§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2 a."—(The Archbishop of Canterbury.)
THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, as there has been a good deal of misapprehension and unintentional misrepresentation on the subject of this Bill, I am very anxious that your Lordships should give it that dispassionate consideration which you are always disposed to give to any measure which may come before you, in order that it may be judged solely on the merits and not on those comments which have appeared in the public Press for some time past: and I crave the indulgence of your Lordships that I may correct many unintentional misrepresentations which have been made upon the subject. The Petitions which have been laid on the Table do not tend to show that the feeling of the country has been correctly represented in the Articles to which I refer. I might, if I chose, select cases of hardship and 3 grievance to the laity; but I do not think I ought to weary your Lordships by entering into details on this point after the facts stated on Friday evening by the most rev. Primate, in reply to a Question which, I think, was inconsiderately put to him. The answer given by the most rev. Primate was to this effect—that the clergy being bound by the Articles of their ordination to follow the doctrines of the Book of Common Prayer, and none other—except so far as law and authority might order—a considerable number of them use, in silence, prayers which are not to be found in that Book, and which convey doctrines it does not contain. It is clear that the extracts read by the most rev. Primate are not in conformity with the doctrines in the Book of Common Prayer. I hold in my hand now a little publication entitled The Penny Liturgy, which purports to contain "the Service for Holy Communion, with Preparation, Thanksgiving, and other Prayers." It seems, at first sight, to be a copy of the Communion Service of the Church, with additional prayers in the same tone; but, on examining the book, I find in it passages utterly at variance with anything which the Communion Service in the Book of Common Prayer contains—Accept, O holy Trinity, one God, the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which I desire to offer thee this day in union with the sacrifice which he offered once for all upon the cross, and now presents in heaven. Receive it (1) to the praise and glory of thy holy name; (2) in memory of the death and passion of our Saviour Christ; and (3) in thanksgiving for all thy benefits, especially ……. grant also (4) unto me, a sinner, pardon of all my sins, especially …. and grace to obtain all virtues, especially …. and (5) unto all thy faithful, living and departed, especially ……. the graces that they need. Lastly, I desire to offer it for (6) …. [here name your special intention] I beseech thee to accept this sacrifice, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.There are other passages which are almost too solemn to read here; but the passage which I have just quoted, and the altar cards quoted by my most rev. Brother on Friday, are sufficient to show that some of the clergy use prayers drawn up in a very different spirit from that to be found in the doctrines contained in the Book of Common Prayer. I shall not multiply particular instances; but I may refer to a case which came within my own knowledge. About a 4 year ago a question arose about the consecration of a church in the diocese of Winchester. The late Bishop of Winchester found that there was in that church a second communion table, which was to be called the "Altar of the Virgin." That lamented Prelate stated that unless this communion table were removed, he would not consecrate the church. The church was consecrated on the condition of its removal. The Bishop has since died; but the altar which should have been removed stands there fixed and firm, with the words, "Pray for us," sculptured upon it, so that all in the church may read. It is there, and will remain so, I presume, till some power interposes to remove it. My Lords, we, the Bishops, know that there exists in the minds of the laity deep dissatisfaction. We are not able to give them redress, but we are obliged to listen to complaints which, I assure your Lordships, are very numerous. It is admitted on all hands that the Bishops are powerless to check the things complained of, and each incumbent being master of the situation, he may set the Bishop and the laity at defiance if he be disposed to do so. It is not upon isolated cases that we rely; but still the cases in which this is done are not so numerous, considering the hundreds and thousands of faithful clergy to whom we can point, as may be supposed; but those exceptional cases are sufficiently numerous to be a cause of grievous irritation, and they are increasing in number, and no one can tell how far they may go. It is this sense which creates the irritation that prevails, and which renders it necessary that a speedy remedy should be provided for the evil. It may be said, and it will be said, that there are remedies already in our hands, and we have nothing to do but use them. We may be told that we have nothing to do but refer the case to our Chancellor, and then take it to the Court of the Province and have it heard on its merits, and we may thence carry it back to the Court of Appeal—being, in the whole, five hearings. We are told that we have thus a remedy in the Ecclesiastical Courts, and that if we adopt the remedy the thing is done. Now, my Lords, not to speak of the delay caused by sending a case from one ecclesiastical tribunal to another and then sending it back again, let us see what are the costs incurred in the 5 Ecclesiastical Courts. I shall take only three cases by way of illustration. In the case of "Martin v. Mackonochie" the costs were £1,991 4s. 4d. in the Court below; and in the Privy Council £1,486 11s. 7d.; but the sentence not having been obeyed, further steps were taken to enforce it, and the cost of obtaining an order to enforce the original sentence was £1,459 5s. 3d. In the case of "Elphinstone (afterwards Hebbert) v. Purchas" the costs in the Court below were £1,389, and those in the Privy Council £2,510. I may observe that of the costs in this case not a single farthing was ever recovered by the promoter. The third case was that of "Sheppard v. Phillimore and Bennett," and the costs were £2,735 1s. There were two appeals, and in the case and the two appeals the costs were respectively £296 1s. 8d., £420 5s. 2d., and £1,573 3s. 2d. So much for costs; and I think your Lordships will agree with me that such costs prevent anything like a steady and consistent administration of a diocese. It is impossible that costs like these could be incurred in five or six different cases, and I do not say more would be likely to arise in a diocese. Something has been said about counsel's fees. I find that in "Martin v. Mackonochie" they amounted to £2,783 11s.; in "Hebbert v. Purchas" to £1,962; and in "Sheppard v. Bennett" to £5,023 10d. Now as to time. In "Hebbert v. Purchas" the offence was in 1868 and 1869, and a final decree was not obtained until December, 1871. There were four hearings, and nearly four years were spent in Court. In the case of "Sheppard v. Bennett" the offence was charged in 1868; there was a second appeal, which was not heard till June, 1872, or nearly four years after the offence was charged. In all, there were five hearings. In the case of "Martin v. Mackonochie," also, there were five hearings. The offence was charged in 1866; but it was not till 1870, or four years after, the last order was made. In these cases there were two separate motions to enforce obedience. Far be it from me to say that the most extended time should not be given for the hearing of a cause in which the life or reputation of a fellow creature is at stake; but your Lordships will remember that in these causes the proceedings were in the main to enforce 6 what the Court of Appeal had decided to be right. I would ask your Lordships to bear in mind that in this Bill we are not endeavouring to find what punishment can be inflicted for any of the offences with which it is proposed to deal. I should regret very much if any of them were ever treated as criminal offences. We are in this Bill trying to divest them as much as possible of any such character—we are endeavouring to prevent the doing of that which should not be done, and to re-assert the established doctrine, that certain things are not to be done at the pleasure of the incumbent, but only in accordance with the decision of the Bishop and his Court. If a case has not been made out for our action in this matter, I am afraid that nothing which I can say will establish one, and therefore I shall leave that part of the case. Coming to another part of it, my Lords, I may observe, it appears from what has passed here and in the other House that the relations between this measure and the Convocation of Canterbury are rather delicate. I have the greatest respect for Convocation and shall always be found ready to defend its privileges; but the request to have a Bill introduced in Parliament laid before Convocation to be discussed, clause by clause, is an entirely modern claim. It is not in accordance with the constitution and the history of Convocation. Will it be contended that all great measures affecting the Church have been laid before Convocation in this way? Of all the important measures in the Statute Book I remember but very few in which Convocation was consulted at all. The great Act of Uniformity was brought under the notice of the Convocation of the Southern Province, but the Convocation of the Northern Province was not allowed to consider it at all. And I cannot help remembering that last year when the Judicature Bill was before Parliament, although that Bill contained a provision changing altogether the tribunal of ultimate appeal in ecclesiastical cases, it passed without any intimation here or any suggestion in Convocation that it ought to be sent to Convocation for its consideration and examination. I will not use an expression in reference to that Bill which has been applied with respect to this, and say it was passed with "indecent haste;" but it did pass rapidly, and 7 that without any such intimation from any quarter as to that to which I have just referred.
Now, coming to the Bill before your Lordships, I say that in its leading principles it is very much what the Lower House of Convocation recommended in 1869. The Report condemned the Clergy Discipline Act on, among other grounds, the ground that it superadded a preliminary inquiry. As to the form in which proceedings should be instituted, I think the only points of disagreement are that by the Bill as it now stands one parishioner may move, whereas the Report recommended three, and that he may hold property and not be resident, and that he may be a Churchman only and not a communicant. I am afraid the test of being a communicant is one that cannot be adopted for reasons that will appear in course of the debate. But in other respects we have substantially adopted the recommendations in that portion of the Report. As regards the Court, the Report recommended that the Bishop should sit in his own Court. We have surrounded him with assessors, but if the constitution of the Court is not satisfactory we are prepared to alter it, if necessary. Objection is now taken to the powers which, it is said, the Bill will give the Bishops. My Lords, it is curious that when the Sees are far off we display great anxiety for an increase of the episcopacy and are very anxious for episcopal supervision and the upholding of episcopal authority; but when a Bishop comes within our view, and his diocese is nearer, our ideas on that subject appear to undergo a change. How far this may be the case in the Province of Canterbury I am not prepared to say. When we drew the Bill we had the opinion of the Convocation of Canterbury, given in 1869, before us. I wish we had the opinion of the Convocation of York; but it would have been impossible for me to obtain that opinion before the month of May. What course may hereafter be taken will depend upon the events of to-night. As I have already observed to your Lordships, when we were preparing the measure we did not seek to punish any one for what he had done. We took every care to divest of even the appearance of a penal proceeding the action to be taken against clergymen who have been acting according to 8 their conscientious convictions; but we did wish to re-assert that the Bishop in his Court, and not the incumbent acting according to caprice or to his discretion, was to be the exponent of the law of the Church in the matters treated of in this Bill. In the Preface of the Book of Common Prayer and in the Table of Lessons Act—a statute of so recent a date as 1871—the jurisdiction of the Ordinary in all such matters is distinctly recognized. In the part of the Book of Common Prayer entitled "Concerning the Service of the Church," it is among other things provided—Forasmuch as nothing can be so plainly set forth, but doubts may arise in the use and practice of, the same; to appease all such diversity (if any arise) and for the resolution of all doubts, concerning the manner how to understand, do, and execute the things contained in this Book; the parties that so doubt, or diversely take anything, shall always resort to the Bishop of the Diocese, who by his discretion shall take order for the quieting and appeasing of the same; so that the same order be not contrary to anything contained in this Book. And if the Bishop of the Diocese be in doubt, then he may send for the resolution thereof to the Archbishop.If there are in your Lordships' House any persons who think it desirable that the incumbents of parishes should be possessed—I will not say of independent power, but of unlimited and arbitrary power—now is the time for him to record that opinion. On the other hand, if your Lordships are of opinion that the Church of England, while recognizing, as she always has recognized, the independence of the incumbent as the pastor of his parish, lays down that he should be subject to those laws and regulations of which the Bishop is the exponent, then I ask you to vote for this Bill, because that is the principle affirmed in its various clauses. But, my Lords, if you find that there is any truth in the allegation that through this Bill the Bishops are seeking an addition to their power with the view of rendering it arbitrary, your Lordships will, of course, vote against the measure. I can assure your Lordships that if you can devise any means better calculated to allay irritation which is dangerous to the existence of the Church Establishment we are ready to co-operate with you and to adopt your Amendments so far as they are consistent with the principles of the Bill. I do not understand how it can be said that this is a penal measure. I speak under the correction of those 9 learned in the law when I say that to my mind an application to the Court of Chancery to obtain a perpetual injunction for an infringement of right is in every respect as penal a proceeding as that proposed in this Bill. There is no penalty except as to costs, and that is inevitable. Much has been said about the hardship of subjecting the clergyman to interrogatories; but, my Lords, that principle has been already recognized in the Act 1 & 2 Vict. c. 106, s. 52, which provides that questions concerning non-residence sent to incumbents must be answered, although the replies may subject the incumbent to deprivation. Again, under the present Dean of Arches, the clergyman was allowed to tender himself for examination. That amounted virtually to a rule that he should do so; because, if he did not, an unfavourable inference would thereby be raised. A paper which I have no doubt has been sent to most, if not all, of your Lordships, assigns Fourteen Reasons why your Lordships' House should not assent to this Bill. This is a very remarkable paper. It states that if your Lordships do so "there is very little chance that the House of Commons would pass a measure so obviously beyond its proper sphere and so monstrous in its details." Now, my Lords, let us see some of the allegations made in support of that assertion. As Reason No. 12 there is this statement—Because, by a clause which yet stands in the Bill, it is provided that, contrary to the whole spirit of English law, when a judgment of the proposed Court has been appealed against, its sentence shall nevertheless take effect at once; which puts the clergy as a class in the exceptional position of being liable to be punished as guilty during the time necessary for proving their innocence.I remember that in a prosecution which made considerable noise—that of the Rev. Mr. Voysey—the gentleman proceeded against was subjected to the effects of the decree pending the final appeal, and I never heard of any remonstrance in that case. Again, if I turn to Section 58 of the Judicature Act of last year I find this provision—An appeal shall not operate as a stay of execution, or proceedings under the decision appealed from, except so far as the Court appealed from, or any Judge thereof, or the Court of Appeal, may so order; and no intermediate act or proceeding shall be invalidated except so far as the Court of Appeal may direct.10 I am aware, my Lords, that in the Bill now before your Lordships there are not those qualifying words "except so far as the Court of Appeal may direct;" but if that is regarded as a valuable qualification, no one connected with this Bill will object to it. The clause itself is, however, a vital part of the Bill. And why? You are dealing with a particular class of cases, in which the greatest mischief is done by the continuance of the thing condemned. I have pointed out that Mr. Mackonochie's case lasted three years, during which time that gentleman, no doubt, doing what he thought right, repeated those acts for which he had been brought before the Ecclesiastical Courts. What would be the effect of such a proceeding in a parish church? If the first of these acts offended the worshippers, so did the second and third; and if the practices were continued for three years the original congregation would have dropped away from the church, so that by the time the decree of the Bishop could be enforced it would be of no use to those for whose benefit it was sought—it would be of no use to say that what had been done should not have been done. To prevent any hardship arising from the clause there are two remedies, the first of which is in the clause itself. By the Bill, as introduced by the most rev. Primate, the Bishop may prevent the monition from taking effect pending the appeal; and if it is thought that there may be a danger of his acting unreasonably, power may be given to the Court of Appeal to arrest the judgment. Then as to the mode in which the Bill would operate. As the Bill stands, any one of the persons named might make his application to the Bishop—we are disposed to allow the objection to a single parishioner being entitled to make application by way of complaint to the Bishop. We are prepared to insert "three parishioners," instead of one, and we are also prepared to give the power to one churchwarden. It has been thought that the introduction of any new services should be included in the Bill. There can be no doubt that the law is that the directions of the Prayer Book must be observed—that nothing must be omitted and nothing added. The clause would therefore be made to apply to any new or additional service not directed by authority. I now 11 come to the constitution of the Court, and I hope I may ask for your Lordships' favourable consideration in respect of this part of the Bill. Now as to the construction of the Court to try these cases. The original draft of this Bill was entirely different. We had determined that it should not be said the Court was one set up to give the Bishops undue power, and originally we proposed that the Bishop should be assisted by a Council, one half of which should be clergymen and the other half laymen elected by laymen. I cannot say that this plan of election ever commended itself very much to my mind, because I thought it might lead to great heart-burnings. However, when we took legal opinion upon the question we found it was entirely opposed to the plan. Accordingly we recast this part of the Bill, and we took as our model the existing Court of First Instance—a Court which, though not much used, has been in existence during nearly the whole of the Queen's reign under the Church Discipline Act. We thought we would take it, put it on your Lordships' Table, and have your Lordships' opinion on it. Well, opinions have reached us on all sides, and from the two parties who take an interest in this question we gather that this part of the plan requires modification. The clergy in the Convocation of Canterbury have suggested that the Bishop with his Chancellor, the latter being a lawyer, should constitute the Court to hear the complaint in the first instance. I believe the most rev. Primate is willing to adopt that suggestion. At the outset the Bill gave the Bishop the power on receiving the complaint to exercise his discretion as to sending it to his Court. The reason for this is that we know by experience that frivolous complaints are often made—we know that there is sometimes a disposition to complain of things as illegal which are perfectly legal. We think then that the Bishop ought to have power to refuse to send a complaint before the Court. The Archbishop may send the appeal either to the Court of Appeal of the Province or to the Privy Council. That discretion is, I think, a desirable one. My Lords, as in these cases it often occurs that there is very little doubt of the facts, it has been thought desirable that the Bishops' Court should in the first instance have 12 power to state a case for the Court of Appeal. In this way a case might be sent up for hearing, and argued and decided without the clergyman appearing at all. With the view of making such a provision this Amendment is suggested—The Bishop may, if he think fit, on the application of the person or persons making a representation, or the incumbent, and upon such security for costs being given by the applicant as the Bishop may require, state a case in writing for the opinion of Her Majesty's Court of Appeal, upon any question arising out of the representation, which in the opinion of the Bishop, is a question of law, and such Court shall hear and determine the question or questions of law arising thereon, and any judgment pronounced by the Bishop shall be in conformity with such determination. There shall be no appeal from the judgment of the Bishop upon any question of law so determined by Her Majesty's Court of Appeal.As to the interrogatories to be sent to the clergy, the great object of them is to shorten the inquiry; and as to the monition pending inquiry, it is analogous to the proceeding in Chancery. All Civil Courts have the power of making themselves obeyed—it is only in the Ecclesiastical Courts that one party is permitted to refuse obedience to the judgment of the Court. My Lords, I think we have not had for some time a more important Bill than this brought before your Lordships' House. I believe it is regarded in that light by your Lordships and the country. A Member of the House of Commons has recently said to me, "If you pass this Bill you will win me to vote against disestablishment." My Lords, this question should not be looked on as a squabble between the Bishops and a section of the Church. It ought to be looked on as a vital question affecting the constitution of this country—affecting the existence of the Church of England. Your Lordships are guardians—you claim it—guardians and conservators of all the political and constitutional landmarks of this country, and it is not needful for me, in conclusion, to ask your Lordships to see that the institutions of England shall not suffer from any want of a due appreciation of the matters now under the consideration of your Lordships' House.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
*: My Lords—Having, for four consecutive years, introduced Bills into this House for the reform of the Ecclesiastical Courts, I may, perhaps, be indulged 13 by your Lordships with permission to say a few words on the present occasion. And, in the outset, I will say that I am not prepared to oppose the second reading of the measure before us. When the two Archbishops and the whole of their brethren on the Episcopal Bench declare that we are in a serious crisis of the Church, and that they have a remedy for many of these evils, they have a right to demand our most respectful consideration. That "something must be done," is the cry that, at last, we hear from all quarters. I fully agree, but I maintain that this something cannot be done after the proposed fashion. This is not the way in which it can be done; and if it could be done in this way, it ought not to be so. Now, my Lords, I am speaking of the Bill before your Lordships' House. I could not follow, and I question whether your Lordships could, the alterations and amendments announced by the Archbishop; but most assuredly they did not touch the principal objection to the Bill, the constitution and construction of this new Court; and the Bill, as it now stands, would be, as a remedial measure, no better than waste paper. And, first, I would ask, Why are we to have a new Court? Half the opposition made to this Bill arises from the novelty of the proposition. The old Diocesan Courts, bad as they are, have jurisdiction to correct all breaches of laws ecclesiastical; and they are maintained, moreover, at the cost of between £70,000 and £80,000 a-year, levied by fees and licences, and available for any purpose of improvements in administration and procedure. Next, there is no provision for security that suits shall not be instituted by frivolous, vexatious, and destitute persons. Any one parishioner may promote the Judge's office; and in the Interpretation Clause the definition of parishioner is short and picturesque—"a male of full age." Now, in my Bill, I provided that the laws could be set in motion only on the combined representation of three persons; and to ensure a certain respectability as to position, and to prevent harassing suits, I also provided that the Judge should require security for costs, and, moreover, possess a power of inflicting "costs as between attorney and client." But here we have nothing of the sort—no care that the prosecutor be, either in morals or finance, a fitting person. Yet when, 14 in a former year, I had stated my proposed enactments, a right rev. Prelate called me to task, after a serious fashion, rebuked my neglect to secure morality in my proposed agents, and used unsavoury language, which, although episcopal, my modesty, as a layman, will not allow me to repeat. Now, my Lords, I have a right to say that when a Bishop has censured me for wild and immoral legislation, he ought, himself, to take good care that he is not guilty of the same in any Bill to which he is a party.
Now, though I do not intend to make, or to follow, any Motion against the second reading of the Bill, I may be allowed to say a few words on clauses that I hold to be very objectionable, inasmuch as they contain principles which might be drawn into precedents for further limitation of lay and clerical rights, and introduce various novelties which might afterwards plague their inventors. First, I protest against the constitution of the Courts. It is provided by Clause 10 that it shall be the same as that appointed by the Church Discipline Act of 1840. Well, nothing can be worse, and the Bishops themselves think so, for in thirty-four years they have only in a very few and those exceptional cases, ever had recourse to it. Now, here is the Body—the Bishop, who nominates his own Court; an assessor without any limitation whatever; a barrister of seven years' standing; the dean of his cathedral; or an Archdeacon of his diocese; or his Chancellor, who may be an ecclesiastic; all subject to the Episcopal authority. My Lords, by the Bill that I introduced these glaring objections would have been avoided. I carried—and the Bill as it went down to the House of Commons contained it—a provision that the Bishop of the diocese should send letters of request to the Archbishop of the Province, who, thereupon would send down the Provincial Judge, a barrister of 15 years' standing, who would, on the same principle as an Election Judge, try the case on the spot, securing thereby sound legal decision, with a vast saving of time and expense. But the appointment even of this Court is left to his discretion. Clause 9 says "the Bishop may, if he think fit," do so and so. Now, then, have we advanced a step? The Archbishop promised that the Bishop should have no discretion in the matter, unless he could conscientiously assert 15 that the application was frivolous and vexatious. Again, my Lords, it is highly objectionable that the Bishop should perform two offices in the same suit. A case is brought before him to determine whether it shall be prosecuted or not. He determines in the affirmative; and then passes into an adjoining room, and tries the issue! How can this be right? Is it not as though the foreman of the Grand Jury having found a true bill, should suddenly be seen in the chair of the Quarter Sessions, trying the very case on which he had half pronounced? The temptation is too great, human nature is very weak; and even were there no danger of partiality, the appearance of it is bad. Why such an exceptional rule as this? Why should we not follow, in all cases, a sound English form of procedure? My Lords, if the Bishops were not allowed to interfere at all, and every suit were adjudged by sound lawyers, the public would have some confidence in the decisions of the tribunals.
I pass now to the absolute powers entrusted to the Bishop by this Bill. He may enforce, or not enforce, the law as he pleases; he may fix the time and place of hearing the parties; he nominates his assessors, and he is not bound to follow their advice. An obstinate and wilful man—and Bishops may be such—could overrule his entire Court. He is, in fact, lord and master of everything contained in Clause 8 and its three subclauses. He may bring into life disused rubrics; in fact, he must do so, for this Bill proceeds on the grant of new powers, new action, and in consequence the attainment of complete obedience. No Bishop, if he resolves to act, can falter. He must go forward on the principle of even-handed justice; and if he prunes the excrescences of the Ritualists, he must—for the Ritualists will keep him up to the mark—rebuke and punish the shortcomings of their opponents. Thus we shall have perpetual striving before the Bishops—conscientiously, no doubt—for the minute observance of everything in the Prayer-book. A faculty will be required for the smallest doings in the fabric and furniture of the Church. He will be called upon to settle the question of the white and black gown, and no end of other matters; and as there are 27 Bishops, we shall probably have 27 decisions. But a more serious con- 16 sideration arises. Your Lordships will remember that a year or two ago much feeling was excited on the subject of the Athanasian Creed. A memorial was presented to the two Archbishops, with a prayer that the reading of it in the public service might cease to be compulsory. It obtained many signatures of great importance. Now many congregations have come to an understanding with their ministers to that effect. But if this Bill pass into a law the Bishops, whatever their wishes, must yield to the urgent representations of the Ritualistic party, and enforce the reading of the Creed at every appointed season. I foresee from this nothing but disturbance and irritation. The Bill, no doubt, presses equally on both sides. The High Church will be restrained from doing what they wish, and the Low Church will be compelled to do what they do not wish. But, my Lords, here is a smaller affair, no doubt, yet worthy of note. The Bishop, by sub-clause of Clause 11, has power of himself to summon witnesses and call for the production of documents, a power given only by Act of Parliament, or possessed by a Court of Record. But, surely, as we are asked to confer on the Bishops powers to affect the rights and property of many individuals, we are bound in duty to inquire whether they possess the requisite qualifications of legal knowledge and judicial training. I appeal to the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India (the Marquess of Salisbury); did he not state last year that the Bishops were utterly devoid of all judicial qualifications, that they had not a judicial mind? And by a recent Act has not the Parliament eliminated the episcopal element from the Judicial Committee of Privy Council? They may attend as advisers, as referees, in any form but that of Judges, from which they are excluded altogether. And it is almost unnecessary to mention the universal cry that their Chancellors should be laymen. But, worst of all, these great powers, which involve such serious consequences, are to be exercised in camerâ, in secret. By sub-clause 6 of Clause 11, the Bishop has power to exclude every representative of the Press, and every other person who might possess a controlling influence. On this point, a legal gentleman has given me his opinion— 17The power to hear in camerâ"he says, "has always been very sparingly exercised by Judges of the Courts of Law and Equity, and only in special cases. In a recent case before the Court of Chancery the present Lord Chancellor refused an application to hear a case in camerâ, and expressed himself unwilling to strain the usual practice of the Court, which was not to hear a case in private except with the consent of both parties. In the clause of this Bill power is given not to hear special cases for special reasons in private, but to make rules which would operate in all cases.So we are called upon to grant a power to the Bishops, which the Lord Chancellor himself would scruple to exercise. Here, then, with his full discretion and in entire secrecy, the irresponsible power of the Bishop is complete. And yet, my Lords, what do weighty authorities say upon discretion in any Judge? I have here an opinion—it is from a great man, and I will give you his name presently—The discretion of a judge," he says, "is the law of tyrants. It is different in different men; it is always unknown; it is casual, and depends upon constitution, temper, and passion. In the best it is oftentimes caprice; in the worst, it is every vice and passion to which human nature is liable.Now this is the opinion of the Lord Chancellor Camden, a personage of weight, and it may be found in the first volume of Fearne's Essay on Contingent Remainders. But, if such be the case in respect of professional and trained lawyers, how much stronger is the statement in reference to Bishops, who, though rising into Judges, have never enjoyed the benefit of legal education and experience? Why, in some aspects, my Lords, the better the Bishop is as a Bishop, the less qualified he would be as a calm and dispassionate Judge. It would be beyond human nature to expect that a Bishop, sitting in power and authority in a Court, a man of earnest piety and zeal for the cause of religion, should not feel a strong, almost an irresistible bias towards the decision that seemed to be the most conducive to the interests of the Church. My Lords, I am called a Low Churchman—and I dare say I am so—but I most solemnly declare that, even were I sure of Low Church Bishops for half a century to come, I would not confer on them the discretion contained in this Bill. No one, whoever he may be, ought to be entrusted with absolute power. Again, it may be apparently small, but it shows 18 the hasty way in which this Bill has been drawn—Clause 13 gives to the Bishop an absolute discretion in the matter of costs, a duty to which no one is equal but a practising solicitor. Will the Judges of the land take on themselves this office? No such thing; and how then can a Bishop undertake a task so technical and minute, without the slightest knowledge of the mode of operation?
But we come now to a very important part of the Bill. It has been, and it is asserted, that this measure affects the status of the clergy. It is, I knows stoutly denied; but the affirmative can be proved. Now, observe two very leading provisions—The Bishop of the diocese, having received a charge against an incumbent, is to send a notice thereof to such incumbent.Here, my Lords, attend to sub-Clause 3 of Clause 11, and mark the requirements of it—The incumbent, within eight days of such notice being given to him, or within such further time as the Bishop may, for some special reason, think fit to grant, may transmit to the Bishop an answer in the form prescribed by the rules and orders, denying the truth of any statement of fact made in the representation; and if the incumbent "—let me entreat your attention to the words—"and if the incumbent shall not transmit an answer, or shall not in his answer deny the truth of any statement of fact made in the representation, such statement"—can it be possible?—"shall be deemed to be true.Deemed to be true because the charged person is silent! Why, my Lords, this is a hard-and-fast revival of the law repealed in 1827, a return to an oppressive and ignominious state of things. There is no proof required that the notice has reached him. It shall go, says a subsequent clause, as a registered letter. But do letters always arrive at their place of destination? The incumbent may be absent, he may be sick; but, no matter—it is enough that the notice has left the Bishop's hand, who, if he receive no answer, or an answer not directly denying the charge, may pronounce him guilty, and proceed accordingly. This is very serious, for it reverses a protective and existing statute, passed, as I well remember, in the House of Commons by Mr. Peel, the first year that I sat in Parliament. The law of evidence, which, though not then acted on, was still in existence, is well described by Mr. Archbold, in his Criminal Pleadings— 19Formerly," says he, "the consequences of standing obstinately mute in cases of felony was forfeiture of goods and peine forte et dure.The Act of 7 and 8 Geo. IV., cap. 28, sect. 2, provides as follows—And be it enacted that if any person being arraigned upon or charged with any indictment or information for treason …. or misdemeanour, shall stand mute of malice, or will not answer directly to the indictment or information, in every such case it shall be lawful for the court, if it shall so think fit, to order the proper officer to enter a plea of Not Guilty on behalf of such person, and the plea so entered shall have the same force and effect as if such person had actually pleaded the same.Why are the clergy, and the clergy alone, to be shut out from the protection accorded to civilians? Is there no touching of their status here? Is there not a distinction, and an unfavourable one, placed between them and the rest of Her Majesty's subjects? But Clause 18 is the most serious of all. "Give me this clause," said the most rev. Prelate who, the other night, propounded the Bill, "and take away, if you will, all the remainder"—an awful request, to which your Lordships will certainly refuse to accede. Here it is—If at any time after the service of a monition, whether such monition shall have been appealed against or not, it shall be shown to the satisfaction of the Bishop, by affidavits duly sworn, that due obedience has not been paid to such monition, …. the Bishop shall thereupon inhibit the incumbent from performing any service of the Church, or otherwise exercising the cure of souls within the diocese.So far so good. But listen to what follows—The Bishop may during such inhibition make such provision for the service of the Church, and for the cure of souls, as he shall deem necessary, and the moneys due during such inhibition to the incumbent, in respect of the performance of Divine service, and other rites and ceremonies, or for the cure of souls in the parish in which the church is situate, or for the use of which the burial-ground is legally provided, in relation to which church or burial-ground such monition has been issued as aforesaid, shall be paid to the Bishop, and shall be applied by him in first instance to defray the cost of such provision;And then, will your Lordships believe it?—Afterwards to such other ecclesiastical purposes connected with the parish as the Bishop may determine.Is this in the spirit of the law of England—is it a rule that a sentence, though appealed against, is to be executed? The most. rev. Prelate (the Archbishop 20 of York) may quote one or two isolated cases, appearing to border on the case before us; but, I ask, is this the spirit and the usage of the law of England? Why, then, should the clergy be taken out of the category of English citizens, and be subjected to such enactments? All the revenues of the accused incumbent are to be seized; the surplus, after providing for the church service, is to be at the disposal of the Bishop. The appeal may last a year or more, and at the end, the appellant may be declared to be in the right; but all his income has been forfeited; and the Bill holds out no hope of compensation to the acquitted clergyman. He may have a large family to maintain—clergymen have generally large families. It may have been, for example, £1,000 a-year, £300 of which would suffice for the church service, and thus £700 would be at the disposal of the Bishop. A High Church Bishop might set up a reredos—all Bishops do not dislike reredoses. One was inaugurated, the other day, at Worcester Cathedral. There were Bishops present, and deans, besides abundant clergy and laity, and much glory was given in the sermon to the wealthy man who had recently so decorated that ancient place of worship. But suppose a Low Church Bishop, full of zeal—a Puritanical Bishop, as has been suggested—held the See of London. He would fall, at once, on Mr. Mackonoehie's church, tear down the gold and silver, and, at Mr. Mackonochie's expense, cover the walls with whitewash, and possibly with texts denouncing the abominations which had been perpetrated there. The most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York) says that this is no penal measure; not so in his intention, I am quite sure; but as a matter of fact, what can be more penal than this proposed enactment? My Lords, I do protest most strongly against this mode of segregating the clergy more than at present from the laity. The more the clergy and laity are, so to speak, part and parcel of each other, the better will it be for both of them. And to close, I cannot omit to notice the the power taken by the Bishops, under the Interpretation Clause, over the cathedrals. The deans must look to it. The clause defines a cathedral, to be in fact, a parish church, thereby settling, in a few words, the long denied claim of episcopal authority.
21 My Lords, I will not pause to show how little is the hope of a diminution of expense or delay under the provisions of this Bill. I will simply ask to what purpose are you now directing your legislation? A few years ago—perhaps even five years ago—a measure of some kind might have been effectual. But great changes have occurred. Ritualism has got very far ahead, and it would not be possible to do more than lop off some of its excrescences. Ritualism, moreover, has become of secondary importance. Other issues far more deadly in their nature demand our attention. The other day the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) quoted to your Lordships some passages from books and things called Altar Cards, of a dark—I might also say—a desperate character. They give us ample proof that the worship of the Virgin, the Invocation of Saints, and prayers to the Apostles, are taught by ministers of the Church, and find favour among a section of its members. But how, in any way, can the provisions of this Bill touch these grave matters? Will it prevent the distribution of leaflets full of pernicious doctrine? The minister will shrink from action so material and tangible; and will reserve his heresies for the pulpit, the vestry, the ear in the closet, and the private visitation. How, I ask, will it reach the Confessional? Do not suppose that the Confessional is the idle phantom that it used to be. It is spreading very rapidly; nor is it confined, as some suppose, to a few fine folks in Belgravia and the parts adjacent. It is penetrating into all classes of society. I speak from knowledge. I know the books—books, too, bearing the names of respectable publishers—by which the poison is circulated; and I know how the minds of young and tender women of every grade are so influenced by their spiritual guides as to become familiar with things from which, at the outset, they would have recoiled with horror. I spoke to the Lord Chancellor on the subject, and showed him the passages. He commented on them, as you will readily believe, with just indignation. My Lords, if the Confessional continue unchecked—and checked it cannot be by any ordinary legislation—it will produce an entire change in the spiritual, moral, and political character of the English people, and will eventually 22 sink the Establishment in inevitable ruin. Some one may say, "What, then, is nothing to be done?" I see but two courses. One by creating a strong, persistent, and united sentiment of disgust, which, being publicly pronounced, shall penetrate into private and domestic life. But this is difficult. For though there is a party hostile to these practices, there is a powerful one in favour of them; and the bulk of the nation is thinking of other things, and living in a state of utter indifference. The other, if it could not extinguish, might for a while retard, the progress of the mischief. I look to a wide, deep, and searching reform of the whole Church. But this no one will listen to. Yet certain I am, that a Bill such as this propounded to-night, will leave all the greater evils as it found them, and we shall have reason to be thankful if it do not contribute to make them very much worse.
THE BISHOP OF PETERBOROUGH
My Lords, I am compelled, by some observations that have fallen from the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) in regard to myself, again to cross swords with him on the subject of clergy discipline. Under other circumstances I would not have troubled your Lordships with any observations, partly because on many of the details with which the noble Earl has so forcibly dealt I entertain views that are similar to his own, and also because I am aware that most of his objections will vanish in the form of Amendments to be proposed in Committee. In order to induce your Lordships to listen favourably to the few words I have to say, I must first endeavour to clear myself from the charge of inconsistency which the noble Earl brought against me in the commencement of his speech. He reminded your Lordships that upon a previous occasion he introduced a Bill giving three persons—he omitted to say that it was three persons of the diocese, not three persons of the parish—the right to prosecute a clergyman, without discretion on the part of the Bishop, and leaving, as the only protection against vexatious proceedings, the liability to pay costs in case of failure—a perfectly futile protection, inasmuch as the costs might be paid by a large Association. One of my objections to that measure was that, while parishioners had a legal right to 23 have the services of their church conducted according to the law of the Church, other persons who, although in the same diocese, were yet strangers to the locality interested, had neither the same grievance nor the same right to interfere. If the noble Earl's measure had been passed, any parishioner might have proceeded to harass and worry any clergyman in the same diocese without the discretion of the Bishop; and it is strange that the noble Earl, who has been the strongest advocate to-night of the liberties of the clergy, should then have been so anxious to withhold from the Bishop a discretionary power which would in reality be a great protection to the clergy. It seems to me I am quite consistent in maintaining now, as I did then, these two principles—that the persons who have a right to complain are the parishioners, and that the proper protection to give to the clergy is the discretion of the Bishop, and not the futile protection which results from the liability to pay costs. The noble Earl has paid me the very high and rare compliment of adopting a great deal of the language which I used on the occasion of our former unfortunate encounter. He has sought to show, in regard to the present Bill, that while it facilitated prosecutions on one side, it would at the same time open the door to reprisals from the other, and that we should not only have Low Churchmen prosecuting High Churchmen, but High Churchmen prosecuting Low Churchmen. I spent much time on the occasion to which I have alluded in speaking on this very point, and I am so pleased to find the noble Earl adopting in the present discussion the part which I then took that I can bear with equanimity the language which he has used in regard to myself. The noble Earl has accused me of having employed "unsavoury" language in addressing this House. I trust I have done nothing to merit the charge; but I can say that the noble Earl himself has used—not in this House, it is true, where he could have been answered—but in the heat and excitement of public meetings—language with regard to the Bishops, and in their absence, which some persons might think verging on the "unsavoury."
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
Will the right rev. Prelate be good 24 enough to repeat the expressions to which he refers, and which he seems to regard as improper?
THE BISHOP OF PETERBOROUGH
I did not use the word "improper." What I said was that the noble Earl used language with respect to the Bishops which some persons might think verging on the "unsavoury." The noble Earl, for instance, described us as being "mealy-mouthed;" but I admit that was a small matter. He, however, went on to point out that we referred certain matters to a Committee—which, by the bye, were not referred to a Committee at all—and he was pleased to add that we did this in order to ascertain whether certain practices were or were not in accordance with the rubrics, we knowing perfectly well that they were not in accordance with the rubrics. The meaning of that is that we, knowing certain practices were opposed to the rubrics, affected to consider they were not, and were thus guilty of false pretence and hypocrisy. Now that I think is language which somewhat verges on the "unsavoury," and which, as a Bishop, I should be very sorry to use respecting the noble Earl. The noble Earl objected at great length this evening to the details of the Bill before your Lordships, and strongly protested against placing the Bishops in a judicial position, for which, he tells you, they are totally unfitted. The noble Earl goes even so far as to say that the better a Bishop is the less judicial his mind is likely to be. Well, I listened, I confess, to that statement of the noble Earl with some astonishment, because in a Bill relating to Ecclesiastical Courts and Registries, which was introduced in 1872 by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, on behalf of the noble Earl, who was then abroad, and which I must take as representing his mind, I find it provided that among the Judges of the Provincial and Diocesan Courts the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York shall each within his own Province be the chief Judge in the Diocesan Court, and each Bishop within his own diocese. Now, there are Bishops and Bishops, but the noble Earl tells us they are all entirely devoid of anything like a judicial mind, and yet he proposed, only two years ago, that all these unjudicial Bishops should be 25 Judges. The only inference I can draw from this is that—taking the noble Earl's own principle—that the better the Bishop the less fit he is to be a Judge—he has come to the conclusion that every Bishop was two years ago as good, but is now as bad as he can be. The noble Earl laid great stress upon the proposal that if a clergyman did not plead in reply to a statement of fact, he would be regarded as guilty. But if a clergyman does not plead in answer to the statutory declaration required in the Bill, he must be held to deny the fact or to admit it; and this is not like the ordinary plea of "Guilty" in a Criminal Court, as the noble Earl was pleased to say, for the clergyman by his silence will simply be held to have admitted the truth of a statement as to a matter of fact which is afterwards to be tried as a matter of Law. You must also bear in mind that the clergyman is protected by the discretion vested in the Bishop, and that he is not, in the second place, pronounced guilty in the same sense as an accused person in a Criminal Court, in which punishment follows the sentence. He will merely be told if he has done certain things, not to repeat them; and if he says he has not done those things, what possible harm, I should like to know, can the sentence do him? The effect of the sentence will simply be that the clergyman will be required to refrain from doing or saying certain things which he may or may not have said or done. The question whether this provision be wise or not still remains, but that is an entirely different one from that which the noble Earl sought to impress on your Lordships' attention. The noble Earl also dwelt on the severity of fining a man with £1,000 a-year £700 before he might have been found to have been guilty of the practices alleged against him. Now, the answer to that is that he will not be fined a single shilling pendente lite if only he does as a man of common loyalty ought to do—obey the sentence of the Court of Primary Instance until his appeal is decided. Yet it was in speaking of such a provision that the noble Earl felt it to be his duty to draw the moving and sad picture of a poor clergyman compelled to pay £700. If ever it should be my fortune to be a defendant in a Court presided over by the noble Earl, I hope I might appeal 26 to his sense of charity—when not dealing with Bishops—for a better measure of justice than has characterized his remarks this evening. He went on to tell us that the Bill, which aimed at certain practices, would not stop others to which he called your Lordships' attention. Now, as to the "other practices" which he so eloquently denounced, I will only say that I agree with every word which fell from him with respect to them. I do not believe it is possible to exaggerate the danger to the Church—and what is more, the danger to the character of the English nation—than the introduction into this country of the Roman practice of auricular confession. In saying that, I wish to abstain from using language which would be in the slightest degree offensive to the members of the Roman Catholic religion. I am sure they will pardon me when I tell them that I am as strongly opposed to having my church Romanized as they are to having theirs Protestantized. There was not a word, therefore, which the noble Earl uttered on that subject which does not find an echo in my heart; and in spite of all he has said against us I most heartily thank him for what has fallen from him on this point. But to what does the argument of the noble Earl amount? Simply to this—that a measure which is aimed against certain practices is to be rejected because it will not have the effect of repressing others. That is an argument against all legislation whatever. I have now dealt with some of the objections which have been urged against the Bill, but, in consideration of the time which I have been compelled to devote to answering the noble Earl's charge against myself, your Lordships will perhaps permit me to trespass on your attention a little longer while I say a few words as to the unhappy necessity for this legislation, and as to what the real evils are with which we have to deal at the present moment. Without entering into details, which will be better discussed in Committee, the questions which we have now to consider are—Is the proposed legislation necessary, and, if so, is the principle on which this House is asked to proceed sound or unsound? All the rest is matter of detail and machinery. Now, as to the necessity of this legislation, I frankly admit there is something anomalous, and even, per- 27 haps, dangerous, in cheapening and sharpening the processes of ecclesiastical procedure, when the law itself is in any respect doubtful, ambiguous, and uncertain. The natural and logical course of proceeding would be in the first place to let people know what the law is which they are expected to observe; and then, if the law were found to be defective, to amend and simplify it, and then to take strenuous measures for its enforcement. To cheapen ecclesiastical procedure before you reform and define the law may not tend to increase discipline, but to multiply litigation. In this instance, however, I contend we are under the unhappy necessity of proceeding more rapidly instead of waiting to some remote period for a complete reform of the law. I say this not merely because individual acts excite, on one side or another in the Church, dissatisfaction, but because there are clergymen who tell their congregations that, law or no law, they will not read the Athanasian Creed, and who, if they receive the admonition of their Bishop, say that they will send it to their lawyers. We are told that we should govern the Church by fatherliness. Now, I must be allowed to say there is something very one-sided in this cry for fatherliness from the Bishops when they meet with no filialness, and I should like to have some reciprocity. When a monition is to be flung back in my face, and I am to be told that I am "neither a gentleman nor a divine," and that "my conversion to Christianity is to be prayed for," I must say I should bike to see a little filialness on the part of those who are demanding this fatherliness. I honestly desire, as far as I can, to be fatherly towards these men, but when I hear this advice given to us I am reminded of the solitary instance in which a ruler attempted to govern in this fatherly fashion, and that his name was Eli, while his sons were Hophni and Phineas. Well, but will these men obey the decisions of the Courts? They say they will obey no decision of a secular Court, simply because it is secular. What are the words of a gentleman, a leader of this party, who favours us with a book every now and then, denouncing the tyranny and iniquity of the Bishops?—That the Church of England is at present 28 in possession of no courts of law, free from the infection of secularity, which can be recognized by Catholics.But it might be expected that these men would obey the decision of a Spiritual Court or of a Synod. On the contrary, they say a clergyman is first a priest of the Catholic Church before he is a clergyman of the Church of England, and if he finds that anything is required of him which is opposed to what he considers to be, or is pleased to say, is Catholic usage, that his allegiance to his own Church is thereby dissolved, and he is not only free, but bound to disobey that Church and obey his own interpretation of what he calls Catholic usage. Now, as you cannot have a General Council sitting en permanence to decide disputes between incumbents and Bishops; if the incumbent is to take what he deems Catholic usage, and is to be its sole interpreter, it comes to this—that he is to do simply what he chooses. The same writer, speaking of a decided violation of the rubric, as he admits it to be—namely, the rubric which says that the Sacrament shall not be reserved, and he proposes that it shall be reserved—proceeds to say how this shall be dealt with—We may in the first place appeal from the letter to the spirit of the English Church, disregard the written law, and cast ourselves on the unwritten instinct of the Catholic Church.What will be the condition of a parish in which the incumbent, in defiance of the complaints of the parishioners, casts himself on the instinct of the Catholic Church? We have heard a great deal about the tyranny of the Bishops. I ask whether there may not be such a thing as the tyranny of the incumbent over his parishioners? It is the fashion to sneer at the "aggrieved parishioner," who sometimes may be, and often is, an unreasonable and cantankerous animal; but the parishioner who walks into his parish church, and finds a man who has turned it, without faculty, leave, or licence, into the most absurd imitation, in his view, of a Roman Mass-house, and sees performed before his wife and children the full-blown service of the Roman Mass, with the only consolation that the incumbent is throwing himself on the stream of "Catholic tradition and usage," is a very aggrieved parishioner indeed; and as the law holds there is no wrong without a remedy, it is, I 29 think, incumbent on your Lordships to find some immediate remedy for this grossly outraged and aggrieved parishioner. When we find a clergyman in the city of Bath, at a meeting presided over by a genial and robust Archdeacon, standing up and saying that "incumbents are to be Bishops in their own church, and to be subject to no interference from any person whatever," it is high time to pass a law to meet such a state of things. There is a wide difference between a man's doing a thing which may be illegal, believing that there may be a great deal to be said for his own view of the law on the subject, and hoping to have the law reversed in his favour, and a man's saying that he will obey no law, and will do what pleases himself. No Church and no institution can safely continue to disregard open, deliberate, and avowed insurrection like that. And to stay your hand in putting down rebellion until you have reformed the law may result in this—that by the time you have reformed the law you may have no Church in which to enforce the law. I say, then, most reluctantly I am brought to the conviction that some legislation to arrest this defiant lawlessness is necessary. Therefore, I will vote for the second reading of this Bill; nevertheless, hoping that it will be largely modified in Committee, and believing that it is not required for the great majority of the clergy, who I know are loyal to the heart's core to their own Church, and who are sneered at and even detested for their loyalty by these extreme men. It is with great reluctance I would do anything that even appears to trench on the liberties of the loyal clergy—men whom I know to be as loyal to the Church as men can possibly be, and whose position I nevertheless believe to be unfortunate, although in some respects they have made it so themselves. I wish they had done that which they ought to have done a few years ago, when an unfortunate prosecution was brought to an unfortunate decision. If they had submitted under protest to what seemed to them to be bad law, and had then used all their energies to bring about a repeal of that law—in which I would heartily have aided them, as I would do to-morrow—and I know what bitter obloquy this would bring upon me—if they had done that they would have been in a far better position 30 now, and the Church would also have been in a far more peaceful and happier position. But those men got themselves into a false position from which I should be glad to see them extricated, as I hope they will be, by the reversal of that unintelligible judgment. I am happy at last to come round to a point of agreement with the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury). I agree with him that legislation of this kind will not touch the real root of the evil. What is the real root of the evil? It is that we have governed—or rather we are attempting to govern—the Church of England by obsolete law. The laws of the Church were passed more than 200 years ago. There was then distinctly a compromise between two great parties in the Church. The word "compromise" is written all over the face of the Anglican Prayer-book, and I rejoice in the fact. But that compromise has necessarily shifted its limits and its position in the 200 years that have passed since it was made; and the position in which we are now is this—that the rubrics of the Church, having been framed for a state of things existing 200 years ago, will not fit the present state of the country, just for this reason, that they did perfectly fit, or may be supposed to have perfectly fitted, the country 200 years ago. The more perfectly they suited the England of the Reformation the less likely are they to suit perfectly the England of the 19th century. Wherein lies the real difficulty? It is that for years past those obsolete laws, hard-binding the Church as they do in garments 200 years old, have been found to straiten and hamper the clergy in their most legitimate work in every direction; and the consequence has been that the clergy have long been obliged to set aside the rubrics here, and that with what I call the wise connivance of the Bishops. When the clergy have consulted me about some small deflection they have made from the rubric that was necessary in some part of their work I have said to them, "Do it and don't tell me of it." That means that the law is so unsuitable that you can neither fully enforce it nor fully obey it. The Bishop has before him three courses. He may enforce the law all round, or relax the law all round, or he may select certain portions of the law and enforce them. To enforce the rubrics on everyone equally all round is an 31 impossibility, and the Bishop would be simply mad if he tried to do it. On the other hand, to relax all the rubrics would be to subvert all discipline and authority, and to create chaos and confusion; while the former course would produce tyranny and dead-lock. If you are to avoid these evils, then, you must have that very discretion of the Bishops which the noble Earl so strongly condemns. But you must have some such discretion as long as you have a human system of laws to deal with. No human system of law can be self-acting. There is only one system of laws which is self-acting; and He who appointed that self-acting system of laws, with its occasionally severe incidents, has another world in which to set right the seeming inequalities and hardships which arise in this world. There is no human system of law but will require a great degree of discretion in those who administer it. If, then, neither general interference nor general relaxation is practicable, and if it is dangerous to extend too far the necessary discretion of the administrators of the law, does not this point to the need of a thorough and searching Church reform? [The Earl of SHAFTESBURY: Hear, hear!] I am glad to have the approval of the noble Earl, who would not, perhaps, altogether agree with me in the direction he would take, but who, advocating greater laxity for those whom he so eloquently represents, would, I hope, in common justice extend that laxity to those from whom he most differs—always excepting the Bench of Bishops. You need some alteration of the laws of the Church—to re-make, in fact, the compromise made at the Reformation. You need, above all things, to give the Church some power of internal self-regulation as to these minute details of rubrics. The difficulty of the Church has been the being obliged to come to Parliament for the smallest alteration in the rubrics and canons; so that things have remained unaltered which her Synods would in a few days or weeks have altered from time to time to meet the varying exigencies of the moment. I am far indeed, from desiring independence of the State, but I desire the power possessed by the sister Establishment, the Scotch Kirk—the power of self-adjustment that prevents the constant breaking out of bickerings and strife, tearing the Church asunder. Representative 32 assemblies—the representation of the laity being as necessary as that of the clergy—should have the power of fixing such re-adjustments as shall suit the varying exigencies of the Church's position and work, subject to any veto from Parliament you choose, but treated with a generous and hearty confidence. The good sense and good feeling of the great majority of the English laity and clergy, left to themselves in the free play of such assemblies, would very soon find out a modus vivendi, a happy solution of these unhappy differences which, wanting some such solution, must continue from time to time to rend the Church, distract the attention of Parliament, and seriously strain the tie that binds together the Church and the State.
§ LORD EBURY
said, he should support the second reading of the Bill. If the right rev. Prelate who had just sat down was gratified on hearing his own remarks adopted by the noble Earl who preceded him, how great must his (Lord Ebury's) satisfaction be in listening to the right rev. Prelate repeating all his arguments, showing the absolute necessity for a reform of the canons and rubrics of the Church? He would remind their Lordships that some years ago he himself had introduced a measure for their revision, which, however, did not find favour, but which, if adopted, would have prevented many of the evils now complained of. He hoped that the introduction of the present measure would bring to light many of the difficulties that now existed, and by showing where the shoe pinched, compel such a revision of the laws of the Church, and in some respects of the Prayer Book, which placed impediments in the way of the free working of the Church.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, that the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) had to a great extent thrown over the principle and object of the Bill when he asserted that what was required was a thorough and efficient reform of the Church. If that was his decided opinion, the right rev. Bench were beginning at the wrong end, and were proposing a remedy by means of the most imperfect legislation. This Bill, if the reforms so eloquently sketched out were actually required, put the cart before the horse, and would initiate a confessedly imperfect policy 33 instead of striking at the root of the evil. The two most rev. Primates had drawn a fervid picture in order to show that a Bill was necessary, and therefore this Bill; and one of them (the Archbishop of York) had defended it as in conformity with the Report of the Lower House of Convocation in 1869. That Report, however, recommended, not the creation of a new Court, but a reform of the existing Consistorial and Diocesan Courts, so that they should be made efficient for administering the law for remedying abuses of this kind. That was a most important distinction, because under the Bill a third Court was to be established, and a Court of almost unknown powers. The objections to that course had been so fully and ably stated by the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) that it was not necessary for him to do more than allude to them in passing. In his opinion, it would be a cause of the gravest apprehension, and even of danger, that a Court should be constituted in each diocese, as was proposed in this Bill, with unlimited power of dealing with cases of the most difficult and complicated kind—such as those which were certain to arise out of the manner of conducting the services and ritual of the Church. How were such cases to be presented to and argued in those Courts? They all knew that cases of a similar kind had been investigated by the highest tribunals, and had engaged the attention of the most learned men who practised in those Courts; and they knew, too, what time the causes had occupied, and what trouble and expense they had involved. Could it be supposed that a different state of things would exist in the proposed Bishops' Courts? Why, in those Courts these difficult cases would be decided by a Judge having no legal training, assisted only by his Chancellor, who might or might not be a legal man. But, even supposing that those Courts could be regarded and recognized as adequate tribunals, what would happen? Courts which expounded law to a certain extent, made law by making precedents. They were to have 24 such Courts—who might, perhaps, give 24 different decisions—and he could conceive no greater state of confusion than would arise from such a diversity. Differences of religious conviction prevailed among clergy and laity, 34 and in that respect Bishops were like other men—they had their own proclivities and their own religious convictions; and who could doubt that the decisions of the Court would be influenced by the particular bias of the Bishop's mind in respect of the question on which he had to pronounce judgment? Again, the clergy who practised those performances in the churches which were the subject of reprehension were earnest men, who were not likely to be satisfied with the decisions of the Bishops' Courts, and it was idle to suppose that they would not carry those decisions by way of appeal from Court to Court, backed by their own funds or by funds contributed for the purpose. Then, after a time, the jurisdiction of those Courts would be found so unsatisfactory, and their decisions so uncertain, that it would be found necessary to transmit the cases brought before them direct to the Superior Court. So that it was idle to suppose that litigation would be either checked or cheapened by this Bill. Their Lordships could not fail to recoggize the importance of the subject, and that being so, he would urge upon the most rev. Primates the desirability of their not proceeding with this hasty legislation, but that they would rather be content with the steps they had taken and the expression of opinion that would be elicited by the second reading of the Bill, that the subject was one which required to be dealt with. The Bill bore evidence on the face of it of having been drawn in a hasty and ill-advised manner—and, indeed, the most rev. Prelates had invited their Lordships to consider Amendments which they were prepared to recommend in its provisions, thus acknowledging and apologizing for its failings and short-comings. The most rev. Primates had brought before their Lordships' House the great and glaring abuses to which they desired to apply a remedy, but he was strongly of opinion that a matter of such great importance should be taken up by the responsible Government of the country. His noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack had completed the Herculean task of framing a system of judicature for Ireland and Scotland, and it would be a light and trifling task to him so to amend the procedure of the existing Ecclesiastical Courts as to make them available for the purposes sought to be 35 obtained by the Bill. He appealed to Her Majesty's Government seriously to consider this question, with a view to producing a measure which he had no doubt would meet with the sanction of their Lordships' House.
said, that their Lordships were placed in this anomalous position—that they were asked to consider, not the Bill which they were called upon to read a second time, but a Bill which was to be largely amended at a later stage. The most rev. Primate (the Archbishop of York) had deliberately stated that the Bill was framed on the lines of the Report of Convocation in 1869; but certainly, according to that scheme, a single parishioner could not set the law in motion.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
explained that he said there were very few points in the Bill which had not been deliberately considered by Convocation and reported on in 1869.
said, he was under the impression that the most rev. Primate had asserted that the provision respecting the one parishioner had been assented to by Convocation. That body in reality thought the law ought not to be set in motion by a fewer number than three parishioners, who were, moreover, to be communicants of the Church of England. He very much doubted whether the Amendments which were to be proposed would meet the difficulties which must arise. At all events, he hoped considerable time would be allowed to elapse before the Bill went into Committee, in order that the Convocation of the Northern Province might have an opportunity of expressing its opinion on the merits of the measure. It was, he admitted, essential that the existing state of resistance to authority should be put down; but, at the same time, it should be remembered that the lawlessness was caused to a great extent by a want of cordiality and affection between the Bishops and the clergy; he was very much of opinion that if the Bishops had been more in the habit of taking counsel with their clergy, a better state of things would have prevailed than existed at present. He was justified in this belief by what had occurred in his own diocese of Salisbury, where, owing to the wise rule of Bishop Denison, the loving rule of Bishop Hamilton, and under their present Diocesan, who had called together 36 his clergy and laity in a diocesan synod, no such lawlessness was found to exist. Again, much of this lawlessness was more apparent than real; for many of the faults which were now imputed to the clergy, arose from their earnest desire to regulate their service according to the Prayer Book—in doing which they probably oft-times misinterpreted the law. It was true, there had arisen a new sect—with which he had no sympathy—which, instead of appealing to the usages of the early Church, was deliberately trying to introduce Mediævalism into the Church of England. What, then, ought to be done, was to ascertain what practices were legally permissible, instead of instituting a kind of Star Chamber in our anxiety to put them down. Certainly, we ought not to wish to create a schism. If the Bench of Bishops had endeavoured to obtain the confidence of the clergy, he believed that confidence would have been won. If they had told them what they were going to propose, and had laid their proposed legislation before the two Houses of Convocation, they would probably have found no difficulty in obtaining their co-operation in providing a remedy for admitted abuses. The way in which the Bishops had acted in bringing forward this measure had tended to aggravate the minds of the clergy. 1st. By an attack by two of the Bishops through the curates upon the incumbents. 2nd. By bringing out an abortive measure, just announced in the columns of The Times. 3rd. By refusing at first to put off the Bill before the meeting of Convocation. He regretted, also, that the most rev. Primate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) should have brought forward the question of the "altar card"—a question which had nothing to do with the measure before the House, and its introduction was calculated only to cause feelings of irritation—and had referred with approval to the action of the Bishop of Durham in his opening address on the introduction of the Bill. The passing of this Bill would make the clergy think that every man's hand was against them—that none of them would be safe from the action of the Bill. He was in favour of giving discretion to the Bishops, but not until some rules were made, clearly defining how that discretion should be exercised; otherwise, a great deal of confusion and heart-burn- 37 ing would be caused by the conflict between the decisions of different Bishops. What was more likely to ruffle the feelings of the clergy than the enforcement of the powers which the Bill would give to promoters? A man who had bought merely a pig-sty in a parish might disturb the whole parish by starting proceedings against the incumbent, and before his charge was heard he might go off to America. Of what avail would it be to the incumbent if, at the last, he succeeded in getting an order that that man should pay the costs of the inquiry? On the other hand, official objections would actually pre-judge the case. If he (Earl Nelson) read the Bill rightly, a clergyman under it would be subject to punishment for an act of his predecessor in placing something in the church which might be declared to be illegal, or of a churchwarden who refused to remove things which had been ordered to be removed. If this Bill passed, the clergy would be liable to proceedings against them in three different Courts—the old Consistory Court, the Court under the Church Discipline Act, and the Court under this Bill. If the Bill were passed hurriedly now, when the minds of the clergy were ruffled on the subject, it would be impossible to carry it out—because, to carry out a measure of this sort, it was necessary that the clergy should be in favour of it. He believed that, with the aid of the Report of the Committee of Convocation of 1869, the old Consistory Court could be rehabilitated in such a manner as to make it a simple, speedy, and inexpensive means of dealing with the matters to which this Bill related. It did not appear to him that in a matter of this kind speedy legislation was absolutely necessary, and he therefore implored their Lordships not to hurry through a Bill which might possibly create more evils than it proposed to remedy.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, that the advice of the two noble Lords who had preceded him was, that they should wait and do nothing. Everybody admitted that a great and pressing evil existed—that there was a cry throughout the country that something should be done; everybody had said for years past that the Bishops were blameable because they did not take more active steps in the matter. He thought the very last charge that could be brought against the 38 Bishops was that they were now interfering precipitately. It was said that they should have consulted their clergy, and checked these proceedings by adopting a firm, but "paternal" course towards them. Why, what had the Bishops been doing for the last 20 or 30 years, but waiting and paternally remonstrating? The Bishops in the Upper House of Convocation had passed the most solemn condemnation on the practices in question, and in the strongest and most feeling manner had urged their clergy to abandon those practices. And what had been the result hitherto? Their "paternal" advice, as it was called, had been laughed at, and consequently there was a loud and universal cry that some remedy must be proposed; and when at last the Bishops came forward, under the conviction of an overwhelming necessity, every kind of objection was raised. The Bishops were compelled to confess that they were powerless to do what was necessary, and asked that more powers should be confided to them—and they were immediately met with the cry that they were tyrants. The Church did not exist simply for the benefit of the clergyman, and to enable him to indulge his whims with an immunity that was denied to his parishioners. Yet some of these clergymen snapped their fingers' at their congregations, as though nothing but the whims of the clergy was of the least consequence, and drove their congregations either to dissenting meeting houses, or to attend services that were condemned by the highest authorities. It was the habit of Englishmen to obey the law, and there ought to be no exception from this principle in the clergy more than in any other order of the people. It was no use fighting a battle over dead clauses—clauses already abandoned by the proposers of the Bill. He would rather express his thanks to the right rev. Bench for having come forward manfully and in a body to give the House an opportunity of dealing with this serious difficulty. Our churches were more and more departing from those of our ancestors and from those of our childhood, and we had now to go into gewgaw buildings covered with all sorts of ornaments in imitation of the churches of the Middle Ages. One of the great difficulties of the case was that when any attempt was made to check the growing 39 evils of Ritualism, even the moderate men of the High Church party threw their shield over extreme practices in which they did not themselves take part, and complained, without any reason, that they also were attacked. Herein lay the great difficulty of dealing with the matter. He hoped the Amendments which were to be proposed from the right rev. Bench would meet the chief objections that had been raised to the Bill as it stood. The great thing was that there should be an easy means of complaint to the Bishop, that there should be a speedy hearing, and that he should hear the matter in open Court. The best security that there would be a wise discretion exercised was publicity, and there was every reason to hope that, with a legal assessor at his side, the Bishop would be able to draw a distinction between minor matters which did not call for interference and serious departures from the principles and practice of the Church of England. For himself, he thought that having before them the practices of the Church of England during three centuries; and, admitting with the Ritual Commission the force of practice in the Church, there ought to be no difficulty in providing for uniformity and propriety of worship.
§ LORD HATHERLEY
expressed an earnest hope that the Bill would become law in the course of the present Session. They had heard much of the ruffled state of the minds of the clergy—but he should like to refer to the ruffled state of the minds of the laity. He had enjoyed agreeable intercourse with men of all parties in the Church; but on two occasions only, and then by accident, had he been compelled to join in observances of the kind now under discussion, and he had then been a witness of the perplexity, annoyance, and pain which were caused to many worshippers by gross departures from the services given in the Book of Common Prayer. While the minds of the worshippers should have been absorbed in the performance of the highest acts of religious devotion—when their minds should have been filled with peace and goodwill to all mankind—they were disturbed and irritated by the introduction of hymns not in accordance either with the directions or with the doctrines of the Prayer Book, and the sense of which it was sometimes impossible to follow. When 40 strange customs like these were set up it was high time to apply a remedy. The very essence of "common prayer" was that it should be prayer in which all were agreed, as set forth in the preface to the Prayer Book, and nothing should be introduced that was not therein contained. The Act of Uniformity was conceived in a spirit of entire charity and love. Every effort was made to secure that prayer should be at once as comprehensive and as simple as possible. Under the rubrics, doubts that might arise as to the directions given might be settled by a reference to the Bishop. But, instead of the Bishop continuing to hold this paternal position, it had become common for young clergymen, within the last 30 or 40 years, to say, "If he can force us, well and good; if not, we shall do as we please." One of the clergymen who had been examined before the Ritual Commissioners assured them that he had made no changes in the services at his church which were not made at the desire of the congregation; but it turned out that his congregation were not his parishioners, and he (Lord Hatherley) drew the inference that the parishioners had been driven away from the church by the practices which had been introduced, and their places supplied by a number of persons who sympathized in these practices. The number of clergymen who pursued the courses complained of was, he was happy to think, exceedingly small, but then it was an increasing number; for while the large parish churches, such as those of St. Margaret's, Westminster, St. James's, St. George's Hanover Square, or St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, were, he believed, totally unaffected by the particular species of dis-obedience to the law, against which the Bill was aimed—because in them the parochial system was well carried out—there were churches whose congregations, drawn from different quarters, felt no interest in that system, so that the clergyman found no difficulty, in large towns like London, in surrounding himself with a body of sympathizers. He knew a church, built by a munificent Member of the other House, which that hon. Gentleman was prevented from attending owing to the practices in question being carried out to the fullest extent. Now, that was a state of things which surely called for some remedy. 41 He denied the inconsistencies that had been alleged in the judgments in ecclesiastical causes which had been delivered within a short time of each other. In reply to the noble Earl who had spoken last (Earl Nelson) he might be permitted to say that the judgment to which he alluded had been most carefully considered, that it was the law of the land, and that so long as it continued to be so, it ought to be obeyed. If any of the clergy thought the law, thus declared, unjust or defective they might seek to have it altered by all lawful means; but where it existed it was their duty as good citizens to obey it. In saying they would not obey the law, some clergymen took, in his opinion, a most extravagant view. Was it not one of their highest obligations, he would ask, as citizens, to render that obedience? If everyone were permitted to act in accordance with his own peculiar doctrines, how could those great works to which the noble Earl opposite and the noble Earl below him had that evening directed attention ever be achieved? He trusted the time would arrive—and would arrive shortly—when the clergy of the Church would rise to a higher tone of mind than that which led them to dissipate their energies in disputes about ceremonies, and that they would become duly impressed with the work that they had to perform against sin and evil, and seek how they might live to unite against the common enemy. They had a great work to perform—a work which could only be accomplished by the action of an united body of clergy and laity, acting in accordance with the law which had been sanctioned by the practice of 200 years, and which he trusted would endure for all time. He trusted that many of those who now resisted the law, would some day remember the dying thought of one of the saints of our Church (Hooker) who said—"I am meditating on the beautiful order and obedience of the holy angels, without which there would not be peace in heaven; would it were so on earth!"
THE MARQUESS OF BATH
was prepared to admit the necessity for some legislation on that subject, although he should like to know what that legislation was to be. A right rev. Prelate had told them that a series of Amendments was to be proposed in Committee which would practically meet the objections 42 taken to the Bill by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury). They were virtually asked, therefore, to assent to the second reading of a measure the provisions of which were not before them. The evils sought to be remedied by the Bill were the want of discipline in the Church, consequent on the length and expense of the hearing of cases before the present tribunals; the want of obedience to the law on the part of the clergy; and the want of uniformity in the services of the Church, whereby the feelings and even prejudices of congregations were offended. Now, ecclesiastical offences might be stated as being of three kinds—they were against morals, against doctrine, and against ritual. Of all the three, the offences against ritual were clearly the least important; and yet it was with them alone that the measure exclusively dealt. Ritual was only the sign of doctrine—it was, as it were, but the shibboleth of party; and they might make ritual signify one thing to-day and another thing to-morrow. As to obedience to the law, which the clergy were called upon to observe, he maintained that the Bill did not in any way enforce obedience to the law. What it did was to make the clergy obey the Bishops, while it left the Bishops perfectly free. He denied that the measure would promote uniformity; it would rather promote that most dangerous heresy, the doctrine of Papal infallibility. That doctrine was defended in the Church of Rome on the ground of the uniformity it produced. But in the present case they would have infallibility without uniformity. They would have 24 different infallible authorities, leading to wide divergences in different dioceses, according to the views and feelings of the particular Bishop. They proposed to call on the clergy to give implicit obedience to an undefined law—a law resting on the judgment of a fluctuating tribunal appointed at the will of a Minister. In the same voice that they were called upon to obey the law, the clergy were told that the law was obsolete and impracticable; yet under that law they were placed at the mercy and discretion of the Bishops; and the Bishops themselves were, under the Bill, practically placed in the invidious position of being both prosecutors and judges. Obedience to the Bishop was substituted for obedience to the law, 43 and in the name of repressing lawlessness greater lawlessness was created by-making everything depend on the arbitrary power of the Bishops. It might be said that the episcopal order could be trusted with that power; but the Bill implied that the clergy could not be trusted with liberty; and if that were so, how could right rev. Prelates be trusted with commands, being, as they were, selected by the Minister of the day, and not always for their skill in governing or in dealing with men? The Convocation of Canterbury, and the clergy wherever they had had an opportunity, had expressed an opinion against the Bill, which would create difference instead of uniformity. With regard to one objection that had been raised, he would venture to propose a remedy. Instead of allowing one or two persons in a congregation, who might be incited by societies, to initiate proceedings, he would suggest that the power should be confided to a majority or large minority of the congregation, represented by the churchwarden, who, with the minister, should go before the Bishop, who should give his decision in open Court, subject to appeal to a proper tribunal of ecclesiastical Judges. He thought that a proposition of that kind, as being least likely to give offence to any party in the Church, would be a better settlement on that point than the proposals contained in this Bill.
§ LORD SELBORNE
My Lords, in the eloquent and remarkable speeches of the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) and the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) many large and important topics were introduced, which, I think, were in great measure extraneous to the subject now before the House, and on some of which I would rather not commit myself without necessity. Into those questions I do not propose to enter. I must, however, emphatically dissent from the noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough), who objected to the introduction of this Bill by the most rev. Primate—as though he were a mere private Member—and argued that such a Bill ought only to proceed from the Government. I can imagine what the noble Duke would have thought of a Bill on this subject introduced by a Government not composed of those united with him in political opinion; but I must suppose, that he would have 44 been more lenient to one proceeding from his political friends. I do not myself say that there are no circumstances which could justify Government in introducing a measure on such a subject; but from no quarter could it have emanated with so much propriety and authority as from the most rev. Primate—more especially when he was understood as authorized to speak to a great extent on behalf of the right rev. Bench. Had laymen taken on themselves to initiate this legislation, the many and formidable objections urged to-night would have been multiplied tenfold; and the clerical objectors, who are the strongest opponents of the Bill, would have asked with considerable appearance of reason why the Bishops, the rulers of the Church, did not propose legislation, if legislation were necessary? Whatever difficulties there may be in the subject—and they are undoubtedly great—whatever criticisms friend or foe may offer, your Lordships will not only do justice to the most rev. Primate's purity of purpose and simple desire to perform a plain duty, but will make allowance for the inherent difficulties of the matter, in judging of those provisions of the Bill which may appear most questionable. Some of these are details on which it is not necessary or proper that I should now dwell. I reserve till the Committee my opinion on such points as those relating to alterations in the fabric of the church and to the cathedrals, and even the question how far judgment should be executed pendente lite; but I am bound to say that some of the objections urged on that point are founded on a very narrow acquaintance with the present principles and practice of the law. Not only is the general rule laid down in the Judicature Act of last Session that the judgment of all the Superior Courts shall be executed pending an appeal, unless the Court pronouncing that judgment, or the Court of Appeal, shall make an exception in any particular case; but the same has been down to this time the settled rule of the Court of Chancery—to say nothing of the practice of any other tribunals—and that Court deals with an amount of property greater than that dealt with by all the other tribunals put together. The principle therefore is not new, and provided the judgment so to be executed is obtained in a satisfactory 45 way, I am not indisposed to accede to the proposal. I am not sure that I should regard it, like the right rev. Bench, as a vital provision of the measure; but the fact that they do so regard it inclines me to entertain it favourably, knowing as I do that it is not contrary to the general principles or analogy of the law. As to the fear expressed by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Bath) and others that the Bishop would become a sort of Pope, and that we should have twenty-four Infallibilities and, consequently, as many laws, I do not think the Bill could have that effect. It must be remembered that an appeal lies to the Archbishop. There are, indeed, two Archbishops; and it is theoretically conceivable that, were no use made of the power of sending these questions to the highest Court of Appeal, there might be divergences between the two Courts; but there is hardly likely to be such a general and ready acquiescence in all the dioceses of the twenty-four Bishops, considering the keen interest felt in such matters, as to make it probable that there would be no appeals to the Archbishops' Courts, and to the highest Court of Appeal, which would tend to remove those differences. The noble Marquess used language from which persons ignorant of his real opinions might suppose that he wished to dispense with the government of Bishops altogether; for if a Bishop is to do anything, I suppose he must, to bear out his name, exercise some kind of supervision. If the argument of the noble Marquess meant anything it amounted to this—that while each clergyman, because he is a clergyman, is to do everything he pleases, a Bishop, because he is also a clergyman, is to have no power of control. But, surely, the possibility of some divergence in the exercise of the power and control sought to be obtained, is a less evil than the far greater divergence which must exist under the system so advocated and recommended. The noble Marquess said that there was, at all events, one doctrine held by a foreign communion, which would never be accepted even by extreme Ritualists, and that is the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. But there is one doctrine which might possibly result from the views expressed by the noble Marquess—and I am sometimes tempted to think that it is a doctrine held by some of those clergy whose proceedings have 46 rendered this legislation necessary—namely, that every clergyman ought to to be his own Pope: and, if so, it does not seem to me that the doctrine of Infallibility is after all so inaccessible to the extreme Ritualist. Those who have rendered this legislation necessary really do appear to take this kind of line—they habitually put what they think proper to describe as the law of the Church against all other authority whatsoever, especially that of the law of the land: and then, as often as the law of the Church pronounces itself against them, they set up against it every possible impediment which the law of the land can furnish them with. Well, I, for one, am content that the Bishops should have some authority in the Church in-trusted to them; and the real question seems to me to be, how far the present Bill offers the best mode of making that authority felt within proper limits; and whether that object could not be better secured by some more extensive Amendments than those explained this evening by the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York). It may be within the recollection of your Lordships that when the Bill was introduced, I ventured to throw out, for the consideration of the right rev. Prelates, whether means might not be devised of obtaining legal decisions of doubtful questions in a manner which would command the assent of really loyal clergymen, between whom and those who set all law at defiance I drew a great distinction. In drawing that distinction, I made use of an expression which seems to have been misunderstood in reference to some recent decisions. I did not mean to say anything whatever as to the probability of a successful attempt being made to obtain a reversal of those decisions from the tribunal that pronounced them on the part of any persons who might be accused. What I said was, that on account of the unfortunate circumstance, which the tribunal had no means of controlling, that there had not been argument on both sides, it was impossible to deny that those clergymen might have honestly persuaded themselves that had it been otherwise the decision might have been different, and that they might have retained practices which they had honestly adopted, because they believed it to be still possible that the ultimate decision, after argument, might still be different. 47 I never expressed any opinion on the question whether the tribunal would, or would not, hold itself absolutely bound by what had taken place, and still less as to the possibility of any new view being presented to it which would lead to new conclusions; I only drew a broad distinction between clergymen who defied the law, and clergymen who believed themselves to be obeying the law, and only hesitated to accept a decision, pronounced under those particular circumstances, as necessarily final and conclusive. To this class of men, whether their opinions or the advice on which they are acting be right or wrong, I was unable to impute any wilful violation of law. Having said so much, I wish now to observe on those provisions of the Bill which I confess I could desire to see altered. The 8th clause requires that there should be in every case a "representation" made to the Bishop, which is in substance an accusation or charge making the whole proceedings litigious and judicial, and I think unnecessarily so. I was very much struck by the reference made by the most rev. Prelate who introduced the Bill to the Declaration as to the Service of the Church which is prefixed to the Book of Common Prayer. In my opinion, the best mode of proceeding would be that which adhered most closely to the spirit and substance of that part of the existing law of the Church; bearing in mind that the object is not to alter the law of the Church, but to enforce it. Now the function which, according to that Declaration, the Bishop has to discharge is administrative and directory—it is not judicial. The three great principles in that Declaration are these—first, that when doubts and diversities arise as to the proper mode of interpreting or putting in practice anything contained in the Book of Common Prayer, the Bishop may be appealed to, and he may by his discretion—mark, "by his discretion"—make order for the removal of those doubts. It appears to me that we shall be going on the true lines of the existing law and intention of the Church, if we set in motion machinery strictly consistent with that principle. But there is also this other principle—that no such order of the Bishop "shall be contrary to anything contained in this Book;" so that a clergyman who knows or believes it to 48 be contrary to the Book of Common Prayer is really under no conscientious obligation to obey; and the third principle is that if "the Bishop be in doubt, then he may send for the resolution thereof to the Archbishop." For my part, I think we ought to act upon those three principles. The Bishop need not wait for a charge to be preferred by a churchwarden or other person, but should be enabled to act on his own responsibility in his administrative capacity, when he believes that the directions of the Prayer Book are not properly observed, or that anything is being done which is not authorized by it. In such case he should be authorized proprio motu to issue his monition, directing the clergyman to do one thing or not to do another. And I would suggest that after the lapse of a limited time, if the clergyman did not signify to the Bishop that he conscientiously believed those directions or some part of them to be invalid, or contrary to law, he should be bound by the monition until it was revoked or declared to be invalid; but that, if he did within that time signify such an objection, he should not be bound, till a decision on the question of law should have been pronounced, in accordance with the Bishop's view, by a competent Court. I think it would also be a very prudent plan to give a limited time to the Bishop, to the clergyman, or to any parishioner, to appeal to the Archbishop's Court for a declaration as to the validity or otherwise of any such monition by a short and inexpensive process, and thus to raise the question of law only, whether the monition is binding or not. I would also suggest that there should be a power of appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal in all such cases. The next suggestion I have to make may be an impracticable one; but nevertheless I will submit it to your Lordships. It is that if no costs were awarded on either side, this would have a great effect in keeping the expenses within a moderate limit, unless there were a large public purse behind one party or the other. After much deliberation I have felt it my duty to submit these suggestions to the consideration of the House. Nevertheless, if they should fail to meet with your Lordships' approval, I shall not, on that account, be unwilling to concur in any reasonable settlement of this question, 49 which in your Lordships' judgment may be more satisfactory.
THE EARL OF LIMERICK
said, he regretted very much that the most rev. Primate, when he introduced the Bill, should have made statements which were calculated to prejudice their Lordships' decision, and which gave to the Bill the aspect of a party measure. Surely it was injudicious to introduce questions which were not at all appropriate to the subject of the Bill. The sweeping condemnation pronounced by the most rev. Primate the other evening on the subject of altar-cards had given pain to many of the clergy. It was said that on one of these cards was a prayer containing invocations to the Holy Virgin and the Saints. Since then, however, the most rev. Primate acknowledged that this was not wholly true in the full acceptation of the word "invocation." It could be shown from the writings of the most esteemed Anglican Divines since the Reformation that the Church of England sanctioned the paying of reverence to saints and angels. It was said that among the clergy there was a state of lawlessness which did not exist among any other class of people in this country—that the clergy were equally regardless of the law and of monitions of their Bishops. The fact, however, was that, owing to contradictory judgments on questions such as this Bill related to, it was difficult for clergymen to know what the law was on some matters. The High Church clergy had not been lawless as had been represented. They thought it hard to be accused of acting in violation of their ordination vows when those of another party were allowed to disregard the plainest laws of the Church as to daily service and weekly Communion. He believed the Bishops would excite a great deal of ill-feeling against themselves by enforcing this measure, because the steps they might take would be attributed to personal feeling. One side would accuse them of doing too little, and the other side of doing too much. He regretted that the measure had been introduced at this particular time. Peace, he thought, would have been much better promoted by seeking to unite those who differed on minor matters, in great works worthy of all their energies, and calculated to carry forth the great objects which Churchmen of all shades of opinion 50 should rejoice to accomplish. It would detract from and not promote the peace of the Church, that decisions should be given which would add to the embarrassment, already sufficient, in defining clearly the doctrine of the Church, and in enforcing the observance of rubrics, some of which had become obsolete. In his opinion, a great cause of the unsatisfactory state of things was the numerical weakness of the Episcopal Bench. What was needed was more Bishops, increased activity on the part of the diocesan synods, and a larger representation of the parochial clergy in Convocation. In these ways clergy would be able to make their wishes known, and a good understanding might be expected to be brought about. It was said that there were, many clergymen who desired only to be a law unto themselves; but for his part he believed that if the law in regard to rites and ceremonies were distinctly laid down by an authority like Convocation, it would be found that but few clergymen would refuse to submit to it. At present the law was in an unsettled, contradictory state, and the Courts that now and then pronounced upon it were in reality legislating.
§ THE EARL OF SHREWSBURY
said, that though he was in favour of the principle of the Bill, he disliked it in its present form. He thought that the Bill as it stood gave excessive powers to the Bishops, but hoped that it would be so modified in Committee as to make it a measure which the country would welcome.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, it is easy to see from the empty state of the benches that it is well understood there will be no opposition to the second reading of this Bill. It is felt, no doubt, that to resist the second reading of a Bill introduced by the most rev. Primate and backed by all the authority of the Episcopal Bench would be inconsistent with the spirit which it is always the pleasure of this House to exhibit towards that Bench, and would, at the same time, be treating an important subject in a manner quite unequal to its claims upon our attention. Speaking on behalf of the Government, I have to say that we do not oppose the second reading of the Bill. At the same time we do not hold ourselves responsible for its introduction. We are not responsible for the selection of this par- 51 ticular moment for the moving of the question. Nor can we admit, what a noble Duke (the Duke of Marlborough) contended early in the evening, that it properly falls to Government to deal with subjects of this kind. Surely, if there be any duty which the Episcopal Bench has to discharge, it must be to take the initiative in a matter specially relating to the government of the Church. My Lords, no one can say that this Bill has been introduced without a cause. Whatever the difficulties may be which surround the subject, the lawlessness which a certain portion of the clergy have exhibited certainly calls for legislation, if legislation can be discovered of a kind which can check that lawlessness. I think an error has been made by the most rev. Prelates in assuming that these lawless feelings are shared very largely by the clergy of the Church. I believe the conspicuousness of the cases in which they occur is quite out of proportion to the number and influence of the clergymen implicated. But although the number of clergymen who act in contravention of the law is, I believe, extremely small, no one can deny that the lawlessness does exist; and it is difficult to condemn it in language which is too strong if you only consider the nature of the offence. Yet, when speaking of the acts of those clergymen, it is impossible to forget that which is attested by all who know either them or the sphere of their work—that in self-denial, activity, intelligence, in sacrificing everything for the cause they believe to be true, they are second to none and equalled by few among the clergy of the Established Church. Their moral excellence must not, however, be permitted to blind us to the political evils of the course which they pursue. It is not merely that they offend against the rights of their congregations, that they drive from many churches those who who have a right to attend them; they do much worse—they excite bitter feelings on the part of persons who never see their ministrations, but who draw from them the inference that there is an influence in the Church of England tending towards that Church from which three centuries ago she separated. The feelings of the pious portion of the community are aroused in that way, and the Church loses in their affections and in its stability in the hearts of the people. 52 But while I fully admit that the most rev. Primate has good reason to move in this matter and to try what legislation can do with respect to it, it is at the same time, I think, impossible not to be struck—and this is a consideration which weighs much with the Government—by the extreme difficulties by which such legislation is surrounded. What, in the first place, are the points with which the most rev. Primate proposes to deal? If you compare with the offences against which this Bill is meant to guard the other offences which it leaves untouched, you will find that the latter are those in reference to which the feelings of the country are most strongly excited. Nothing, for instance, has been felt so deeply as the idea which has gone abroad that confession is being encouraged in our English families in a way in which it has never been before, and especially encouraged among those who are most impressionable—the wives and daughters of English Churchmen. Now, that being so, I do not see in this Bill a single clause which will in any degree diminish the danger which is so keenly felt in connection with this subject. Again, the most rev. Primate called our attention the other evening to the use which was made of altar cards, and actually produced one, which he laid upon the Table; but I am not aware that there is any one clause in his Bill which will prevent those practices. The same may be said of those Penny Rituals to which your Lordships' attention has also been called. Again, my noble Friend whom I do not now see in his place (the Earl of Harrowby) is shocked at the amount of gewgaws and gilded ornaments which he sees in our churches—I wish he could whitewash them; but will this Bill, I would ask, do anything to remedy the evil of which he complains. The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Hatherley) objects to the introduction of hymns in the course of the Communion Service. Well, it may be a matter of taste as to whether such things are desirable or not; but when we come to a question of dry law, I put it to the legal conscience of the noble and learned Lord, is there, except in the Third Collect, any difference between the Communion Service and any other part of the Service? The hymn before Service, which, I venture to say, occurs in every Church throughout the Kingdom, is just 53 as illegal as the hymn during the Communion Service to which he refers. In fact, the class of difficulties which you desire to meet is precisely that which no legislation can reach. It must be borne in mind, too, that in dealing with the rubrics you are dealing with a code of laws which not only is not, but cannot be observed. The Athanasian Creed has been alluded to this evening. How many clergy, I should like to know, decline to consider themselves bound by law to read it? I remember a most excellent Prelate who would never read the Commination Service. The fact is, you cannot sharpen your law so as to make the whole of this obsolete code observed, and in trying to do so you will strike High Church, Low Church, and Broad Church alike. There would be the greatest difficulty attending any legislation which would go simply on this principle, and if you wish those laws to be obeyed you must carry reformation to some extent into the code itself, because as you apply to it the sharpening process, in that proportion will the reformation of which I speak be necessary. There is, of course, another mode of action open to you. You may, as was suggested by the noble and learned Lord opposite, give unlimited powers to the Bishops.
§ LORD SELBORNE
was understood to say, that his proposal was to give to the Bishops the power of initiation.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Well, my noble and learned Friend will give the Bishop the power of initiating, and the proposal, I think, would place him in so invidious a position, subjecting him to pressure and all sorts of imputation, that I fear the office of Bishop would become one not worth having. Now, you must either reform your law in order to apply to it a reformed procedure, or you must encounter all the difficulty which surrounds the conferring of an extensive discretion on the Bishops. It is that circumstance, among others, which makes legislation on this subject so extremely embarrassing and difficult. On the details of this Bill I express no opinion—and I maintain that reserve because I do not know what those details are. It is a Bill, I confess, which was produced under circumstances which gave me the impression that no very long time was taken in its preparation—and it certainly 54 bears on its face great marks of haste. This has been recognized by the right rev. Bench to this extent—that they now propose to make large and extensive alterations in it; and until we know what these alterations are it would be premature to discuss the details of the measure. But the noble and learned Lord (Lord Selborne) seemed to treat with some contempt the objection taken to enforcing a monition pendente lite, because the Court of Chancery exercises a similar jurisdiction over much larger sums of money than those involved in these cases. The noble and learned Lord, however, should see that this is a matter much more important than any mere sum of money. No sum of money would compensate a clergyman for having to obey a monition which he believed to be contrary to the Prayer Book, and which may be afterwards set aside by a Court of Appeal. I fear that great difficulties will arise in regard to the feelings of the clergy from any legislation which contemplates the enforcement of monitions pendente lite. These are grounds which make the Government desirous of reserving their opinion on the Bill; but there is a larger ground of anxiety which it is impossible for any of us to forget. The most rev. Prelates have made much of the circumstance; and have taken credit to themselves for the fact, that this is not to be a penal law. I think that is a very doubtful and ambiguous benefit. A penal law is always interpreted by the Courts with great favour towards the accused; in fact, I have heard it said that some recent decisions would have assumed a different aspect if the rule which the wise and generous policy of the law applies to penal litigation had been imported into litigation of this kind. But it must be remembered that if this is not in one sense penal legislation, it strikes at interests much higher and reaches persons far more numerous, than those concerned in other trials. Unfortunately, you cannot enter upon legislation of this kind without running the risk of affecting feelings and interests far more important than those represented by any single litigant—you cannot touch this question without some anxiety lest you should interfere with the compromise under which the Church of England exists. I do not say that consideration is to debar you from legis- 55 lating, but it must counsel the utmost caution. I have heard people take a very military view of this subject. They have talked as though there was nothing but Articles of War of which you have to secure the observance, and if men would not observe them, let them be cashiered. It has been too much the fashion to say, "Never mind whether these people threaten secession or not; we don't care whether they secede or not; the Church of England will be better without them." Undoubtedly, that statement may be true as applied to a very small number of very lawless persons; but it is very much the reverse of the truth if it extends to one of those schools of which the Church of England consists. I doubt whether it is not very much of an anachronism to talk of secession in this matter at all. Secession has been practised from time to time by parties in the English Church. It has always left the Church weaker than before; it has always been ruinous to the prosperity of almost all the seceding parties themselves, with perhaps the solitary exception of the Wesleyans. I doubt very much whether in existing circumstances, and in the present temper of men's minds, secession would be followed now. Secession means disestablishing yourself without disestablishing your opponent—it means yielding up vantage ground; and because any such course would bring, to my mind, the greatest evil which either the Church or country could suffer, I very much fear that if your legislation could be justly accused of oppressing a large party in the Church, that large party would not secede, but would rather seek to free the Church from its relations with the State. Anything more deplorable I cannot conceive; but men's minds are so excited, there is so much bitter feeling abroad, that such a course is not out of the bounds of probability; and as prudent legislators you are bound to remember upon what hidden embers you tread when you enter on the path of such legislation as this. I take it that no more fatal act could be done than to interfere with or put in jeopardy that spirit of toleration upon which, as upon a foundation, the stately fabric of your Church Establishment reposes. There are three schools in the Church which I might designate by other names, but which I prefer to call the Sacramental, the Emotional, and the 56 Philosophical. They are schools which more or less, except when they have been crushed by the strong hand of power, have been found in the Church in every age. They arise not from any difference in the truth itself, but because the truth must necessarily assume different tints as it is refracted through the different media of different minds. But it is upon the frank and loyal tolerance of these schools that the existence of your Establishment depends. The problem you have to solve is how to repress personal and individual eccentricities if you will—how to repress all exhibitions of wilfulness, of lawlessness, of caprice; but, at the same time that you do that, you must carefully guard any measures which you introduce from injuring the consciences or suppressing the rights of either of the three schools of which the Church consists. On this condition alone—and it is this which gives the question its difficulty, and which imposes so intense a responsibility on all those who touch it—on this condition alone can your legislation be safe. If you accomplish this end; if you solve this problem, no doubt you will remove causes of irritation and conciliate many hearts and minds to the Church which are now alienated, and you will have done a good work. But if you legislate without solving this problem; if you disregard this condition; if you attempt to drive from the Church of England any one of the parties of which it is composed; if you tamper with the spirit of toleration of which she is the embodiment, you will produce a convulsion in the Church and imperil the interests of the State itself.
said, that some of the objections raised by the noble Marquess to the Bill had been answered by anticipation by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), and the noble Marquess seemed quite to ignore the fact that it had been distinctly brought under their notice that there existed in the Church, practices which afforded the justification for this Bill. He admitted that legislation might not prevent clergymen dishonest enough to accept the offices and emoluments of the Church of England, while departing from its doctrines on points of the highest importance, from going over to its most determined enemy, and adopting practices against which the Church had always 57 protested; it might, however, prevent their parading such practices before the public and in the services of the Church. A certain number of the clergy—he hoped very few, but he feared not so few as represented by the noble Marquess—had notoriously been introducing practices intended to imply the adoration of the elements in the administration of the Sacrament, though the Church of England knew no Sacrifice of the Mass—a doctrine on which was built the system of priestly tyranny which for so many centuries weighed so heavily upon Europe—a religion of forms and ceremonies and outward observances being substituted for the pure spiritual religion taught by Christ and his Apostles. Even devout Roman Catholics did not deny that before the Reformation the state of the clergy was fearfully corrupt, wickedness prevailing in the highest places in the Church, and many Popes and Bishops being among the vilest of mankind, and that even in nations which had adhered to the Papacy the influence of the Reformation had been very marked. In this country there was a revolt not only against the corruptions in the Church, but against the doctrine believed to be the root whence they had sprung, and he was sure the English people would not allow that yoke to be re-imposed. But there were a number of clergymen of the Church of England who were labouring to bring that Church nearer to the Church of Rome. He cordially agreed with the noble Marquess in deprecating the secession of a large body from the Church, for he recognized the importance of giving the largest possible latitude to men of various opinions; and he desired more liberty as regarded certain rubrics; but, at the same time, parishioners must have security that there shall not be introduced into their parish churches, practices painful to the feelings of men who had been brought up in the Church; and, admitting the danger of raising a cry for disestablishment by producing a sense of ill-treatment among a large number of the clergy, he would remind him that in the present state of opinion our national Establishment could only be maintained as long as it enjoyed the confidence and support of the people, which would undoubtedly fail it, were practices odious to the great body of the people allowed 58 to become common in the Church. At present neither the authority of the Bishops nor the law could restrain such practices, and it was vain to wait for a more perfect remedy. He agreed with the right rev. Primate that there ought to be some means of reforming the law, that that law should be more effectually administered, and that some new authority should be devised. Parliament without assistance could not legislate effectually, and Convocation, brought together under an obsolete and antiquated system, could not be called upon to perform a work like this—for it did not represent even the clergy, whereas the laity were also entitled to representation. That question must, sooner or later, be considered, but there was no immediate prospect of its settlement, and there was an urgent necessity for legislation on the present subject. Amendments might be necessary in the Bill, but not, he believed, so extensive as to change its character and object. He thought it furnished a fair basis for legislation, and he hoped the Session would not pass without some legislation.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, at this late hour of the evening I will not trouble your Lordships with many words. I must first express my obligations and those of my right rev. brethren to the House for the compliment they have paid us in so generally agreeing to the second reading of this Bill; and, perhaps, the compliment is not the less because, in two notable instances, at least, the speeches which urged the second reading of the Bill have been directed, during a greater part of the time occupied by the speakers, to a criticism of its provisions. I trust the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) will excuse me if I say I hope he is not to be taken as in the latter part of his speech representing the full sentiments of the Government, any more than the noble Earl who spoke early in the debate (the Earl of Shaftesbury) is to be considered as fully representing that great Evangelical party of which at one time I was in the habit of considering him the chief. I must say of the speech of the noble Marquess that I think there was some inconsistency between its beginning and its end. He said in the beginning of his speech that this was but a small matter; that the number of clergymen who were affected by this 59 Bill was small; but at the end of the speech we were warned, in words which I fully appreciated, to be on our guard lest a great body of the clergy, through the passing of this Bill, should be alienated from the National Church. Now, the noble Marquess will excuse me again if I say that I think the tone he adopted in the end of the speech, and during the greater part of it, was greatly calculated to swell the number of those who might consider themselves affected by the Bill. The difficulty which has stood in the way of all former attempts to legislate on this matter has arisen from the circumstance that what are commonly called moderate High Churchmen—men who are sincerely attached to the Church of England—have too often thrown their protection over those with whom they have really but little sympathy; and I think that the speech of the noble Marquess this evening must be regarded as having erred in that direction. He has spoken as strongly as I should myself on the evils to remedy which, this Bill is directed; but there still was that tone of apologetic sympathy which seemed to say to those persons who were violating the law, "After all, you are very near to us, and any attempt which is aimed against you must in some degree be aimed against us." Now, my Lords, I have appealed twice in this House during these debates, to that great party to which the noble Marquess alluded, and have besought them to express their disapprobation of the practices against which this Bill is directed. I trust that these appeals will not be in vain, and that the noble Marquess and his Friends will separate themselves from those who are bringing the greatest injury on the Established Church of England by open defiance of its laws. The noble Marquess, in a vein of, so to say, suppressed sympathy with those whom in the beginning of his speech he very distinctly condemned, dwelt not unnaturally upon the merits of some of the clergy alluded to in their peculiar spheres. No one can be more ready than myself to acknowledge the great amount of zeal which is displayed by such persons, and no one can be more ready than myself to lament that it is necessary to restrain men who devote their lives in a manner which any of us might be proud to imitate, to what they believe to be 60 the advancement of the Church of Christ. But perhaps we sometimes hear too much of this—as if there were no earnest clergymen in the Church of England except themselves. I think I could point to churches which have been emptied by the frivolities practised in them, and to neglected parishes—neglected because the whole time of the clergyman is occupied by these follies, instead of giving himself to the real ministry of the Word. I am quite ready to allow all that is good in the persons of whom the noble Marquess has spoken, but I am not ready to allow that they have any monopoly of zeal in the Church of England, and I am not ready to allow that there are not many of them in whom there is wanting zeal for anything that is really worthy of calling forth zeal. My Lords, I will allude for a moment to certain newspapers which are published, I believe, by clergymen. Those papers are written in a spirit which, if your Lordships ever read them—as I trust you never do—would at once show you that there must be persons engaged in this particular cause who have very little appreciation of the virtues of the Christian religion. My Lords, the noble Marquess has pointed out that it is not in our power to put an end to confession in the case of persons who desire to confess. He has said that this Bill, if it should become law, will be wholly inoperative to put a stop to that practice. Well, my Lords, I read to your Lordships, when I had the honour of introducing the Bill, a statement to the effect that it was the desire of the small party of which we had been speaking to introduce all the outward signs of confession into their churches by having confession boxes, or, where that could not be attained, to have portions of the church curtained off in order that confession might there be carried on. I think I may appeal to the right rev. Prelate who presides over this diocese as to such attempts being made in at least one of the churches of his diocese. [The Bishop of LONDON: Two.] Well, if we cannot put that down, we can restrain it, and I say it will be something to compel these people to abstain from the outward and public manifestation of their intentions. Again, it has been said also that the altar-cards which I mentioned, and which, perhaps, have assumed a degree of importance beyond 61 what they deserve, would not be restrained by this Act. Of course they could be, because they are not "ornaments" of the Church, and, therefore, would be removable under the provisions of this Act. It is quite true that a man may in his secret thought say or do what he pleases, and we are not to be blamed if we are unable to compass that which no power on earth can do—namely, control the thoughts of the heart, by outward legislation. But, my Lords, we do something if we declare that Church of England congregations are no longer to be treated with this extreme levity, which introduces the palpable outward signs of the Mass into the administration of the Holy Communion in our churches. The noble Marquess alluded to a certain book, which, I presume, was the book which, as I understood, lay in the church, and on which was written that it was not to be taken out of the church. It must, I think, have contained something in common with that book which I produced here some nights ago, which was the Liturgy of the Church of England and the Service of the Mass dovetailed into each other, and put into the hands of the clergy that they might be used on the Communion tables. The Bill would, my Lords, deal with such a case; it would prevent the clergyman bringing into the service of the Church such a book. A great deal has been made by some speakers, and not least by the noble Marquess, as to the supposed lawlessness of other bodies in the Church besides those we are speaking of. Now, I believe there is this distinction between the violation of the law on the part of others and the violation of the law in these particular cases—that the persons who neglect any of the regulations of the Church are ready to act as directed by authority, and evince a loyal willingness to obey the law when called upon by authority, while on the other side is evinced a determination to resist authority when it calls upon them to obey the law. Only last week a deputation waited on me in reference to this Bill, consisting of persons not likely to err on the side of Romanism, and it was at once stated by them that they quite expected that they would be obliged to be more accurate in their observance of the rubrics than they had been, and that, if it were shown there was anything in which they failed, they were ready to obey. I do not say there 62 are not extreme persons on both sides; but I think that the three great parties to whom the noble Marquess alluded are heartily loyal to the Church of England, and are ready to obey its laws when pointed out to them; while other persons of whom we have spoken hold those laws in derision. I do, as earnestly as the noble Marquess, trust and pray that those three great parties—if we are to call them parties—may still remain united and loyal to the Church of England, and that the differences of opinion between good and loyal men which have always existed in the Church may still continue to exist there. I fully believe that the authority of the Bishops, if it be your pleasure to make this Bill an Act, will be supported by all those three parties. My Lords, I have said it is a compliment to us that the second reading of this Bill has been advocated even by those who have spoken most bitterly against it. I confess I expected there would be a great deal of opposition to the Bill. When some time ago we became aware of the absolute necessity of going carefully into the matter, I naturally expected to meet with violent opposition from those who were likely to have their offences visited under any Bill we might bring forward, for, knowing the great activity of the small minority of whom we are now speaking, I was aware they would leave no stone unturned to raise a feeling against the measure. I confess, however, I was hardly prepared for the sort of opposition we have heard from my respected Friend the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) who spoke early in the debate. The noble Earl was not contented with assailing our Bill, but in order to damage us he assailed his own, particularly in regard to the constitution of the Court. If people are determined to find fault with whatever we propose, of course there is no meeting them even by incorporating the provisions of their own Bills into ours. It has been often stated as a great offence on my part that I wished to allow the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury only one day to consider the Bill. Well, at our first meeting some five months ago the report of the Convocation was mentioned by one of the right reverend Prelates who was present at the meeting, and we were therefore aware that they had already discussed the subject. Therefore, we thought an additional day for con- 63 sideration would be enough; especially as we found that their Report was in substance the Bill we are now proposing; and as they are not pleased at our proposing their own measure, I cannot help thinking that they, like the noble Earl, object because we propose it, and not because of any demerits in the Bill itself. This remark applies also to a great number of the provisions which have been assailed in this Bill. The very persons who assail them are in favour of the measure with some slight alteration—instead of objecting to the principle of the Bill, they are really in favour of it. Allusion has been made to what fell from my most rev. Brother (the Archbishop of York) respecting certain alterations which we are willing to introduce. I am willing to go into Committee pro formâ, in order to reprint all the Amendments, and thus the Bill will stand for regular discussion in Committee perhaps immediately after Whitsuntide, or earlier, if such be the pleasure of the House. But although we are quite willing to make some modifications in the Bill, its principle remains exactly the same—namely, that there ought to be in every diocese a reference to the Bishop to regulate that independence of the clergy which has run into lawlessness—there ought to be an easy and inexpensive process by which you may apply to the Bishop, and also a lessening of that complicated system of appeals which at present causes so much delay and expense. It was naturally to be expected that every sort of opposition would be raised against this measure, for it is very difficult indeed to please men by a Bill which is intended to make them obey the law, which they habitually violate. It happens that long before this Bill can come into operation the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will, in regard to this matter, have practically passed away, and it will be the new Court, which was established because you were dissatisfied with the Privy Council, that will have the decision of these cases. My Lords, I have but a few more words to say. Endeavours have been made in various quarters to set forth the confusion and the heartburnings which will arise in consequence of this measure. I take a totally different view of the matter. I have a full reliance on the good sense and loyalty of the great majority of the 64 English people, whether they be clergy or laity, and I believe that if you appoint a tribunal to which they can have speedy access, and which can speak with the unfaltering voice of authority, you will find that they will be satisfied with the decisions of that tribunal, and that an end will be put to the disputes which at present distract the Church of England.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
My Lords, I do not know that I should have ventured to trouble your Lordships on this occasion with the very few remarks I now intend to make, had it not been for a statement which fell from the most rev. Primate in reference to the noble Marquess near me (the Marquess of Salisbury). In commenting on the speech of my noble Friend, the most rev. Primate said, he was sorry to find that the end of that speech did not at all coincide with his opening remarks; and he went on to state that which, on the part of my noble Friend, I distinctly deny—namely, that my noble Friend has a suppressed sympathy with the extreme party in the Church. Now, this was to impute that my noble Friend had in his mind other views than those which he publicly expressed in your Lordships' House.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
I thought it was impossible that the most rev. Primate could impute that to my noble Friend, but certainly the words he used gave one the idea that he spoke about a person expressing one opinion while he secretly entertained another. I think it is evident, from what has passed this evening, that it is absolutely necessary that there should be some legislation on this matter. That, I believe, has been admitted by all. My noble Friend behind me, in addressing your Lordships, I think, went no further than this—that lawlessness in the Church had reached a point past endurance, and ought to be restrained; but that when you came to deal with that lawlessness in a practical manner, you found it a most difficult task to accomplish. It has been the duty of Her Majesty's Government to go through all the details of the measure brought forward by the most rev. Primate for the suppression of these practices; and it is only by looking at this Bill carefully, and analyzing it 65 clause by clause—and I might almost say word by word—that the real difficulty presents itself to your notice as to the way to put down these practices; because this point must not be lost sight of, that the Church consists of more than one body, and therefore, as my noble Friend has stated, in endeavouring to restrain one party, care must be taken that you do not also annoy and discomfort the other. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) pointed out one of the great difficulties connected with this subject—namely, that you are attempting to deal with rubrics some of which to a great extent are obsolete, while it would be very difficult to enforce others. That which we all desire to do seems to me to be such as is stated in the preface to the Prayer Book to be the object of compiling that Book—namely, not to gratify unreasonable demands, but to preserve peace and unity in the Church, to secure reverence, piety, and devotion in the public worship of God, and to cut off occasion of cavil or quarrel with the Liturgy of the Church. That, I think, is precisely the view which everybody must bring to bear in dealing with this question. I think the most rev. Primate has taken a very wise course, which I hope will be assented to by the House—namely, that of suggesting that if the Bill should be read a second time to-night, it should be committed pro formâ to-morrow, for the purpose of having the Amendments which the most rev. Primate proposes to insert in the Bill put into the Bill, that the Bill should be reprinted; and then we shall know when we go into Committee on the Bill the precise form in which it will remain, and we shall be better able to see what amendment is required. I believe the great object and desire of all parties is to put an end to the extravagances of one party in the Church, and to deal with—perhaps I may say—the shortcomings of the other.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.