§ Lord Howden
said, that seeing the right rev. Prelate to whom was officially confided the spiritual welfare of our colonies in his place, he would take the liberty of asking him a question. He would not detain their Lordships long, but he thought that many of their Lordships would be somewhat surprised at the statement which he was going to make, and which appeared to be rather a tradition of the middle ages than an occurrence which had taken place in a British colony hardly a year ago. An officer of rank in her Majesty's army died at Quebec, while he was serving with his regiment in Canada. He was well acquainted with that officer, who was long a brother officer of his, and it was in his power to speak of his irreproachable character and uniformly good conduct. After his decease the officers of his regiment, anxious that, in a distant and he might say a foreign land, some testimonial might remain of their regard to his memory, caused a tablet to be engraven, merely inscribing upon it a few words, stating the circumstances of his death, and the respect and affection of his brother officers, which he carried with him to the grave. This testimonial—a very innocent one he should have thought—being completed, the friends of the deceased wished to place it in the church of the city, and they applied pro formâ to the colonial bishop for leave to do 1000 so. This permission was refused. What were the reasons for refusing it he knew not, but he did think it would be difficult to find any justifiable reason whatever under any possible circumstances for offering insult to the dead. He wished to call their Lordships' attention to the fact that this officer was born of parents belonging to the church of England; he was baptized and brought up according to the rites of that church; he was accustomed to attend divine service with the officers and men of his regiment, and he was not aware that there was any occurrence upon record which could justify any inquisitorial surmise that that gallant officer did not die in that persuasion. He would ask the right rev. Prelate, first of all, whether the statement he had made were correct? and if so, then he would ask whether the conduct of the colonial bishop had met with the confirmation and approval of his spiritual superior at home?
The Bishop of London
said, that the noble Lord having had the kindness to communicate to him his intention to ask this question, he was prepared to answer, though he did not admit that a bishop was responsible to their Lordships, much less to any one Member of their Lordships" House, for any regulations he might think fit to establish for the government of his diocese, and the administration of the rites of his church. The noble Lord had fallen into an error in describing him in having the superintendence of the spiritual affairs of the colonies. He had nothing whatever to do with it, except with respect to those colonies which did not enjoy the advantage of episcopal superintendence. The spiritual government of those colonies had been considered to fall upon the Bishop of London; but the province of Canada had its own bishop, and was in no way subject to his jurisdiction, interference, or control. Any communication that might have been made to him by the right rev. prelate of Canada had been made to him merely as a brother prelate, in consequence of personal friendship, and not from any supposed subjection on the part of the Bishop of Quebec to him as his ecclesiastical superior. For any acts of misconduct or abuse, the Bishop of Quebec was answerable to the Primate of all England, the Archbishop of Canterbury. It did so happen that the circumstances of this case had been communicated to him by the right rev. Prelate. With respect to the question of the noble Lord, whe- 1001 ther the circumstances of the case as he had stated them were true, he believed that the noble Lord's statement was strictly in accordance with the truth as to the facts of the case, but not as to the inference drawn from them; because nothing was further from the mind of his right rev. Friend than to offer a gratuitous insult to the memory of any gentleman, or to do anything that should be painful to the feelings of the friends of any deceased person. In August, 1840, and some time before the death of this officer, the Bishop of Quebec, having had for a considerable time the subject under consideration, thought it desirable to establish some new regulations with regard to the permission given thenceforth for the erection of tablets within the walls of the church. This was a matter upon which the Bishop had power to act as he pleased. No person had a common law right to erect a monument in the church without the consent of the bishop. In August, 1840, the bishop addressed to the clergy of his diocese a letter, stating that the question having fallen under his notice, whether it would not be proper to establish certain restrictions in his diocese relative to the admission of monuments to be erected within the walls of the church, he had given the subject the best consideration in his power, and had come to the resolution to adopt two regulations—first, that no monument should be put up within the walls of any church in the diocese, if the inscription thereon was not first approved of by the clergyman who had charge of the spot; and secondly, that the privilege of erecting any such monument should be confined to the case of persons who had been communicants of the church. Shortly after these regulations were made, it unfortunately happened that the gallant Officer, whose case had been introduced to their Lordships, died, and his was the first instance of an application being made for permission to erect a tablet after the regulations had been framed. Thus the bishop had his regulations very soon put to the test, and the right rev. Prelate did not, on the application being made to him, see any reason, looking at the circumstances of the case, to make an exception to those rules in favour of the gallant Officer. This was the simple state of the case, and he was not aware that it was necessary for him to add anything to it. He thought it was not competent for their Lordships to judge from what was the practice in 1002 this country, as to what it was expedient should be done in a province circumstanced like Canada. But it was well known that, even with regard to this country, the right of prohibition was one frequently exercised. Their Lordships all knew that the dean and chapter of Westminster had thought fit to refuse the erection of monuments in memory of certain persons, who, as far as their literary acquirements were concerned, were fit persons to have that honour paid to their memories. The present case was not, therefore, without precedent. But were it so, that would have nothing to do with the question of the bishop's undoubted right to establish such a regulation. If indeed the bishop had, after the death of this officer, framed these regulations with special reference to his case, then there would have been soma ground for censure. He would just advert before sitting down to the circumstance which had led to these regulations. They had been framed in consequence of a tablet having been erected, without the bishop's permission, in memory of a person who was of a notoriously profligate character, and, in consequence of the notice passed upon him by the inscription on that monument, became the subject of painful remark among the members of the congregation. He did not wish to enter more particularly into the case; but if anything should be said to make it necessary, he could adduce the words of the Bishop of Quebec himself in justification of his conduct; but he trusted he had stated enough to show that these regulations were framed by him on good grounds, and that, seeing no peculiar circumstances in the gallant Officer's case, he did not feel himself justified in receding from them.
§ Lord Howden
had taken considerable pains to put himself right in respect of the facts of the case, but it often happened, that the greatest efforts to do so failed. He would leave it to their Lordships to decide upon the validity of the explanation given by the right rev. Prelate. He at all events thought their Lordships would agree with him, that these regulations were neither politic, nor perhaps quite in harmony with what was called the mild spirit of the Church of England.
I listened with very great interest and with some anxiety to the explanation of the right rev. Prelate, and when I consider the ability of that right rev. Prelate, I can have but one feel- 1003 ing and one opinion with respect to the case which he has defended. The defence was, 1 have no manner of doubt, as powerful as the nature of the case permitted; but that defence, notwithstanding the ability of the right rev. Prelate, appears to me to have been feeble in the extreme. I can only explain that feebleness of defence in such hands from the badness of the case. My Lords, I rejoice that we have not such regulations in this country as the Canadians appear to lie under in their spiritual concerns. I rejoice that St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey are under other and belter—more judicious—more charitable—and more liberal superintendence. I will go into no particulars, but of this 1 am absolutely certain, that if, instead of the most rev. Prelate, (the Archbishop of Canterbury), whose ability, whose admirable judgment, whose constant and charitable forbearance, where forbearance is consistent with his duty—if instead of the right rev. Prelate to whom I am now replying, and who exercises his high functions with all those attributes which I have humbly taken leave to ascribe to his superior, we had had a provincial superintendence of the erection of monuments in St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey, many of those marbles which adorn the inside of those great national structures would not now have been found to grace their walls. And when I advert to the only precedent which the right rev. Prelate has been able to cite on behalf of his absent brother, I must needs add, that that precedent is the very one which ought to have been selected by the Bishop of Quebec in order not to follow it.
The Bishop of London
had certainly thought, that the tone he had adopted on this occasion, confining himself, as he had done, simply and strictly to a statement of facts, would have precluded the animadversions which had fallen from the noble and learned Lord. He had thought, and he still was of opinion, that a simple statement of the facts was a sufficient defence of the right rev. Prelate, because those facts showed most clearly, that it was from no want of charity that he had been led to make those regulations, but from what he considered at least to be a due regard to the just interests of the church under his superintendence. He did not hold, that where no personal feel- 1004 ings entered into the conduct of men there any want of charity could be imputed. After what the noble and learned Lord had said, it became an act of justice on his part to go a little farther, and to state, that although he might have considerable difficulty, looking to the circumstances of society in this country at the present moment, in framing regulations in contravention of long-established custom, yet he approved of the conduct of the Bishop of Quebec in making the regulations which had given occasion to this discussion, supposing the circumstances of the case to be such as he had stated them to be. And he must go further still, by saying, that if the noble and learned Lord grounded his attack on the right rev. Prelate upon the unquestionable facility with regard to the monuments erected in our churches, he, on the contrary, looked rather with shame at the fact, and pleaded guilty to the accusation, rather than adopt the fact as a ground of attack upon the right rev. Prelate for not having adopted that course. He thought the regulations of the Bishop of Quebec were more consistent with the spirit and regulations of our Church. He never could go into a church without feeling a sense of shame at seeing monumental inscriptions in memory of persons who, neither by their lives nor their deaths, showed that they valued the high privilege of being members of that Church. In this country he was aware it might be difficult to prevent this practice, but if the Bishop of Quebec thought it possible in what might almost be called a nascent church and an infant congregation, to establish those regulations, he would say that the right rev. Prelate had done it in strict accordance with the legal discipline of the Church, and also in strict accordance with the most genuine Christian charity. It was a violation of Christian charity to extend posthumous religious honours in our churches to those who had lived without God in the world, or to those who had not been baptised in the faith, and been efficient and constant communicants of the Church. He should not have ventured to hold this language had the point in question the least reference to the person in whose memory the tablet was required to be elected. It was a general regulation, and, looking entirely at the principles of our Church, it was a wise and charitable regulation; and he 1005 again insisted upon it, that it was strictly consistent with the policy of our Church, and the dictates of pure Christian charity. Having said thus much, he felt bound to mention one instance which had more immediately led to these regulations, and which, he believed, would have led him under similar circumstances, to have acted as the Bishop of Quebec had done. The right rev. Prelate here read a statement prepared by the Bishop of Quebec, which set forth the case of an officer having had a monument erected to his memory in a church at Montreal, with an inscription stating that this gentleman "had died as he had lived, a gallant soldier and an honourable man," although it was notorious that he had been killed in a duel, arising out of a supposed intrigue with some lady.
I hope the right rev. Prelate will forgive me for reminding him, that I made no attack upon him. He rose to defend himself, as I understood him to say, against an attack which I had made upon him. An attack upon the right rev. Prelate! To the utmost of my humble ability, I endeavoured to pronounce a panegyric upon him. I appeal to noble Lords—I appeal to the right rev. Prelate himself, for he heard me—he listened to me—and I venture to say, he does not forget one single word I said—I appeal to the right rev. Prelate himself, whether I did not speak in language diametrically opposite to the very appearance of an attack upon him? To have been told, therefore, that I had made an attack upon him, when, on the contrary, the whole gist of my argument was, that the speech of the right rev. Prelate, with all his talent, having proved insufficient to make out a better case for his absent brother, was to me an absolute demonstration of the badness of that case. However, bad as he first left it, I do not think the right rev. Prelate has mended the case in his reply; but I think he has worsened it, and that most considerably. What is the only instance which he says had given rise to this rule? It is the instance of an officer killed in a duel—in the commission of a great offence; I entirely agree with the right rev. Prelate—a duel arising out of an immorality—[Lord Denman: A suspected immorality.] A suspected immorality in his private life; which observation of my noble Friend, the Lord Chief Justice, induces me to step aside, for one moment, 1006 to enter my protest (and I do it with all humility towards the right rev. Prelate, especially upon such a subject), against the gloss which he has furnished, upon what he called the charity of the Christian religion. "How," says he, "could there be any want of charity, when there was no private or personal feeling upon the matter? "But I have always understood, that charity is that which thinketh no evil, whether of those we know, or of strangers; and now it turns out, that because a man was" suspected" of an immoral course of life, and afterwards fell in a duel, where, undoubtedly, no question can exist, it turns out that it was deemed fit, not to visit him, but to visit the commuunity, and more particularly, the profession to which he belonged, with this general rule—what? that all persons who die in the commission of an unlawful act, shall be excluded from having marbles erected to their memory, within the walls of the cathedral?—that all persons, whose lives are immoral, shall, after their decease, be deprived of the honour of a monument in the cathedral?—that all persons who are even suspected of immorality in private life, shall be excluded? No such thing; a rule of that sort would have some application to the case, and might be supposed to have been drawn from the particular instance cited in its defence. But it is no such rule—it is a rule, that all persons who are not communicants,—whether their lives have been moral or not—whether their lives have been suspected of immorality or not—whether those suspicions of immorality have been grounded or groundless—whether they have fallen in a duel or not, but that those who have been communicants, be their crimes what they may, which led to their death—be their lives as immoral as they may, which preceded their decease—or if they died by a duel the day before, and up to that day were ever so immoral—may all be buried within our cathedrals, and have monuments erected to their memory notwithstanding; and after, and in spite of this rule, drawn from that one instance, and for the purpose of preventing its repetition.
The Bishop of London
was not anxious to have the last word, but he wished to observe, that the rule laid down by the Bishop of Quebec, was one which did not impose the invidious task of inquiring into the character of the deceased. He had 1007 taken the simple test, which ought to be the test and broad line—that of living within, or living without the pale of the Church. He must say, as a Minister of that Church, that while, not the rites of religion, but the honours of religion, were refused to those who in their lives refused to comply with its most sacred injunctions, there was no want of Christian charity. The rites of Christian burial were not denied, only the posthumous honour of a monument.
§ The Earl of Galloway
did not wish to detract from the force of the observations of the right rev. Prelate, by the admixture of any remarks of his own; neither would he make any remark upon the case mentioned by the noble Lord (Lord Howden), but that it might not go forth, that no one rose to support the views of the right rev. Prelate, he begged to say, at the risk of being deemed uncharitable, a bigot, and an enthusiast, that in his very heart, he concurred in every observation, that had fallen from that right rev. Prelate.
§ Conversation ended.