HL Deb 09 February 1899 vol 66 cc265-309

My Lords, I rise to call attention to statements lately made respecting the action of Bishops in dealing with irregularities in public worship. No apology, I think, is needed, or ought to be needed, for a Bishop desiring at the present juncture to call attention to this particular matter, but I should like to state, in a few words, what has been my own action during the last week in connection with it. As soon as I read the report of the recent meeting held in the Albert Hall, I wrote to my noble Friend who presided, Lord Kinnaird, and asked him to make, in this House, a speech similar to that which he delivered in the Albert Hall, alleging that the responsibility rests mainly with the Bishops for the present condition of what he described as "disorder in the Church of England." My noble Friend did not see well to take advantage of the suggestion, and I therefore thought it better to come forward myself and introduce the subject to your Lordships. It is not my intention to detain you long, or to range over the whole of what might easily be a large and varied subject. The position of the Bishops in the matter at the present moment is this. A leading statesman, whose great ability and eminent public service give weight to his words, words which are—I wish to emphasise this—in my belief, as honest as they are eloquent, has felt it his duty, not merely to denounce certain clergy, of whose action he, as I think rightly, disapproves, but to hold up the Bishops to the opprobrium of the English people as faithless to their trust, and cowardly in the face of danger, mainly because of the unfair use they have, as he asserts, made of the Parliamentary right given to them of exercising a veto in cases of prosecution. He describes the Courts as obstinately closed against those who ought to have access to them by the arbitrary use of this power by the Bishops. The indictment is so grave, coming from such a source, that I feel bound to read it to your Lordships as it stands. Sir William Harcourt, in the letter I am referring to, says:— In face of the fact that there existed a plain, simple, and decisive remedy against offences by removing the offender, and disabling him from further misdoing, any man of ordinary common sense will ask why has this cure for lawlessness in the Church been so long in abeyance? The answer is obvious. It is due to the deliberate and combined resolve of the Bishops not to put the law in force, or to allow others, who equally possess the legal right to assert it. The only thing with which this conduct could be compared would be that of the judges of the realm if they were to enter into an agreement to stay every suit which might be brought into the Courts, or if the Law Officers of the Crown were to enter a nolle prosequi on every indictment. In such case, civil scoiety would be in just about the same condition as that to which the Episcopate has reduced the Church. They have for years shut the gates of ecclesiastical justice; they have deprived the laity of the protection which the law had provided; they have guaranteed the Clergy against any penalty for any and every offence against the law of the Church. In a subsequent part of the letter, Sir William Harcourt writes— What is this veto which has been so indiscriminately and unscrupulously used to throttle the course of justice and to paralyse the law? The Archbishop of Canterbury in his Charge has very fairly explained its object and its intent. Nothing can be more clear than his definition of the scope and intent of the veto. It is that it was given in order to prevent vexatious proceedings in regard to unimportant matters. Has it been honestly administered in this spirit? Has it been confined to 'matters of no real import'? Or has it been universally employed to cover the most serious, open, and continued breaches of the law which both the Bishops and the Courts have condemned, but which they will take no effective measures to abate? A more serious breach of a solemn trust by those to whom the discretion has been confided, it is impossible to conceive. If such a course were adopted in civil life by responsible authorities they would be visited with the severest reprobation. Now, my Lords, no public indictment could be more serious. The picture is graphically drawn of those whom Sir William describes as "perjured Priests," protected from the just indignation of a wronged people by the Bishops, who have basely closed against the public the doors of the Courts of Justice. Newspapers have taken up the cry. One paper after another, taking Sir William Harcourt's statement as accurate, has proceeded to speak about this flagrant misuse of the episcopal veto. Now, what are the plain facts? Will your Lordships be surprised to learn that, with three trifling but significant exceptions, to which I will presently refer, no living Bishop has in any instance ever exercised that veto at all? These piled-up periods of eloquent indictment have, therefore, been launched against an imaginary foe. Is this fair controversy? Am I not right in taking the first opportunity to call attention to the matter here? I desire to be allowed to state plainly, and I trust with absolute good humour, the actual facts upon this somewhat obscure and little-known matter. I shall not try to characterise what seems to me the amazing blunder of one accustomed to public affairs—one who is a lawyer as well as a statesman. That he had the slightest intention of misleading I do not for a moment suppose; but we have a right, in such circumstances, and from such a source, to expect something more than the absence of the intention to mislead. We have no right to expect him to be familiar with facts which probably, I should say certainly, he has never studied, but we have a right to expect that, before launching an indictment so grave as this, he should ascertain whether, or not, it is true. It seems strange to me that it should have been possible for one in his position to find time to unearth from obscure rural newspapers the account of some silly speech at a village luncheon, and to hold that up to public opprobrium, as characteristic and typical of the language of the High Church Party, and that he should not have had time to ascertain whether the basis of the main column of his indictment had any real existence or not. I do not know on whom he relied for the information which he has thus given to the world. I think he is entitled to the sympathy of this House for having been so very badly served. I desire to be quite accurate in this matter. What are the facts as to the use of the episcopal veto by Bishops now alive? Twenty-three years ago, in 1876, a case was vetoed by my venerable brother, then Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, on the ground that the facts which were in dispute were at the moment sub judice in a Court of Law, and he made it clear, in giving his decision, that, when the Court had decided the matter, he would not necessarily place any further obstacles in the way. The next case was in 1886, thirteen years ago, when another venerable Prelate, now in your Lordships' house, the Bishop of Exeter, exercised his right of veto in a case which, so far as appears from the records I have seen, seems to have been of a somewhat insignificant character. That venerable Prelate is not usually regarded (to use the words of Sir William Harcourt) as a "Laodicean Romaniser." The third and, as I believe, the only other case in which the veto has been exercised by any living Bishop is the case about the Reredos of St. Paul's Cathedral. The attempted prosecution in that case was vetoed by the present Archbishop of Canterbury, then Bishop of London, on the ground that in his judgment the question at issue had already, in a similar case, been decided in a Court of Law, and that further litigation about it was undesirable. I have taken some pains to be accurate, and these, so far as I can ascertain—I speak under correction—are the sole instances in which the veto has ever been exercised by any living Bishop. But it may be said that, short of actually exercising the veto, the Bishops practically let it be known that no prosecution would be sanctioned, and that they have by that means prevented cases from coming forward. It is alleged that the Bishops have come, as Sir William Harcourt said, "to the deliberate resolve" to allow no case to go forward. Following that lead, another eminent public man, recently Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons (Mr. Mellor), has stated, "speaking as a lawyer," that the agreement arrived at by the Bishops was totally illegal. My Lords, there was no such agreement. I have been familiar with what has been going on in episcopal matters for many more years than I have been Bishop, and I can with certainty say that there has never been any such agreement, either contemplated by the Bishops generally or carried through, in any form whatever, formal or informal. What was it? When did it occur? If anyone interested in the question cares to turn to a Debate which took place in the Convocation of the Province of York, in April, 1885, he will find that this myth, which had already been started, was referred to by the Bishop of Manchester, who asked a question about it of the then Archbishop of York. If anyone desires to see that myth torn to shreds and completely disposed of, I refer him to those Debates. I admit that there is one Bishop who has formally stated that he did not intend to allow a prosecution. I will quote his actual words as spoken in the York Convocation— Nothing would induce me to institute a prosecution. I gave consent to a prosecution in the case of one clergyman—the Rev. Bell Cox—but, knowing what a bad effect it has had, I have made up my mind that I would never do anything again to promote a prosecution in a Court of Law. These, I admit, are important words, and they come from a Bishop to whom I refer with the deepest reverence and respect, but whose name is not, I imagine, the name your Lordships expect. They are the words of the Lord Bishop of Liverpool. Well, my Lords, the Bishops, as I think I have shown, have neither exercised their veto in the way so eloquently described, nor have they ever come to such a resolve to close the Courts as would practically secure the same result. But possibly it may be said that though the present Bishops are to be acquitted, the predecessors of the present Bishops may have exercised the veto with such effect that it was felt useless to re-open the matter under their successors. Let me state the facts. In the years which followed 1874 there was, so to speak, prosecution "in the air." People were talking about it on every side. It was contemplated that there would be a great many suits promoted, all over England, and Archbishop Tait, whose Protestantism will not, I think, be impugned, stated on more than one occasion that he desired to prevent what he described as Reckless and wanton litigation, carried on by societies with long purses, rather than by individuals personally dissatisfied. He stated repeatedly that while prosecution might in the last resort become inevitable, he desired at least to show that there was a more excellent way, and accordingly on three separate occasions he exercised his power of veto. In the first two of these cases the incumbent whose conduct was impugned had practically promised the Archbishop himself that he would submit to the authority set over him, and the Archbishop said it would be absurd in such circumstances to allow a prosecution to go forward. In the third case the questions raised were at the moment sub judice in another Court, and it was necessary to wait until the decision of that Court had been given. There is perhaps one other case to which I ought to refer. It is that of Canon Carter, of Clewer, who was prosecuted many years ago, in the time of the late Bishop of Oxford, and whose prosecution was vetoed by the Bishop. That has been frequently held up as a case of genuine grievance. What are the facts? The Bishop exercised his veto, and the case was stopped, and Canon Carter immediately resigned his living. By his resignation, which was the direct consequence of the Bishop's action, the very same result which at the most could have been arrived at by a successful prosecution was peacefully and amicably attained. Can anyone say that the exercise of the veto was in that case a legitimate grievance to any living man? What becomes, after these facts, of the allegation of outraged rights? I challenge criticism when I say that it has practically no foundation at all. Then if the veto-fiction is gone, how comes it that there have been no suits for so many years past, and that the position of the Dean of Arches has been a sinecure for a considerable number of years? Simply because the people of England, as a whole, or of the Church of England, if you will, as a whole—Laymen, Clergy, and Bishops together—came to the conclusion that a cessation of these prosecutions was desirable. They had found them to be doing incalculable harm. They resulted by the folly or fanaticism of their promoters in the imprisonment of several estimable and worthy men; and if there is one thing more than another which has roused the feelings of the people of England against prosecutions of this kind, it is, I suppose, those imprisonments. Times have changed since the days of Queen Elizabeth, when it was laid down in the Reformatio Legum that a Bishop should have within his jurisdiction "a prison, or two prisons, or even more, if circumstances so require," to which to commit offenders against the laws ecclesiastical. Circumstances have changed since then, and it has been found that the imprisonment of clergymen, in suits of this kind, does not produce the results which its promoters expected or desired. That, however, is quite another question, which must be separately dealt with. The point I wish to emphasise is simply this, that as a simple matter of fact it was not that Bishops stopped prosecutions, but that prosecutions were not instituted because the Church at large was against them—Low Churchmen as well as High Churchmen. I am speaking with care, and am prepared to substantiate every statement I make. I can quote numerous instances of the utterances of public men and newspapers against the idea of prosecutions at that time. The noble Lord the present Prime Minister wrote— The public, I think, would be glad that the controversy in the Courts of Law should cease, and would not criticise adversely any exercise of the Bishops' legal powers by which that end might be attained. The ordinary Church newspapers, one after another, took the same line. It may be said that those papers cannot be regarded altogether without suspicion; let me, therefore, show you that the desire to stop prosecutions emanated every bit as much, if not more, from Low Churchmen as from High Churchmen. The organ of the party whose cause at present is supposed, by the public at least, to be in the ascendant—the Record—in a series of articles of which I have extracts here, ranging from 1884 to 1892, deprecated litigation, not because the Bishops would exorcise their veto, but because litigation was in itself a bad thing. That journal says— We believe that ecclesiastical litigation, whether against Bishops or Clergy, is at the present time not only undesirable, but extremely likely to do mischief to the cause of Protestant Evangelical truth in the Church of England. What we do say is that though the time for litigation may come the present is not such a time. We can hardly imagine any course more certain to prejudice public opinion against the Party who pursue it, more inevitably doomed to failure, so far as practical result is concerned, or more directly calculated to deaden spiritual vitality and promote a harsh, unchristian spirit. Not only did the writers of leading articles in the Record take that view, but there were three leading Churchmen at the time—Canon Cadman, Sir E. Bayley, and the Rev. F. F. Goe—all authorities of the Evangelical Party, who wrote to the Record in the following terms— We have a strong conviction that prosecutions of individuals for Ritualism at the present time are neither politic nor wise. If the desire be to suppress Ritualism, experience shows that prosecutions will not do this. If the desire be to preserve or advance the interests of Evangelical truth, we are of opinion that those interests arc likely rather to be injured than promoted by an appeal to the Law Courts. The Church Association itself, after the Privy Council decision of 1892, was of the same mind. On October 25, 1892, the Association held a Conference in London, and the foremost spokesman—Sir Arthur Blackwood—spoke as follows— The right policy now is to let prosecutions cease, at least until some new emergency arises. There is no doubt whatever as to the opinion these men held then. It appears that they have changed their minds now. They are perfectly at liberty to change their minds; but they are not at liberty to say that it is the Bishops' veto that is the cause. It has been said, If that is your argument, we will soon give you abundant cases in which you can decide whether to exercise the veto or not. Well, my Lords, speaking for myself, I can only say that if cases are brought before me, they will be carefully, impartially, and thoroughly considered on their merits; but I am so fully in agreement with what till now has been the opinion of Evangelical Churchmen, as well as of High Churchmen, as to the evils of litigation, that I must say emphatically that it would only be after every possible expedient had been exhausted that I should feel myself justified in allowing the matter to go to a Court of Law. But I will not say that ultimately the appeal to such a Court might not be inevitable; and for that reason I am anxious to see the present Ecclesiastical Courts so reformed as to secure the widest possible basis of confidence and allegiance on the part of the Laity as well as the Clergy of the Church of England. Well, my Lords, if the facts be as I have stated, what has happened in the last fifteen years to bring about the present agitation? I am perfectly ready to admit that the Church as a whole—and remember that Bishops. Clergy, and Laity share the responsibility together—have given a somewhat laser attention during the last fifteen years to the regulation of ceremonial with the purpose of throwing more energy into the outside work. The activities of the Church during the last fifteen years have no parallel in our history in regard to such matters as the efficiency of our schools, the promotion of temperance and social purity, the formation and management of clubs and so forth. While energies have been directed by all of us to these things, it is true, I think, to say that less criticism than heretofore has been directed to the services within our churches. There may be blame here, but it is blame which every one of jour Lordships must be prepared to share with me and with the other Bishops. It is not that the Bishops have prevented Laymen who have been aggrieved from coming forward. Bather there has been so much attention concentrated on the outside activities of the Church's life that the work inside the "churches has been less criticised, and services have been tacitly allowed to go on which would otherwise have caused more unfavourable criticism than now. My Lords, the fact is that the Bishops have tried again and again, and tried successfully, to repress excesses on the part of even the best and most active men in their dioceses; but have they always, in so doing, received the support of the public? Let me give your Lordships an example of what I mean. When I succeeded to the See of Winchester, some four years ago, it was my lot to find myself within the first few days in conflict with one of the most earnest and hardworking of the Clergy of the diocese, Mr. Dolling, of Portsmouth. I felt it to be my duty to take a definite line on certain matters, and to declare an altar which he desired to erect for what he described as for "masses for the dead," to be, in my opinion, inadmissible. I was met with the reply, that if I persisted in this line it must result in Mr. Dolling resigning his charge. He did resign his charge, my Lords, and I believe to this hour I was perfectly right in the action I took. But, my Lords, what was happening in the meantime? For one letter from English Laymen expressing approval of what I did, I received ten from people who told me about Nelson putting the glass to his blind eye, and reminded me of the advisability of not seeing too much, and not stopping good work for the sake of trumpery detail which no one cared about. What, then, becomes of the charges levied against the Bishops that they were standing in the way of the people of England in their endeavour to obtain justice against clergymen who break the law? After these fifteen years, people awake suddenly to find that things have gone faster and further than they had supposed. In my opinion the evil and peril that exist to-day are great. I say so not for the first time. I have emphasised the fact again and again. I spoke of it in public last autumn as an evil that was great and growing. I have never been a minimizer as to the extent of the peril that exists in the Church of England, though I have maintained before, and I maintain still, that the particular actions—what might be called the outrageous actions—of individual men, to which attention was so prominently called a few months ago, had been few and far between, and are in process of disappearing altogether. What is this evil then that, in my opinion, is great and growing? It is not the performance of overt acts of a lawless kind. These lawless things are, in my opinion, being speedily suppressed, but the real evil is far more insidious and far more difficult to deal with. It is the exaggeration of a truth rather than an overt act of wrong. It is to be seen in the growth of mistaken ideas of a materialistic kind with regard to the doctrine of the Holy Communion. It is to be seen in the perils, which I regard with the utmost dread, and which, I fear, are most real, accompanying some modern teaching respecting the use of Confession. It is to be seen in the growing use of certain small manuals of devotion and the like, which arc circulated by Laymen and Laywomen quite as much as by Clergymen among those who are of tender years. These things, in my opinion, constitute for the Church of England to-day a peril which I do not now say is a growing one, for I think there is a visible reaction, but which is at this moment great. We Bishops—if I am entitled to speak, without consultation, for my episcopal brethren—desire beyond nil things the support of the English laity in dealing with these things quietly, gravely, and steadily. But our power of doing so effectively, of using in the right way the powers of influence, guidance, and persuasion, which alone can deal with the3e specific things which do not come within the four corners of any Act of Parliament, is directly impaired, just in proportion as those mistaken men are made the objects of violent agitation and scurrilous abuse. I have the very deepest sympathy, my Lords, for the average English Churchman, who dislikes both the Church Association and the English Church Union, but who cares for his parish church, and desires that he and his family may have within its walls the sort of services in which they can take part with a quiet mind. Such men are the very backbone of our Church's life. I appeal now to these men to strengthen our hands at this present juncture, not by quietly grumbling to their friends; not by writing to the Bishops, as many of them now do, complaining of what takes place, and adding at the foot of their letter, "By no means let my name be mentioned," but by giving us their support in great things and small as we try to meet these evils by our quiet daily action. We Bishops have laid upon us a great and heavy responsibility—never was it heavier or more anxious than now—and we do not shrink from its discharge; but we want your help in discharging a task which is not an easy one. In our endeavours to deal adequately with the matter we have to remember other things than are remembered by those who confine themselves to taking part in public agitation. We have to bear in mind that principle of comprehension which is our priceless heritage in the Church of England, and which indeed is vital to its life. We have to beware of excluding any who have a right to be within its pale. When I read the account ten days ago of the meeting held at the Albert Hall, I thought to myself at once, what would have been the action of those attending the meeting with regard to many of the foremost Churchmen of English history. They would have given, my Lords, a short shrift—I apologise for using the metaphor in that connection—let me say rather that meeting would have made short work indeed of Launcelot Andrewes, Bishop Wilson, or John Keble. It is not by such a process the Bishops can set to work—the process of excluding from the Church's ranks men who can be shown to have any legitimate right to a place within her pale. And in the next place we are bound, solemnly bound, to remember the personal relation which every Bishop bears to the individual Clergy under his charge. We want to approach these men one by one. We want to approach them not as judges but as counsellors, guides, and friends. Therefore, my Lords, it is that time is needed for the task. To shout, "The thing is to be settled in a week or two," simply betokens a complete ignorance of the conditions of the problem and of the way in which it can be ultimately solved. The question is far more difficult, far more complex, than many who spoke about it believe. We are reminded in strident tones, many a time and oft, of the words which occur in the Consecration Promise which every Bishop makes:— Will you correct and punish such as be unquiet, disobedient, and criminous within your diocese, according to such authority as you have by God's Word, and as to you shall be committed by the Ordinance of this Realm. To which the answer is:— I will do so, by the help of God. We are grateful, I at least am grateful to any one who calls public attention to these weighty words, which are never far off from our recollection and our hearts; but the sentence to which these words belong is a double one, and there are other words which come before these in the clause. They are:— Will you maintain and set forward, as much as shall lie in yon, quietness, love, and peace among all men? We have no right to ignore that first part while we are endeavouring to discharge our responsibilities in regard to the second. I have to thank your Lordships for listening to me as you have. If I have said one word which could give legitimate pain to those who have attacked us, one word which could seem to ascribe to them an unworthy motive, I withdraw it, and apologise for it now. Such is far from my intention. The Bishops' task is not a light one. My hope, my confidence, is that the Members of this House will help us to discharge our responsibilities, and I believe that by the blessing of God, your confidence will not be misplaced.


My Lords, in case of any misunderstanding may I say that when the right reverend Prelate asked me to make some reference in this House to the public meeting held in the Albert Hall, I did not refuse to do so. What I said was that, not being very well acquainted with the forms of this House I could not see on what I was to base any statement on this subject. I stated that I should be quite prepared to say in this House anything which I had said on any public platform. I may remind noble Lords that the Albert Hall meeting is not the only one in which some of us have taken part on this question. There was a meeting at the Church House, presided over by Lord Midleton, composed entirely of Church men, representative, I think, of the Low Church, or the Evangelical Church; and those who have read the speeches delivered at these meetings have congratulated us on the very moderate and quiet way in which the matter was referred to. May I take this opportunity of saying that this is no personal matter? We do not make any charge against indi- viduals; but what we have felt strongly for some time is, that the Bishops' veto is not that which has tended to the good administration of the Church. We have protested almost annually against the Bishops' veto. After what the Bishop of Winchester has said, I hardly know how to answer that portion of his speech, because I understood it was admitted that an agreement was come to at the Lambeth Conference. The difficulty we are in is that of getting the facts in this matter. As to the exercise of the veto, my information is that it has been exercised twenty-one times since 1854, and I get my information from a paper called "The Bishops' Veto," issued by the Church Association. Since the Bishop of Winchester gave notice to call attention to this matter, I have consulted a lawyer or two, and I am told that it is absolutely impossible, owing to the position the Bishops have taken up, for any member of the Church of England who feels aggrieved in the matter of extreme practices, to force the Bishops' hands, or to enable any proceedings to be taken if they exercise the veto. I am further informed that at the time the veto was instituted no fewer than eight of the Commissioners signified their dissent from the principle. The need for taking some action is shown by figures which I will place before your Lordships. Eucharistic vestments were declared to be illegal, but the increase from 1882 has been from 306 churches to 2,026, owing, we are told, to the action of the Bishops. With reference to incense, in 1882 it was used in nine churches, and now it is used in 381 churches. Then take the case of altar lights at the Holy Eucharist. In 1882 they numbered 581. They have now increased to 4,334. I am told that these are illegal. I know there is some doubt as to that, but I believe the majority of authorities are of opinion that they are illegal. The question of the mixed chalice was a moot point, but there the cases have increased to 4,030. I know it is illegal if you mix it during the service of the Holy Communion, but if you mix it before the beginning of the service it is not quite certain whether it is illegal or not. I think these figures show that, from the point of view of a layman, who thinks as strongly as I do, there is some increase of illegal practices, and we consider that this is due to the action of the Bishops. Then, to go back to the veto. It is accepted on both sides that we have given up trying, for the last ten or twelve years, to put the law in motion because, after money had been spent and a certain number of test cases tried, the different Bishops declared that they would not allow litigation to ensue. It is not common sense to try and put the law in motion if you are stopped at the Court of First Instance. In the right reverend Prelate's own diocese, I am informed that there are two churches in Portsmouth whore illegal practices are going on—at all events practices which were declared to be illegal at a late meeting of the Bishops. These churches are St. Agatha's and St. Michael's, Portsmouth. There also exists in the Bishop of Winchester's diocese a society called the Alcuin Club, which holds very considerably advanced opinions. Certain Bishops are announced as its members, and the Bishop of Winchester himself defends the society. Then, my Lords, there is another important point, namely, Are these matters of illegal practice of equal force? I heard only to-day of a clergyman who had very successfully worked in a district in the North of London with a large number of communicants and a number of other services—and anyone who knows what it means to have communicants by the hundred, will know what this means. This clergyman has been told that he must repeat the prayer over every communicant. He sometimes has over 300 communicants, many of them members of the working-class, who have not much time. What I want to know is whether those clergy who do those things which have been declared on the highest authority to be illegal, are to be placed in the same position as those who have hitherto omitted these things? Another point which has lately been referred to in this church is that there must be a daily service there. It is not a question in this case of the parish being badly worked. It has been well worked, but it is only by these shortened services that the work can be carried on. If the Bishops are going to insist on a literal carrying out of all the Rubrics, it will raise a state of dissatisfaction among many of the clergy and laity. My Lords, I have ventured to trespass so far on your time because I quite agree with the Bishop of Winchester that, whether at the Church House, the Albert Hall, or elsewhere, we ought not to say anything which we are not prepared to say in your Lordships' House. Feeling, as many of us do—the feeling exists among a large class of communicant members of the Church of England—that with the Courts shut against us by the veto of the Bishops, there are many practices now extant which many competent authorities have declared to be illegal, we ask that these matters should be dealt with, and they should not be left in their present state. Our intention was not to make any personal charge against any individual, but we think the Low Church Party are entitled to be heard, and so there have been various gatherings throughout the country. My Lords, we have considered it only right and proper to invite the consideration of the country to these practices, which we believe to be contrary to the law of the land and of the Church.


My Lords, I would gladly have remained silent, being conscious of the difficulty of saying anything which might not do more harm than good. At the same time, I am conscious that on such an occasion my silence might be misinterpreted, because I am the person, more than any other, who has been attacked in the daily newspapers, and I, more than anyone else, have been called upon to undertake coercive measures against a body of my clergy. I could not, therefore, hold my tongue, difficult as it necessarily is for one who is entrusted with a delicate office of administration to make any utterance on the subject, without explaining more than was desirable. I cannot have it supposed that I am indifferent to the seriousness of the crisis which at present exists. I think it is very serious, and for this reason: that it is vital in English life that men of different opinions, however widely they may differ, should appreciate and habitually understand one another, and treat one another with respect. We have lately, I think, been perilously near forgetting that primary principle on which our national life is founded. It is a serious matter for the public welfare when any body of the community can be accused of having been guilty of lawlessness, and it is a particularly serious matter when that body is the Clergy—those who are devoted by their profession to the promotion of the best profession to the promotion of the best interests of mankind. It is a serious matter that they should even lend a shadow to the supposition that they are lacking in that obedience to the law which is the foundation of our social system. We are all agreed—Laity, Clergy, and Bishops—that the possibility of that misunderstanding must be removed, and removed speedily. The question, however, remains still a difficult one. How is this to be done? How in this question best to be dealt with? My right Rev. Brother who introduced this matter to your Lordships' notice referred to those exceedingly interesting letters wherewith a great statesman has from time to time thought fit to enlighten us. Interesting they certainly were, but I think they were more amusing than instructive. The picture that they drew was that of a Church which was entirely riddled by the insidious treachery of a traitorous crew under the mismanagement of a body of craven and feeble-minded Bishops, and in the middle of this universal disaster there steps forth the colossal figure of a new Elijah denouncing judgment—the only wise and good man—but denouncing judgment and at the same time clamouring that somebody else (of course the Bishops) should take off his hands the trouble of slaying the Priests of Baal. It was a picture drawn with all the dexterity of a practised hand, but still the misfortune of it was that it was impossible to identify it with the actual world in which we live, or with anything that was happening in the world of which we are conscious. The mantle of Eiljah, if I may so, does not seem to have fallen upon the shoulders of the noble Lord who has just addressed us, but I presume that the prophet himself has carried it away with him across the seas, probably for use on a future occasion. But, though I recognise in those letters the skill of a Parliamentary hand and the dexterity of an advocate, I fail to discover the wisdom of a practical statesman. In a matter like this, statesmanlike wisdom is what we need more than anything else. Vituperation is easy, recrimination is easy, but true statesmanlike wisdom is hard to acquire. The statesman who made his contribution to this subject, I could not but remember, was, while engaged in managing the affairs of the country, driven, in the course of his positive experience, to the presumably unwelcome conclusion that coercion was no remedy. But apparently what you learn in civil matters does not necessarily apply to matters ecclesiastical. You may come to the conclusion that to the people of this or any other country in their civil capacity you may not with impunity apply coercion, but if you are only dealing with a handful of clergy, the more coercion you use the better. That is not the conclusion to which * you would expect the Bishops to come. What really is the state of things to which Sir William Harcourt wishes to go back? What is it that he is so anxious to revive? Is it the old days of Elizabeth and the old Tudor conception of what a Bishop's function is—that he should be the prosecuting officer on the part of the police, benevolent and kindly, but none the less the policeman established by the State for the purpose of dealing with the clergy who transgress by a hair's breadth the narrow line of uniformity then laid down? The Bishops, if they have been to blame, have been to blame for this—that they have acted as Englishmen, and not as ecclesiastics, and have trusted themselves to the common sense of the people. They have not tried to go beyond the limits of that common sense, and they have not ventured to fall back upon the maxims of ecclesiastical autocracy with which your Lordships would be the first to twit them if they had attempted to act upon them. We are blamed, and we are glad to be blamed, because we have behaved ourselves as Englishmen living amongst Englishmen, and feeling with them, rather than as ecclesiastics trusting in antiquated powers. The right rev. Prelate who introduced this subject has called attention to the fact that the Bishops in ceasing to prosecute, or approve of prosecutions, have simply followed the public opinion that was prevalent, and indicated itself most decidedly. In such a matter as prosecutions, above all else, it is impossible to go beyond the limits of public opinion. Prosecution and persecution are very closely connected in the mind of the ordinary Englishman, and those who have to administer the affairs of the Church will always remember that that public opinion which goads them to persecute their clergy would be the very first to desert them and hold them up to derision when they had undertaken the task forced upon them. Why was prosecution abandoned by the Bishops, and why was the approval that the right rev. Prelate has given you instances of given in favour of the abandonment of prosecution? Prosecutions were abandoned because it was found that they absolutely failed. It is a matter of fact that after each period in which prosecution for ecclesiastical offences has been inaugurated, instead of there being a going back of Ritualism, there has been a distinct advance of it. I am perfectly certain that at the present day, so far from good resulting from inaugurating a period of prosecution, we would find the opposite to be the case. I have been asked publicly and privately to say what I am doing and have done. It is assumed that when prosecution ceased the Bishops were doing nothing. That was not the case. We strove our utmost to bring about a good understanding in all parishes where our intervention was called in, and the consequence was that in most of the country dioceses all disputed questions of Ritual were settled by episconal intervention on the grounds of the good sense and good feeling of those who lived within the parish. But the Diocese of London presents peculiar conditions. In a great many cases there are churches which are not purely parochial, but rather congregational, and there is not the same feeling about a parish in London as, of course, there is in the country, or in small towns. As a matter of fact, people go to such churches as they think fit, and complaints about the nature of the services carried on in any particular church rarely, indeed almost never, come before the Bishop from one who claims to have any right to make them by virtue of living in that parish. In the Diocese of London is it to be supposed that, because somebody who lives in Pengo writes to complain that passing along the Strand he accidentally stepped into a church and saw something he did not like, the Bishop is to at once take action? It is impossible that he should do so. Complaints from those who feel that their rights are being injured, and that they have a grievance, very rarely come before the Bishop of London for determination. It has at last, however, been found necessary to look into these things more closely than before. The reason why the Bishops did not intervene more strongly in former times was because they felt that their coercive compulsory intervention would do more harm than the thing against which it was directed. What could be done by good sense they did. When cases were brought before them by those who had a right to complain, steps were at once taken, and the intervention was generally successful. Certain extravagances were passed by because they were not worth the trouble of interfering with. They were left to the good sense of the community. The good sense of the community has now declared itself strongly against them, and it is that declaration which constitutes a crisis. I can only say that the Bishops are very glad of this crisis. They are very glad to have their hands strengthened by the declaration of the good sense of the community. With that behind them they can do much. I am continually asked, "What are you doing?" It is not easy in such a delicate matter to give precise statistics or to enter into details The difficulty is, as the Bishop of Winchester indicated, that unfortunately the popular mind is more interested with the regulation of small points of ceremonial which strike the eye than it is with the direction of tendencies which lie much deeper, and which only he who looks for them would really discern. There are irregularities which I regret and deplore, and those are of different kinds. The most important irregularities are those which concern doctrine. Let me give you my experience on that point. I have had but one complaint given which was of any doctrinal teaching being contrary to the tenets of the Church of England. But when I looked into the matter, I found that the sermon in question had been preached either three or five years ago by one who had left the diocese, and no longer held my licence, nor, so far as I could discover, the licence of any other Bishop. There was, therefore, absolutely nothing that could be inquired into. That is the only complaint about any doctrinal matter that I have received. Then there is the question of unauthorised additions and omissions to the services of the Book of Common Prayer. The noble Lord (Lord Kinnaird) has pointed out that the attempts which have been made to remedy that, and to require that the services should be said as they are appointed, weighs with equal hardship upon everybody. It is exceedingly difficult to exact a rigid uniformity, and there must be a dispensing power in the hands of the Bishop which he must exercise, on the one hand, strictly in accordance with the principles of the Church of England, and on the other hand strictly in accordance with the principles of common sense. There is another thing more important still, and that is the additional services to those in the Book of Common Prayer. On that point I have found that my intervention has been entirely listened to in every case. I have called upon most of the churches in my diocese to submit all the forms of service which they use. They have done so. They have recognised my right to edit them, and I have told them that the only principle I can follow is their strict and entire concurrence with the Book of Common Prayer. What, then, is the point on which they have disputed my right to make a ruling? It is simply and solely upon that quite subsidiary question of the mode in which the services of the Church should be conducted. On that point I admit that some of the Clergy have not been prepared to agree to my decision. It is deplorable that that should be the case; but at the same time there are many technical and legal statements which may be made, and in some points involved there is a certain amount of obscurity. I am glad that the Archbishop has in this crisis undertaken to hear all that can be said respecting any ceremonial which is claimed as being permissible under the regulations of the Church of England, and all I can do when my rulings on this point are not listened to, is to ask the clergymen who expresses doubts and difficulties in accepting my decision to submit the case to the full hearing of the Archbishop. In that way I believe a great deal of obscurity may be cleared up. I think I may say, on behalf of the Bishops, that we are most anxious to do our duty to the Church and the State alike. We feel that we can do our duty best by behaving as becomes true Englishmen, and by showing that the trust and confidence towards those committed to our charge which we expect that one Englishman should show to another, and more particularly in the serious and weighty concerns over which we preside. And we feel that there should be that spirit of Christian charity and that continuous devotion to the highest interests of man, which should create a temper and a spirit in which, and through the influence of which, all these minor difficulties may disappear before the great and important work that we have to do. It is always difficult to meddle with the tendencies of human thought, and the whole history of the past is against the belief that the tendencies of human thought can be regulated at our will by appeals to judicial tribunals. There is nothing that ought to be dealt with so tenderly as a man's conscientious convictions—misguided though they may be—and there is no way of bringing back unity and good understanding except by setting forth great principles of truth, and setting them forth so clearly that they cannot be misunderstood, misapplied, or misconstrued. It is by acting on those principles that the Bishops hope to give your Lordships an account of the Church of England re-united for the noblest purpose for which human union is possible, the greatest interest of mankind.


My Lords, I think it may be desirable that one of the Lay Members of your Lordships' House should say a word or two in warm appreciation of the speech of the right rev. Prelate, who opened the discussion this evening. I think we cannot speak too highly of the tone and the manner in which he dealt with his very difficult subject, and I would wish, on behalf of those with whom I often act in Church matters, to assure him that we Low Churchmen have a great appreciation of the difficult position in which the Bishops stand at the present moment, and that we value their honest and determined efforts to do what is right and just. If the members of the right rev. Bench follow up the treatment of this subject in the right spirit which actuated the right rev. Prelate, who introduced this question, we shall have good reason to hope that everything will come right. Looking at it from a Layman's point of view, it seems to me that the crisis in the Church of England is a grave one. And for this reason. We have often heard of a crisis in the Church, and we have seen each of them pass by, as many people say this crisis will pass by; but I do not remember any previous occasion upon which a Loader of Her Majesty's Government in the House of Commons has made a closely argued speech in which he stated that he had no fears for Protestantism itself, but that he had great fears for Protestantism in the Church of England. That is a very serious declaration. Beyond this, I think what has startled the country most was to find the Bishops last year setting forth a long series of Roman Catholic usages and ceremonies—amounting, some of them, to the Mass—which prevailed in the Church of England, and against which they warned the Clergy. Why is it that nothing was said by the Bishops in the past about these practices? Why was not something said in this House by the right rev, Prelates, who have justly great influence, that things were getting to such a dangerous height in this mailer, and an appeal made for lay help? Instead of that, what have we seen? We have seen that the Bishops have filled up the most influential appointments in the large towns and the Church Offices with Clergymen who hold those very views which are now denounced as Romish. I am called an Old Churchman, and I desire that the noble, comprehensive character of the Church of England, which has been her glory, should be most cautiously and carefully main rained. I think legal prosecutions a great mistake, and should only be used as a last resort. I also hope the Bishops will draw a distinction between clergymen who introduce into the Church Service almost the whole ceremonial of the Church of Rome, and the High Church party. But what the country has a right to ask is that the Bishops shall take care that the ceremonies of that Church with which the nation determinedly severed Itself at the Reformation should not be practised, and thus prevent the Church from drifting into a position in which she would lose the confidence and love of the people, which she has enjoyed so long.


My Lords, I, and those whom I am proud to call my friends, have been accused for the last six months of lawlessness and disloyalty throughout the whole length and breadth of the country. I do not know that we should much have cared what has been said about ourselves personally. For myself I am quite indifferent on the subject. But I cannot be indifferent to the accusation of disloyalty and lawlessness when I see those accusations being used as instruments to damage the Church of England, to whose service we are all pledged. The noble Lord who has just sat down, in talking of the gravity of the present crisis, said he could not recall any occasion when a Prime Minister or a Leader of the House of Commons had, in a carefully and studied speech, expressed his belief that Protestantism in the Church of England was in danger. I think I can refresh his memory. Noble Lords must surely remember that celebrated cartoon in Punch of a little boy who chalked up "No Popery," and ran away. That was when the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, which was brought in on an occasion of panic not unlike the present, and was attended with the consequences of which you are all aware, was introduced. There was another occasion, in 1874, when the then Prime Minister declared that the "Mass in Masquerade" was to be put down; and, with the help of Sir William Harcourt in another place, the Public Worship Regulation Act was passed. The results of that Act your Lordships will also remember. I observed the other day, when Sir William Harcourt was about to take his well-earned holiday, that a newspaper poster in the street had the line, "Passing of Historicus." I do not accuse Sir William Harcourt of running away from an agitation for which he is largely responsible, but I do say that he has loft a damnosa hereditas to his Party and to those who sympathise with him in this matter. I observe that in another place Mr. Samuel Smith took occasion to quote my name as a text for his speech. In regard to Mr. Samuel Smith, let me say at once that I entertain nothing but a profound respect for him personally. I am quite sure he believes everything he says; and I am quite sure that he is perfectly honest and conscientious in his opinions. If there were no other reason why I should feel my mouth closed from saying one word which should hurt Mr. Smith's feelings, it would be the recollection of the deep sorrow and trouble that has befallen him recently. I will, however, ask your Lordships to consider two or three of the main charges which Mr. Smith thinks it worth while to bring against myself and my friends. Mr. Smith talks about the "alienated Laity." I ask, Where are the "alienated Laity"? The "alienated Laity" do not build churches, nor do they subscribe largely for the support of the Clergy. Take the church of St. Cuthbert's, West Kensington, the incumbent of which, Mr. West-hall, is about to justify his practice before the Archbishop of Canterbury. Within the last eight or nine years the congregation of that church—not a rich congregation—has raised something like £60,000 for the support of that church and the clergy. Does that look like an "alienated Laity?" Take the case of St. Alban's, Holborn. Did anyone ever pretend that a single person who attended that church wished for the prosecution which for ten years raged around its walls? As a matter of fact, me prosecution was brought about by people who had never entered the church. The truth is these "alienated Laity" do not belong to the Parishes concerned. Take the case of St. Ethelburga's. Did Mr. Kensit belong to the parish? No, but he took a room in that parish for the express purpose of annoying the united congregation. The same course was adopted in Brighton, where it was shown that some official connected with the Church Association took a room in the parish concerned for the express purpose of commencing proceedings against a man who is beloved by everyone in his parish, and by all the working classes. People are always comparing the Church Union, over which I have the honour to preside, and the Church Association. Our Union may have every fault under the sun, but it, at least has this merit—it has never prosecuted any one or interfered with those with whom it disagrees. Perhaps I make a mistake in saying-there are no "alienated Laity." There may be "alienated Laity," but they are not the Laity of the Church of England. If your Lordships want proof of that you have only to inquire into the composition of the large meeting recently held at the Albert Hall. I believe, with perhaps two exceptions—that of Lord Wimborne and Lord Kinnaird—most of the speakers were not members of the Church of England at all. It was largely a Nonconformist meeting, and I ask, in all seriousness, what business have Nonconformists to meddle with the internal affairs of the Church of England? We do not interfere with them, and I refuse to admit their right to interfere with us. As to the loyalty expressed at that meeting for the Bishops, it is best understood from the fact that when their names were mentioned they were greeted with cries of "Shoot them." I pass from the question of "alienated Laity," and come to what is the root of this agitation. The root of this agitation is to be found in all these stories of secret societies. Mr. Smith, the other night, said the Church of England was "honeycombed with secret societies"; and he alluded to the Church Union. In what way is the Church Union a secret society? We do not conceal what we say or do, there is a list published of our members. That list can be obtained by any one who desires to have it. As to the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, it is purely an organisation for prayer and private devotion. The allegation about secret societies is like the story of the donkey of which we have heard so much lately, ridiculous. There is nobody more responsible for the agitation than the author of the book, "The Secret History of the Oxford Movement," which it is now acknowledged was brought out by the Church Association. In regard to that book, I will merely say this, that if there is one kind of falsehood worse than another, it is the kind of falsehood which uses truth to suggest an untruth; and that is what that book does. But, my Lords, all this is but the fringe of the question. It was open to the rulers of England in the sixteenth century to throw in their lot with the foreign Reformers, and to set up a new Establishment in place of the old English Church. They did not do so. They rejected all idea of separating themselves from the Catholic Church. They expressly disclaimed—and I venture to call the attention of the noble Lord who spoke last to this fact—they expressly disclaimed any desire of separating themselves from the churches of Italy, France, Spain, or Germany except in such respects as those churches had departed from primitive custom and ancient antiquity. In the sphere of authority they claimed for the Crown no other power in regard to the Church than had always been exercised by it, which was the power of seeing justice administered free from any foreign interference. In the sphere of doctrine and ceremonial they repudiated every charge which struck at any laudable custom of the whole Catholic Church of Christ. The Ordinal provided for the succession and continuance of the Priesthood as it had hitherto been received and understood. The chancels were ordered to remain as in times past, and the ancient vestments used by the Clergy were retained. I ask, What have any of the Party to which I belong said or done which is not entirely in harmony with those requirements? We have denied, and we shall continue to deny that the Church can, consistently with her traditions, ignore the relations which bind her to the rest of the Catholic Church. We deny, and we shall continue to deny, that Parliament set up a new Establishment in England. We deny, and we shall continue to deny, that it is within the competence of Parliament or the Crown, according to the traditions of the Church of England, to settle the doctrine or alter the ceremonial of the Church. We are prepared to suffer for these things, but we are not content to see the liberties and rights of the Church of England sacrificed either to popular clamour or ignorant prejudice. If Parliament is unwilling to recognise the Church of England on these lines, which have been hers from the beginning, so it must be. We shall protest against the spoliation of the Church. We shall say it is a great wrong, but you may depend upon it that throughout the length and breadth of this country there are thousands who will not barter the rights and liberties of the Church for the sake either of Endowment or Establishment. It is hateful to us even to seem to be in opposition to our Bishops. No one with whom I am associated claims to introduce novel ceremonies or novel doctrines at their own pleasure; But we do insist that it is impossible to assent to any interpretation of the Rubrics which implies that omission to prescribe is equivalent to prohibition to use. Neither can we assent to the principle that non-user, however long and continuous, can be brought forward as legitimate evidence of what the Church of England permits or forbids. The noble Earl who has just sat down will remember that the Church, in her Prayer Book prescribes a service for Ascension Day as elaborate and as full as that for Christmas or Easter; yet Ascension Day has been treated for long periods of time with very general neglect. It is impossible, in the face of the facts, to say there is a constant tradition and practice which can lay down with any certainty in regard to such matter, what the Church of England forbids or permits. I do most earnestly entreat the right rev. Prelates not to use their spiritual power to curtail the splendid and glorious services of Christ's Church on earth by imposing on the Church a narrow and disputed view of the Rubrics. And I no less earnestly entreat your Lordships and all in authority not to risk the chance of certain disaster by endeavouring to force on the consciences of members of the Church of England decisions of secular Courts in spiritual affairs.


My Lords, I feel that the speeches that have been addressed to your Lordships by the Bishops of Winchester and London have, I am glad to say, taken a more truthful appreciation of the situation than did the Archbishop of Canterbury in his remarks yesterday at the Church House. The most rev. Primate then said he did not believe—he confessed he was a little hard of belief—that the agitation was so deep as it was sometimes supposed to be. He said it was no doubt red-hot, but he thought the heat evaporated after a little time. Well, now, my Lords, speaking to your Lordships as belonging to that class of average Churchmen who have been alluded to by the Bishop of Winchester—a class who wish to be able to attend the services of the Church of England and to find those services conducted on the lines and in the manner to which they have been accustomed—I cannot but admit the fact that there does exist among a very large portion of the Laity, who do not care to take part in violent agitations, and who dislike both the methods and the means by which the agitation has been carried on, a feeling of very great anxiety in regard to the present position of the Church of England. Without going into questions of doctrine or of dogma, it is felt by members of the Church of England that the feelings of the Laity and the Clergy are drifting very far apart. We talk of a parson; the Clergy talk of a priest. We talk of a chancel; they speak of a sanctuary. It is not merely a difference of words, but behind this there is a very different conception by the Laity and the Clergy as to the position of the Clergy themselves. I say that feeling is very largely deepened because so many of the younger clergymen have not had the advantages—the great intellectual advantages—of the Universities of Oxford and of Cambridge. My noble Friend, who has just addressed you, has alluded perhaps to the greatest ornaments of the Extreme Party in the Church. There are men in London, and in some of the large towns, who are doing great work and noble work, and I could not help feeling that it was rather an unjust assumption to say that because they received largo sums of money, it necessarily implied that all those who supported them agreed with them in their religious opinions. I hope, my Lords, I shall not be, as it were, putting my own position out of court when I say that I have, and I am not ashamed to confess it, largely subscribed towards the funds of one or two of the Extreme churches in London, not because I agree with their views or doctrines, but because I could not help being touched by the great and noble work which they were doing among the poor, and because I felt, as I think many Englishmen would feel, that they were, in their work, touching a class and fulfilling a duty that had not been reached by any one else. But this is not a question of our appeciation of individual men. I am sure there is no one in your Lordships' House who wishes to depreciate the good work of these men. It is a larger question than this. It is the question of the Established Church, as founded by law and under the authority of Parliament. And, my Lords, I cannot but feel very anxious at the foreshadowed attitude which appears to be taken by the most', rev. Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I do not think we need consider whether the Bishops have or have not exercised their veto in the past. The question is, will they, and can they, maintain authority in the Church in a satisfactory manner, and do so before the patience of the Laity is exhausted, and the agitation becomes so strong that the Laity take the matter into their own hands and deal with the question in Parliament? I think any one who has a feeling of respect for the Church of England knows that of all things nothing can be more unfortunate and disastrous than to have these matters dealt with by the House of Commons. That is a body of which I would only speak with the greatest respect, but by its very nature and composition it is eminently unable to deal with these questions. But, on the other hand, my Lords, it is no use for us to live in a fool's paradise, or to deny that while an Established Church has a great many advantages, it brings with it, in its very foundation and its very principle, the necessity of Parliamentary control. I hope the most rev. Primate will be able, in the course of this debate, to tell your Lordships what is to be the constitution and the character of the tribunal which he and the Bishop of York are to set up to try these cases. Now, my Lords, I think it is well for us to bear in mind the recent facts that have occurred. The most rev. Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, during the autumn, in a Pastoral, condemned two distinct matters as illegal. He condemned the reservation of the Sacrament, and he seemed to sanction the use of incense, but he condemned the ceremonial use of incense. That statement of his was met by a statement of a large number of the Clergy of the Church of England, which took place at the Holborn Town Hall. They said, in the most polite language of gentlemen, and, no doubt conscientiously, that they were unable to accept his views on this matter. Well, now, my Lords, I confess that that is a serious thing, because moderate and sensible men of the Church of England feel that the only alternative recourse to legislation is the loyal acceptance of the views, carefully and fully considered, expressed by the Primate on this question. What is the position that is now taken up? The Primate, for reasons which, no doubt, he will be able to explain to your Lordships has stated that although he and the Archbishop of York have, both individually and collectively, said that these two points are illegal, they will allow the clergymen who offend in this respect to bring their cases before them, with counsel, and such Court is to review and decide upon these matters. Now, my Lords, I am bound to say that I think this is on the face of it a very remarkable thing, especially after men, in the position of the two Archbishops, have declared their own views on the matter. To pronounce judgment first and then to re-open the matter is a very singular form of trial. Nor can I understand the objection to Courts of Law. If the Church were disestablished, there would be Trust Deeds to control the action of the Clergy, and a refractory Clergyman would be tried by the Court of Chancery instead of the Privy Council. To talk of the Law of the Church as sufficient without the Law of the Land is to talk nonsense. I hope the most reverend Primate will tell us something of the constitution and character of the tribunal to be set up to try these cases, and I warn the Members of the Episcopal Bench that great danger to the Church of England lies in failure to recognise the reality of the difficulty with which they have to deal. I rise because I think there is a serious danger lest the Bishops should imagine that the present crisis is not a real one. I hope they will fully understand that all the reasonable members of the Church of England are quite willing and ready to admit that the Church of England must be a comprehensive body. We want it to include Low Churchmen, Broad Churchmen, and High Churchmen and we shall support the Bishops in maintaining their authority. It is not an interpretation of certain Rubrics. It is not whether, when the great Reformation settlement took place, certain things were technically omitted or not; but, if the Church is to exist as an institution, it must act in accordance with the general wish and feeling of the times and the people. I am certain no man wishes to narrow the comprehensive view of the Church of England. I do feel that we are too much apt, and I regret this has been too little alluded to by the Episcopal Bench itself, to forget that the settlement of the Church of England was a Protestant settlement, and that the character of the Church of England must be Protestant also.


My Lords, I do not mean to detain your Lordships long, but only to say a very few words on the subject. A large mass of Laymen of the Church of England have been silent throughout this controversy, but they have noted it with extreme pain. People have been attacked by those who differ from them, with a bitterness which I scarcely remember in public life. I protest—not because I agree with many of them in their practices—against men of the highest character, working amongst the poor to the detriment of their health and their lives, being attacked and called "perjured priests," because they do what they conscientiously believe they have a perfect right to do. I am aware that conscience is a large word, and that it might differ in many cases, but in these days we have a conscience clause in many things. We have even got a conscience clause in the Vaccination Act. We have gone so far as to break through the law of the ballot, in regard to the objection of the Jew to use a pencil on a Saturday; on account of that objection, he is relieved from the secrecy of the ballot and allowed to vote openly. And yet it is supposed that the Clergy are guilty of perjury and wilful wrong in doing that which they are ready to defend. The proposal of the Primate is a welcome one, since it will enable them to approach the Bishops, not in their coercive capacity, but as their Fathers in God. The Bishops are to act as arbitrators for the Clergy in these disputed matters. They are the proper persons to interpret the law of the Church. The Clergy will submit the case with all facilities, judgment will be given, and will, of course, be submitted to. What the Archbishops and Bishops generally desire is, that they should adopt such an action as will inspire the firm confidence of the Laity. I look back over a long time in regard to the Church of England, and, remembering what I saw in the Church when a boy, and comparing it with the decency, order, and moderate ceremony in most churches throughout England today, I am sure there has been a great advance both among the Laity and the Clergy. There is, moreover, an amount of heartiness and zeal in the work of the Church which certainly did not exist in the days to which I refer. I have seen scandalous things done—things which the Lowest Churchman nowadays would scarcely credit—and yet they passed them without censure. With regard to what the noble Earl said, I most heartily protest against the idea that the Church must accommodate itself to the times by regulating its doctrine and ceremony in accordance with the cry of the hour. It may be by the growth of time that the people come to a different view on this matter, but we must remember that in the meantime the Clergy are under a law by which they have bound themselves to the Prayer Book, and the rulings with respect to the Prayer Book. That being so, I take no part in the violent censure that has been bestowed on the Bishops or in imputing fearful motives to the Clergy. I will not enter into details, but it is not because a thing is called Roman that it may not be also Catholic. The English Church is Protestant against what is Roman purely, but it is Catholic also, and it is its Catholicity which is being neglected by those who speak with such censure in the addresses and the letters we have read. We believe in the Catholic Church, and it is to it that we give our devotion and attachment. We are prepared to give our complete adhesion and sympathy to the work which the Bishops have in hand and which is no easy task. I hope this will bring about a realisation of the harmony and peace of the Church which we have had in former times.


My Lords, I should not have ventured to interpose in this debate, but as I happen to be the only representative from the Northern Province present, I think I should say a few words to explain that there is no lack of interest in this matter in the North. It is only becuse Convocation was summoned to assemble today, that more of my Episcopal brethren from the North are not in attendance. I would desire to repudiate any idea that the Church should legislate for a period, or take its thoughts from the thoughts of to-day. Rather should we observe the warning which was given by a man of very large intelligence against the tendency to "take our dial for our Deity." There is a noble sense in which every institution must adapt itself to the times; but that is by changing, not its eternal truth, but those statements and methods which may best make that eternal truth clearer to the minds of men. Now, my Lords, in the midst of this controversy, some Members of this noble House have expressed themselves as being somewhat in a fog, and not able to ascertain the facts. Of course, it is difficult to ascertain facts sometimes, but I can quite imagine that on questions touching difficult points of Ritual and Liturgy, there is one guide which does lie largely to the hand of everyone. It is good sense, and good sense is a very fair guide in forming an estimate of the value of public agitations. Strong words have been used and long letters have been written, and I can quite understand that men may say, "There must be a great deal behind all his." But if I may remind your Lordships, the howling of the tempest in our own chimney is not always a true indication of the storm outside. One exercise of that good sense, I think, might be the consideration of those various ways in which different classes of mind immediately begin to act in times of popular excitement. There are men who are always ready to see evil in everything that occurs. I would venture to ask those who have taken one side of this agitation: is it too much to ask that there should be an abstention from unfortunate phrases in this matter? I have heard of a clergyman who was accused of Romanising because he altered the position of the lectern in the Church. There is another class of men who seem to see the universal in the particular. There is a certain genius in some persons for seeing the universal in every particular that occurs, and if they see one thing which they treat as outside the limits of English law and Church liberty, they presume that it exists in every part of the Kingdom. That is arguing from the particular to the general in a way which is not wise or helpful to the production of truth in such matters. I do not mean to say that after much of the agitation now going on is discounted there do not remain practices which are alien to the spirit of the English Church, and that there are Judases in our midst. Then the question arises, Who is responsible? My Lords, it is very convenient to have somebody to blame, and it is a fortunate circumstance that the Bishops exist, because they are very convenient creatures to be beaten with any stick that may come to hand. I am grateful to find this evening that the Bishops still have some friends left, and that those friends are not among the extremists on either side, a fact which encourages me to think there has been some wisdom in the course they have taken. There are those who draw beautiful pictures of what a Bishop is. If he does anything he is denounced as being a fierce tyrant, but if he does nothing, he is pictured as twiddling his empty thumbs upon his placid and prominent apron, and praying the one prayer of his life—that there may be Peace in his time. The Bishops have abstained from controversy because there has been thrown upon them the difficult and delicate part of dealing with these matters face to face with their Clergy. I do not think it has been sufficiently understood—and the remarks which have fallen from the speakers to-night show that this is so—that the position of a Bishop is three-fold—judicial, paternal, and personal—and it is this fact that has made their position the less easy to understand. My Lords, it is said that the Bishops are averse to litigation. That is certainly the case. There are many reasons against it. When I hear persons speaking of the great value of prosecution I am reminded of the Irishman's poetical horse. An Englishman landed in Ireland and was immediately assailed by a number of drivers who desired him to hire their conveyances, lie was struck by the observation of one Irishman, who said, "If you please, your honour, take my horse, for mine is a poetical horse." The Englishman hired this horse, and he found the journey a most uncomfortable one. When he reached his destination he asked the driver why he called his horse a poetical horse, and he replied, "Because his virtues are more in imagination than in reality." And when we are told of the great advantages of litigation I feel inclined to reply that they are poetical advantages. Litigation involves the necessity of definitions, and I am one of those who are very reluctant to admit that definitions are always wise. The Commission appointed to go into the question of money lending were complimented on the fact that they had not attempted to define the term "money lender," yet everybody knew what a money lender was. When you are dealing with questions that involve the spiritual welfare of mankind there is a danger lest you should press litigation so far as to lose the substantial truth. There is another reason. Why should we Bishops always be called upon to act as public prosecutors? Surely we may very fairly say we will hesitate to put the law in motion so long as we have that other weapon in our hands—the power of paternal persuasion. We believe in the power of truth to carry its own way, and therefore we believe in the power of time to make that truth manifest. Speaking not only for myself, but for all, I can assure the members of your Lordships' House, and all others, that we are not unmindful of the high trust which has been put in our charge; we are not unmindful of the glorious, days in which the Church of England took the form which she now holds; and we are not unmindful of the traditions which belong to those days, nor of the duty which falls on us of maintaining them. Therefore, I do not imagine any one of us would desire so to act as to cut off the English Church from the great historic past. We may be criticised and abused, we may make mistakes also, for we are men, but nevertheless we are men sincerely attached to the Church of England—to the Reformed Church of England—and we are prepared to do our best and bear everything in the way of misrepresentation if we can only hand on to those who come after us the priceless heritage of this Church untarnished by scandal, unshackled by unnecessary restrictions, and certainly unnarrowed by any Party bias.


My Lords, I was very glad to hear from the last words of the right rev. Prelate, who has just spoken, that he expressed his attachment to the Reformed Church of England. That, I think, expresses the sentiment largely held by the Laity who belong to the Church. It is as a Reformed Church, and only as a Reformed Church, that they wish to see it maintained. I wish to say one word upon a point which seems to me to have been almost overlooked by every speaker tins evening—namely, that we in these discussions are dealing with a Church established by law, and, whatever may be the conscientious scruples—and I most entirely respect conscientious scruples—of any man on this subject, we must remember this: it is a Church established by law, and it is essential to the management of that Church that the law of the Church should be respected and enforced. As to how it is to be enforced, I suppose there are none of us who are not perfectly aware of the extreme delicacy of that subject, and of the difficulties in the way of action by those who are entrusted with the duty. Notwithstanding, it is well to remember that in the eyes, I am convinced, of the great mass of the Laity of the Church of England, it is expected that the Church will be maintained as established by law; and I would remind the noble Viscount who sits on the Bench behind me, and who has spoken on this subject this evening, that it is vain to disregard the fact that this Church is regulated to a large extent under what is known as the Act of Uniformity. There may be things in that Act with which we may not agree. Still, it is the charter under which the Church holds its position, not as a spiritual Church, but as a Church established by the law of this country, and enjoying certain fixed emoluments. Many persons have felt what Sir William Harcourt has felt, that no clergyman is justified in receiving the emoluments of the Church who does not obey the law by which the Church is regulated. That seems to me a fundamental principle which it is always necessary to bear in mind. Subject to that, I agree with the noble Lord, the Earl of Cranbrook, that the Church of England should be a comprehensive Church. I do not believe it could fulfil its duties if the reins were drawn so tight as to exclude from it any school of thought which might reasonably find a place within the Church. There is no subject, I think, less fitted for discussion in Parliament than the doctrines of religion; but, still, in a discussion of this kind, we must not shrink from saying what are the points which we believe are of importance, and I have not heard anyone mention those points on which the Laity feel strongly. I believe that they feel very strongly indeed as to what is alleged to be—I do not profess to have accumulated the facts, nor do I assert what particular practices may or may not be involved —but there is no doubt that there is a widespread belief among the Laity that there are clergymen of the Church of England who practise the worship of the Virgin and the worship of saints. There are clergy we know, who practise the reservation of the Sacrament, and ignore the plain and imperative directions of the Prayer Book. There are also others who think they are justified in praying for the dead. I have not the smallest desire to introduce into this discussion any consideration of how far the opinions of those who practise these particular forms of worship are right and conscientious. All I say is, they are absolutely inconsistent with the principle of our Reformed Church, and there cannot be a doubt that it is the belief—it may be a belief which is not fully founded on facts—that there are a considerable and increasing number of the Clergy of the Church of England who hold those doctrines and practise those ceremonies which I think have stirred so much the Laity of the Church in the present crisis. That being the case, I would strongly hope that the Bishops in their action will not shut their eyes to these facts, and if it be, as I cannot help thinking it will be, within their power so to discourage and even deal with those Clergy who do indulge in those practices, and who, in the opinion of many people, are deliberately defying the law, they may succeed in calming what is now a considerable agitation, and one which might possibly, I do not say probably, burst into a storm which, when once aroused, may lead to consequences which no one in this House could but deplore. I will say one word upon a point which I think we have all paid attention to— namely, the announcement of the Most Rev. Primate that a particular mode is to be established of dealing with the Clergy in the sense of one of the injunctions of the Prayer Book, namely, that: they should go to their Bishops in case they have any doubt as to the interpretation of the Rubrics. Far be it from me to discourage anything which would prevent litigation. Though litigation is unavoidable as a last resort, anything which, can diminish litigation is always desirable in lay matters, and still more is it in the highest degree desirable in matters affecting the Church and religion. As to the mode of carrying into effect the plain injunction of the Prayer Book, I am not disposed to criticise those who are far more able to judge than I am—namely, the Archbishops— what is the best mode of carrying that into effect. I would only express this caution. If it were taken in any sense to form a kind of Court which it would appear would be set up to decide what properly belongs to the Civil Courts which administer the ecclesiastical law, I should look upon the proceedings with suspicion, not because I mean to express doubt as to the fairness and impartiality of the Archbishops, but because I think it might encourage what seems to me a most dangerous doctrine, which I think I am not wrong in ascribing to the noble Viscount (Viscount Halifax) and his friends, that they are not prepared in the last resort to submit to the civil law of this country in reference to the administration of the ecclesiastical law according to the Act of Uniformity. That seems to me to be an extremely dangerous doctrine, because I think it strikes at the root of the Church as an established Church, and I am speaking entirely from that point of view. Personally, I have no objection to Disestablishment, but that is not a question of practical politics now. We all, I imagine, approach this question with this view, that the controversies at present raging in the Church should be settled, and that there should be peace in it, in which case, I believe, there would be no immediate prospect of Disestablishment. My Lords, I have said as much as I desire to say on the subject. I did not like to remain entirely silent. It is a subject which we all desire should not have to be discussed much in Parliament, but I wish to impress this on the House, that in the last resort Parliament will have to be appealed to, and what we who wish well to the Church now desire is that the action of the Bishops should be such as to remove what I may call the blots on the Church that at present exist, and to bring the subject into such a condition that there may be peace restored to the Church. One single other remark I wish to add. I was struck by the account which the noble Viscount gave of the work done by certain clergy in London. He mentioned, I think, St. Alban's, and the admirable efforts made by the congregation of that church to support their clergyman, and to enable him to carry out the good works in which he is engaged. But when he was speaking it seemed to me that he was almost approaching the subject from the point of view of the sect of Congregationalists. The Church of England is not a Congregational Church. It is one body regulated by law and established as one body, and however anxious men may be to carry their own particular views into effect, and however beneficent some of those views may be, still it is not consistent with the welfare of the Church that beyond certain limits there should be a departure from her usual practices. The Church of England has always been comprehensive, and I feel as strongly as any man that up to a certain point, if it is to exist and be useful, comprehensive it must remain.


My Lords, I am very glad to hear what has fallen from the noble Earl who has just sat down, because it leads me directly to one thing I think it very important to say, and that is, that it appears to me that all this agitation amongst the Laity—and especially amongst the Laity belonging to the educated classes—arises very much more from a belief that the doctrines of the Church of England are imperilled than from a dislike to the ceremonies which have been introduced in various churches outside the ordinary ceremonies sanctioned by the Church. I think it right to say at once that, on the question of doctrine, I do not think there has been any remissness on the part of any Bishop in insisting upon the 'true doctrines being observed. When I was in the Diocese of London I never passed over any case brought before me of the Invocation of Saints or the Worship of the Virgin. Such a matter as that I have dealt with, using the coercive powers I had and which, of course, in my own Diocese I still have, in the discharge of my official duty. It did not happen that any such case was brought before me which necessitated going into a Court of Law, and I do not know of there having been any such cases at all which would have imposed such necessity, though I have no doubt there were other cases besides those which I knew of. But on the point of doctrine, I may assert, without the smallest fear of being contradicted, that whenever the Bishops came across any instance of a distinct departure, such as Lord Kimberley has just mentioned, from the doctrines of the Church, it has been dealt with firmly and as speedily as possible. There are, of course, great varieties in the breadth of the comprehension of the Church of England, and of doctrinal opinions in the Church, and I do not think that the Laity are quite aware of the breadth which has been given to the Church in this respect by the action of the Supreme Court of Appeal—the Court of Privy Council. In my charge at Canterbury I pointed out what a very wide range of doctrines was allowed according to the decision of the Court of Law. I did not on that occasion give any opinion of my own, but I pointed out exactly with regard to the Eucharist what, according to the decisions of the Court, the Church of England taught, what it allowed to be taught, and what it refused to allow to be taught. I do not think I departed in any degree from the rule laid down by the Supreme Court in that matter. There are other cases in which doctrines are concerned, but I can say, without any hesitation, that there have been no cases where doctrines were distinctly concerned in which the Bishops have hesitated to act, and to act firmly and decisively. I share with a great many other people the belief that the fewer prosecutions we have the better. I share it certainly with the great majority of the people of this country of all sorts of opinions. I do not remember actually vetoing any but one case in the Diocese of London, and that was the proposed prosecution in connection with the Reredos erected in St. Paul's Cathedral. I refused to allow the prosecution to go on, because it seemed to me that in principle the matter had already been decided and that it would be mischievous to make fine and subtle distinctions which really did not touch the general principle at all. I cannot remember any particular case in which I was called upon to act. I may have discouraged prosecutions, but I certainly did not veto them. I was not certainly by myself. It was a very general opinion prevailing throughout the whole body of the Church. The cases of veto which Lord Kinnaird has put before you and those mentioned by the Bishop of Winchester do not really contradict each other. The Bishop of Winchester did not go back forty-five years, but dealt with only the last ten or twenty years. That in the course of forty-five years there should have been twenty-one vetoes does not seem to me so very serious a matter, but it is quite true that I did not encourage the Church Association—I do not think I ever positively refused to allow the Court to be open to them, but I did discourage them from going there for the reason I have given. The present agitation, I am convinced, is based upon the belief that there is a great deal of Romanism in the Church. Now in a great many of these cases I have taken a good deal of pains to ascertain what was the real feeling in regard to these ceremonies, and I venture to say that the amount of anything like Romanism is exceedingly small. I do not say there are not men who have gone beyond the limits of the doctrines which the Church of England prescribes. I do not mean that there are not some here and there, but I am sure they are very few, and I am quite certain in the vast majority of the cases in which the Ritual has been complained of, the Clergy who are indulging in these Ritual irregularities have no desire whatever to join the Church of Rome themselves or to get others to join that Church. The mischief of these excesses in Ritual is in reality the mischief that is done by accustoming people to a Ritual unlike what they have known as that of the Church of England, and accustoming them to one which is like that which they would find in the Church of Rome. That is a very mischievous thing; so, too, I think it is a mischievous thing that the clergy should speak about "Mass." It is not because the word itself really conveys anything wrong, but because it is so far a sort of introduction to the Church of Rome, and there are weak people who, if they are accustomed to the use of such phraseology, find it much more easy to slip over the border than they otherwise would. All this, no doubt, is mischievous, and it is time—I have no doubt about that—that these Ritual irregularities should be very carefully looked into, and that they should in all cases be stopped where they go beyond the Law. But, my Lords, in dealing with cases of this sort, you cannot imagine the difficulty any Bishop necessarily has, because we are looking to something which very often does not occur to the minds of other people. We cannot help looking to the main purpose for which the Church exists. We are thinking of men who are at work in the Church with the aim of bringing people to the foot of the Cross. We cannot exclude that consideration; it is impossible; and when you find that a man who is, perhaps, very foolishly going into all sorts of Ritual excesses, is at the same time a devoted servant of the Lord, and devoted to the work which is assigned him to do, you cannot help feeling that you must exercise great delicacy and care before you interfere with such work as his. Archbishop Tait, as you know, carried the Public Worship Regulation Act, and he it was who, nevertheless, stopped the prosecution of Father Lowder at the East India Docks. I was talking with him not long afterwards, and he told me, "I looked into the man's work, and I could not go on with any prosecution or allow it." You must make allowances for Bishops when they are doing the work of the Church having such feelings, and recognise that they cannot in a hurry put down the Clergy who are engaged in such work as this, even though they may have something irregular in the Ritual which the practise in their churches. My Lords, it is for this reason that, although we are all quite determined that we shall bring the Ritual of the Church of England within its proper lawful limits, we appeal to the Laity generally to give us time to go into the matter, and not to expect that, because there has been this agitation, in the course of two or three months the whole thing will be altogether changed. We cannot do it in the time. We cannot do it consistently with any regard for the work of the Church as a whole. I have been asked to explain what I mean by the proposal which the Archbishops have made to hear the Clergy in defence of their practices. The Prayer Book distinctly tells the Clergy that they ought to come to the Bishops, and, if necessary, to the Archbishops, for instructions as to how they are to obey the directions of the Prayer Book, and, generally speaking, they have obeyed until lately. Is it unnatural they should say, as many of them do, "We want at any rate to be heard"? I think it is very natural indeed that they should make such a request, and I think it is no more than wisdom to grant it. The tribunal that is proposed is nothing more than the tribunal which the Prayer Book sets up. The Prayer Book distinctly puts it on the Bishops and Archbishops to settle these matters if they can, and we are aiming at willing obedience. We know the difference between willing and compulsory obedience. We desire that the Clergy should take the advice that we give them in the spirit which ought to prevail between a clergyman and his Bishop. We desire to have them with us in any change we think it right to make. We shall not certainly shrink from declaring what we believe to be the law. A little while ago I delivered a charge, in which I described what I believed to be the law myself. But it was no more, of course, than a description of what I believed to be the law, and, if I were wrong, certainly I should be prepared to say that in this particular or in that particular I was mistaken. At any rate, let is hear all that can be said about it, and let us decide after such hearing. It is quite possible, of course, that we may not get complete and willing obedience, and we must then look to see what next must be done. I object very strongly to using the language of menace when the whole purpose of my action and the action of the Bishops generally is to bring the Clergy to reason, not by threats, but by conciliation; and I do believe there will be very few indeed who will refuse ultimately to submit to the authority of the Archbishops, given after fair hearing of all that they have to say. If, after all, we succeed in bringing about the obedience of the Clergy generally—and there are still a few who stand out and refuse altogether to obey—we must consider carefully what step is next to be taken. I have never said, and I certainly do not mean to say, that we shall not have recourse to the Courts of Law; but we really ought, for the sake of the Church—for the sake of the work the Church is doing—to try every means before we take those harsh means with which the Law Courts supply us. I appeal to the great body of the Laity of this country to support the Bishops in quietly endeavouring to set these matters right, as I assure you we really mean to do. I appeal to the great body of the Laity to support the Bishops in thus endeavouring to use the office which they hold in the Church, and not by strong language and intemperate speech to make it very difficult indeed to do what we are aiming at doing. My Lords, I know very well that the Laity have their rights. God forbid I should refuse to any Layman his rights if I could possibly procure them for him, and I certainly maintain that the rights of the Laity must be respected and regarded. Certainly they will never be disregarded by me, and I hope that this open statement of what the Bishops are aiming at doing will satisfy your Lordships that we really are not indifferent to the present state of things, and certainly not indifferent to the rights claimed on behalf of the Laity of the Church to have the services which are regulated for them by the Church's Law.

House adjourned at twenty-seven minutes past seven of the clock, till Friday at a quarter past four of the clock.