§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, in bringing forward the Resolution of which I have given Notice I will not detain your Lordships longer than appears to me to be absolutely necessary. Indeed, as your Lordships will perceive, there are physical reasons why I should not do so, the fact being that I am at this moment better fitted to perform the duty of mute at a funeral than to make a speech on the Law of Burial. The subject is one on which strong feelings exist, and I shall not disguise from your Lordships that in discharging the task I have undertaken I feel great anxiety. I am anxious to avoid everything which could give rise to angry controversy, and I am sure that a tone of asperity or anger is not the one in which your 589 Lordships would wish this question to be discussed. For that reason, my Lords, among others, I shall not by referring to them revive either the strong declarations made by the Nonconformists on the one side, or the equally strong declarations made by individual clergymen on the other. There may be some temptation to me to do so to give point to the argument the subjects may suggest, but I feel that the declarations to which I allude would be irrelevant having regard to the quasi-judicial view of the subject which I hope your Lordships will take in respect to this question. I do not think, my Lords, that I owe your Lordships any apology for bringing the matter under your consideration. My own belief is that when any great subject agitates the public mind, it adds neither to the dignity nor the weight of this House that we should wait till action has been taken elsewhere, or take the chance of a proposal from the Government on the one hand, or the chance of some measure being sent up from another House on the other. And this is a subject to which that observation particularly applies. I look upon this question of the Law of Burial as one of great social interest, and as one which concerns both the laity and the clergy; and I may remind your Lordships of what was said by the late Bishop of Winchester (Dr. Wilberforce), when following Lord Salisbury in debate some five years ago as to the greatest caution being desirable in order to prevent irritation on matters of this kind. I contend, my Lords, that this question ought not to be left solely to discussion on the part of the clergy in Convocation. It is a subject well worthy the consideration of an Assembly like this, which combines in so high a degree the lay and ecclesiastical elements of the Established Church of this country. I am glad to see the Episcopal Bench so full on this occasion; because strong observations are reported to have been made by some right rev. Prelates on the one side and on the other, and I think it more respectful to abstain from comments on the views of the Episcopal Bench, leaving it to the most rev. and right rev. Prelates to express their views to your Lordships' House.
Now, my Lords, I am prepared to hear objections made to the form in which I am bringing the subject under 590 your Lordships' notice. I remember reading when I first entered the House of Commons a book, the title of which I forget—but it was a book written by "Single-Speech" Hamilton. It contained hints to young Members of Parliament, and he pointed out to those who objected to a proposal or did not wish to commit themselves to it, that however a proposal might be shaped a number of ingenious arguments might be brought forward against its form. Remembering that, I wish to explain in a few words why it is I have brought forward my proposition in the shape of a Resolution. I imagine that no one can deny that my proposition assumes a constitutional and Parliamentary form; but it may be said that "calling the attention of the House" would have been a better form of proceeding than this by Resolution. Well, my Lords, I have observed that when "the attention of the House is being called" to a subject, noble Lords retire in considerable numbers as the hour of half-past 7 arrives, and when the report of the debate appears in the morning it is perhaps inferred that your Lordships took very little interest in the subject. Again, it may be said that I ought to have introduced a Bill. I do not think that would have been the more convenient or practical course. A mere skeleton Bill would have been open to strong objection, and I could not introduce a Bill complete in all its parts, because I do not yet know how far your Lordships are prepared to concur with me in the general principle of my proposition. But if your Lordships assent to my Resolution it will be easy to give effect to the principle it embodies. Now as I propose that Parliament should amend the Law of Burial, your Lordships may naturally expect me to give some statement of what that law is at the present moment. I apprehend there is no doubt whatever that by the Common Law every parishioner is entitled to interment in his parish churchyard; I apprehend that by the Statute Law the Churchwardens are compelled to inter in the parish churchyards the remains of persons who die in the parish; and I apprehend also that by the ecclesiastical law there is an obligation on the clergy to recite the Burial Service of the Church:—except in three cases—the first of these is where the person dies excom- 591 municated. I am told that, from the feeling which exists on the part of the Bishops in respect of excommunication, I may put that exception out of consideration. The next exception is that in the case of a person who commits felo de se. This exception applies to so very few persons that we may put it also out of the case. The third exception is that of the unbaptized; and these are of three classes. First, there are those who have remained unbaptized through want of care or negligence; secondly, there are those who have remained unbaptized from some unavoidable circumstance; and, thirdly, there are those who have remained unbaptized owing to their parents or guardians having a religious scruple against baptism—at all events, during the early years of life. Some questions have also been raised as regards the character of baptism, but that question has been decided by the Courts of Law of the country.
Your Lordships may next ask why I seek an amendment of the Law of Burial. For several reasons. First, I believe that law was enacted for a state of things which does not exist at this moment; it was enacted when the whole community was supposed to belong to one denomination; secondly, it was enacted when it was considered that the services of the Church as performed by the clergyman were the only safe passport for the dead to another world; and, thirdly, this law was enacted at a time when it was not contemplated that what was then considered a glorious privilege could ever come to be considered a penalty; and lastly, because the existing law is regarded as a grievance by Nonconformists. Of course, I have heard it asserted that the Burial Law is no grievance, or that, at best, it is only a simulated grievance, to the Dissenters; but I maintain that it is utterly impossible to make good that assertion, and I should attach little importance to it had it not been made by the Prime Minister himself. I do not want to trouble your Lordships with statistics, but I have been looking back, and though the statistics adduced three years ago in support of an alteration of the law are by no means complete with reference to the present state of the question, I should be content to rest my case on those statistics. I ask whether there are not hundreds of chapels without 592 burial grounds attached to them, and without burial grounds other than the churchyards at a convenient distance. I ask whether the congregations of those chapels—excepting such of them as happen to be persons of great wealth, and who, therefore, are able to sustain the expense of removing the remains of their relatives to a distance—are not obliged to use the churchyards as burial places? And I ask whether, if a religious service is read in these cases, it must not be read by a clergyman who does not sympathize in the religious sentiments of the deceased, or with the religious feelings of the mourners? Now, I ask your Lordships to consider what your own feelings would be in your own country if you, being members of the Established Church, were obliged to see your children or your friends buried by a Roman Catholic priest with the Roman Catholic service, or by a Dissenting minister with an extempore service. And suppose the case of the Roman Catholic priest thinking that the child was not duly baptized, or of the Dissenting minister objecting that it had been baptized before full age, and that on either of those grounds any religious service whatever were refused, do not you think you would regard that as a grievance? I am far from saying that the grievance is the same in the case of all Nonconformists. That large and respectable body, the Wesleyans, do not, I believe, object much to the service of the Church of England. They do object, however, that the funeral service over members of their congregation is not said by their own clergyman, but by one who does not sympathize with their religious opinions; and they object to the difficulty which often occurs in regard to the baptism of children. It may be said that to get over this difficulty you need not repeal the Burial Law; but that observation was more plausible than true. By the Wesleyans the question has been constantly raised on appeal to the Bishop, and almost invariably the Bishop gives a courteous reply; but the clergyman does not always take the advice of the Bishop, and unless the appellants can embalm the body the process of obtaining redress is too cumbrous and circuitous to admit of the deceased being kept unburied pending the decision of the question raised. Ten years ago the 593 Wesleyans established what the law is; but the grievance, as a practical grievance, continues to this day. Take the case of other Nonconformists. They are not like the Wesleyans, but, like all the Protestant communities on the Continent, they have an extempore service at the grave; but according to our law, if they bring their dead in the churchyard, they must have the service of the Church of England. My Lords, I do not wish you to take my word for this being a grievance. I looked back the other day to what occurred 40 years ago, and I found that the late Dr. Phillpotts—no weak member of the Established Church and no weak opponent of the Dissenters—expressed in strong terms his opinion that it was a grievance to compel Dissenters to submit to the service of the Established Church in the case of their marriages. I have already referred to something which was said by the late Bishop of Winchester on the very subject now under the consideration of your Lordships. Perhaps your Lordships will permit me to quote one passage from the speech delivered by that right rev. Prelate when the Burial Bill of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Beauchamp) was under discussion in this House, on the 20th of June, 1871. This is the passage—It was a great hardship to those who dissented from the Church of England, and who objected to the services used by the Church over the dead, that they should bein any way compelled, as the condition of a parishioner's right to be buried in the churchyard, to have that service read at the burial. They ought to remove as much as possible everything which savoured of those unhappy divisions which at present existed. If he were a conscientious Dissenter, and disapproved of the Burial Service of the Church of England, he should feel it a hard thing to be obliged, on bearing the body of his child to its last resting-place, to have a service read of which he disapproved, and which was repugnant to his feelings. The Dissenters had a real grievance, which it was the duty of Parliament to redress."—[3 Hansard, ccvii. 393.]My Lords, it is impossible to say either that this is a simulated grievance or a new grievance put forward for political purposes, when Mr. Hardcastle and Sir Morton Peto took up the question: Why it is at least 60 years ago that the Nonconformists put forward a Memorial in which they lay down almost exactly the same grievance that they complain of now. It is a grievance that they 594 have suffered with patience; but, my Lords, it is rather hard when a grievance is suffered quietly to say that is proof that those whom it affects do not feel it, and then when they do come to Parliament in a legitimate way for redress to turn round and tell them that their nonconformity is political nonconformity. In one sense I apprehend they have as much right to be political as Churchmen; but if it is meant in an invidious sense I will not say but that there may be among Nonconformists as there may be among Roman Catholics, or in our own Church, men who use religion only as a veil, being entirely occupied with objects of ambition. In that case I would ask, is it wise to give political Nonconformists, if such there be, the hold of a question which above all others is certain to secure the co-operation of their own body, and to a very great degree excite the sympathy of those who do not agree with them in their religious views. I wish also to change this law because I believe it to be a disadvantage both to the Church at large and to individual clergymen. With regard to the latter, it can hardly be supposed to be agreeable to their feelings to have to force upon those who are unwilling to receive their ministrations that beautiful, magnificent, and touching service which the Liturgy of the Church of England prescribes for the burial of the dead. It is again notorious that both the Common Law and the Ecclesiastical Laws are by different persons evaded. An influential friend of mine, who is not a Churchman, recently gave me a touching description of a burial service over his child which was permitted or connived at by the clergyman of the parish; and I have heard of the case of two large and populous parishes which closely adjoin each other, and of which the clergymen are both respected and beloved. One of them is of High Church views and makes difficulties which practically almost exclude the bodies of Dissenters from his churchyard; but the other, who holds Low Church views, renders matters so easy that large numbers of Dissenters are buried in his churchyard. My Lords, whether they break the law or merely stretch it, I say it is a hardship to put such a strain on their consciences as is placed by the existing law. My Lords, I heard a very 595 simple story the other day of a poor Roman Catholic child who had been utterly destitute until a humble home was secured for it by casual alms. It died, and the expense of removing it to a distant Roman Catholic cemetery was too great, and it was buried in the churchyard of the parish in which it died with the usual Church of England rites. But when that service was concluded, and the rector had departed, a Catholic priest in plain clothes, some young companions of the child, and a lady who had taken an interest in it, assembled round the grave, and the priest said prayers in a low voice and sprinkled a little consecrated water over the grave. A few days afterwards the priest received a letter from the rector, written by the direction of the Bishop. In that letter complaint was made of what had passed at the grave side, and explicitly stating that no such thing should happen again. No doubt the Bishop was right, and no doubt the rector was right; but somehow or other the story seemed to grate upon my ears. I felt that if the case had been reversed, and I had been seeing a poor Protestant child obliged by law to be interred in a Roman Catholic graveyard by a Roman Catholic priest, and when he had gone a Protestant clergyman, who really perhaps had saved the child's soul, had approached the grave and repeated a hymn and dropped a few flowers on the grave, I should have felt some compassion for the priest who was obliged by his Superior or by the law of his Church to administer a reproof to the Protestant clergyman for what he had done, and warn him against repeating the offence. I think, therefore, my Lords, that the existing law is a grievance not only for the Dissenter, but for the clergy of the Established Church.
The next question is—"What remedy do you propose?" Well, I think my remedy is very simple. The first part of my Resolution declares that the law should be amended by giving facilities for the interment of deceased persons, without the use of the burial service of the Church of England, in churchyards in which they have a right of interment, if the relatives or friends having charge of the funeral shall so desire. There is, I know, a feeling in the minds of clergymen, especially in the country, that such facilities would lead to desecration 596 of the churchyards. This, I believe, is Owing to the consecration of churchyards. Now, I am not going into the question of consecration, on which a great deal of learning has been expended. I take it that consecration does impart to churchyards all the sanctity which that rite is held to impart. But what I am at a loss to understand is this:—According to our law, persons unworthy of any burial service may be buried in one of our consecrated churchyards. Does not that desecrate the sanctity of the ground? If not, I confess it is to me unintelligible that it can be desecrated by the burial of a worthy person who does not belong to the Church of England over whom a burial service is said, though it is not the burial service of the Church of England. How can it be said that the person unworthy of any burial service, and buried like an ox or an ass, does not desecrate the consecrated ground, while a person such as I have just named does desecrate it? Another objection, and one which appears to have the sanction of the Prime Minister, is that those who propose to amend the law make a one-sided proposal—that while Churchmen would be confined to one particular class of burial places, Nonconformists would have liberty in the choice of their places of burial. My Lords, I thought we were proud of belonging to the National Church of the country; I thought we rejoiced in our parochial system, and that we gloried in our beautiful Liturgy. If that be so, I cannot appreciate the objection to which I have just referred. It may be a good argument for disestablishment—it may be a good argument for destroying the legislation of the Church—it may be a good argument for reforming or abolishing the rubric, but that it is an argument as between Churchmen and Dissenters is what I cannot see. Another objection is that, though the Nonconformists might have had a claim to what is now asked before the abolition of church rates, now that they have no longer to pay for the maintenance of the churches and the churchyards the ground is entirely cut from under them, and they have no longer a right to demand the concession asked for. That may sound well enough abstractedly. But, first of all it strikes me that legally, all the rights Nonconformists had before the abolition of church rates remain to 597 them now. The Act of Parliament abolishing those rates did not change those rights, but only provided that no person should have a vote on the application of the voluntary rates who did not contribute to those rates. I take another point, if anything turns on this argument. It is a fact that thousands of Nonconformists not only subscribe to the maintenance of the churchyards, but to the maintenance of the churches. I have taken some pains to derive information on that point, and no doubt right rev. Prelates will be able to confirm what I have said; but with regard to the churchyards, I know that in my districts collectors go round and say to the Nonconformists,—"You do not use the church, and so we do not think it fair to ask you to subscribe to it, but you do use the churchyard, and have a right to use it, and therefore we do ask you to contribute to keeping it in order."I hear that almost invariably that appeal is responded to. But while there are thousands of Nonconformists who pay towards the maintenance of the churchyards, there are hundreds of thousands of Churchmen who do not. Will the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) say that thousands of Churchmen contribute to the maintenance of Nonconformist chapels? Besides that, it is well enough known that the Nonconformists pay their share out of the poor rates towards the maintenance of the churchyards. It is said that if the churchyards be opened to Nonconformists it will be impossible to close the churches against them. That is an argument which has been described as irresistible in reason; but I confess that I am not quite sure that it is a very prudent argument. Many changes have been more opposed than the one I am now proposing; and your Lordships may or may not agree to my Resolution; but you have already agreed to the Act repealing the Test Act, the Marriage Act, and the Church Rates Abolition Act. Would not the argument have been equally good against any of these measures? Yet these changes were made, and it would be very unsafe to say that the one under debate will not be made. Then, again, a good deal has been made of anticipated desecration in the event of the opening up of the churchyards and the unseemly scenes that might follow. But it is said that if you open, your 598 churchyard gates you may have 40 Mormon widows, all howling, jumping, and stamping in your churchyards. In reply to this, I may first remind your Lordships that at this moment there is nothing to prevent those 40 ladies from howling, jumping, and stamping up to your churchyard gates, except such police regulations as, I presume, would be available inside as well as outside the burial place. But, my Lords, has there been any instance in any country where the full liberty I now demand is granted where such indecent spectacles have occurred at funerals? I do not think we need have any apprehension on that ground—and even if there were any danger of such things occurring in this country, we may well trust to the good feeling and good sense of the country to prevent any such scenes.
I now come, my Lords, to the proposals that are made with the view of remedying or obviating the grievance. One is simply that of providing separate burial-grounds or cemetries. There are obvious advantages connected with it, and it is a remedy already adopted to a certain extent in connection with the large towns; but it is not called for in many country districts, where there is yet ample room in the churchyards for the burial of the dead; and, while the public health, does not imperatively call for the closing of the churchyards, Dissenters cannot be expected to sacrifice the natural feelings which make them cling to the churchyard as the family burial-place. I have seen accounts of American after American visiting the village churchyards where there forefathers were buried; and if the citizens of a foreign country are impelled to take such journeys by local tradition which still linger in their families, is it not a natural feeling demanding respect which invests the churchyard where the members of the village family are buried with associations to which even the Dissenter will do no violence, except under the obligation of an imperative necessity? When the measure relating to Ireland was before Parliament both Lord Liverpool in this House and Attorney General Plunket in the other House objected to separate burial-grounds in the strongest terms. Lord Liverpool said he would not be a party to drawing an additional line of demarcation between the different religious sects of the country; and At- 599 torney General Plunket said the plan of separate burial-grounds would violate the most sacred feelings of the country by dividing families in death, and separating husband from wife, brother from brother, and parents from children. This proposal, besides denying the Dissenter that to which he thinks he has a perfect right, involves another question, and that is, whether we are prepared to burden the whole community with the expense of providing separate burial-grounds when they are not absolutely required to maintain the public health. Another proposal is made which involves the concession of nearly all I ask for—namely, the admission of the Nonconformists to the churchyards with the condition that any ceremonial to be adopted by others than the clergy of the Established Church shall be prescribed by Parliament. It is said that something of the sort was proposed by an hon. Member of the other House; but he has told me that he made that proposal on his own responsibility, and without any authority from the Nonconformists, some of whom assure me it was very distasteful to them. I object to it on another ground. Why am I, a Churchman, to take upon myself the invidious task of framing a ceremonial for Nonconformists? No one has a right to ask the Church to do this; and if you are inclined to make such a great concession, what on earth is to prevent you making it in the most gracious manner you can? Why should we assume the invidious burden of framing for them a formulary which we know they will not accept? Another proposal which has been made is to allow any one to be buried in the churchyard and to repeal the law which compels the acceptance of the services of the Church and of the ministrations of a clergyman. This is tantamount to silent burial—burial without religious consolation at the very time when, it is most acceptable to mourning relatives. This is so repugnant to the feelings of the majority of Dissenters that I think we may dismiss it without further consideration. In what I propose is there anything unknown, in any other parts of the world? In the United States this grievance is absolutely non-existent. Interment is perfectly free and every one is unfettered. I know it may be said that in the United States there is no Established Church, and I admit the force of 600 that qualification as far as it goes. I have been at some pains to inquire as to the practice of different countries of Europe, and in some instances I have been anticipated in my inquiries by some of my right rev. Friends. I begin with France—a great Catholic Country. Every one knows Père la Chaise, Montmartre, and other of the beautiful large cemeteries of Paris, and of the large French towns. These are all open to every person and every rite. The graveyards in the small towns and in the country districts of France belong to the Church; but from an ancient custom, confirmed by a law passed just before the great Revolution, there is always a portion unconsecrated, though in the same enclosure. These portions are free to the clergy and to the rites of all persuasions;—so that the grievance of which English Nonconformists complain does not exist in France. Many probably read not very long ago the account of the burial of M. Guizot, a Protestant among Protestants. The funeral was attended by many of the most brilliant intellects in France, and was performed in his own parish churchyard, belonging to the Catholics, where members of his household and family had been buried before him. In Austria no religious community can refuse a decent burial in their own graveyard to the remains of any person having belonged to a different Creed, except (1) in the case of a family vault, or (2) if the religious persuasion to which the deceased belonged has a cemetery in the district. This law has been confirmed by innumerable decisions. Where Protestants have to be, buried in Catholic cemeteries the Protestant clergy are allowed to perform their own rites and to preach. In Hungary the remains of Catholics and non-Catholics can be interred indiscriminately in the same graveyard;—but, generally, each persuasion has its own cemetery. In Italy the burial-grounds are the property of the communes. No one can be buried outside them without the authority of the Prefect or the Minister of the Interior. They are perfectly neutral as to religious Creeds. Every one can be buried with the service which, he or his belongings desire; and in the case of those who wish that no religious service should be required, all that is necessary is that nothing shall be done to disturb public order. In Italy it may 601 be said that toleration is complete both, during life and after death.
But your Lordships may say these are all Roman Catholic countries; we are not to be bound by them. Then, my Lords, I go to Turkey. The Patriarch of Constantinople has enjoined on all his Metropolitans that when an Anglican dies, where there is no cemetery of his own, he may be buried in the Greek burial-ground, either by his own clergyman or by the Greek priest. The law of England refuses permission to a Greek priest to perform the service. In Russia, an Empire to which we have not been accustomed to look for models of religious toleration, what is the law? There is no unconsecrated ground, excepting small patches which have been set apart for those who have committed suicide. But a dissident fron the Greek Church is admitted to be buried in the orthodox burial-grounds, the rites being performed by his own clergyman, the Greek priest not being allowed to interfere, although he may be present. Then I go to the great Protestant country of Germany—that country which, it is said, has shown on the side of Protestantism some intolerance of late years. What is the rule there? Every member of the community, of whatever religious belief, has a right to be buried in the burial-ground of the parishes and local boards. In the burial-grounds belonging to different denominations burial cannot be refused to those of other persuasions. In Silesia, since 1750, and in Moravia, unlimited reciprocity is maintained as regards ecclesiastical functionaries and their respective services. In Westphalia, the strong-hold of Roman Catholicism, no religious community can refuse burial with religious rights according to the religious belief of the deceased, and with the assistance of his clergyman. Then to go to our Colonies. I have made particular inquiries upon this point, and I have not heard of any exception. But it might be said,—we are here, in England, and the examples of foreign countries can have no bearing on the course we ought to pursue in this country. To this he could only reply by recalling an anecdote told him by the late Prince Talleyrand as to what had occurred to a foreign gentleman when he was a prisoner on board a British man-of-war. At table an officer said he agreed with Dr. Johnson that all 602 foreigners are fools; to which the foreign gentleman retorted—"You are quite right—I agree that all Englishmen are men of sense; but then I am not so dogmatic as you, for I admit there may possibly be exceptions." Though I do not think your Lordships will adopt either the view of the foreigner or of the captain, yet you may say—"We decline to change our laws in deference to the example of foreigners."Well, then, I will only say that there is not a single grievance of this sort in the whole colonial possessions of the Queen, spread as they are over every part of the globe. What, then, is the state of Scotland on this question? I wish to render a tribute to my Scotch friends, but I never heard that Scotchmen were favourable to the Roman Catholic religion—I never heard they were unduly enamoured of episcopal and prelatic government; but the churchyards of Scotland are open to all ministers and to all rites. It may, perhaps, be said that the churchyards belong to the heritors. I believe they do not in any sense different from that in which the church belongs to them, and in that sense the heritors are trustees. That does not affect the argument at all. Then it may be said that the Established Church of Scotland has no ceremony in the churchyard. I am told that the practice in that respect is very much changing, and that they are in the habit of performing an important part of the ceremony in the churchyard. And if that be the case—if it be the habit and custom of the Established Church of Scotland to perform part of the ceremony in the churchyard—how much more liberal must it be that they should admit Roman Catholics and Episcopalians in full canonicals to perform their ceremonies in the churchyard too? Then I come, my Lords, to Ireland. I believe the law at present is that with regard to Roman Catholics on the one hand and Protestants on the other, that they have their own clergymen to perform the ceremony in the churchyard. During the Conservative Administration of 1868 a Bill giving effect to this principle was brought in and carried in the House of Commons, being utterly unopposed except by some private Members; and I believe its success has been complete. The Dissenters might have said that 603 their cemeteries were their own private I property, and that therefore no one else had anything to do with them, and that they would admit only those that shared their views; but the fact is that the cemeteries of the Nonconformist are open to the whole world. So that, as I have shown, the churchyards of America, of Europe, of France, of the whole civilized world, of Scotland, of England, and of Dissenting bodies generally in this country, with the single exception, perhaps, of the Quakers, are open. It matters very little whether the Quakers make out a good case for themselves or not. They are not a very numerous sect, though one of the most respectable from their virtues; but the Government will certainly not make out a very strong case if the only precedent they can adduce to justify the course they mean to adopt be that of the Quakers. Our practice, then, is contrary to the practice of nearly the whole civilized world.
Since I gave Notice of this Motion I have received a large number of letters from clergymen of the Established Church, of which a larger proportion than I expected approve of the course I recommend, stating what relief it would be to their consciences if any change were made. There are others, I am bound to say, of a directly opposite character. I have received one particularly within the last few days, in which a clergyman warned me that the consequence of carrying my Motion would be a disruption and disestablishment of the Church. About half a century ago a witty definition of that word "disestablishment" was given. It was said to be a word used for the protection of all the bad parts of the Establishment, founded on the opinion that those who aimed at reforming the bad parts had in view the subversion of the good. All I have to say, my Lords, is that if I thought my Resolution would tend to the disestablishment of the Church I would not have put it on your Paper, and certainly I would not have been here to advocate it. Not that I think an Establishment good for every country. I do not think, for instance, that an Establishment even of the Roman Catholic Church would be good for Ireland. But even if I were a Nonconformist, I own I think the Established Church of this country has to so large a 604 degree its roots going so far into the very soil of our institutions, that it would require very grave and careful consideration before I should consent to put a hand to upset it. I believe not only that the Church is more efficient and its funds better administered than they were, but I have no doubt the lay members of the Church are much more willing to contribute of their wealth to her support than their have ever been before. I believe also that there is greater activity in the Church than at any former time. I believe, though, as regards the internal affairs of the Church, there maybe some great dangers, that she is secure with regard to rivalry and enmity outside. There is one respect in which I believe she has gained immensely in strength—by that genuine Conservative feeling which has operated those enormous changes and improvements both in civil and religious liberty which have been carried out during the last 40 years, by the abolition of abuses similar to that to which I have called your Lordships' attention, and of grievances whether civil or religious. But do your Lordships believe that if absolute freedom were given to Convocation the Tests Acts would have been repealed long since? The clergy as a body were against their abolition; they were against the abolition of church rates. But now, though I believe it is possible a small minority of the clergy might be found in favour of re-imposing church rates, not half-a-dozen would be found who would re-impose those restrictions on Dissenters which were felt to be so great a grievance.
My Lords, my voice is nearly failing me, and I fear your Lordships are wearied. In conclusion, I do commend my Resolution most respectfully to your Lordships' consideration. I have already shown that its object is not dangerous, that there are complete precedents, running on four legs, in its favour. If I may be allowed, I would now use the words applied by Lord Liverpool's Government, in passing an Act almost exactly of the same principle. I would say—I recommend this Resolution to you as a Charter of Toleration; as a direct declaration that every man in the community, whatever his religious opinions may be, should have a right to be interred with the rites of his own persuasion.
Moved to resolve—
That it is desirable that the law relating to the burial of the dead in England should be amended,
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
My Lords, it is not often that I find myself in the position of being able to agree with my noble Friend who has just sat down (Earl Granville), but on this occasion I entirely concur with him in the observation with which he introduced this subject—that there is a difficulty in discussing Resolutions on a subject like the present, in consequence of the danger which sometimes attaches to such discussions, of making use of expressions and arguments which may be distasteful and offensive to others of our fellow-subjects—an idea which would be the last to enter my mind, and which I should deprecate in the strongest and most decided manner. I hope, therefore, in any observations which I may have the honour to address to your Lordships, I shall be able to abstain from anything which in any way might bear that character. But, my Lords, in advancing the arguments which I shall find necessary to meet those of my noble Friend, I shall not flinch from the position in which I find myself, at the same time that I shall endeavour to state my case in a calm and temperate manner. My Lords, I was somewhat struck at the commencement of my noble Friend's address—it was so obvious that he saw the weak points of his case—when he applied himself at once to answer what he must have very well known would be the line of argument I was likely to take—namely, that of deprecating his bringing forward this subject by way of Resolution, and not in the shape of a Bill. I think if my noble Friend had devoted that portion of the Easter Recess which he has evidently given to getting up those facts and interesting anecdotes with which your Lordships have been 606 instructed, and, if I may be permitted to say so, amused—if he had devoted that time to throwing his views into the shape of a Bill, he would have afforded us a more practical mode of dealing with the question than he has done on this occasion. When I see the Resolution which my noble Friend has put forward, I cannot help thinking that he must have attempted to deal with this subject first by way of a Bill, and that having found that method so difficult and so made up of details he gave up the attempt to put his view into that form, and fell back on the course which he has now adopted—that of a Resolution. It is perfectly true that an hon. Gentleman in the other House did bring forward his views on this subject in the shape of a Resolution; but it must not be forgotten that that was not until the Forms of the House of Commons prevented him from having the question satisfactorily discussed in the shape of a Bill. The noble Earl (Earl Granville) says he has on various occasions seen legislation promoted by Resolutions. That is true—no doubt good results have followed from legislation based upon Resolutions—but that happens only when the subject is a new one; and this certainly cannot come under that category. If my noble Friend had embodied his views in a Bill, then we should have seen what safeguards he would give and how he proposed to deal in detail with the various circumstances which must arise. We have been favoured with the views of one of your Lordships (Earl Grey) on this subject in the shape of a Bill; but as this Bill is not down for second reading, and the noble Lord has intimated that it is not his intention to press it, I do not intend to go into the details of the measure. But as the Bill has been read a first time, I must say that a more extraordinary mode of settling the question in a satisfactory manner I have never seen. What the noble Lord proposes is to set up Burial Boards in every parish in the Kingdom; and the only person who is not to be a member of those Boards—whether as regards churchyards which have existed for centuries in connection with the parish church, or others which have been recently given to the parishes—is the clergyman of the parish. I almost thought that the noble Earl had forgotten the existence of the clergyman; 607 but on looking a little further I found the noble Earl had recognized one right as still belonging to the clergyman—that of depasturing the churchyard. Certainly I cannot subscribe to the views of the noble Earl as expressed in the Bill; and if my noble Friend (Earl Granville) had submitted his views in a similar form, I fear I could have subscribed as little to them. Addressing myself now to the substance of the other remarks of the noble Earl—my noble Friend alleges that a grievance attaches to certain persons in this country—that is, to persons who have a right to be buried in the churchyard; this grievance being that they must be buried according to the services of the Church of England, and that those services must be read by a minister of the Church. My noble Friend proposes, by the Resolution he has placed before your Lordships, to remedy this grievance in two ways. First, he proposes that facilities should be given for interments without the use of the Church Burial Service; and, secondly, he proposes to substitute for the use of the Liturgy "such Christian and orderly religious observances" as to the relatives or friends may seem meet. I will deal first with the alleged grievance, and then with the proposed substitute. As to the alleged grievance, my impression is that it is not generally felt throughout the country. I believe that the feeling is not widespread even among the Nonconformists themselves. I believe it is limited very greatly in its effect, and, moreover, that in nearly all the large towns throughout the country the grievance cannot be felt, because there are cemeteries in which the members of the various religious Bodies may be interred with their own form of religious service. Then as to this being a wide-spread grievance, I have here an account from various places throughout the country showing the number of burials in consecrated ground and those in unconsecrated ground. I find that at Bagilt, in Wales, the burials in the consecrated ground were 244, and in the unconsecrated ground 73. At Birkenhead the burials in the consecrated ground were more than 6 to 1—namely, 1,598 against 265. In Cheltenham there were 6,512 burials in consecrated, and 897 in unconsecrated ground, or 7¼ to 1. In Chester the burials in consecrated ground were 608 12,200, and in unconsecrated ground 1,220. At Hillingdon the numbers were 1,043 to 54, or more than 19 to 1. At Masborough they were 435 against 45; at Welshpool, 332 against 38; while the vicar of Barnard Castle does not give the exact number, but writes—If I were to say that the interments in the church ground with the Church services were three to one, I should be under the mark.And I might cite many other cases. Large numbers of Nonconformists throughout the country are therefore buried in consecrated ground and with the services of the Church at their own request. I will give one more case, and it is a remark able one. It is that of the churchyard of Aldecar, in the parish of Heanor, Derbyshire, with a population of 4,830, composed chiefly of the workpeople of the Butterley Mining Company, and including a very large proportion of Dissenters. The church was built and a churchyard consecrated in 1870. The churchyard consists of two portions—the one consecrated and the other unconsecrated, divided by a low coping of stone, scarcely visible above the ground. The Dissenters there have invariably preferred to bury their friends in the consecrated ground, although there can be no sentiment about "resting with their forefathers." I think, then, I am justified in saying that the grievance among the Dissenters is not so widespread as my noble Friend suggests. If felt at all, it should be felt in the agricultural parts of the country; but in such districts it prevails, if at all, to no large extent. My noble Friend rather took exception to the statement that the grievance is one of recent date, and quoted some book, which I have not had the opportunity of looking into, to show that the grievance went so far back as 60 years. Now, I doubt very much whether the subject was thought to be so great a grievance as to occupy the attention of Parliament so long ago. I believe, on the contrary, that the statement that this is a grievance of recent date is perfectly correct, and that it is only within the last 30 or 35 years that any such grievance has been mentioned or brought before the attention of Parliament. When, too, the grievance began to be felt, there arose at about the same time the means of remedying it. The Act of 1852 enabled cemeteries to be set up in various parts of the country. My 609 noble Friend admitted that a large and influential body—the Wesleyans—do not feel the same objection as other Nonconformists feel to the services of the Church and to burial in the churchyard.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
My noble Friend did not make many admissions, but I thought he said that the grievance was not felt by the Wesleyans as by other Nonconformist Bodies. However, I pass by that point. It certainly cannot be denied that the increase of cemeteries throughout the country has largely diminshed any grievance. Up to 1866 the number of cemeteries established was 413. Between 1866and 1875, 235 were opened, and during 1875–6 36 more—making a total of 684. Since 1852 about 2,000 churchyards have been closed, and by a Return made to the other House, out of 6,800 parishes, the Nonconformists had burial places in 2,230, or1 in every 3 parishes. So long, therefore, as cemeteries are opened in this ratio—and I wish they were opened with still greater rapidity—a remedy is being afforded, and the grievance is to that extent diminished. Out of 22,000,000 people in this country, it is estimated that there are about 14,000,000 who are not subject to the grievance; so that there is a residue of only 8,000,000 who are subject to it. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but all these 8,000,000 persons are not really affected. A large number are members of the Established Church; a considerable number Nonconformists who do not feel aggrieved by the present state of the law; and the residue for whom this remedy is claimed is very small indeed. Moreover, without attributing anything wrong to my noble Friend, or feeling surprised at his bringing forward this subject, I do think that this grievance is more of a political than of a theological character, and I repeat that it is one which is diminishing. What has been the result of the discussions in the House of Commons on this subject in the last few years? I find that in 1870 the majority in favour of the view entertained by my noble Friend was 111; in 1871 it was 62; in 1872 it was 71, and in 1873 it was 63. Therefore, even in the Parliament which was favoured by having at the head of affairs in the House of Commons the Friends of 610 the noble Earl, there was a gradually diminishing majority in favour of his view. Well, that Parliament was dissolved and a new one elected. In the new Parliament the majority against the Bill in 1875 was only 14; but in 1876 there was a majority against the Resolution brought forward in the other House of 33; but there was the remarkable fact that on this question, affecting as it does only England and Wales, the majority of English Members was between 80 and 100. Therefore you have the Representatives of that part of the country which is more especially connected with this question rejecting the proposal by a large majority, which was to a certain extent reduced by the Members from Ireland and Scotland. Therefore, I say that this is a diminishing grievance to which the other House of Parliament has attached less importance as years have gone by. My noble Friend next proceeded to state the remedy he would propose for such a state of things. I cannot but think, my Lords, that his two Resolutions, taken as a whole, are much more extreme and much more violent than the necessity of the case—even if he had proved his case—would warrant. The first Resolution provides for what is called a "silent burial;" and if the noble Earl had stopped with that Resolution, he would only have stopped with the same description of idea which has been embodied in one measure which has been passed by your Lordships—namely, the Bill brought in I think by my noble Friend the Lord Steward some four or five years ago, providing for silent Burial. If the noble Earl had contented himself with suggesting the remedy to be that of silent burial, I do not imagine your Lordships would have been unwilling now to deal with that subject as you have done on former occasions. But the noble Earl (Earl Granvllle) said he rather thought that silent burial was an insult to those on whom it was imposed. I may remark, however, that funerals are conducted in silence in the Established Church of Scotland. My noble Friend has referred to the usages of foreign countries in regard to burials; but I decline to follow him into that subject, because I do not think we can draw any right conclusion by comparing this country with France, Austria, Hungary, or Italy. I understood my noble Friend to say that in 611 France one part of the churchyards was consecrated and another part unconsecrated; and, if so, they of course partake rather of the nature of cemeteries than of churchyards. I do not think that the examples of Austria and Italy are at all to the point. In regard to the silent burial, my noble Friend is not satisfied with his first Resolution—and I think he is perfectly wise, because he knows it would not satisfy those whose case he has taken in hand. Knowing that he cannot maintain his first Resolution alone, my noble Friend adds the second Resolution—and I must say that a more rude invasion of the sacred precincts of the churchyard than he contemplates I have never been called upon to consider. My noble Friend proposes that in the churchyard in which the Liturgy of our Church—one probably of the most beautiful services ever penned—has been used for generations, and to which no one can listen without such feelings as it is almost impossible to describe, the following proceedings shall be held. He proposes to enable "the relatives or friends having charge of the funeral of any deceased person to conduct such funeral in any churchyard in which the deceased had a right of interment with such Christian and orderly religious observances as to them may seem fit." He does not confine it to ministers of religion, but he proposes that any person, be he layman, minister, or priest, whether of the Established Church of England, of a Nonconformist Body, or of the Roman Catholic Church, or whether he believes in no Church at all, should have the right to go into the Established churchyards of the country and perform what observances he pleases at the request of the relatives and friends of the deceased. It is true they must be Christian and orderly religious observances, but who is to decide that—especially when the services are extempore? How does he know what use might be made of such a concession? Moreover, there are some persons whose views are of the freest and wildest character—I will not insult and shock your Lordships by reading from the book I hold in my hand a form of prayer recommended to be used at the grave of a deceased person. I suppose the noble Lord is aware that the clergyman is responsible for maintaining order in the churchyard; but how can he be held 612 responsible if he is wholly ignorant of what occurs? My noble Friend went on to touch on Scotland and Ireland. As to Scotland, what fell from him was, in my opinion, very fair; but then the cases of Scotland and England are by no means alike. In Scotland the heritors are bound to provide the burial-grounds, while in England there is no such obligation; and the two countries, therefore, are not in this respect on all fours. But my noble Friend says that Episcopalians and Roman Catholics can be buried in the churchyards in Scotland. That is true; but the difference between Episcopalians and Roman Catholics in Scotland, with a prescribed form of service, and the persons whom he proposes to admit into the churchyards of the Established Church in this country, with any service they may think proper, is very considerable. My noble Friend also quoted the case of Ireland in the time of Lord Liverpool and Lord Plunket, and then he came down to the year 1868. When he mentioned that year, and the Act of Parliament which was then passed, I confess he made me shudder, because I recollect that the year 1868 was the year which preceded the disestablishment of the Irish Church. Well, what did the Act of 1868 do?—because that is a very important matter. It said that it should be lawful for the priest or minister of the religious denomination to which a person about to be buried might belong to read such prayers and perform such service as was customary in the case of persons belonging to that denomination. The Act of 1868, therefore, provided certain safeguards, and I should like to know to which of the two classes of churchyards which we have in this country the Resolution of the noble Earl applies? Is it to the very old and long-established churchyards which are already nearly full—in which case the remedy which he proposes would be of very limited application—or to those churchyards which have been given in recent years by persons who belong to the Established Church in this country, who have assigned pieces of ground to be used in connection with the Established Church, and with the full knowledge of the law as to burials, in the parishes in which they gave that land? To them the noble Earl comes forward and says—"You, as earnest supporters of your 613 Church, have given this land for its benefit, because you believe your Church requires it; but I insist that any person, whether Nonconformist or Freethinker, shall be at liberty to go into the churchyard thus established, and perform services there such as he may think fit, although you gave the land for a very different purpose." If that be the noble Earl's proposal, I can only say, with my view of the rights of property, that it simply amounts to a confiscation of that property. Is it fair that the National Church in this country should be the only Church that cannot prescribe the rules and regulations which are to prevail in the conduct of the services in her churchyards? My noble Friend talked a good deal about wounding the feelings and running counter to the conscientious scruples of our Nonconformist brethren; and I am sure I should be very sorry to say anything which would wound their feelings; but then the Nonconformists are not the only persons whose feelings are concerned in this matter. It is, I may add, a somewhat remarkable fact that during the discussions with regard to church rates, this grievance as to the Burial Service was very seldom, if ever, put forward; and I do not think it is open to those who were clamorous for the abolition of church rates to turn round now after objecting to pay for keeping up our churchyards and claim to have the benefit of them. Now, another objection which I have to the proposal of the noble Earl is, that it seems to me to be a direct step towards the disestablishment of the Church. I believe that the separation of Church and State would be a great calamity, for I look upon the Established Church as one of the greatest blessings this country possesses. I gathered from what fell from my noble Friend that he also is proud of the Established Church; but I am afraid he will find that those whom he so ably represents on this occasion are not such friends of that Establishment as he is himself. I am afraid they would not at all be satisfied with—to speak in legal phrase—a verdict permitting silent burial. They, I fancy, want a much larger and more comprehensive verdict, and one which, in my opinion, would, if given, lead to disestablishment. I find that, at a General Conference of Nonconformists held at Manchester on 614 the 23rd of January, 1872, the following resolution was passed:—That, in reference to the Burial Service, this Conference claims equal rights for all citizens in the national or parochial church and burial grounds; and, while just regard is to be had to existing vested interests, this Conference protests against any exclusive privileges being accorded to any section of the community in the interment of the dead.That is a very honest declaration, and that is what the Resolution implies—that the national or parochial burial grounds shall be vested in anybody or everybody. The noble Earl may say 1872 is a long time ago; but I will come down to the present time. I find the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), who is exceedingly honest, as every one knowing his character would expect, when speaking at Carlisle, declaring as follows:—We must have this scandal removed at all hazards. Well, but I will be honest. I do not say let us get rid of this and the Church will be stronger. No; I admit fully—let me be honest about it—that if you let the Nonconformist into the churchyard, it is only a step towards letting him into the Church.That is the opinion of my noble Friend's clients. They say, We are not satisfied with merely permission to perform services in the churchyard; we want the Church, and we shall not be satisfied until we get it. Again, I find not a fortnight ago—on the 3rd instant—at the meeting of the Liberation Society, the Mayor of Birmingham, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, in the chair, Dr. Landels, who is well known in connection with this question, made the following statements:—Let me say, finally, in spite of Government and in spite of clergy, we will carry our Burials Bill, which is the next thing we have in hand, and, that done, we shall be a step nearer the ultimate goal. There will not be much between us and the citadel then. Having taken possession of all the outworks, the fortress itself will soon fall into our hands; for we do not conceal the fact that this is our final aim, and that we cannot rest satisfied until that aim has been realized. Our clerical friends, in arguing against the Burials Bill, tell us, with refreshing simplicity, that if we get into the churchyards, we shall want to get into the churches next. What charming innocents they must be to put it thus! I think if by getting into the churches they mean that we shall demand to have national property employed for national purposes, and not reserved for the exclusive use of a sect, why, then, of course, we mean to get into the churches; and, what is more, if our right to the churches be as good as our right to the 615 churchyards, we shall succeed in gaining what we demand.If that is not disestablishment, I do not know what the English language means. Though my noble Friend says that he does not mean to carry it to that extent, those whom he represents are clearly not of that opinion. He will not be able to stop there, for they will not be satisfied with anything short of the church. I am not here to deny that there is a grievance, but I say it is a very small grievance, and I say it is daily and hourly getting less; for, as you increase the cemeteries and the churchyards, so you diminish that grievance to the smallest possible quantity. The subject is one which has engaged the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and we desire to approach it totally unfettered, which we say we shall not be able to do if the Resolution of the noble Earl is passed. If the first Resolution only was proposed I should not feel myself justified in opposing it, as your Lordships have already agreed to something of the same kind; therefore the course I propose to adopt with regard to the first Resolution would be to move the Previous Question. If the second Resolution should come under the consideration of your Lordships I should feel myself bound to meet it with a direct negative, because I believe it to be impracticable and unjust, and offensive to the great body of the members of the Established Church of this country.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
pointed out that his Resolution was one Resolution, containing two sub-sections, not two Resolutions.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
I certainly view it as forming two Resolutions. If it is to be put as one Resolution, then I shall meet it with a direct negative.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, it is always in the power of your Lordships to require a Question to be put in such a shape that your Lordships will not be obliged to give at one and the same time an opinion upon two separate propositions. When I read the proposal of the noble Earl it occurred to me that the noble Earl had worded the propositions in a way to enable them to be put separately. If the noble Earl were to require that they should be put as one Resolution it is in your Lordships' power, at the instance of any 616 Member of the House, to order that the two propositions should be put separately.
§ LORD SELBORNE
thought the course for those who wished the propositions to be separated to pursue was, to move the omission of the words in the second clause of the Resolution.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I suppose the question of Order will be settled when we come to divide the House. It appears to me, even if the noble Earl (Earl Granville) had not appealed so distinctly as he did to the right rev. Bench to express their opinions on this question, that it would have been our undoubted duty to do so. I have never shrunk from expressing my own opinion on this question elsewhere, and I am not disposed to hesitate to express my opinion in this House. I am bound, however, to consider not only abstract Resolutions in reference to a matter of this kind, but also what is the best possible mode of settling a very difficult and a very intricate question. I feel not at all ungrateful to the noble Earl for having brought this subject before the House, even if he had not brought it forward in that very temperate speech which, I think your Lordships must allow, avoided every irritating topic which has been introduced into the discussion elsewhere. I trust that the speech which the noble Earl has made and the answer which the noble Duke has given to it have advanced this intricate question somewhat towards a solution. I certainly agree with those who think that the sooner it is settled, provided it is settled well, the better for the Church of England and the better for the religious welfare of the nation. Nothing can be more undesirable than that a question of this kind, which touches men in the tenderest point and which is likely to stir up many heart-burnings, should be trifled with; and I hope and trust Her Majesty's Government will not only seriously consider this question, as the noble Duke tells us they are doing—and I suppose it is almost impossible for any one to have observed the indications of public opinion for some time without seriously considering it—but that they will seriously consider it with a view to its solution. I should have been better pleased if the noble Duke had been able to announce this evening that he was prepared with a Bill 617 to settle this question. I am not without hope that, if the Government do not introduce a Bill this Session, they will at least consider the matter carefully during the Recess, and next Session bring in a distinct measure; for I do think it is the duty of the Government to propose some measure. It is totally impossible for the Bishops to propose such a measure; and I am sure no good citizen would desire that such a measure should be introduced except under circumstances favourable to its speedy passage through Parliament. Repeating my earnest desire that the Government will apply themselves to the settlement of this question, I proceed to consider this abstract Resolution. I agree with the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond), that if we pass it we shall not be much nearer the settlement of this question than we are at present. I agree that there are practical difficulties which it becomes those who would deal with this question to grapple with. It is all very well to propose that the question be settled—which is pretty nearly all that the noble Earl does; but we want something more than an abstract declaration that it is desirable it should be settled—we want to understand the best way of settling it; and I do not think the Resolution suggests definitely and distinctly how the practical difficulties which beset the question are to be dealt with. My noble Friend at the Table (Earl Grey) has applied his experience in proposing a settlement; and I agree with the noble Duke that his attempt is only an illustration of the difficulty which surrounds the settlement of the question. If the noble Earl, with all his experience, can find no better way of settling it than to declare that a Burial Board shall be established in every parish in England, and that the one man to be excluded from it is to be the clergyman of the parish, that is a proof that the question is difficult indeed. It is a difficult question to settle who ought to be the custodian of the churchyard; at present it is the minister and the churchwardens—and I need not remind you how much this country owes to its clergy, many of them self-denying men, living on meagre pittances, and devoting themselves, under disadvantages and privations, to the work of education and to the other duties of their sacred calling—your Lordships know how much respect is due to 618 them; and I think that a proposal which would deprive them of the custody of their own churchyards—knowing the care they have taken in guarding them and keeping them worthy of their sacred purpose—and transfer the custody to Burial Boards is one hardly likely to meet with acceptance. I do not say the clergy are to decide this question; but I do say their feelings are to be respected, and that even our own private opinions must be modified by knowing the strong feelings which animate the minds of the clergy. The question has gone beyond the range of logic and has got into the region of feeling on both sides, and if we are to pay great attention to the feelings of those who suffer from this grievance—and who are by no means so many as might at first sight be supposed—I think we must consider the feelings of the clergy, which are greatly agitated on this question. The fact is, they are unwilling to assent to any great change unless they see what it is to be. They are in a state of apprehension as to any change, lest before they are aware of what is being done some principle shall have been admitted which is fatal to the principle of the Established Church, to which they are deeply attached; and therefore I think they have a right to call upon your Lordships, not merely to pass general abstract Resolutions, but to tell them what it is your desire to do; and when they have the whole case before them I feel confident the clergy will not be behind others in endeavouring to give what is just and fair to their Dissenting brethren, and also in attempting to settle a very difficult question, the keeping open of which appears to me, by its irritating influence, to be most dangerous to the Established Church. Your Lordships have a right to know the opinion of the right rev. Bench, individually and collectively, as to what, under difficult circumstances, they think ought to be done in this matter. I reserve to myself the full right of maintaining and acting upon my own opinions, which in this matter, as I have elsewhere stated, go somewhat beyond perhaps the majority of my right rev. Brethren, and certainly the majority of the clergy; but it is not my private opinion you desire to beacquainted with. We must be very careful of the opinions of others who are deeply interested before we proceed to act upon 619 our own opinions. With, regard to the opinions of the clergy generally, I do not know how far they are to be considered as represented by Convocation. In the two Houses of the Province of which I have the honour to be President, opinion is at present in a somewhat unformed state. Various resolutions have been proposed; but the matter has not been so discussed as to bring out any distinct practical solution, and certain resolutions which, have been passed by one House have not as yet been approved by the other. The Convocation of York has passed a certain resolution with tolerable unanimity, about which perhaps something may be said by my most rev. Brother. With regard to the opinions of the right rev. Bench, we have approached this subject with the most earnest desire to see it settled if possible in a conciliatory spirit. As I have said, we do not propose—I think we should be unwise if we did—to bring in a Bill; we desire that that should be done by the responsible Advisers of the Crown; we are anxious that no time should be lost in the bringing forward of such a measure; and all we can do is to contribute our quota to the solution of the question when it comes before us. One thing is plain—you must settle with very great tenderness who under any new system is to be the custodian of the proposed new burial-grounds. No doubt the result of any change in this matter must be the extension of new burial-grounds, and you must, with great tenderness and great care, and great regard for the public good, and also for the feelings of the clergy and laity of a district, settle distinctly who is to have the administration and management of them. Another question which your Lordships will have to address yourselves to is the hardship which the present burial law imposes upon the clergyman by requiring him to read the solemn and comforting words of the service over persons who may have died, say, in the commission of some flagrant crime. The words of hope can scarcely be read over such a person without harm to the survivors, by leading them to suppose that the crime in the commission of which the man died was morally not a matter of any importance. How are you to remove from the clergy, and also from the laity, that great stum- 620 bling-block which is so often found to weigh on the conscience of the clergy when they are called upon to read the Burial Service in scandalous cases? Certainly I feel confident of this—that you will not, while allowing Dissenting ministers to read the service over the choice members of their congregations, encourage them to send to the clergyman of the parish every one who is a disgrace to their community, that he may be gathered peaceably to rest, as if he belonged to the fold of the Established Church. That is a mere matter of common sense. I think I may say both Houses of Convocation are anxious that facilities should be given for extending the burial-places in our parishes. Wherever it is impossible to find sufficient ground for those whose friends are desirous that they should be buried—in the churchyard, of course—there would be an addition to the churchyard. This is a sanitary question in some of its aspects. Wherever the health, of the community appears to require it, there must be an addition to the churchyard. But, even where it is not, it will be well, I think, to apply ourselves to the extension of the churchyard; the noble Earl (Earl Granville) has told us how this is done in France; and the very instance to which he alluded is a distinct proof that the difficulty of settling this question by means of the extension of burial-grounds is not so great as at first sight may appear. I remember the case to which, the noble Earl alluded. When I endeavoured to ascertain what was the practice in other countries, the intelligence I received from the French Ambassador, with his usual courtesy, was something of this kind—that in the large towns of France there was no difficulty, because there were there cemeteries such as we have in England. Père La Chaise, for example, was but a large cemetery, like any of those by which we are surrounded in London. In all the great towns of France there was no difficulty; in other large towns, I was informed, the difficulty was, as in Paris, avoided by the erection of cemeteries; but I inferred from what I heard that in parish churchyards in the country the difficulty still existed. A rev.friend of mine told me he had attended the funeral of M. Gurizot at his residence. The funeral was solemnized in the parish, churchyard; the minister of the Protestant church to 621 which M. Guizot belonged performed the ceremony in the parish churchyard, the Roman Catholic priest looking on from the window of his house. The solution I presume is obvious: There was an addition to the churchyard which is unconsecrated, and in that unconsecrated part the rites of the Protestant Church were performed. Therefore, if the noble Duke follows in the path to which I understood him to point, and unconsecrated ground be added to the various churchyards, we shall be very much in the same position as the rural parts of France, and certainly the difficulty at present felt will be greatly diminished. But I wish to state that the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury, by a large majority of 10 to 5, have also, as I understand, arrived at two other conclusions—which I merely throw out here as they may, perhaps, help us in arriving at a solution of the practical difficulties of this question. I believe I am right in saying that it is the wish of the Bishops that the restriction which at present exists to use the whole of the Service of the Church of England shall, in certain cases, be relaxed, and that another Service more likely to approve itself to the Dissenting members of the community shall be drawn up; and, being drawn up, shall be used where the friends wishing it have any objection to the regular Service of the Church of England. Up to this point they have not gone further than saying that such Service shall be used by the clergyman of the parish. There are various classes of persons who may be supposed to be aggrieved by the law in this matter. There are those persons who die without having received baptism, through the visitation of God before baptism could be administered to them. The parents of these children often feel it a sad discouragement in their grief that they are unable to commit their children to the grave with any form of prayer or any distinctly uttered words of hope. I am sure that the Bishops are right in the decision at which they have arrived—that for such cases a service ought to be provided which shall breathe to the hearts of parents the comforts which they are entitled to derive from the Gospel. Therefore, in all those cases we should propose that some religious service shall be used, which the law seems at present to forbid. Now, if we 622 have got so far as this and have provided such a service for unbaptized children of our own communion, we next remark that there are many persons who belong to that denomination of Christians who think that baptism ought to be delayed till the years of maturity. I cannot doubt that in many places where the Church of England is not strong there are great numbers of Baptist families, the young members of which—many of them Sunday-school teachers, the most precious members of their particular communion, who die while preparing for baptism but not having received it, and are entitled to be committed to the grave with the same words of hope and the same promises of the Gospel with the children of parents who are members of our own communion, and who have died unbaptized; and I fully believe it will be a great solace in many a solitary parish—in Wales, for example, where the Baptist community principally exists—that there shall be no longer the committing of these persons to the grave with a silent service. Besides, there are, we know, other persons who are unwilling to receive baptism. The Quakers are a body who may, perhaps, be left to take care of themselves; but to all such persons it might be a consolation that such words should be applied as those in the service to which I have alluded. There is another body of Nonconformists—and I suppose they are the only body who are distinctly represented in this House—of whose grievances in this matter we have heard very little; but they are not the less entitled to consideration on that account. I refer to the large body of Roman Catholics in this country, who have certainly a grievance in this matter. You have parish vaults used from generation to generation by the old families to which they belong. But still more we have to consider the case of hundreds and thousands of Irish labourers, who are in a position more difficult than any dissenting body in this country; for if conscientious, they must repudiate the services of our clergy. I do not think there is any ordinary Dissenter who thinks that the clergyman of the Church of England is intruding into an office he has no right to assume, or that our services are more or less a sacrilege: but I do think that the Roman Catholic labourer who is well trained by his priests must consider it a 623 desecration to have a service read over his nearest and dearest by a man whom he considers an intruder into the sacred office. Therefore, as the law stands it presses more severely upon the Roman Catholic than anyone else—we obtrude upon him the service of a Church which he repudiates: and I think, therefore, you are entitled to ask that there shall be some consideration for his case, and that the law shall be altered so as to enable Roman Catholics to receive Christian burial without having the Service of the Church of England forced upon them. But when I am telling of the law as it is, I am aware that it is much more easy to make laws than to have them observed. There are right rev. Brethren of mine here to-night who have had charge of burial-grounds in London in which great numbers of those Roman Catholic labourers have been buried, and I am sorry to say many of them have had to connive at the breaking of the law. Therefore, as regards Roman Catholics, it is right that there should be some alteration of the law. Now, from the few cases which I have mentioned, your Lordships will see that this is by no means the simple question which the Resolution of my noble Friend implies. The Bishops have also thought that they might proceed a step further—whether the clergy will be disposed to agree with them I cannot say. I am aware that what I am going to say may be turned to ridicule, but I think it ought not to be so treated. Your Lordships, I dare say, when travelling in Wales, and I also when travelling in the wilds of Cumberland, have seen this—a funeral procession moving among the mountains, and the sound of the hymn which the mourners offered up echoing among the valleys and hills—then the whole stopping because the mourners had come to the sacred ground and they could only enter it in silence. At the entrance there was an end of the natural expression of feeling with which the mourners had accompanied their friend to his last home. My Lords, this has suggested an idea which I merely throw down for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government—in that deep consideration which they assure us they are giving to this question—that it is possible we may come to an agreement. If we are not able to have the Liturgy owing to our 624 differences in this country, at least there is something like the Liturgy in which Churchmen and Dissenters are greatly united. I hold in my hand a book of hymns of great value. It is the compilation of my noble Friend whom I see opposite (Lord Selborne). I come to the index of these hymns and I find the name of Isaac Watts as the author of 40 that have been selected. I go further, and find the name of Philip Doddridge as the author of many more; and then I come to a portion of the book in which the noble Lord has collected hymns that are suitable for burial of the dead. I find there the name of Bishop Heber, and of Henry Hart Milman; again the name of Isaac Watts and Philip Doddridge. Added to the names of these, there is also that of Williams. Then there is a poet of whom I cannot say whether he was a Nonconformist or not, but I know he was born a Moravian—James Montgomery. Now, if it be the case that in collecting those hymns appropriate for singing at the burials of the dead, one of the most attached members of the Church of England finds some of those hymns in the works of Nonconformists, I think he could scarcely—certainly I could not find it in my heart to—say—"You may sing those hymns up to the entrance to our burial-grounds, but there you must be silent. You may not sing them over the grave." I throw this out as a suggestion. I think it amounts to this—it shows that we are desirous of settling this question in a kindly manner. My Lords, it is said that it would be an insult to require that the burial service of those persons should not be all conducted in the burial-ground. But it is not the custom with any community in this country to have the funeral service entirely over the grave. There is no community of any kind which I know that has it. Our Church has a large portion of its service within the church. I hold in my hand the Wesleyan book mentioned by the noble Earl. It is the Church of England Service and nothing else—a very great indication that the differences which separate us one from another are not so great as some persons for Party purposes would have us believe. This Wesleyan book is divided into two parts. The greater part is to be read—I do not know where, but I suppose in the chapel, and a very small portion over the grave. Roman 625 Catholics, as I know, do not usually have any distinct service at the grave; they bury their dead in silence, having celebrated a devout religious service in their own chapel. And as no one would propose to make them depart so far from their general practice as to celebrate mass in the churchyards of the Church of England places of worship, and as we are not proposing that all these communities should depart from their practice of commencing their religious service elsewhere than in graveyards, they may be satisfied with some devout offering up of hymns, such as the Bishops in Convocation have suggested. My Lords, I am confident we have only to set our minds gravely to the determined purpose of settling this question and we shall be able to settle it. It is ridiculous to suppose that a question which has been settled in every country in the civilized world, as far as I know, except Spain—which has been settled even in the dominions of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan—cannot be settled in this intelligent and tolerant country, if men have no other desire than simply to come to a satisfactory settlement. My Lords, it is said you will not settle this question in a way satisfactory to the Liberation Society. I do not suppose you will. I am not at all certain that one of the most unfortunate things that could happen to that Body would be the settlement of this question in a moderate and candid manner. I am not sure that it would not be more satisfactory to hon. Members who are the great advocates of the Dissenting claims in "another place" to be able to make speeches upon the existing grievance. But what I want to do is to put an end to anything like a real grievance, though it affects only a few persons. I am anxious that we should see as soon as possible who it is who wishes to disestablish the Church of England and who it is who wishes to maintain it. I am anxious to detach from the movement for disestablishment the agitation which is kept upon this question, and we can so detach it by taking the question fairly in hand. I do not believe that the great Nonconformist bodies in this country are very much in earnest about making more of a grievance of this subject than it really amounts to. I am sorry that some of them of them have taken a new view of the great and solemn responsibility of the 626 State for the social, moral, and religious welfare of the community, and I hope they will learn to return more to the teachings of the fathers of the Nonconformist Body on this subject. I am certain that those among them who in former times have secured the rights which their descendants now enjoy have not done so by declamatory speeches carefully prepared for the platform, in order that they might excite agitation against the Established Church. They succeeded rather because, like Lardner and Watts, they were men of great learning, or like others whom we may remember in our own day they roused the mind and conscience by their great eloquence. The days are passed, perhaps, when any man now living can call to mind the influence of Robert Hall, and even those who heard Edward Irving are now few and far between. He was, indeed, reared in an Established Church, but his position and influence were those of a Nonconformist. Such men, I say, secured the rights of their fellows, not by raising paltry questions as to how many words should be used in a graveyard, or in contending with the clergy of the Church of England. They held their own by their learning, by their eloquence, by their knowledge of the Scriptures, by the influence which they gained over men's hearts. In like manner, I do trust that the better feeling of the Nonconformists will be roused, and that the higher and nobler elements in these bodies will detach themselves from these petty squabbles, and not endeavour by means of them to injure a Church which, if they only knew their own interests well, they would see to be the great bulwark between them and other dangerous systems—the great help towards making this a truly religious country—religious in the highest sense, because uniting religion with moderation and reason.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, as I am obliged to leave London to-night for my diocese, and therefore cannot record my vote, I beg to address you in a few words, although the most rev. Prelate has just spoken from this Bench. I think it is greatly to be regretted that this subject should now be discussed out-of-doors with an amount of heat and passion unknown in former years. After the passages quoted by the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) it is not difficult to understand why it is 627 that the clergy feel so strongly and deeply upon this matter. They regard it, because they are called on so to regard it, as a question of establishment or disestablishment. I am not able, however, to look upon the question as one involving this issue, and I desire very much to separate the question from that of disestablishment. We shall fight the battle against disestablishment on very bad ground if we have to fight it by the side of the grave. Questions about burials, tomb-stones, and inscriptions often excite strong feeling; and that feeling is always on the side of the suffering friends, because the natural instinct of most people is not to interfere with their sorrow, and to let them have their own way. I say I do not regard this as a question involving disestablishment at all. There is a great difference between entrance to the churchyard and entrance to the church. A man is by no means obliged to go into the church, but is quite certain to find his way into the churchyard; and that alone makes a great distinction between the two cases. I have alluded to the state of opinion during the present year; but I should like to take a little wider survey in order to see whether it has been admitted by others that a grievance really exists. Now, in the debate upon the Bill of the Lord Steward in 1871, I find there was an admission, by the late Bishop Wilberforce—than whom there has never been a readier advocate of the rights of the clergy—and by others, that there was a grievance which the Bill was intended to rectify; and though great objections were felt to the Bill, it was referred to a Select Committee, and only failed, I think, to pass through its further stages on account of the want of time. Thus the remedy failed, but the admissions of a grievance remain on record. We may go further. I hold in my hand the Report on this subject of the Committee of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury for the present year. It is true the Committee decline to recommend any change in the law of burial other than that agreed to by the Lower House of Convocation in 1871; but the Report contains several important recommendations. If, it says, any measure is necessary, the Committee are of opinion—Firstly.—That ample security should be taken for the maintenance of decency and order.628Secondly.—That, for this purpose, only legally authorized services should be used.Thirdly.—That the service, as aforesaid, should be conducted only by some person appointed by the legal representatives of the deceased, but never at the same time as any other public service in the church or churchyard.Fourthly.—That the new law should not apply to the churchyards of those parishes or districts for which a public burial-ground has been provided by a Burial Board, containing an unconsecrated as well as a consecrated portion; nor to the consecrated portion of such ground.Fifthly.—That the new law should not apply to the members of any religious body in any parish in which there is a chapel with a sufficient burial-ground licensed, or otherwise legally secured for the use of the members of such religious body.Sixthly.—That such new law should not apply to any burial-ground which had been or should hereafter be provided solely by private benefaction.Here is a complete scheme for a Bill if one must be passed, though the Committee decline to recommend one, prepared by this Committee of Convocation, during the present year. Why do they make such recommendations? It must be because of their belief that a grievance of some kind exists; for if there was no such belief they would naturally look to your Lordships to reject a measure which they regard as a wanton encroachment upon the rights and privileges of the National Church. In 1871 the resolutions referred to in this Report were passed, and it was then recommended that the existing Burial Acts should be applied to all parishes where it was expedient that new or additional burial-grounds should be provided; that Services other than those of the Church of England should be provided only when the incumbent received notice in writing; and, lastly, that one or more parishes should have the power of providing burial-grounds. Considering the natural state of feeling among the clergy on this subject, these are considerable concessions. At the same time, they give us this lesson—that it is not desirable to proceed by Resolution, and that it would be much better to have a Bill. It has been already said—and will be echoed, I am sure, by all my right rev. Brethren—that it is not the duty of the Bishops to propose a measure in a matter of great national importance, and that it is to the Government we must look to submit some measure which shall deal effectually with the question. Speaking for myself, I 629 am obliged to come to the conclusion—first, that a grievance has been proved to exist, and that as long as it exists it will be in the nature of a hidden sore, which will do considerable injury to the work of the Church; and, in the next place, that this grievance must be redressed with due regard to the rights of all concerned, and especially to those of the clergy. For example, the Public Worship Regulation Act has expressly rendered the clergy liable for every service held in the churchyard. In this and in other points the position of the clergy would have to be considered. But I agree that it is possible to devise some measure which shall give relief to the Nonconformists, and at the same time preserve the rights of the clergy in the churches and in the churchyards, imposing upon them no greater burden than they have at present. I feel the great difficulty of the question, and feel also that it is expedient to deal with it by Bill rather than by a general Resolution. Should such a Bill be presented to your Lordships early next Session, I am sure that, however much we may differ as to details, we shall unite in giving it anxious consideration, with a view to a permanent and efficient measure on this question.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
thought the speech of the most rev. Primate must have increased the desire of Her Majesty's Government to give to this question the most serious and real consideration. It must be obvious that neither the noble Earl (Earl Granville) nor those who acted with him approached this question with any view either of provoking a religious controversy or of making political capital. What he and everyone desired was to find a solution of a difficulty which it was urgent should not be longer allowed to continue unsettled. The noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond), in his endeavour to minimize the grievance, rather understated it. He seemed to think that this grievance did not exist 60 years ago; but, at all events, it had existed for a whole generation.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
explained that he said that, although the grievance might have existed 60 years ago, we had not heard about it till within the last 25 or 30 years.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, we had, at all events, heard about it quite 630 long enough. And he wished to remind their Lordships that conclusive proof had been given that a grievance existed, and it was a grievance that could not be measured exactly by numbers—the feeling of bitterness which actuated the few in these matters extended itself to all who held similar theological views. When he was at the Foreign Office several unpleasant cases in regard to burials arose between Her Majesty's Government and that of Spain; we felt aggrieved because certain of our countrymen who were Protestants were denied burial in their own churchyards in Spain with any funeral rites at the time the body was laid in the grave. Surely it was perfectly natural that Nonconformists should feel aggrieved under similar circumstances? The noble Duke had referred to the Bill of which he (the Earl of Kimberley) had charge in 1868, and which entirely put an end to the grievance in Ireland. It was true, as had been stated, that that Bill allowed the funeral service to be performed by a Catholic priest or a Dissenting minister at the grave; but the noble Duke did not add that he was prepared to go the length of the Bill of 1868. That measure had now been in operation for eight years, and he had not heard that any of the difficulties had arisen which were anticipated by some at the time it passed. If that Act were so adverse to the Irish Church Establishment as it had been stated to be this evening, why did not the noble Duke and his Colleagues oppose it? The fact, however, was that that Act had not the slightest connection with the disestablishment of the Irish Church. The most rev. Primate seemed to exaggerate the difficulties which were likely to occur in settling this question. There was nothing more easy in a matter of this kind than to conjure up all kinds of dreadful occurrences which would follow an alteration of the law—but which were never destined to be realized. There were between 600 and 700 cemeteries in towns in this country, but he had not heard that any indecorous or irreligious scenes had occurred in them, and in country parishes the danger was likely to be less. It seemed to him that the general feeling of the population on this subject was such that the risk we ran was incalculably small. The most natural course, in his opinion, would be to leave the churchyard in the custody 631 of the clergyman and the churchwardens as at present, and to leave it to the ordinary police of the country to see that no disorder took place. The most rev. Primate had spoken of the strong feeling of the clergy with reference to the churchyards. No doubt that feeling ought to be fairly considered; but, at the same time, it should be borne in mind that this burials question was especially one for the laity. His noble Friend (Earl Granville) had been found fault with for introducing this matter in the shape of a Resolution; but many matters had within his own experience been settled by Resolution, and this Resolution, if carried, would be an indication to the Government of the course which Parliament desired to pursue. The clergy were specially represented in that House, and any expression of opinion coming from them would carry great weight;—but, whatever were the results of the Resolution, the speeches of the Primate and of the most rev. Prelate could not fail to produce great effect both there and elsewhere. He felt confident that every man on that side of the House who voted for the Resolution would do so not because he regarded it in the slightest degree as a blow to the Church of England, but for exactly the opposite reason. This was one of those small irritating sores which if allowed to continue resulted in great injury, and might, if not removed, become a stepping-stone to the disestablishment of the Church itself. While he believed the Church continued to retain as strongly as ever her hold on the affections of the people of this country, and that a large part of the Nonconformists had no wish to pull her down, he felt that nothing would be more likely to expedite a union between them and those who took a contrary view than that a system should be kept up which was a continual wound to their feelings. For those reasons he should cordially support the Resolution of his noble Friend.
THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN
My Lords, there is no one, I believe, in your Lordships'House, and I am sure there is no one on this Episcopal Bench, who is not desirous of redressing all real grievances, especially of any of our Nonconformist fellow Christians. You have given practical evidence of this truth. Not long ago it was alleged as a grievance by some of our dissenting brethren, 632 that, inasmuch as the churchyards of the country are not national property, but belong to a particular religious communion—the Church of England, from which they are separated, and from which they derive no benefit—they should be required by law to contribute to their maintenance. Therefore, although church rates were not a tax upon persons, but on property, and although Nonconformists are freely admitted to burial in our churchyards, you thought fit to remove this alleged grievance by passing the Act for the abolition of Compulsory Church Rates. I venture to think, my Lords, that it is hardly consistent with reason and equity that any Nonconformists should now come forward and allege that the churchyards are national property; and should claim, not only burial therein, which is freely conceded, but should also demand that their own ministers should be admitted on equal terms with the clergy of the Church of England to officiate therein. Again, my Lords, all who are acquainted with Nonconformist literature are aware that many Dissenters allege that the consecration of a burial place is an idle form and superstitious ceremony; and in deference to that allegation your Lordships have passed the Burials Acts which require that a certain portion of every public cemetery should be left unconsecrated. It seems to be somewhat at variance with that repugnance to consecration, that some should now plead that it is a great hardship on Nonconformity that it should not be allowed to enter into partnership with the Church in all the consecrated churchyards of the country, and perform its own religious services therein. But, let this pass. The question of grievances is one, like many others, on which there are two sides; and justice and wisdom require that we should hear both. Petitions to Parliament enable us in some measure to do so. In analyzing the Petitions on this subject which were presented to the other House of the Legislature in the present year, up to April 6th last, we find that there were only about 18 Petitions in favour of the change proposed in the noble Earl's Resolutions, and there were about 1,800 Petitions against it. Now, my Lords, the question is, Are we to redress the grievance of those who have signed the 18 Petitions, and thus to inflict the 633 grievance deprecated by those who have signed the 1,800? Would this be a prudent and equitable course? And, my Lords, even if we were to redress it, I very much fear that there is another grievance behind, which would next have to be removed, and that is no other than the alleged grievance of the existence of the Church of England as a national establishment of religion. My Lords, the noble Earl opposite has appealed to the case of the Church of Ireland, and has referred to the Burial Acts passed for that country, and has invited your Lordships to imitate that precedent. In anticipation of that appeal I felt it my duty to inquire of the Primate of all Ireland, and of the Bishop of Derry, what had been the effect of those Irish Acts. The Primate writes thus—I do not think that either of the Irish Burial Acts of 1824 or of 1868 have been of the slightest use. They have had no healing effect, but, on the contrary, have stirred up strife, and hold out invitations to promote parochial quarrels. I have no doubt that the passing of an Act for England, such as the Burial Act for Ireland, would be a source of unceasing annoyance and dispute.His Grace the Primate has authorized me to make public this statement of his opinion. The Bishop of Derry writes in a similar tone, and expressed an opinion that Ireland is placed in more favourable circumstances than England for such an experiment—Inasmuch as in Ireland there are no Secularists who would declaim in churchyards against the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul.It is remarkable, my Lords, that the publication of this opinion of the Bishop of Derry, brought forward the President of the Secularist Society of Belfast, who proclaimed that he and his brother Secularists—Consider it the right of every individual to declare his honest conviction in matters of religion, even though it be at the open grave in a consecrated churchyard.The Resolutions now before your Lordships, if carried into effect, would enable anyone to hold any service which he deems to be "Christian, religious, and orderly," in any of our churchyards. Some religionists—the Socinians—make it a part of their Christianity to deny the Divinity of Christ. These Resolutions would empower them to proclaim 634 that opinion there. Other religionists deny the resurrection of the body. They would be enabled by these Resolutions to preach against that doctrine over the graves of your departed friends. I hold in my hand a letter from the rector of Upchurch, near Sittingbourne, in the Diocese of Canterbury, and he authorizes me to make public use of it. He states that a religious sect, calling themselves "the Peculiar People," who believe that they alone can be saved, took upon themselves, against his remonstrance, to hold a religious meeting at a funeral in his churchyard, and that this service consisted of a long succession of hymns mixed up with preaching of a violent kind, and he adds that it is their practice to combine preaching with multitudinous hymns in stentorian tones, and that they sometimes continue this service for hours. My Lords, if the present Resolutions are adopted, I fear that many of us might rue the adoption, especially they who happen to dwell in the neighbourhood of country churchyards, which, happily for us, at present, are scenes of solemn quietness and peace. My Lords, in the year 1874 you passed the "Public Worship Regulation Act,"one of the purposes of which was to restrain ritualistic and romanizing practices, not only in our Churches, but in our churchyards. And what will be the effect of your adopting the present Resolutions, which allow the use of any "religious, Christian, and orderly observances?"—such are the words of the Resolution—"as to the friends or relatives of the deceased may seem fit?" Why, my Lords, according to these Resolutions, you may have in every unclosed churchyard in England, not only ritualistic and romanizing practices, but you may have Romish masses for the dead, Romish prayers for the souls in purgatory, Romish requiems and dirges chanted, by priests attired in all the splendid vestments of the Romish hierarchy, with torches naming, and censers swinging, and banners floating in the air. Are you prepared for such demonstrations as these? Would this be consistent with the legislation of two years ago? But I forbear. Only two points more. In the Parliamentary debates on this present question in "another place,"I was denounced by the Mover of the Resolution on Burials, as an intolerant bigot and fanatical enthusiast. My Lords, I plead guilty to the 635 charge, if, as was alleged by him, it be bigotry and intolerance to proclaim and hold fast the principle which has ever been enunciated by the greatest divines of the Church of England, such as Richard Hooker and Bishop Andrewes, that the Act of the consecration of achurchyard is a very solemn one, and that the essence of it consists in separating from common uses that which is consecrated, and in transferring it from man to God; and that as the Church is not the house of man, but the house of God, so the churchyardis not man's property, but His. It is "God's acre." And as He is not the Author of error and confusion, but of truth and peace, so it is not consistent with the fundamental principle of consecration to allow the quiet haven of the churchyard to be disturbed by the storms of polemical controversy, and to be agitated by the winds of false doctrine and religious division, and even of unbelief. My Lords, I entreat you to protect the quiet dormitories of the dead, and to defend their peaceful sanctity from such invasions as these. In the fourth century of the Christian era a great conflict arose in one of the noblest cities of Italy—the City of Milan. On one side was an Arian Emperor, Valentinian, and an Arian Empress, Justina; and on the other was one of the greatest Bishops of ancient Christendom, St. Ambrose. The Arian Emperor and Empress requested the Bishop of Milan, on the plea of Christian charity, to give up a share in the Churches of Milan for Arian preaching and Arian worship. Your Lordships may remember his answer—If you ask for my property, you may have it. If you demand my life, take it. But the Churches are not mine to give. I cannot surrender them. They belong to God, and are committed to me as a trustee to defend them—and I shall have to give an account hereafter how I have administered my trust.So, my Lords, let me say now. I do not presume to speak in the name of any one else. I am not a mouthpiece or organ of the English Episcopate, but I deem it a duty to say publicly, while I am perfectly ready to concur in any reasonable measure for the redress of any proved grievance of any of our Nonconformist brethren—I am bound to declare unreservedly, at any cost, that you may deprive me of my Episcopal endowments, you may take from me my 636 Episcopal house, you may remove me from a place in this august Assembly; but I cannot, my Lords, surrender—for what seem to me to be wrong uses—things which are not mine to give, and which I am solemnly pledged to defend, the churchyards and Churches which are committed to my care by the Great Head of the Church.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
said, he regretted that the question should have been brought before their Lordships in this shape, and that the noble Earl, instead of taking the opinion of the House upon a distinct proposition, should have confined himself to introducing an abstract Resolution. It was true that the hon. Member who had taken up the subject in the other House (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had proceeded by way of Resolution; but that was because the Forms of that House precluded the chance of his bringing forward any Bill this Session. That was not the case in their Lordships' House. It was competent for any Member of their Lordships' House—and especially so for the noble Earl who occupied so distinguished and pre-eminent a position in it—to have introduced a Bill. If it had been such a measure as that suggested by the noble Earl on the cross-benches (Earl Grey) it might have been read a first and second time, and then sent before a Select Committee. No doubt the question was one surrounded by many difficulties; but such a Committee would have had evidence upon all points from persons who were directly interested in the subject, and they would have had the assistance of the right rev. Bench in framing a working measure. He listened in vain to the eloquent speech of the noble Earl for any suggestion to meet the practical difficulties of the case. He believed the time had come when it had become absolutely necessary to deal with the question. There was, he feared, a hostile and uncompromising spirit at work among the Nonconformist and Dissenting communities, which induced them to reject every proposition that had hitherto been made—and he feared that they would refuse in like manner the present alternative of a silent burial, or a service in the churchyard by the minister of any recognized church; and he feared that, in some quarters at least, the demand for an open churchyard was the mere pretext for obtaining the full use 637 of what was sometimes called national property. He viewed with extreme apprehension the line taken by some of the leading spokesmen of the Nonconformists, and should desire to have their language definitely interpreted before accepting an abstract Resolution as an expression of their views. While he was ready to support any well-considered measure, framed with due regard to the public and personal interests concerned, he could not vote for such a vague, indistinct, and unpractical Resolution as that of the noble Earl, which, if agreed to, would not in the slightest degree advance the question towards a settlement.
§ EARL SPENCER
believed, on the contrary, that the passing of this Resolution would greatly advance the question. It was not pretended that the passing a mere abstract Resolution could or would settle the question; because, under any circumstances, it must be followed by legislation; but it would be a stepping-stone in the direction of settlement. The more distinctly they recognized the grievances connected with the subject the more clearly, perhaps, would they see their way to the removal of them. He denied that the grievance was sentimental—it was a reality. The grievance was this—that Dissenters who had the right of interment in a parish churchyard must have the service of the Church of England, of which they might not approve, read by a clergyman with whom they might have no sympathy, and with whom they might have been in controversy. It was hard that at such a time mourners should be compelled to be unwilling listeners. It was said that the introduction of Dissenting ministers into the parish churchyards would tend to lower the position of the clergy; but he did not think any apprehension need be entertained on that ground. The clergy of the Church of England owed the position they held to the devotion they displayed to their duty and the care they took of the interests of the poor, more than to any legal position they held, and so long as they did their duty they need not fear the intrusion of Dissenters; but if they hoped to maintain their position by the mere letter of the law, there would be more danger of their losing it. Again, it was said that if they gave up the churchyard they would have to give up 638 the church as well. He could not see the logic of that argument. It was absolutely necessary that the dead should be buried, but there were other churches and chapels where Dissenters might perform their religious worship. Nor did he think there was any fear that the churchyards would become platforms for secularists, or that scenes would occur which would cause scandal to the church or neighbourhood. He thought the good feeling which existed in this country would prevent anything of the kind. No such scenes occurred in the cemeteries, and it was very unlikely that those who went to a churchyard to perform a religious ceremony and to give consolation to the bereaved would indulge in invectives against the Church or the clergy. The noble Duke said the grievance was one that was felt by very few; but he (Earl Spencer) believed that the number who felt aggrieved was very large. The grievance was particularly felt in the rural parts of England and in almost every parish of Wales. But if it prevailed much less extensively—if it were even confined to a single congregation—he thought it should at once be removed, if it could be removed without doing harm in any other direction. As to "surrendering the outworks"of the Church, the position of the Church was a strong one within itself, and it was not wise that it should be weakened by placing garrisons where there was no need of defence, and which must be surrendered whenever seriously attacked.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON
said, that, on this question, there was a great deal of sentiment on the one side and the other, and their Lordships should be very careful that in relieving the grievances of one party they did not inflict an injury on the other. For himself, he did not know anything to shock his sense of right in allowing other kinds of services than those of the Church of England to be used in the churchyards. There was no doubt much to be said on both sides of the question; and he feared there was a tendency to exaggerate the advantage which the one side possessed and the disadvantage to which the other was subjected. The noble Earl who had just sat down (Earl Spencer) had insisted very strongly on the grievance felt by Dissenters in being obliged to listen to a service to which they objected. But 639 what evidence was there that the Church of England Service was so distasteful to Dissenters? Several years ago he endeavoured to procure information as to the services used in the unconsecrated parts of cemeteries about London, and he found, somewhat to his surprise, that the Burial Service of the Church of England was very largely used. So far from there being any widespread objection to the services of the Church of England, it appeared that in those very cemeteries which were created purposely for the relief of Dissenters, in a large number of cases—he would say the majority—that service was employed which the noble Earl had told the House was so distasteful to Dissenters. As to the right of Nonconformists, in one sense, no doubt, they had that right, in another sense, the right was greatly weakened by the abolition of compulsory church rates. By freeing themselves from the responsibility of maintaining churchyards, they had avowedly, if not legally, weakened their claim to the unrestricted use of them. He earnestly desired that this question should be settled, which, as long as it remained open, might be not only a weakness but a danger. He was thankful to hear that Her Majesty's Government had consented to take the question into their consideration, and to bring forward a measure which might afford a reasonable solution of the difficulty. He hoped that another year would not be allowed to pass without seeing this question settled.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
My Lords, I wish to say a very few words to explain the reasons which induce me to vote for the Resolution of the noble Earl (Earl Granville). I shall not attempt to deny that there is much force in the objection that it would be better to treat a subject of this kind by way of Bill than of Resolution. No doubt it is true that there would be an advantage in discussing a problem of this nature with reference to its practical difficulties as seen in the provisions of a Bill. Agreeing in the principles and assenting to all the arguments of the noble Earl who brought forward the Resolution, I am free to confess I should have preferred that this Resolution should have been embodied in a Bill: but having said that, I am bound to add that to object to vote for a Resolution on such a ground as this 640 would be, in me at least, in the highest degree unpractical and unworthy. I speak only for myself, and do not pretend to lay down the law for any other noble Lord. Some men, no doubt, are anxious to avoid expressing an opinion on this subject, from motives which, if I do not share, I can respect; and from the mouths of such men such an objection as this is reasonable enough. But in itself I cannot think it is entitled to much weight. Let us consider the special circumstances of the case. We are now in the middle of May. Already Resolutions embodying substantially the Resolutions of the noble Earl have been rejected in the other House of Parliament. It is plain, therefore, that to introduce a Bill would be not one whit more practical than to proceed by Resolution. Everybody who debated it would feel that he was debating something which could not pass; and the debate would be just as merely a vehicle for expressing opinions as is the debate on these Resolutions. Yet, surely the time has arrived when it is fit that your Lordships' opinion on this question should be made known to the country. It is due to this House—it is due to many Members in it—that their opinions upon this most important and practical question should be placed on record. Therefore, agreeing in every respect with the noble Earl, agreeing that the present state of things is utterly indefensible—the present state of things, indeed, not having been defended in its integrity by any noble Lord; and the Resolutions before us seeming to me to lay down the true lines upon which any amendment of the law should proceed, I want no better reason for giving my vote in their favour.
I start with this position—It is the conceded, at all events, it is the unquestionable right of every Englishman as a parishoner to be buried in the churchyard of his parish church so long as he has no disqualifications imposed by law. Subject to these disqualifications, which do not affect the present question, this right is absolute and unqualified. It is true this right arose in other times; but it remains as certain, absolute, and unqualified as it was in the times when it first arose, though the relations of the Established Church to the nation have since been greatly and fundamentally altered, What follows from this pro- 641 position? First, that these Resolutions and any legislation founded upon them affect no secular right which the clergy can maintain. It is true only in a qualified and very limited sense, if it be true at all, that a clergyman has the freehold of a churchyard. His right of property in it, if any, is of the most limited kind, only such as the absolutely unqualified rights of the parishioners leave him to enjoy. He cannot prevent burials; he cannot—I speak broadly, not forgetting, but not staying to describe the various qualifications of my statement—he cannot prevent the erection of monuments upon the soil, nor the construction of vaults within it: it is not the business of the clergyman to fence the churchyard which, if it were his freehold, would be his business. That is the duty of the parishoners. He cannot, except for limited purposes, even cut down the trees which grow in the soil of it, and if it is shut up under recent Acts of Parliament, the law recognizes in him no claim for compensation. All these things show how qualified is his freehold; and they show that, whatever else these Resolutions affect, they will not affect in the smallest degree any right of property which the clergyman can claim.
If, then, my assertion be correct that the proposed legislation affects no right of secular property, does it affect any spiritual right which the clergyman can maintain? In my opinion, most clearly not. I do not, indeed, very accurately understand upon this question what is meant by a spiritual right being affected by law; to say the truth, I doubt if those who use this language have ever been at the pains to realize the exact meaning of the language they use, or to ascertain whether it has any meaning. Of course, I can understand the right to forbid a particular thing being done except with a special form of words and by a special person. But this is a secular and legal, not a spiritual right. Spiritual influence founded on spiritual right appeals to the mind and to the conscience, and is not a matter to be dealt with by law at all. It is not the creature of law, and law which cannot create it cannot destroy it. No such right is brought into question here. What is brought into question here is something very different. It is a claim to assert by the exercise of outward acts 642 a spiritual authority over minds and consciences which do not acknowledge it; and to maintain by human law an influence with which, as I have said, human law has nothing whatever to do. No clergy—Anglican, Roman, or Dissenting—have any right, by any law, human or Divine, to claim the allegiance of persons who reject their claims and repudiate their authority; and these Resolutions therefore interfere with no right which can be based upon reason or common sense.
I do not, indeed, deny that in former times there might be some fair ground for the claim which the clergy now put forward, when the country was entirely of one faith and there was substantially but one form of religion. Nay, I will admit that in later times when one form of religion was protected by penal statute, and when, as at the time of the Test Acts, all other forms of religion were in a very real and true sense prohibited by law, there might be some ground for the claim put forward. But this state of things has long since passed away. Now there is no religious bar between the holder of any form of Christian faith and the highest offices of the State: all the minor offices have been thrown open one by one, and now the holder of any form of Christian faith—except, perhaps, the oldest form of all—may sit upon the Woolsack, keep the conscience of the Queen, and preside over your Lordships' debates. When this is the state of things, I think it is no longer right—perhaps, indeed, it is no longer safe—to endeavour to maintain what becomes a mere wretched relic of antiquated persecution. ["Oh!"] I use the word persecution on purpose, for the present state of things is in many cases persecution. Make the case your own and see how you would like it. Suppose that any one of your Lordships lived in a foreign country, whether Catholic or not; that you lost some one who was dearer to you than your own life; and that you found that if he or she were to lie in consecrated ground they must be interred with the prayers of an ecclesiastic whose form of faith you believed to be utterly erroneous and mischievous, and against whose teaching your whole life had been one continued and consistent protest. If that were your case, you would be the very first to denounce that state of things; you 643 would be the very first to use your utmost energies to get rid of a grievance which yet some of your Lordships appear in England and in the case of the English Dissenters to deny to be any grievance at all. I am very sure that if the conditions of things were changed—if the churchyards were in the hands of Dissenters, and they themselves stood in the position in which Dissenters stand now—the feelings of some persons who discuss this question and deny that there is a grievance would undergo a marvellous change; their powers of discussing and appreciating a hardship would be marvellously quickened. I think that, if the case were his own, no man of high feeling or high spirit would rest for a moment until he had done his best to get the system altered. It is all very well for persons whose deepest and tenderest feelings are not touched by the law to say there is no grievance in the state of the law. If the case were their own, they would not say there was no grievance. If they did say so, they would not mean what they said, and if they did mean what they said, they would be objects—not of scorn, indeed, but of wonder and pity.
Furthermore, I own I think the time has come when it is right to teach a small minority of the clergy a lesson which they much need to learn. There are few of them, and they are separated from one another by large distances in the country; but still there are enough of them in the aggregate to create from time to time considerable scandal. I think they need to be taught that, like other persons in public situations, they are officers of the law and clothed with legal duties, and they must obey the law and perform those duties. They ought to be taught that we of the laity are not to be left in matters which touch our deepest and tenderest feelings to their—I had almost said their personal caprice, but I do not wish to use any word which can possibly give offence to any man. A man, for instance, may die by his own hand, and the legal authorities may find that he was insane; or a man may die whose life has been impure, or whose faith was eccentric or wavering. I am not now discussing what should be the rule of law in each or any of these cases; but I say that there should be some rule of law—a law easily and speedily enforceable, and enforceable with costs. 644 If this be due to us of the laity, it is not less—perhaps it is still more—due to thousands of honest, pious, quiet men among the clergy. It has been said that this is a political agitation. In one sense it cannot be worth any man's while to deny that it is; but in the sense in which the words "political agitation" are used, I think they are entirely unfounded. It strains courtesy to hear men, who would be the first to agitate if the case were their own, deny to others that right of agitation which they would be the first, and rightly the first, to exercise themselves. That the motives of some of the men who conduct the agitation are mixed motives it would be worse than childish to deny. But what then? The same thing may be said of any agitation on any subject. What is the proper way to meet such an agitation as this? By doing justice. By generously conceding at once what is fair and reasonable. It has been said that this demand must be resisted, because if it were granted other demands would have to be conceded. Well, if they are just demands and are involved in what is now asked, they will have to be conceded; but if they are not just and are not involved in what is now asked, they will be refused when they are made. I have often heard it said that yielding in these matters was of no use, and that kindness and conciliation were entirely thrown away. I have heard it stated, as though it were a sort of discovery, and given out with a kind of oracular utterance, that gratitude is no motive power in English politics. I do not care to inquire whether this is a true account of the principles of the English people. I hope it is not true; but I know that in every country, whether free or despotic, nothing is more dangerous than to resist just demands merely because you are able to resist them; to resist them when you know they will have to be granted; to resist them so that when the inevitable day of yielding comes, you will seem to have given way not to reason but to fear, turning what might have been the subject of a most useful peace into a subject of angry victory on one side and of sullen and humiliating defeat on the other. Your Lordships, at any rate, have the power to show the country that you are willing on this question to listen to the counsels of wisdom and of mode- 645 ration. You can show the country that you thoroughly appreciate the saying of a famous man of the last century that "magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom," and as nobody doubts your power so I hope that by voting in favour of this Resolution you will show that you have not only the power, but the will.
said, that if the noble Earl had submitted a Bill to this House after the defeat of the hon. Gentleman's Resolution in "another place," he would perhaps have done more to help forward the legislation he desired, than he certainly would by proposing a Resolution at this period of the Session. But even if these Resolutions were adopted, and a Bill based upon them passed into law, there would still remain the difficulty of carrying it into effect. As to the use of the word "right" in the second Resolution, he could understand that, as the burial of the dead was necessary for the sake of decency and on sanitary grounds, the people, whether Nonconformist or others, had a "right" to demand that there should be a place where their dead could be properly buried. It was, however, quite another thing to assert that the Dissenters had a "right" to the churchyards; and he maintained that that right, whatever it might be, had been very much interfered with by the abolition of church rates, for one of the grounds on which the Church had been tempted to give up that charge was that by doing so she would secure a more clear title to the churchyards. The right, he might add, such as it was, was never one which had been uncontrolled. It had been controlled partly for the sake of uniformity and partly for the sake of order; and he believed it would be found on inquiry that the limitation for the sake of order was essential, and that there could really be no order in our churchyards unless there was somebody who was responsible for the superintendence of the services. But however this might be, the members of the Church of England had rights, and were entitled to have them respected. He was one of those who did not for a moment deny the existence of a grievance in connection with the subject; but then, if there was a grievance, it had been, in his opinion, greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless, if it did exist, and could be removed without creating a 646 greater grievance in its stead, he should be one of the first to wish that it should be done away with. And when it was said that the Nonconformists disliked the Church, he would confidently appeal to the experience of many of their Lordships to say whether in the parishes in which they resided Nonconformists did not go in great numbers and by preference to the Services of the Church. There were remedies which might, if applied, tend towards the solution of the difficulty. One was the increase of churchyards, and another was the permission of silent burial. He denied that it entered into the heart of a Churchman to think that it was wrong that he should be buried beside a Nonconformist; what they did not think was proper was that their consecrated burial-grounds should be subject to forms of ceremony altogether alien to the Church of England. He trusted their Lordships would not impede a settlement of the question by passing the Resolution which had been submitted to the House.
THE BISHOP OF EXETER
said that, as he stood very nearly alone on the Episcopal Bench in supporting the Resolution of the noble Earl the leader of the Opposition, he should not like to vote without explaining what were the reasons which induced him to favour the Resolution. He confessed he shared the feeling which had been expressed that it would have been much more satisfactory to discuss a Bill than a Resolution; but, at the same time, his reasons were not those which had been given. If a Bill had been proposed, perhaps their debate would have been much more confined, while at the same time it would have been easier on a Bill to go off on a side issue than on a Resolution. If the Resolution which had been submitted were defeated, there would at any rate be so large and important a minority as to make it quite plain to the country that the settlement of the question could be delayed no longer. It was of the greatest importance that there should, if possible, be no longer any delay in removing that which was unjust to Nonconformists and mischievous to the Church of England. It was unjust to the Nonconformists that they should be excluded from that which all natural and right feeling men would give them; it was mischievous to the Church of England that it should be put in the 647 attitude in which it now stood, refusing what all ordinary people would say ought to have been conceded some time ago. It was doing the Church of England great harm, for no greater mischief could be done her than to alienate the sympathies and affections of the great body of the people. There were not only political agitators to deal with—he should care little indeed if they were to remain unsatisfied to the end; but there were many religious people both among Nonconformists and among church-people who felt that in this matter we were treating Nonconformists with unkindness and injustice, and without a fair reason for doing so. Therefore, as a matter of justice and in the interests of the Church of England, he felt bound to vote for the Resolution.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, much of this discussion has turned upon the judgment of the noble Earl (Earl Granville) in submitting his propositions in the form of a Resolution instead of a Bill. I confess that his doing so surprises me in no degree, because I can remember that during five years he was a Member of one of the most powerful Ministries of modern times, and never during that time could he formulate his ideas or muster courage to produce a Bill on this subject. From that, I conclude that the education of the noble Earl is not yet completed—the education of his Friends in this matter—their gradual accretion of ideas—has only got as far as a Resolution, and in a future Session no doubt they will bring in a Bill. I do not think they have brought forward this Resolution with any serious hopes of carrying it, because if they had they would have produced it at an earlier part of the year, when it would have fallen in with the movements of their allies in another place. I pass away from the question of form, which is not a matter of importance. The Resolution recognizes the difficulty of the question, and acknowledges the duty to undertake the labour of solving them. If we had to follow the line of the debate as it was commenced in the early part of the evening, the considerations which we should have to address ourselves to would be of a humble and prosaic character; but as the evening went on our feelings warmed and considerations of a genuine character were submitted. The noble 648 and learned Lord (Lord Chief Justice Coleridge) raised a question of absolute justice in regard to the Dissenters, and grounded all objections by simply replying it was just that we should make concessions. Upon this theme he poured out a flood of indignant invective and elevated sentiment, and I could not help thinking that dreams of earlier years were floating over his mind. Somebody had spoken of the verdict the House had to render, and I am afraid the phrase misled my noble and learned Friend—he interpreted it too literally; he could not help thinking of the verdicts he had won and the species of eloquence by which he had won them. This plea of justice is one difficult for me to understand. There is a right on the part of every parishioner to be buried in the churchyard—of course, if there is room. But it is a right which is never exercised simply—it has always been exercised subject to another incident, that the service of the Established Church of the country should be read over the grave. Now, am I to understand that it is the right of the parishioner to be buried, if his friends think fit, without a service, though that right has been dormant for a thousand years and has never been exercised? No lawyers will persuade me that a man can have a right which the laws of the country had never recognized and which for a thousand years has been illegal. If there is no right, where is the claim of justice? It is a claim to a right which has never been possessed, a privilege which has never been exercised; it is a claim that is absolutely new; which may be clothed with right when Parliament choses; but which has never yet had the incident of justice attached to it. If then there is no right, I fail to see what claim there can be to justice. The dispute upon this question is complicated in this respect—that the matter upon which the controversy really turns is often that which is least discussed, and the matter which is most discussed and in regard to which the most remedies are offered is not the most vital. There is no real difficulty if men were so minded in accommodating the question of service; there could be no difficulty in framing a service which would meet any reasonable and non-doctrinal objections; the real difficulty is about the person by whom the service is to be read. That is the point which makes it difficult to 649 understand how the issue of pure justice can be raised. You may claim that the religious feelings of the man's relations shall not be irritated by a service with which they do not agree; but it is impossible to raise any plea in favour of a claim that the service shall be read by a person to whom the relations happen to be attached. I think it is in reference to the distinction between the person who performs the service and the service to be performed that the difficulty is to be got over by authorizing the use of hymns. I think some consideration may be paid to the suggestion of the most rev. Primate in reference to them. Of course hymns cannot be admitted in any degree of latitude, because doctrines might be introduced in a versified form; but there is this advantage, that it entirely gives the go-by to the question by whom the service is to be performed. I do not know that it is in that idea that any solution of the difficulty is to be found. But we have to deal with a very difficult question of expediency. You have two sets of grievance to balance. It is a question of feelings and sentiments; but you have two collections of feelings and sentiments opposed to each other, and it will be quite as grievous to affront the feelings on one side as on the other. You have the feelings of the clergy and those who go heartily with them in their respective parishes. They are undoubtedly more excited on this question than on any religious question which has been raised within our recollection, and we must consider whether those feelings are entirely unreasonable. I do not believe that this feeling of the clergy has arisen from any fear that their position will be jeopardized—it has arisen from a much more respectable source. You cannot persuade the clergy that by admitting those who are the teachers of other religions, a blow will not be given to the belief in doctrinal religion altogether. They cannot persuade themselves that it is an indifferent matter who is to perform this religious service in our churchyards which this Resolution says is to be limited to a "religious and orderly performance." Such a limitation can only be put into a Resolution and never into any clause of a Bill. The effort has occasionally been made, but the only way of defining a religion is by reference to the beliefs on which it depends. You 650 must have some test, some formula, some symbol of belief or you cannot define what Christianity is, and whether the person who is to perform the service included in the belief really deserves the title. Why is the service to be confined to Christians? Are Christians to only people who have feelings and consciences? Is it possible to exclude the Jew? Has he no teachers to whom he is attached? Is it possible to exclude the Unitarian? He often is very much attached to his teachers. The ladder which leads down from the Christian faith has innumerable rounds in it, and there is no sharp line to be drawn from the Christian faith till you reach the most absolute negation. And do not imagine that the professor of a negation has no service to perform, no forms to which he is attached, and that he would shrink from a desire to express them on suitable and unsuitable occasions. In Belgium it is one of the devices of free-thinkers to make Atheistic speeches by the graveside, and the same thing is done in France. I hold in my hand a burial service by Austin Holyoake, one of the first sentences of which is directed towards a repudiation of the doctrine of immortality. I may quote a single verse from a hymn—The parsons may preach and the fanatics raveOf existence eternal beyond the dark grave.Their heaven, they say, is far up above,But mine is on earth, and I call it Love.Why might not such a composition as this be sung in the churchyard? If you pass this Resolution giving ministers of religion who do not agree with the Established Church unrestricted access to the churchyard, you will wound the clergy in their most susceptible side, and will excite an animosity far more serious than that you are now attempting to remove. Now, my Lords, I say that this is a very wide and extended feeling which a wise statesman would be very cautious in exciting. What is the feeling on the other side? What is this question for the sake of which it is worth while to affront on this point feelings so deep as those of the clergy and their adherents? My Lords, this agitation would not exist if it did not please the Scotch and the Irish Members to come and teach us in England how to bury our dead. If England were governed according to English ideas, the majority of the House of Commons on the late division would have been 98 in opposition to the Bill. In other words, 651 the Bill would have taken rank with such projects as women's suffrage and never be heard of in serious debate. But, my Lords, the history of the agitation is another proof that this grievance is no serious grievance. The practice has been going on for nearly 200 years; but it was only when the arsenal of political agitation began to be exhausted that the grievance was devised and brought before the House of Commons. It was never heard of by the older generation of Dissenters. It was never heard of in the religious world; its history proves it to be of political generation. Another point for your Lordships' consideration is that this grievance, whether great or small, is undoubtedly confined by those parishes where there is no Dissenting burial-place, and where there is still room in the Church of England churchyard. And it is in process of constant diminution, and as the churchyards become full, and cemeteries are built, it must sooner or later disappear, because where the interments are in cemeteries the grievance cannot possibly exist. But suppose, instead of allowing this grievance, such as it is, to exist, you set up the other grievance—how far will it extend and how long will it last? If you affront the feelings of the clergy and their adherents, you will do it, not over a limited space, but all over the country, whether there be Dissenters in the place or not, or whether or not graveyards be attached to the chapels. You will force the clergy to admit into the churchyards men whose teaching they utterly disprove, and perhaps doctrines disseminated such as they utterly abhor. The noble Earl made very light of the agitation—he alluded to the former battles of the Church, and spoke of church rates and other contests as if all that was required was a little compulsion to overcome the objection to this proposal. He seemed to have taken the view of my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chief Justice that "we ought to teach the minority of the clergy a lesson which they very much needed to learn." I thought the phrase so happy, and yet so unconscious, a betrayal of the real animus which actuates this movement that I ventured to take it down. But I would remind the noble Earl that this is a battle very different from the Church battles hitherto. Hitherto we always felt that 652 the worst could be repaired by the expenditure of money. No doubt, we thought that we had been treated on more than one occasion with harshness by Parliament; but still the evil could always be repaired if Churchmen chose to be liberal enough, and happily there was a sufficient number to furnish funds to undo the mischief which Parliament had done. But in this matter the change if made cannot be cured by money. Outside the Church the grievance is a mere matter of £50. If Dissenters obtain £50, they can find land enough to set this grievance aside. But that is not so with the clergy—this is an invasion of their rights and feelings that cannot be cured by money. But to leave these political dynamics—this balancing of one grievance against another—the question is how such a measure could affect the stability of the Established Church. The noble Earl says that that was a question often asked in times gone by when any change was proposed, and that the results showed there was no ground for alarm. But Churchmen have this justification now for assuming that this movement is directed against the Established Church, that those who originate it distinctly put that forward as their object. The noble Earl who made this Motion told us that he is an attached member of the Church; but it is always "attached members of the Church" who have led Dissenters to attack it. The history of the Liberal Party has been that its Leaders have been pushed forward by impetuous followers to do that which the Leaders themselves said they never would tolerate. Such, I am afraid, will be the case in the present instance. The noble Earl the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Earl Spencer) at all events talked to-night about "outworks." It was not we on this side of the House who talked about them; but I am quite willing to admit that in the outworks of a building, if gained, an enemy may find a dangerous cover, I am quite willing to give their due weight to the wise words which were spoken by by the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury this evening. It is no doubt well, as he said, to detach from a political agitation the elements of real grievance which attach to it, be they great or small and to meet and grapple it, not attempt to elude it. It is, however, everybody will admit, a delicate task when you have to 653 deal with, feelings so easily excited and so bitter on either side. It is not a task to be solved by these vague and sensational Resolutions. I do not at all dispute that the responsibility lies on Her Majesty's Government of approaching a question which is generally admitted to be ripe at least for an attempt to deal with. I do not despair—I will not say of satisfying agitators with respect to it, for that is impossible, or even the noble Earl opposite, for that would be difficult—but, at all events, of allaying any real feelings of bitterness which may exist, and taking away any pretence for setting up a real grievance against the Church. It is our duty to address ourselves to this task. We shall do it with the earnest wish that we may be able to find a solution that will, at any rate, set at rest the most bitter and dangerous part of the controvery. But while we earnestly desire to respect every holy and pious feeling, and to do justice to a sentiment which, although we may think it erroneous, we cannot but reverence in our hearts—while we shall avoid doing injury to any just or natural susceptibilities—we shall remember that in dealing with such a question the first consideration which must always present itself to our minds is that we do nothing to injure even by a single hair's breadth the greatest and most beneficent of all our institutions—the Established Church of England.
§ LORD SELBORNE
The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond) in the course of his speech to-night, took occasion to refer to my noble Friend behind meas representing those Nonconformists who were hostile to the Established Church. Now, I have no reason to believe that my noble Friend represents any clients in this matter at all, nor anything but what he believes to be the general interest of the country; and I trust your Lordships will give me credit for having no such clients as those whose object it is to destroy the Established Church. My opinion as to the value of the Established Church of the country is the same as that of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury):—and, in forming whatever conclusions I may have arrived at on this subject, I have been actuated at least as much by my view of the interests of the Church as by any other consideration. I am, I confess, one of those who for a long 654 time have felt reluctance to take part in the discussion of this question, and have watched the agitation of it with an anxiety, not free from pain; and I abstained when in the House of Commons from committing myself on the subject either by voice or vote. But during that period I could not but be sensible of the growing importance of the question, and that the time must inevitably come when it might be my duty not only to form a decided opinion upon it, but publicly to express that opinion. That time I believe now to have come, and I think my noble Friend near me (Earl Granville) has done good service to the Church by bringing the subject under your Lordships' consideration. The results of this debate are, in my judgment, not unfavourable to a settlement of the question, though I confess I should have rated its advantages higher before I heard the speech, of the noble Marquess opposite. But who are those to whom the Church and the country will naturally look as the most authoritative and the best-informed exponents of the interests and duties of the Church in this matter? I cannot be wrong in saying that we should look in the first instance to the members of the right rev. Bench, several of whom have addressed your Lordships to-night. What has been the result of those expressions of opinion from the right rev. Bench? The most rev. Primate, though unable to support this Resolution, and while expressing an unwillingness to be bound by any abstract Resolution, yet distinctly stated opinions which go a long way in the direction of my noble Friend's Resolution. His Grace concedes fully and without reserve the first part of that Resolution, and partly also the concluding portion. And if I did not greatly misunderstand the most rev. Primate of the Northern Province his Grace expressed, even with more distinctness, a still closer approximation to the Resolution. Moreover, we have heard the right rev. Prelate who presides over the diocese of London unequivocally express his own opinion that the second part of the Resolution contains in it no practical danger, and that what that part of the Resolution proposes might be conceded without any violation of the principles of the Established Church. Another right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) has 655 declared his intention of voting in favour of the Resolution. All the right rev. Prelates, unless the right rev. Prelate who presides over the diocese of Lincoln is an exception, unite in their testimony to the importance and urgency, in the interests of the Church, of an early settlement of this question. The utterances from the Ministerial bench, taken by themselves, and without the aid of these declarations from the right rev. Bench, would not have been quite so re-assuring to my mind. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), I must say, but for his concluding words, would have appeared to me to have made a speech directly and uncompromisingly against any settlement at all. Certainly the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) did not do this; but he pointed only to one mode of settlement, by the closing of the old churchyards and the acquisition of new burial grounds. He also endeavoured to impress on your Lordships that, after all, this was not so very urgent a question. On that point my opinion is directly contrary to that of the noble Duke. Every year this question seems to me to become more and more urgent, and the danger of postponing the settlement of it more real and more formidable. What is the nature of the grievance? It is true that in many rural parishes there is no active hostility to the Church. There may be much occasional Nonconformity, and, in some places, much preference for irregular over regular ministrations; but real alienation from the Church or its services there is in rural parishes little or none. With respect to the greater part of the agricultural districts I believe that to be a true description; and, in addition to this, in all parts of the country, the good feeling which generally prevails under the circumstances of death and the sorrows which accompany it have made it natural for people not to make the most of their religious differences at that time, or to take occasion to magnify their grievances at such a moment. But there are probably some parts of the country, particularly the manufacturing and mining districts and Wales, where the grievance is likely to be more practically felt; and its dimensions have everywhere an inevitable tendency to enlarge themselves under the 656 influence of agitation, remembering what is the nature of the grievance. The nature of the grievance is, that whereas, in every other matter whatever, the law now gives full effect to the principle of religious liberty, not imposing upon any man the obligation to receive the services of the Church in any shape whatever, or for any purpose whatever, during his lifetime, and not opposing any obstacle to his performance of religious acts according to his own conscience, the single case of which the contrary may be said is this case of interment after death—a thing inevitable to every man. The Dissenting relatives of a Dissenter, having rights of interment in a parish churchyard, and having no legal rights of interment elsewhere, nor any other place of interment practically available, are not permitted by law to bury their dead with such religious observances as their own consciences dictate. When the grievance is thus stated no answer can be given. Here I must mention one thing—perhaps the only thing—which fell from the most rev. Primate (the Archbishop of Canterbury) with which I am unable to agree. He said that this question had passed from the region of logic into the region of feeling. My Lords, I quite admit that the region of feeling is very much concerned in this question; but, depend upon it, it has not passed out of the region of logic; and the irresistible case of those who have this grievance is, that the logic is all on their side, and at least great part of the feeling is on their side also. Is there any conceivable logical answer to the observation that, in these cases, you deny after death that religious liberty which in every other respect is given to the deceased, and his relatives, during the whole of their lives? You deny this liberty, in the present state of the law, in two ways—by refusing to them the liberty of being religious in their own way, and by imposing upon them the necessity of being religious in your way. If there ever was a complete case in point of logic, surely it is this. Whatever may be the feelings of the clergy—and I hope I shall be believed when I say there is no man in this House, not even on the Episcopal Bench, who respects those feelings more than I do—you may depend upon it that the common sentiment of 657 human nature will go with the logic in this case. The feelings of those who have no professional view of the matter—the feelings of the great majority of the laity—when it is brought home to them that there is this violation of the established principle of religious liberty in dealing with interments, will go more and more with those who complain of this grievance. I do not know whether those who make light of the grievance are aware of the admission of it, spontaneously made in an able letter, addressed to The Times last winter by an excellent clergyman, whose views differ from mine, and who, as one of the secretaries of the society formed for the purpose of opposing Mr. Osborne Morgan's Bill, has been active in organizing the Parliamentary majority, to which reference has been made. His words were, that—Those who do not conform to the Church of England have, at the present time, a real and definite grievance, which ought to be removed;" that it is "a real and substantial grievance;" that "the Nonconformist and the unbeliever ought to be free, after death, to have whatever religious rites they have approved in their lifetime, or none, without hindrance or interference;" and that "this matter requires only to be stated, for its truth to be universally felt.There is, therefore, a real, and in my opinion a growing grievance; for the more it is spoken of in public, the more it is agitated, the more you resist, the better it will be understood in the country, and the more inclined will the country be towards a change of the law. And do you suppose that the continued agitation of such a question will not be mischievous—that many men, who have been hitherto moderate in their sectarianism, will not become more sectarian now—that Dissenters who before were willing to accept the services of the Church and to waive their differences at such a solemn time, will not, by a sense of the principle involved in such a controversy, be stirred up more and more to place themselves in an attitude of antagonism and alienation to the Church? Upon this subject we have independent testimony. The noble Duke referred to the history of this question in the House of Commons during late years, and to the diminished majorities one way, and, since 1873, the increased majorities in another way, as evidence that there was a diminishing 658 grievance. I should have thought that a majority in a Conservative House of Commons, in which the ordinary preponderance of the Government is at least 50—a majority of 14 in one Session and of 33 in the next Session—is not very strong evidence that even Conservative Members feel comfortable in following, under pressure, the lead of the Government on this question. I happen to have in my hand some very independent testimony on that subject. There is a noble Friend of mine who, in November last, was a Member of the House of Commons, from which, after 30 years' faithful service as the Conservative Representative of a rural and agricultural county, he has been promoted to a seat in your Lordships' House. I do not know how he will vote to-night; if with us, we shall welcome him to our ranks with great satisfaction. On the occasion of an agricultural meeting in the county which he then represented, he said—I will tell you something that happened. We had a debate on the Burials Bill this year in the House of Commons (that was in 1875). You know Mr. Disraeli's majority was over 80. Well, there was a strong whip made, and all the majority that could be obtained against the Burials Bill was 14. Now, allow me to tell you—all of you, and you who say No—you are a rattling Churchman—I heard a great many Conservative Members in that Lobby say distinctly, this is the last time we can give this vote. Well, all I ask of the clergy is this—I say to them there never was such an opportunity of coming forward and doing a graceful act—because, although I have seen the banner of 'No Surrender'often hoisted, I have frequently seen the edifice blown away altogether. That is my opinion: I see what is coming.That noble Lord thought, that the removal of this grievance would be for the benefit and stability of the Church: and it seems to me to be quite obvious, that there must be a serious danger in the continuance of such a grievance, which is not denied, but admitted by the best-informed among those who defend the Church, without a proper settlement being found for it. And then the question is, on what terms can it be settled? There is no use in admitting a grievance and saying that it ought to be settled, unless you are willing to settle it on terms that will remove the practical grievance. My noble Friend (Earl Granville) has adopted the best possible form of asking you whether you agree with him as to the essential principles an which it should be settled. Noble 659 Lords opposite ought to be extremely obliged to my noble Friend for putting his Motion in the form of a Resolution instead of a Bill. It has given them almost the only argument they have brought forward—namely, that he has proceeded in the wrong way; and has relieved them from the necessity of saying whether they do or do not agree with the principles he has enunciated. I have myself come to the conclusion that this question cannot be settled on any other basis than that indicated by my noble Friend. I do not see how any settlement of this question is possible which does not satisfy the principles of this Resolution. The principles are clearly expressed, and it will be quite possible, we think, when the time comes—not to define what religion or Christianity is, but to put into a Bill sufficient safeguards for order and decency, and, while conceding nothing to any persons, who may desire to introduce forms or practices which do not profess to be Christian or religious, to leave it, as in all other cases, to the law to deal with those who transgress the law. But we must first find out on what principles we are to proceed. The question, therefore, would be greatly advanced by the adoption of this Resolution, if it is sound in principle. Consider how much is involved in the concession of the first part of this Resolution. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) has not said whether he would concede it. Whether the noble Marquess concedes it or not, it is conceded—conceded by a Bill which passed your Lordships'House some years ago, conceded by both Houses of Convocation, and by the Church Defence Institution. But some of those who make this concession limit it in one of two ways—they say that either there shall be silent burial only, or that there shall be an unconsecrated piece of ground for other than silent burials. Such a proposition as a compulsory silent burial cannot be a settlement of the question, because it will never be accepted. In reason it cannot be any settlement. It is a necessary corollary of the principle of religious liberty, that when you have got so far as to the point of dispensing with the services and the clergyman of the Church, you must permit people who bury their relatives in the churchyard to do it religiously if they think fit. I cannot understand how any 660 Churchman can take up the ground that such an act as the burial of the dead, unless done with the service of the Church, ought to be done irreligiously, or in a less rather than in a more religious way. As a Churchman, it appears to me, not only that religious liberty gives Nonconformists a right to be relieved from services to which they conscientiously object, but that the service of the Church is profaned and the Church wronged by forcing that service upon them. And, if it is not to be forced upon them, then I think it is contrary to the first principles on which the Church was founded to say to Nonconformists—"If you will not accept religion in our way, you shall, as far as we have power to compel you, do the thing that you wish to do religiously in a way which is not religious." How can consecrated ground be desecrated by any man's prayers? How can prayer or praise, though not offered in a form appointed by public authority, or by an authorized minister, be less consistent with consecration than silent burial? I cannot imagine how any one could fail to sympathize with the feelings expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he described the funeral procession singing a hymn up to the gate of the churchyard, and ceasing there through the prohibition of the Church. I did not, however, understand how the most rev. Primate could himself fail to see, that the sentiment and the argument, which applied to the prohibition of hymns, equally applies to the prohibition of prayer. By the concession of silent burial everything is really conceded; because you would incur greater risks by prohibiting religious acts than you possibly can by permitting them. Compulsory silence may be more odious and offensive to those who do not wish to be silent than even the necessity of accepting the beautiful Service of the Church, which so many Dissenters have been stated to prefer, and which many of them will, doubtless, always use. How is it that so many Dissenters in England appreciate that Service? The Church of England has taught them. From her they have imbibed the feelings which make them differ from the Scotch and from the Quakers in desiring to have service at the grave. Is it possible to admit their right to be relieved from the necessity of having your Service and ministrations, and 661 yet turn round upon them and deny them the liberty religiously to indulge those reasonable and natural feelings which the example and influence of the Church has taught them to cherish? My Lords, I think it impossible to do it, or to dictate to them what forms they are to go through. To dictate silence because Presbyterians and Quakers bury their dead in silence, is assuredly the most illogical conclusion possible. My Lords, there is no way of stopping short of the proposals of my noble Friend behind me. Whatever mischief or disorder you may apprehend, it would be very much greater if you were to attempt to prohibit all religious exercises, and to enforce silence by law, than if you were to permit those religious exercises. What are the objections to that course? In the first place, it is said that the consecrated ground would be in some way desecrated. There was a very earnest argument from the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Lincoln) as to consecration having dedicated the ground to the service of God. I admit that to be the nature of consecration. But I find it difficult to understand the logic which deduces from that principle the consequences drawn from it by the right rev. Prelate. Surely it is desirable that those who commit to the grave the bodies of their friends should do so as religiously as they can, even if they will not do it in the way approved by the Church. Even if their consciences are, on some points, mistaken, surely that sentiment cannot be unacceptable to Him to whom they pray. Whatever the error of their separation, or of their tenets, yet if their hearts are poured out in prayer and praise at such a moment, the intention of what they are doing is right according to the actual state of their light and knowledge, and cannot profane the sacred ground, which is not alleged to be profaned by silent, non-Christian burial. There was another objection which was put forcibly by the noble Marquess, who said—"It does not so much signify what is said, as who says it. "The objection, so put, is, in the first place, to Roman Catholic priests or Nonconformist Ministers coming into the churchyard. Now I think, as regards Roman Catholic priests and Nonconformist Ministers, that the Resolution of my noble Friend is far preferable to the Bill passed for 662 Ireland by Lord Plunket and Lord Liverpool in 1824, because the latter gave an official status in the churchyard to other ministers than those of the Church. It is much better, I venture to think, to give liberty to the friends and relatives of the deceased having charge of the funeral to call in any person they desire for the purpose of performing the burial rites. In that way the State gives no recognition to any assumption in the churchyard, by ministers other than those of the Church, of a ministerial or sacerdotal character. As to possible disorders in the churchyard, I do not believe that in one place out of a thousand there will be any probability whatever of anything being done which will require restraint by law. If people choose to break the law now, they can break it; and if you say the services in the churchyards are to be "Christian and orderly," it will be made a misdemeanour to conduct them otherwise, and the law will be strong enough in all unambiguous cases to enforce itself. You, at all events, will have given no sanction to scenes of disorder; and the possibility that somebody hereafter may do something unauthorized in the churchyards is surely no reason for hesitating to do what is just and right. I may observe, further, that any danger of this kind would be much greater under the suggested concession of compulsory silent interments. Would there be less disorder, if the persons you allow to go into the churchyards for the purpose of silent burials, irritated by the denial of religious liberty at the grave side, should indulge in language against the Church, against the clergy, and against religion, either in disregard of your law within the churchyard, or as soon as they are beyond the churchyard fence? Would this mischief be less because it occurred just outside a visible or invisible boundary? That brings me to another suggestion, which has been very strongly advocated, for meeting the difficulty—that of adding unconsecrated ground to the consecrated ground, as in France. But the risk of disorder, or of anything irreligious, would remain the same; and I am satisfied that the suggestion is an unpractical one, if proposed as a universal remedy for the existing grievance. You must first get an Act for the purpose, and then tax the community for the supply of the additional ground. 663 But who wants this to be done? Not the Nonconformists. They say they have now civil rights of interment in the existing ground: and their claim is, that these, their existing rights, should be freed from conditions inconsistent with religious liberty. The imposition of any new taxation, however small, to provide a substitute for their claims to religious liberty in the churchyards would certainly be resisted by them; and the chances of the passing of such an Act are so slight as to make it, as far as I can judge, out of the question. One or two words now as to the consequences of the measure. It is said that if the churchyards are surrendered for other services than those of the Church, the churches will go next. Why so? Do the same reasons apply to the two cases? First, death is an absolute natural necessity. Does that reason apply to the use of the churches? Secondly, burial is not only a natural necessity, but is necessary in the interest of the community and of the State. Has this fact anything to do with the use of the churches? Lastly, in many parishes the only place which is lawfully available for interment is the churchyard. Not one of these facts has any application to the churches: yet upon these facts all the reasons, which prove the existence of any grievance, and show how it ought to be remedied, in the case of burial, entirely depend. Those who have constituted themselves the defenders of the Church have invented this argument, and nobody ought to be surprised if some of the Nonconformists have accepted it. We must consider, however, not what they say, but what will be the real consequences of what we do. There is no logical ground for saying that either some new appropriation of our Churches, or the disestablishment of the Church, will follow the granting of this concession, and it is a dangerous thing for the Church of England to rest its maintenance on a false issue like this. Does any one seriously believe, that in a Conservative House of Commons there would be found a majority of 33 only against a proposition, which was really supposed to involve, as its natural or probable consequence, the disestablishment of the Church? Can it possibly be for the interest of the Church to insist, before the country and the world, that everything must be sur- 664 rendered, if the Nonconformists only carry their point on this question, as to which nobody pretends to think the present state of the law satisfactory? I am not one of those who say—Fiat justitia, ruat cœlum:—for I think the heavens are much more likely to fall upon our heads, if we do not do justice, than ifwe do it.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 92; Not-Contents 148: Majority 56.
|Devonshire, D.||Coleridge, L.|
|Grafton, D.||Congleton, L.|
|Saint Albans, D.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Crewe, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||de Clifford, L.|
|Westminster, D.||De Mauley, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Dorchester, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Dormer, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Emly, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Ettrick, L. (L. Napier.)|
|Camperdown, E.||Foley, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Hanmer, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Cowper, E.||Hatherley, L.|
|Ducie, E.||Hatherton, L.|
|Granville, E.||Houghton, L.|
|Ilchester, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Morley, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Lismore, L. (V. Lismore.)|
|Sydney, E.||Londesborough, L.|
|Zetland, E.||Lyveden, L.|
|Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Cardwell, V.||Methuen, L.|
|Halifax, V.||Monson, L. [Teller.]|
|Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)||Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Powerscourt, V.||Mostyn, L.|
|Exeter, Bp.||Oxenfoord, L.(E.Stair.)|
|Abercromby, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bess-borough.)|
|Acton, L.||Robartes, L.|
|Ashburton, L.||Romilly, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.]||Sandhurst, L.|
|Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.)||Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)|
|Calthorpe, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Carew, L.||Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.)|
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)||Sudeley, L.|
|Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)|
|Vaux of Harrowden, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Waveney, L.||Wrottesly, L.|
|Cairns, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Waldegrave, E.|
|Manchester, D.||Hardinge, V.|
|Marlborough, D.||Hawarden, V. [Teller.]|
|Richmond, D.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|Bute, M.||Bangor, Bp.|
|Exeter, M.||Bath and Wells, Bp.|
|Hertford, M.||Carlisle, Bp.|
|Salisbury, M.||Chichester, Bp.|
|Amherst, E.||Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Hereford, Bp.|
|Bradford, E.||Lichfield, Bp.|
|Brooke and Warwick, E.||Lincoln, Bp.|
|Brownlow, E.||London, Bp.|
|Cadogan, E.||Ripon, Bp.|
|Carnarvon, E.||Rochester, Bp.|
|Cawdor, E.||Salisbury, Bp.|
|Clonmell, E.||St. Asaph, Bp.|
|Coventry, E.||Winchester, Bp.|
|De La Warr, E.||Abinger, L.|
|Derby, E.||Alington, L.|
|Devon, E.||Aveland, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Bagot, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Bolton, L.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Boston, L.|
|Erne, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)|
|Gainsborough, E.||Braybrooke, L.|
|Haddington, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Harewood, E.||Castlemaine, L.|
|Harrington, E.||Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.)|
|Lanesborough, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Manvers, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Morton, E.||Colville of Culross, L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Conyers, L.|
|Nelson, E.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Orford, E.||de Ros, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||De Saumarez, L.|
|Poulett, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Romney, E.||Eliot, L.|
|Rosse, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Rosslyn, E.||Forbes, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Forester, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Stanhope, E.||Grey de Radcliffe, L. (V. Grey de Wilton.)|
|Strathmore and Kinghorn, E.|
|Tankerville, E.||Harlech, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Hartismere,L. (L.Henniker.)|
|Hastings, L. (E. Loudoun.)||Ross, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Headley, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Heytesbury, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)||Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)||Sondes, L.|
|Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Massy, L.||Tollemache, L.|
|Northwick, L.||Tredegar, L.|
|O'Neill, L.||Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)|
|Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)||Walsingham, L.|
|Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Belcarres.)|
|Penrhyn, L.||Winmarleigh, L.|
|Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.)||Wynford, L.|
|Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Resolved in the Negative.