings with the principle involved in this Bill. Had the character of the individual concerned been beyond reproach, he should still have objected to this measure. The question before the House was whether the man who refused to recognize the law of God was fit to make laws for his fellow-men. the Prime Minister now considered he was—they, on the contrary, considered that he was not. Therefore, the issue before the House was clear. The Prime Minister had been good enough to twit the Irish Members with inconsistency, because they, as Catholics, at one time claimed the right to sit in that House, and now they refused that right to another. The charge of inconsistency on this question came very badly from the Prime Minister, inasmuch as he himself at one time made a most emphatic declaration that men holding opinions such as Mr. Bradlaugh professed were unfit to be Members of the Governing Body. They were told that an Oath went to establish or to suggest a double standard of truth; but hon. Members who urged that argument did not seem themselves to realize exactly what was the meaning and purpose of an Oath. No religious man took an Oath voluntarily, if he was not obliged to take it, and no religious man would think of taking an Oath which was not necessary, because to take an Oath which was not necessary was to take the name of God in vain. An Oath was imposed for the satisfaction of the man who imposed it, not for the sate of the man who took it; and that fact lay at the bottom of the original institution of the Oath of Allegiance. He was very much surprised that during the debate the Oath, as it affected the question of allegiance, was overlooked. Did the duty of allegiance rest on the ability or the inability of the Sovereign to punish the traitor; or was there no higher sanction than that of human law? The Atheist recognized no law higher than human law; he measured his duty by his own power of resistance; he knew of no sanction more binding in its nature than brute force. Do away, then, with the recognition of God, and by what authority could they coerce a single individual, except by the sanction of brute force. It was said a man should not be prevented from taking his seat on account of his religious opinions; but the truth was, it was the utter absence of any religious conviction in the Atheist which disqualified him, and that simply because they had not the same hold upon an Atheist as they had upon those who clung to the belief in the existence of a beneficent Creator. Religious liberty must not be confounded with a licence which went to undermine all civil government, which would utterly debase and degrade, as Atheism always had, whenever it showed its head, both man and woman, which would sap social life, and destroy the basis of all law. If it was true, as the Attorney General had said, that an Atheist was not, as such, ineligible for a seat in the House, then it became high time such a person was declared ineligible. What, then, were the Government doing in asking the House to adopt the Bill? Formally and solemnly, in the practical form of an Act of Parliament, to make a declaration that, though religion might be very good for individual and private life, yet that, in effect, and in fact, the Almighty had nothing to do with the public affairs of men. Was the House prepared to make such a declaration as that? Suppose the Bill was passed, they would have at once to change or alter their Standing Orders; for no Member was at present entitled to take his seat and retain it unless he was present at prayers, and respectfully listened to them. Again, by what au- thority could they, by public enactment, compel men to recognize the Established Church in England, if they made a public declaration that they did not, as a body, think it necessary to recognize the existence of God at all? When they disestablished the Church they were only at the beginning of their difficulties. The Attorney General, the Solicitor General, and other Members bad stated that Christianity had nothing to do with the Common Law of the country. He listened to that statement with astonishment; and he would ask hon. Members to explain how it was, if Christianity had nothing to do with the Common Law of the country, they set apart every seventh day as the Lord's Day? If that did not show that Christianity had something to do with the Common Law—for it was not by Statute Law the day was religiously observed—he did not know what could; and if the House declared by the Bill that the recognition of God was of no account, how could they in future compel the observance of the Lord's Day? Further, if the measure passed, they would have to go into every school in the country and take the Bible out of the hands of the children; for how could they have the Scriptures as a portion of the curriculum in the lowest schools, as well as in the Universities, if Parliament refused to recognize any longer the existence of the Almighty? He would remind the House also that they would have to send up the Bill to that Royal Lady who reigned over this country "by the grace of God;" and he contended that the whole position of the matter was thus monstrous and absurd. It was difficult to understand how the Prime Minister could have been induced to bring in such a measure as this, and to give it all the weight of his argument and magnificent eloquence. In conclusion, standing there, the Representative of a constituency which was Christian without a single exception, he would say that, whatever might be the opinions of hon. Members opposite, he felt deeply and strongly that the Bill was not only a wrong to the people of England, but also an outrage on the Roman Catholic people of Ireland; and, therefore, he solemnly protested against it.


This Bill is opposed on two grounds—firstly, on the broad ground that an Atheist should not be allowed into Parliament; and, secondly, on account of the character and career of Mr. Bradlaugh. With reference to the first, it appears to me that the present Rule does not exclude Atheists from Parliament. Any man well known to the community to be an Atheist might come to the Table, take the Bible in his hand and take the Oath, and nobody could object if he did not state his Atheistic views in the House. The only result of retaining the Oath in such a case is to profane it and to render it a mockery. Another thing which has struck me is that it is evident, from the tone of many of the speeches which we have heard against the Bill, that the desire to maintain a test is not the reason why many oppose the Bill, but the desire to exclude Mr. Bradlaugh; and the result is that, if this Bill wore brought in unconnected with Mr. Bradlaugh, it would pass by a large majority. ["No, no!"] I know very well right hon. Members on the other side oppose it on principle, and without reference to Mr. Bradlaugh; but it is notorious that, among the opponents, a large number are moved merely by opposition to Mr. Bradlaugh, and that if this Bill were brought in without reference to Mr. Bradlaugh they would support it. I do not think that the interests of religion are being served by the opposition to this Bill. I am bound to say I do not think that the discussion of this question can do any harm amongst educated men, because I regard it as impossible for an educated man to be an Atheist. But I say these discussions are calculated to do great harm amongst uneducated men, and the harm is greatly enhanced by the danger of the opposition making a hero of Mr. Bradlaugh. I respect the opposition offered by hon. Members on the other side of the House. I respect the motives of everybody; but their opposition is not all founded on religious grounds. I have no doubt some of the opposition rests on religious grounds, but not all. This subject was brought before the House in 1882 by the hon. Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks), who proposed to permit Affirmation. He received support from many hon. Members deserving of respect, including an enlightened English Catholic Gentleman—the hon. Member for Berwick (Mr. Jerningham). I go back to July, 1880, and I find a proposal made by the Prime Minister that Mr. Bradlaugh should be allowed to affirm, subject to such legal consequences as might result from it; and I find the names of 11 Roman Catholic Members supporting the proposal; and I find—what is still more remarkable—when Mr. Alexander Sullivan, then a Member of this House, proposed that Mr. Bradlaugh should not get the benefit of the Prime Minister's victory, and that the Resolution which was adopted on the Prime Minister's Motion should not be retrospective, no less than 10 Roman Catholic Members insisted against Mr. Sullivan to give the right retrospectively to Mr. Bradlaugh. It is well known that these Gentlemen are about to oppose this Bill, although it is not retrospective. Now, the religious question is just the same as in 1880. [Cries of "No, no!"] It will be for hon. Gentlemen who voted for the Prime Minister's Motion in 1880, and against Mr. Sullivan's Amendment, to point out where the difference lies. I do not think I see any of them sitting there now; but the altered course of hon. Members surely cannot be altogether the result of their religious views. It is perfectly well known and admitted that this occasion is fairly regarded as a legitimate opportunity for attacking a political adversary. I have always supported Mr. Bradlaugh's claim to sit in this House, on the ground that he had a legal right to do so, and that it would be unjust to refuse his claims. The Bill appears to me only to propose that Mr. Bradlaugh, if returned again, should be allowed to do by affirming that which he was legally entitled to do the second time he was elected by taking the Oath, and what he was illegally prevented from doing. These grounds make it simply a matter of justice on my part to vote for this Bill. Mr. Bradlaugh's conduct has nothing to do with the question. That concerns Northampton. The hon. Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes) quoted the words of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton asking the people not to vote for Mr. Bradlaugh. I thoroughly agree with the Bishop of Northampton; but the way to keep Mr. Bradlaugh out of the House of Commons was not to return him. That concerned the people of Northampton. If I had a vote in the borough of Northampton I would travel 100 miles to give it against Mr. Bradlaugh, because I think his teachings on moral and religious subjects are of the most pernicious kind; but that is not the question here. With me the question resolves itself into this—that Mr. Brad-laugh has a perfectly legal right to sit in the House; and, therefore, I am bound to give effect to that right by voting for the Bill.


said, he considered it an improper way of stating the case to argue that the Bill was opposed with a desire to exclude Mr. Brad-laugh. The fact was that, by the existing law of the land, Mr. Bradlaugh was excluded, and this Bill was introduced with the view of admitting him. All these questions were not Party questions in any sense, and he hoped they never would be questions of Party; and he rejoiced to know that those who opposed the measure would find considerable sympathy from Members on the other side of the House. He would point out, too, that the 600,000 persons who signed Petitions against the Bill could not possibly be said to be all Tories. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had made a speech which they had all admired; and at the end of it he (Sir John R. Mowbray) had almost been driven to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman and those who sat near him were the real champions of Christianity, and that those who opposed the Bill were, after all, only miserable Deists. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had said that the Oath might have been taken by Voltaire; Mr. Dale, of Birmingham, said it might have been taken by Pontius Pilate or Nero; and a clerical writer in The Guardian, closely connected with the Prime Minister, described it as an anti-Christian Oath; but was that so? What was the Oath? A Member came up to the Table, took the Oath, held in his hands the Book which was the revelation of truth to every Christian, and called God to witness. Was not that a Christian Oath? And what was the case with the Jew? He came up to the Table, and took the Oath on that portion of the Scriptures which the Christian respected as much as the Jew, and ho swore by the same God. Take what words they might, the God by whom they swore was the God of the Hebrew and the God of the Chris- tian, and was not "some God or other" —such a God as might have been worshipped in the period of the Antonines or the Reign of Julian, or such as was referred to in the philosophy of Lucretius, as the right hon. Gentleman had suggested to them. The reason why Dissenters were allowed to affirm was that they, too, appealed to the New Testament, which said to them—"Swear not at all." He desired to press these facts upon the House, because the Government and their supporters had laid great stress on minimizing and abusing the Oath. The question of the Oath had rested for 25 years, and they on that side of the House said that it was not because there was any demand for this change throughout the country that the Bill was introduced, but it was in the interests of one individual man; and all the great schemes of the Government were postponed in order to introduce Mr. Bradlaugh into the House. If they conceded the question of invoking the Deity with the Oath, how long could they secure the Declaration of Allegiance to the Crown? If they began to give way to persons with all sorts of speculative opinions the House of Commons would not long remain a Christian Assembly, and very soon they might forego prayers and dispense with the services of the chaplain. The individual they wished to admit to the House did not only not believe in God, but he did not believe in the Monarchy, and the two principles of "Fear God and honour the King" were inseparably bound up together; and if the name of God were omitted from the form of the Oath, a claim might soon be set up for the abolition of its substance.


said, that the electors of Northampton had nothing to complain of in the way in which Mr. Bradlaugh had been treated. They had full notice of the objections taken against his election, and they certainly might have elected someone else if they had been disposed. Until he hoard the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy), he had hoped that the claim of Mr. Bradlaugh to sit in the House had been disposed of. The hon. and learned Member thought he had made a point, because, in 1882, certain Roman Catholics voted for the Motion of the Prime Minister, on the strength of statements that he had a legal right to sit; but surely that was no reason why they should support this Bill. They supported the Premier's Motion out of respect for the law, and not from any desire that Mr. Bradlaugh should be added to the number of legislators. His alleged right to sit having been disposed of, hon. Members were going to give their votes on the real question now at issue—whether Mr. Bradlaugh and such men should be admitted to Parliament in the future. He sincerely hoped the Bill would never become law. The Bill would not in itself admit Mr. Bradlaugh; he would have to be returned again by his constituents, and would have to come there and take some form of Affirmation. The only argument which had been used for the purpose of securing votes was based on the assumption that there was no existing test which excluded Atheists. It was possible there might be some Atheists in the House at present; he would assume that there was one. Such a Member, however, had not affected them with notice of his Atheism; he had concealed that fact when ho entered the House; and he was bound to respect the religion of the House, the religion of the country, and his obedience to its laws, which society itself would impose upon him. The case of Mr. Bradlaugh was wholly different. In his case, to use a legal phrase, the House was like a purchaser affected with notice. They knew very well that he was not only an Atheist, but an agitating Atheist, and that he intended to use that House as a platform from which to work upon the religious belief of the country, and he believed he would use it for that purpose with great effect. Up to that time, Mr. Bradlaugh appeared to imagine that he had won all along the line. Even if he won there by the passing of this Bill, that House was not the only test which such a Bill had to pass. It had also to pass the House of Lords—["Oh!"]— to which he would not further allude under that name; and if it was passed by a small majority, perhaps the Government would not venture to pursue it, and then where would be the victory all along the line? The Prime Minister had used his influence in favour of this measure; but the Prime Minister was not a humble Christian. He was proud of his righteousness in a certain sense; and he felt himself clothed, so to speak, with a garment of asbestos, which could not be consumed by such weak flames as Mr. Bradlaugh might bring to boar against it. The beginning of wisdom was the fear of the Divinity. Religion itself meant a restraint; it meant a restraint imposed upon them by their consciences—a feeling that there was a Superior Power, Who held them in the hollow of His hand. It was a restraint which equally bound one class of Christians and another; and when they came to reflect upon the vistas of licence that were opened to them upon the theory that there was no future state and no God, the House might well reflect before admitting a man like Mr. Bradlaugh to the House. The hon. Member for Wick-low (Mr. M'Coan), in the course of his speech, had quoted certain passages from Mr. Bradlaugh's works. He believed that Mr. Bradlaugh had himself called out "No, no!" and the sitting Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) said there was no foundation for those statements, and that they had long since been retracted. He had there some books containing passages to the same effect bearing the imprimatur of Mr. Bradlaugh's publisher, and possessing all the evidences of authenticity; and though lie would not trouble the House with citing them the volumes were there, and anyone who desired to do so might see them. The hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had already stated the objection which existed from the Catholic point of view to Mr. Bradlaugh. The hon. Member had by no means overstated the intensity of feeling on this subject; and he (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) ventured to say that there was not one constituency— not even the constituency of Limerick— which would not repudiate as a violation of the sentiments of Ireland any support given to this Bill.


said, there was one remark which fell from the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) which he was quite sure the majority of the House cordially agreed with. That remark was that, throughout the whole course of the debate, personal considerations respecting Mr. Bradlaugh had occupied far too prominent a place. It was, no doubt, impossible wholly to exclude such considerations from this subject; but he was strongly of opinion that the name of Mr. Bradlaugh had been too much imported into the discussion. When he was sitting there last Tuesday listening in agony to the discussion which preceded the opening of the debate, he confessed he was rather pained to hear the observations which were then made about Mr. Bradlaugh, nor did he think they were conducive to the dignity of the House. He was reminded of a ceremony which used formerly to take place in the village of Wokingham, and which was only abolished about 60 years ago. It was upon St. Thomas's Day, when the authorities, first of all, duly celebrated the day by going to church, and when the service was over they repaired to the marketplace to bait a bull, and when the bull had been baited he was afterwards killed and eaten. Now, he did not think it was a very generous practice to bait any animal, whether man or beast, who was muzzled. That was one reason why he was glad that this debate was drawing to an end. He would not have troubled the House in this debate had it not been for the part he had taken on previous occasions. He was one of those who strongly opposed Mr. Brad-laugh's taking the Oath, and he had never regretted the vote he gave on that occasion. He thought that, considering that Mr. Bradlaugh had really put himself out of Court by acknowledging his unfitness to take the Oath, and by proposing to substitute an Affirmation, the House was not only justified, but was bound to see that the Oath was not profaned by his taking it. But he coupled the remarks he then made with the distinct statement that, inasmuch as he considered that Mr. Bradlaugh was precluded from taking his seat in the House by the door of the Oath, he ought to be allowed to do so by the door of the Affirmation. He supposed that 99 out of every 100 people one might meet in the street, if asked to say what was the object of this Bill, would say that it was a Bill introduced for the purpose of admitting into Parliament Atheists in general, and Mr. Bradlaugh in particular. ["Hear, hear!"] The cheers of hon. Gentlemen opposite showed that ho was perfectly well founded in his opinion as to the popular interpretation placed upon the Bill; and he was bound to say that, if that interpretation were correct, those who held it to be so would have a good deal to say for themselves; but that was not his view of the Bill. His view was that it was a Bill to enable Mr. Bradlaugh, or anybody else of the same character or description, who was not legally disqualified from taking his seat, to take it in such a manner as not to shock the feelings of the House. It was no discredit to Mr. Bradlaugh, when he came down to take his seat, to offer to do so by way of Affirmation. He thought it himself very natural that anybody should think that the same ceremony and form, couched almost in the same language, as enabled and was required of an Atheist to give evidence in a Court of Justice, might enable him to qualify himself for sitting in Parliament by tendering a Declaration of Allegiance in similar terms. At all events, it was a natural mistake to make; and he confessed it his opinion, looking to common sense and the technical construction of the Affirmation Statute, that it was perfectly fair and reasonable to suppose that anybody who could qualify himself by making an Affirmation in a Court of Justice, to give evidence on which the lives and property of people might depend, should be able to qualify himself by using the same words for declaring his allegiance to the Queen. But they knew that opinion had been set aside by the Courts of Law, which held that the Statute was not intended to include persons of that description. But, on the other hand, the least creditable part of Mr. Bradlaugh's conduct was in coming down and offering to take the Oath that ho had previously declined to take. He should not offer any justification of that conduct. He strongly opposed it at the time, with the proviso that when the time came for allowing an Affirmation to be made he should support it. Another point, he thought, would be set right by passing this Bill. The House, at present, was placed in an absurd dilemma. It had been supposed by some people that there was an essential distinction between the case of a man making an Affirmation in that House and in a Court of Justice, as if, on the one side, there was simple compulsion, and, on the other, free will. But that was not the correct view of the case. A Member elected by his constituents was bound to sit. He had not the power of releasing himself. He might ask for the Chiltern Hundreds; but that might be refused. He had no power to disqualify himself from performing his duties in Parliament. Mr. Bradlaugh had been elected for Northampton, and was bound to sit, but was prevented from taking his seat by a vote of the House. He thought that an untenable and an absurd proposition, and one desirable effect of the Bill would be to put an end to so absurd a condition of things. The only alternative seemed to be this. If they wanted to disfranchise Atheists, let them do so by Statute. If they succeeded in throwing out the Bill, they wore bound to bring in a Bill distinctly to disfranchise them. If they had the courage of their opinions, let them do so. He would not say it would not be a good thing if Atheists were excluded; but, if so, why should not people who led bad lives be also excluded? Unless they were prepared to face the difficulty of such a proceeding, and the difficulty of having to decide, by Courts of Law, who were or were not Atheists, he could not see what alternative they had but simply to allow any man, no matter what his opinions, to make a simple Declaration. He would refer to a passage quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir B. Assheton Cross), and also by the Prime Minister. It was the famous dictum of Lord Lyndhurst, uttered 25 years ago, about religious liberty. He was no wild enthusiast about religious liberty. He looked on it, not as the most desirable thing on abstract grounds, but that it was simply necessary, in the present imperfect condition of society, to prevent greater evils—the evils of religious persecution. He accepted in that sense the dictum of Lord Lyndhurst, which was as follows: — Religious liberty I take to be this—that everyone, with respect to office, power, or emolument, should be put on a footing of perfect equality with his neighbour, without regard to his religious opinions, unless those opinions are such as to disqualify him for the proper performance of the duties of his office. Now, that was the hinge on which the whole question hung. What was Atheism? What were the opinions of any creed which might be supposed to disqualify a person from performing properly the duties of a Member of Parliament? The answer was given by one right hon. Gentleman, who was a great authority in that House—-namely, Mr. Roebuck. Mr. Roebuck would have excluded Mormons as being unfit to associate with their fellow-men. That was a curious remark, because he (Mr. Walter) apprehended that they were disqualified by the Criminal Law if they attempted to push their theories into practice. When he was in the United States ho was introduced to a Mormon, who was a Member, he believed, of their House of Representatives, so that they were not there disqualified; but it was perfectly clear that they could be dealt with by the Criminal Law if they attempted to carry their opinions into practice. He apprehended that the point was this. Nothing really disqualified a man on account of his religious opinions unless they could bring him within the Criminal Law. Some people really talked as if the House of Commons were a model of virtue and orthodoxy. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) said, the other night, that a man who was an Atheist, and thereby liable to be hold incapable of taking charge of his own children, was àa fortiori unfit to sit in that House. Now, he (Mr. Walter) would give them a strong instance, showing that a man could not be disqualified on that ground. When he was at Eton he recollected seeing a remarkable man who came down there. He only saw him two or three seconds; but his countenance made an indelible impression on his memory, and he remembered even now his dress. He came down to see his son, and what benefit that boy was likely to derive from the parent's visit might be inferred from the fact that a short time afterwards the parent was held by the Court of Chancery, under Lord Eldon, unfit to have charge of his son. That parent was Mr. Long Tilney Wellesley Long, who was a Member of that House, and afterwards occupied a seat in the House of Lords. He found the greatest difficulty in believing that any human being above the level of a savage was really an Atheist at all. He would mention a curious fact that came to his knowledge only a short time ago. He went into his library to consult a book in which was to be found all kinds of information. That was The Encyclopœdia Britannica. He looked at the eighth edition of that work under the word "Atheism," and found this brief account— Many, both ancient and modern, have pretended to Atheism, or have been reckoned Atheists by the world; but it may justly be questioned whether any man ever seriously adopted such a principle. That was only an account of what Atheism was 30 years ago. Perhaps it might be said that there had been a great development of Atheism since that time. But in the last of all of the work to which he had referred he could find nothing at all under the head of Atheism. Did people really mean to say that there was any danger from Atheism to that House or to the country at large? There were two classes of Atheism. He was not speaking of the large class of people who, in the language of preachers, were living without God in the world, but of a class of what might be termed speculative Atheists—a very small class of persons, who were so absorbed in the study of second causes that they forgot all about the first, and, indeed, almost reasoned themselves out of their own intellects; but such Atheists were few, and had little or no influence. But as for people making the denial of God the basis of their conduct in life, he, for one, did not believe in the existence of any such class. When he considered the poverty and sickness, the pain and misery, the disappointment and disgust, nay, the very surfeit and satiety which existed all around them, he was quite sure that Hamlet's famous question, "To be, or not to be?" would be answered by multitudes in a very different manner, but for the instinctive, ineradicable belief in God, and the dread of that "undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveller returns." Even the great Roman orator and philosopher had expressed the same thought when he said— Vetat enim dominans ille in nobis Deus injussu nos hine suo demigrare. He would like, however, to offer to hon. Members opposite one or two words of consolation. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had said that he believed that the Bill aimed a deadly blow at Christianity. But that, as he (Mr. Walter) well remembered, was the language used 25 years ago with respect to the removal of Jewish disabilities. He was a Member of the House at that time, and was present at the debate which then took place.


wished to correct the hon. Member. He did not say the Bill would deal a deadly blow at Christianity, but at the Christianity of the House.


said, that Lord Chelmsford did at that time use those very words, that the admission of Jews into Parliament would be fatal to Christianity; and the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) said that this Bill would deal a deadly stab either at Christianity, or at religion in general. The House would remember that even so liberal-minded a man as the late Dr. Arnold entertained the same opinion as to the effect of the admission of Jews into Parliament; but what had been the actual result? Had the Christianity of the House really suffered, in the opinion of hon. Members, from the admission of the Jews? He believed the effect had been directly the reverse, and that so far had the emancipation of the Jews been from injuring the Christian character of that Assembly, that it had been a great advantage to any Christian Member of that House to have a class of persons before him who would remind him of the truth of his religion. When he saw a Jew sitting before him in that House, he saw one of the most remarkable people that exists, or ever had existed, on the face of the earth. "Wanderers among the nations," persecuted in some countries, welcomed and esteemed in others; attaining to the highest eminence in art, in science, in law, in literature, in politics, with one and only one characteristic blessing unrevoked—"And thou shalt lend to many nations and shall not borrow," there they stood, ancient monuments of a past dispensation, of which we inherit the fruits, yet condemned for the present to see their land desolate, their city in the hands of strangers, "because it knew not the day of its visitation." Yet they trusted it had still a better time in store; and they looked upon it with love and hope. There was one more lesson they might draw from the presence among them of those who did not share their religious beliefs. The presence of such men might have the effect of throwing them back upon themselves, and of making them realize, as they might not otherwise have done, the reasons for the convictions which they cherished. It was never too late to despair of the con- version of any man; God forbid that they should do so, even in the case of an avowed Atheist. For his part, he would rather have to deal with an avowed than with a concealed Atheist. If they had yet to reckon with Atheism, whether in or out of that House, let them not enter the lists weighted with the armour of political injustice. It had been well said that error was never a match for truth; but it was often more than a match for truth and persecution, combined.


said, that ho represented one of the largest constituencies in the country, and one which consisted mainly of working men; and, in his opinion, during the 10 years he had sat for the constituency, he never more truly represented their sentiments than in opposing that Bill. He was as strong a supporter as any man of the principles of religious toleration; and no one could recognize more cordially than he did the great services rendered by the Liberal Party in support of those principles. But he could not, like the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), compare the present state of things with the admission of Jews and Roman Catholics to that Assembly. To do so was the grossest libel on Jews and Roman Catholics. In their case there was a genuine conscientious objection to the taking of the Oath then enforced. There was no such scruple in Mr. Bradlaugh's case, as that gentleman was prepared to take any form of Oath which might be tendered to him. Besides, in the case of Jews and Roman Catholics, whole classes of the community were excluded; while the present Bill was brought in for the benefit of one man only, who represented nobody. The argument of the Attorney General and the Judge Advocate General that there had been, and were now, Atheists in the House told against, and not in favour of the Bill; for, if that was so, what need was there to alter the law? It was contended that Atheists could now only gain admission by desecrating the Oath. That, however, was not the fault of the House. He did not, however, admit the fact, as he thoroughly agreed with the hon. Member for Berkshire in doubting the existence of a genuine Atheist. There was no class of men kept out by the present law; but one man only—Mr. Brad- laugh. Nor would he have been excluded if he had not chosen to insist on entering the House, not as a Liberal or even as a Republican, but in the character of an Atheist. That was proved to be the case, not only by Mr. Brad-laugh's conduct, and by the open statements of the organ which represented his views, but by Mr. Bradlaugh's own words, he having publicly stated that he intended to plant the banner of Free-thought in front of the Speaker's desk that ho might have a good look at it. The Prime Minister had said that the law had in each case of enfranchisement been altered for the sake of one man. But, if that was so, it was impossible to stop at that Bill. To-morrow a man might come forward and object not only to the taking of the Oath, but to making an Affirmation. If that were so, the Government would be logically bound to pass a law for the abolition of the Affirmation. The right hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) entirely recognized that necessity, and urged that both Oath and Affirmation ought to be done away with. Was, however, the House prepared to abolish all tests of loyalty to the Crown? The right hon. Member went on to say that Oath and Affirmation wore alike needless now, as the Oath was, in the first instance, imposed to insure allegiance to the reigning Sovereign, and there was now no question of that. Was that not contrary to fact in reference to this very matter? At a meeting of the Republican Club Mr. Bradlaugh was reported to have brought a terrible array of accusations against the House of Brunswick, saying that he was loyal to the England of Hampden and of Cromwell, but that he would not be loyal to this German Family. Could it, therefore, be seriously contended that there was no desire on the part of anyone who came into that House to overturn the Monarchy? This Bill he regarded as the beginning of a revolution both social and political. It would secure the triumph of Atheism with all the obnoxious doctrines which the great disciple and high priest of Atheism preached. And for whose benefit were they asked to make this dangerous change? The Prime Minister had himself declared that public opinion was not in favour of the Bill. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] The Prime Minister shook his head; but he remembered the right hon. Gentleman saying that at every recent election he lost votes and the Conservatives gained them in consequence of this measure. What was the meaning of that, but that the Bill was unpopular? Indeed, they need not go outside of that House to know that. The right hon. Gentleman, with his great majority of 120 or 130 behind him, would consider it a triumph if he were to carry this Bill by a majority of 20. No class had asked for the Bill. It was intended for the benefit of one man, who for 30 years had reviled the faith of the people of this country, who had blasphemed the sacred name which they revered, who had undermined the sanctity of family life, and who had only escaped, by a legal quibble, from the punishment he deserved for the promulgation of filthy literature. The Attorney General, in moving the second reading, and the Judge Advocate General, in the extracts he gave them from his old Burials Bill speeches, told hon. Members on that side of the House that they were responsible for the position which Mr. Bradlaugh had now achieved in this country. He remembered the Judge Advocate General leaning across the Table and saying to them—"Who was Mr. Bradlaugh three years ago?" Let hon. Members on the right hon. Gentleman's own side of the House answer his question. Mr. Bradlaugh was but an obscure individual until the Liberal Party took up his cause in the year 1880. They on that side of the House had been perfectly justified in every action they had taken in reference to Mr. Bradlaugh, and, in fact, were forced to take it, in consequence of the course pursued by the Liberal Party. Every exertion which could be made, official and non-official, was made in 1880 to induce the electors of Northampton to return Mr. Bradlaugh; and the great name of one of the most justly respected members of the Nonconformist Body was pressed into the service. What did the following telegram mean which came from him?— I strongly urge the necessity of united effort by all Members of the Liberal Party, and the sinking of minor and personal questions by many with whom I deeply sympathize, in order to prevent the return, in so pronounced a constituency, of even one Conservative. It was true that the hon. Gentleman who sent that telegram had since re- gretted having sent it; but the repentance came too late—the mischief was done. Rather an Atheist than a Conservative; that was the cry in Northampton in 1880. No doubt, the Liberal Party bitterly regretted now the course they pursued at that time. They thought then that the election would be a very narrow one, and that every vote would tell; and, consequently, they supported Mr. Bradlaugh's candidature. When, however, they found that they could have dispensed with Mr. Bradlaugh, they regretted very much the support they had given him. The subsequent conduct of the Government had materially added to the notoriety of Mr. Bradlaugh. If they had dealt with the question straightforwardly and strongly it would have been settled long ago. But, instead of doing that, they began to pursue the policy which they had so frequently pursued since—the policy of delegation. They delegated their responsibility first to a Committee of that House, and then to the Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the House shirked his responsibility in a manner unparalleled in the history of the House of Commons. The crowning act for the notoriety of Mr. Bradlaugh was the introduction of this Bill in response to the pressure brought to bear upon the Government by Mr. Bradlaugh and his followers. If the measure became law they would have done more to erect Mr. Bradlaugh on a pedestal of notoriety than could have been done in any other manner. He had received a letter from a correspondent, long a Member of the congregation presided over by Dr. Kennedy, who was quoted in favour of this Bill by the Prime Minister. Dr. Kennedy had been a Nonconformist minister in his own constituency, well-known as a conscientious and an able man, but also well known as a very extreme politician. His correspondent asked him to state to the House that a large section of the Rev. Mr. Kennedy's congregation was opposed to the passing of the Bill, and that, in a debating society connected with the congregation, a resolution in favour of the Bill had been rejected by a considerable majority. The Government might obtain a small triumph tonight in that House; but the country would award it to those who had opposed this obnoxious and demoralizing measure.


Sir, there is one simple but very important question I should like to submit to the House; and that is this—if it were possible, on this occasion, to discard all Party spirit—if it were possible so to conduct the debate, both in and out of the House, as not simply to attempt to embarrass political opponents—not simply to wound a Government, or to fasten upon a political Party charges which those who utter them ought to know to be false; if it were of religion alone that men were thinking in this House; if they were thinking how best to promote religion throughout this country and to maintain reverence for religion—if these considerations were alone guiding the views and the feelings of hon. Members, I should like to know on what side would the vote be cast? For my part, I fearlessly answer the question, and I say that I believe religion would suffer if the Conservative Party opposite were to carry their views. I say it is a dangerous thing for religion that one political Party should attempt to make out that it has a monopoly of that religion, and that its opponents are inspired by a different sentiment. You have brought very many heavy charges against the Liberal Party, both in and out of the House; but I say to the Conservative Party that both in and out of the House they have endeavoured to bring religion into the battle-field on this subject; they have endeavoured to clothe religion in the livery of a political faction. They have endeavoured to pin on her sleeve the badge of a Party. They have put religion in the forefront of the battle; but the cause is yours, not hers. Is it wise, do you think, to put religion in the position in which you have endeavoured to force it on this occasion? I will endeavour to make good my proposition that religion would suffer if this Bill were thrown out; and I venture to say you will find that whether you argue the question from the point of view of the simple admission of Mr. Bradlaugh individually into this House, or whether you argue it from the point of view of abolishing the Oath and substituting an Affirmation as a general measure—in neither case do I believe you will have served the true interests of religion. You—the Conservative Party—have argued the case as if it were that of Mr. Bradlaugh and Mr. Bradlaugh's opi- nions. [cries of "No!"] I say "Yes." And when the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) just now said that it ought not to be argued from the point of Mr. Bradlaugh he, was cheered by hon. Members opposite; and, further, the Leader of the Conservative Party, when the Motion of the hon. Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks) was brought forward, did not by any means discountenance the idea of introducing a general Bill into Parliament. Nay, my right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford North-cote) said the question of a Bill was a totally different question from the simple admission of Mr. Bradlaugh, and the two questions ought to be treated as distinct. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has been obeyed by his Party in the view he took upon that point; because, as has already been pointed out to the House, the case has been argued by them as if the simple question were the admission of Mr. Bradlaugh, and that the Liberal Party were burning with desire to see him admitted within these walls. [Cheers from the Irish Members.] I see those cheers come from below the Gangway rather than above it. Hon. Members opposite are almost afraid to cheer that statement, at all events, in this House. [Cries of "No!"] You cannot look into your consciences and say the Liberal Party are anxious to see Mr. Bradlaugh in this House. But do hon. Gentlemen believe that religion would be endangered and imperilled if Mr. Bradlaugh were allowed to take his seat in this House? [Mr. R. N. FOWLER: Yes.] I am afraid the hon. Alderman magnifies immensely the influence Mr. Bradlaugh would have if he sat within this House. The influence Mr. Bradlaugh would have, if he sat within the House, would be the influence due to his own individual abilities and the mandate he received from a single constituency. He would sit here among 650 Members; and I venture to think that Mr. Bradlaugh out of this House, in the circumstances which have occurred, is more dangerous to the interests of religion than Mr. Bradlaugh sitting in this House. The hon. Member who has just spoken said that the Liberal Party have lifted Mr. Bradlaugh out of obscurity. No, Sir; that has not been done by the Liberal Party; it has been done by the House having permitted a political question to be. bound up with Mr. Bradlaugh. It is due to the fact that Mr. Bradlaugh's opinions have been mixed up with a principle really dear to the country generally —namely, that a constituency shall be entitled freely to choose its own Representative. It is from that fact that Mr. Bradlaugh has acquired such notoriety that his meetings have been filled to overflowing by many who otherwise would not have crowded to hear Mr. Bradlaugh at all. It is almost an outrage on this House to believe that the presence of Mr. Bradlaugh within these walls would have such an influence as to lead to the consequences that have been described by hon. Members opposite. I think, on the whole, that hon. Members, when they are not at the hustings, and are debating the matter seriously, will prefer to take their stand on another issue, not by continually arguing it side by side with the question of Mr. Brad-laugh's personal opinions, but by putting Mr. Bradlaugh aside altogether. ["Hear, hear!"] That cheer means that now you want to put Mr. Bradlaugh aside. But a short time ago, whenever his name was mentioned, you cheered as if his admission alone were the issue, and the time of the House was continually taken up in reading extracts from his works, and now hon. Members say it is right to put that aside. ["No!"] It is evident that I cannot please hon. Members either way. As a matter of fact, many hon. Members have taken more serious ground than simply the exclusion of Mr. Bradlaugh; they have put the question on the ground of the abolition of the national recognition of Christianity. [Mr. R. N. Fowler: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member cheers; but, after all, it was not put upon that ground at all. It is not the abolition of the recognition of Christianity, but the abolition of the recognition of Deism, which is alleged as the issue—certainly not the recognition of Christianity, because that point was surrendered when the Jews were admitted. Now, I respect the views and feelings of hon. Members opposite with regard to this point. I think it is an honourable and religious sentiment, and one in which we can all coincide; but the Oath, as it stands at present, I firmly believe to be no barrier against Infidelity and irreligion. It is not a barrier, but a flag— an honoured flag—and if we could keep it, so much the better. But are we, for the sake of a sentiment, to run into the danger we see upon the other side. The danger on the other side is this—that if we are going to keep the religious question mixed up with the political question, we are going to drive large masses of our countrymen into the camp of Infidelity. That is the question that must be faced. Do hon. Members opposite— I ask them as reasonable men—do they believe that, if this Bill were thrown out to-night, or if it were dropped, the question would be buried and would be at an end? Do not they know that, if that were done, religion would be dragged upon every platform in the Kingdom for years to come? Do not they know that the sacred mysteries, for which most of us feel a reverence and awe, would be brought into election contests, and that missiles taken from words and thoughts that we most revere would be flung to and fro, to the great detriment of religion throughout the length and breadth of the land? You cannot bring the question to a close by your vote to-night. If the Bill is thrown out, you will keep up an agitation which —I hope I may be deceived—but which I fear will stimulate in the country that tendency towards scepticism which, while we rejoice to call ourselves a Christian nation, we cannot ignore. We say that we are a Christian nation, and the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) was able to say that he believed he had not a single constituent who was not a Christian; but, among the teeming masses of the country, are there not many whom the voice of Christianity has never reached? Can we be blind to the fact that there is a recruiting ground for Infidelity and scepticism in the country? With the same conscientiousness with which you defend religion on the one hand, we are perfectly entitled to say, on the other, that we believe we shall do better for the cause of religion if we pass a Bill of this: kind and settle the question, rather than allow this agitation to go on. Hon. Members opposite speak as if no voice of authority were raised on this side of the question by men eminent in the Church, and who are as anxious as hon. Members opposite themselves for the prosperity of the Church and of religion. Is any hon. Member opposite not aware that distinguished men among the clergy are not wanting who take the same view that we do of the question? I have read the speeches of these men in Convocation with delight, and have contrasted them mentally with the speeches of political Churchmen in this House who see nothing but one side of the question, and who are animated, to a certain extent, I am afraid, by the Party advantage which they see before them. A right hon. Gentleman this evening has said that he believes that many on this side of the House will not vote according to their consciences. That is a taunt; but the taunt is equally true on the other side also. You have said that there are Liberals who will vote for you. How is it that, although in the Church there are men who hold our opinions, there is not a single political Churchman who takes our view? I shall give my vote on this occasion without compunction; and I know that, however loud may be the cheers that will greet a close division, those cheers will not indicate any victory for religion. They will simply indicate a political triumph, for which we may have to pay dearly in continual agitation — an agitation in which religion will be dragged before every constituency, but from which religion will not, I hope, suffer that injury which is certain to follow if this contest is continued, and if the demands of the people should be refused.


Mr. Speaker, I must confess that I have some difficulty in understanding with what object or in what interest the speech we have just heard has been delivered. It seemed to me that a right hon. Gentleman who was so disposed to accuse his opponents of Party spirit on a question which ho himself represents—and truly represents—as being one of the greatest magnitude and one of the greatest national importance, and of importance, above all, to the cause of religion itself — should have himself abstained from adding fuel to the fire and creating and stirring up the very heat and animosity to which he professes to object. I do not wish to say very much on that point, because it seems to me that the right lion. Gentleman's speech was the speech of a man who felt ho was fighting a losing game; and I can excuse, and I think we all should feel disposed to excuse, a little irritation under such circumstances. I must say, for my own part, that I had hoped it might have been possible for mo, in the few observations with which I shall trouble the House, to have avoided altogether anything in the nature of personal or Party contention. But it is impossible, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and after some observations which have been made by other lion. Members in the course of this long debate, that I should avoid saying a few words with regard to my own course, and that of my Friends in this matter. The charge which has been brought against us, and against myself in particular, by the Prime Minister, by the sitting Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and by several other Members, has been, in effect, that I had at an earlier stage of these proceedings recommended and been favourable to legislation, and that I have now, for some reason or other best known to myself, changed my course. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman said that in so many words. I am speaking of the references which have made in the course of the debate, and I will except the Prime Minister in respect of this particular statement. He never got beyond the broadest possible innuendoes. Of course, when he spoke about snatching a temporary advantage by appealing to religious prejudices, he had no intention whatever of imputing any Party motives to us. But in reference to what was said by the Attorney General, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), and by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), I know I am right in this— that they charged me with having changed my opinion on this subject. Now, what I said was the same as what my right hon. Friend (Sir R. Assheton Cross) said on the first evening of the debate—namely, that what we did was to argue that the Government, by taking the course they did, by endeavouring to avoid the points really at issue, by endeavouring to get over them by closing their eyes on one occasion and by supporting the Previous Question on another —were taking a course which was not one that could possibly get us out of our difficulties; and we argued that if they were to attain the end at which they were aiming, it was necessary that it should be done by legislation. I have rarely, I think, troubled the House with quoting from myself; but I hope I may, under the circumstances, read what I said as far back as July 1, 1880, I then referred to a statement which had appeared in one of the morning papers —which I said was entirely unauthorized, and one which I did not accept— to the effect that I was about to make a proposal on the matter; and I added— What I am prepared to say is this—that if you deal with it at all, you must deal with it by legislation."—(3 Hansard, [253] 1284.) My hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie) remarked just now that we are thoroughly justified in that contention by the course the matter has taken, by the decision of our own Committees, and by the decision of the Courts of Law. Because we objected to a particular mode of proceeding, and because we said that if we were to proceed with the matter it must be by another course, it does not follow that we committed ourselves to the approval of that course. That would be a ridiculous assertion. I may refer to an illustration given me a few minutes ago which I think is an extremely apposite one. In a former Parliament, we objected very much to the course taken by the Ministry of the day in carrying the Abolition of Purchase in the Army by means of a Royal Warrant; and we said—"If it is a measure that ought to be carried out at all, it should be done by legislation?" Did that mean that we were in favour of such legislation, and intended to support it? Not at all! We merely meant to say that the course proposed to be taken by the Government was the worst method they could pursue. I will not detain the House by other charges which have been made in regard to ourselves; but I must say one word in reference to the cock-and-bull story which the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was good enough to bring before the House— that I, forsooth, had taken one line at one time in supporting the Government, and then through, some pressure or influence on the part of Lord Beacons-field, that I changed the course I had originally adopted! Never was a statement more absurd. I see the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) pointing across the House. I do not care from whom the story comes. What I say is this—that it is not a correct statement, and it is not founded on the facts of the case. In the beginning of this transaction we had fair notice, or rather fair notice was given to the House. The Government and the leading Members of the Opposition were all perfectly well aware, from the notice given in a frank manner by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) himself, that it was his intention to present himself and claim the right to affirm. We considered—I am now speaking of Lord Beaconsfield and several of my Friends —what course we should take; and we were unanimously of opinion—and Lord Beaconsfield entirely supported that course—that we ought to support the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry. When that Committee reported that Mr. Bradlaugh had no light to affirm, and when Mr. Bradlaugh suddenly presented himself at the Table, and was preparing to take the Oath, he was promptly challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff). My hon. Friend challenged the right of Mr. Bradlaugh to take the Oath, and in the discussion which followed I supported the contention of my hon. Friend. During all that time I was in daily consultation with Lord Beaconsfield, and I knew his thoughts and his feelings on every part of the case. We discussed it together; but to say that I was led to change my course is utterly untrue, because I did not change it; and to say that it was under Lord Beacons-field's pressure that I did so is, of course, equally untrue. It is most painful to me to have to go into questions of this sort, for I am desirous of discussing the question on the merits of the Bill itself, and to avoid, as far as possible, the imputation of being actuated by Party spirit in the matter. I will venture to say this only—that if Party spirit counts for anything in the division about to take place, it will, at least, weigh as much on one side of the House as the other, and that just as many Members who dislike the Bill in their hearts will vote for it on Party grounds as there will be Members on the other side who, having doubts about the rejection of the measure, will vote for its rejection on Party grounds. There never was a question on which, I think, it was less worthy of the Government and their supporters to bring forward charges of Party action, and for this reason—that it has been elevated above the range of Party action by what has gone before. The majorities we have obtained from time to time have not been obtained from this side of the House. We were powerless, of ourselves, to gain those majorities; but they have been gained by the support of hon. Gentlemen sitting on that side, who have instinctively felt this to be a question of such great magnitude, with such interests involved, and such responsibilities carried with it, that they were obliged to lay aside all Party considerations and take the course they did take. Now, Sir, I should prefer being allowed for a few minutes to inquire what the nature and objects of this measure are, and what are the grounds on which it is proposed, and the effects which will follow from its adoption if the House adopts it. With regard to the nature and objects of the Bill, the circumstances of the case are these—There is an Oath imposed by Statute on all Members of Parliament, except upon Members of certain religious denominations—Quakers, Moravians, and others who are exempted, not because they have any doubt of the solemnity of the Oath, or any doubt whatever of the providence of God, to whom we appeal when taking the Oath; but, on the contrary, because they are very sensitive about these matters, because they expressly and warmly recognize the presence of the Almighty, and, feeling scrupulous about some of His Commands, they believe that they ought not to take the Oath. The Affirmation, as taken by them—taken as members of the particular religious community to which they belong, instead of the Oath —is in itself fully equivalent to the Oath, and their position strengthens our case rather than weakens it. We are told that the Oath was not imposed as a religious test. Of course, it was not imposed as a religious test; but that, again, only strengthens our case. The object of the Oath was to ascertain that Members gave their allegiance to the Sovereign; but it was not intended as a religious test, simply because nobody in those days supposed that there could be any doubt whatever as to the fundamental religious doctrine implied in it. But the calling upon a Member who takes the Oath to affirm that what he does is done in the presence of God is significant of the fact that the united Parliament and the nation recognize, at all events, the presence and authority of a Supreme Being in their proceedings. But what is the new proposal? The proposal is, that we should do away with the necessity of the Oath itself—not that we should abolish the Oath, but that we should do away with the necessity for taking it, and allow anyone to make an Affirmation who chooses. Is the Affirmation thus to be made to be equivalent to the Affirmation made by Quakers and Moravians? If it is, then it is equivalent to the Oath, and no advantage will be given to those who may make it, and who may wish to go under it. But, if it is not, you are making a most serious change by waiving the recognition of the Deity. Now, it has been said—" What does this signify? What are you getting rid of? You are getting rid, we are told, of a test of Theism." I do not altogether admit the accuracy of that expression— at all events, with the explanation given of it. How did the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury meet that case? He said—" If you have merely a test of Theism imposed upon you, let us see what your test amounts to, and whether it is rational or not." The Prime Minister went on to quote those magnificent lines from Lucretius, the effect of which was extremely fine and impressive, like the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself; but when we got over the first impression produced by that speech and by those noble verses, we began to think—" What does it all mean?" I am bound to say an examination of the arguments contained in that speech materially lessened, in my mind at all events, the effect produced by the speech itself. What was the reason those versos from Lucretius were quoted? The right hon. Gentleman said, in effect—"Your test of Theism is an irrational test, because by Theism you mean the existence of a God, and there may still be many persons belonging to schools like that of Epicurus, or that of the poet Lucretius, who acknowledge the existence of a God, but who do not acknowledge any providential interest or interposition in the affairs of men; and it is only those who do acknowledge such providential care whom you ought to aim at." This is really what the right hon. Gentleman meant in quoting these lines. But the lines, in fact, are another illustration of what we are often told—that religion ought to have nothing to do with politics. They were intended to express an opinion, not that there is no Divine Being, but that the Divine Being takes no interest in the affairs of men. But that is not applicable to the question of the Oath; because, if the Oath is a test of anything, it is a test of a man's belief I that there is a Supreme Being to whom he appeals, who will punish him if he says that which is false, and whom he dare not invoke unless he is telling the truth. We are now asked, by passing this Bill, to divorce religion from politics; and here let me ask the House to consider what would be the real effect of that. It is all very well, as the Solicitor General said to-day in his able speech—it is all very well to say, apparently as an afterthought, that the Affirmation may be taken to apply to the case of persons who have tender consciences, like Quakers and Moravians, but who do not belong to any religious denominations. But we know perfectly well that that is not the intention of the proposal. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), or some other hon. Member, said that if we were to ask the people out - of - doors what this Bill means, 99 out of 100 would tell us that it means the abolition or the dispensing with any recognition of the name or providence of God. It may be all very well to say that people out-of-doors take a loose and wrong view of the effect of this legislation. I will not ask whether they do so or not; but what I do say is that you are doing a most serious thing if, with a knowledge of the impression that your legislation will produce upon 99 out of every 100 persons out-of-doors, and knowing that that is the impression it will produce, you are prepared to produce it. Do not suppose for a moment that the effect of your vote and decision will be limited to this country. The effect that will be produced by the public announcement that the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is prepared to strike out the name of Almighty God from its proceedings will, however incorrect and exaggerated it may be, produce the most serious consequences and effects. I must apologize to the House, at such a late hour of the night as this, for attempting to read anything; but a remarkable letter was put into my hands a little while ago, and I cannot help asking the House to hear a few sentences from it. It is written by a gentleman whose name I will not read; but I can give it privately to any hon. Member. The letter is from a gentleman who has been for several years a Professor in a great Mahomedan College in India. [Cries of "Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite are impatient of any reference to India; but I will just read a few sentences from the letter, as the writer says that he sincerely hopes, before the conclusion of this long debate upon the Bradlaugh controversy, some Gentleman connected with India will rise and protest against the views of this matter attributed to Mahomedans by the Attorney General (Sir Henry James) in his opening speech. His mention of Mahomed seemed to him to be a gratuitous insult to them. He had no hesitation in asserting that among no class of people was the name of God held in greater veneration than among Mahomedans. The writer goes on to point out the mischief which is being done in India by the increased circulation of the works of the Bradlaughites. He also points out that Atheism is undoubtedly spreading in India, and that it constitutes one of the most serious dangers to that country. Then the writer adds this sentence, to which I wish to call the particular attention of the House— Hitherto the knowledge that the opinions of Mr. Bradlaugh are not those of the people and Parliament of England has undoubtedly acted as a check upon the spread of these pernicious doctrines; hut what reasonable man can doubt the terrible effect that will be produced by the news that the House of Commons has now formally ranged itself on the side of Mr. Bradlaugh? [Cries of "Oh!"] The House seems surprised at this. Let me for a moment ask you to consider what are the grounds for the proposal that is made in this Bill. You cannot gather them from the Preamble of the Bill, which is extremely concise; but what grounds do we find stated in the speeches of those who have introduced the measure, and especially in the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General? I believe I am right in saying that the grounds upon which they have rested their case are threefold. In the first place, they rest it upon the rights of the constituencies; in the second place, upon the principles of civil and religious freedom; and, in the third place, they say it will have the advantage of closing the Bradlaugh controversy. These are the substance of the reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and the Attorney General. When we come to examine these reasons I think it is evident that what I have said is not at all away from the point under our consideration. Now, Sir, with regard to the rights of constituencies, it is contended—and truly contended—that a constituency has a right to elect any man not disqualified. All I will say is that there is a corresponding right on the part of Parliament to disqualify anyone who ought, in the opinion of Parliament, to be disqualified. And if Parliament has disqualified a man on any ground whatever, then the constituency, if it is aware of the fact, has no right to complain of any injustice in the application of that disqualification. Then, what are the disqualifications which you have imposed directly by Statute? There are many directly imposed by Statute The Attorney General has mentioned several of them; but, over and above these disqualifications in which he tells us there is no religious test, Parliament imposes certain conditions which are subsequent to election, but are necessarily precedent to a man taking his seat. The constituency knows that the refusal, or the inability of the Member elected by them to comply with any of these conditions precedent, is just as much a disqualification as if he were a Peer, or a clergyman of the Church of England, or otherwise disqualified by law. Well, that is so; and that that condition, or the absence of the fulfilment of the. condition, is a disqualification absolutely imposed by law, is proved not by our contention, but by the decisions of the Courts of Law themselves. Well, then, if that is the case, what is it that you contend for when you speak of the constituencies? Do you carry your contention to the point that a single constituency is to be able to override all the constituencies of England? Do you contend that a single constituency is to settle, by its action, so grave and important a question as this? You have talked of the Clare Election; but that was not a case in point, because the Clare Election was only an incident in a long and protracted controversy which had been going on for years, which was fought in one direction or another, and at last culminated in the return of Mr. O'Connell for the County of Clare, which election was, after all, declared void, and was not allowed to have effect. But that was the decision come to at the end of a long controversy, in the course of which the constituents had been fully made aware of the nature of the issue before them. This Bill is brought in at the beginning of a controversy; and, in my opinion, it is a question on which the constituencies of the country ought to be consulted, before a decision is arrived at to change, on so grave and important a point, the Constitution of the Kingdom. I contend that if you are so ready to give effect to the wishes of a single constituency, you ought to have some corresponding regard to the mass of Petitions which are thrown upon the Table day by day, and which show, at all events, what the real feelings of the large majority who have addressed Parliament on the subject are. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister himself, in his speech the other day, lectured us—and I think I may take some part of the lecture as particularly and personally addressed to myself— judging from the manner and action of the right hon. Gentleman—he lectured us on the duty of not encouraging a spirit of religious excitement amongst the people; and he said that upon this question people wore apt to be led astray, and that it was the duty of the Leaders of Parties to restrain and regulate the feeling of excitement. Now, I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is a great authority upon restraining the feeling and excitement of the people where other questions are concerned. There are other questions, which are not religious questions, in regard to which the impulse of the masses may truly be wrong; and I gather from the right hon. Gentleman that in his view it is the duty of Leaders of Parties to restrain those who may be thus agitated and led away, rather than to encourage and inflame and irritate them. I entirely recognize the soundness of the advice given by the right hon. Gentleman; and if I were aware that the people of this country were going wrong or being led astray on this question, I should feel it my duty to do my part in endeavouring to disabuse their minds and to restrain and direct thorn aright. But when I think that they are right—when I think that the instinct of the people is one that ought to be respected—I cannot see why we ought to be called upon to regulate and repress it. We have been told that we ought to have no religious test for political purposes; we have been told that another reason for the introduction of this Bill is that it is necessary to give effect to the principle of civil and religious freedom. Yes; religious freedom! But that does not mean freedom from religion. When we are told we ought not to have a religious test for political objects, I cannot help feeling what that means. What is meant by religious tests and political objects? If by political objects you mean measures which are of importance to the body politic, nothing can be of greater importance than that such measures should be in accordance with religion and morality; and there cannot be anything like the importance to the body politic of retaining, in the Oath imposed upon Members in this House, a recognition of the presence of the Almighty. When we talk about civil freedom, I would venture to ask right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite on what foundation that civil freedom rests? Does it not rest upon the strength of the religious character of the people? If you do away with the great laws which hitherto have enabled this country to maintain her freedom without degenerating into licence or licentiousness, you must, I apprehend, stand by the foundation on which that glorious fabric has been built. Recollect the examples furnished by countries which have cast aside the religious faith which had formed the basis of their laws. Recollect the condition of revolutionary France. Do you believe that the effect of the abolition of every trace of religion by revolutionary France has conduced to civil freedom? Remember the noble lines— The sensual and the base rebel in vain, Slaves by their own compulsion; in mad game They burst their manacles, and wear the name Of Freedom, graven on a heavier chain. That was the character of the French Revolution, which began by throwing aside all restraints of religion; and that is what we should bear in mind when we are asked to consider the grave proposal of Her Majesty's Government. I need not say very much with regard to the third reason given for passing this Bill. It is said that by passing the Bill you will close the Bradlaugh controversy. It is not a topic on which I wish to dwell; but I am obliged to say that it is one remarkable feature in this proceeding that if you do pass the Bill it will of necessity give an air of personal triumph to Mr. Bradlaugh. Sir, I make that observation in no spirit of jealousy or irritation, or with any feeling of a minor or petty kind; but I desire to point out that the effect on the country of giving a personal triumph to Mr. Bradlaugh must necessarily be of a very serious character. I ask the House to consider the effect of passing the measure from the point of view of the people of this country, and I say it will be to discourage the religious majority, and, at the same time, to encourage the Atheistic minority. It will give to that minority the appearance, at all events, of having the weight of Parliament thrown into their scale, while the majority will be sadly discouraged by a vote of this kind—given, too, at the instance of men themselves religious, and urged in the sacred name of religious liberty. I do not venture to foretell what may be the fate of the Bill; I do not know what may be the course of the House to-night, or what may be its course on future occasions, if this matter should come before us again at a later stage. But although I am aware that we ought now to address ourselves to the consideration of the question of the second reading of the Bill in no Party spirit—we must get rid of that—but in a spirit of earnest appreciation of the greatness of the interests involved, I venture to appeal to those who acknowledge the great value of the recognition of the Divine authority, and the fear of the Almighty Being to whom we have been in the habit of appealing; and I ask them to consider well before we pass a measure which, as far as I can see, will do no good, but which, in my judgment, will produce an impression of a most fatal and disastrous character. We stand on the ground which has been won for us by our ancestors, not without peril, not without conflict, not without danger; not, perhaps, without some errors; but we stand on that ground, and we are bound to maintain it as long as we can against aggression; and if we are unsuccessful in resisting that aggression, we shall have, at least, the satisfaction of having done our duty.


Sir, the House has listened, as it always does, with interest and attention throughout the whole speech of the right hon. Gentleman; but I am bound to say that, speaking, at all events, for those on this side of the House, I think the parts of that speech to which we listened with most interest and curiosity were the observations of the right hon. Gentleman in which he explained, or attempted to explain, what appeared to us to be a change in the attitude originally taken by him with reference to legislation on this matter. I cannot deny that, to us, at all events, it does appear that there has been a great and marked change in the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has given us now to understand that when he suggested, two years ago, that legislation was the only way in which this question could be dealt with, he not only did not pledge himself to support such legislation,.but, as I gather from his speech now, he rather intimated that even legislation would meet with his opposition. But that, unfortunately, was not the impression which the right hon. Gentleman conveyed to this side of the House on one occasion, and, as I gather, to a good many hon. Gentlemen on the opposite Benches. [Cries of "No!"] I will not say all, but I say a good many. The right hon. Gentleman read an extract from one of the speeches which he had delivered; but he must remember that he has delivered a number of speeches in the course of this controversy, and I think there are others which, if I were able now to refer to them, would show a still more favourable frame of mind with reference to legislation than that to which he has referred. I remember he said once that he admitted the difficult and painful character of this question, and that he would be willing to do all in his power to bring it to a settlement. We know the right hon. Gentleman will not allow it to be settled by permitting Mr. Bradlaugh to affirm under the present law; we know he will not permit him to take the Oath under the present law; we know now that he will oppose legislation which would enable him, or others in his position, to affirm; and, therefore, I think we are entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman that which we certainly have not learnt from the speech he has just delivered—namely, what is the contribution he is prepared to make now to the settlement of this question? I am glad this debate is now approaching its conclusion. It has been, to a great extent, of a theological character; and I think that, so far as the discussion has been of that character, it has lacked that charity which ought, but generally does not, distinguish theological controversy. I am not surprised that renewed attempts have been made to identify the Liberal Party with the cause of the hon. Member for Northampton. I can well understand the object of those attempts. It is scarcely necessary that I should say, for the satisfaction of those who sit on this side of the House, that we have no sympathy with any of the opinions or any of the teachings which have made Mr. Bradlaugh notorious. I can understand, as I said before, those attempts having been made; but, notwithstanding that, I think that when charges of the kind, which it must be known are charges of an odious description, are attempted to be fastened on a Party, they ought to be made with some circumspection and great caution. I regret to say that in this instance that caution has not been observed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South - West Lancashire (Sir E. Assheton Cross), in moving the Amendment to the Motion for the second reading of the Bill, is reported to have said that the object of the Liberal Party has been throughout to place Mr. Bradlaugh in this House as Member for Northampton, and that Mr. Bradlaugh had been invited to stand for that borough by the late Mr. Adam, when Whip of the Liberal Party. Now, as a matter of fact, Mr. Bradlaugh was never invited by Mr. Adam to stand for Northampton at all. He stood for that borough for the first time in 1868, and again in 1874, when Mr. Adam had nothing whatever to do with the elections. In 1880 Mr. Bradlaugh established himself as a candidate accepted by a large portion of the constituency, and certainly without any invitation to stand from Mr. Adam. I do not think that is a matter of great importance; but I think the right hon. Gentleman might remember that the statement that Mr. Adam had taken a prominent part in inviting an avowed Atheist to stand for a constituency is one which would be painful to many of the late Mr. Adam's friends, and one which he ought to have been most careful to investigate before making.


What about Mr. Wright? Mr. Adam was known to Mr. Wright. ["Order!"]


I cannot catch what the hon. Member says. I think I hear the name of Mr. Wright; but I am perfectly ignorant with regard to any action of his in this matter. Again, it has been stated this evening by many hon. Members that the Government are subjecting their conscientious opinions to political partizanship. In my opinion, that is scarcely the language of political argument; it appears to me to be rather the language of political partizanship and abuse; and I think that a statement of that sort ought not to have been made unless the hon. Member who made it had some authority for so doing. We know perfectly well that the association, in any degree, of the cause of Mr. Bradlaugh with a political Party can do that Party nothing but harm; and when we are engaged in the discussion of questions of justice and policy, it is more than ever necessary to guard against feelings or passions which may lead us astray, and which may blind us to the absolute necessity of the one and to the expediency of the other. It would be very easy to show how far feelings of partizanship have actuated some Members on the other side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir John P. Mowbray), who spoke, I admit, with great moderation, accuses the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) of inconsistency, because he said that although he was going to vote for this Bill, and the admission of Mr. Bradlaugh to the House should he be again elected, yet that if he were an elector of Northampton he should vote against him. But there would be no inconsistency in such a course; and therefore, as far as I am aware, the hon. and learned Member for Limerick is entitled to vote for this measure. The right hon. Gentleman quoted some authority with reference to the principle of the Bill; but, in my opinion, this is not a question to be settled by authority, and I think it is to be regretted that the right hon. Gentleman thought it worth while to follow the example of an hon. and gallant Member who spoke earlier in this debate, and who sent telegrams to various religious authorities all over the world in order to obtain their opinions in condemnation of this measure. The right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon read to us the opinion of a Mahomedan. ["No!"] Hon. Members say "No;" then it was the opinion of an English Professor of a Mahomedan College.


It was sent by him spontaneously; it was not asked for.


I think the letter would have had more weight with me if it had expressed the opinion of a Mahomedan. We know that opinion on this question is divided amongst English Professors, and I do not attach great weight to the opinion of one particular Professor. The right hon. Gentleman must know that the profession of any religious opinions, or the absence of any religious principles, is no bar or disqualification to the obtaining of any office which is open to the Natives of India; and I think the right hon. Gentleman will hardly persuade this House that the passing of this Bill would produce any impression on the minds of the people of India when they know that the Government of India attaches no importance whatever to religious opinion in the matter I have referred to. It has been assumed throughout as a conclusive argument against the Bill that it has been called a Bradlaugh Relief Bill. Sir, I altogether deny that that is its proper title; but I admit that the action of the electors of Northampton and the proceedings of Mr. Bradlaugh in the assertion of what seems to him to be the assertion of his own right and the right of his constituents have been the immediate cause of raising this question. But it does not follow, putting aside the case of Mr. Bradlaugh, that the question having been raised ought not to be settled. I cannot say I speak with such absolute indifference of the rights of Mr. Bradlaugh and the electors of Northampton as some hon. Members have shown with regard to them. It appears to me a grave matter that a man who has been legally elected by a constituency, and who is willing to do all that the law requires him to do, should, by a Resolution of the House of Commons, be disqualified from representing that constituency. It appears to me that such a proceeding on the part of the House of Commons would be a dangerous Constitutional expedient, and might lead to great evil. Nor do I think that it is a matter of indifference that the House should be relieved from the embarrassment, and, I may add, the discredit in which it finds itself in the contest which has been waged with Mr. Bradlaugh in this matter. I do not think that the position which the House of Commons occupies is a dignified one. Hitherto it has been content to assume an attitude of passive resistance against the introduction of a man whom it will not admit, but whom, at the same time, it shrinks from punishing. Either Mr. Bradlaugh has been elected Member for Northampton, or ho is nothing but a brawler disturbing our proceedings, and ought to be, in that case, committed for contempt. [Opposition cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer that remark; but they are not prepared to commit Mr. Bradlaugh. It must be remembered that once Mr. Bradlaugh was committed on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition; but, after reflection, the right hon. Gentleman came down to the House next day and proposed that Mr. Bradlaugh should be released. In my opinion, altogether above and beyond any questions affecting anything so insignificant as Mr. Bradlaugh and his opinions, above the rights of the electors of Northampton, and of every constituency, and notwithstanding the denial of the right hon. Gentleman, this is a question of civil disability. I know this is denied, and perhaps the House will permit me to state the grounds of my opinion. Sir Erskine May, in his Constitutional History of England, uses words in making use of which I may express my opinion more clearly. In summing up the history of the gradual relaxation of the Penal Code Sir Erskine May says— The Penal Code, with all its anomalies and consistencies, admitted of a simple division. One part imposed restraints on religious worship; the other attached civil disabilities to faith and doctrine. With the first part we have now nothing to do; bat with the doctrines of civil disabilities we have still to do. Again, he says— And the temper of Parliament and the country was still so unsettled in regard to the doctrines of religious liberty, that the labour of revision proceeded with no more system than the original Code. First one grievance was redressed, and then another; but Parliament continued to shrink from the broad assertion of religious liberty as the right of British subjects and the policy of the State. My contention is that Parliament is still shrinking from that position, and that the principle upon which it is now maintained, that the avowed Atheist is to be excluded from this House, is the same on which Roman Catholics and Jews were excluded. ["No, no!"] I know it has been argued, over and over again, that there is no resemblance between these cases; but it is, in my opinion, utterly irrelevant to say that they cannot be compared together. We have nothing whatever to do with the truth of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic, or the Jew, or the Atheist; we have nothing whatever to do with the question of whether the one is tolerable and the other intolerable to our own religious feelings; what we have to do with is the principle on which the professors of these opinions were excluded, and on which the professors of another set of opinions are now sought to be excluded. In the case of the Catholics the principle urged was danger to the State and danger to the Protestant Constitution; in the case of the Jews the principle urged was danger to the Christianity of the country; the principle now urged is danger to the religious character of the State. The arguments for the exclusion of these opinions are the same, and so are our arguments for the admission of the people holding the views in question to the House. It was not because Parliament held less strongly its opinion as to the errors of Roman Catholicism that Roman Catholics wore admitted to this House; it was not because Parliament held less strongly the cardinal dogma of Christianity that Jews were admitted; and so, now, it is not because we hold less firmly a belief in a Supreme Being that we advocate the removal of the obstacles which exclude even Atheists from this House. I know that a distinction is sought to be drawn between the position of those who deny all religion, and that of those who profess some religious opinions. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister grappled with that argument; and he showed, first, the narrow grounds which such an argument left for the assertion by the State of a religious character at all; and, secondly, how disparaging such a theory was to Christianity in general. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) attempted, as I understood him, to answer that argument. He said that it was not Gentlemen opposite who were prepared to legislate at all in this matter, and then observed that if the arguments against the Bill were so weak, and if their contentions were so disparaging to Christianity, why had we not discovered it before—why had we not proposed to legislate before? My reply is, that the law does not and cannot provide for all possible cases. When this Oath was created by Statute, the case was not foreseen in which a Member whom the law would not permit to affirm should claim to be permitted to affirm. When the state of the law was disclosed, when it was decided by a Court of Law that a Member to whom, by reason of his want of belief in the existence of a Supreme Being, the Oath was a mere form, claimed to affirm on that ground, when it was proved that he could not be permitted to affirm in a manner most binding on his conscience, and that the only method of entrance into the House was by means of the Oath, which was to him an empty mockery, when all this was disclosed, at the earliest possible moment in 1881, we proposed to legislate in order to remove this abuse and this scandal. It was hon. Members opposite who prevented the introduction of a Bill. [An hon. MEMBER: Why did you not go on with the Bill?] It was not very easy to go on with a Bill which we were not allowed to introduce. Sir, I will not attempt to add anything to the arguments on this point used by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister—all I would desire to add would be some proof that the arguments upon which the admission of the Jews to Parliament was contested were, practically, the same as the arguments relied upon in this case. I will give the House one quotation only, which I think will commend itself, at all events, to hon. Members opposite. Lord Lyndhurst, in a speech delivered on April 27, 1858, said— But my noble and learned Friend goes to another argument, that you would 'unchristianize' the Legislature by introducing a few Jews into it—an old and favourite argument of those who opposed Bills of this description. "When that argument was first used in this House it met with an entire and complete refutation from a most reverend Prelate, then a Member of this House — Archbishop Whately. How did he answer it? He asked, 'Is England a Christian country? You answer in the affirmative; but, though a Christian country, it does not consist exclusively' of Christians: it is composed of Christians and a small number of Jews; but still you call it a Christian country. What is the constitution of Parliament? It represents the country. If it is to represent the country fairly, how can you for a moment contend that, if there were a small number of Jews in Parliament, therefore the Legislature would be unchristian?' To that no answer has ever been given. Allow me to go a little further. Are your Courts of Justice, are your Municipal Corporations Christian.…although Jews are members of them; nor that your tribunals are Christian, though Jews sit there? How, then, is it possible that the introduction of a few Jews can unchristianize the Legislature?"—(3 Hansard, [149] 1774–5.) I maintain, Sir, that if in that argument you substitute the word "Secularize" for "un-Christianize" and "Atheist" for "Jew" that argument would be as good, as sound, and as unanswerable now as it then was. It is no question as to the relative merits and demerits of the different forms of belief and unbelief. The argument in the case of the Jews was that their admission would un - Christianize the Legislature; and now it is said that if Atheists are admitted it will Secularize the Legislature. Precisely the same argument is used now as was used then against the Jews. Reference has been made to the Petitions which have been presented against this Bill. Perhaps it would have been well if part of the time spent in this debate had been employed in an examination of the mode in which some of those Petitions have been got up. I will not go into that question now. But what I want to point out is that many of them go a great way beyond the rejection of the Bill. One from Northumberland prays that— While recognizing, to the fullest extent, the legal right of admission to Parliament of all duly-elected Representatives who profess a belief in Almighty God, your Petitioners humbly submit that it is the duty of this nation to maintain unimpaired those religious principles on which the Constitution is founded, and to which this country owes its greatness; and that any legislation for the admission of Atheists to Parliament is at variance with those principles. That goes a long way beyond the rejection of this Bill. The Petitioners would only admit to Parliament a duly- elected Member who professes a belief in Almighty God—in fact, they would require not only the rejection of the measure, but, like the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), an absolute test of belief in Cod for all Members as a qualification for a seat in the House. I have not the slightest doubt this is the real meaning of the vast majority of those who have signed these Petitions. It appears to me that this is the logical conclusion of a great many of the arguments that have been used against this Bill; and if you want to be guided by the opinion of these Petitioners, you are driven to take the logical course proposed by Lord Redesdale in the other House, and by the hon. Member for Queen's County to-night — namely, to impose a test of a belief in some Divinity. Would such legislation be accepted by the country? I do not profess to know the religious feeling of the country; but I do not believe that such legislation would be accepted, because, although it might be in accordance with the feelings of many honest and conscientious men, its effect would be that other creeds would find themselves in danger, and that other tests would before long be imposed. However this may be, I am of opinion that the present application to this Oath, as a sort of accidental test, is one which is not only unreasonable and inconsistent, but also absurd. It is admitted that the Oath does not enable you to exclude anyone who in this House makes a profession of religious belief. A man may say what he likes out-of-doors, and avow himself through every channel of publicity to be an Atheist; but if he comes to this Table, and if he accepts the Oath without making any protest, you cannot exclude him from the House. You may have two men standing together at the Bar; one may have given every notice it was possibe for him to give out of this House that he was an unbeliever, and the other who may have never said anything offensive to the religious opinions or convictions of any man, but who may feel it to be his bounden duty, before he came to the Table, to give notice that the words of the Oath, in his opinion, have no definite meaning. Of these two men occupying this position you are bound, under the present state of the law, to permit the one who openly blasphemes your reli- gion to take his seat, while you reject the other. Can it be pretended for one moment that the religious character of this House, of this country, and of this Government, is to be preserved by such an absurd—such a ridiculous arrangement as that? And we are told that honour is done to Heaven by the observance of such forms. [Mr. NEWDEGATE: In our corporate capacity.] By such forms, it appears to me, we are guilty of something worse than inconsistency—of nothing less than profanity. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) told us the other day that it was not wise to outrun public opinion. As I have said, I have some doubt whether public opinion has expressed itself as on the same side as the right hon. and learned Gentleman; but, no doubt, if he is right, the sentiment which he has expressed may be politic, but it is not a very heroic sentiment. It would enable him to assent to every act of political persecution. I have no doubt public opinion supported the persecution of the early Christians. I have no doubt public opinion at the time supported the persecution of the Protestants by the Roman Catholics, and the Roman Catholics by the Protestants; and, no doubt, by prudently waiting on public opinion, politicians of these times may, like the politicians of those times, reap some advantage. The question has to be asked, as the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) has asked, Has the cause of religion gained? Has the cause of any sect gained? It may give a little advantage to the Opposition to associate their cause, or to attempt to associate their cause, with the name of religion, and to associate the cause of the Government with the name of irreligion; but we are content to run the risk, believing, as we do, that by the legislation we propose we are doing something to preserve sacred words from profanation, to preserve religion from the degrading contact of Party politics, and that we are holding fast to those principles of liberty of conscience which have been contended for in times past by the wisest, the noblest, and not the least pious men of our country.

Question put.

The House divided:— Ayes 289; Noes 292: Majority 3.

Acland, Sir T. D. Craig, W. Y.
Acland, C. T. D. Creyke, E.
Agnew, W. Cropper, J.
Ainsworth, D. Cross, J. K.
Allen, H. G. Crum, A.
Allen, W. S. Cunliffe, Sir E. A.
Amory, Sir J. H. Currie, Sir D.
Anderson, G. Davey, H.
Armitage, B. Davies, D.
Armitstead, G. Davies, R.
Arnold, A. Davies, W.
Asher, A. Do Ferrières, Baron
Ashley, hon. E. M. Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W.
Baldwin, E. Dillwyn, L. L.
Balfour, Sir G. Dodds, J.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.
Balfour, J. S. Duckham, T.
Barclay, J. W. Duff, E. W.
Baring, Viscount Dundas, hon. J. C.
Barnes, A. Ebrington, Viscount
Barran, J. Edwards, H.
Bass, Sir A. Edwards, P.
Bass, H. Egerton. Adm. hon. F.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Elliot, hon. A. E. D.
Beaumont, W. B. Evans, T. W.
Biddulph, M. Fairbairn, Sir A.
Bolton, J. C. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Borlase, W. C. Fawcett, rt. hon. H.
Brand, H. R. Ferguson, E.
Brassey, Sir T. Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.
Brett, R. B. Firth, J. F. B.
Briggs, W. E. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Bright, rt. hon. J. Flower, C.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Foljambe, C. G. S.
Brinton, J. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Broadhurst, H. Forster, Sir C.
Brogden, A. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Brown, A. H. Fort, E.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord O. Fowler, H. H.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Fowler, W.
Bryce, J. Fry, L.
Buchanan, T. R. Fry, T.
Burt, T. Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.
Buszard, M. C. Gladstone, H. J.
Buxton, F. W. Gladstone, W. H.
Caine, W. S. Glyn, hon. S. C.
Cameron, C. Gordon, Lord D.
Campbell, Lord C. Gordon, Sir A.
Campbell, R. F. P. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Campbell -Bannerman, H. Gourley, E. T.
Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Carbutt, E. H. Grafton, F. W.
Carington, hon. R. Grant, Sir G. M.
Cartwright, W. C. Grant, A.
Causton, R. K. Grant, D.
Cavendish, Lord E. Grey, A. H. G.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J. Gurdon, E. T.
Chambers, Sir T. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Cheetham, J. F. Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir
Childers, rt. hn. H. C.E. W. G. V. V.
Clarke, J. C. Hardcastle, J. A.
Clifford, C. C. Hartington, Marq. of
Cohen, A. Hastings, G. W.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hayter, Sir A. D.
Collings, J. Henderson, F.
Colman, J. J. Heneage, E.
Cotes, C. C. Herschell, Sir F.
Courtauld, G. Hibbert, J. T.
Courtney, L. H. Hill, T. E.
Cowen, J. Holden, I.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Hollond, J. R.
Holms, J. Playfair, rt. hn. Sir L.
Hopwood, C. H. Portman, hn. W. H. B.
Howard, E. S. Potter, T. B.
Howard, G. J. Powell, W.R.H.
Howard, J, Price, Sir R. G.
Illingworth, A. Pulley, J.
Inderwick, F. A. Ralli, P.
James, Sir H. Ramsay, J.
James, C. Ramsden, Sir J.
James, W. H. Rathbone, W.
Jardine, R. Reed, Sir E. J.
Jenkins, Sir J. J. Reid, R. T.
Jenkins, D. J. Rendel, S.
Johnson, E. Richard, H.
Kingscote, Col. R. N. F. Richardson, T.
Labouchere, H. Roberts, J.
Laing, S. Robertson, H.
Lambton, hon. F. W. Rogers, J. E. T.
Lawrence, Sir J. C. Rothschild, Sir N.M.de
Lawson, Sir W. Roundell, C. S.
Leake, R. Russell, Lord A.
Leatham, E. A. Russell, G. W. E.
Leatham, W. H. Rylands, P.
Lee, H. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Leeman, J. J. Samuelson, B.
Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S. Samuelson, H.
Lloyd, M. Seely, C. (Lincoln)
Lubbock, Sir J. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Lusk, Sir A. Sellar, A. C.
Lymington, Viscount Shaw, T.
M'Arthur, A. Sheridan, H. B.
M'Intyre, Æneas J. Shield, H.
Mackie, R. B. Simon, Serjeant J.
Mackintosh, C. F. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
M'Lagan, P. Slagg, J.
M'Laren, C. B. B. Smith, E.
Macliver, P. S. Smith, Lt.-Col. G.
M'Minnies, J. G. Smith, S.
Maitland, W. F. Spencer, hon. C. R.
Mappin, F. T. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Marjoribanks, E. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Marriott, W. T. Stanton, W. J.
Martin, R. B. Stevenson, J. C.
Maskelyne, M.H. Story- Stewart, J.
Mason, H. Storey, S.
Matheson, Sir A. Summers, W.
Maxwell-Heron, Capt. J. Talbot, C. R. M.
Tavistock, Marquess of
Mellor, J. W. Taylor, P. A.
Milbank, Sir F. A. Tennant, C.
Monk, C. J. Thomasson, J. P.
Moreton, Lord Thompson, T. C.
Morgan, rt. hn. G. O. Tillett, J. H.
Morley, A. Tracy, hon. F. S. A.
Morley, J. Hanbury-
Mundella, rt. hon. A. J. Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.
Noel, E. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Norwood, C. M. Vivian, Sir H. H.
O'Donoghue, The Vivian, A. P.
O'Shaughnessy, R. Waddy, S. D.
Otway, Sir A. J. Walter, J.
Paget, T. T. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Palmer, C. M. Waugh, E.
Palmer, G. Webster, J.
Palmer, J. H. Whitbread, S.
Parker, C. S. Whitworth, B.
Pease, Sir J. W. Wig-gin, H.
Pease, A. Williams, S. C. E.
Peddie, J. D. Williamson, S.
Peel, A. W. Willis, W.
Pender, J. Wills, W. H.
Pennington, F. Willyams, E. W. B.
Philips, R. N. Wilson, Sir M.
Wilson, C. H. Woolf, S.
Wilson, I. TELLERS.
Wodehouse, E. R. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Woodall, W. Kensington, Lord
Alexander, Colonel C. Cubitt, rt. hon. G.
Allsopp, C. Dalrymple, C.
Amherst, W. A. T. Daly, J.
Archdale, W. H. Davenport, H. T.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Davenport, W. B.
Aylmer, J. E. F. Dawnay, Col. hn. L. P.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Dawnay, hon. G. C.
Balfour, A. J. Dawson, C.
Baring, T. G. De Worms, Baron H.
Barne, Col. F. St. J. N. Dickson, Major A. G.
Barry, J. Digby, Col. hon. E.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Bateson, Sir T. Donaldson-Hudson, C.
Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H. Douglas, A. Akers-
Beach, W. W. B. Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.
Bective, Earl of Eeroyd, W. F.
Bellingham, A. H. Egerton, hon. A. do T.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C Egerton, hon. A. F.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Elcho, Lord
Beresford, G. De la P. Elliot, Sir G.
Biddell, W. Elliot, G. W.
Biggar, J. G. Emlyn, Viscount
Birkbeck, E. Ennis, Sir J.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Estcourt, G S.
Blake, J. A. Ewart, W.
Boord, T. W. Ewing, A. O.
Bourke, rt. hon. R. Fay, C. J.
Brise, Colonel R. Feilden, Lieut. -General R. J.
Broadley, W. H. H.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Fellowes, W. H.
Fenwick-Bisset, M.
Brooke, Lord Filmer, Sir E.
Brooks, M. Finch, G. H.
Brooks, W. C. Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.
Bruce, Sir H. H.
Bruce, hon. T. Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W.
Brymer, W. E. Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J.
Bulwer, J. R. Fletcher, Sir H.
Burghley, Lord Floyer, J.
Burnaby, General E. S. Folkestone, Viscount
Burrell, Sir W. W. Forester, C. T. W.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Foster, W. H.
Byrne, G. M. Fowler, R, N.
Callan, P. Fremantle, hon. T. F
Cameron, D. French -Brewster, R. A. B.
Campbell, J. A.
Carden, Sir R. W. Freshfield, C. K.
Castlereagh, Viscount Galway, Viscount
Cecil, Lord E.H. B. G. Gardner, R. Richard-son-
Chaine, J.
Chaplin, H. Garnier, J. C.
Christie, W. L. Gibson, rt. hon. E.
Churchill, Lord R. Giffard, Sir H. S.
Clarke, E. Giles, A.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Goldney, Sir G.
Cobbold, T. C. Gooch, Sir D.
Coddington, W. Gore-Langton, W. S.
Cole, Viscount Gorst, J. E.
Collins, T. Grantham, W.
Colthurst, Col. D. La T. Gray, E. D.
Compton, F. Greene, E.
Coope, O. E. Greer, T.
Corbet, W. J. Gregory, G. B.
Corry, J. P. Guest, M. J.
Cotton, W. J. R. Halsey, T. F.
Cress, rt. hon. Sir R. A. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. Molloy, B. C.
Monckton, F.
Hamilton, I. T. Moore, A.
Harcourt, E. W. Morgan, hon. F.
Harrington, T. Moss, R.
Harvey, Sir R. B. Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.
Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.
Mulholland, J.
Herbert, hon. S. Murray, C. J.
Hicks, E. Newdegate, C. N.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Newport, Viscount
Hill Lord A. W. Nicholson, W.
Hill, A. S. Nicholson, W. N.
Hinchingbrook, Vise. Noel, rt. hon. G. J.
Holland, Sir H. T. North, Colonel J. S.
Home, Lt.-Col. D. M. Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Hope, rt. hn. A.J. B.B.
Hubbard, rt. hon. J. G. Northcote, H. S.
Jackson, W. L. O'Beirne, Colonel F.
Jerningham, H. E. H. O'Brien, W.
Johnstone, Sir F. O'Connor, A.
Kennard, Col. E. H. O'Connor, T. P.
Kennard, C. J. O'Donnell, F. H.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. O'Kelly, J.
Kenny, M. J. Onslow, D. R,
King-Harman. Colonel E. R. O'Shea, W. H.
O'Sullivan, W. H.
Knight, F. W. Paget, R. H.
Knightley, Sir R. Parnell, C. S.
Knowles, T. Patrick, R. W. Coch-ran-
Lacon, Sir E H. K.
Lalor, R. Peek, Sir H.
Lawrance, J. C. Pell, A.
Lawrence, Sir T. Pemberton, E. L.
Leahy, J. Percy, Earl
Leamy, E. Percy, Lord A.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Phipps, C. N. P.
Legh, W. J. Phipps, P.
Leigh, R. Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.
Leighton, Sir B. Power, R.
Leighton, S. Price, Captain G. E.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Puleston, J. H.
Lever, J. O. Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.
Levett, T. J. Rankin,,T.
Lewis, C. E. Rendlesham, Lord
Lewisham, Viscount Repton, G. W.
Lindsay, Sir R. L. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Loder, R. Ritchie, C. T.
Long, W. H. Rolls, J. A.
Lopes, Sir M. Ross, A. II.
Lowther, rt. hon. J. Ross, C. C.
Lowther, hon. W. Round, J.
Lyons, R. D. St. Aubyn, W. M.
Macartney, J. W. E. Salt, T.
M'Carthy, J. Sclater-Booth, rt.hn.G.
M'Coan, J. C. Scott, Lord H.
Macfarlane, D. H. Scott, M. D.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Mac Ivor, D.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Severne, J. E.
Macnaghten, E. Sexton, T.
Makins, Colonel W.T. Shaw, W.
Manners, rt. hn. Ld. J. Sheil, E.
March, Earl of Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Martin, P. Smith, A.
Marum, E. M. Smith wick, J. F.
Master, T. W. C. Stanhope, hon. E.
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.
Mayne, T. Stanley, E. J.
Metge, R. H. Storer, G.
Miles, Sir P. J. W. Stuart, H. V.
Miles, C. W. Sullivan, T. D.
Mills, Sir C. H. Sykes, C.
Welby - Gregory, Sir W. E.
Talbot, J. G.
Thomson, H. Whitley, E.
Thornhill, T. Williams, Gen. O.
Thynne, Lord H. F. Wilmot, Sir H.
Tollemache, hn. W. F. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Tollemache, H. J. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Tomlinson, W. E. M. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Torrens, W. T. M'C. Wroughton, P.
Tottenham, A. L. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Tyler, Sir H. W. Yorke, J. R.
Wallace, Sir R.
Walrond, Col. W. H. TELLERS.
Warburton, P. E. Crichton, Viscount
Warton, C. N. Winn, R.
Watkin, Sir E. W,
Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Reading put off for six months.