The Bishop of Exeter
wished to ask the noble Marquess, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the superintendent-registrar of Birmingham (Mr. Pare), to whom he had on a former occasion adverted, still held that office?
The Marquess of Normanby
said, that in consequence of the statements made by the rev. Prelate on this subject on a former occasion, he had felt it his duty to make some inquiries relative to it. For that purpose a copy of the charges made by the right rev. Prelate against Mr. Pare had been sent to the registrar-general. He held in his hand a copy of those charges, to which he begged to call the attention of the right rev. Prelate, in order that he might say whether or not they were correct. It was recently stated, by the right rev. Prelate, that Mr. Pare was superintendent-registrar of births, marriages, and deaths, at Birmingham, where he also officiated as vice-president of the Social Society; that he had a painted board over his office stating the fact, and that he performed his duties as vice-president of the Socialists in the same office, where he acted as superintendent-registrar, &c. He thought the registrar-general had taken a very proper course in this instance—namely, that of sending a copy of those charges to Mr. Pare. In answer to the inquiries which had been made, he learned that Mr. Pare had been vice-president of this society from May 1838, to May 1839, but he distinctly denied that he advertised the fact on the painted board over his door, which merely contained his name, and had no reference to any office held by him as a member of the Socialist Society; that in November last, he had taken the room which he now occupied as an office—that that office was in no way appropriated to the use of the Socialists; but that there were several other rooms on the same premises, one of which was occupied as an office by the Socialists, but not at all connected with the office which he (Mr. Pare) held as superintendent-registrar of births, deaths, and marriages, Mr. Pare, also, denied that he had been obliged to give up any office in consequence of the strong expression of public indignation; but had long since voluntarily resigned the situation of vice-president to the Socialist Society, with which he now distinctly denied having any connexion. He had, this day, 929 received further information on the subject, and he found that since the month of June last, Mr. Pare had ceased to be an officer of this society, or to have any connexion whatsoever with it. Mr. Pare could no longer, therefore, be justly described as an active agent of the society. He should have another opportunity of stating his views with respect to the whole subject when the right rev. Prelate brought forward his motion; but he should now say, that he had looked over the rules and regulations as they were enrolled, and if the members were bound to nothing beyond them, nothing could appear to him to be more unobjectionable. What their doctrines might be was another question; but he understood from Mr. Pare, that the members were bound only by those rules.
The Bishop of Exeter
thought it would be in the recollection of their Lordships, that besides stating that Mr. Pare had been vice-president of the association, he had also said that he had been an active person, and that he had presided at meetings where various lectures had been given. Now, on the mere circumstance, on the admitted fact, that this individual, being superintendent-registrar of the district of Birmingham, was also vice-president of the Socialist Society till the month of June last—on that statement, he rested his charge against the noble Marquess. Looking to the principles which were charged on that society, it was the duty of the noble Marquess to take care that a member of it, a conspicuous member too, should not hold a public office of this nature. Till he quitted the office of vice-president, in the month of June last, Mr. Pare had been a most active member of the Socialist Society. He found, from information which he had received, that that individual, who represented himself as now no longer a member of the association, had been its most active agent, not excepting Mr. Owen, till about the time the noble Marquess had mentioned. He held in his hand a publication of the society, containing the proceedings of the fourth congress of the association, held in May last, and on an examination of those proceedings, it appeared that Mr. Pare had, in May last, taken the chair six times, was appointed on committees or deputations twenty-one times, moved or seconded sixty-one resolutions, and addressed the congress ninety times, in addition to any 930 speeches which he made in moving or seconding propositions. The congress sat only seventeen days in May last; therefore, this learned member must, on an average, have spoken five times each day. Now, to show the nature of the lectures at which Mr. Pare presided, he (the Bishop of Exeter) would read to their Lordships the testimony of a rev. gentleman whose name he should have the honour to communicate to the noble Marquess, if such was the noble Marquess's pleasure, but which he did not wish to make generally public, for reasons which must be obvious to their Lordships. His correspondent stated as follows:—Mr. Pare, the registrar, was generally present at those meetings, often took the chair. The first evening I attended the subject was 'The falsehood of the Bible.' The object of the lecturer (a Mr., a popular surgeon dentist here) was to prove the book a human invention, a tissue of lies, imposture, and wickedness. This argument was further developed from the innumerable contradictions of the book, from its absurd statements, ridiculous doctrines, &c., that, for instance, of 'the thing which Christians call God' being generally described as a great animal, or anthropo-morphyle of feelings, and passions, and actions like other animals; and that such was the general notion, tone, and language of—from its statement of man's depravity—a doctrine which they, the audience, knew was false. The subject matter of the next lecture was, 'The vicious, irrational, and oppressive system of society,' which was traced to the doctrine of man's responsibility, the religion of the Bible, human laws, the priesthood, private property, the marriage system, delivered to an audience composed, for the most part, of the working classes, women with children in their arms, boys, girls, with affecting appeals on their slavery and wretchedness in consequence of the system. This was closed with an announcement from the lecturer, the said Mr.——, that the subject of the ensuing lecture would be—'That there was no God.' I took care to be present. Pare presided. The aim of the lecturer was to show 'that the marks of intelligence and design,' as they were called, 'in the things of creation around us, were no proofs of intelligence, or of an intelligent designer,' and the whole, as usual, was accompanied and wound up with a warm and impassioned appeal to the audience, which was very numerous, the chapel being quite crowded, 'to seek their heaven here, as they could be sure of none elsewhere.' Man is, therefore, necessarily irresponsible to any power, human or divine, if there be such, for what nature and society have made him. In all these meetings at Lawrence-street chapel that I was present at, four successively, Pare presided, and every thing done in them seemed to be entirely under 931 his management and control. Indeed, he was quite the Coryphaeus of these social orgies. These, my lord, are a few of the leading particulars of the meetings which I attended. To have a due sense and impression of the horrible things uttered in them, a personal presence is necessary, as it is quite impossible to describe the lies, the misrepresentations, the partial extracts from authors, the misconstructions put upon them. The defence set up for the infidels of past times, such as Mirabeau, Robespierre, Voltaire, &c., the general ribaldry and blasphemy with which they were accompanied, and the appeals that were made to the poor and ignorant audience, 'On the evils of the present social system, on the oppressions of the rich and higher orders over the lower—on the cruel and sanguinary system of laws against irresponsible beings, whom these very laws thus vitiated—on the expense which the lower orders only bear, they being the basis of the whole social system'—of maintaining a Government, standing armies, hosts of judges lawyers, priests, &c., in order to keep up the present irrational wicked, diabolical system, itself the very source and cause of their misery. These are facts, my Lord, upon which you can rely, and which I am ready and willing to deto. P.S. After writing the above, I recollected a remarkable fact, which deserves to be communicated. It is this:—In order to bring the question of man's responsibility prominently before the persons assembled in what I considered a practical point of view, I put the following interrogatory to the lecturer at one of the meetings:—Was the murderer of the late Lord Norbury responsible to society or not for that act, according to the doctrine of Socialists? And the answer from the lecturer on the platform was, 'Certainly not; decidedly not'—an answer which was received by the meeting without a mark of disapprobation, except by n few friends who accompanied me.Such was the character of the meetings at which the superintendent-registrar, Mr. Pare, attended, and took a prominent part; and he was ready to prove it to their Lordships, or to the noble Marquess, on the testimony of competent witnesses. The fact of this man having been vice-president at such meetings rendered it indecorous, if not criminal, on the part of the noble Marquess should he not be put out of office, and if some steps were not taken upon the subject. Unless something were done, he should feel it a duty to make some motion that would affect a higher quarter.
The Marquess of Normanby
had already 932 stated that the matter was at present the subject of inquiry, as Pare's explanation had not been deemed satisfactory, and it was therefore that he had been summoned to London that further inquiry might be made. He had also stated to their Lordships the answer of Pare, in which he gave a direct denial to all the details on which the right rev. Prelate relied. Notwithstanding this denial, he the (Marquess of Normanby) wished to ask Pare some further questions with respect to these proceedings, and for that purpose he had been summoned to town. Pare in the answer which he had already given, denied that the objects of the Socialists were those which the right rev. Prelate had imputed to them. For his own part, he would only say that if the right rev. Prelate would put the letter in his hand, if the case contained in it could be made out, and if it were shown that such monstrous and atrocious doctrines were urged in the presence of Pare, with his assent or without his disapproval, he had no hesitation in saying that such a person was most unfit to hold the situation of superintendent registrar. If, as was stated in the letter to the right rev. Prelate, clergymen heard such doctrines broached, it was their duty to communicate the information to the Home-office, but as they had not done so, on them rested the blame that Pare had been retained in office so long. If the writer of the letter were sincere in his intentions of discountenancing such doctrines when he put the letter which had just been read into the hands of the right rev. Prelate, it was obvious that he had not adopted the best mode of proceeding, for time had been lost in the course which had been pursued. Unless magistrates and others interested in protecting the peace and promoting the morals of society communicated matters of this nature to the Home-office, they must of course occur without the knowledge of Ministers, who were not, therefore, to blame, having no machinery by which to procure the necessary information. When any communications were made to the Home-office, they were always promptly attended to, and every requisite explanation was required. This was the course which he ever had pursued; it was the course which he ever would pursue, and no one could be more desirous of instituting inquiry when, as in the present instance he considered that investigation was called for.
§ Lord Abinger
wished to know, if the charges were well founded, whether information would be given as to who recommended Mr. Pare, and on what grounds he had been recommended?
The Marquess of Normanby
said, he was considered to be a highly respectable man in his neighbourhood, and at the time of his appointment he was not connected with Socialism.
observed, that the letter of the clergyman stated that he was accompanied by several of his friends, and therefore the allegation did not rest on his own testimony solely.
The Marquess of Normanby
considered that the right rev. Prelate's correspondent would have better performed his duty had he made the communication to his own Bishop or to the Home-office.
The Bishop of Exeter
felt himself called upon to defend the rev. gentleman whose letter he had read from the attack of the noble Marquess, who charged him with a neglect of duty in communicating with the Home-office. If a resident clergyman in such a town as Birmingham were to communicate to the Home-office any outrage on society or morals which might be committed there, the place would soon be made too hot to hold him. The rev. Gentleman had not written to him for the purpose of making an accusation in that House. The information, as he had already stated to their Lordships, had reached him through another quarter, and he never had any communication with the rev. gentleman until he received the letter yesterday, in consequence of having expressed a wish to the gentleman who gave him the first information that he might be furnished with fuller details. He would ask the noble Marquess whether any information on this subject had been forwarded to him by any of the magistrates whom he or his predecessor had appointed to protect the laws, the morals, and the religion of the country? If such proceedings were going on through the country, the magistrates must be very negligent not to be made aware of them; and if they were aware of them, they were still more blameable in not making the necessary communication to the Home-office. If the magistrates neglected to do their duty, was it not right in one of their Lordships to call their attention to the subject? This question was not as yet set at rest. It would be introduced on another night, 934 and he was rejoiced at the different tone which had been adopted from that taken on Friday evening.
§ Subject dropped.