The Earl of Radnor
observed that when he gave notice a few days ago, that he would on the present occasion draw the attention of their Lordships to circumstances connected with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, he had said that he should probably direct their attention chiefly to occurrences in the University of Oxford, though a few of his observations might also apply to occurrences in the University of Cambridge. He could not help alluding to what had passed in that House some months ago respecting both those Universities, and to the measures which the authorities of them had professed their intention to take in consequence of them. Though little appeared to have been done in either university, yet it was only fair to state that he had received a letter from Lord Cavendish, stating that much was now going on in the way of reform in the University of Cambridge. "I can inform you," said Lord Cavendish, "that I have reason to believe that in Trinity College and some of the other colleges progress is making, and will be made, by the appointment of Committees to revise the statutes of their individual colleges and also of the University at large." With regard to the University of Oxford he had also been informed that Committees for similar purposes had been appointed in one or two colleges; and he had also been informed that a hope was entertained that after they had ascertained what the statutes of those colleges were, an attempt would be made to consolidate and amend them. He should not further allude to these matters at present, although he thought it right to say that after the recess, in the course of the Session, he might think it necessary to adopt measures to ascertain what the Committees of these Colleges were doing. In the University of Oxford, it was stated that something had been already done, that an alteration had taken place, and that great improvements were going on. He could not, however, congratulate either himself or the country on the extent of reform which had hitherto taken place. Though the heads of houses had applied themselves with great apparent zeal to revise the Statutes 1385 of that University, the sum total of their labours and of their reforms was of the most ridiculous and ludicrous character. That sum total consisted in this, that the tutors were no longer prohibited from reading lectures to their pupils in Lent, that an English sermon should be substituted for the Latin sermon, preached at the commencement of each term to the University, that certain prayers hitherto recited in Latin should in future be recited in English, and that the oath taken by students upon their matriculation, to observe all the Statutes of the University, should be abolished. He begged pardon, he was not certain that he was correct in saying, that an English sermon was to be substituted for a Latin one. No, he was wrong about that point. He saw that the Concio ad Clerum was still to be in Latin. It had been proposed that it should be in English, but on a division, it appeared that the placets were eighty-one, and the non-placets were 102. The only real alteration of the slightest importance which had been made was the abolition of the oath taken by students on their matriculation, to observe all the Statutes of the University. He thought that nothing could be more objectionable than to call upon young men of seventeen or eighteen years of age to swear that they would observe a set of Statutes which they knew nothing about. The getting rid of that oath was certainly an improvement; but it was the sum total of the reforms made at Oxford after incessant labour for a long time. He believed, that if the noble Duke looked into the matter, he would think that this alteration had been most accurately described in a paper which had been published in the University, and from which he would read a single extract:—"It is merely an affectation of doing something when nothing is really intended to be done." He had been told, however, that the University was now doing something on the 15th chapter of their Statutes, which affects the discipline of young men in statu pupillari. He did not, however, anticipate much benefit from that. No one who was acquainted with that University would deny that there was a great aversion to all change in those personages, from whom any change in the discipline of the University must originate; and when their Lordships knew that every change proposed must be assented to by the Convocation, and when 1386 they saw the members of that body voting as they usually did, what hope could their Lordships entertain of any great and salutary reform? He would give their Lordships a specimen how some of the things proposed to be reformed had been received by that learned body. A proposal was made to abolish the obsolete custom which gave to the proctors the power of appointing two masters of arts to chant the Litany, and of imposing on such masters of arts as refused a fine of 5s. This proposal was opposed by sixty-eight persons. He mentioned this to show that there was no chance of any great improvement emanating from such a quarter. Forty-eight members of the Convocation had also voted against a proposition to abrogate a rule which had fallen into desuetude for the last 150 years. These were, however, minor objects. The principal object for which he then rose was to complain of the illegality of the proceedings of the University of Oxford against one of its most learned and pious members—Dr. Hampden. He would not enter into the question, whether alterations of the Statutes ought to originate with the hebdomadal board or with the house of Convocation; for he was prepared to argue the total illegality and incapacity of the University to alter the Statutes without the consent of the Crown. The Code of Statutes by which the University of Oxford was now governed, was passed in 1636, and was called the Laudian or Caroline Code. The circumstances under which that code was passed were these:—About two centuries ago, from the variety of charters which had been granted to the University by several of our monarchs, and from the variety of Statutes which had afterwards been grafted upon them, all the rules and laws of the University had got into a state of great confusion. In the year 1631, the then Chancellor of the University was anxious to reform its Statutes, and to get them consolidated into one code. Delegates were appointed at his instigation for that purpose. The Earl of Pembroke died soon after, and on his death, the celebrated Laud was appointed Chancellor. He set about the work commenced by his predecessor with great zeal, and after the labour of two or three years completed it. Few of the Statutes which he provided for the University were newly drawn up; they consisted principally of the old Statutes ar- 1387 ranged so as to form one code. Charles 1st was very anxious that they should be adopted. They were, therefore, tried for twelve months, and having been approved by the University at the end of that time, were sent down to it with great form, the great seal being attached to them. A Secretary of State and several other officers of high rank were sent down to Oxford with them, and they were received with great form and ceremony by the authorities of the University. He ought to cave mentioned, that previously to this, an Act was passed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, incorporating the Members of the University under the title of the Masters, Fellows, and Scholars of the University of Oxford, confirming to them all their previous charters, and all their former rights. On the Laudian Statutes being sent down to them, they surrendered all their former charters, and received the Caroline Charter as the charter by which they would in future be governed. Now, if this were so, if this were the governing codex of the University, the next point to be settled was, whether there was in that codex any power reserved to the University to alter its Statutes. He found in the body of the Statutes many expressions forbidding any such alterations. In an original letter which Laud sent down to the University with the Statutes in 1636, there was a paragraph in which he stated, that they were to have legitimam vim, the force of law, for all legal purposes apud posteros perpetuo, for coming generations for ever. Again, there were expressions to the same effect in the letter which Charles 1st sent to the University on the same occasion, and it was therein stated that all former Statutes contrary thereto were repealed. These terms, he repeated, were sent down to the University, and were accepted by it with great form. It was expressly provided, that there should be no power of altering any of the Statutes without a special license from the King himself. There was also a whole chapter on matters which were called indispensable, in which it was expressly stated, that no dispensation or change should be prayed for with respect to any Statute or decree which had received the Royal authority. He knew it had been contended that those provisions of immutability related only to some particular Statutes—the Caroline Statutes, as they were called. But such was not the fact. The prohibition of 1388 making any alteration was not confined to those Statutes; and the natural construction was, that it must apply to the whole. But it was said, there were certain provisions in the Statutes for necessary alterations; and it did singularly happen that in the Caroline Statutes themselves, which had always been held to be unalterable, there was a similar power given to different persons of setting matters right, if there should be any " dubitatio" on the subject. It was important also to observe what had been the feeling of the University itself. The Statutes were passed in 1636, and for 120 years from that time only seven new Statutes, or supplements as they were called, were made, and every one of them came literally within the permission given for making necessary alterations. Then in 1640 a new Statute passed for regulating the Arabic lecture, which had just been founded; in 1662, another supplementary Statute was passed—the only one which afforded any justification of the modern practice—and the object of that Statute was to require two declamations instead of one before taking a degree. In 1708, there was another Statute for regulating the poetical lecture, then first founded. In 1738, another for extending to the sons of Scotch and Irish Peers, the same honorary indulgencies enjoyed by the sons of English noblemen. Another in 1757, for regulating the appointment and remuneration of the officers of the press, and another in 1758 for regulating the Vinerian professorship. In 1759, some dispute having arisen with respect to these Statutes, the opinion of Blackstone, who had just been appointed the first Vinerian Professor, and of two counsel, Morton and Wilbraham, was taken; and it was supposed, from their opinion, that the University had the power to make Statutes. Up to 1758, only seven alterations had been made which really and truly were no violations of the Statutes without the Royal license. These seven were placed as an appendix to thecorpus statutorum; but from that period, a body of alterations, almost as large as the Statutes themselves, were made in the nature of additions. In the next thirty-six years there had been no less than fifteen additions; and so the University had gone on up to the present time. He should have mentioned as a strong confirmation of the opinion he had given, that in 1637, the very subsequent year to the passing of the 1389 Statutes, Laud gave a body of laws to the University of Trinity College, Dublin, containing an express prohibition to make any alterations, and the consequence was that, from that time to the present, they had continued the same absurd forms which were in use in those days. There appeared very good ground to suppose that up to 1759, the University felt that under what he contended was a proper understanding of those provisions they had no power to alter any essential part of those Statutes without the Royal assent. It might be said it was wholly absurd to suppose that a corporation of this nature would accept of Statutes which bound them so stringently against the adoption of any alteration; but this happened in fact every day, and in petitions presented last year on this very subject it was contended, in accordance with this view, that neither the Universities themselves, the heads of houses, nor the visitors, nor even Parliament itself, had the power to make any alteration. This, he contended, afforded a complete justification of the view he took upon the matter. The steps which had been adopted last year against Dr. Hampden, were therefore perfectly illegal. There was a Statute passed last year without any authority from the Crown, which repealed two chapters of the Statute, stated in the margin as being part of theaddenda. One of those chapters directed that the Regius Professor of Divinity, should be one of those to appoint the select preacher, and the other directed that the Regius Professor of Divinity should be one of the persons appointed to try matters of heresy in case any heretical doctrines were preached in the University. It was said both of these Statutes were in theaddenda. He contended the whole of theaddenda were irregular and illegal, inasmuch as they were additions to the original Statutes, and therefore he saw no harm in repealing them. It seemed to have been customary for the University, in altering parts of any Statute, to repeal the whole, and transfer any parts of it they wished to retain to the addenda, word for word as they appeared in the original Statute. Now, the section of the chapter which enacted that the Regius Professor of Divinity should be one of those appointed to choose the select preacher was only to be found in the addenda, and he did not complain of its repeal; but the other, depriving him of 1390 the power to sit at what was called the Board of Heresy, was transferred from the original Statute to the addenda, and the University had no power to repeal it. The University had, therefore, he contended, violated that Statute in the insult they had offered to Dr. Hampden. Without any accusation having been made, they were at once the accusers, the judges, and the executioners. Dr. Hampden was living quietly in Oxford as Regius Professor; a convocation was called, a great stir was made, the greatest activity was used to get up people from all parts of the country, and coaches drove into Oxford with men to give their votes who, to his (Lord Radnor's) certain knowledge, knew little about the matter, and had never read a single word of Dr. Hampden's works, save and except the extracts which his enemies had circulated against him. He believed he could prove that at the bar. Those men came up to the Convocation, and passed the statute by which they declared that some of Dr. Hampden's writings contained such theology,res theologica, that the convocation, had no confidence in him, Dr. Hampden never having been summoned nor heard in his own defence. Indeed one of the speeches at the Convocation made by the Warden of Merton, concluded thus:—"Where is the accuser? Where is the accused? What is the accusation?" Dr. Hampden was not only excluded from being one of those to appoint the select preachers, but was also excluded from sitting at the board of heresy. The conduct of the university in that respect was illegal; nor were their late proceedings less illegal in reference to a general revision of the statutes. But he might be charged with inconsistency, first in urging the university to undertake the work of self-reformation, and then complain of them when they did so. The whole difficulty might easily have been re. moved if the University of Oxford had applied to the proper quarter, but they had proceeded in an irregular, illegal, and most improper manner; and he conceived it was the duty of her Majesty's Government to take some steps in order to vindicate the prerogative of the Crown with respect to Dr. Hampden, as having been appointed by the Crown to an office of so much importance and dignity. No doubt it might be said, if Dr. Hampden had suffered any grievance, he should seek redress for himself; but the remedy was so cumbersome 1391 and so expensive, that with limited means and a large family he did not choose to resort to it. After the statute passed, no notification had been given to him, and although he sent his protest to the Vice-Chancellor, no notice whatever was taken of it; but the Vice-Chancellor thought proper to stick up an advertisement in one of the colleges, of which he was principal, that no candidate for orders, however well conducted or meritorious, should have a testimonial if he attended Dr. Hampden's lectures. Luckily this conduct had been counteracted by the determination of two of the bench of bishops, their rule being to require testimonials of having attended the lectures of the Regius Professor of Divinity. Those were the grounds on which he founded his motion. But there was another point of view in which the proceedings of the university, if not technically, were morally illegal. He had felt it to be his duty on more occasions than one to animadvert on the way in which oaths were taken at Oxford. They would rather, it was said, be turned into the world houseless and penniless than break an oath. Well, the observance of the statutes was enforced by repeated oaths. Up to the other day every matriculated member of the university swore to observe them; every B.A., and M.A., and D.D. bound himself by repeated oaths to observe them, and yet those repeated oaths were violated by the proceedings to which he had alluded. The noble Earl then referred to a pamphlet recently published at Oxford and attributed to the gentleman who addressed a letter to him last spring in the public papers, in which an opinion was expressed that obsolete laws were not imperative: while it was well known there was a part of the statutes which expressly stated, that if any of the governing authorities suffered a law from neglect or indolence to become obsolete, he should be deemed guilty of perjury. There was a passage upon this subject in an article in the last number of the Quarterly Review, which (although anonymous) must, from the singular coincidence of doctrine and style, have proceeded from the same individual to whom he had already referred, and which he hoped their Lordships would allow him to read. The passage read by the noble Earl was as follows:—We cannot here point out all the errors prevalent just now on this important subject; but, in the case of a trust requiring the constant 1392 adaptation of fixed rules to changing circumstances, under the necessary promise of adherence to those rules themselves—if one thing more than another can relieve the conscience, and remove the difficulties of the trustee, even where the greatest changes may be required, it is an oath. A promise to man ties us down to one fixed act, from which we cannot swerve, because man cannot see our heart, or provide for contingencies, or judge us with discretion; but an oath restores us at once to that Christian liberty which in all cases of difficult conduct is absolutely necessary, but most of all amidst the multitude of duties and relations involved in the functions of the universities. In very, very few cases, is the administration of an oath anything but an error and an evil; but in the commission of such a trust as this it is absolutely necessary, to enable men to act as they must act, sometimes even in opposition to the verbal will of their founder, but at all times under the eye of God.That was the language of theQuarterly Review, the organ of the church and the universities. Talk of Popery indeed, it was nothing to that. The Pope was said, he did not know how truly, to release a man from his oath; but according to this doctrine every man was his own Pope, and might release himself from any oath whenever he thought fit. The noble Earl concluded by moving for a copy of the protest made by Dr. Hampden to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford on the 8th of November, 1836. He hoped the Government having had their attention called to the subject would take some step to vindicate the prerogative of the Crown and set Dr. Hampden right.
§ The Duke of Wellington
felt himself bound to object to the motion of the noble Earl. In point of form that motion could not be made, and he did not know to what end it could be directed; but he did not solely object to it in point of form—he objected to it also in substance. The object of the noble Lord's motion was to bring the subject under the consideration of the House, with a view to a prosecution by the authority of her Majesty's Government of the University of Oxford. That was the object of the noble Lord's motion. If the noble Lord had given notice of his intention to address the Crown to direct that Dr. Hampden, as an individual, should be prosecuted, his motion might be more in form, but the intention avowed by the noble Lord was that the University of Oxford should be prosecuted on account of these transactions. That was an interference not only with the affairs of the university 1393 but with the Crown, which in his (the Duke of Wellington's) opinion that House ought not to make. That House ought certainly not to take such a step upon a subject of this description. If it aid take such a step with a view to a prosecution of the University of Oxford, and that there should afterwards be an appeal to that House in consequence of such prosecution, he should like to know in what situation the noble Lord and that House would stand when such appeal came before it? Under these circumstances, he was quite sure their Lordships could not adopt the motion on the grounds stated by the noble Earl. He could not help thinking that the last part of the noble Lord's speech was almost an answer to the first; because, if the noble Lord contended, as stated by him in the latter part of his speech, that the university had no right to alter these statutes, upon what ground did the noble Lord blame the university for not having made the alterations which the noble Lord was of opinion it ought to make in the statutes and conduct of the university, as stated by him in the commencement of his speech? Before he sat down he trusted he should be able to show that the University of Oxford had the power of altering its statutes; and on the part of that university he must say, that for a long time the Convocation had had under their consideration the alterations which ought to be made in those statutes, that the work of alteration had been commenced by them in the course of last term, and that they were proceeding with that work as fast as they could proceed with propriety, and at the same time with attention to the other duties they had to perform. Besides, he could tell the noble Lord, in answer to the first part of his speech, that in all the colleges in which it was in the power of the governing body, whether assisted by the visitors or not was not essential; but that in all these colleges where it was in the power of the governing body to make alterations in the statutes, they had those statutes under their consideration, with a view to make in them such alterations as might be considered just or requisite. They had had the subject under consideration during the few months that had elapsed since the close of last Session; and at the expiration of a few months more, during which there would be comparatively much more leisure to devote to it, he hoped he should 1394 be able to inform the noble Lord that some progress had been made in the work of alteration. The noble Earl had entered into a long detail upon the subject of the statutes of the University of Oxford, in order to prove that the Convocation of that university had not the power of altering those statutes. Now, he believed that there was no corporation in this kingdom which had had the power of making its statutes for a longer period than the University of Oxford. It was perfectly true that in the reign of Charles 1st, a revision of those statutes became necessary; that a commission had been employed to revise and consider them; that the commissioners agreed upon what course they should adopt in the year 1634, and that in the year 1636, and not immediately after, as stated by the noble Lord, the King sent down a letter confirming those statutes, and containing the clause adverted to by the noble Lord, and which the noble Lord contended had the effect of preventing any alteration in those statutes, although they contained expressly the power of enacting, interpreting, or altering statutes, but at the same time forbidding the exercise of that power in case the statutes were sanctioned or confirmed by royal authority. The noble Lord pretended that these words referred to the whole code of statutes passed, as he had said, in 1634, and confirmed in 1636. But it was well known in the university that the prohibition of altering statutes extended solely to those statutes which had been sent down to the university by the King himself, which in fact had been made by the King, and which were directed to be carried into execution under very different circumstances, and containing very different words from the rest of the statutes. This was a matter perfectly well understood in the university, and it always had been understood and acted upon from the year 1630, up to the present time. The noble Lord stated, that in the year 1640 a statute had been passed respecting the establishing of an Arabic professorship by the Chancellor Archbishop Laud: but surely if it were understood at that time that a statute could not be altered, abrogated, or interpreted, excepting with the consent of the King, Archbishop Laud would have asked his Majesty's consent to the enactment of this statute, passed at so early a period as 1640, that was to say, within four years after the period at which those 1395 statutes had been confirmed by his Majesty, and, as the noble Lord said, under the Great Seal. It happened that the Caroline statutes were confirmed under the Great Seal; but the general code of statutes was not so confirmed. There was one general letter applying to the whole, which he held to be under the Great Seal, though not in the same form as the Caroline statutes. There were other statutes subsequently passed, and by those who were perfectly well acquainted with the transactions of 1634 and 1636; but there never had been a doubt expressed of the power of the University of Oxford to make alterations and promulgate statutes until a very late period, when the subject came under the consideration of Mr. Justice Blackstone and certain other judges in the year 1759. Mr. Justice Blackstone said, "that the corporate body of an university being a thing entirely distinct from all private eleemosynary collegiate foundations, possessed the same rights and powers, and was subject to the same regulations, as other bodies politic—that all corporations had an inherent and inseparable right conferred by the law in the very act of their incorporation to make by-laws and statutes for their own domestic government, provided such by-laws were not contrary to the charter of their incorporation or the general law of the land." Mr. Justice Blackstone also said, "that with respect to any prohibition contained in former statutes, it was certain that no corporation had the power to make statutes or by-laws abridging the legislative power of its successors, who had the same right to enact as their predecessors had, any more than one Parliament could effectually make an act to abridge any future act. Therefore any academical act or by-law which seemed to assume such power was either void in itself, or voidable and subject to be repealed by any subsequent act." It followed from this that such prohibitions contained in statutes against repealing or explaining former statutes without a license from the Crown was contrary to the first principles of law and reason, and therefore void, or at least liable to be repealed or suspended in any particular instance.
The Earl of Radnor
inquired in what capacity that opinion had been delivered by Blackstone? Was it in a case of law?
§ The Duke of Wellington
was not able to inform the noble Lord. It had been put 1396 into his hand as the opinion of Mr. Justice Blackstone, and the noble Earl could refer to it himself; he had no doubt whatever the opinion had been given; at all events he relied upon it; he believed it to be law, or at least the law upon which the university had been acting. He admitted that at the period when this opinion was given there must have been some doubt with respect to the right of the university to alter or make their statutes; but at the same time there could be nothing more clear, nothing more reasonable, nothing more just, than the opinion to which he had referred, and upon which he relied as being the law of the case. He must say, that the noble Earl himself, the House, and the public generally, having called upon the universities both of Oxford and Cambridge to consider their statutes with a view to their alteration, and having before them such opinions as those of Mr. Justice Wilmot and other judges, it did appear rather extraordinary that the noble Lord should now come forward and say that they had no right whatever to make any alteration in their statutes. They must continue absolute though they might be—inconvenient and unreasonable though they might be—yet that alter them the universities must not, because certain words in the Caroline statutes contained a prohibition against their alteration. The noble Lord having made that assertion, then addressed their Lordships respecting a gentleman, in reference to whom he was anxious to say as little as possible. The late king had been advised to appoint that gentleman to be Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford. There could be no doubt that the general opinion of the university was, that that gentleman's theological tenets were not exactly orthodox, or consistent with the articles of the Church of England, an opinion which the publication of certain works by that gentleman had tended to establish. Several persons in the university had considered it their duty to petition his Majesty, praying, if the appointment had not been completed, that he would not make it. He believed that another address had been presented to his Majesty, entreating his Majesty not to sanction that appointment. The appointment, however, had been made, contrary to the views of the university at large, and a short time afterwards Dr. Hampden had thought right in his inaugural lecture to state that he then 1397 felt it his duty to explain the opinions which had been complained of. It was not for him to pretend to judge either those opinions or that explanation; but this he would venture to say, and he believed their Lordships would concur in the opinion, that in proportion as Dr. Hampden had found it necessary to give an explanation of his sentiments, in the same proportion were those justified who had thought proper to disapprove of them. He believed it would be admitted that if a clergyman who had published certain opinions not being orthodox, thought proper to come forward and explain those opinions, at least those opposed to such opinions had some justification for the course they had taken in disapproving of them. That was all he wished to say respecting the opinions and explanation of Dr. Hampden. His appointment having been made notwithstanding the petition of a vast number of the clergy of Oxford, and the general opinion expressed there that it should not be made, a request was made to the heads of Houses requesting that they would propose some measure to the Convocation which would have the effect of marking the disapprobation on the part of that body, of the opinions and appointment of Dr. Hampden. The noble Earl had alluded to the act of Convocation excluding Dr. Hampden from being one of those to appoint the select preachers, and also from sitting at the board of heresy. He was not disposed to say anything against Dr. Hampden, but this he must say, that considering the whole transaction, his opinion was, the Convocation had done as little upon that occasion as it was possible to have done, consistently with the necessity which existed of taking some notice of that gentleman, his opinions, and conduct. Since that period, he really believed that the university and the bishops of the Church of England, and all the persons who had any influence on this question, had done everything in their power to put it down and prevent it becoming a subject of discussion, even in the university or elsewhere. For himself, he could say, he had invariably pursued that course, it being his object to prevent any discussion on the matter; and he never should have mentioned it there, or elsewhere, publicly, if the noble Earl had not on the present occasion, forced it upon him. He certainly lamented the transaction, principally because he considered 1398 it was likely to produce a schism in the Church; and he had been as anxious as any man could be in his situation to prevent the university from proceeding upon the subject in such a manner as might by possibility lead to that result. The noble Lord adverted to the conduct of a Gentleman who was now Vice Chancellor of the University, and who had in his capacity of head of a house prohibited the attendance of the students in divinity upon the lectures of the Regius Professor. He did not pretend to be competent to mark the difference between the private and public lectures of the Regius Professor, but he certainly did not approve of the course taken by the Vice-Chancellor. In his opinion, the question was not one to be considered by the head of a house, for in fact no ordination could be conferred by him or the Regius Professor of Divinity. Ordination could only be conferred by the bishops of the Church; and whether the students attended the lectures of the Regius Professor of Divinity, or those of the Margaret Professor, or of any other Professor, he would say it was the duty of the bishops of the Church to consider the attainments of the persons coming for ordination, and whether they were qualified or not, without taking into consideration the certificates of the Regius Professor of Divinity, the head of a house, or any other individual. It was, he contended, the duty of the bishops to examine every candidate for holy orders without reference to the certificate of any individual whatever. He must say, however, with regard to the course adopted by the Vice-chancellor, that he was thoroughly convinced, not only from what that gentleman had stated to him, but from his own knowledge of that gentleman's conduct, and his character for candour and fairness, that he had the very best motives for pursuing that course. From that course he departed as soon as he had found that the bishops of the church had determined upon taking a different course, conceiving that he was then relieved from all charge and responsibility in the situation which he held. Such was the history of that transaction, and he had only to say with respect to the Vice-chancellor, and with respect to others of the university of Oxford, that it was their anxious wish and desire to avoid taking any step in reference to Dr. Hampden, lest it should in any manner whatever lead to what they would con- 1399 sider the greatest possible misfortune—a schism in the church. He thought he had answered the greater part of what had fallen from the noble Earl. The noble Earl had thought proper, at the end of his address, to read a letter and likewise an extract from a magazine, neither of which, he could assure the noble Earl, he had ever heard of. It was impossible for him to say whether he concurred or not in the opinions they contained; but if he conceived they were at all of the nature which the noble Lord had described, they certainly could not be more abhorred by that noble Lord than by him. Without meaning any disrespect to the noble Lord, he thought the proper course for the House to pursue would be to reject the motion of the noble Earl.
protested against that part of the noble Duke's statement with regard to Dr. Hampden, in which he asserted that the explanation given by that gentleman of the opinions previously put forward by him afforded any justification of the charge which had been made against him on account of those opinions. As well might it be said that the story which had been lately circulated respecting him—namely, that he had committed a breach of good manners in prematurely quitting the royal table—as well might it be said that that story had some foundation because he now declared it to be an utter falsehood.
§ The Earl of Winchilsea, in reply to the observation of the noble and learned Lord, begged to say, that what had been said by Professor Hampden had been said only in explanation, and not in contradiction, of the opinions contained in the pamphlet which had called forth animadversion on the part of the university. Moreover, that explanation had not satisfied the great body of the university as to Dr. Hampden's having renounced those opinions to which they were opposed. With regard to that gentleman's appointment, it was well known at the time that his religious opinions were about to be made the subject of public animadversion in the University of Oxford. The university had in his (Lord Winchilsea's) opinion acted with great leniency towards that gentleman under the circumstances, and, as it appeared to him that the object of the noble Lord was to bring that individual's conduct before their Lordships, he sincerely hoped that their Lordships would 1400 coincide in the opinion expressed by the noble Duke, that it was inexpedient on the part of that House to entertain such a proposition, and would therefore reject the motion of the noble Earl.
§ Viscount Melbourne
was not in the slightest degree aware that there was anything to be condemned in the writings of Dr. Hampden. They were upon points of extreme recondite and difficult scholastic learning. Very few of their Lordships indeed had the means of forming any sound Opinion upon such extremely difficult, abstruse, and obscure points as those. With respect to an intimation that had been made to him upon the subject from the University of Oxford, it seemed to him to have been made by persons who were utterly ignorant of the writings of Dr. Hampden. He knew very little upon the subject, and yet he believed he knew more than those who had come to him on that occasion. He did not, in the slightest degree, conceive that there was anything understood in the writings of Dr. Hampden which was contrary to the doctrines of the Church of England. The noble Duke seemed to think that, because of his explanation, there was something objectionable in the opinions Dr. Hampden felt it necessary to explain. In point of learning and extent of knowledge he believed that that gentleman was the most worthy person who could be found in the university at the time to fill the professorship. Upon his appointment he gave, in an inaugural lecture, a statement of his opinions; but whether that statement contained a retractation or explanation, it was, undoubtedly, not for him to say. He believed it to have been an explanation of Dr. Hampden's opinions, entirely doing away with the charge which had been brought against him; he believed it to have been a complete explanation, showing that those opinions were entirely consonant with the articles and doctrines of the Church of England. The noble Duke said, that they were contrary to the opinions of a majority of the University of Oxford; but he could not admit that a majority of the University of Oxford possessed any power to settle such disputed points, for the opinions of reformists were contrary to those entertained by a great majority of the University of Oxford. If these opinions had been generally entertained at the period of the Reformation, he believed that the Protestant religion 1401 would never have been established in this country. The opinions of Mr. Locke, were contrary to those of the majority of the University of Oxford, and he begged leave to say, that if the opinions of that majority had alone been consulted, everything liberal, everything noble, everything free and ingenuous in this country, would undoubtedly not have been established in it. It was not his intention to have taken any part in this debate, and he had now only to say a word or two respecting the motion of his noble Friend. It was, as he understood, for the production of a protest delivered by the Vice-chancellor of Oxford against the opinions of Dr. Hampden. He would not say whether it was within the competency or power of the House to order the production of this paper or any paper of a similar nature; he would not say that circumstances might not render such a thing expedient, but it was very unusual to ask for such a document, inasmuch as they had no way of enforcing its production if refused, except by treating the refusal as a breach of the privileges and authority of that House. Conceiving, then, that his noble Friend only made this motion for the purpose of bringing the subject under discussion, he would submit to his noble Friend whether it would not, under the circumstances, be better to withdraw it.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
would not have risen to say one word upon the motion were it not for an observation which fell from the noble Viscount, the First Lord of the Treasury. He felt assured that the noble Viscount in the observation made by him, did not mean any disrespect to certain persons who waited on him relative to the appointment of Dr. Hampden to the Regius Professorship. He said, they appeared totally ignorant of the subject. He would not say whether he were ignorant of theology or not, or whether he was more ignorant of it than the noble Viscount professed to be; neither would he allude to the peculiar opinions of Dr. Hampden. These opinions were announced in several publications, and he believed they gave dissatisfaction in various quarters. They were, however, of a character totally different from the opinions which produced the Reformation, and from the opinions of Mr. Locke. The question was, were the opinions maintained by Dr. Hampden consistent with the doctrines of the Church of England? 1402 Upon this point be would abstain from any observation. He would not attempt to go into the subject. He felt it his duty certainly to make some representations to the First Lord of the Treasury upon the appointment; but he appealed to those Ministers who were in power previous to the present Ministry—he appealed to the noble Duke (Wellington), and to a noble Friend of his who had just left the House—if he ever, upon any occasion, stood in the way of any man's preferment in the Church. Nothing but a sense of duty could induce him to remonstrate against this or any other appointment, but having with him the great majority of the University, many also of the ablest Divines, he did not feel that his conduct ought to meet the ridicule of the noble Earl (Radnor). There was so much of contradiction in the noble Earl's observations, in his complaints respecting the things done, and other things left undone, that he felt much difficulty in understanding him. The noble Earl said that on some points there was a majority in the University in favour of his opinions, and complained at the same time that he was in a minority. The noble Earl at one time insisted that the Statutes must be altered, and then insisted that they could not be altered, because there was a Statute that made them unalterable. Then the noble Earl proceeded to the case of Dr. Hampden. Had he known such to have been the noble Earl's intention before coming into the House, he would have endeavoured to dissuade the noble Earl from such a course. Was it likely to do any good? Would it not be better to have passed this matter over in silence? For his part he did everything in his power to soften the matter in the University. The noble Earl read a passage from a review. What right had the noble Lord to assume that this review was the organ of the Church? What right had he to assume that certain sentiments must be the sentiments of the University of Oxford, because he found them expressed in this review? Similar sentiments might be entertained in an Oxford newspaper, or in some Church magazine, of which there were many; but were such publications therefore to be called the organs of the Church? The Church had very different organs, and highly as he respected the celebrated journal mentioned by the noble Earl, he must protest against it being considered the organ of the Church.
The Earl of Radnor
, in reply, said it was generally understood that the review from which he quoted, spoke the sentiments of the Church. The truth was, that the doctrine laid down in the review was adopted in practice by the University. The doctrine was, that by an oath, a person bound himself to God, not to man. It was all well to say that it would be more discreet to observe silence on the case of Dr. Hampden, but it should be recollected that he was the party injured, traduced, and insulted. He believed him to be as honest, as virtuous, and as honourable a man as any living. He had no doubt that all the hostility to him in the University arose from his advocating the admission of the Dissenters. His theology was never censured before. On the contrary, he was appointed to the professor ship of moral philosophy. With respect to the alterations made in the Statutes, he thought that getting rid of the oath was a great advantage, but the subscription, as now insisted upon, was more objectionable than it was before, because persons even under the age of twelve were called called upon to subscribe, and that as to matter of faith, not merely as to matter of opinion or reason.
§ Motion withdrawn.