HL Deb 11 June 1883 vol 280 cc143-88

(The Earl of Dalhousie.)


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: My Lords, I need detain your Lordships but a very few moments. This Bill has already been brought forward three times during the last four years; and it is barely a year since it was last before the House. I then had the honour of stating at some length its object and the grounds on which it is based; and I really think it is quite unnecessary that I should now take up your Lordships' time in going over arguments with which you are already familiar. These arguments, in my opinion at least, have never yet been answered, and certainly were not answered last year in this House. There was one very remarkable feature in last year's debate. Only two Members of your Lordships' House spoke against the Bill, the noble Lord who led the Opposition (Lord Balfour) and the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough). The noble Lord based his objection mainly, or to a large extent, upon the Book of Leviticus, and he explained to the House how that Book ought to be interpreted. But the right rev. Prelate frankly and boldly declared that, for his part, he was unable to take what he called the high theological or Scriptural view of this question. He disclaimed not merely the Levitical argument, but the entire Scriptural and theological argument, and, as your Lordships will remember, confined himself to an eloquent protest against what he termed the eviction of sisters-in-law and their re-admission as caretakers. Now, the right rev. Prelate is by no means singular in his belief that marriage with a deceased wife's sister is not forbidden in Scripture. No less than 1,300 of the English clergy, including nearly 30 Bishops and Archbishops, and 300 of the Scotch clergy, have, at one time or another, made a similar declaration. But I think that this striking difference of opinion in regard to a most important point on the part of two such eminent opponents of this measure ought not to be forgotten by your Lordships. I may also remind the House that last year the Bill was only rejected by a very narrow majority in a very large division. The numbers were 131 to 128. There was, in fact, an actual majority of 12 lay Peers in its favour. But, unfortunately, the great majority of the right rev. Bench is on this question in opposition to the majority of lay Peers, and the Bill was rejected because 16 right rev. Prelates voted against it. It is, and always has been, an uphill struggle for the supporters of this Bill, owing to the fact that there is invariably cast into the scale against them the votes and influence of the Spiritual Peerage. Although the right rev. Bench is not unanimous, there are at this moment only two right rev. Prelates in favour of the Bill. They are very strongly in its favour; but every one of their right rev. Brethren votes against it in this House, and nearly every one works against it in his diocese. They have been unusually active during the past year. Convocation has adopted what is called an articulus cleri condemning the Bill. At 12 Diocesan Conferences at which the Bishop of the diocese presided, the question of marriage with a deceased wife's sister was placed in the forefront of the programme, and strongly-worded resolutions were passed upon it. So also, at ruridecanal meetings all over the country. Several right rev. Prelates have issued pastoral letters to their clergy requesting them to preach against the Bill; to promote Petitions against it, and do whatever they could to rouse their congregations and people to opposition. In obedience to these instructions many sermons have been preached against the Bill, some of them containing very strong language, and many individual clergymen have acted as agents throughout the country to obtain signatures to Petitions. I am very far from saying that right rev. Prelates ought not to make these efforts if they think these marriages are wrong. I do not, however, understand why they should be so anxious to prevent them in this country, when they made no protest against the ratification by the Crown of the Canadian Act of last year, which made them legal in Canada; but I do not complain of their using their great influence in whatever manner they think right. My object in alluding to the action of the right rev. Bench is to point out that in two respects it is very misleading—first, because people, seeing how large a majority of right rev. Prelates oppose this Bill, are apt to conclude that therefore the Bill must contain something very shocking to religion and morality; and, secondly, because they naturally suppose that all good Churchmen, as a matter of course, have always been, and ought of necessity to be, hostile to this measure. Nothing could be more untrue than that. The names of Archbishop Whately, Dean Hook, Dr. Coplestone, the Bishop of Llandaff, Bishop Lonsdale, Dr. Vaughan, and the present Bishops of Ripon and Worcester, and of many other distinguished men, are sufficient proof to the contrary, and ought besides to be some guarantee that neither religion nor morality is in danger. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that a vague feeling exists that the object of this Bill must be wrong, and many people decline even to examine the question; simply because so many right rev. Prelates are opposed to it. I said I would not trouble the House with any repetition of the well-known argu- ments in favour of this Bill, and I have no intention of doing so. I believe your Lordships already know them so well that you will prefer to hear from the noble and learned Earl what can be said against them. I may, perhaps, have something to add before the debate closes; and if any noble Lord should require further information on any matter connected with the Bill, I shall only be too happy to give it. But, in the meantime, there are just two points which I will briefly mention. The ratification by the Crown of the Canadian Act of last year, by which marriage with a deceased wife's sister became duly legal in Canada, leaves the British Empire, with its 9,000,000 square miles of territory, in this position. Over an area of 6,600,000 square miles these marriages are absolutely legal; over an area of 2,000,000 square miles they are conditionally legal; but over an area of 121,000 square miles—that is to say, in the United Kingdom, and there only —they are positively illegal. As regards the United Kingdom, this is, perhaps, not quite accurate, for the law in Scotland is doubtful. The Act of 1835 did not apply to Scotland; and the highest living authority, Lord Fraser, is of opinion that if a case were now tried in Scotland, it would probably be found that marriage with a deceased wife's sister is at this moment legal there. But of this point there is no doubt—namely, that if a man marries his deceased wife's sister in Canada, Australia, or any part of our Colonial Empire where these marriages are expressly permitted by the Statute Law, and the parties should afterwards return home to the Mother Country, they would, on landing in England, cease to be man and wife; and, so far as the law is concerned, the man would be at perfect liberty to desert his wife and children and marry another woman. The other point was one which was raised last year by the same right rev. Prelate who so fearlessly and emphatically proclaimed his inability to oppose this Bill from the high theological or Scriptural standpoint. The right rev. Prelate said that even if the Bill did bring those advantages which its supporters claimed, those advantages would be terribly dearly purchased by the social evil, the immoral laxity, and the wild disturbance of the social relationships which the Bill would provoke. Now, my Lords, I should have thought that the experience of England and Ireland prior to 1835 ought to be sufficient to re-assure those who might otherwise be inclined to anticipate, as a result of this measure, a falling-off in the purity of our domestic life. The experience of our Colonies during the last 10 years is an additional guarantee. But, if that be not sufficient, let us look at the United States of America, in nearly all of which marriage with a deceased wife's sister has been lawful from the beginning. I believe it is generally admitted that in no part of the civilized world does there exist a higher standard of domestic purity and morality than the New England States. Yet the marriage which this Bill proposes to legalize has long been legal there and frequently takes place. I know it is sometimes said that divorce is frequent in America, and it is argued that the frequency of divorce is due to a relaxed Marriage Law; and that if we relax our Marriage Law, divorce will soon become frequent here. I hardly know whether to admire more the ingenuity or the want of logic in that argument. It is quite true that divorce cases are numerous in America, but that has nothing whatever to do with the Law of Marriage. It is the effect of the Law of Divorce. In some of the States a divorce can be obtained with great facility. It is often granted merely on the ground of incompatibility of temper. Therefore, it is not wonderful if divorce cases are of frequent occurrence. But their frequency has nothing to do with the Law of Marriage; and it is perfectly ridiculous to say that if we relax our Marriage Law—that is, if we do not by Statute Law prevent a man, after the death of his wife, from marrying her sister — we shall multiply the number of our divorce cases. I have endeavoured to obtain from the most eminent men of all classes in America some evidence as to the practical effect upon society there of the legality of marriage with a deceased wife's sister. I have received upwards of 120 replies from Governors of States, from eminent Judges and lawyers, from the most distinguished statesmen and men of letters, including, perhaps, the most distinguished of them all, the present American Minister in London, and also from the Bishops and clergy of all denominations in all parts of the country. These replies are absolutely unanimous. Not one of my correspondents ever heard of any mischief to society or family life arising from the fact that marriage with a deceased wife's sister is legal. And most of them seem to have been greatly surprised to learn that any such notion should prevail here. The propriety of these marriages has never been questioned in America. Some of my correspondents speak of them not only as highly commendable in them-selves, but as rather to be encouraged, and that in the interests of morality and social order. Now, my Lords, these are the views of men speaking from facts in the world around them, not, like many of the opponents of this Bill, from vague and fanciful imaginings of their own. They are independent witnesses; and I think their evidence may well be regarded by your Lordships as conclusive proof that if this Bill passes, as I hope it will, we need be under no apprehension that the purity of our family life will suffer in the smallest degree. For my part, I believe the Bill, if it passes, will have very little effect on the class of society to which your Lordships belong. We may not ourselves particularly wish for it. But, my Lords, is that a sufficient reason for rejecting it, when we remember that it has already passed seven times through all its stages in the House of Commons, 400 of whose present Members have either voted for it, or refrained from voting against it? It is quite evident that the Bill must soon become law, and I trust that your Lordships will not mar the grace of your concession by delaying any longer your assent to it. I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl of Dalhousie.)


My Lords, I rise to ask your Lordships to reject this Bill. I might, perhaps, take some exception to the course pursued by the noble Earl opposite as being hardly consistent with Parliamentary usage and precedent. We had last year a debate on the subject of the measure. The noble Lord at that time made an elaborate argument in support of the Bill. There was an answer by my noble Friend behind me (Lord Balfour of Burleigh), who moved the rejection. Then the noble Marquess behind me (the Marquess of Waterford) advanced some arguments in support of the measure. In reply, the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) delivered a speech which many of your Lordships will recollect as an extremely impressive one, full of strong arguments in opposition to the measure. We, who were opponents of the measure, certainly were under the impression that the noble Lord, or some of his Friends, would have risen to answer the speech of the right rev. Prelate. But, very much to our surprise, no one rose to reply to it. The noble Lord now says that no answer was given to the arguments from his side; but he must allow me to say that there was no attempt to answer the speech of the right rev. Prelate. I could not help expecting that the noble Lord would even now have thought it desirable to make some answer to that speech; but we find that, whereas the debate of last year had no ending, the debate of the present year has had no beginning. He has been good enough to say that if any noble Lord wishes to ask a question, he shall be happy to answer it; but beyond that he has not condescended to advance any argument in support of the measure, although he has made one or two statements of facts with regard to information obtained since last year. I am anxious that an effort should be made to show your Lordships what is incumbent on those who desire that the Bill should be passed into law. This is a measure which, for the first time, seeks to overthrow a state of things in this country with regard to marriage which has prevailed from the earliest ages ever since the introduction of Christianity into the country. It is a state of things which has had, I will not say the consent, but the uniform support, both of the State and of the Church. It is a state of law which goes down, deep down, into the strongest feelings of the people of the country; and, therefore, those who seek now to alter this state of law are bound—at all events to this extent—to show the strongest reasons in support of the change they propose, and to show that they have, I will not say a bare majority of the country in their favour, but the preponderating weight or feeling of the country in their favour. Let us see how the case stands. The noble Lord says that 400 Members of the present House of Commons are in favour of the Bill. I do not know how he has obtained the information; but if you take the present Parliament and the last—two Parliaments together—covering, I suppose, nearly 10 years, what has happened? There has been one Division, and only one, in the House of Commons on the subject of the Bill in these two Parliaments, and in this Division the Bill was thrown out. So much, therefore, for the feeling of the House of Commons on the subject. With regard to your Lordships' House, I do not forget the slender majority against the Bill last year; I go beyond it, and I say that if it had passed, yet if your Lordships were nearly equally divided, a change of this magnitude, a subversion of our Marriage Laws, ought not to be made by your Lordships without a much more preponderating majority in its favour. What is the state of feeling in the country? The Bill affects Scotland and Ireland, as well as England. I know there are some Petitions from Scotland in favour of the Bill; but everyone who knows Scotland will know that the heart and bone of Scotland are against this measure. I had the honour of presenting to-day a Petition from the Free Church of Scotland against the Bill; if I am not mistaken, the feeling of the Established Church of Scotland is also against it; it is the same with the Episcopal Church, and I think it may be taken that the preponderating vote of Scotland would be entirely against the Bill. So far as I know the temper of Ireland, the same thing would be true. If you take the people of England as a whole, take the men and women together, you would find a preponderating majority, not for, but against this measure. I want to lay before your Lordships what it is that this Bill proposes to do—what it would and what it must do. It is quite true that it deals with the case of the deceased wife's sister, and with that alone; but is that the end, or could it be the end? What did the noble Earl tell us last year? Nothing could be more candid than his confession. He said— If I am asked, why is the Bill not of a wider and more comprehensive character, embracing also marriage with a deceased husband's brother or deceased wife's niece, my reply is that …. in theory, no doubt, the case for their legalization is as strong that which is dealt with in the Bill."—(3 Hansard, [270] 775.) And my noble Friend (the Marquess of Waterford), who also advocated the Bill, still more clearly, if possible, stated his view on this matter. The noble Marquess said he thought it was quite clear that in legislation we should stop at blood relations. That is to say, the whole prohibition against marriages by affinity should be swept away. The noble Lords are perfectly consistent and logical in their views, for it is utterly impossible to stop short where this Bill proposes at this moment to stop. The noble Earl said his view was this—that there were a great many more persons who were anxious to be freed from the prohibition against marrying a wife's sister than those who were anxious to be freed from other prohibitions. But, supposing this to be so, is it any answer to the others? If there are 500 men who wish to be at liberty to marry a wife's sister, and if there are only 50 men who want to marry a niece or any other relation by marriage, is it an answer to the latter to say— "We admit that your case is perfectly logical, but still, because your number is so small, we will not repeal the prohibition?" I will ask this also—Is there any country in the world that has stopped where this Bill stops now? I put aside our Colonies, for that is only a thing of yesterday. That is a matter of which there is as yet no experience; but take the countries which permit at this moment marriage with a deceased wife's sister. Will any noble Lord who supports the Bill point out any ono of those countries which stops at that point, and which does not go very much further? Will any noble Lord point out to us where is the ground at which we can stop, and where is the security that the change will not be greater than is proposed by this Bill? I maintain that it is impossible, on any principle of logic, to answer the demand which may be made at any time after this Bill passes to go further, and, as the noble Marquess said in effect last year, to sweep away all prohibitions on the ground of affinity. Again, this Bill has a peculiarity which, as far as I know, is unexampled in our Law of Marriage. I know that some persons support this Bill by saying that it does not interfere with the religious question at all, but only deals with the question of civil marriage. That is exactly one of the objections which I make to this Bill. Here, for the first time in our history, we have a proposal to establish a new kind of marriage in this country — a sort of morganatic marriage. It provides that if a man marries his deceased wife's sister in church the marriage is to be void; but if he marries the same person before a registrar it is to be a valid marriage. That is establishing in this country a new kind of marriage of which we have never heard before. Here you have a marriage which can only be valid before a registrar, and not in any other place. With regard to the religious argument on the subject of marriage with a deceased wife's sister, the noble Earl treats it as if that argument were entirely given up; and he has circulated widely some information he has obtained in answer to questions put by him upon the religious view of the question as he understood it. I agree that this is not a convenient place for arguing a question on any religious view of the matter; but the noble Earl compels me to do this, and to point out that he appears to be entirely mistaken as to what is the religious ground of the objection to the present Bill. The noble Earl, in the questions which he put to various learned persons, showed that he had not apprehended what was the religious ground of objection. He put questions on a particular clause in the Code of the Old Testament, and asked for their idea on that clause. But those who objected on a religious ground to a Bill of this kind would be prepared to put that clause entirely out of sight. The objection is simply is—There is undoubtedly a Code of Law with regard to marriages contained in the Old Testament. Is that Code a Code which applied only to the Jews, and which did not apply further? The answer to that can be given in a word. It did not apply merely to Jews, because the Code states, on the face of it, that it was binding on the nations who were round the Jews, and who were Gentiles. And violations of the code among those nations were punished severely. The Code begins by saying you are not to marry anyone near of kin. If it stopped there you might raise an argument that it meant near of kin by way of consanguinity. But the Code, in order to point out who are near of kin, gives, as an illustration, the wife of the brother of your father—that is to say, one who is related by marriage, and by marriage alone—and the reason it gives is that she is your aunt. This shows that the words "near of kin" do not relate solely to blood relations. The Code does not profess to exhaust all the degrees of relationship; but it gives examples on one side, and leaves you to infer an obligation correlative on the other side. One of the examples it gives is the wife of a brother, and it has been held by divines and by the Church from the earliest ages that just as there is a prohibition against marriage with the wife of a deceased brother, so, correlatively, there must be a prohibition of marriage with the sister of a deceased wife. I will not say more than that, because I see the authority of Bishop Jewell invoked for a different purpose. I will remind your Lordships of the words he used. Bishop Jewell said— Albeit I be not forbidden by plain words to marry my wife's sister, yet I am forbidden to do so by other words, which by exposition are plain enough, for when God commands me that I shall not marry my brother's wife, it follows directly by the same that He forbids me to marry my wife's sister; for between one man and two sisters, and one woman and two brothers, is like analogy or proportion. The noble Earl appears to be entirely ignorant of this argument in the questions which he put to the learned persons whom he consulted. They are consulted simply on the translation of a few words in a different clause, which can be translated one way or the other, without affecting this argument in the slightest degree. My Lords, the noble Earl to-night has not advanced the arguments in favour of the Bill; but we have been favoured to-day with what is somewhat unusual—the publication in the public prints of the argument in favour of the Bill by a society of which the noble Earl is the spokesman, and which promotes the measure. Some persons may, perhaps, be misled by a remarkable statement in that manifesto, and therefore I must take notice of it. It is stated that— The Bill would give to the people of this country the same liberty with regard to marriage with the sister of a deceased wife which they enjoyed up to the passing of Lord Lyndhurst's Act in 1835. My Lords, is that a true description of this measure, that it puts things exactly in the position they were in before Lord Lyndhurst's Act passed? I speak with some knowledge of the law, I hope, and I assert that nothing more inaccurate could be said. I say it is perfectly inaccurate so to represent this matter. I say that before Lord Lyndhurst's Act passed these marriages were illegal and void. This has been so decided by your Lordships' House as the highest tribunal in the Realm. The history of the law on this subject is very simple and very plain. The law on the subject of these marriages by affinity had its origin before Christianity. It was the law which was held by the Romans themselves before Christianity was adopted as the religion of the Roman State. Gibbon says— The profane lawgivers of Rome were never tempted by interest or superstition to multiply the forbidding degrees; but they inflexibly condemned the marriage of sisters and brothers, hesitated whether first cousins should be touched by the same interdict, revered the parental character of aunts and uncles, and treated affinity and adoption as a just imitation of the ties of blood. As Christianity was introduced the same law was adopted. I have seen it stated, in the same document to which I have referred, that it was only in the 4th century that there was any prohibition of these marriages. My Lords, that is an entire mistake. The law of the Church—which was in those times the only law of Christianity — condemned these marriages for centuries after the introduction of Christianity. If you read the statement of Basil at the end of the 4th century it is perfectly unequivocal. "We know of no such marriages," he says, "they are incestuous; they do not exist." Again and again has the challenge been given—let anyone produce an instance before the well-known dispensation given by Pope Alexander Borgia. What about the law of England? The law of England was the law introduced along with Christianity. It prevailed up to the Reign of Henry VIII. But did the Statute of Henry VIII. introduce a new law? No. The Statute was passed for this reason. The Church had gone too far. The Church had introduced a law of this nature with regard to pre-contracts. The Statute of Henry VIII. was passed for the purpose of making it clear that these prohibitions were not to be hold valid. At the same time the Statute to which I have referred, and which is still in force, pointed out what were the degrees within which the prohibition was in force, and this is one of those de- grees. That was the state of things when Lord Lyndhurst's Act was passed. Now, the noble Earl is of opinion that these marriages were legal at the time of that Act. One would suppose that at that time marriages between brothers and sisters was legal. The Act does not speak of a deceased wife's sister. It deals with all marriages within the prohibited degrees, whether of consanguinity or of affinity. They are all classed together, and there is no distinction whatever between them. What the Act does is this. It does not make valid marriages within the prohibited degrees of affinity, but provides, with respect to those which had taken place, that proceedings should not be allowed to be taken in the Ecclesiastical Courts for the purpose of making them void. It was held in your Lordships' House, after the most solemn argument, and in a case to which Lord Lyndhurst's Act might have applied, that these marriages were void, and that the children of such a marriage could not inherit as legitimate. Therefore, my Lords, the statement that this present Bill will give the freedom which existed at the time of Lord Lyndhurst's Act is entirely unwarrantable. I know it is said that a collusive action might have been brought before 1835, which would have the effect of protecting such marriages. But if any person really had an interest in the matter, it is an illusion to suppose that the action can have protected any marriage against an attack of that kind. Now, my Lords, we are told by the noble Earl that other countries have allowed these marriages, and that in those other countries they work well, and we are told that there is no country in Christendom in which the marriage is not allowed. Now, in answer to that, I would say, in the first place, that there is no country which allows the marriage which this Bill makes legal without going much further. Let us see what those countries are, and whether we are prepared to follow their example. Take the case of France. Does France really allow marriage with a deceased wife's sister? France does not allow the marriage without a Dispensation. But if a Dispensation be granted, it allows marriage between uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, and with a deceased brother's wife. In effect, it sweeps away by a Dispensation all the prohibitions with regard to affinity. In like manner Holland does the same thing, and Prussia does the same thing, or goes further. Then the question arises, is domestic life in these countries holier or happier than it is in this country? Does the noble Earl bring proof of that? I have not heard any from him, and I anxiously waited to hear. Here is what a German doctor of philosophy said, who was asked his opinion about marriage in this country—"It makes a German cover his face with his hands for shame." The noble Earl said that in other countries there might be more facilities for divorce, but that he had nothing to say to that. I always thought that divorce had a good deal to say to marriage; and that facilities for divorce had a good deal to do with married life. Then the noble Earl takes us to America. But he overlooks the Eastern Church, which did not admit those marriages, either by Dispensation or otherwise. But let us go to America, as the noble Earl has referred to it. What is the case in America? I take the State of New York, of which we know more than of the other States. What I find is this. The only prohibitions are the marriage between parents and children and their offspring, and between half-brothers and half-sisters. You may marry the sister of your father or mother, and a man may marry a mother and her daughter one after the other. The noble Earl has consulted a number of persons in the United States, where, it is said, this institution works well. I own I was rather surprised at his doing so, for I thought all Americans thought all their institutions worked well. I never met any American who did not think so; and I am quite ready to assume that the opinion of all Americans is that their institutions work well, and this excellent institution among the rest, that a man should be able to marry a woman and her daughter one after the other. But would it work well here? I doubt it very much. The noble Earl says you must not say anything about divorce. But if you take in America you must go a little further. The Americans will proceed to tell you that conjugal infidelity is perfectly unknown there. He will say—"That is on account of our Law of Divorce." How does that produce conjugal fidelity "The way is this," he will answer, "the conjugal vow never fails, because if it becomes irksome we have no difficulty in getting rid of it, and our institution of divorce works well." The noble Earl can get plenty of authorities to the same effect. Let me ask the noble Earl to go further. I will take the case of an Englishman's testimony as to life in Utah. This gentleman was not prejudiced in favour of the state of things prevailing there. He stayed there some months, and he says that the demeanour of the women in the Salt Lake country was modesty itself, and they professed the highest morality and virtue. He says, if you wish to see healthy and well-regulated nurseries, you ought to go to Utah, and that the institutions of the country work admirably. No doubt, a law was passed by Congress and the Senate to put a stop to this state of things. But the people of Utah say that this law was passed by a tyrannical body, just as an eminent public man of our own day (Mr. John Bright), who says—"We believe these marriages are right, and we do not care who says they are wrong; they work admirably, and we believe they are proper marriages." The noble Earl may say—"Here are institutions which work well in America, and why should not we adopt them?" The next argument of the noble Earl is that he claims some support from the Bishops. Then it is said that these marriages have been made legal in the Colonies, and that very serious results may follow if we do not assimilate our laws to the Colonies. The statement was made very broadly, and I was somewhat surprised to hearit—but I followed the words correctly—that a man and a woman may be married in the Colonies, and be lawful husband and wife, and in this country be no longer so; and that thus a man may have two wives, one in the Colonies and one in England. Now, my Lords, I am very sorry there should be any difference of law between this country and the Colonies, because, in the abstract, it would be better that the law should be assimilated between them. But I repudiate altogether the idea that in case of such difference we should in all cases follow suit to the Colonies. What would be said if we said to the Colonies that they ought to adopt our legislation? But, my Lords, as regards this broad suggestion about the result of the law, let there be no misunderstanding. I speak in the presence of persons who are much more acquainted with this matter than I am myself. I say that that is an entirely inaccurate view of the law. My view of the law upon the point is this—that if a man, being domiciled in a Colony in which it is lawful to marry a deceased wife's sister, does marry his deceased wife's sister, his marriage with her is good all the world over; whereas, if the man is a domiciled Englishman, not domiciled in the Colony, but merely resident there, his marriage with his deceased wife's sister in such circumstances is bad everywhere, because he carries the impediment of his domicile to such a marriage with him. Therefore, the idea that there is any peculiarity as regards the Colonies—anything different from what would happen between this country and Denmark, France, and Holland in that respect—is a perfectly idle one. There is no foundation for it; and if that is the language of the Petition—I have not the words before me—I venture to say that it is an entire mistake. Coming to the next point, I see that it is stated that a great number of these marriages have already taken place in this country, that public opinion goes with such marriages and not against them, and that no repugnance to such marriages is felt among the people. With regard to the number of these marriages that have taken place I shall have something to say by and by; but, in the first place, I demur altogether to the doctrine that it is sound ground for legislation that a number of persons who, with their eyes open, have knowingly broken the law should come to Parliament and say—"The fact that we have broken the law is sufficient ground for unmaking the law." If so, we ought to apply it to other things. There is not an Assize where men are not tried for bigamy. What would be thought of the persons who have committed that offence coming to this House, and saying—"We have broken the law by marrying two wives. A great many of us have done so, and the law is very hard upon us; and, therefore, we ask you to change the law in order that there may be no breach of it." Take the case, also, of those who are engaged in smuggling. They may say that a great number of them have committed that offence against our fiscal law, but that the law is a bad one, that public opinion goes with them in their violation of it, and that, therefore, they ask you to do away with it. Then as to the numbers of these marriages which have taken place in this country. I wish that we had some reliable statistics on the subject before us. I have heard a great many broad statements made with reference to the number of these marriages; but no clear proof has been given us on the point. I recollect hearing, in 1855, in the other House of Parliament the present Prime Minister quote some statistics on which he said he placed perfect reliance, and which were certainly very remarkable. Mr. Gladstone said on that occasion that inquiries had been made over an area comprising 100,000 persons, and that in that area 326 irregular marriages had been contracted, 144 of them being marriages with a deceased wife's sister. But a further examination of the figures shows that out of those irregular marriages 75 were cases of bigamy and polygamy, 46 were marriages with a brother's wife, 24 were with a niece in blood, and 17 were with a wife's niece. I want to know what reply you would make to the demand of those who had married their wife's niece for a change in the law, if the principle is to prevail that because the law has been broken it ought to be changed? Why are you to apply that principle to only one section of these irregular marriages, and not to the others? A noble Friend of mine on inquiry found that in one parish there were 28 cases of incestuous unions, three being with a deceased wife's sister, two with a wife's sister, the wife being alive, seven being cases of men living with their own daughters, 10 with their own sisters, and six with their nieces. This is an answer to the assertion which has been made as to the immense extent to which these marriages prevail. Then I would ask whether there is any satisfactory proof that public opinion goes in favour of these marriages? I think that the case in this respect will be found to stand thus—that as your Lordships are divided in opinion with reference to this subject, the opinion of the public is also divided, there being those who are in favour of relaxing the law, and there being those who desire to see it strictly maintained. The noble Earl says that there is no repugnance felt in the country to these marriages. I should like to put that assertion to the test in some way. But the noble Earl's own Bill proposed to prohibit these marriages from being celebrated in church. What is the reason of that? The noble Earl will, perhaps, tell me that he has placed that Proviso in the Bill so as not to offend the religious feeling of this country. But is the religious feeling of this country so slight and trivial a thing that while you are afraid to offend it by permitting these marriages to be celebrated in a church, you say, at the same time, that it is no evidence of the existence of repugnance to these marriages in the country? I will take another case — that of the Divorce Act. Section 27 of that Act says that— A wife may present a petition for dissolution of marriage on the ground that her husband has been guilty of … incestuous adultery; provided that incestuous adultery shall be taken to mean adultery committed with a woman, with whom, if his wife were dead, he could not lawfully contract marriage by reason of her being within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity. The question I have to ask the noble Earl is—Is he going to retain that provision, or to do away with it? Does he intend to say that when a man violates the bond contracted with his wife it shall be just the same whether the offence is committed with his wife's sister or with any other person? Will the noble Earl carry public opinion with him on that point? But if he is going to retain this provision, what becomes of his statement that there is no repugnance to these unions? It stands upon the face of it that the words "incestuous connection" cannot be got over. The noble Earl said that he could see no difference between the marriage with the widow of the brother and that with the sister of the deceased wife. Neither can I. Was our great dramatic poet so ignorant of the feelings of his countrymen, so ignorant of the effect of marriages of this kind, that he spoke that which was at variance with public feeling in his greatest work, when in almost every page of it he describes these marriages with a deceased brother's wife as incestuous marriages? Then it is said that this is a poor man's question, and that is an argument which has been very much pressed upon us. But even if these marriages were greatly resorted to by the poor, I should not regard that fact as an argument in favour of a change in the law, because we ought not to have one class of legislation for the rich and another for the poor. If such a change of the law is required at all, it must be required by all classes, and not by one class only. If the change in the law is a good one in itself, it ought to be made for both poor and rich together; if it is a bad one, we ought not to make a bad change, because poor men break the law more than the rich. We ought to try to elevate the poor, and to show them that if this thing is wrong it ought not to be done. But is this a poor man's question? What is the evidence upon the point? There was no person who took more trouble in reference to this subject than my noble Friend the late Lord Hatherley. He told us that a clergyman once wrote to him, and informed him that in his parish alone there were known to be 20 or 30 widowers who were ready to marry their deceased wife's sisters if the law were altered. My noble Friend, in reply, informed the clergyman that if he would send the names and addresses of these persons he would make inquiries on the point, and the result was that he never heard anything more about the matter. Lord Hatherley, however, made some inquiries into the subject himself. He found that in two parishes in Westminster there were 60,000, 40,000 of them being poor. He employed an active person to make inquiries, and he could hear of only one such marriage, and a newspaper challenged the accuracy of this report on the authority of a City missionary, who said that he had found two such marriages in these parishes. The Royal Commission which sat to consider this question in 1847 and 1848 had better means of getting at the truth upon this point than we had, and they were assisted by two most eminent solicitors; and they found that between the time of the passing of Lord Lyndhurst's Act and of the inquiry, 1,608 such marriages had taken place between the rich, and only 40 between the poor. Are we, then, to accept these wild and broad statements that this is a poor, and not a rich man's question? If this had been a poor man's question we never would have heard of the present agitation. It is the money of the rich that has got up this agitation and paid for it from beginning to end; and these advertisements, of which you see column after column in the newspapers, are not paid for by the poor, but by the rich, and it is a rich man's, and not a poor man's question. But then it is said that the children of these marriages are the victims, and that their injury should be redressed. I am sorry for that. It is quite true. It is the case always that the children suffer for the wrong done by their parents. So it would be in the case of bigamy, so in the case of polygamy. We have children born out of wedlock altogether. Are they guilty or innocent? And are you going to undo the law in regard to bigamy or polygamy, or children born out of marriage altogether, because the children suffer and are innocent? How do the children of these marriages suffer more than the children of any other marriage which is illegal? I remember the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Earl Granville), speaking a year or two ago about this Bill, said—"Well, after all, what harm can the Bill do? It is only a permissive Bill." If you make any change with regard to the degrees of marriage it can only be a permissive Bill; you cannot make people marry under them. The noble Earl (the Earl of Dalhousie) referred to the opinion of the right rev. Bench on this subject; and he said they were deeply interested in the question, and he regretted their attitude generally towards it. I observed that almost in the same breath the noble Earl paraded before us the names of some Bishops who agreed with the Bill. He was very proud of them; they were persons of great weight; but the opinions of the right rev. Prelates who disagreed with it were not entitled to any notice at all except censure. Because the noble Earl did censure them, referring to them in a way which could not but be invidious. I would blush for the right rev. Prelates if, on a question which, more than any other, concerns the morals, the religious feeling, and the social and domestic happiness of the country, they did not take their deepest, their strongest, and their most clearly expressed part in it. And that brings me to what is the last view which I desire to present to your Lordships. It is the effect of this measure in a domestic and social point of view. We have heard again and again that the sister of a deceased wife is the best guardian and the tenderest caretaker of her sister's children. That is perfectly true, and I desire to perpetuate that well-known feature in family life. It is for that reason, perhaps, more than any other that I demur to this Bill, and desire your Lordships to reject it. I believe this Bill would break up, if it were passed, our social and domestic circles. What is it which is achieved by the prohibition against marriage within the prohibited degrees? It is not merely some physical ends which are gained, but much higher and much holier ends. How is it that circles are created within which pure and dispassionate love can dwell securely? They are not created by Nature, because Nature would lead us to disregard all prohibitions. They are created by usage, by custom, by teaching, by the prohibition of the law. These things create a habit, and secure for us those circles of domestic purity through which the greatest blessings and happiness have flowed to us. And what takes place when that moment of supreme sorrow comes upon a family, when the mother is taken away, and when the children are left without her care? At that instant, without waiting for the lapse of time, who is it that most naturally enters the darkened house to soothe and care for the children? It is the sister of their mother. That can be done now fearlessly. Could it be done if this Bill were passed? I know there are men who say it could; is there any woman who says it could? Do you suppose it would be possible for any woman of marriageable age to expose herself to the scandal and the insinuation that would arise if the law were changed? I have had—as I daresay many of your Lordships have had — communications upon this subject, expressed as women only can express them. I cannot venture to trouble your Lordships with them; but there is one of which I can make use. It is written to me by a person with whom I am not acquainted; but I have made inquiries, and ascertained that it is written by one who is what she professes to be—a lady having care of the children of a deceased sister in the house of her brother-in-law. And this is what she says, speaking of this Bill— From all we can learn of the present movement it is far more a retrospective one than anything else. I mean that it is urged on by a few influential people who married their deceased wife's sisters, and who now desire to repair the wrong they have done to the children born of such marriages by trying to get the law to declare them legitimate, and not because such a law is desired by the people of England. Unfortunately, it is one of those social questions which does not press itself on people's attention as an important one, except to those whose personal or family relations will be influenced by it; but to them it is, indeed, one of most serious moment. Its effect on the lives of such bereaved families will be a cruel one, for in making the relation of marriage possible between a widower and his sister-in-law, it must, of necessity, also place them in the relation of perfect strangers to each other, and set apart those who have naturally come to feel a strong, helpful affection, for each other; but, worst of all, it will make it impossible for a woman to give the love and care to her dead sister's children which every feeling of her heart and mind would prompt, unless, indeed, she do it under the scathing ordeal of the world's scandal. It would not only set this seal to sorrow after a wife's death, but would impair the happiness of married life from its commencement, for we women are not all supernaturally wise, and many of us, we must admit, are jealous, and to those who were foolish the expression of a husband's affection for his sister-in-law would be a vexation, while to those who were good and strong the thought of the possible future would be a constant anxiety. When each child was born she would remember that if her life was taken her people could no longer be her husband's people, her children would be estranged by the effects of the law from their care, and her husband would be left to the alternative of probably making too hasty a marriage to make a wise one, or of giving his children to the thin protection of hired care. These are views which I believe are the views entertained by the intelligent women of this country; and what I regret, above all, is that this is an attempt by the minority to tyrannize over the majority. Those who desire marriages of this kind are the minority, which I will not call miserable by way of disrespect, but only miserable as regards the number who compose it; and in order to gratify this minority you destroy the whole domestic and social comfort and happiness of the vast majority of the families of the country. I trust your Lordships will not be led to give, your assent to this Bill. To this House, of all others, the country is wont to look for protection against violent disintegration and change. This Bill would cause a disintegration in our Marriage Law such as never has taken place before—a change which could not rest here, but which must subvert the whole of our law in regard to the position of a man in relation to his wife. I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and add at the end of the Motion ("this day six months.")—(The Earl Cairns.)


said, he hoped their Lordships would reject the Amendment of the noble and learned Earl, read the Bill a second time now, and end a law cruel, mischievous, and needless. He desired to say, at the outset, that he was utterly uninfluenced by any personal consideration, for he had never been acquainted with anyone who had the least personal interest in the alteration of the law. The present state of the law had been about half-a-century in existence, for the law, as it stood now, was wholly and entirely different from what it was before Lord Lyndhurst's Act. It was true that marriages such as were within the prohibited degrees were voidable before Lord Lyndhurst's Act; but it was not true that they were void, as he understood the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns) to say. On the death of either parent the child of such a marriage would have been, before that Act, the heir to the estate, without the possibility of his right being set aside; and if, after a man had married his deceased wife's sister, he had married another woman, without having his marriage with the deceased wife's sister declared void, he would have been guilty of bigamy. The difference between the law before that Act and since was this—that people did enter into these marriages, and they were not voided, because no one was so cruel or so wicked as to attempt to make void a happy marriage. He admitted that the condition of the law was objectionable before the Act of Lord Lyndhurst was passed; but that Act made it worse, for it made void those marriages, which people had entered into and would enter into. The present law was bad when it was observed, and worse when it was not observed. He used the word "observed" advisedly, because there was really no command. The law allowed a man and woman to go through the ceremony of marriage; it allowed them to live together; but upon the terms that the woman was the man's concubine, and that the children were illegitimate. It was true that proceedings might be taken against them even now in the Ecclesiastical Courts; but no one would venture to do so. If such proceedings were taken the jurisdiction would not last long. Let them take a case in which the law was observed, and what was it? Here were a man and a woman, in every way fitted for each other in respect to age, station, and disposition, with that reasonable affection for each other without which matrimony should not be contracted, and with the additional circumstances making marriage between them desirable—namely, that the man had a tender helpmate for his children, and that the woman loved them for their own sakes, and for the sake of her sister. Yet the law interfered and said they should not marry, or, if they did, it should be only on the dreadful terms he had mentioned. That, he contended, was a cruel case, and no law ought to compel it without the most cogent reasons. The noble and learned Earl had said that cogent reasons should be given for the proposed alteration of the law; and such a case as that which he had just placed before their Lordships was one very cogent reason. This, then, was what happened when the law was regarded; but to a very great extent it was not regarded. It was disregarded, as every law was disregarded which did not agree with men's consciences; and it was a most mischievous thing that there should be a law in existence which people were tempted to disobey. It was a bad example to set, and it tended to make them disregard other laws which were of more importance. Public opinion did not go against those who contracted such marriages, which were not regarded as offences against the law were. No man who married the sister of a deceased wife would be looked down upon, or shunned, or avoided in the present day, in the same way as he would be if he married his own sister, or if he committed some real and not theological offence in which his conscience went with the law and disapproved his conduct. The result was that such marriages were contracted, and would continue to be contracted, because men's feelings and consciences did not oppose them. But there were those who were driven to this who had no choice. He would ask their Lordships to disregard their high position for a moment, and to give a thought to that of the poor man in reference to this question. It had been said that this was not a poor man's Bill. No doubt, the Bill was not one that had been promoted by poor men—poor men did not promote Bills there or "elsewhere." Yet it was especially a Bill in which the poor man was interested. It was well known that hundreds of thousands of poor men were compelled to reside in one room with their families; and a man of that class, having been left a widower, and having secured the kind services of his deceased wife's sister to look after his children—and who could do so better than she could? —would almost be driven, under such circumstances, to commit sin, unless he could protect himself and the woman by marriage. Persons placed in this position often went through the form of marriage. In one case, which gave him the greatest pain, he tried a man for having committed perjury by making some declaration which was necessary in order to enable him to make his union with a deceased wife's sister as decent as he could by marriage. In respect to what had been called the social argument against the Bill, he regretted that he had again heard it stated as an objection to an alteration of the law that if a man could not marry his deceased wife's sister, then the latter could live in the house of the married couple during the life of her sister with a feeling of perfect safety. The alternative to that argument was simply shocking to his mind, and it was scarcely to be mentioned in an Assembly of English Gentlemen. Consider what the argument involved. This—that if, after the wife's death, her sister and her husband could marry, they would, or might, in her life, lust for each other. It was not true. If they would—if they wore so lost to all decency and feeling of right—would they be restrained by such a consideration as that they could not marry on her death? Another argument had been brought forward which, in his opinion, was as unfounded. It had been said that if, after the death of a wife, the wife's sister could not marry the widower, she would be able to live in his house with safety, and without fear of scandal. But he would ask their Lordships whether it was wise or prudent, especially if the Man and woman were young and attractive, that they should live together in the way suggested? It certainly was not, and it seemed to him to be the most enormous paradox in the world to say that the right way for a man and woman to live together without scandal was that they should not be able to marry. One would have thought that the safest course would be that they should be permitted to marry. That was not his argument, but it was the argument of a distinguished Prelate, and a man of the greatest ability—Archbishop Whately. There was absolutely nothing in this so-called social argument against the Bill. There were 100,000,000 English-speaking people in the world. With two-thirds of them those marriages were lawful and valid; with the one-third in this country they were not. Why? Perhaps their Lordships might judge the reason without his going further. Another remark he desired to make was that he thought it extremely hard that persons who contracted those marriages should be charged, as he had seen them charged, with lust. He did not see why it was lust, unless they assumed that the woman was the wrong woman. They had no right to apply that opprobrious term until they established, first of all, that it was an improper marriage. They had no right to use such a word for the purpose of insinuating that it was an improper marriage. The argument was, it was lust because the woman was wrong, and the woman was wrong because it was lust — a vicious circle. He came now to an argument which he approached with reluctance, as he wished to show indulgence to the feelings of others, knowing how much he needed indulgence for his own. He would not call it the religious argument —the word was too good for it—but he would call it the theological argument. Their Lordships need not fear that he would go deeply into the theological argument. He knew as little of theology as he did of astrology. Their Lordships would admit that religion was for the guidance of man in his daily conduct, with a view to his happiness here and hereafter. It was to guide and govern not only those who had plenty of mind and intellect to enable them to master the subtlest problem, but those who were without this qualification, or had no more than a small part of it. Now, he would ask, in all seriousness, was it possible to make such a man understand why he was not to marry his deceased wife's sister? Suppose he went to a theologian and said—" I desire to marry my de- ceased wife's sister. Will you tell me why it is wrong? Is it put down in plain language anywhere?" He thought there were texts from which it would rather be inferred that it was a right thing to do. In one of the Books of the Pentateuch, he thought the prohibition was limited to the lifetime of the sister —the first wife. The theologian might say—"You see you do not understand the matter. If you were a consummate Hebrew scholar, and, in addition, knew Greek; if you had read all the Rabbis have written for the last 1,500 years in favour of it, and the answers given to them; if you could understand the most subtle of subtle reasonings, then you would see that it is not right for you to marry your deceased wife's sister." The man might answer that it was impossible for him to understand it then, because he was no Hebrew scholar, he did not know Greek, and he could not read all the Rabbis had written on the subject, nor the answers; but he might say—" May I take your word for it?" The theologian, if he were an honest man, would answer—"Well, I cannot say that, because I have the majority of theologians against me. They think otherwise." Would a merciful lawgiver lay down a law in such a way? "Thou shalt not steal" required no exposition. They did not want anyone to explain it, and their consciences told them it was right. He had heard a noble Earl lament the way in which the Pentateuch had been spoken of by a distinguished philosopher. Let him impress upon the noble Earl that if he desired that those who believed in the Pentateuch should continue to believe in it, and that those who did not believe it should respect it, let him not press the law in it too strongly on those who felt that it was not given for their government. There was one verse, the 19th of the particular chapter which was supposed to bear on this question, that he must refer to. Let that be read in connection with chapter 20. The noble and learned Earl relied very much for support on the right rev. Bench. He hoped they would believe him when he said that he was speaking most respectfully and reverently. A condemnation of these marriages was found in the words—"And they twain shall be one flesh." That was a very strong and emphatic way of describing the union between man and wife. But it was a metaphorical expression, and was never intended to be taken literally. For what consequences would follow from taking it as a statement of actual facts? A man married a woman who had a sister. That sister, it was said, became his sister. All her sisters must, in the same way, have become his sisters. But his wife was one of the sisters; and, therefore, his wife was his own sister. [Laughter.] He had said nothing which deserved a laugh; he had only pointed out the consequences of treating what was a metaphorical statement as a statement of an actual fact. He would give another instance less absurd. John married Mary, who had a sister Martha. Martha became his sister. But his sisters were his brother's sisters. He had a brother William, and William, therefore, could not marry Martha, because she was his sister. Was it to be supposed that the law was laid down in such a way? No merciful lawgiver would do so. "Do unto others as you would be done unto" required no exposition—men's consciences went with it, and obeyed it. But it was a different thing with the case in question. An argument had been used, though not that day, by one for whom he had such a sincere respect, that if he could possibly alter his judgment he should be glad to do so. It was, that the Bill would be an unfair and improper one to those whose consciences told them they had done wrong, "because they might have repented them of their sin." He thought it would give a good man pain to call that a sin which was not a sin to the consciences of those who had done it; but, still, that was the expression used by the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack (the Lord Chancellor). It might be that there were some repentant sinners; but their Lordships had never heard of any of them. He (Lord Bramwell) dared say there were persons who had married their deceased wives' sisters who had repented, and there were others who had not married deceased wives' sisters who had also repented; but he had never heard of any who had applied to the Divorce Court on the ground that he had married his deceased wife's sister. It would be a wonderful testimony to those marriages if there were none who repented of having made them. That argument was quite foreign to the principle of the Bill, which it left untouched. Provi- sion might be made for such cases, if any. The noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns) said that if the Bill passed, these marriages in Church would still not be valid. That was probably the case. But the only remark he could make as to this point was that the Bill was so drawn to avoid offence to the clergy. Again, it had been said by the noble and learned Earl that incest was a creature of the law; that there was no such thing as a natural repugnance to any sort of marriage; and that unless the law pronounced it invalid a man might marry his mother or sister. That was an argument suggested; and he would only deal with it by asking whether that was the feeling actually entertained by anyone, and whether the horror of incest, and the natural repulsion from it, was not as strong in the promoters of the Bill as in its opponents? It had been asked— Need we wonder at the miseries of the Royal Houses of Arragon, Castile, Braganza, and Bourbon, when we read of their incestuous marriages? Now, of those Houses, two had passed, away, and it was suggested, not because of any incestuous marriages in those houses, but on account of one by a German uncle. The House of Braganza had not by any means been overwhelmed by misery. The Bourbons had been unlucky, no doubt, as one King of this line had been beheaded, two had been driven from France and one from Naples, but none of them, as far as he was aware, had married their deceased wife's sister. Surely no one could hope to influence a Legislature by such arguments. He would say no more, but could only repeat that as things were this was a cruel and mischievous law, for which he could see no justification.


My Lords, I am afraid that I am at a great disadvantage in following, and not being able to meet in the same spirit, the eloquent and able speech to which we have just listened. It is wholly impossible for me to argue this question with jokes, or to descend to the level of a bull, in order to excuse to your Lordships the grotesqueness that follows from the received law of the Christian Church—a law which we have always looked upon as dating from the very beginning of religion. Nor need I, after the speech of the noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns) attempt to go through all the arguments we have heard with anything like continuity; but I may protest against the assertion with which the noble Earl who opened the debate (the Earl of Dalhousie) characterized the objections that are felt to this Bill. I must assure him that these objections are not vague and fanciful, and that, if they appear so to him, it can only be because he has not taken enough trouble to be thoroughly acquainted with them. We who oppose the Bill perfectly understand what we mean when we say that religion and morality are deeply involved in this question. I thank God that the word "Scriptural" still bears in England, to some extent, the meaning of "moral," and that what is laid down in Scripture does come to us with the force of a moral commandment. It is well known that the chapter in Leviticus, so often referred to, which tells us what marriages are forbidden and what permitted does not go through the whole list of prohibitions, but needs to be looked at in the light of reason and common sense. In saying this I cast no slur on the word "theology." You will soon banish religion if you banish theology, for theology is a science, just as jurisprudence is a science; and as that practice of the law which the noble and learned Lord adorns rests upon its science, so it is on theology as a science that religion as a rule of life ultimately rests. Look at that chapter in the light of common sense, and the question before the House is obscure only in the sense in which a sum is obscure which a boy has to do by a rule which he has already learnt. Affinity is not, so far as I know, a physical fact; no one said it was; but what runs clearly through the whole chapter is that affinity and the oneness of the flesh of man and wife are to be regarded as regulating the relations of the two families thus united. The case has not always been properly stated. In the long sermon which came out in the newspapers this morning, as an advertisement for a Marriage Law Reform Association, it is said that this affinity is a fiction, because other affinities are allowed to be contracted, and are not forbidden by the Table. If that is alleged as an argument, surely the most elementary examination of the question shows that it is no argument at all. Neither in consanguinity nor in affinity is marriage permissible when you can count only three persons. For instance, a man cannot marry his step-daughter; you can count only three persons—the man himself, his wife, and her daughter; in all the unlawful degrees of affinity you can count but three persons; in all the lawful degrees of affinity you can count four persons or more. But, after all, we rely on a higher authority than the words of Leviticus—namely, the statement of our Lord, when He said that a man and his wife are one flesh, and applied this to remove the relaxations and corrupt practices of the Jewish people. I hold the doctrine that Scripture was made for man, and not man for the Scripture; and I believe that these prohibitions laid down in Scripture are those which visibly affect the well-being and happiness of the family. The Church has always understood this; and the Dispensations granted by Rome, so far from showing that the Roman Church considers the law breakable, are rather arguments that enhance its importance. We all know what powers are supposed to be inherent in the Bishop of Rome; but his Dispensations are exceptional, and, being exceptional, show, as I said, the importance attached to the law. To pass to another point—Is there no consideration whatever to be extended to the clergy themselves in their intercourse with the people? The clergy, the teachers of the people, have been taught to believe in order to teach that by the law of England, by the Prayer Book, by the Canons of the Church, these marriages are forbidden in Scripture. Suppose this Bill passes, what is their position at once as representing Scripture—I do not say merely as expositors, but as men who have always been taught that the ground of the law of the Realm is that these marriages were not according to Scripture? It is absolutely certain that amid such pressure as is now brought to bear, the clergy, as citizens, and conscientious ones, are to be entirely unconsidered. It would be impossible for any reflecting man to really think that the English clergy, as representing the whole body of Church laity, could possibly abandon their primitive standing - point. We have been told that the social question has nothing in it. Well, if this Bill were to pass a second reading, throughout England to-morrow morning, for every pair made merry by the announcement there would be hundreds—nay, thousands—whoso homes would be rendered miserable. It would be received at once as a signal for her who feels herself the sister of the bereaved husband, and the true mother of his children, to pack up and begone. The only cases that can be contemplated with satisfaction will be those in which marriage would never have taken place but for the passing of this Bill; and in these the protection which the wife's sister can give to the man's family will be deferred for a decent period, and it must be wanting during the time of the greatest affliction and need. I believe that the law does represent the instinct of the people; it may be an instinct that is not universally felt; but law registers instinct in general, and makes the instinct of the best and the most the law for all Is it not the case that a man does always treat his wife's sister differently from the way in which he treats any other woman? Is it at all true that a man looks upon his wife's sister in the way he looks upon any other lady? As to the poor, your Lordships will give great weight to Lord Hatherley's careful examination and experience; this has been laid before your Lordships; and last October there appeared in The Guardian a letter relating to the two parishes of which Lord Hatherley spoke from a person intimately acquainted with them for 40 years, and the writer confirmed, up to the date at which he wrote, what Lord Hatherley had said. The appeal made to the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury), on behalf of the poor, is one worthy of the tenderest consideration; but the noble Earl would tell you, I am sure, that it is improved dwellings which must enable them to live more decent lives, and do a great deal more for them than the proposed change of the law, which, after all, would affect but a small number. I would say a few words as to the argument based on authority. Discredit has been thrown upon the Bench of Bishops because, last year, 16 of their number opposed this measure. They have been spoken of as if they were leagued together for some evil cause, and to promote something which would injure the poor; whereas they believe, and with good grounds, that they are maintaining the interests of Christianity, and the Church, and the whole people; and, therefore, that it was their duty to be in their places, and to acquaint the country with their views. The Diocesan Conferences have been spoken of as if they were more instruments of the Bishops. On the contrary, it is well known that they are largely composed of independent laymen; and, therefore, great weight ought to be attached to their opinions. There has recently appeared a very touching letter from an American, in which he says that large sections of society on the other side of the Atlantic are watching with anxiety the fate of this Bill, because if it be carried their depressed tone of morality on the subject of marriage must be still further depressed; but if it be rejected it will be a signal warning to them that their common tone does require to be elevated. Among those who are to-day named in the widely-circulated document of the Marriage Law Reform Association as supporters of the Bill have been Dr. Hook, Dr. Prince Lee, the first Bishop of Manchester, Dr. Thirlwall, Bishop of St. David's, and my own revered Predecessor. Now, the biographer of Dr. Hook has told us that he objected to the proposed change of the law on Scriptural grounds and grounds of expediency; and that, although, for a time, he was led away by fallacious arguments about the help it would give to the poor, he "ultimately returned to his first opinion." As to Dr. Lee—and those who knew what he was as a scholar, a thinker, and a lover of truth, would be much moved by this statement—I wrote to his son-in-law and most intimate friend, who replied that he remembered the Bishop's opposition to the Bill in 1850, and had not the slightest reason to believe that he had changed his opinion. I communicated this to the Secretary of the Marriage Law Amendment Society, who replied that the opposite statement had long remained unchallenged; he added in support of it that Dr. Lee's distinguished pupils followed his authority; on my asking after them, he informed me that two of them were well-known clergymen who were expecting promotion from their Bishops, and whose names he was, therefore, unable to give, and the third distinguished pupil of Dr. Lee was an ex-Colonial Minister. I am assured that Dr. Lee never had such a pupil, and the reference to the well-known clergymen is no less hazy. As to the liberal and philo- sophical Connop Thirlwall, his speech is happily extant, in which he declares that— He must express his decided protest against a Bill fraught with infinite danger to the country and to society. With regard to my Predecessor, when a young man at Rugby, he signed a Petition in favour of the Bill, and in the later years of his life he regarded this as a youthful indiscretion. I am able to state, on the best authority, that if he had ever had to give a vote on this question it would have been given with heart and soul against the Bill. So far, therefore, as authorities are concerned, I think that the testimony so boldly put forward will not be much respected. I shall vote against the Bill.


said, that, in asking the indulgence of the House for a very few moments, he should not venture to offer any opinion of his own on the subject; but he begged leave to call their Lordships' attention to the remarkable speech which closed the debate last year, and which, delivered by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), ought not to go unchallenged. He ought to remind their Lordships that the right rev. Prelate came into the House when the debate was all but over; and, apparently, he was induced to speak by what fell from his noble Friend opposite (the Marquess of Waterford), as his first words were— Strange as it might appear to their Lordships he had really no intention of addressing them when he came down to the House. And then he went on to say that— He had never been able, in the course of his opposition to this measure, to take what was commonly called the high Scriptural or theological ground, at least as regarded the Old Testament, which was taken by many of his right rev. Brethren on the Bench in opposition to allowing a man to marry the sister of his deceased wife. It had always seemed to him that the interpretation of the verse which the noble Lord opposite (Lord Balfour of Burleigh) quoted, as forming the basis of his opposition, was rather questionable, and had been questioned; and he was further of opinion that if we adopted one portion of the Levitical law, as regarded marriage, it was difficult to see why we should not adopt the whole of it."—(3 Hansard, [270] 795–6.) This statement appeared to produce something very like consternation among those who conscientiously, on religious grounds, opposed the Bill; and then, passing away from the Scriptural ground of objection, the right rev. Prelate said he would wish to deal with it as a "question of sentiment." It was not as a clergyman that he opposed the Bill, but as a clergyman he claimed a right to speak on the requirements of the poor; and he then went on to state "that it was not in the interest of the poor man that the Bill was really moved for." The expression, "the poor man," he (Lord Carrington) took it, signified those who lived by their own labour and industry, and who were usually styled the working classes. Now, did the views of the right rev. Prelate represent in any way, shape, or form those of the artizans, mechanics, and labourers for whom he had taken upon himself to raise his voice? The working classes gave their answer—every one of their Representatives in the Commons House of Parliament was in favour of the Bill. In the lobby of the Trades Union Congress, held at Manchester in the autumn of last year, a Petition was signed by the delegates of Trades Unions throughout the United Kingdom, representing 500,000 members of associations—which meant, at least, 2,000,000 of the working classes—from which the following was a brief extract:— We are convinced that the working classes of this country have a large interest in the removal of the existing restrictions in England, and that the statements to the contrary lately made in Parliament misrepresent the actual facts. Your Petitioners are men whose whole lives have been spent in circumstances peculiarly fitted to inform them of the sentiments entertained by the great mass of the people on social as well as industrial questions; and as regards those sentiments and exigencies of the poor in respect of the question of marriage, they cannot admit the claim of the Bishops to speak with the authority so often assumed by them in their places in Parliament. The right rev. Prelate then said the Bill was brought in for the interests of the rich. He would ask their Lordships how many persons there were among their relatives or acquaintances now living who had either expressed a wish to marry, or who had married, the sister of their deceased wife? Three noble Lords had told him they knew one, and they all three mentioned the name of the same person, a well-known master of foxhounds in the Midlands. And then the right rev. Prelate clearly showed that he was speaking on the spur of the moment, without preparation, when, in this House, and in the hearing of the Peeresses of England, he implied that the Bill was sought for by the rich for an evil purpose; and he conveyed this terrible accusation in words that were not reported in the public prints, which, spoken by another, he would have been among the foremost to condemn, and which, used by himself, he would, on reflection, be the first to regret. The right rev. Prelate, towards the end of his speech, struck a right chord, when he said he held that the deep convictions and rooted sentiments of the great majority of Churchmen were entitled to some consideration; with this everyone would entirely agree; and he (Lord Carrington) went much further, and fearlessly stated that it would be a lasting regret to the advocates of this Bill if any language was used calculated to shock the religious or the sentimental opinions of those who opposed it. But the consideration which they meted should be measured out to them again; and he thought he was justified in saying that public opinion in the House and elsewhere would sternly condemn speeches made on the spur of the moment, especially coming from the Bench of Bishops, which contained ridicule and jokes, or thoughtless allusions, calculated to raise a passing laugh, but which deeply wounded the feelings of all those to whom the passing of this Bill was a matter of social existence and recognition, whose fate was trembling in the balance, and who were awaiting at that moment with such anxiety the verdict at their Lordships' hands.


said, that as he had, on a former occasion, stated his objections to the measure, he did not now propose to trouble their Lordships at any length on the general considerations which at that time and still appeared to him to be of weight. It seemed to him that, at least in matters of marriage, men and women were entitled to be treated as absolutely equal; but this Bill treated them as unequal. This was a matter in which women must be presumed to be equally interested with men; and yet their Lordships were asked to legislate—he would not say in known opposition, for that was not proved, to the opinions of the great majority of English women; but, at least, not in proved agreement with them, and without much consideration for them. He contented himself with reminding their Lordships of the great advantage it was to the whole community that in this matter the general balance of advantage, convenience, and expediency should be weighed. The prohibitions of affinity and consanguinity in matters of marriage greatly enlarged the number of those with whom we might have the most intimate and affectionate relations, into which, nevertheless, passion did not enter. He preferred to call it passion, though his noble and learned Friend had thought fit to use a coarser expression. That passion we shared with the brutes; but passionless affection had been the great humanizer of society, and the great civilizes of mankind. As long as he had been able to think upon this subject, these considerations had appeared to him to be entitled to weight. He would not trouble their Lordships with details of the arguments upon thorn; but there were two or three isolated or separate points on which considerable stress had been laid. It had been put to them often enough—and to-night by his noble and learned Friend in his amusing speech—that they were supporting in this case, not a legal, not a natural, but an ecclesiastical and a theological prohibition. In a certain sense, no doubt, that was perfectly true; but it was not true in any such sense as should make them hesitate for a moment to maintain it. From the very earliest times, in this country at least, all matters of marriage had been considered matters of ecclesiastical cognizance; and in this country and in Ireland—differing in this respect from all other Christian and European countries—their Lordships held, in a solemn case brought over from Ireland about 50 years ago, that the marriage contract was not in these Islands as it was in all other European countries—a purely civil contract, but an ecclesiastical contract. It was also true that the prohibition they were now defending rested upon ecclesiastical authority; but it rested neither more nor less on ecclesiastical authority than the prohibition of every other degree, even the closest blood relationship. It rested upon ecclesiastical authority, supported and enforced by Acts of Parliament and Common Law; but even if it were otherwise, he failed to recognize the fairness of endeavouring to determine a grave argument of this sort by the introduction of an unpopular expression. The question for their Lordships was, whether it were fit that this prohibition should be maintained, or that it should be abrogated? Was the law in itself good or bad? If it was bad, it ought to be abolished; if it was good, it ought to be maintained; and whether the authority were ecclesiastical or temporal, and whether it stood in the first instance on Canon Law or on Common Law, appeared to be wholly beside the question. He passed now to another point on which he would admit there was a good deal to be said for the Bill. He referred to the cases of individual hardship, which the present state of the law undoubtedly created in many instances. The persons who desired to contract this marriage must needs belong to one of two classes. They must either be persons whose desire to contract the marriage arose before the death of the first wife, or else persons whose desire to contract the marriage arose after the death of the first wife. He need not take up much time in arguing the case of the first class of persons. There might be men who watched over a wife's death bed, anxious only because the footsteps of death seemed to be so slow, and who wore sometimes guilty of thinking of furnishing afresh the marriage table before the funeral meats had been baked and had had time to grow cold. There might be women who in the same way watched for a sister's death, and who were not ashamed to walk over a sister's tomb into a sister's place. Such things were related in works of fiction, and he would not deny that sometimes they might occur in real life. But these persons certainly needed no sympathy, and they were not entitled to the protection of an exceptional Act of Parliament. There remained, however, the other class of persons in whom the desire to contract this marriage arose after the death of the first wife. It would be unjust to deny that with such persons from time to time cases of great hardship did arise, although the extent to which the hardship went was extravagantly overstated; while, on the other hand, the reasonable grounds which ought to prevent the arising of cases of hardship were very much understated, and were sometimes wilfully forgotten. To begin with, every man knew that the marriage could not be legally contracted. Was it true that the widowers of England had no sisters of their own? In the supreme sorrow of a man's life, would not the sisters of England come and aid and comfort their brothers? Was it true that the great majority of widowers desired to marry at all—or, if so, that they desired to contract that particular marriage with the particular person against whom the prohibition was registered? Any candid man must answer those questions in the negative; and, if so, what was the result? The practical result was that for the sake of a minority —or rather of a minority of a minority, who alone were entitled to compassion—it was proposed to destroy for the great majority of mankind that relation which they found infinitely profitable and delightful. The noble Earl, to whom he always listened with interest, and generally with amusement, had said that he did not think much of that kind of argument, because, he said, he was an example to the contrary. He had, he said, charming sisters-in-law, of whom he was very fond; but he did not wish to marry them. He could not help suggesting to his noble Friend that at present the advocates of that Bill did not propose that a man might marry two sisters at the same time. It was only suggested that he might do so in succession. The question only arose at a subsequent stage. Their Lordships had listened to a speech from his noble and learned Friend (Lord Bramwell), who always brought force, and freshness, and vigour of mind into any question which he approached. He approached everything that his noble and learned Friend said with some degree of diffidence—first, because he had been brought up to have a great regard and sincere respect for him; and next, because he had, at different times, suffered heavily at the hands of his noble and learned Friend. But he could not help thinking that the argument of his noble and learned Friend, apart from the manner in which it was delivered, and the jokes which it contained, resolved itself at last into nothing more than a powerful and pungent assertion of his own views, and vigorous and unmitigated, although good-natured, scorn of those who disagreed with him. His noble and learned Friend could not understand how any intelligent person could entertain a different opinion. His argument really came to this—Was it a prohibited marriage? A great number of people wanted to contract it, and did contract it. If so, they contracted it in very painful circumstances. Therefore, the abominable law which forbade them ought to be abolished. Then his noble and learned Friend, with needless candour, said that he did not go into the question as a theologian. Well, he had been furnished upon the highest authority with the true definition of affinity— Affinity is terminated in the husband himself from the wife's kindred, and in the wife herself from the husband's kindred. His noble and learned Friend might say it was a thing which nobody could understand, but it was one which the Christian world for 2,000 years had had no difficulty in understanding; and he thought that if his noble and learned Friend had brought the great powers of his mind to bear upon it he would have found no difficulty in understanding it. But strong assertion, ridicule, and jokes were not the means by which that question could be decided. The relations between men and women, the deepest feelings of the heart, the most sacred obligations of religion, did not admit of being impaled upon the horns of a dilemma, or put aside by jokes, however good, or assertions, however strong. With respect to the law of our Colonies, all he had to say had been already stated by the noble and learned Earl opposite, with whom he entirely. concurred. If the advocates of that Bill were sincere, if they desired to commend it to impartial minds, if they wished to remove from it the stigma of its being a partial and interested measure, let them apply it to both sexes equally, let them frame it on some broad and intelligible principle, Let them make their proposals in such a way that affinity and consanguinity should no longer be considered for any purpose the same. He did not say that such a proceeding would induce him to vote for such a measure. As at present advised, he should strongly oppose it. But, at all events, it would then be a measure founded upon arguments far more worthy of consideration, and arguments requiring grave thought, and entailing much difficulty to answer. But the Bill, in its present shape, was the fruit only of an interested clamour, and was unworthy of Parliament, and most especially unworthy of their Lordships' House.


said, he was sorry to stand between the House and a Division; but he conceived it to be the duty of those Members of that House who had special information on a subject to communicate that information to the House. That must be his excuse for addressing their Lordships for the first time. Some years ago, he was incumbent of the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, of which the population was 37,000, 25,000 of whom were under his own care. The parish included all grades of the working classes, from the costermonger to the journeyman baker. When he first went to the parish that question was rapidly coming to the front, and he wished to ascertain what the opinion of his parishioners was upon the subject, and how far they regarded the prohibition as a class grievance. For that purpose he availed himself of the services of eight men of intelligence and high character, who were well acquainted with all classes in the parish. Without giving those men any bias one way or the other—because at that time he had formed no definite opinion on the subject—he sent them among the poor of his parish and requested them to ascertain within the next few months, by means of conversation, what their feelings were with regard to this measure, and to reply to three questions which were put to them. The three questions were—First—"Did you ever know the subject introduced by the poor themselves?" Second—"Is there any bias among the women of the poorer classes in favour of this change in law? "And, thirdly—"Is there reason to believe that the existing state of the law is regarded by the working classes as a class grievance?" In answer to the first question, seven out of eight of his informants replied "Never," while one said that the subject had been introduced by the poor themselves on six occasions. To the second question, seven out of the eight gave a decided negative, and one said that it was looked upon as a matter of prudence; and where the marriage had already been contracted, especially if there were many in the family, both parties, but especially the woman, was decidedly in favour of the Bill. But, perhaps, their Lordships might be of opinion that the answer given to the third question was the most important of all. All the eight answered it decidedly in the negative. He had also an opportunity of discussing this question with a number of working men, in a friendly manner; and with candour he was perfectly willing to admit that out of these eight men four, as a matter of personal preference, were in favour of it, and four were against it. They scouted the idea, when he put it to them, of its being treated by the working men as a class grievance; and one of them, who advocated a change of the law, said with emphasis that working men had no intention to break the law; they were perfectly prepared to obey it as it stood. Of course, he was not going to be so preposterous as to ask their Lordships to take this evidence as conclusively in favour of the assertion that the working classes were opposed to the proposed change in the law; but they had a right to claim from those who stated that they had the opinion of the working classes on their side an exhaustive, honest inquiry of the kind he had made, and they would see the result.

On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion (leave being given to the Lord Middleton to vote in the House)?

Their Lordships divided: —Contents 165; Not-Contents 158: Majority 7.

Wales, H.R.H. the Prince of Granville, E.
Guilford, E.
Connaught, H.R.H. D. Harrington, E.
Albany, H.R.H. D. Huntingdon, E.
Ilchester. E.
Beaufort, D. Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.)
Bedford, D.
Brandon, D. (D. Hamilton.) Kilmorey, E.
Kimberley, E.
Portland, D. Leicester, E.
Saint Albans, D. Leven and Melville, E.
Westminster, D. Lonsdale, E.
Lytton, E.
Abergavenny, M. Minto, E.
Ailesbury, M. Morley, E.
Northampton, M. Northbrook, E.
Onslow, E.
Ashburnham, E. Orford, E.
Aylesford, E. Portsmouth, E.
Bandon, E. Saint Germans, E.
Bathurst, E. Sandwich, E.
Camperdown, E. Strafford, E.
Cathcart, E. Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Cawdor, E.
Chichester, E. Sydney, E.
Clarendon, E. Verulam, E.
Clonmell, E. Westmorland, E.
Cowper, E. Wharncliffe, E.
Derby, E. Yarborough, E.
Ducie, E. Zetland, E.
Durham, E.
Ellesmere, E. Bolingbroke and St,
Fortescue, E. John, V.
Falmouth, V. Howth, L. (E. Howth.)
Gough, V. Inchiquin, L.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.) Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)
Lifford, V. Lawrence, L.
Powerscourt, V. Leigh, L.
Sherbrooke, V. Loftus, L. (M. Ely.)
Torrington, V. Londesborough, L.
Lurgan, L.
Aberdare, L. Lyttelton, L.
Abinger, L. Methuen, L.
Alcester, L. Monson, L.
Alington, L. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Ampthill, L.
Ardilaun, L. Mostyn, L.
Ashburton, L. Ormathwaite, L.
Auckland, L. Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)
Balinhard, L. (E. Southesk.) Penzance, L.
Barrogill, L. (E. Caithness.) Poltimore, L.
Belper, L. Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.) [Teller.]
Blantyre, L. Reay, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) Ribblesdale, L.
Rodney, L.
Brabourne, L. Romilly, L.
Bramwell, L. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Braye, L.
Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.) Rossmore, L.
Sandhurst, L.
Calthorpe L. Saye and Sele, L.
Camoys, L. Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)
Carlingford, L. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Carrington, L.
Castletown, L. Skene, L. (E. Fife.)
Chesham, L. Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Churchill, L.
Clermont, L. Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Stanley of Alderley,L.
Clifton,L. (E. Darnley.) Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.)
Clonbrock, L.
Cloncurry, L. Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)
Convers, L.
Cottesloe, L. Sudeley, L.
Dacre, L. Suffield, L.
De L'Isle and Dudley, L. Teynham, L.
Thurlow, L.
Derwent, L. Tollemache, L.
Dorchester, L. Tredegar, L.
Elphinstone, L. Truro, L.
Erskine, L. Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)
Fitzhardinge, L.
Gormanston,L.(V.Gormanston.) Tweedmouth, L.
Greville, L. Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.) [Teller.]
Gwydir, L. Walsingham, L.
Haldon, L. Waveney, L.
Hare, L. (E. Listowel.) Wentworth, L.
Harris, L. Westbury, L.
Hastings, L. Wimborne, L.
Hopetoun, L. (E Hopetoun.) Wolverton, L.
Hothfield, L. Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)
Houghton, L.
Canterbury, L. Archp. Buckingham and Chandos, D.
Selborne, E. (L. Chancellor.) Grafton, D.
York, L. Archp. Leeds, D.
Marlborough, D. Exeter, L. Bp.
Northumberland, D. Gloucester and Bristol, L. Bp.
Richmond, D.
Rutland, D. Hereford, L. Bp.
Somerset, D. Lincoln, L. Bp.
London, L. Bp.
Bath, M. Manchester, L. Bp.
Bristol, M. Oxford, L. Bp.
Exeter, M. Peterborough, L. Bp.
Hertford, M. Rochester, L. Bp.
Salisbury, M. Salisbury, L. Bp.
Winchester, M. St. Albans, L. Bp.
Amherst, E St. Asaph, L. Bp.
Beauchamp, E. [Teller.] St. David's, L. Bp.
Brooke and Warwick, E. Winchester, L. Bp.
Cairns, E. Amherst,L.(V. Holmesdale.)
Carnarvon, E.
Dartmouth, E. Arundell of Wardour, L.
De La Warr, E. Ashford, L. (V. Bury.)
Denbigh, E. Balfour of Burleigh, L. [Teller.]
Devon, E.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buecleuch and Queensberry.) Blachford, L.
Borthwick, L.
Botreaux, L. (E. Loudoun.)
Dundonald, E.
Effingham, E. Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)
Ferrers, E.
Feversham, E. Braybrooke, L.
Gainsborough, E. Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Haddington, E.
Hardwick, E Brougham andVaux, L.
Harewood. E. Castlemaine, L.
Jersey, E. Chelmsford, L.
Lanesborough, E. Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.)
Lindsey, E.
Lucan, E. Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Manvers, E.
Mar and Kellie, E. Clinton, L.
Milltown, E. Colchester, L.
Morton, E. Coleridge, L.
Mount Edgcumbe, E. Congleton, L.
Nelson, E. Crewe, L.
Powis, E. Delamere, L.
Ravensworth, E. Denman, L.
Redesdale, E. De Saumarez, L.
Rosse, E. Digby, L.
Selkirk, E. Dinevor, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Donington, L.
Sondes, E. Douglas, L. (E. Home.)
Stanhope, E. Egerton, L.
Strathmore and Kinghorn, E. Ellenborough, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Emly, L.
Forbes, L.
Gage, L. (V. Gage.)
Waldegrave, E. Gerard, L.
Wilton, E. Hammond, L.
Bridport, V. Harlech, L.
Cranbrook, V. Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)
Hardinge, V.
Hawarden, V. Hawke, L.
Melville, V. Heytesbury, L.
Sidmouth, V. Hylton, L.
Strathallan, V. Keane, L.
Templetown, V. Kenlis, L.(M.Headfort.)
Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)
Bangor, L. Bp. Lamington, L.
Bath and Wells, L. Bp. Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)
Carlisle, L. Bp.
Chichester, L. Bp. Lyveden, L.
Durham, L. Bp. Massy, L.
Ely, L. Bp. Middleton, L.
Minster, L. (M. Conyngham) Saltoun, L.
Scarsdale, L.
Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.) Silchester, L.(E. Longford.)
Mowbray, L. Strathnairn, L.
O'Neill, L. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Oranmore and Browne, L. Templemore, L.
Penrhyn, L. Trevor, L.
Polwarth, L. Watson, L.
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.)
Raglan, L. Windsor, L.
Rayleigh, L. Wimmarleigh, L.
Ross, L. (E. Glasgow.) Wynford, L.
Sackville, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)

Resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.


said, he claimed to have his vote recorded for the Bill, on the ground that he had been accidentally shut out from the House when the Division was about to be taken.

Moved, "That the vote of the Earl of Stradbroke be recorded."


said, he regretted that, by any mistake, the noble Earl should have been excluded; but he was afraid there was no precedent for the privilege which he claimed.


said, the noble Earl was in the House, and the door was shut in his face.


said, if the noble Earl was actually in the House, there was no reason why his vote should not be recorded.


explained to the House that he was in the Writing Room at the time.


said, he was afraid, if that was so, they had lost the vote of the noble Earl.

On Question? Resolved in the negative.

House adjourned at Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.