HL Deb 23 June 1857 vol 146 cc200-29

Bill read 3a, according to Order.

LORD REDESDALE rose to move the Amendment of which he had given notice—namely, to omit the words, "and Divorce" from the third Clause. His Lordship had further given notice, that in the event of the House agreeing to omit these words, he would move such further Amendments as might be required to deprive the Court of the power of pronouncing decrees for the dissolution of marriage. His Lordship said, that his object was to raise the question of the extent to which their Lordships were prepared to go in legislating upon this subject. There were no doubt great objections to the present constitution of the Ecclesiastical Courts, and it was desirable that they should be reformed and improved, and to the extent to which the Bill went with regard to constituting a new Court, and transferring to it jurisdiction in matrimonial causes, he proposed to offer no opposition. But he thought that their Lordships ought to have an opportunity of recording their opinions as to whether the new court which was created by the Bill should possess all the powers which it was proposed to give to it. It might be said that he moved this Amendment, and expected support, on the ground that it was not permissible to dissolve marriages; but the omission of the words which he proposed to strike out did not touch that question, and many noble Lords who did not think as he did, that marriage was indissoluble, were of opinion that in many respects this measure was premature, and that it was not desirable to invest a new and untried court with such large powers as were proposed to be conferred by this Bill, and to convert what had hitherto been a legislative into a merely judicial proceeding. There was not much discussion on the Bill till the question of divorce à vinculo was raised, and then Amendments were moved and differences of opinion arose, and a difficulty was felt by every one to pass a remedial measure on the subject. It was felt to be a dangerous step to throw open the power of divorce to the whole country; that it was one thing to grant relief in exceptional cases where there was the opportunity of instituting the fullest inquiry, and to grant relief in all cases, when the proceedings must necessarily assume a much looser character. Some noble Lords had changed their opinions during the course of the discussions; and looking at the number of Amendments and alterations that had been made during the progress of the Bill, it was impossible that the true views and opinions of their Lordships could be known. All this showed how desirable it was that the working of the new court in ecclesiastical matters should be known before they extended its powers to the extreme limit of empowering it to grant divorces à vinculo. There had been a great many petitions against the Bill, and he thought that at least a single year ought to be given in order to test public opinion and the feeling of the people with regard to such a change in the law as was contemplated by the Bill. There were no petitions in its favour; and there never had been any discontent with regard to exceptional legislation on the subject of divorce. He desired, therefore, to give the House another opportunity of expressing its opinion on the subject, and with that view proposed to omit the words "and divorce," which would raise the question in the fairest possible manner.


said, he was surprised to hear the noble Lord say that the country had been taken by surprise by this measure. Five long years ago a Commission was appointed to inquire into this subject; three Bills had been laid upon their Lordships' table, and one had received their assent and been sent down to the other House of Parliament. He denied that the feeling of the country was against the Bill; he said, on the contrary, that the country was resolved against the scandal of actions of crim. con., and the proceedings before their Lordships on Bills of divorce. The noble Lord said that there were few petitions for the Bill, but who was to petition in its favour? Was it to be the injured husband in contemplation? The petitions which had been presented against the Bill had proceeded upon misapprehension, not to say misrepresentation. They alleged that this Bill would introduce laxity of proceeding, and would enable every one to obtain a divorce. Practically speaking, this measure would make no alteration in the law; it would only confide its administration to a different tribunal. Hitherto the two Houses of Parliament had decided cases of divorce nominally legislatively, but really judicially; this Bill would erect a judicial tribunal before which such cases could be judicially considered and satisfactorily decided. It was a poor compliment to those who would constitute that court to say that the cases would be dealt with in a slovenly manner and without sufficient pains being bestowed upon them. The men who were to fill the office of Judges in it were well versed in judicial proceedings; he knew not that any complaint of neglect of their duties had ever been made against them, and it was not likely that they would now forfeit their high reputations.


confessed he was one who had come to the same conclusion on the matter as that expressed by a noble Earl (Earl Grey) in his speech the other evening upon this subject; and every word he had heard in relation to it only tended still further to prove to him that the difficulty of legislating upon it was much greater than he had at first believed. Although he voted last year for the second reading of the Bill, he had since given the subject much greater consideration than he had ever done before; and he must say, from all he had heard and seen, he was convinced that they were very far from finding a solution of the difficulty in the measure before the House. It was said that this Bill would remove the hardship to which, under the existing law, the woman was subjected; but how; was that to be done? By the existing law the woman received her punishment for the crime of adultery, though her of fence was not considered in the light of a public sin, but that of a private wrong, and the public showed their feelings by turning their back upon the guilty woman. But what were they doing now? They would bring her before a judicial tribunal, and make her liable to a disgraceful punishment. By the provisions of the present Bill she might be condemned to prison like a drunken prostitute or shoplifter. Then it had been urged that the present law on the subject was a scandal, inasmuch as, under it, public decency was violated, and even morality endangered, by the perusal of such trials in the press. But, had they remedied that evil by the present Bill? He submitted it was impossible in this country, if they wished full justice to be done to avoid exposure. The Court could no sit with closed doors, and therefore all its proceedings would be published in the newspapers. They could not prevent those publications in a country like this, which possessed a free press: therefore the scandal of a trial in those divorce cases would not be got rid of; the clause in relation to it would rather have the effect of increasing the scandal. A third objection raised against the existing law was, that the lower classes of this country were shut out from the privileges which the law exclusively gave to the rich in obtaining a divorce. He confessed he did not think that the measure before the House brought those privileges nearer to the working classes. A single court in London might, no doubt, be rendered useful to all classes residing within the metropolis; but the people in the provinces would not receive, as far as he could understand, any greater benefit from the measure than they possessed under the existing law. But what he principally objected to in this Bill was, its making the crime of adultery a public crime instead of a private wrong. He felt all the infamy of the action of crim. con., but there was a principle involved in that proceeding—it showed that this was a private wrong, and not a public crime. He knew that some of the right rev. Prelates had argued that, inasmuch as adultery was a great sin, it ought to be considered as a public wrong, and that it should be publicly punished. He admitted the enormity of the crime, but he contended that they could not legislate civilly upon the Decalogue. We boasted of our religions liberty, and therefore could not legislate upon the first or second commandments. On the third we had tried to legislate, but had failed. With regard to the fourth, we had met with such difficulties that our legislation was a mass of contradictions, and absurd in the eyes of the public. The public could not interfere with adultery as with theft or murder. They could take no steps for its prevention. How would a man be treated who went to a husband, and told him that he ought to look sharper after his wife? He protested, not only as a legislator, but with all the natural feelings of a gentleman, against the adultery of the woman being considered a public crime, and against her being dragged before the public and punished by imprisonment. He thought that the fact of a woman being treated in that manner would operate to prevent men from petitioning the Court. Few would like to see their wives dragged to prison, and treated as criminals. He did not go so far as to say that there ought to be no divorce; for it would be very hard that a man should be tied for life to a profligate woman; but a great mistake had been made by this Bill, in the manner in which it treated the question. It was purely amoral question, a question of private wrong, and not a matter of police. The protection of the property of married women was an entirely different matter, but this Bill had confounded the two. No doubt the majority of their Lordships would be desirous of seeing divorce obtainable, tinder certain circumstances, but in a manner which should avoid all public scandal, and which would not bear the appearance of revenge on the woman. Nothing had surprised him more throughout these discussions than the extraordinary ignorance of human nature and human feelings which some of the most eloquent of their Lordships had displayed in handling this question. For himself, he would only say that, after having supported the Bill of last Session for facilitating divorce, and having supported the second reading of the present Bill, he felt constrained to mark his disapproval of the measure in its altered shape, by voting for the Amendment of his noble Friend.


said, that when first this question had come before their Lordships he had been induced to support a proposition for facilitating divorces, from a feeling that the rich man ought not to be placed at such an advantage over the poor man in this respect. That he still thought an evil which ought to be remedied; but, on mature consideration, he felt bound to say that the arguments urged against this Bill were infinitely stronger than that single one in its favour. He should rejoice greatly if his noble Friend on the woolsack would consent to the Amendment of the noble Baron opposite. It would be infinitely better that the Amendment of the existing law set forth in the preamble, of which he heartily approved, should be first carried out before attempting to make any new law with regard to so important a subject as divorce. The moment the Bill stepped out of the preamble it was opposed to the existing law of the land and to the law of God. By both of these marriage was indissoluble, and this Bill, if passed into law, would be the first great inroad on that principle. Indissolubility of marriage was the law of the Catholic Church of England and of the Catholic Church of Rome, and the very necessity of requiring that in all cases of divorce à vinculo the parties should apply to Parliament for a private Bill proved that such divorces were contrary to the spirit of the law of England. As the noble Lord who moved the Amendment had said, the public at large were taken by surprise by this Bill. No doubt the question had been under discussion now for some time before Committees and Commissions, but it had never been discussed publicly. It had been said that the argument that by the existing law of the land marriage was indissoluble was advanced a century and a-half too late, because during that time divorces had been granted every year; but every case of a private Bill introduced to grant a divorce only showed that by the common law divorce was impossible. On the religious part of the case he would content himself with saying that he was thoroughly convinced the law of Scripture was opposed to this Bill. There was an opinion abroad—he did not know whether it had found an echo in that House during these debates—that there was a tendency in some portions of the community towards Rome, and that those who had opposed this Bill were of that party. Circumstances had occurred of late years to give a colouring to that opinion, but it was entirely destitute of any real foundation. The general tendency was quite the reverse—it was towards the loose theories of German Protestantism; and he believed that this Bill was entirely in that direction. In Germany, they were told, it was as easy to get rid of a wife as it was to get rid of a servant with us. If this Bill were passed, and the principle of the indissolubility of marriage were once broken through, Parliament would be asked before long to go further in the same direction, and he hoped therefore that their Lordships would resist the first step by affirming the Amendment.


said, he rose to administer some relief to the two noble Lords who had preceded him, having great respect for their opinions and their scruples, from the burden which this Bill appeared to have imposed upon their minds. The sum and substance of their objection to the Bill seemed to be that a change was about to be made in the existing law, which had always declared divorce to be impossible in proportion as marriage was by that law indissoluble. But, in point of fact, the law was violated and set at nought just as often as their Lordships were called on to do so, and all the conditions required were complied with. He did not say that every marriage was dissolved on such application being made; but the rule had constantly been that as often as certain conditions were fulfilled and certain requisites complied with the party petitioning for a divorce had his marriage dissolved, and that as a matter of course. It was, indeed, just as much a matter of course as that in an action at law the jury should return a verdict according to the evidence and the oath they had taken, and that judgment should be entered on the verdict. Did it not, therefore, amount to a jest to talk of indissolubility in such a case as this? To illustrate the extraordinary character of their present mode of proceeding, he might state that it was a Standing Order of their Lordships' House, not only that no divorce Bill should pass, but that no such Bill should be even presented to the House, unless it contained, among other things, a clause forbidding the subsequent marriage of the adulterer and the adultress. But what followed? Why, this clause, which the Standing Order rendered imperative, was uniformly struck from the Bill in Committee. Was this a consistent or intelligible course to pursue? Was it consistent with the dignity of their Lordships' House that such a mockery should be practised with regard to a matter so important by one of their Standing Orders? Surely it was far better that the substance should be substituted for the form, and that divorce should be in reality what it now was in practice, simply a judicial act. His noble Friend the Lord Chief Justice had very properly reminded their Lordships that no one could have been taken by surprise by this Bill, for it was the third time that such a measure had been before their Lordships; and, indeed, he could recollect many years ago being upon a Committee with his noble Friend behind him (Lord Lyndhurst), in which they discussed the policy of transferring the determination of all questions of divorce from before their Lordships to a fixed tribunal, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. And the proposal was only rejected on the ground that that tribunal was already overladen with business. It had been said that if they made divorce in reality a judicial proceeding, to be dealt with judicially like other matters, it would become a matter of course to comply with every petition for divorce; but such an idea would never be entertained by any person who had the least professional experience. He would venture to express the opinion that, if there was any one particular class of cases likely to command greater attention than another, it would be the divorce cases brought before these tribunals. That, he was satisfied, would be in accordance with the experience of all professional men, for the Judges, pure and exalted as they might be, were not exalted above all human thoughts and human feelings, curiosity included; and even the purest and sternest of mortals, in dealing with such questions as these, would not fail to give to them the most careful and deliberate attention. But, independently of the interest that would naturally be excited in such cases, their very importance would secure for them the fullest and most searching inquiry. No court that could be established, no professional man raised to the situation of a Judge, would ever be found deviating from the strict rule of anxiously sifting and searching into the nature of the whole of these cases. Suspicion seized the minds of Judges as well as other men; and the suspicion that all was not so right in the case of the petitioners, and that all was not so wrong in that of the defendant as might be represented, was sure to enter deeply into their minds, and lead them to a thorough and sifting investigation. All circumstances must be proved before the Judges, as at present in that House. Let it not be supposed that there would be any very great increase in the number of divorces, although undoubtedly there might be some slight increase when the hindrances which were presented at present to persons of small means who wished to obtain divorces were removed. If justice were denied by reason of the expense, the delay, and vexation attending the present court, probably more parties would resort to the new tribunal, in order to obtain that redress which had hitherto been virtually denied. But was that an evil? On the contrary, it was a step in the right direction. Look to the example of Scotland upon that point. In no part of Christendom was there a more sacred regard for, or more reverential awe of, the Holy Scriptures than in Scotland; nowhere were there greater safeguards for the people and for the ministers than on this point; yet there, from time out of mind, had divorces been granted upon proper application to the courts. He did not quote the case of Scotland in order to prove that noble Lords who objected to follow her example were wrong in their views, but simply to show the opinion of that most religious people as to the dissolubility of marriage. Quitting, however, the theological question, he thought the example of Scotland was most important in another way. Noble Lords had said, if the law were relaxed, and divorces were made more easily procurable by the poorer classes, the number of applications would be alarmingly increased. But how was it in Scotland, where a law had existed so long, and which enabled an aggrieved person at a moderate cost to obtain the relief he desired? Instead of divorces being frequent, there were only seventeen in one year, and in two other years the number of divorces granted was respectively ten and twenty. He had, therefore, no apprehension that any measure rendering the law somewhat, although not altogether, equal as between rich and poor, would have the effect of inducing a frequency of divorces. But an objection had been urged against the Bill upon the ground that, if it were passed, Parliament would immediately be asked to go further, and there was no knowing where such legislation would stop. That objection might be raised against every change in the law, and the proper answer to it was, "Wait until any unreasonable proposition is brought forward, and then oppose it." There was, however, one point in the Bill which he thought required consideration, and that was the nature of the penalty to be inflicted upon the guilty parties. He was in favour of treating adultery as a misdemeanour, but not as one punishable by fine or imprisonment at the option of the Court. He thought the penalty should be absolutely a pecuniary one, as, among other objections to the infliction of imprisonment for adultery, he could never consent to permit persons to be tried, convicted, and punished, without the intervention of a jury. Besides, after obtaining a divorce, no husband would like to proceed to a prosecution of the woman whom he had put away. The abolition of the action for criminal conversation well deserved the serious consideration of their Lordships. He had received communications from many parties, including persons of high judicial authority, offering objections to this part of the measure, or, at least, insisting upon the necessity of providing some efficient substitute. He was the more disposed to listen to the complaints of his correspondents, because some of the parties suing for divorce belonged to the humbler classes of society, to whom the loss of a wife was a serious pecuniary evil. In the upper ranks it was a question of feeling rather than of personal interest, and it might very well be said, that an injury to the, feelings of a party was not a matter for pecuniary compensation. But to a poor man the loss of the services of his wife—the loss of the benefit which he derived from her superintendence of his family, and the arrangement and management of his household, was a serious pecuniary loss, and he could not help thinking that some remedy should be provided for such a case. A proposition had been submitted to their Lordships for defraying the expenses of the husband in suing for a divorce; but; he went further and said, that out of the fine the Court should award to the husband some compensation for the loss he had sustained, and he thought that if some such provision, were adopted, the objections to this part of the measure would be obviated. He knew that a learned Judge denied that suing for damages was inconsistent with the nature of the injury inflicted upon the feelings of the husband, and he instanced the case of libel where a man's character and honour had been assailed, and where pecuniary compensation was made. He thought, if some such alterations were made, the Bill would go down to the other House with the best possible prospect of success. Far be it from him to hold out anything like a menace as to the course which the other House might think fit to pursue, or the fear of a collision with the other House—that was often talked of, but it was absurd, contradictory to the fact, and there had been no great risk whatever upon any of those occasions; but, at the same time, he would deprecate anything which might, for no good or useful purpose, tend to break the harmony which existed between the two branches of the Legislature. He therefore hoped and trusted that their Lordships would pass the Bill as it now stood, with the exception of the imprisonment of the adulterers. But if the Bill were altered in the direction indicated by the proposed Amendments, he feared the measure would have little chance of passing the other House.


said, there could be no question as to what the law of England was. By the law of England it was, and had been, impossible to pronounce a divorce à vinculo matrimonii. Cranmer, at the time of the Reformation, attempted to alter it; but he failed. It could not be done without the special interference of the Legislature on each and every occasion. But as the Legislature had sanctioned divorce for two centuries, the proposal before their Lordships was to substitute for the present Legislative action a regularly constituted judicial body. The question was, should that proposal become the law of the land. He confessed that although entertaining considerable doubts upon the subject at first, yet, after their Lordships had sanctioned the Bill upon two occasions, after it had been sanctioned by a Commission consisting of many learned men, he had come to the conclusion that he should not be justified in supporting the Amendment of the noble Lord.


said, that the Bill might be objected to, if on no other ground than the variety of metamorphoses which it had undergone. The Bill established a new court, provided protection for women who had been deserted by their husbands, and abolished the action for criminal conversation. These were all very important matters; but to them it was proposed to add the power of granting divorces. Now the proposal of his noble Friend (Lord Redesdale) was not to reject the Bill, but to secure that that matter should undergo further and more satisfactory discussion. It had been said that the subject had been exhausted, but he thought the variety of Amendments showed that the matter was far from a satisfactory settlement.


said, there were many of their Lordships who believed that, whatever doubts there might be as to the general power of remarriage after divorce, there was no doubt that the words of our Lord forbade the adulterous woman remarrying in the lifetime of her husband. If they passed the Amendment of the noble Lord opposite they sanctioned all the Amendments of the law contemplated by the Bill short of that which made such marriages possible; but if the Amendment were rejected and the Bill passed in its present shape, they intentionally and knowingly declared that the law of England should contradict the law of Christ. He believed that this question of divorce had not yet made entrance into the public mind. He had that day received a letter saying that the clergy themselves were only beginning to awake to what were the proposed alterations. He therefore thought it highly expedient, while they organized the new court, to allow the question to rest;—not that he would have the law continue always as at present, a system of privilegia, but that he would avoid a settlement of what the law should be with respect to divorce à vinculo until it had been more thoroughly ventilated in the public mind. Earnestly desiring, as he did, to effect the improvements which the rest of the Bill contemplated, he hoped the Government would not make it necessary for him to move the rejection of the measure on the question that the Bill do pass, by refusing to adopt the Amendment now proposed.


thought it necessary, before putting the question from the woolsack, to remove the erroneous impresssion which would probably be produced by what had just fallen from the right rev. Prelate. The right rev. Prelate said that many Members of their Lordships' House disapproved of that portion of the Bill which enabled the adulterous woman to remarry in the lifetime of her husband, and left it to be inferred that this Amendment would remedy that objection; but the Amendment, in fact, would offer no such remedy, except so far as it would tend to reject the Bill altogether. He must complain of the course which his noble Friend had taken in moving that Amendment. Their Lordships might rely upon it that the forms of their proceedings were founded substantially upon good sense. When it was proposed to read a Bill a third time, any noble Lord would do right to vote for its being read a third time that day six months if he thought that it could never be made, with any Amendments, a proper measure; but if he thought that with Amendments it could be made a proper measure, he ought to allow the Bill to be read a third time, and propose Amendments on the question that the Bill do pass. The course taken by the noble Lord was to propose on the third reading different Amendments which, in substance, were absolutely idle—namely, that the new Court, instead of being called a Court of Marriage and Divorce, should be called a Court of Marriage. If the Amendments stopped there the alteration would be very incongruous, because the object of the Bill was to enable the Court to grant divorces, and therefore it was a Court of Marriage and Divorce. The proposition went further, "and to make such Amendments as shall be consequent thereon." What was meant by consequent thereon? Did it mean as far only as was consequent upon altering the name of the Court, or did it mean to make the Bill totally different from that which their Lordships had considered in Committee? He thought the course taken by the noble Lord very inconvenient. The question really raised by the Amendment was, were they or were they not prepared to sanction a measure to make divorce à vinculo a judicial instead of a legislative proceeding? He could hardly conceive that any one would gravely state that the measure took the public by surprise. Seven or eight years ago a Royal Commission issued to inquire into the subject. Four or five years ago the Commission made their report. Four or five Bills had been introduced at various times, and a Select Committee of their Lordships looked into the question last year, with a degree of care and accuracy which had been rarely equalled and never surpassed. To be gravely told that the discussion of the Bill at the last stage took the country by surprise was an attempt to draw very largely upon the credulity of their Lordships. If the question, were not now ripe for decision, he wanted to know at what period of the world's history would it ever be ripe? He would only add in answer to his noble Friend (the Earl of Wicklow) that if he believed the Bill calculated to lead to those evils which were figured as making the marriage bond too lax in some of the Northern States of Germany, he would throw it in the fire rather than ask their Lordships to sanction it. He thought it would have no such consequences. For 200 years the principle of the Bill had been in operation, and scarcely a single attempt had been made to gain divorce for any cause but adultery. If the feeling of the country had not been altered for 200 years, he did not believe the change from a legislative to a judicial proceeding would have any effect whatever, and the simple question now was whether the character of the tribunal should be changed. A suggestion had been thrown out that the anticipation of justice being made accessible to the poor would not be realized. Now, that he altogether denied. It was perfectly true that the rich enjoyed advantages which the poor did not possess; but that was a state of things which was incidental to the very existence of men in society, and which no legislation could obviate. The rich, for instance, could always command the services of the ablest lawyers, while the poor man was not in a position to avail himself of their aid. There was, however, no good reason why, in the tribunal which the Bill proposed to establish, the expense of a suit should involve the outlay of one farthing more than if it had been instituted before a Judge whose jurisdiction did not extend beyond actions for the recovery of the small sum of £5. He might add that the poor man, in cases relating to property, might now sue in formâ pauperis in the courts of Westminster, and the Judges of the new tribunal would in framing the rules for the conduct of its business, be enabled to extend the system of suing in formâ pauperis as far as might seem to be expedient. There could be no doubt, at all events, that the effect of the Bill would be to enlarge the area of those persons who were entitled to claim the relief which it provided, and he therefore trusted that their Lordships would reject all Amendments which had for their object, either directly or indirectly, to render valueless that which was the substantial feature of the measure.


made a few observations, which were inaudible.

On Question, That ("and Divorce") stand part—

Their Lordships divided:—Contents 91; Not-Contents 34: Majority 57.

Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.)
Doneraile, V.
Cleveland, D. Falmouth, V.
Wellington, D. Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)
Ailesbury, M. Hardinge, V.
Lansdowne, M. Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)
Townshend, M.
Westmeath, M. Melville, V.
Sydney, V.
Airlie, E. Torrington, V.
Beauchamp, E.
Belmore, E. Bangor, Bp.
Burlington, E. Exeter, Bp.
Chesterfield, E. Kilmore, &c., Bp.
Chichester, E. Llandaff, Bp.
Clarendon, E. London, Bp.
Ducie, E. Ripon, Bp.
Effingham, E. Worcester, Bp.
Essex, E.
Fortescue, E. Aveland, L.
Granville, E. Belper, L.
Harrington, E. Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)
Harrowby, E.
Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.) Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Morley, E. Brougham and Vaux, L.
Morton, E. Byron, L.
Munster, E. Calthorpe, L.
Scarborough, E. Camoys, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Campbell, L.
Spencer, E. Carew, L.
Clandeboye, L. (E. Dufferin and Claneboye.) Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)
Congleton, L. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Crewe, L.
Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.) Panmure, L.
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]
De Mauley, L.
Denman, L. Rivers, L.
De Ros, L. Saye and Sele, L.
De Tabley, L. Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)
Foley, L. [Teller.]
Forester, L. Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Hamilton, L. (L. Belhaven and Stenton.) Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.)
Stuart de Decies, L.
Holland, L. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Hunsdon, L. (V. Falkland.)
Talbot de Malahide, L.
Ker, L. (M. Lothian.) Truro, L.
Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.) Vivian, L.
Wensleydale, L.
Lyndhurst, L. Wrottesley, L.
Manners, L. Wycombe, L. (E. Shelburne.)
Melros, L. (E. Haddington.)
Leeds, D. Dungannon, V.
Bath, M. [Teller.] Chichester, Bp.
Salisbury, M. Durham, Bp.
Oxford, Bp.
Amherst, E. Salisbury, Bp.
Bantry, E. St. Asaph, Bp.
Cardigan, E.
Carnarvon, E. Berners, L.
Desart, E. Clifton, L. (E. Darnley.)
Ferrers, E. Kilmaine, L.
Malmesbury, E. Lovat, L.
Mayo, E. Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)
Nelson, E.
Romney, E. Petre, L.
Strathmore, E. Rayleigh, L.
Talbot, E. Redesdale, L. [Teller.]
Wicklow, E. Stafford, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Wynford, L.

pointed out the difference which existed in the law of Scotland from that of England, and mentioned that in a case where a divorce had been granted in Scotland on the ground of adultery by the husband, and the woman thinking herself released from the first marriage had married again in England, that second marriage had been declared illegal, and she had been convicted of bigamy. It ought, therefore, even as a matter of expediency, to be settled clearly what would be the effect of such a divorce and remarriage under this Act. He also argued that upon the principles of justice there ought to be no difference in the operation of the law in the case of the husband and of the wife. He therefore proposed in the clause giving divorce to the wife for adultery accompanied by incest, or other aggravating circumstances, to omit the word "incestuous."


said, the principle advocated by the noble Lord was very popular, but he must oppose it. The Commissioners had come to the conclusion that it would not be desirable to allow the same privilege to the wife as to the husband, which would be altering the state of the law, which had been unchanged for centuries, and they had decided that divorce should not be granted to the wife on the ground of adultery, unless with such aggravation as would render it impossible for the parties to live together. It never had been granted, and he, for one, was not bold enough to alter the universal custom, notwithstanding the example of the law of Scotland.

Amendment negatived.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR rose to move an Amendment in the 31st clause, of which notice had been given by his noble and learned Friend Lord St. Leonards. His noble and learned Friend being unable to be present he had undertaken to move this Amendment for him, concurring as he did entirely in the justness and expediency of it. The proposed Amendment was to be made in the clause providing that the adulterer should be liable to a fine or imprisonment, and the wife to imprisonment. As the clause originally stood, the "fine" applied as well to the wife as to the adulterer. That had, however, been altered, as it was absurd to fine a married woman, who would probably have no property apart from the husband, at whose instance the fine was to be imposed. The clause had therefore been altered so as to leave the wife liable to imprisonment only. It had then occurred to his noble and learned Friend that it would be throwing a great obstacle in the way of the object of the Bill if the wife were to be subjected to imprisoment; for a husband, however ill a wife might have behaved, would hesitate to proceed for a divorce the necessary consequence of which would be the wife's imprisonment. In this view of his noble and learned Friend he concurred, and he therefore moved an Amendment, the object of which, was to free the wife from this liability to imprisonment.

Amendment movedTo omit (pass upon the guilty Parties, or either of them, Sentence of Fine and Imprisonment, or Fine or Imprisonment, as though such Party had been convicted of a Misdemeanour at Common Law, and the Court may further order the guilty Parties or either of them;") and insert ("Impose upon the Adulterer a Fine, and order him").


said, that if these words were struck out, the last guard of purity of married life would be removed, as far as the poorer classes were concerned. There would be nothing to prevent a woman who desired a new husband, and whose husband desired a new wife, from going to live with the man whom she preferred. Her husband would then proceed against the paramour, obtain a divorce, and marry again. The woman would marry her paramour, and assume precisely the same position as before her divorce, moving, as before, in the society of her equals, who would consider her as being, to use their own expression, made an honest woman again, and she would suffer no loss of caste whatever. The law would leave no check whatever upon the woman, and the most unbridled licentiousness would prevail among the lower classes.

On Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents 29; Not-Contents 49: Majority 20.

Canterbury, Archbp. Bangor, Bp.
Leeds, D. Chichester, Bp.
Durham, Bp.
Westmeath, M. Exeter, Bp.
Amherst, E. Llandaff, Bp.
Carnarvon, E. London, Bp.
Munster, E. Oxford, Bp.
Nelson, E. [Teller.] Ripon, Bp.
Romney, E. Salisbury, Bp.
Shaftesbury, E. St. Asaph, Bp.
Wicklow, E. Winchester, Bp.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Congleton, L.
Denman, L.
Dungannon, V. Petre, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) [Teller.] Redesdale, L.
Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Harrowby, E.
Scarborough, E.
Spencer, E.
Wellington, D.
Falmouth, V.
Ailesbury, M. Melville, V.
Bath, M. Sydney, V.
Lansdowne, M.
Townshend, M. Belper, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Chesterfield, E.
Chichester, E. Byron, L.
Clarendon, E. Camoys, L.
Desart, E. Campbell, L.
Fortescue, E. Churchill, L.
Granville, E. Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)
Harrington, E.
Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.) Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]
De Mauley, L. Rayleigh, L.
De Ros, L. Rivers, L.
De Tabley, L. Saye and Sele, L.
Foley, L. [Teller.] Stanley of Alderley, L.
Kilmaine, L. Stuart de Decies, L.
Lyndhurst, L. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Manners, L.
Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.) Talbot de Malahide, L.
Truro, L.
Monteagle of Brandon, L. Wensleydale, L.
Wrottesley, L.
Panmure, L. Wycombe, L. (E. Shelburne.)

EARL NELSON moved an Amendment upon the 54th clause, which permits the remarriage of divorced persons, providing that in case of the remarriage of divorced persons such marriage should take place in the office of the registrar, or in some building registered under the Marriage and Registration Act, and according to the form, and provisions of that Act. The object of this Amendment was to save the consciences of the clergy, of whom many were averse to these marriages, and to provide that, as this matter had been argued on purely civil grounds, so the remarriage, if it took place, should be only a civil marriage. Unless this Amendment were agreed to, a very large portion of the clergy of the Established Church (with the Archbishop at the head) who believed that marriage was indissoluble, and that the marriage of the adulterer and adultress was sinful, would be obliged to perform that marriage and to read the solemn service established for that ceremony by the Church of England. There had been some question, as to whether the law of the Church was opposed to this legislation; but, be that as it might, there occurred in one of the prayers for the marriage service these words, "that it should never be lawful to put asunder those whom Thou by matrimony hast made one," and the marriage service itself referred to the married parties as so knit together, that it should never be lawful to put them asunder. Could any conscientious clergyman who believed that this legislation was contrary to the law of God, celebrate such a marriage; or could be pronounce God's blessing over the parties, and thus confirm them in their adultery? The clergy had entered into a contract with the State, they had signed the Thirty-nine Articles, and yet the State, without consulting the clergy, broke that, imposed a Fortieth Article without obtaining their assent to it, and demanded from them the discharge of a duty which they had not contracted to perform, and which they considered directly repugnant to Scripture. It might be said that, under the present system, clergymen had already married divorced persons; but these would naturally go to be married at places where they were not known, so that the clergyman would have no opportunity of finding out what they were. It was said, too, that in relieving the consciences of the clergy, the consciences of the laity might be endangered; but surely, as this privilege of divorce had been obtained on civil grounds, the parties who had obtained it might remain content with a civil marriage. But, even then, the Marriage and Registration Acts allowed parties who had been married by the registrar to be remarried by a clergyman, and this course was open to persons remarried after divorce if they could find a clergyman ready to perform the religious ceremony over them. Those who put the conscience of the registrar in comparison with the consciences of the clergy clearly did not understand the position in which the clergy were placed by this Bill. The registrar had merely to perform an official duty of registering certain names in a book. He had not to pronounce the Church's blessing over the parties, nor to do any thing which gave a religious character to the ceremony. Besides, if he objected to performing these marriages, he was not obliged to be a registrar, all the other professions were open to him; but a clergyman, if he had such objections and acted on them, must starve. It was said that this Amendment would endanger the union between Church and State; but the only union which it would endanger, would be that which would give us a clergy without a conscience. The union between Church and State might be kept up by doing justice to the Church, and by the Church obeying where she was pledged to obey; but by this Bill the State was proposing to do that towards the Church, which would be looked upon as dishonest in transactions between man and man. It was true that not many petitions had been presented on the subject; but he had received many letters from clergymen expressing very strongly their feelings with reference to it. He considered that his Amendment was based upon Christian principles, and it had always appeared to him that in arguing this question the supporters of the Bill had placed themselves between the horns of a dilemma, because they undertook to make a change in the ecclesiastical law, while all the arguments brought forward to support that alteration were of a civil nature. When making an alteration in the ecclesiastical law, they ought, at all events, to see whether it was borne out by Scripture. He contended that if they did away with an ecclesiastical statute on purely civil grounds, by which marriages not hitherto legal were made so, they were bound to relieve clergymen from the performance of such marriages.

Amendment moved, To insert after the words ('to marry again,') the following words ('in the office of the registrar, or in any building registered under the Marriage and Registration Acts, according to the manner and form, and subject to the provisions contained in the said Acts.')


said, that there could be no doubt whatever that the great majority of the clergy entertained the most conscientious scruples to the marriage of an adulterer or adultress, during the lifetime of her husband, as being in direct opposition to the expressed Word of God; and it was on that ground that he rested his opposition to this measure. They were attempting to introduce an alteration which was in direct opposition to the religious feeling, not only of the clergy, but of the mass of their fellow-countrymen. He objected also to the proposed tribunal, which would be accessible only to the rich; for it was not to be expected that the poor people would be able to afford the expense of bringing up their witnesses to the metropolis from Cumberland or Cornwall. If there were no other objections to the Bill, instead of being so many, he thought the objections to the machinery ought in themselves to ensure its rejection. He denied entirely that it would give the redress which was the only excuse of its enactment. To be applicable to all, rich as well as poor, it should, at least, be equal in its operation, which would not be the case for the reason he had pointed out. But, above all, he objected to this Bill, because he thought the Legislature was not justified in wounding the consciences of the clergy by compelling them to celebrate such marriages, and to administer to them the most sacred rites of the Church; and he, for one, would never give his assent to it.


complained that this question should be again argued at this stage of the measure, when the House had already twice declared an opinion adverse to the Amendment, once in the Committee by a very full House, and again on the recommittal of the Bill, in the self-same words, on the Motion of the noble Earl. It was now mooted for the third time. Undoubtedly his noble Friend had a right to call upon their Lordships to reconsider the matter; but he (the Lord Chancellor) thought that unless they were satisfied that some strange oversight had been committed, or that they had not properly understood the question before them, they ought not on slight grounds to disturb the decision to which their Lordships had arrived, after mature consideration. It appeared to him that the plea that the consciences of the clergy would be interfered with could not stand for a moment, for the simple reason that if a tender conscience was to justify a man in his disobedience of the law, there was no knowing where it was to stop. It was only two or three years ago since the case of the tender conscience of a clergyman who refused to bury certain persons was brought before the House, and it was then after debate by their Lordships expressly decided that no man could set his opinion up above the law, and therefore act in disobedience to the law—that clergymen were bound by the law of the land, and must obey it. For his part, he saw no difference in principle between the two cases. If the law of the land declared it to be lawful that certain parties might marry, it was a law that must be obeyed. If persons were separated by a divorce, and the law gave them the power to marry again, what reason was there why they should not be allowed to marry in the same manner as the rest of Her Majesty's subjects. An attempt had been made to meet the difficulty by proposing that the marriage should take place only at the registrar's office in such cases; but many persons might feel a repugnance to that. An objection also was that the Registration of Marriages Act gave the power to persons who had been married at the registrar's office to demand to be subsequently married in a church if they were so disposed; and therefore the conscientious objection of the clergy would not be set at rest. He did not, however, altogether coincide in such a view of the case, because it was extremely doubtful whether, if a marriage took place under the present Act, the fact of its being in a registrar's office would entitle the parties to take advantage of the Registration Act, and demand to be married again in a church; indeed, if it were declared that divorced parties should be allowed to marry at the registrar's office, the implication would be that they should be married there only. But on the short grounds that the law of the land must be paramount over religious scruples, and taking into consideration that by the law persons divorced under this Act would be in the position of unmarried persons, and were therefore entitled to be married in the same manner as Her Majesty's other subjects, he called upon their Lordships to reject the Amendment.


said, the Amendment had been drawn with a view to meet the objection of the noble and learned Lord. The words were "in the office of any registrar, or in any building registered under the Marriage and Registration Acts, according to the manner and form, and subject to the provisions contained in the said Acts." No new power of marrying by a registrar was created, but the power was to be subject to the provisions contained in that Act, one of which was that the religious ceremony might be afterwards performed if the parties chose, and could find a clergyman to officiate. The noble and learned Lord had compared the scruples of the clergy to marry divorced persons with those which were entertained by some respecting the reading of the burial service in particular cases, but in truth there was a vast difference. Every clergyman who held an office in the Church accepted such office with the knowledge that he was to act in accordance with the law of the realm; but the hardship which he complained of in the present instance was that, after clergymen had taken upon themselves an office which they could not vacate, the Legislature was about to alter the law of the land, and to compel them to act in a manner which they considered to be contrary to the laws of God. He did not wish to prolong a needless discussion, for he gathered from what had passed, that a majority against the Amendment had been secured; but he desired to impress upon their Lordships the deep interest with which the question was viewed by many of the most estimable clergymen of the Church of England. He had on a previous evening read a letter from an archdeacon in the diocese of Gloucester, a most respected and aged clergyman, and holding what were known as Evangelical opinions, in which he declared that the Bill, if passed, imposing the necessity of administering the sacred rite of marriage to a person who had been divorced for adultery, would be a cruel and oppressive act towards the Church of England. It had been urged against the Amendment that there was no precedent for it. But that was a mistake, for in the Marriage Act of last year a similar clause had been introduced; and in 1850, when a highly respected Friend of his (Mr. S. Wortley) introduced a Bill to legalize the marriage of a widower with a deceased wife's sister, he expressly declared that he did not seek to force the clergy to perform, those marriages, but to leave it to the clergy to celebrate those marriages or not, according to their own consciences, without any respect to civil consequences, the law of the Church being left as before. He contended, therefore, there were precedents for such a clause as was now proposed, and he besought their Lordships to follow those precedents, and for the sake of the Church of England not to tamper with the conscience of those men who were placed in the position of its teachers. It was true that the Government had a majority, but even were the clause rejected, the question would still remain unsettled. Dissatisfaction would be spread throughout the Church at an alteration in the conditions upon which conscientious clergymen held their offices, and which put them to the alternative of yielding their benefices, or of acting, as they believed, contrary to the word of God. Surely the conscientious scruples of clergymen of the Church of England were not to be less regarded than the conscientious scruples of any other class of Her Majesty's subjects. They had undertaken to obey the law of the land, which was in accordance with the word of God. It was now proposed to change that law in a manner they conceived to be contrary to God's word, and yet they were called upon to sacrifice their consciences or give up their offices. He hoped their Lordships would pause before they inflicted so great a wrong upon the clergy of England.


wished to point out that the right reverend Prelate was mistaken in supposing that this Amendment had reference solely to the adultress. It was levelled against the innocent husband, who might have been a pattern of fidelity. If the husband had had the misfortune to be united to an unfaithful wife, having cherished her, and done all that was required of him by the vow which he took at the altar of God, and if his marriage with her had been dissolved, by this Amendment he would be stigmatized, inasmuch as, in the event of his remarrying, he could only be married before the registrar, a form of marriage which might be utterly opposed to his conscience. Noble Lords who said so much about the consciences of the clergy should show some respect for the conscience of the innocent and exemplary husband, who might consider marriage before the registrar profane and degrading.


said, he thought that the hardship was more imaginary than real, although he should certainly not consider himself married unless the ceremony was a religious one, and if he were married before a registrar would have the ceremony afterwards performed by a clergyman. But what position were the clergy to be placed in? They were to be called on to declare that God had joined together persons whom they believed to be not so joined, and while all the time they were convinced that the marriage was nothing but a hollow mockery. He complained that the Government had made the Bill a party measure, and therefore had ready all that machinery which was brought into requisition when it was necessary, in their opinion, to pass a measure the responsibility of which they had undertaken. But on the other side it was not treated as a party question, and he earnestly trusted that in the divisions which took place their Lordships would be guided only by their conscientious convictions on the subject.


observed, that, on the whole, considering the special difficulties in which this subject was involved, he thought the plan proposed by the Government was the best. He agreed with the noble and learned Lord Chief Justice that it would be a cruel indignity to the injured husband to compel him to be married before a registrar; he could not consent to confound the innocent with the guilty, and must, therefore, oppose the Amendment. He reminded the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack that the case which he had referred to, and which occurred in the diocese of Chichester, was a case in which a petition was presented against a clergyman, and not a case in which a clergyman petitioned to save his conscience. He had refused to bury two persons, one of whom he considered to be excommunicated, and another who had committed suicide, and against whom the coroner's jury had returned a verdict of felo de se. It was a petition presented against the clergyman which raised the debate in their Lordships' House, and which terminated as had been stated.


said, he could not consent to confound the innocent with the guilty, and was, therefore, constrained to vote against the Amendment.

On Question, Whether the said words shall be there inserted? their Lordships divided:—Contents 19; Not-Contents 47: Majority 28.

Canterbury, Archbp. Chichester, Bp.
Leeds, D Durham, Bp.
Llandaff, Bp.
Bath, M. [Teller.] Oxford, Bp.
Rochester, Bp.
Amherst, E. Salisbury, Bp.
Desart, E. St. Asaph, Bp.
Nelson, E. [Teller.] Winchester, Bp.
Romney, E.
Wicklow, E. Rayleigh, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E. Redesdale, L.
Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Campbell, L.
Churchill, L.
Wellington, D. Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)
Congleton, L.
Lansdowne, M. Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Townshend, M.
De Mauley, L.
Chesterfield, E. Denman, L.
Chichester, E. De Ros, L.
Clarendon, E. Foley, L. [Teller.]
Fortescue, E. Kilmaine, L.
Granville, E. Lyndhurst, L,
Harrington, E. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Harrowby, E.
Scarborough, E. Panmure, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Rivers, L.
Spencer, E. Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)
Saye and Sele, L.
Dungannon, V. Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)
Falmouth, V.
Melville, V. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stuart de Decies, L.
Bangor, Bp. Sundridge, L. (D. Arghll.)
Exeter, Bp.
Talbot de Malahide, L.
Belper, L. Wensleydale, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Wrottesley, L.
Wycombe, L. (E. Shelburne.)
Byron, L.
Camoys, L. [Teller.]

said, he should acquiesce in the decision of their Lordships by which the Amendment of the most rev. the Archbishop of Canterbury, to prevent the guilty party marrying again, was rejected, although he regretted it. But he did not think they were called upon to do more than not to exclude guilty parties from matrimony, and he could not consent to their being married with the most solemn ceremony of the Church, which from first to last presumed, not only the sacredness of marriage, but the fitness of the parties who offered themselves. Adultery rendered persons liable to the censure of the Church, and the title of these persons to marriage was simply their adultery. The celebration of such marriages, according to the rites of the Church, would be making the holy offices the merest instruments of State policy. He should, therefore, move, that the following proviso be added to Clause 54:— Provided that, after Sentence of Divorce shall have been duly pronounced in any Suit by reason of Adultery committed by either Party, it shall be lawful for the Party by reason of whose Adultery the said sentence shall have been pronounced, in case of his or her intending to intermarry with the Party with whom such Adultery has been committed, to make and subscribe a Declaration in conjunction with such last-mentioned Party before any One of the Judges of the Court of Marriage and Divorce, or by any Person to be commissioned by the said Court under the Official Seal to receive such Declaration, in the terms of the Schedule hereunto annexed; and upon such Declaration being made as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the Judge, or the Person so commissioned, to declare the said Parties to be lawfully married; and such Marriage shall be good and lawful to all intents and purposes whatsoever: Provided always that nothing herein contained shall make lawful any Marriage between any Parties who are now disabled by Law from contracting Marriage together by reason of Consanguinity or Affinity.

SCHEDULE. I, A. B. do take C. D. to be my wedded wife. I, C. D. do take A. B. to be my wedded husband.


said, as the Amendment was somewhat similar to that which they had already rejected, he thought that the result of the right rev. Prelate's Amendment, if adopted, would be to create a new marriage tribunal, utterly unknown to the law before—namely, marriage by the Court of Divorce. There were already very strong objections against the marriage before the registrar, but the present proposition was open to far stronger objections. He hoped that their Lordships would not sanction the Amendment of the right rev. Prelate.


said, the Amendment imposed an obligation on any Judge of the Divorce Court to declare the parties married. He (Lord Campbell) was one of the Judges; now, suppose he was a conscientious person, and had an objection to marriages of this kind—yet he or any one of the Judges might be compelled, under pain of losing his office, to declare such parties Lawfully married. This was quite as hard as that any incumbent of the Church of England who had conscientious objections to marrying such parties should be compelled to marry them.


observed, that, notwithstanding the very extreme supposition of the noble and learned Lord that he had a conscience, he could not understand how the noble and learned Lord could object to carry into execution that which the law of the land had declared to be legal. To adopt the course of having the marriage ceremony under the circumstances of the case, performed in the Church, would be to inflict a grievous wound upon her, and would be contrary to the very essence of the sacred service.

On Question, Whether the said clause shall be there inserted? their Lordships divided:—Contents 24; Not Contents 38: Majority 14.

Leeds, D. Melville, V.
Bath, M. [Teller.] Chichester, Bp.
Westmeath, M. Durham, Bp.
Exeter, Bp.
Amherst, E. Llandaff, Bp.
Carnarvon, E. Oxford, Bp.
Desart, E. Rochester, Bp.
Nelson, E. [Teller.] Salisbury, Bp.
Romney, E. St. Asaph, Bp.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E. Congleton, L.
Kilmaine, L.
Dungannon, V. Rayleigh, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Redesdale, L.
Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Wellington, D, Byron, L.
Camoys, L. [Teller.]
Lansdowne, M. Campbell, L.
Townshend, M. Churchill, L.
Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)
Chichester, E.
Clarendon, E. Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Fortescue, E.
Granville, E. De Ros, L.
Harrington, E. Foley, L. [Teller.]
Harrowby, E. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Shaftesbury, E.
Spencer, E. Panmure, L.
Rivers, L.
Falmouth, V. Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)
Saye and Sele, L.
Bangor, Bp. Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)
Belper, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stuart de Decies, L. Wensleydale, L.
Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.) Wrottesley, L.
Wycombe, L. (E. Shelburne.)
Talbot de Malahide, L.
Truro, L.

LORD WENSLEYDALE moved the omission of Clause 55 relating to actions of crim. con.


said, that as the House had decided upon the enactment of this provision he trusted that the noble and learned Lord would be content with proposing his Amendment and entering his protest.

Amendment withdrawn.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved that the last clause of the Bill be struck out in consequence of an intimation received from the Chief Rabbi of the Jews that it would interfere with their marriage settlements.

Motion agreed to; Clause struck out.

Moved, That the Bill do pass.


said, he did not wish to re-open the whole question, but he rose to offer a last protest to the passing of the measure. He believed it was contrary to the Jaw of God, contrary to the law of the Church of England, and, as he believed, fruitful in future crime and misery to the people of England. He believed that in passing it they were dealing a more fatal blow to family purity than they could by any other act. Entertaining these views he could not suffer the Bill to pass without dividing the House, in order that the names of those who opposed it to its last stage might stand on record to posterity. He wished them to observe that they had been led on to this course of legislation at first by following the example of Scotland, but they had removed all the guards which had prevented the full working of the evil in Scotland. Yet they quoted Scotland, and the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack had quoted her again that night, as an instance that they had nothing to fear from the social effect of the Bill, although every one must see that those guards were necessary to protect the sacredness of married life among the lower classes from the pollution which this Bill would introduce into it. The Bill professed to extend the same relief to the poor as to the rich; but it did no such thing—it was impossible that that object could be attained by a single court sitting in London. The Bill was a law for the rich; it was an immunity for the adulterers and the adultresses in the high places of England. Equality to the poor could only be given by granting the settlement of that nice question to the courts of inferior jurisdiction, but that equal justice to the poor would be purchased at the price of the introduction of unlimited pollution. On every ground of policy and morality he begged their Lordships to refuse their assent to the passing of the measure. The Bill, which provided none the securities by which it was originally accompanied, was to be launched out first to give an unjust advantage to the wealthy, and afterwards so miserably to increase collusion as to destroy the morals of the people. He knew that as far as that House was concerned, his words might as well be left unuttered. Yet he did once more, in the face of the Church and of the country, implore their Lordships not o pass the Bill into law.


said, he would once more reiterate his opposition to the Bill, which he regarded as one of the most mischievous ever submitted to Parliament. His firm conviction was, that it was calculated to undermine all the moral principles of society.

On Question that this Bill do pass? their Lordships divided:—Contents 46; Not-Contents 25: Majority 21.

Resolved in the affirmative; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

Cranworth, L. (L. Chancellor.) Belper, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Wellington, D. Byron, L.
Camoys, L. [Teller.]
Lansdowne, M. Campbell, L.
Townshend, M. Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)
Westmeath, M.
Congleton, L.
Airlie, E. Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Burlington, E.
Clarendon, E. Denman, L.
Cowper, E. De Ros, L.
Fortescue, E. Foley, L. [Teller.]
Granville, E. Hunsdon, L. (V, Falkland.)
Harrington, E.
Harrowby, E. Panmure, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Rivers, L.
Spencer, E. (Lord Steward.) Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)
Saye and Sele, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Falmouth, V. Stuart de Decies, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Talbot de Malahide, L.
Bangor, Bp. Truro, L.
London, Bp. Wensleydale, L.
Ripon, Bp. Wrottesley, L.
St. Asaph, Bp. Wycombe, L. (E. Shelburne.)
Worcester, Bp.
Leeds, D. Chichester, Bp.
Durham, Bp.
Bath, M. [Teller.] Exeter, Bp.
Llandaff, Bp.
Amherst, E. Oxford, Bp.
Carnarvon, E. Rochester, Bp.
Nelson, E. [Teller.] Salisbury, Bp.
Romney, E.
Strathmore, E. Kilmaine, L.
Wicklow, E. Petre, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E. Rayleigh, L.
Redesdale, L.
Stafford, L.
Dungannon, V. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Melville, V. Wynford, L.