§ The Earl of Aberdeen
, in moving, pursuant to notice, for certain returns relative to the Church of Scotland, said, that he had occasion, more than once, to call the attention of the House, and to urge upon the notice of her Majesty's Government, the state of the church of Scotland, and the inability of its ministers, as at present situated, to meet and contend with the very great extent of spiritual destitution and the absence of all religious instruction which prevailed in many parts of that portion of her Majesty's dominions. He only referred to the subject now, in consequence of the new character the question had assumed, both from the reports upon the subject which had been laid upon the table by the Commissioners of Inquiry, and from the declaration which had been
111 made by his noble Friend at the head of her Majesty's Government of the plan which it was intended by the Government
No. 3. An ACCOUNT of the AMOUNT of all SUGARS imported into the UNITED KINGDOM from the Colonies and Settlements in the WEST INDIES and elsewhere, in the Year ending 5th January, 1838. British Colonies and Settlements. Year ending 5th Jan. 1838. Cwts. Antigua 62,170 Barbadoes 445,713 Dominica 33,724 Grenada 161,922 Jamaica 903,634 Montserrat 5,695 Nevis 21,324 St. Christopher 73,270 St Lucia 51,430 St. Vincent 201,062 Tobago 90,803 Tortola 13,534 Trinidad 295,367 Demerara 792,892 Berbice 150,536 Nova Scotia (Produce of British Plantations) 1,646 New Brunswick (ditto) 1 Canada (ditto) 5 Newfoundland (ditto) 184 Mauritius 537,457 New South Wales (Produce of Mauritius) 506 3,842,835
112 to pursue in dealing with this most important subject. The plan which had been detailed by his noble Friend, he took to be briefly this—first, to refuse any assistance to the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the state of which had been described in the reports, in order to give the means to those places to afford religious instruction, which had been shown to be there so much required, and also by a parity of reasoning, or some other process, his noble Friend had arrived at the conclusion to apply the same determination to all other great towns. Secondly, his noble Friend was prepared to apply the fund which had been taken from the hereditary revenues of the Crown, and lately added to the consolidated fund, and which had been known as bishops' rents and teinds, and to apply that fund to the endowment of churches in certain highland and rural districts, in which teinds still actually existed; and lastly, to repeal or amend the act passed in the reign of Queen Anne, at the time of the union, by which tithes were passed to lay proprietors, with a view to facilitate the erection of churches in those parishes in which tithes did not exist at the present moment. He had some observations to make on the different parts of this plan, but he would first entreat the House to believe, that this question had not lost any of the interest which it always had possessed in Scotland; he assured their Lordships, that not only had he never known anything like the interests which existed on this subject, but he verily believed, that never had any question of domestic policy so much agitated the people of Scotland since the union of the two kingdoms. The interest had been evinced by the numerous petitions on this subject which had been transmitted to both Houses of Parliament; indeed, he believed there was not a single parish in that country which had not approached Parliament by petition, and if of late those petitions had not been sent, it was owing entirely to the confident hope which had been entertained by the people in consequence of the appointment of the commission of inquiry, and the promises given at the time of the appointment that the Government would grant a considerable endowment. He was aware, that a very considerable number of petitions had been also presented from the Dissenting bodies of Scotland against any measure of this kind, and particularly, that, of late, increased activity had 113 taken place amongst the Seceders from the church of Scotland on this subject. He admitted also, that he was at a loss to conceive the cause of the zeal and activity shown by the Dissenters in their opposition: for the Seceders were, in fact, united in doctrine with the Church, and the difference between them was scarcely perceptible. He could understand, that the Seceders might be of opinion, that religion was best propagated by the voluntary exertions of those who professed it, and that they conscientiously refused any endowments in the case; but he could not equally understand why they, labourers in the same vineyard as the church, should object to the church pursuing the other course—a course which the church thought most likely to lead to the attainment of the object which both had in view. They were both endeavouring to bring the sheep into the same fold, and the Dissenters must entertain the greatest anxiety for the success of the church in its endeavours to reclaim the objects of religious destitution, although they might not think the mode pursued by the church the best calculated to attain those results. But as his noble Friend had determined not to grant aid where it was most required, but where the Dissenters were most numerous, it would appear, that while his noble Friend respected the secular interest of the Dissenters, yet he set at nought their conscientious scruples, for he admitted the principle, of the state affording the relief required. If his noble Friend were not prepared to change his whole course, it was his duty to afford the Established Church such means as were proved to be indispensably necessary for the due exercise of those functions with which it was invested for the good of the whole country. His noble Friend had always maintained that he was anxious to uphold and promote the utility of the Established Church, but he grieved to say, the performances of her Majesty's Government had not been always in conformity with those professions. Whence was it that this lamentable contrast between the conduct and professions of his noble Friend arose? Whence was it, that he, whose personal character was open, frank, and honourable, should, in his policy, at once become indirect, tortuous, and shuffling. This could only arise from the pressure of that influence against which he did not doubt his noble Friend had struggled, but struggled in vain. It arose from that unfortunate position in 114 which his noble Friend was placed: willing and desirous, as he believed his noble Friend to be, to uphold and maintain the great institutions of the country, he found himself compelled, for his own support, to have recourse to those persons who were leagued together for the destruction of those institutions. He thought a short narrative of the case now before their Lordships would prove the correctness of the course he should recommend. In consequence of a great increase in the population of Scotland, and especially in the great cities and towns, it became manifest that it was impossible for the religious establishments in that country to afford the necessary means of instruction to a great part of the population. But, notwithstanding this had become evident, great exertions had been made by the Established Church, and in the course of the last three or four years, he believed, that not much less than 200,000l. had been subscribed for the purpose of building churches; and he further believed, that now not less than 170 churches were built or in progress of building, with a view to meet this great want, and it was to obtain a moderate endowment for those churches that the members of the Church of Scotland now came to Parliament for assistance. He should state, that application had been made first to his late Majesty's Government in 1834, and that application had been so favourably received, that he remembered two or three noble Lords got up in their places and in exuberant joy expressed their gratitude. Being late in the Session, however, nothing was done on that occasion. In 1835, a commission was appointed to inquire and report on this subject; and although such a commission was considered unnecessary, because all the facts of the case were notorious already, no opposition was made to its appointment. It was inferred, however, that this proceeding would lead to considerable delay, and it was therefore urged that the Commissioners should prosecute the inquiry with all possible speed; accordingly, it was arranged that the periodical reports should be presented, and that Parliament should act from time to time on those reports. The terms of the resolution passed in the House of Commons were, "that the Commissioners should report from time to time, in order that such remedies should be applied to any existing evils as Parliament might think fit," The Secretary of States, 115 in addressing a letter of instruction to the noble Lord opposite, the First Lord of the Admiralty, expressed a hope that the labours of the Commissioners would be closed in about six months, and therefore the people and the Church of Scotland naturally were tranquillised with that hope. But no report was made until the beginning of the year 1837, when the first report, containing the state of Edinburgh, was made. A second report was presented at the commencement of the present Session relating to Glasgow. The number of persons in Edinburgh, taking into account all the exertions of all the Dissenters put together, and every means of religious instruction at present in existence, in a state of spiritual destitution was not less than 45,000, out of a population of about 190,000; and in Glasgow the number was about 65,000, out of 213,000. In pressing this matter on the attention of her Majesty's Government, he would observe, that he did not propose to interfere with the exertions of the Dissenters in respect to religious education; by no means. Yet he was one of those who perhaps might think it would not only be justifiable but right for the State to endeavour to reclaim those who were now necessarily subject to be led away from the Established Church by the absolute want of any means of providing them any other religious instruction. But that was not intended nor proposed; all that he said was, that those persons who were left without any instruction from any quarter whatever, no funds being in possession of the Church to enable her to provide it—it was the duty of Parliament to come forward to aid the Church in affording that instruction. He knew that it had been said, that notwithstanding the deficiency of means existing in Edinburgh and Glasgow, there were still many sittings in the churches unlet, and he recollected that his noble Friend opposite had said on a former occasion that he did not well understand how people, if they wanted to go to church, could not find their way to church. The misfortune was, that they did not want to go to church. That was the evil. But if they did want to go, they could not aflord it, because the sittings were to be paid for, and to obtain them they had not the means. Let not his noble Friend imagine that the church had anything to do with letting those sittings, for both in Edinburgh and Glasgow they were let by the magistrates, and formed part of what was called the Com- 116 mon good, the annual revenue of the borough. The ministers of the church, therefore, had no control whatever over the means of admitting the poorer classes to sittings in the churches. But it had been said, that those sittings were not occupied; that was not the case, for, in point of fact, they were occupied by persons who did not pay for them, but who sat in them on sufferance; therefore they were occupied, although returned as unlet; and, not being paid for, they, of course, were not reckoned as forming any part of the revenue of the church. The churches so let were really only a part of what was called the voluntary system. Those churches did not provide instruction for the poor. It was possible for a popular preacher to fill a large church with persons attracted by the manner in which he performed his duties, while the surrounding neighbourhood remained in a state of most deplorable ignorance. That evil could be corrected only by the erection of parish churches. The advantage of the territorial system of the Established Church over the congregational system was this—that the minister went out and compelled the poor to come in, and his powers were employed for the good of the people; and it was only according to that system, which had been so eminently successful in Scotland, that they could ever hope to see the wants of the people supplied. The other mode of building a church for the accommodation of those who could afford to frequent it, never would, and never could, supply the wants of the poorer classes. It was remarkable, that in two populous parishes in Glasgow, the attendance was exactly in proportion to the poverty of the people; as the poverty of the inhabitants increased, so did their attendance on the churches diminish. In one parish, it appeared that the attendance of the renters of houses rated at 20l. and upwards, was 764 per cent.; while that of persons living in houses rated at below 5l. the attendance was only 94 per cent. In the other parish, the 20l. houses gave 62 per cent., and the 5l. houses only 114 per cent. So it was throughout all the parishes, and so it must necessarily be, for not having the power, people very soon ceased to have the will to go to church; and vice, crime, and ignorance were perpetuated among them. It might appear paradoxical, but a church might even exist in a large and populous parish, and not be filled, and yet that would be no reason for 117 not erecting a church, and apportioning a district for that purpose, because at present the great extent of population put it quite out of the power of any minister to meet the wants of that extensive population. This was not a mere matter of speculation, but, in point of fact, it had really taken place. In Glasgow, four new churches were built in the year 1834; two of them were quite filled with hearers, and the other two were attended by large congregations, while the old city churches, in the same parishes, so far from falling off in the number of their attendants, had a very considerable increase. This was proved by the amount of the seat-rents collected in the old churches. There was an actual increase in that amount of 117l. a-year, the revenue of those churches being at the same time the test of the number of their attendants. So, then, both the old and the new churches were filled by this distribution and separation of the extensive district in which the new churches were erected. Undoubtedly, the mere building of churches would be of little use, no more than building so many mosques, unless ministers 'were allotted to them; for the whole essence of the system upon which the church of Scotland looked for success was, that district or parochial system of allotting a reasonable extent of population to the efforts of one individual minister. In addition to the churches which had of late been built, as he had already mentioned, there were sixty-three which were formerly chapels of ease, but to which districts, had been allotted, and they were now, to all intents and purposes, parish churches. Great exertions had been made to erect those churches, on the faith that endowments would be granted by Parliament, in consequence of the absolute necessity of the case. He thought that the Government might be considered as pledged to the fulfilment of that hope, and that such would be the opinion of any one who looked at the manner in which the commission was appointed, at the declarations which were made at the time, and at the result of the inquiry, which had been laid on the table of their Lordships' House. He could not comprehend what reason could be assigned, having in view the promises made at the time of the appointment of the commission, for not complying with the terms of the report, and supplying the wants which had been proved to exist. His noble Friend had declared, that he was ready to act; 118 he was ready to grant aid to distant parishes of which no report bad been made, and of which their Lordships knew nothing officially. They might be parishes of great extent, but certainly not of great population, to which his noble Friend would give his aid, but not to those towns where the destitution was enormous, as stated to be in those large volumes now lying on the table of the House, and presenting a picture that loudly called upon their Lordships to interfere. For these destitute towns his noble Friend said, he was determined to do nothing. He could not conceive how his noble Friend was prepared to stultify himself and the Government, by taking such a course. If the declarations formerly made were good for anything, surely the time was come, when his noble Friend ought to be prepared to act on the reports of the Commissioners; and while he professed a desire to extend this aid to the Highland parishes, would he only recollect that in one of those reports, there was an account of the destitute Highland population in Glasgow, more deplorable than anything that could be found in Argyle, Inverness, or any other of the Highland counties. In Glasgow there were not less than 11,000 adult labourers, with whom it was necessary to communicate in their own language, in order to convey Christianity to them, who were destitute of religious instruction, and quite out of all reach of the Dissenters, but anxious and willing to receive religious instruction. The reports of the Commissioners before Parliament had made out a case so strong, that if they intended to proceed in honesty and good faith to do anything at all, in order to relieve the existing religious wants of the people, he thought it was impossible that they could do otherwise than meet the whole case. Was it really the intention of her Majesty's Government to leave this mass of ignorance and vice, and consequently of increasing crime, without proposing any means of relief? No. He could not doubt, that the interests of the Church of Scotland, and with it the interests of religion, good order, morality, and the peace and prosperity of society generally, would have their just claims well considered, and properly attended to. The increase of crime in Scotland had been mainly owing to the want of means in the established Church, to afford instruction to the poor. Even as a measure of economy, he recommended the noble Lord to 119 extend his aid to the crowded populations of the large towns. In the course of the last thirty years, there had been a vast increase of crime; for thirty years ago the whole expense of public prosecutions did not amount to more than 5,0001. It now exceeded 30,000l., and that increase of crime was entirely owing to the absence of that instruction to which the people had right. Some years ago he had heard Lord Liverpool declare, in rather colloquial, but emphatic terms, that he considered Scotland to be the best-conditioned country on the face of the earth. He regretted to say, that his country was fast losing that superiority in point of good conduct and morals which it had formerly possessed. But if the poor were to be left crowded together in destitution of religious instruction, nothing but ignorance and crime could prevail. He would not object to the proposal of his noble Friend as to the relief he intended to give the highland parishes, nor to his taking it from the fund which he had mentioned. He would not now enter into the inquiry as to the Bishop's rents and tithes. He looked at them as belonging to the hereditary revenue, and as now being part of the Consolidated Fund. But, he thought, the state was bound to come to the aid of the church where a case was made out, and find the means of providing religious instruction from any fund, be it what it might. Although, therefore, he had no objection to the application of this fund, yet he would not admit the doctrine that the religious wants of the people ought to be considered in proportion to the amount of such funds. If the fund, as it existed, afforded any facility to his noble Friend he was glad of it, but he protested against the necessary connexion between the amount of this fund and the people's wants. Neither did he wish to enter at any great length into the third part of the noble Viscount's scheme,—namely, that of altering the act of 1707, by which tithes were held by lay impropriators. A noble and learned Lord, who had left the House, had characterised that measure as an act of spoliation, and in truth it was nothing else, both with respect to the landowners and the church. The former had held their property from the passing of the act down to the present time, subject to known and fixed charges regulated by Act of Parliament. The clergy had fixed claims upon those teinds, and could 120 periodically demand an increase of stipend to be paid out of them by the proprietors. In virtue of the Act of Parliament, in the course of every twenty years, the parochial ministers of Scotland might apply to the Court of Session for an augmentation of their livings, and that court had the power of making such addition as it might see' proper, or it might refuse any increase; but, subject to that claim, once in every twenty years the tithes were the abolute property of the proprietors. If, then, the Government took possession of that fund to which alone the clergy of Scotland could come for any necessary increase to their livings, the Government would be guilty of an act of spoliation not only as regarded the lay proprietors of tithe, but in regard also to the clergy of the Established Church. The plan proposed by the Government could be considered in no other light than as a measure of spoliation, for if it were carried into effect, the rights of the clergy upon the only fund from which they could obtain any augmentation of their livings which circumstances might render absolutely necessary, would be absorbed. He was, however, less disposed to detain their Lordships on this part of the subject, because he had strong hopes that the noble Viscount at the head of her Majesty's Government would yet receive some fresh light on the subject from persons in Scotland who were not opposed to his Administration, but friendly to its general policy. He could not allow himself to think that the noble Viscount would persevere in carrying into execution a project, which, in his estimation, was directly at variance with the promises given when the Commission was first established; he was sure the noble Viscount could not act in a manner so opposite to good faith. The suggestion of such a course had, indeed, taken all parties by surprise. When the Commission was first appointed, he thought the terms in which its authority was couched looked something like as if an interference with property was contemplated by its framers, property which was not, and ought not, to have been subject to any such control; and he had, at the time, urged the point upon the attention of their Lordships. But the Government had taken some steps to allay the apprehension which the terms of the Commission had excited, and Lord J. Russell, in a letter to the noble Earl (Minto), who was the nominal head of the 121 Commissioners, adverted in very explicit terms to the fears which had been roused that private property was to be interfered with. In that letter, Lord J. Russell said there was another misapprehension as to the objects of the Commission. It was feared, that the Commissioners might interfere with private property; and he enjoined the noble Earl, at the head of the Commission, to guard against any such misapprehension, as it was not the intention of the Government to interfere with any of those rights secured to individuals by any Act of the Parliament of Scotland; and he further desired the noble Earl to ascertain what property remained in Scotland which could be applied to the extension of the means of spiritual instruction consistently with the existing statutes. That letter tranquillized the minds of the people of Scotland; but last year, the noble Viscount opposite threw out a suggestion, that the tithes might be appropriated for additional endowments to the church, and to that suggestion he (the Earl of Aberdeen) adverted at the time, and the report of his observations was the cause of great excitement in Scotland, and the discussion on the subject was noticed in the assembly of the church. He would just mention to their Lordships some observations of a learned Member of the Assembly, friendly to the Government of the noble Viscount, in regard to the suggestion thrown out by the noble Viscount. The learned gentleman observed, that he had a very clear opinion on the subject of the suggestion thrown out by the noble Viscount. Settled as the teinds were, he continued, he considered it neither politic nor just to appropriate them in the manner proposed, as an Act of Parliament had been passed preventing their appropriation in any way without the consent of the proprietors, and he considered any appropriation of those teinds inconsistent with the statutes as a direct violation of private property. The learned gentleman further observed, that when the matter had been properly represented to the Government, he was sure they would not persevere in the course proposed, as he was convinced that nothing would tend more to defeat the object in view, than throwing such an apple of discord between the proprietors and the clergy of Scotland. A learned and most respected judge, whose opinion was of the highest importance, and entitled to every 122 consideration, expressed similar sentiments on the subject. Was it, then, as an apple of discord between the landlords and the church that the noble Viscount had thrown out the suggestion to which he had alluded? He trusted not; yet he could hardly help believing that the learned gentleman, whose opinions he had stated to their Lordships, was far off in his reckoning. If the plan of the noble Viscount was persisted in, then he would advise the lay proprietors of England to look to themselves, for if the statutes to which he had alluded were to be set aside, then no description of ecclesiastical property could be safe. The noble Viscount would yet receive from Scotland from several of the most influential persons in that country remonstrances against the plan he had proposed, and he trusted that those remonstrances would induce the noble Viscount to reconsider the subject. As a humble advocate of the church of Scotland, he was confident he might safely appeal on this occasion to the right rev. bench. The church of Scotland was grateful to the right rev. Prelates of England for the support she had already received from them. All feelings of hostility, if ever they existed, between the two churches, had long since entirely passed away, and it was wisdom for both to look to each other for support against those enemies who were striving equally to injure and destroy both. The question now was, "Church or no Church;" and he was sure he was guilty of no exaggeration when he said, that the Church of Scotland looked with grateful confidence for support and assistance on the present occasion to the Church of England. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Minto) had said, on a former occasion, that he believed himself to be the only Member of the Church of Scotland in their Lordships' House. The noble Earl was mistaken. He professed himself a Member of the Church of Scotland, and had held office in her courts; but while he proudly made this acknowledgment, he did so with the greatest respect for the Church of England ft had not been from any examination or the doctrines of the Church of England, or from any doubts as to those doctrines, that he remained a Member of the Church of Scotland, but believing the Church of Scotland to be the true Church, and that it was admirably adapted to secure peace, order, and a high state of morality amongst 123 the people, he had seen no cause to abandon the Church of his fathers and of his country. But he made these observations with the greatest respect for the Church of England. It was impossible for him to entertain any other feelings than those of the most profound respect for the Church of England, honoured as he had been for thirty years of his life with the friendship of the most rev. Prelate opposite, the head of that Church. Of that most rev. Prelate he would say no more in his presence, than that even in this age he had escaped from even the breath of calumny. It grieved him to think that this important question should have assumed anything of a party character. It might be unavoidable; but he could most sincerely say, that in Scotland the question was not so considered by the people; the Church of Scotland had never considered it as a party question, and those humble and pious men, the ministers of that Church, with whom he was in communication, had not a shadow of party feeling on the subject. They only looked to the support and extension of that establishment, of the importance of which they were so deeply sensible. He thought, too, that those pious men would do him the justice to say, that he had never in his communications with them considered the subject as a party question. He had always entreated them to rely on her Majesty's Government, and especially on the noble Viscount—he had bidden them to hope against hope; and he still trusted that a beneficial settlement of the question would yet be effected—beneficial for all parties concerned. The notice he had to propose would prove the sincerity of his language. Feeling deeply on the subject, he might have proposed a resolution for an immediate provision being made to meet the spiritual wants of the people of Scotland; but the prospect of putting the Government in direct hostility to the Church of Scotland was a course which he so much deprecated, that he felt compelled to abstain from moving any such resolution at present. He, therefore, should only move for a return, showing the expense of the Commission from its commencement up to the present time. Their Lordships would recollect that the Commission was appointed in July, 1835, and up to last year the expenses had amounted to 20,000l., and if it went on at the same rate, they would amount in 124 this year to not less than 30,000l. He thought it right, when Government treated, by a proposal which was mere derision, the wants of the people of Scotland almost with indifference, that the people of that country should know what sum a few hungry lawyers could devour. If no result was to arise from the Commission more than what had been proposed—if the expense was to be the only result of its investigations, he knew not how he could characterise it but as a gigantic job. The noble Earl concluded by moving for a return, showing the expense of the Commission from its commencement up to the present time.
No. 4. RETURN of the NUMBER and EFFECT of the RETURNS of PUNISHMENTS received by the Governor of BRITISH GUIANA from the SPECIAL MAGISTRATES, from the 1st June 1836 to 31st May 1837. Colony. Date. Total number of Apprentices throughtout the Government. Total Number of Punishments inflicted under the authority of Special Magistrates throughout the same. Proportion per cent. of Punishment to Apprentices. Total Number of Males Punished. Total Number of Females Punished. The Average Number of Stripes inflicted in cases of Punishment by Whipping. The Maximum Number of Stripes inflicted in any one case of Punishment by Whipping. The Maximum of Severity in any one case of Punishment by Confinement. The Maximum of Severity in any other Mode of Punishment. By Whipping. Otherwise than by Whipping. BRITISH GUIANA: 1836: June 71,842 805 1 & 1 8th 40 351 414 23 39 3 months 6 weeks' hard labour. July 72,501 879 1 & 1 5th 46 386 447 24 39 3 months 6 weeks' hard labour. August *69,620 895 1 & 1 4th 44 367 484 23 39 3 months 3 months' hard labour. September *68,609 818 1 & 1 6th 50 368 400 23 39 3 months 3 months' hard labour. October *68,536 539 3 4ths 31 260 248 22 39 3 months 2 months' hard labour November 72,197 590 6 8ths 19 272 299 25 39 3 months 3 months' hard labour on treadmill. December 71,209 478 5 8ths 21 233 224 27 39 4 months 2 months' hard labour on treadmill. 1837: January 68,456 487 6 7ths 15 239 233 23 39 2 months 3 months' hard labour on treadmill. February 71,076 543 3 4ths 4 247 292 26 30 2 months 1 month's hard labour on treadmill. March 71,425 555 3 4ths 2 266 287 20 20 3 months 1 month's hard labour on treadmill. April 71,151 489 5 8ths 3 206 280 21 30 1 month 1 month's hard labour on treadmill. May †56, 984 315 5 9ths 2 155 158 27 30 2 months 6 weeks' hard labour on treadmill. *The Return of one Special Magistrate wanting in consequence of his illness. †The Returns of three Special Magistrates wanting.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that although the noble Earl had given up the motion which he had at first entertained as to the proper terms of his motion—although he had abandoned his idea of moving a general resolution upon the subject, he thought that, considering the nature of the subject—considering the avowed object of the noble Earl's motion—and considering what would be the object of such a general motion, the application for a grant of money from the public funds—the noble Earl had wisely abstained from making a general motion; and although the motion with which he had concluded would lead to no practical result, yet he had nothing but gratitude to offer to the noble Earl for having brought the subject under the consideration of the House. It was a great advantage to her Majesty's Government to know what were the sentiments of the noble Earl, what were the opinions which he entertained, what was the object he had in view, and what was the course he intended to pursue; and he returned his thanks to the noble Lord that he had brought the question before their Lordships, although the speech with which he had introduced it had little to do with the resolution with which he had concluded, and which related to a point of public economy. In the latter end of his speech the noble Earl repudiated the notion that any party feeling or any political violence had been introduced or intermixed with this question, and disclaimed such a feeling both on the part of himself and of the Church of Scotland; but he must say, that this disavowal was not in keeping with the commencement of the noble Earl's own speech, in which he stated that the Government bad been driven so contrary to his (Lord Melbourne's) wishes, and 125 to what the noble Earl was pleased to say in so complimentary a manner his usual character, by the pressure from without, and that they had brought forward this measure for the purpose of gratifying a political party to preserve a political influence in the country. It was very well also for the noble Earl to disclaim the participation in political feelings on this subject by the Church of Scotland; but he had been very much misinformed of the state of this question in that country if such were the case. Was it not known on both sides of the House that this formed a considerable topic in the election discussions in that country; and had their Lordships themselves received no ambiguous hints upon the question? He must say, that, in his opinion, the noble Lord had better have abstained from making such remarks; for if noble Lords opposite made charges against others of being forced by a pressure from without, they could, with ease, have such charges retorted on them. For himself, however, he would willingly dismiss such topics altogether: he had not brought them forward on the present occasion, and he insisted that they should not go further. The noble Earl had accurately detailed the course which her Majesty's Government meant to pursue, and which, after consideration, they had adopted, and, as he thought, upon the whole, wisely and prudently adopted. Upon the first and third point, relating to the bishop's teinds, and the reconsideration of the Act of 1707, with the view of rendering it more effectual for the purposes for which it was enacted, his noble Friend had been comparatively silent, and he had confined himself principally to the reports which had been made with respect to Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the determination which the Government had stated not to grant any immediate relief or assistance to the chief towns. With respect to the question as to the statements in the report, the noble Earl had overrated the quantity of destitution which existed. Taking into consideration the church sittings, the chapel sittings, and the number in the Dissenting places of worship, the proportion was rather more than forty four per cent. to the amount of the whole population, and afforded as much as was necessary for the usual proportion who could attend divine worship. With respect also to Glasgow, the amount of deficiency was not very great. Let them look how the 126 matter stood. In the first place, there must be no free sittings. The ministers of the Church did not like them; the congregation did not like them. They were contrary to the feelings, the habits, and the prejudices of those who wanted seats in the churches. It was considered a degradation. The ministers did not like them for a reason of which he certainly did not approve, because it savoured of a desire to obtain an exclusive control over their congregation, tending to introduce a spiritual influence into the bosom of families. It might be a very good thing, but it might be carried a great deal too far. The ministers again did not like free sittings, because it made their congregations uncertain; their churches were filled with one set of people one day and with a different set on another. The ministers liked a certain congregation over whom they might have influence. But, whatever might be the reason, it was admitted on all hands that free sittings could not be had. If free sittings were admitted, then it might be fairly argued that Government was bound to provide them for everybody. But there was no ground for such an argument when it was proved that no persons would occupy those sittings. The noble Earl admitted that, to a certain extent, the unlet sittings were not necessarily unoccupied. That, to a certain degree, militated against the argument of the noble Earl, because it diminished the evils of the want of accommodation. But it was said, "Money is wanted, not to build new churches—that would be unnecessary until the present churches were filled—but in order to endow the ministers, that they may be able to let the seats more cheaply." The ministers said, "We have got persons in our parishes who cannot take seats, and we must diminish the price in order to induce the people to take then)." He confessed that to him a result of that description appeared to be very uncertain. The greatest proportion of unlet sittings was among those that were let at the lowest rate, and he doubted whether further endowments would have the effect expected by the noble Earl. But there was another point, with respect to the claim made on behalf of these great towns for assistance, which alarmed him considerably, and which induced him to pause before he embarked in a course the end of which he could not foresee, and of which he could not foretel 127 the consequences. His noble Friend said, "You won't give assistance to Edinburgh or to Glasgow, and by parity of reasoning you will not give it to Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, and the other great towns of Scotland? Now, the Commissioners had gone through two of the great towns of Scotland (Glasgow and Edinburgh), and there had been shown, according to the noble Earl, a great amount of religious destitution. Did their Lordships know the amount of destitution of religious instruction in the city of London and Westminster? It appeared by the first report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, that in thirty-four parishes in London and Westminster, containing a population of 1,137,000, there was only church accommodation for 101,682. He, therefore, apprehended that the amount of destitution of religious instruction, and of the means of attending religious worship, were infinitely greater in this metropolis than in any part of Scotland. Nay, the two cases were not to be compared or named in the same day. What did their Lordships suppose would be the case with the other great towns in England and Scotland, into whose condition they must necessarily enter, if they once suffered a grant to be made in this instance from the general resources of the country, instead of from the appropriate funds of the church itself, to which—and he viewed it with wonder and astonishment—the friends of the Church of Scotland clung with wonderful tenacity. "Let us," said they, "have it from the consolidated fund, not from the bishops' teinds; we would rather not have it from that; but let us once get our hands into the pockets of the people of the country, and we shall have ample means without diminishing our own resources." Now, there were, as their Lordships well knew, many great and benevolent objects which they all had in view, and were all anxious, if possible, to accomplish. There were many evils to remedy, many nuisances to be done away, many advantages to be gained by a liberal expenditure; but for which they knew they must not appeal to the power and resources of the country. They must consider what was proper and what was possible to be done. If they were to be required to provide for the general education of the people, for a system of prison discipline, and for every sort of purpose that might be devised for the benefit of 128 the country, while, on the other hand, no retrenchment was to be for a moment admitted, how, he would ask, could such a magnitude of claims on the public be met? All was to be expense—all was to be demand on the public; while, at the same time, there was the greatest possible unwillingness to admit anything like retrenchment. He apprehended that if he were to propose any addition to the public burdens for these various purposes, and especially to meet the claim on the part of the Church of Scotland, it would not be looked upon with any particular favour, or submitted to with very great patience. Their Lordships well knew that the affairs of a country must be conducted upon the same principles as those of a private man. Doubtless there were many things very desirable to be obtained and done by a man in his private affairs; but he knew well that if he borrowed money for the purpose of effecting those changes and improvements which he desired, it might not turn out so profitable as he expected, or, at all events, not in sufficient time to prevent his entire ruin. It was something like this in the affairs of a country. It behoved them to consider not only what ought to be done, not only what it was wise and expedient to do, but what it was possible to do. And among those objects which it was desirable to effect, they must look to those first which were most immediate and most necessary for the public benefit and advantage. When, too, he looked at the amount of the expense which such grants as that now called for necessarily must induce, he was unwilling, he was unprepared, at present, to propose it, or at any time, without much further consideration of the subject, and clearly seeing to what it would lead. The noble Earl had said, that he had no objection to take the bishops' teinds, but he held that the church had a claim upon the state to the amount which it might require. He was ready to give the bishops' fiends, but he did most distinctly and decisively, whatever might be the consequence, deny the claim of the church upon the state for whatever the church might require. Whatever could be done should certainly be done with prudence and wisdom. It was a great, useful, and salutary object, but, at the same time, he thought there was a disposition to pursue that object with great recklessness, with great imprudence, and in a manner they 129 would find to be most dangerous and destructive. It was wise and prudent (now that their Lordships were wishing to effect precisely the same objects that were intended to be effected by the Act of 1707), to look back to that Act, and consider whether, consistently with the original intention of the Legislature, its machinery might not be found more efficient for effecting the great object which they were all desirous, if possible, should be effected, and which it was the intention and object of all their Lordships to effect, than any which could be suggested. This, it appeared to him, was the natural, the wise, and the prudent course they were bound to pursue. Unquestionably if it could be effected, everybody would agree, that it ought to be done from the resources of the Church of Scotland itself; everybody would agree, that the religious wants of Scotland should be provided for by Scotland itself. It was better, much more wise, much more prudent, that this should be, than that they should rashly and imprudently plunge themselves into a course by which a great charge and burden would be imposed on the country for providing church accommodation, which would, no doubt, begin small at first, but would necessarily increase, and become a most onerous impost on the general resources of the country.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
had heard, with considerable disappointment and surprise, the answer of the noble Viscount to the clear, able, and convincing statement that had been made by his noble Friend, the Earl of Aberdeen. He had hoped, that an impartial perusal of those luminous reports on the state of church-accommodation in Edinburgh and Glasgow, would have convinced any one that there were large masses of the people in those towns who had no advantages whatever of religious instruction or pastoral superintendence; and that the perusal of the evidence would have shown the necessity of Government proceeding upon the plan which it appeared they had originally laid down, that of relieving the crying wants of those cities. If such were not the intention of the Government, what could be the object of issuing a commission to learn what those wants were? "Let us," said the Government, "first know what are these wants." What was the inference? Why, that having ascertained what they were, Government would 130 relieve them. The Commission had pursued its duty most assiduously. He never read any document that went more minutely into the subject upon which it was commissioned to report. The noble Viscount, in the first place, proceeded upon the ground that the facts were not clear with respect to religious destitution. It appeared from the reports that the upper classes in Edinburgh and Glasgow, who could afford to pay for seats, were amply provided with church room; but that with respect to the poorer classes, the case was quite different. It appeared that in some of the large parishes the churches and chapels collected congregations from various parts of the town, while there was great want of religious instruction for the poorer classes of those parishes. This was a vicious system, and was condemned as vicious by the clergymen of the Church of Scotland who had given evidence on the subject. What the clergy called for was not congregational instruction, but territorial, or what in England we should call parochial instruction; that each minister should have his church supplied by a congregation from his own parish, so that he Wright be brought into connection with his own parishioners, in order that a proper feeling might be maintained between pastor and flock. What was meant by the happy expression which fell from his noble Friend, the Earl of Aberdeen, that the ministers ought to be enabled "to compel them to come in?" It meant that they might admonish their parishioners with respect to their habits of intemperance and idleness, and prevail on them by force of persuasion to attend the religious ordinances of the church. However, this topic had somewhat led him astray from the speech of the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount having first of all dewed the existence of the want of church-accommodation, he then proceeded to state the grounds upon which he refused to supply it. He said, "There will be no end to this. If we supply the wants of Edinburgh and of Glasgow, we shall have Dundee and other populous places in Scotland to supply; and not only that, but we shall have the Church of England upon us also," Instead of answering the speech of the noble Earl, the noble 'Viscount turned aside to the state of religious destitution in England, which, in his (the Archbishop of Canterbury's) opinion, had very little connection with the Church of Scotland. 131 But, said the noble Viscount, "we shall have both these churches coming upon the Consolidated fund." The consolidated fund! Why, that was a measure which the Church of England deprecated above all things. Of all the proposals made for the improvement of the Church of England, there was none, and the noble Viscount knew it, more deprecated than that of its being placed upon the Consolidated fund. The noble Viscount was a party with himself (the Archbishop of Canterbury), and for which they had both been subject to many misrepresentations and unjust suspicions to recommending a plan for supplying the wants of the Church from her own resources. That those wants far exceeded the wants of the Church of Scotland he admitted; indeed, the fact could not be denied; but there were means provided for meeting those wants without coming to the public for money. Again, the noble Viscount said, "we shall have the Church of Ireland, too, making application for his assistance." What! had the noble Viscount ceased to speak of a surplus? Was there not at least property sufficient to provide for the Church of Ireland if properly applied to for that purpose? The question before their Lordships was as to the wants of the Church of Scotland; those wants appeared to be small in comparison with the wants of the Church of England; and it was because they came within a manageable compass that he considered they deserved the attention of Parliament. The first argument of the noble Viscount was, that there was no such want; and the next was, that those wants were so extensive that no means could supply them without entrenching upon the public revenues. Why did not the noble Viscount think of that before he appointed the Commission? There was an inconsistency in the argument of the noble Viscount. Scotland had been deservedly celebrated for the good order and economy that had been observed through the influence of the parish ministers, when the ministers of the Church were adequate to the amount of the population; but that population had since increased threefold—the same number of ministers would not now therefore do. There were many churches in Edinburgh and Glasgow which had been built by private subscription, and others were ready to be built by sums of money already collected. What they wanted, therefore, 132 were not churches, but endowments for ministers. Now, this expense would be altogether so limited, and could by no possibility lead to any further demands on the part of other churches in England and Ireland, that he would appeal to the noble Viscount to say, in candour, whether the argument he had urged on this head was tenable. A case of considerable destitution had been made out, and to which, if timely assistance were given, a remedy might be applied which would be beneficial in the highest degree to the spiritual interests, to the morals and happiness of the great mass of the population in the great towns. In many of those great towns there was no check on the conduct of the people by the influence and behaviour of the higher classes. Many were in extreme indigence, and the very despairing and comfortless state into which they were thrown by that indigence often led them into intemperance, left as they were without the protection of pastoral instruction, which would perhaps bring them back to the right path. For instance, there was the district called the Water of Leith, near Edinburgh. It was stated, that the population was 1,400; of these ninety-two attended Dissenting chapels, and seventy the Church; the rest were in the habit of attending no place of worship. Since the report was made, a church had been built, and there was now a congregation of 300 or 400 collected from that population that were before not in the habit of attending any religious assembly at all. He had no doubt, that similar results would flow from building other places of religious worship, if proper endowments for the Ministers were provided, which would lead to a correction of that faulty system which had borne so hard upon the poor in those great cities. In those towns, there appeared to be a very religious feeling. There were a great number of those charities which did honour to most of the populous places in this island: but the teacher, of course, could not have the same weight as a regular minister would have; and then there was the great evil of the clergyman who preached seeing very few or none of his parishioners there. This was not the fault of the clergy of Scotland. It did not exist till certain feelings had become so strong against the church—till attacks had been made upon the establishment, and the intention to subvert it had been avowed by men of 133 high character for piety, and from whom he never should have expected an avowal so contrary to their former professions, so contrary as he should have thought to those principles of the gospel which they so well understood, and so contrary to that feeling of affection which ought to unite all Christians one with the other, and who had now declared their conviction, that the only scriptural supply for the church was the voluntary benevolence of individuals. He referred to the works of an individual of great theological merit in this country; and also to the language of some distinguished persons among the Scottish dissenters, who had given their evidence before the Commissioners. There was one portion of that evidence in particular, which appeared to him, to show the bigotry of dissent, beyond anything he had ever read or witnessed on any former occasion. Till this time, the clergy of Scotland were always considered as exemplary patterns to our own clergy. How often, indeed, had the clergy of the Church of England been taunted with the superior conduct and piety of the clergy of Scotland. That taunt was always unjust; for, however well the Scottish clergy might have behaved, he must still put in a claim for the great body of the English clergy. But now quite a different language is heard. The established church of Scotland was now to be put down, merely because it was an establishment. There was no other ground against it. That establishment was settled by the act of union, in which it was declared, that the religion, and the condition and discipline of their Church Government were unalterably established; and that there should be no other Church Government within the realm of Scotland. All this was established by that solemn Act which united the two countries; and, moreover, the Sovereign was required to do that which was not required to be done by the Church of England, namely, that immediately on the accession, the Sovereign should take an oath to maintain the Protestant Church in Scotland. With respect to the engagement which was contracted by the Sovereign on taking that oath, he thought it was worth the noble Viscount's consideration whether the supporting the Church of Scotland might extend not only to abstaining from acts that would prejudice that Church, but to giving it such support as would enable it effec- 134 tually to discharge all the duties for which it was originally instituted. Now, with respect to the Dissenting clergy of Scotland, he would ask whether they were really satisfied with the voluntary principle? They must be well aware that there was a very large portion of the people who were not in the habit of going to any place of worship at all. He could hardly conceive a more decisive argument against the voluntary system than was exhibited by the state of spiritual instruction in Edinburgh—a state which would be removed, if a better system of endowment were substituted for the voluntary system. It might be said, that some delicacy was due to the feelings of the Dissenters, and that we ought not to show a partiality to the Established Church. Now, he did not know what was the meaning of an Established Church, except that it was the church which the nation preferred, and which it considered to be the safest, the best, and the most effectual vehicle for the conveyance of spiritual instruction, and for upholding all spiritual ordinances for the people; and it did appear to him to be a great inconsistency for a state to withhold support from the Church for the purpose of sparing the feelings of the Dissenters. But there was another point upon which he would put it to the Dissenters themselves, whether it were consistent with the Christian spirit which they professed, to sacrifice the real interests of the Church to what might be called the interests of a sect—whether they were acting right in expecting that the Legislature should so far give way to the Dissenters scruples as to say, "Since we cannot afford countenance to you, therefore we will act upon your advice, and give none to the Established Church?" Such a doctrine might be very well in the mouth of a sect; but what were churches instituted for, except for the good of the people—except for the spiritual welfare and temporal advantage of the great body of the population? For these two things could not be separated; all that contributed most to the happiness of society, the increase of virtue, the extension of morality, the diminution of vice, and the suppression of crime, must always stand upon the basis of religion. He was perfectly willing to give the Dissenters credit for all they had done, and he desired, that they should have full toleration; but, at the same time, he maintained that the 135 Church Establishment of a country deserved support, and in the country of which they were then speaking he did not see anything by which the Ministers of the Church could be considered as having forfeited their claims to the confidence of the State. Their general character was that of men well acquainted with divinity—of good moral character—of assiduous attention to their duties—of great punctuality in attendance to their several administrations, and of unwearied diligence in teaching. The clergyman of every parish had upon an average a population of 5,000 souls to attend to, and he believed nobody had accused them of neglecting their duties as far as the strength of each individual would allow him to go. Under these circumstances, he could not abstain from making an appeal to the noble Viscount on behalf of the people of Scotland, whose religious wants were not adequately supplied. The only ground that the noble Viscount had taken in opposition to the views of the noble Earl, was that of expense. He conceived, that the expense of providing adequate Church-accommodation in the great towns of Scotland would be very moderate; but, whatever the expense might be, he felt confident that an ample return would be found for it in the increased morality and increased happiness of the people, which ought to be, and no doubt was, the great object of every Government—in the suppression of vice, of habits of intemperance, and of other misconduct, which led to misery of every kind, and to indigence and pauperism in particular; and in the diminution of crime, the suppression of which was in itself a source of so much expense to the country. Upon these considerations, he hoped that the noble Viscount would be induced to reconsider his resolution, and to act upon those principles which first determined his Government to issue a Commission to inquire into the character and extent of the religious destitution in Scotland.
The Earl of Rosebery
, in so very thin a house, did not intend to offer more than a very few observations upon the important subject which had been brought under their Lordships' consideration. Though not a member of the church of Scotland, nobody could be more anxious than he was to give a full and substantial support to that valuable establishment, believing as he did that it was a church most peculiarly appli- 136 cable to the feelings, wants, and wishes of the people of that part of the kingdom. When the noble Earl who brought the subject forward, stated, that since the union no topic had created so much excitement in the minds of the great body of the people in Scotland, he (Lord Roseberry) fully agreed with him. He admitted the accuracy of the noble Earl's proposition, but totally denied the inference which the noble Earl drew from it; for the true cause of the excitement which existed was, not the apprehension that no money would be granted for the support of the church, but the very reverse—a strong and general feeling of alarm lest a grant of public money should be made for the purpose, without further and more careful consideration. This feeling was not confined to the dissenting interests in Scotland; a great many persons attached to the establishment in principle, and in the abstract were as warm as many of the Dissenters against the grant of money sought for by the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) opposite. There was a late public meeting held in one of the burghs of Scotland not long ago to petition Parliament against the proposed grant, at which there were many churchmen as well as Dissenters; and who was the chairman? Why, one of the elders of the church of Scotland—a circumstance affording a strong and irresistible proof that the objection to the proposed grant was not confined to the Dissenters. He did not intend to charge the supporters of the grant with wilful misrepresentation; but acting, as he supposed, from erroneous information, it was certain that they had fallen into many exaggerations in their statements of figures. The most reverend prelate who last addressed their Lordships had put it to the noble Viscount (Viscount Melbourne) whether it would not be consistent with his original intention, having instituted an inquiry upon the subject, that after that inquiry had been made he should immediately follow it up by proposing a grant of money to meet the destitution which appeared to exist. But if the inquiry proved, that the deficiency in church accommodation was by no means so great as was supposed prior to the inquiry being made (which he concluded was the fact), it then, he thought, became the duty of the noble Viscount at the head of the Government to pause a little before he established the dangerous precedent of proposing to 137 Parliament to make a grant out of the Consolidated fund for the assistance of the church in Scotland. But in point of fact the deficiency of church accommodation in the great towns of Scotland, and especially in Edinburgh and Glasgow, was not near so great as it had been represented to be. In the rural districts of Scotland, the heritors were bound, in building churches, to take care that accommodation should be provided for forty-four per cent. of the population. Now, taking that proportion as the basis of a calculation to be applied to the population of the great towns, it would appear that in Edinburgh church accommodation ought to be provided for 45,000 persons. It was proved by the inquiry set on foot by the noble Viscount that church accommodation was already provided in Edinburgh for upwards of 39,000 persons, so that the deficiency in that city amounted only to about 5,000. But in point of fact, it did not amount even to that, for it was found that the unoccupied seats in the different places of worship amounted very nearly to one in twenty. Proceeding upon the same calculation, it would seem that Glasgow ought to have church accommodation for 95,000. It had accommodation for 85,000, and in that city, as in Edinburgh, the proportion of unoccupied seats was about the same. It was evident, then, that the want of accommodation was by no means so great as had been represented, and certainly not so great as to demand a grant of public money to provide against it. After entering into some further details, the noble Earl proceeded to express a hope that this subject, which was one of vital importance to Scotland, would never be touched upon with anything that approached to party prejudice or political bias. It was a subject that, of all others, ought to be considered upon its real merits alone, with reference only to the important and sacred objects which must be common to both sides of the House, and without reference to the triumph of one party over another, or to the support of one description of Protestantism in the shape of dissent over an established Protestant church, which he was as anxious as the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) or the most reverend prelate could be to support, maintain, and defend.
The Earl of Haddington
felt great regret in addressing so thin a house on so important a question, on a subject of such vital interest to the country to which he 138 had the honour to belong, but still he felt himself imperatively called upon to offer a few observations to their Lordships. He fully agreed with the noble Earl who had addressed their Lordships on the propriety of excluding all party spirit and triumph from the debate, and he assured their Lordships that he entered on the subject not as a partisan, but, from an anxiety for the welfare and temporal happiness of the people of Scotland. It was idle to suppose that the church of Scotland took up the subject as a party question. The Church Establishment interfered on the recommendation of Dr. Chalmers and several other divines of experience, who complained of the religious destitution in Glasgow and other large towns. The clergy of the church of Scotland thought it their duty to have an interview with Government on the subject, and they retired perfectly satisfied with the opinions that had been expressed by her Majesty's Ministers. But it was too much to expect, that the clergy of the Church Establishment should not feel great indignation when that Church was assailed—when Dissenters declared, that there was no necessity for any Church Establishment, and when the parties who expressed such opinions had met favour from the Government. The noble Viscount (Melbourne) had said something about the modification of the grant which threw great obscurity on the subject. Did the noble Viscount mean, that Government would reconsider the question, and decide whether any portion of the grant was to be given to the large towns? [Viscount Melbourne: No.]—Then it was resolved that the great towns should be left destitute, and it was right that the people of Scotland should be made acquainted with the fact. He did not for a moment deny that the Highlands wanted assistance; but their religious destitution was no to be compared with that existing in large towns. In the Highlands the chief object was to instruct the ignorant; but in the large towns the reclaiming of the vicious was of paramount importance. Some stress had been laid on the figures in the reports. He was not disposed to place much reliance on figures, for, as had once been said by a late eminent and lamented statesman, Mr. Canning, figures could be always made to do equally well at both sides of a question. He would not go into them, but he might remark, that his noble Friend had not opposed this motion on the ground that there 139 was not a large amount of destitution as to religious instruction in Scotland. That could not be remedied by the Dissenters in that country. It could be operated upon only by the parochial system. The loss would here, then, be found to fall with most severity on the poor, for in Scotland, as well as in this country, the poor were found most attached to the Established Church. It was on them the loss would fall. They would be left unprovided for, as to this most necessary and most important blessing. It was therefore on behalf of the destitute poor that he and those who concurred with him on this question now appealed to their Lordships, and asked them for that aid which, as had been well observed by the most rev. Prelate, to whom the eternal gratitude of the country was due for his exertions to disseminate the blessings of religious instruction, in providing them with that instruction, would provide also for their temporal happiness and comfort. What was the objection to the grant of this aid? It was, that the Treasury would be assailed with similar applications from other quarters. It would seem, that it had been already so assailed, as if the cry was, as Falstaff had it, "Rob me the Exchequer." He was not aware till now, that his noble Friend at the head of the Government had been so assailed; but be that as it might, he would say, that within reasonable limits, the state was bound to provide for the religious instruction of the people. The claims of the Church of Scotland were strong on the state. When the population of that country was far with in its present limits, the maintenance of that Church had been made a fundamental part of the union with this country. If any one at that day had predicted that the time would come when no aid should be given to it from the state, it would have been said that there should be no union, or that the church should be adequately provided for. There were two parties in Scotland who were opposed to the Established Church. There were the Cameronians, who called themselves the real church of Scotland, and who asserted that the Established Church had fallen into error. They held any connexion with the state to be profane, yet they were not friends to the voluntary principle. There were, then the Dissenters, who supported the voluntary principle, and who maintained that it was a violation of conscience 140 to ask any man to contribute to the support of a church to which he did not belong. What a ground for exemption from a contribution to which all were justly liable! As well might he say, that he was an enemy to the shedding of blood, and that a man who took the life of another in war incurred equal guilt with an assassin, and on these scruples, to claim an exemption from the payment of any taxes, as they went to support war. It was well known, that the church, if properly supported, would greatly benefit the people. He was, therefore, surprised that the religious portion of the Dissenters—for there were political Dissenters in that country as elsewhere—should be opposed to the support of that church; but he was still more surprised to learn that any member of that church should be opposed to its due support. He had heard from the noble Earl opposite that an elder of that church had presided at a meeting opposed to its claims. He would not deny the fact, but he was happy to state his firm conviction that all the ministers, elders, and office-bearers, and the vast majority of the members of the church, were joined in earnestly praying that the Government would consent to give it the aid which they sought. He did not believe, that greater interest had been excited in Scotland on any public question since the union, and he was certain that her Majesty's Ministers would greatly consult their own interest in complying with the general feeling of the country in this respect. He had little expectation, however, that the Government would take such a course, for it was a fact, well known, that Ministers derived support in all parts of the kingdom from those who were hostile to church establishments. They derived it in Ireland, from those who took no pains to disguise their wish to pull down the church of that country—they derived it in Scotland from those who were strongly hostile to the Established Church there—and they derived it in England from those who were opposed to the Church Establishment here. Those were parties whom the Ministers of the Crown dared not disoblige. It could not be denied that the Dissenters in Scotland had been the means of bringing several boroughs over to the interest of Government. Had it been the other way, and that ten or twelve of those boroughs had gone against them, they would have found, that their tiny ma- 141 jority in the House of Commons would soon have dwindled down to nothing; but he was sure, that in the long run Ministers would be greater gainers, and would best consult their own interests by complying with the general feelings of the country than they now did by appointing those Commissioners. In conclusion, the noble Earl thanked the House for the attention with which it had heard him.
The Earl of Minto
would detain the House but for a very short time, but there were one or two points on which he wished to make a few remarks. And first respecting the great destitution which was said to prevail in Scotland of the means of spiritual instruction. The fact of this destitution had been taken entirely for granted throughout the discussion by noble Lords opposite; no sort of practical evidence of destitution had been adduced. He would, therefore, take the liberty of stating, from the report, what the amount of destitution truly was. Before doing so, however, he begged to observe, that this was not a purely Scotch question, but must be considered in connexion with the spiritual condition of England, and he thought he should be able in a very few words to show, that if they admitted the principle of the noble Lord, or that the state must interfere, to fill up whatever gaps were open in the supply of spiritual instruction for the people of these realms, they would find themselves obliged to carry out this principle a great deal further than they might imagine. The noble Lord who had just sat down very naturally deprecated any appeal to figures, knowing that such an appeal must be unfavourable to his view of the case. He, having no such horror of figures, would beg briefly to appeal to them. In the first place, from the report before him, it appeared, that the population of the united district of Edinburgh was 162,293; that the sittings in the Established Church were 36,001, being twenty-two per cent. on the population; that the population of the Established Church was 91,021, making the sittings, as stated, thirty nine per cent. The number of the Dissenters' sittings in the district was 42,705, making the total number of sittings 78,706, so that no fewer than forty-eight one-fifth per cent. of the whole population was provided for, being a much higher ratio than what was understood as the legal amount, namely forty-four per cent. Of the sittings in the Established 142 Church there were unlet 9,794, being twenty-seven per cent. Of the Dissenters' sittings 11,360 were unlet, being twenty-six one-sixth per cent, and making the total number of sittings unlet 21,154, which precise extent of sittings was therefore available for those who required them. In Glasgow the case was pretty nearly the same. There the population was 213,810, the sittings for the Established Church 35,100, being sixteen and a quarter percent; the population of the Established Church was 113,271, which numbers, including unclassed sittings, presented a proportion of thirty-one per cent.; the Dissenters sittings were 49,793, making the total number of sittings 84,893, being a proportion of thirty-nine one-seventh per cent., which was within five per cent. of the legal amount. In Glasgow the number of sittings in the Established Church which were unlet was 6,599 (not including 2,000 sittings undescribed), and the number of unlet Dissenters' sittings was 13,047. Then as to the number of instructors. In Glasgow the number of ministers of the Established Church was twenty-nine, being about one to every 7,000 of the population; or, deducting the Dissenters,' about one to every 3,900 of the population. In addition to whom there were eighty-five missionaries, or instructors, fulfilling the same class of duties, making the total number of spiritual instructors 114, and being in the proportion of one instructor to every 1,875 of the whole population, or one to every 994 of the members of the Established Church. Surely these facts did not show a state of such very great spiritual destitution. But let their Lordships compare this with the state of religious instruction in the metropolis. It appeared that in a radius of eight miles from St. Paul's, including a population of 2,000,000, the sittings afforded in the Established Church were 261,400, being at the rate of 13 per cent. on the whole population; but, including the sittings afforded by other religious denominations (which amounted to 236,000) they would come to 497,400, being on the whole population 24 per cent., instead of 48 per cent., as they were in Edinburgh. And further, it appeared, from the statement of the right rev. the Bishop of London, as quoted by Dr. Pusey, that while the total population of the parishes of London, which contained upwards of 7,000 inhabitants, was 1,137,000 143 there was only accommodation in the Established Church for 126,682, being 11 per cent of that number. Thus it appeared, that while in Edinburgh there was accommodation for upwards of 48 per cent. on the population, and in Glasgow for 35 per cent. of the population, there was in London accommodation for only 24 per cent. of the population. Reverting to the act of 1707, which he must state was an act for the transfer of jurisdiction, the power of regulation with regard to the Church of Scotland, which, before the passing of that act, had been exercised by the British Parliament, was restored to the hands of the Court of Session, which was invested with the character of a court of appeal. But as the Court of Session was not then in as high estimation as it now was, a disinclination was entertained to trust it with the powers which had been confided to it by Parliament; and, accordingly, where there was the question of the alteration of parishes, the consent of the inhabitants was required. In the last clause of the act to which he referred, it was provided, that it might be altered or amended at a subsequent period by the British Parliament. By this act the principle was clearly established that the teinds were in all cases to be applied to the support of the church, and that if a parish were found to be either inconveniently small, or inconveniently large, two or more parishes might be united or divided. He could not, therefore, conceive why it should be held that the measure now under contemplation should be looked on in the light either of' an encroachment or a confiscation. He could see no reason founded either in law or in justice, to prevent the Imperial Parliament from improving the existing machinery, and carrying fully out the intentions of the act. He believed, that in point of fact, the Court of Teinds already exercised a great deal of this power; and that if, for instance, a minister felt himself compelled by the spiritual necessities of his parish to avail himself of the services of an assistant minister, the Court of Teinds would be entitled to assign to him an increased stipend.
The Earl of Haddington
wished to observe, as a comment on the statement of figures, which had been made by the noble Earl who had just sat down, that in Edinburgh there were 40,000 or 50,000 persons habitually absent from all places of 144 worship, and that in Glasgow, there were no fewer than 18,000 families, which possessed no seat in any house of worship at all.
The Bishop of London
said, that although the spiritual wants of such cities as Edinburgh and Glasgow might not appear large to the noble Earl, who had last but one addressed the House, they were still much larger than the noble Earl appeared to be aware of. The portion of the population who were unprovided with seats was, unfortunately, the poorer portion, who were disabled from providing themselves by deficiency of means. The application from the Church of Scotland, for the extension of spiritual accommodation ought not to be understood to be an application for the means of building so many more churches, but of rendering the existing churches available for popular religious instruction. With regard to the legal provision of seats, to the amount as compared with the population, of forty-four per cent., the legality of that provision depended entirely on the dictum of the Church Commissioners for Scotland. The Church of Scotland herself, however, took sixty per cent. as not too large a provision. And experience justified this assertion, that if you provide seats to the amount of fifty per cent., with a sufficiency of competent ministers, that proportion, at least, will he occupied by the people, in whatever part of the country. He had heard with great surprise the declaration which had been made by the noble Viscount at the head of her Majesty's Government—of that Government which was bound to maintain the Church Establishment by the solemn engagement of its Members—by the solemn engagement of the Sovereign whom they served—that he protested in the most distinct and emphatic manner, against its being laid down as the duty of the Government to provide additional accommodation for the Church of Scotland
The Bishop of London
The right of the Church of Scotland to demand it! Why the two terms are co-ordinate. The principle was one which he (the Bishop of London) protested against in the strongest and most emphatic terms. He was prepared to maintain, that in a Christian country it was the duty of the Government to provide, if it did not exist, and if it existed but imperfectly, to extend an accom- 145 modation for the spiritual wants of the people. This was, he contended, one of the most imperative duties which it could devolve upon any Government to discharge; it was a duty with the importance of which no temporary functions could be compared; and if a Government were disposed to do all that the country expected from it, it would be beforehand in making this provision, and in spreading over the whole surface of the country, the police of a well-organised, well-endowed clergy, stationed at proper intervals, and supplied with the most efficient means of communicating to their flocks the saving truths and precepts of the gospel, and exercising in its most valuable sense, a truly Christian dispensation. This was what the Church of Scotland had endeavoured to do; and she was only desirous of being now restored to the position which she had occupied a century ago. She stated, that the people of Scotland were in a state of gradual but rapid deterioration, and this she attributed to the want of a sufficient number of ministers, and of the means to carryout to its full extent, the system of parochial instruction. The noble Viscount had also protested in the most energetic and emphatic manner against what he called the system of "parochial and pastoral instruction." Why, the very object of a church establishment, and of the establishment of the Church of Scotland, was to institute this system of instruction; each pastor was to have his own flock intrusted to his care. And as to what had been said as to the intrusion of the minister into the privacy of domestic life, this was the peculiar characteristic and most beautiful feature in their system of religion. It was a consolation to the poor, and a benefit to the rich; it threw a religious halo over every aspect of life, and gave to the community a great and invaluable protective principle for the conservation of soundness in morality as well as in religion. It was to carry out this great principle effectually that the Church of Scotland now applied to the Legislature. There was one other point to which both the noble Viscount and the noble Earl had alluded. This was the objection which they both had taken upon the ground of establishing a dangerous precedent. Excessive liberality in this instance might, it was alleged, hereafter lead to excessive demands. He felt, however, convinced, that the people of this country would not be slow in acceding to 146 any reasonable demands of this description upon the Treasury; and it was certainly not upon their part that he saw any danger of refusal. The noble Viscount had alluded in terms somewhat clearer than those which had been employed by the noble Earl (Minto) to the comparison in point of religious accommodation between the Scotch cities and the metropolis. It was perfectly true, that the amount of spiritual destitution in London very far exceeded that which existed either in Glasgow or in Edinburgh. But what was the object of the commission out of which those extracts to which the noble Lord had referred were extracted? That object was simply to ascertain how far the existing means were sufficient to apply a remedy to the existing deficiencies. The Legislature had an undoubted right to say to the Church of Scotland—"You have a right, in the first instance, to examine into your own resources; and when you shall have done so, if necessary, we will apply the remedy." The deficiency, however, existed, and the remedy remained to be applied. He felt confident, that the honourable feeling and well-known sagacity of the noble Viscount would lead him in this instance to adopt the safest as well as the most equitable policy, and induce him to turn a friendly ear to claims which were so intimately connected with the political welfare of the country at large. The Government which acted upon this subject in a liberal and enlightened spirit would reap an ample harvest in the increased respect, affection, and adherence of the people of these countries. The right rev. Prelate concluded by expressing his determination to stand forward upon every occasion like the present in behalf of the Church of Scotland.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that it was impossible for him to allow this discussion to close without addressing a few words to their Lordships. They had a discussion on this subject a fortnight ago, and on the same day a discussion respecting the Established Church in Ireland. From that discussion and from the present, it appeared that the policy of her Majesty's Government—he would use the mildest term that could be employed—was, not to encourage the Established Church. He was afraid, that it would appear from what had passed in another place in the last Session of Parliament, and even in this, that the Church of England—the Esta- 147 blished Church of England—was not to be encouraged by her Majesty's Government. He was sure that those who recollected what had passed in Parliament during the last few years, would admit, that no great encouragement had been shown by Ministers to the Church of Ireland, that branch of the Established Church of England which was stationed in the latter country. He feared, he said, therefore, that the policy of her Majesty's Government was, not to encourage the Established Church, and that, he must say, was a most material alteration in the fundamental policy of the Government of this country, and, he must also say, was most sincerely to be lamented by every friend of the constitution, and of the peace, order, and happiness of the community. It was to be observed, that of all these established churches, that of Scotland was the one which must have occasioned least jealousy to the Government, which was also the least endowed, and whose exertions up to a very late period had been most successful in making what, as his noble Friend had said, the late Lord Liverpool had called, the best conditioned country in the world—a country which, on the whole, was more happy, and had advanced more in prosperity, and even in population, than any other part of her Majesty's dominions. He was sorry to say, that there was a great want, as had been stated in most positive terms, and as was evident from the reports on the table, and indeed appeared from the admissions which had been made in the course of this discussion—he repeated, a very considerable want of the means for religious instruction in the possession of the Established Church of Scotland. There was certainly some difference of opinion between the noble Lord opposite and his noble Friends with respect to the amount of these wants. The noble Earl (Minto) who spoke last had laid down the principle, that provision ought to be made for religious instruction at the rate of forty-four per cent. on the population. He believed, however, that this calculation related to the rural parishes. It did not touch the towns at all; and the proper calculation of the want of church accommodation ought to be sixty per cent. on the total amount of population. It appeared from the statements made in the books before their Lordships, that the amount of persons destitute of religious accommodation was in Edinburgh 27,000 and was in 148 Glasgow 44,000; but if their Lordships took into consideration the number of vacant sittings both in the Dissenting chapels and in the churches, it would be found that a very large proportion of the inhabitants of those towns were totally destitute of all religious instruction. The noble Viscount (Melbourne) had said, that the people of Scotland entertained a remarkable objection to the occupation of free sittings, as in that country sittings were generally paid for. That was no doubt true; and that was the foundation for the demand for assistance which the people of that country now made to the Government—assistance not to build churches, be it remembered, as had been observed by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London), but to make a provision for the endowment of a clergyman to perform the service and teach the population in the immediate vicinity of places where churches had been built or might be built hereafter. The noble Viscount said, that he would not concede this demand, because he was apprehensive of similar demands being made to him from other parts of the country. But if the noble Viscount did give assistance in consequence of such demands, he would not give more than had been given before. His noble Friend behind him could tell their Lordships of a very large grant which had been made to the Established Church of England. And again, it had been sufficiently shown by the right rev. Prelate, that provision would be made in a great degree for any want of religious instruction in this country out of the funds of the Established Church of England, and therefore there was an end of that argument. No such demand would be made from England, and their Lordships knew that no such demand would be made in Ireland, and therefore the demand was simply reduced to a provision for the endowment of a clergyman to perform the parochial duty in the churches which had been or should be built in different parishes in and near large towns in Scotland. He confessed he was not at all astonished at the opposition which this application had encountered from the advocates of the voluntary system in Scotland. They knew that assistance could not be granted to them; they knew that they could not take charge of the population of the country, and that Government could not come forward to propose such a 149 grant, and what they said was, "We cannot get assistance, and therefore nobody else shall." But he would say, that the Government ought to pursue a different course. They ought not to leave themselves in the hands of the enemies of the Church of Scotland. They should, on the contrary, listen to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which was the proper authority on this subject. That body would tell her Majesty's Government that this assistance would enable them to give instruction to all who desired it, and to establish in the country peace, good order, religion, and morality. These were the advantages which would be received in return for this small grant of public money. He begged to state, that it was not only in the Church of England in which grants had been made out of the public funds. In the Church of Scotland itself, in cases in which the revenue arising from tithes in parishes was not sufficient to provide the clergyman with a competent stipend, his stipend was made up out of the public funds. That was the principle on which they called on the noble Viscount to make this grant. What they said was," Here is a church built by private funds; we ask money from the public purse in order to enable the Church of Scotland to appoint a well-qualified person to take charge of the congregation." The noble Viscount had really given no reason for refusing this grant, except the general one to which he had adverted, that it would draw on him demands from other places, to meet which there were no funds. The noble Viscount had stated, in answer to the observations of his noble Friend, that the noble Viscount had no objection to making a grant from that part of the Consolidated fund which was formerly part of the private revenue of the Crown, because it was a limited fund. To that he would only say, that he (the Duke of Wellington), had no objection to derive assistance from that fund, because, perhaps, it might be sufficient to answer all the purposes for which the grant for the Church of Scotland was required; but what he asked from the noble Viscount was, that he would depart from the principle which he had laid down of not rendering any assistance to the church in great towns, only because in the great towns it would not be agreeable to certain parties. It would give him the greatest satisfaction to find the Government acting on a principle of 150 encouraging the Established Church, instead of acting on a contrary principle; and he was convinced, that the consequence of adopting that course would be to promote the welfare and secure the happiness of the people of Scotland.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
remarked, that but one reason had been given by the noble Viscount for refusing this grant, and that was the expense. But he contended, that it was now too late to urge such a plea, and in setting up such a defence, the noble Viscount had broken faith with the Church of Scotland. Why, these churches had been built solely on the faith of the commission which had been issued by the Government. These churches had not been built on speculation; they were not like the Dissenting chapels, which were built, not for congregations, but only in the hope of drawing a congregation; they had been built in reliance upon the promise held out by the Government, and in the expectation that if they were built they would be endowed with a clergyman out of the public funds. When, therefore, the noble Viscount, yielding to the pressure which he admitted he felt to be inconvenient, announced that he could not concede this grant, he had done what he never could have thought the noble Viscount would have been guilty of, and what he could not-but call a breach of faith. What he had stated to be the fact, had been repeatedly asserted by himself and others in that House, and had never been denied; and therefore he repeated, that it was now too late to urge this plea. The noble Viscount had said, that it was desirable that the church should be supported out of the funds which belonged to it, and that it ought not to come to the general fund of the public for assistance when it possessed property of its own. Now, his noble Friend had alluded to the grants made to the Church of England. He had never objected, and the people of Scotland had never objected, to those grants, although a million and a half of money had been granted to the Church of England for building churches, and a further sum of 100,000l. for eleven years consecutively, had been appropriated to its use—making in all 2,600,000l. The people of Scotland had never objected to these grants. Their Lordships had never heard of any petitions being presented against them, and therefore the people of Scotland had every right to expect a moderate 151 endowment, in aid of church accommodation, particularly as they had raised among themselves 200,000l., in less than two years, for that purpose, and which, he must say, was one of the noblest efforts ever made by a Christian nation. The people of Scotland knew what they were about; it was not an extravagant fancy, but a well-considered determination, to which this exertion was owing; and he did think, that they had deserved to be treated in a very different manner by Her Majesty's Government. However, he would still not despair. He could not believe, that the noble Viscount, even after what he had heard in that House, and what he would hear from his friends in Scotland, would persevere in the course which he had announced his intention of pursuing. This, he well knew, that the noble Viscount would find that many of the highest respectability and influence in Scotland, who were friends of her Majesty's Government, would remonstrate with him most strongly against the unjust and cruel course which he had unfortunately, and in an evil hour adopted.
§ Viscount Melbourne
My Lords, only one word. I do state most decisively, most positively, that I never understood myself to be bound by any such engagement, as that supposed by the noble Earl to have been formed. I never made such a promise; I never entered into such a compact; I deny the statement to be correct; I never pledged any faith on the subject; and I deny, in the strongest manner, in the most decisive terms, and in the most explicit language in which one gentleman can speak to another, that I ever entered into such an undertaking. A commission issued, because there was a difference of opinion on questions of fact. There was a difference of opinion with respect to the number of sittings, and with respect to the amount of destitution of spiritual instruction which prevailed; but I deny most distinctly, that I ever pledged myself to any course of proceeding by issuing that Commission, or that any one whatsoever had a right to form any conclusions, to draw any deductions, or to pursue any line of conduct, on my behalf, in consequence of that inquiry.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
begged to repeat what he had before asserted, that looking at the manner in which the Commission had been issued, the noble Viscount's announcement was a breach of faith, and 152 must be so considered. The noble Viscount had, perhaps, not made any such statement in that House, but looking at the Commission, he almost feared, that the whole thing was meant for deception, although he should be loth to believe it. The Commission was ordered to inquire into the state of church accommodation in Scotland, "in order that such remedy may be applied from time to time as Parliament may think fit to direct." Now, if the noble Viscount had denied the evils, there might be some reason for refusing the application, but he did not deny the evils; them he admitted. Such might not have been the declaration of the noble Viscount, and he probably did not like to adopt those of his colleagues, one holding language different from that of another of the noble Viscount's colleagues elsewhere, but his colleagues had used the very words which he (the Earl of Aberdeen) had stated, and he repeated, that if the Government had ever any good faith on the subject at all, they had been guilty now of a breach of faith, unless they were able to deny the existence of the evils.
The Earl of Minto
observed, that the noble Earl had omitted to read the most important clause in the Commission. The Commissioners were directed to inquire into the religious destitution of the country, but, also to inquire and report on the means in that country to be found for relieving the church.
§ Motion agreed to.