HL Deb 28 June 1858 vol 151 cc481-503

Debate on Motion of the Earl STANHOPE, for an Address to her Majesty, resumed.


resumed. He said he had concluded his observations regarding the fifth of November, and would next refer to the services of the thirtieth of January and twenty-ninth of May, the first of which was commemorative of the Royal Martyr Charles I., and the other was intended to mark the Restoration of Charles II. There were Acts of Parliament relating to those subjects. By the 12th of Charles II., cap. 14, it was enacted that there should be universal thanks giving on the twenty-ninth of May, but as in the other case, no service was provided, that Act was confirmed by another in the following year. The service of the thirtieth of January was established by some clauses in the 12th of Charles II., cap. 30, which directed an annual humiliation on that day. In neither of these cases were services provided by the Act—that was left to other authorities—and if no services had been otherwise provided the Act would have become practically obsolete. The Convocation of 1661, however, did prescribe a service, but the account given by Bishop Burnet of that Convocation did not recommend it to the religious feelings of the present day. Bishop Burnet said this Convocation took in more lessons out of the Apocrypha for the services of the Church of England—a step which there were not many members of the Church who viewed without regret. 'New offices,' continued Bishop Burnet, 'were also drawn for two new days—the thirtieth of January, called King Charles the Martyr, and the twenty-ninth of May, the day of the King's birth and return. Sancroft drew for these some offices of a very high strain, yet others of a more moderate strain were preferred to them; but he coming to be advanced to the see of Canterbury got his offices to be published by the King's authority in a time when so high a style as was in them did not sound well in the nation. Their Lordships could not fail to observe the similarity which existed between these services and that of the fifth of November; but although a Royal Proclamation had been issued, directing the use of the formulary to which he had just adverted, it bad never been adopted by Convocation, a majority of which had opposed it as it at present stood. But a Royal Proclamation was issued directing the use of that very form which Convocation had refused to adopt. It followed, then, that the services which he had mentioned bad not the authority of Convocation in their favour, and that, so far as the Act of Parliament was concerned, they would become obsolete the moment they ceased to be ordered by the Crown. Well, that being the case, was it, he should ask, desirable that they should be continued because of their own intrinsic merits? For his own part he found an objection to their continuance at the very outset. He objected, for instance, to the title "Martyr," as applied to King Charles I. That title ought, in his opinion, to be reserved for those Christians who, rather than renounce their faith, had suffered death at the hands of Pagan prosecutors; and to apply it to a King who had been put to death, however barbarously, by his subjects, however, erring and guilty, did seem to him to be a complete misnomer. Nobody would, he thought, contend that it was equally applicable to the Sovereign in reference to whom it was used as it was in the case of that "noble army of martyrs" whose praises were celebrated in another and a beautiful portion of our Liturgy. But, turning from the title of the service to the service itself, he felt assured that still graver grounds of objection to its continuance than any which he had mentioned would present themselves; inasmuch as there was throughout the formulary a parallel drawn between the sufferings of our Divine Redeemer and those of King Charles I., the text of the Old Testament prophetic of the sufferings of the Redeemer being brought out in array and applied to the "Royal Martyr." He should not read any quotations in proof of that statement, because it was, in his opinion, extremely desirable to refrain, as far as possible, from introducing texts of Scripture in the course of debates in that House. He could, however, assure their Lordships that he had by no means overstated his case, and that if they were to refer to the services in question they would find that he had given a correct description of their character. He might perhaps be told that at the time at which those services had been introduced they were in accordance with the religious feeling which then prevailed, and that they had been framed with no irreverent intention. While, however, he was ready to admit the justice of that proposition, he must contend that they were utterly repugnant to the religious feeling of the present day, and that it would be for the advantage of religion that they should be no longer retained. But, beside the passage in which was drawn the parallel to which he had referred, there was in the evening service for the thirtieth of January a prayer, in which we spoke of Almighty God as follows:— Who by that barbarous murder (as on this day) committed upon the sacred person of thine Anointed, hast taught us that neither the greatest of kings nor the best of men are more secure from violence than from natural death. Now, he would ask their Lordships whether it was desirable that the authority of the Church should be given to the affirmation that King Charles I. was the greatest of kings and the best of men? Many of their Lordships, as well as he himself, might have some sympathy with that monarch, and might side with those who regretted his fate; but there were beyond all doubt many excellent members of our church who although they would be far from justifying the barbarous treatment to which he had been subjected, yet could not concur in the propriety of the language as applied to him which he (Earl Stanhope) had just quoted. What possible useful end, then, could it answer to retain in the services of the Church a statement of so questionable a character? Would it not be more conformable to the good of the Church itself, and to the interest of the Church, to sweep away at once services which had no longer any applicability?

But he might be asked why it was he proposed to proceed by way of Address instead of advocating a repeal of the statute under the operation of which the services in question were maintained? His answer was that the statute would become obsolete the moment the Crown ceased to provide the services; and that even if there were any doubt upon that subject the form of an Address was the best form of Motion to adopt in the first instance, as being that which was most respectful to the Crown. It could not be disputed that the prerogative of the Crown stood in the front of the question; for the prerogative of the Crown in connection with the subject was set forth in the Proclamation which was to be found at the end of the services, signed "By Her Majesty's command," and countersigned by a Secretary of State; and if their Lordships were to proceed by way of re- pealing the statute, and to take no notice of the Queen's prerogative, they would not, he thought, be pursuing a course consistent with the Sovereign's station as regarded the Church. The first step, therefore, was to address the Queen, praying Her Majesty to remove these services from the Prayer-book. It would then be perfectly open to Her Majesty's Ministers, the Address having been issued, to advise the Crown what course should be adopted—whether the statutes should, for public reasons, be allowed to fall into disuse and become obsolete, or whether Parliament should be asked to legislate on the subject by repealing them. But whatever course they decided on taking, he felt that the presentation of an Address was the most respectful to the Crown, as at least the first, if not the only step their Lordships should take on this question. To prove to their Lordships that alterations had been made in these services at different times, he might quote the words of a divine of great weight and authority at the present day. Dr. Edward Cardwell, Principal of St. Albans Hall, Oxford, who, in his work entitled The History of Conferences, said:— Alterations have been made in these services at different times by the Royal authority—as, for instance, in the reign of James II., when the form provided for the 20th of May underwent many alterations, besides those which were rendered necessary by the death of Charles II., and in the reign of William and Mary, when prayers composed by Bishops Patrick and Sprat were added to the service of the Fifth of November to commemorate the landing of King William. In neither of these two cases does the Convocation appear to have been consulted. With regard to the Accession service—which he believed could be traced so far back as the reign of Elizabeth, he proposed no alteration. In the time of George I. there was a case of a clergyman, who, from doubts as to the claims of the House of Hanover to the throne, was unwilling to use such service on the appointed day. Legal proceedings were commenced in his case, and he made his submission. He, however, need not enter further into that question. He thought that as loyal subjects nobody could refuse with the greatest cheerfulness to join in supporting the continuance of this service. There was no reason whatever why it should not be retained. It was remarkable, after all the orders for enforcing these days, and after the decisive manner in which the Royal Proclamation began, "Our will and pleasure is," that it was left to the discretion of individual clergymen whether they conformed to it or not. In 1844 a book was published on these subjects, which was not perhaps free from some prepossession, but was distinguished by learning and research. It was entitled, How Shall we Conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England? and it was written by the Rev. J. Robertson, of Trinity College, Cambridge. After citing various authorities, Mr. Robertson summed up the practical question as follows:— It appears to me that for the sake of obedience to this authority we may rightly use the services as we find them, provided always that there be not in them anything which we consider wrong. But we are not obliged by our engagements to approve or to use any of these offices, since they are no part of the Prayer-book 'by law established' to which we yield assent and promise to conform. If we looked to the celebration of these services at the present day, we should find that in very few indeed of the churches of England were any of them preserved. The exception was when any of these special days happened to fall on a Sunday, when some of the prayers were occasionally selected from the services, and were mingled with the ordinary service of the day. But the observance of these days when they fell on a week-day was, generally speaking, lost sight of. He might be asked, "Why, then, disturb the present arrangement?" But surely it was better to remove doubt on this subject, and to deal with cases in which these services were still continued. They were still very commonly used in college chapels and cathedrals, though this was not universal, and in some very recent instances the cathedrals had released themselves from the burden of these services. He was informed that this was the case at the Cathedral church of Canterbury, where the authority of the dean and chapter had been exerted in this direction, with the knowledge and sanction of the most rev. Prelate. In other cathedrals, however, the services continued, and though they might rather be expected to set an example to the rest of the Church, he thought they were bound in this matter to follow the example set them elsewhere. In former times, though not, he trusted, now, there might have been cases when the services of the Fifth of November were used for the purpose of exciting rancour against the Roman Catholics. Now, it was no doubt the duty of clergymen of the Established Church to warn their flocks against the seductions of Roman Catholicism by every species of argument they could command, but no efficacy could be given to their arguments by reciting such phrases as the "hellish malice of Popish conspirators," and "cruel and bloodthirsty enemies." He denied the propriety of such words, and where they were used it was not controversy promoted, but only rancour indulged. It was said by an eminent Member of their Lordships' House, who now for some years had passed from them, when he was asked to express in a few words the main advantage of the connection between Church and State, that "the object was not to make the Church political, but to make the State religious." It was a wise and noble saying, which deserved to sink deep into the minds of all, and so far as the main question was concerned it was a true saying. But as long as the particular service now under consideration was retained, he would ask, was not the very opposite the fact? Could it be doubted that the tendency of such services was to make the Church political? And as to making the people religious, he so far questioned this as to believe that the very best results might be anticipated from a discontinuance of these services.

On these grounds, then, he appealed for support to all their Lordships, but more especially to the members of the right rev. Bench. He asked them to remove from the Liturgy what did not form any part of it, but was rather a blot upon the beautiful service of the Church of England. He now left the matter in their Lordships' hands, and, whatever might be the issue of his Motion, he never could regret having made it, actuated as he had been throughout by the sincerest feelings of respect and attachment to the Church of which he was a member. The noble Earl then moved his Address, in the form of which he had given notice.


My Lords, the noble Earl, in the interesting speech which he had just concluded, began by an allusion to the debate that took place some weeks ago, when my noble Friend the noble Lord opposite (Lord Ebury) proposed to your Lordships a measure for the revision of the Liturgy. I thought myself bound in duty to oppose that Motion on account of the various opinions prevailing on the subject, the painful discussions to which the measure would give rise, and the endless controversies in which it would involve the Church. I am happy to think that the proposal of the noble Earl who has just sat down is liable to no such objection; on the contrary, the grounds on which I opposed the Motion for a revision of the Liturgy would rather lead me to support this. I am afraid that I must not anticipate unanimity of assent; but it is a subject on which the general opinion has already been pronounced—the State services are already practically obsolete, and their exclusion from our Prayer-book will be very generally sanctioned by public opinion. They make no part of the Common Prayer to which the clergy have declared their consent, and to which they are bound to conform. The noble Earl, as was to be expected, has so exhausted his subject, that little remains for me except to echo Ins sentiments. He has fully admitted the duty of a nation's acknowledgment of events of so great importance to the national weal as those which the State services were intended to commemorate. The providential discovery of a plot which might have endangered our Protestant confession, the restoration of legitimate Government, the establishment of a free constitution—all these were events which could not fail to rouse the strongest emotions of which the mind is capable. We cannot be surprised if prayers and thanksgivings composed under such circumstances partook of the feelings of the times and of the composers—if they were not only vehement but passionate, and sometimes savoured of politics as much as of religion. I hold it to be impossible, even if it were desirable, that we at a distance of two or three centuries should entertain the feelings or sympathize with the expressions which are found in those services. It is very inexpedient that the people should be invited to offer up prayers and thanksgivings in which their hearts take no concern. Praise or prayer which does not issue from the heart is mockery. No doubt it is from this conviction that those services have fallen into desuetude, and it is more seemly that they should be regularly abolished than irregularly disregarded. I therefore venture to hope that your Lordships will agree to the Address to Her Majesty proposed by the noble Earl.


said, that, as the proposition before the House formed a portion of a larger proposition which he had submitted to their Lordships a short time ago, they would not be surprised to find that he entirely approved the Motion of his noble Friend; and be trusted that it would eventually lead to other Amendments in the ritual, which the altered circumstances of the country, in the opinion of many persons, imperatively called for. Whatever might be done in that respect, however, he hoped that the present Motion would be agreed to, and that Her Majesty's advisers would take care, not only that the Proclamation which was made at the commencement of a new reign and these services should be expunged from the Prayer-book, but that the Acts of Parliament on which these special services were founded should be repealed. These services had been performed for many years, under the Act and without any Proclamation—in point of fact it was only at the commencement of the reign of George I. that the Proclamation was first issued. It would be necessary to repeal the Act, for it was laid down in Burn's Ecclesiastical Law that a clergyman might be compelled to perform these services, not by virtue of the Proclamation, but by the Act. On the 6th of May, in introducing his Motion to the House, he brought before their Lordships some extraordinary instances of repetitions occurring in the course of particular services; but the most extraordinary repetition that ever he had heard occurred on the Third Sunday after Trinity, which happened to fall on the 20th of June, the day of Her Majesty's Accession. On that occasion the Sovereign was prayed for six times during the Morning Service, the principal burden of one of the Collects being that Her Majesty might be defended from the machinations of her subjects. He did not think that it could be contended that such a service was particularly appropriate to the times in which we lived.


said, he was not at all surprised that the noble Lord who had just addressed the House was willing to accept this Motion as an instalment of the larger reform which he had in view; but he conceived that there was the greatest difference between the proposition made by the noble Lord (Lord Ebury) some time ago and that which had just been submitted by the noble Earl. As it appeared to be the wish of their Lordships that the debate upon the 6th of May should not be protracted, many of those who desired to express their sentiments upon that occasion were unable to do so; and a sort of impression seemed to have got abroad that many of their Lordships were precluded by fear of consequences from uttering the opinions they felt—that many of them were afraid of the slightest change in the services of the Church, because they felt that they were living in a house that was somewhat tottering, and that to begin to alter it in any way might bring it altogether to the ground. For his own part, he was glad to have the opportunity of stating that he opposed the proposition of the noble Lord (Lord Ebury) from no motives of that kind. He believed the strength of the Church of England to consist in its ability to adapt itself to the wants of the age in which we lived; and if he could have been convinced that the noble Lord's proposition was required by the wants of the age, he should not have hesitated to give his assent to it. The proposal which had been made that evening, however, differed entirely from that which had been made by the noble Lord who had just sat down. It was impossible to enter upon the revision of the Liturgy, which the noble Baron advocated, without touching on many most important points of doctrine. Some expression was given upon the occasion of the noble Baron's Motion to the sentiment that it was a sad thing that there were so many persons in the Church of England holding different opinions, and that great difficulties might be created by talking about these differences; but he objected to that proposal of the noble Baron's upon another ground altogether. On the contrary, he believed it to be the safeguard of the Church of England, that it had from the very first included within its pale persons of very different religious sentiments, who yet could all concur in the great fundamental principles of our religion; and he felt assured that such a revision as the noble Lord proposed was to be deprecated, because it would lead one party to expect, that by stereotyping their own opinions, they might get rid of the opinions of others whom it was equally desirable to retain in the Church with themselves. But the present Motion affected no point of doctrine whatsoever. Again, the noble Baron wished that the services should be curtailed, in order that they might be more suited to the wants of the age; and he had just spoken of a very long service which might have been heard in our churches on the Sunday before last. But who, he asked, was the cause of these services being so very long? There were three services of the Church of England used every Sunday morning—the Morning Prayer, the Litany, and the Communion Service. In several of our cathedrals these three services were separate, and, there could be no doubt that at a certain period of the Church's history, subsequent to the Reformation, they had been separate. This, he thought, was proved in a work recently published by a distinguished prelate of the American Episcopal Church, who also showed that it required the injunction of an Archbishop to secure the union of these services. He believed that it was the opinion of all the Bishops on the bench that they Lad full power to authorize the separation of these services to-morrow if it were desired. If so, a clergyman had only to apply to the Bishop of his diocese, and he might order the services to be separated at once. Why was not this done by the clergy? He believed it was because no single clergyman could attempt to do it without immediately raising a storm among the laity of his parish. He believed, therefore, that it was the opinion of all who had thoroughly looked into the matter, that if the services were too long the laity might thank themselves for it. Under these circumstances, he could not conceive that it would be necessary to pass a measure through this and the other House of Parliament to do that which might be done without any difficulty by authority already existing. He had therefore opposed the noble Baron's Motion as unnecessary. He had thought it inexpedient to legislate with the view of altering doctrine and unnecessary to legislate, with the view of making the services shorter. But it might be said with regard to the Motion immediately under discussion, that it also must be unnecessary, because it was only in solitary instances, like that of Sunday week, that any person could remember to have heard these State services read. But he (the Bishop of London) had heard them very often indeed, and he contended that they were read just in the places and at the times when it was least desirable that they should be read. They were read, for example, in all our college chapels; and he put it to the House whether in the chapels which were attached to the great places of education these services ought not to cease. Greatly as he regretted that the congregations in cathedrals were not large at other times, if their Lordships went there on the occasions when the State services were used they would find the congregations diminished almost to those who were hired to attend in an official capacity. So strong, in fact, was the feeling that the services were unsuitable to the age in which we lived, that he must say it was desirable to get rid of them. But it was said that they could get rid of them without the proposition of the noble Earl—that they were binding merely by Royal Proclamation, and Royal Proclamations had no force in law, so that in this way also the noble Earl's proposition was unnecessary. But, if that were the case, what was the position in which they placed the Sovereign of these realms? The Sovereign, at the beginning of every reign, was called upon to issue a Proclamation which had no force in law. He denied that Royal Proclamations had no force in law; but if it were so, it would be a reason for adopting this Motion. Then it was said these services were not binding and could not be binding, because they were contrary to the Act of Uniformity. It was said, "Let clergymen use their own discretion and obey the Act of Uniformity to the neglect of the Proclamation." But was it desirable that the Sovereign, at the beginning of every reign, should issue a Proclamation which a large proportion of the people believed to be against the Act of Uniformity. Again, it was urged the services had no authority, because they were not sanctioned by Convocation. And, therefore, on this ground, the noble Earl's proposition was unnecessary. If there was any force in this view, was it desirable that the Proclamation should continue to appear in the Prayer-books, and thus represent the Queen, who at all events they all regarded, for some purposes, as the head of the Church, as acting against that body. He should, if a vote were required, give his vote with the noble Earl. He was glad that he should do so under the sanction of the most reverend Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury), for he believed the statement which the most reverend Prelate had made would carry the greatest weight throughout the kingdom. It was not to be desired that they should keep up in the most solemn services of the Church expressions which they read with a smile in the sermons of South, written amid the agitations of his time. It was not desirable that when they approached God in prayer one word should drop from their lips likely to call up feelings of indignation in the breasts of their fellow-countrymen. Did any one suppose they would be less good Protestants if they did not use the Fifth of November service? If anything could shake their Protestantism, it would be the use of expressions which represented a large body as holding opinions which those persons positively disavowed. And with regard to the other services, was any pity for the unfortunate Charles likely to be called up by the use of the service for the 30th of January? Persons who heard an exaggerated statement were prone to take the opposite side, and the staunchest Royalist would be inclined to become Parliamentarian when he heard that service read. He begged their Lordships to consider that this question was really one of great gravity. It was a question which he thought involved a great evil. Was it desirable that the Church of England should exhibit itself, even in appearance, as retaining empty forms—for these services had become mere empty forms? It was desirable that the forms of devotion should express their heartfelt feelings, and none would regret the absence of these services, least of all those who had been peculiarly privileged to hear them,—namely, the young men in the Universities and those connected with cathedrals.


said, that while admitting that the opinions expressed by the Right rev. Prelate, and the noble Earl who had introduced the Motion to the House were entitled to the utmost weight and consideration, he was, nevertheless, sufficiently old-fashioned to regret, in some degree, that the Motion had been brought before their Lordships. It was perfectly true, and could not be denied, that these services could not be altogether defended, as far as their expressions were concerned. Such expressions as those drawing a parallel between Charles I. and our blessed Saviour ought certainly not to have a place in the Liturgy of the Church of England, and there were expressions connected with the service for the 5th of November which were inconsistent, he believed he might say, with those views that were now entertained with regard to Roman Catholics in this country, But he would certainly have wished to have seen the Motion before their Lordships modified in some way—such as that the Crown should be requested to substitute for these services others of a less objectionable character and of a different tone. It was a matter for them to dwell upon, he thought, with thankfulness, that the laws of this country exhibited features that were not to be found in those of any other country—that its laws and services displayed a reference to the Providence of God. This was a matter for unfeigned thankfulness, inasmuch as these services were not to be looked upon solely for the words in which they were conveyed, but as being a national recognition on the part of this nation of acts of providential and signal deliverance, which called for our unceasing thankfulness to the Almighty God and as enduring memorials of events that ought to be perpetuated in the recollection of the nation. The noble Lord, in speaking of the authority on which these services were based, said they did not owe their place in the Prayer-book to any act of Convocation, nor could he even connect them with Acts of Parliament; but he stated that they simply owed their place to Royal authority. This was perfectly true as to the services themselves, and though the Acts of Parliament might not have enacted these special services, still they enacted that the great events of which they were memorials should be held in perpetual and continual remembrance; in the words of one Act "throughout all generations," and of another, "throughout all time." He was of opinion that these things ought to be kept in national remembrance; and that the proposed Motion of his noble Friend ought to be so far modified as not to sweep away altogether those services to which no reasonable man could object, and that a suitable memorial of these events should still have a place in the services of the Church. The noble Earl had based one part of his argument upon the great antiquity of these services. They appeared to be of antiquity, and of distant date; but, comparing them with other circumstances and events, they really were not so remote. It was possible for a man who was now ninety years of age that his father to have seen a man who was present at the execution of Charles I.: so that these events were not in reality so remote; and we should remember that events in the life of nations, as compared with the life of individuals, established a very different standard when compared with the events of national life which formed the epochs of history. The noble Earl had stated that these services ought to be discontinued on the ground of the objectionableness of some of their expressions; but to admit that argument was to admit that the entire services of the Church ought to be modified and remodelled. His noble Friend said, be hailed this measure as another stepping- stone to a further alteration in the Liturgy of the Church. Now, that was the Chief ground on which he (the Duke of Marlborough) asked their Lordships to pause and hesitate before they agreed to a measure of this moment. Where should we not find some dissentients to the expressions contained in the Liturgy? He would take the Athanasian creed, for instance, and he was bound to say that they would find throughout the country thousands on thousands of zealous and enthusiastic members of the Church of England who would cut off their right hand sooner than say they agreed with expressions that were used in the Athanasian creed. It was true that these services were in a great part inoperative: but he thought there was a great advantage in sometimes not pressing logic too far. It was true these services did remain in our Prayer-book, and there was some advantage in that, because if they went in the other direction, and addressed the Sovereign, and requested her to remove these services from the Prayer-book, they placed a definite stamp of denial on the memorials of these events; whereas, if they were allowed to be as they wore, practically inoperative, there might be some inconsistency connected with it, but we should not run into that palpably illogical state in which we allowed an incongruity to exist; or if we removed them altogether from the Prayer-book we ran into the opposite extreme of appearing to deny the acknowledgment of those signal deliverances in connection with great national events.


said, the noble Duke had anticipated his objections to the Motion. He would not enter into the historical part of the question, but would admit that these services had emanated from the Crown, and that their continuance had been ordered by the Proclamations of successive monarchs. He considered that the question involved really was, whether they should or should not acknowledge and adore the superintending power of the Almighty in the blessings which we enjoyed as a nation, and whether we should discontinue certain acts of national humiliation for the sins and transgressions of our forefathers. In early days, and when lads at the Universities, we probably thought those services a bore; but in after life we consider the nature and origin of those services, by whom they were appointed and for whose use they are intended, form a different opinion, of them and see the urgency. He did not defend all the expressions contained in these services, nor would he assert that they might not be modified and improved. They were, however, in his opinion, services which a pious and devout man might offer to his Maker without any scruples whatever. Their Lordships were now asked to deal with memorials and records of the most important events in our history. The first service referred to the Gunpowder Plot of the 5th of November, and was the overruling power of Divine Providence, as evinced in regard to that event, a blessing to be forgotten? The next was the service in commemoration of the death of Charles I., who sacrificed his life in his attachment to the Church of England, and who was therefore called "The Martyr." The third service related to the Restoration, and was there anything unreasonable in thanking God that the nation was restored to the state in which it was previous to the Great Rebellion? Since these events the nation had continued in all its leading features the same—the principles of the Church and the State were, essentially unaltered, and he thought that their Lordships ought not to disclaim the blessings we had so long enjoyed, and the Providence to which we owed them, by asking Her Majesty to remove those services from the Book of Common Prayer. He did not see how they could ask Her Majesty to retain the service for her own accession, and to abolish those which had reference to those providential events which prepared the way for her family ascending the throne. Some alterations might perhaps he properly introduced into these services, which, instead of being obsolete, were full of vigour and power. It appeared to him that to expunge these services would be to disclaim, in some measure, the providence of God in past times, and to the gratitude which we ought to feel for the benefits he had through those events conferred upon us. He trusted their Lordships would reject the Motion of the noble Earl, and not consent to expunge the special services from the Book of Common Prayer.


said, he was sure that not only he, but every Member of their Lordships' House, and the right reverend Prelate who had just spoken, would at once refuse to entertain this Motion if they thought that by so doing they in any degree whatever were denying or los- ing sight of, or were ashamed of owning, their continued belief in God's superintending providence over this nation, or were unmindful of any remembrance of his mercies to them in times past, or of humiliation for national sins in times long gone by. He could not, however, consent to the proposition that had been laid down by his right rev. Friend, and therefore thought no such consequence ought to follow. There were two points of view involved in the question whether or not we should retain these services. The first was, whether it was right to retain special services for past events like these, even if the services were such as we could thoroughly approve of; but the other and practical question was, whether we could approve these services as being proper exponents of our national gratitude and national humiliation. He was of opinion that they were not, and he could not accept these services as being fit and proper exponents of national gratitude and national humiliation for mercies conferred. They seemed to him to be in an entirely different tone from any of the prayers of the Church of England. They were, in his opinion, far too political, far too polemical, for too epigrammatical. They had nothing, as it seemed to him, of that chastened devotion which the Liturgy of the Church of England had derived in the earliest times of the Christian Church. His right rev. Friend (the Bishop of Bangor) said they might be amended; but he (the Bishop of Oxford) ventured to think they could not be amended. They might make a new service if they thought proper, but he thought very few of their Lordships or his right rev. Friends would single out these particular events now as fitting subjects on which to frame new services of thanksgiving—in dealing with the question as a whole, which he held to be indispensable to dealing with it at all. He would ask his right rev. Friend whether the total discontinuance of these services could be nearer to a forgetfulness or public disavowal of thankfulness for past mercies than the state in which we were with regard to these services; namely, that now, although they stood prescribed for popular use, they had nevertheless sunk into disuse, so that in fact it almost looked as if we were tired of thanking God, or tired of humbling ourselves before Him. As the law stood the services were directed to be used, and the plain and conscientious dealing with the matter was to say at once that these services which we me now discussing are not, in our judgment, fit and proper exponents for existing national sensations and sentiments on these subjects, and therefore we propose to address the Queen to remove them. It had been suggested that these Acts of Parliament ought to be repealed, and not that the services promulgated by Proclamation should be withdrawn. He (the Bishop of Oxford) confessed he could not agree with that. He thought these old Acts, which in point of fact were obsolete, ought to remain on our statute books as testimonies to the history of past times, and as records of national gratitude. The Acts of Parliament did not prescribe the use of these services; if they did, the question would be different; but they simply prescribed that the days were to be held in remembrance. One distinctly said that morning prayer should be used, and another that such and such services should be used, not saying what specific service—it might be the ordinary service of the day. He entirely agreed with his right rev. Friend (the Bishop of Bangor) in his view of the identity of the nation and the connection of events; and he thought with him that they ought not to forget past national sins, any more than past national deliverances;—but we had many expressions in our ordinary service which did directly embody and develope this great truth. When we said, "Remember not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers, neither take thou vengeance of our sins," we rightly and duly joined ourselves to those who joined in prayer for mercies conferred, acknowledging God's goodness as developed in those mercies to those who had gone before us, and acknowledging our sins in the sins of those who preceded us. In doing that we did right; but we should do very wrong if we did not do what in us lay to remove expressions of gratitude that the people of this day could not use sincerely, and expressive of humiliation before God that at this day people, looking to Him as the heart-searcher, could not truly feel. He therefore agreed that it would be well for the House to address Her Majesty to remove these three services from being annexed, as they now were, in the Book of Common Prayer. It was of great importance, however, to distinctly understand that there was in this no alteration meditated in the Book of Common Prayer. This was a great point—it was of the greatest importance that this shonld be understood—because time consciences of many of the clergy who had subscribed to the Book of Common Prayer as by law established, would be hurt if they thought any alteration were intended; and he thought it further desirable not to introduce any precedent in that direction; because, so far from regarding this as an instalment of any large measure, he thought it was a step that would make the Motion less likely to succeed. He objected altogether to any alteration in the Book of Common Prayer and the Liturgy of the Church of England. He felt it was one of the most blessed birthrights that God had given to us in this land, the Book of Common Prayer, according to the Reformed Church of England, and he did not believe that the present time was in any degree favourable to its amendment or to the admission of alteration in its pages. The formation of these liturgies had been a work from the earliest times of the Christian Church. We inherited in the Book of Common Prayer the earliest liturgies of the Christian Church, freed from the superstitions and abuses of modern times. It required men that had studied deep, so to speak, the science of the construction of our liturgical service, in venturing to attempt any modification or amendment; and so far from believing that a Commission or any other plan would greatly benefit the Book of Common Prayer, he should receive with the greatest fear any attempt to introduce what were called modifications, amendments, or improvements. He thought there was great danger, indeed, of changing that which religion had given to custom, and we should never forget the wisdom of the old canon, laid down by one of the greatest fathers of the Latin Church, St. Augustine, in which he distinctly said, "Consuetudinis mutatio etiam quæ utilitate adjuvat novitate perturbat." There was deep truth in that. It would be inexpedient to alter what the people had been accustomed to in their solemn devotions before God. By removing the services in question, they would not touch the Book of Common Prayer, seeing that they were merely annexed to it, and if they were removed, that Book would remain in its integrity time same. But there was one part of the Motion of his noble Friend about which be had ventured to speak to him, and also to his venerable Friend the Primate, and with respect to which, with the approval of their Lordships, he wished to suggest an alteration in the Address. It was that part of it which dealt with the service for the anniversary of the Accession of the Sovereign. He was content to leave that service as it was, with that amount of authority which its being annexed to the Prayer-book might give it; but he thought their Lordships ought to pause before they took any step which might give any new authority to it. He should be sorry to see a Proclamation enjoining its use, unless the service was really intended to be used. He thought no such service should be added unless it had authority. This had no authority. The other State services were prepared by Convocation and sanctioned by the Crown, which gave them an ecclesiastical use. They were made in answer to an Act of Parliament, and the Act of Parliament overshadowed them; but the Accession service had no such authority. It was agreed to by Convocation in the reign of Charles II., and an Act of Parliament afterwards provided that the doings of that Convocation should have no validity whatever, and that the clergy should pay no regard to them. That was the only ecclesiastical authority for the service for the Accession, and it therefore stood of a far weaker authority than any of the other State services. But the great moral arguments against the other services were lacking here. He thought it was exceedingly desirable that there should be a service of Prayer and Thanksgiving for the reigning Sovereign, for whatever had a tendency to unite our loyal feelings to the Throne with our religious feelings to God was a blessing to the nation; and as they knew that He heard and answered prayer, he believed such a service would draw down a blessing upon the throne of the Sovereign. But it ought to be a service which they felt to be perfectly fit for the occasion, and should be used uniformly in the churches of the land. He should like to see a short addition to the ordinary service to be used on the Sunday nearest to the Accession of the reigning monarch. But he thought at present it would be well not to mention the Accession service at all; but to leave it just as it was, not asking Her Majesty either to enforce or withdraw it. They might, however, pray Her Majesty to give such orders as to Her should seem fit that the three other services should not be annexed to the Book of Common Prayer. He was not prepared to ask Her Majesty to order that which he believed, on the authority of great lawyers, could not be enforced, because it would be a violation of the Act of Uniformity; and their Lordships well knew that there was nothing in the realm of England which allowed the Sovereign to violate any Act of Parliament to which the Sovereign and the Parliament had given their assent. The best lawyers had told him that any clergyman using that particular service might be proceeded against for penalties under the Act of Uniformity. He would, therefore, with the concurrence of his noble Friend (Earl Stanhope), leave the service for the Accession on its present footing; and he should then rejoice to see the Motion of his noble Friend agreed to, because he thought it would remove from the Book of Common Prayer addresses to Almighty God, the tone of which was not such as humble, pious, and devout men, removed from the strife of party, would desire to see given to the nation as the vehicle of supplication or the instrument of thanksgiving.


briefly supported the Motion. The services in question, he said, had fallen into general disuse. He had been for half a century a clergyman of the Church of England, and he believed he had not heard those services ten times in his life. He asked why services which had fallen into such desuetude that the people at large were not acquainted with them should still be bound up along with the Book of Common Prayer? For the very reason that he had objected to the recent Motion of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Ebury) he gave his support to that of the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope). The noble Lord (Lord Ebury) could not bring forward any authority which could warrant the changes lie proposed to make in the Liturgy. He (the Bishop of Cashel) held in the highest esteem the admirable formularies of the Church; and he contended that, with the exception of the Convocation of the United Churches of England and Ireland, there was no authority which had the power to alter or improve any of its services.


expressed his satisfaction at the manner in which the Motion had been received by their Lordships especially by so large a proportion of the right rev. Prelates. He believed the change now proposed would render the Prayer Book still dearer to the members of the United Churches of England and Ireland. Their Lordships were now asked to agree to do formally that which for so many years had been done informally. There was another thing wanting to com- plete the object which his noble Friend (Earl Stanhope) had in view. Their Lordships were aware that the daily prayers in that House included words relating to the Gunpowder Plot. He had spoken to several of the right rev. Prelates on the subject, and no one was able to tell him how the words got into the service, or how to get them out. He trusted they would consider some means by which the services might be relieved from those words.


said, he must not only decline to give his concurrence to the Motion, but must in the strongest manner enter his protest against it; because, though there were some defects which were open to remedy in the particular services which formed the subject of the noble Earl's Motion, he could not think that their Lordships ought to consent to a total expulsion of those national recognitions of great and important events in which the Almighty had manifested his mercy and favour to this nation by vouchsafing to it blessings which we still enjoyed. He admitted that there were errors in some portions of the appendix to our Book of Common Prayer; but he believed that the total expulsion of that appendix would be an error of another and a much more serious kind. Certainly it was a proceeding he could not but protest against and deplore. No doubt there were expressions in the Fifth of November service which were not acceptable to the views and feelings of the present day:—but modification was one thing and total expulsion another. These had been his opinions on the subject before the debate on the Motion commenced, and he was justified in them by what had fallen from that right rev, and venerable Prelate (the Bishop of Bangor), who had had a very long experience in the Church, and who, it was not too much even in his presence to say, was one of the brightest ornaments of the episcopal bench.


hoped the House would assent to the Motion for an Address to the Crown, and, adverting to the prayer by which their Lordships' proceedings were daily prefaced, took occasion to state that, if nobody else would undertake that duty, he should feel called upon to move the appointment of a Committee to inquire whether it was not expedient that that portion of the prayer which contained the expression of their gratitude for being delivered from the Popish Plot should be omitted.


said, he did not rise to oppose the Motion of his noble Friend, but he must say that he did not think his noble Friend had taken the best course to obtain that which the majority of their Lordships seemed to think he ought to obtain. His right rev. Friend (the Bishop of Oxford), who spoke on this question with that ability which characterised all his addresses in their Lordships' House, had said that the Acts of Parliament which gave rise to these Proclamations should not be repealed, but should be allowed to remain on the statute-books as memorials of the times to which they referred, and as evidences of the feelings by which the people of this country were then animated. These Acts gave origin to the Proclamation which had been issued, reign after reign, and to which objections were now taken. Now, if the Proclamations which those Acts of Parliament had produced, and produced day after day were objectionable, he (the Earl of Malmesbury) could not see on what logical ground the Acts themselves were to be kept on the statute book; he could not understand why they were to maintain the cause and abolish the effect. He thought that, having the abolition of those Proclamations in view, his noble Friend instead of praying Her Majesty to withdraw the Proclamation, ought to have asked their Lordships to repeal those statutes. If he had brought in a Bill for that purpose, and such Bill passed both Houses of Parliament, the Proclamations would fall to the ground. His noble Friend would, moreover, have strengthened Her Majesty's hand by giving the other House of Parliament an opportunity of expressing its opinion with regard to the question. As it was their Lordships' Address would, of course, go up to Her Majesty as the Address of one branch of the Legislature, the House of Commons not having been heard in the matter at all. He did not, however, wish to oppose the Motion. As the matter introduced by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Campbell) was quite a distinct question from that at present before their Lordships, he should not waste the time of the House by making any observations in reference to the noble and learned Lord's suggestion.


said, he felt called upon to express his deep re- gret that the Motion of the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) had been submitted to the House. He, for one, could not record his vote in its favour.


said, he should be sorry to see that alteration made in the prayer recited in their Lordships' House which the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cranworth) proposed. It could not justly be contended that the prayer, in its present shape, was too long, or that the terms in which it was framed were uncharitable. All their Lordships did in repeating those words, in a place representing that in which that great crime contemplated in the Popish plot was about to be committed, was to return thanks to the Almighty, by whom their predecessors had been delivered from a great danger, to acknowledge His goodness, and to express their trust that He would ever continue their Merciful Saviour.


said, he did not think that the objection which he had ventured to take to the public service of the Fifth of November applied to the thanksgiving for the deliverance from the Gunpowder Plot, which was a part of the prayer offered up in their Lordships' House each day that their Lordships met.

Motion, amended on the suggestion of the Bishop of OXFORD, as follows:— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into Her Royal Consideration the Proclamation of the First Year of Her Majesty's Reign, commanding the use of the Forms of Prayer and Service made for the Fifth of November, the Thirtieth of January, and the Twenty-ninth of May; and, should Her Majesty see fit, to give such orders as to Her Majesty shall seem meet to cause that the said Services shall no longer be annexed to the Book of Common Prayer and Liturgy of the United Church of England and Ireland to be used yearly on the said Days. put, and agreed to.

Address Ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with white staves.

House Adjourned at a Quarter to Nine o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.