§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
My Lords, I rise to ask the Bishop of London whether, in his letter of 22nd February 1899, addressed to Colonel Fitzpatrick, and published in "The Times" of 10th March 1899, with regard to the use of incense and of lights' in procession, he intends, by his reference to the submission of such questions for decision to the Archbishop, to state that such decision has any authority to alter the law as already declared by Courts of competent jurisdiction. I desire at the same time to ask the right reverend Prelate a further question—namely, whether he has read the letter of Mr. Cavalier in "The Times" of 17th March, in reference to the proceedings of the Rev. A. C. Bridge, and whether he can confirm the statements therein made respecting that reverend gentleman; whether Mr. Bridge is still a curate of St. Martin's, North Kensington; and whether the Bishop proposes to take any proceedings in reference to the matter? With the permission of the House, and, I think, perhaps for the convenience of my right reverend Friend, I propose to ask these two questions together, and I shall make, in the course of my remarks, statements upon the two. In regard to the first question, I daresay your Lordships' attention was called at the time to a correspondence that passed between the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London and Colonel Fitzpatrick. I do not think it expedient, even if it were desirable, that your Lordships' time should be occupied by entering upon a parochial quarrel between a clergyman and an Irish colonel; but in connection with that matter one or two points have arisen of more than mere local interest, and points affecting the genera‡ condition of the Church, and also affecting public principle. Colonel Fitzpatrick—if I am speaking in the recollection of your Lordships—you will remember, wrote, as an aggrieved parishioner, a somewhat long letter to the Bishop of London, in which he complained of a long list of irregularities, if they were not illegalities, perpetrated in a certain church. As I have said, I shall net go into the points in Colonel Fitzpatrick's letter, which the right 97 reverend Prelate did not answer; but the right reverend Prelate, in regard to two particular matters—the use of incense and of lights in procession—stated, in his reply to Colonel Fitz-patrick, that they had been referred for decision to the Archbishop. The words of the right reverend Prelate were-—The questions of the use of incense and of lights in procession have been submitted for decision to the Archbishop.Now, my Lords, I should like, first of all, to ask the right reverend Prelate upon what lawful or other authority these questions have been submitted to the Archbishop. There can be no question as to the illegality. I am not going, and I am sure it is not the wish of your Lordships to go, into the question of whether these particular Ritualistic practices are desirable or not, but the illegality of the use of incense and of lights in procession cannot be questioned. Incense was condemned as illegal by Sir Robert Phillimore, as Dean of Arches, and it has also been condemned by the Privy Council, consisting of the highest and greatest Ecclesiastical lawyers, and on which the Archbishop of York at the time, a man of the the greatest possible acumen and ability, sat. There can be no question, therefore, as to the illegality, as pronounced by competent courts‡ of law, of both these matters. Then we come to the question, What is this tribunal to which the right reverend Prelate refers? The Attorney-General, in reply to a question addressed to him by Mr. Mellor on this matter, stated that this tribunal was not a court at all; it had no power to enforce any decisions, and, more than that, it must, by the very nature of circumstances, be a court which can only hear one side of the question, for I cannot imagine that any aggrieved layman would be so ill-advised as to surrender his position, or to submit himself to a tribunal which is illegally constituted, and which has no power to enforce its decision. We have, then, my Lords, to ask ourselves what is the object, and what can be the effect, of this tribunal? I maintain, with great respect to both the Archbishops, that this tribunal will be either useless or mischievous, and probably both. I maintain that it will be useless if the object of the tribunal 98 is to influence submission on the part of my noble Friend opposite (Viscount Halifax) and his friends, and I am induced to take this view by the public utterances of two friends of mine, both of them representative and distinguished members of that body. Now, what did my noble Friend himself say to the delegates of the English Church Union, as reported in "The Times" of March 1st? At that meeting of delegates my noble Friend, speaking of this tribunal, made use of these words—It was their duty and their wisdom to make the most of such opportunity for the hearing of spiritual matters by the Archbishops. They should do so with the hope and confident expectation that the decisions given would make for peace. But, of course, no one could pledge himself to a decision before it was given.My noble Friend accepted the decision of the Court in a way in which I am sure everybody would like to accept the decisions of Courts—he said he would accept it so far, and so far only, as it was agreeable to his own view. Now, my Lords, allow me to refer your Lordships to the speech of another very distinguished member of the English Church Union. There was a meeting of the East London Church Fund held at the Mansion House on the 20th of March. At that meeting the Bishop of Stepney said, respecting the East London Church Fund—When the Bishop reported that he had given an order to a church, and that it was not obeyed, any grant made by this society would at once be stopped.Well, my Lords, that seems to me a very reasonable and a very necessary condition. However, my Friend, Mr. George Russell, at once got up and said, "Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take," and went on to say that—if he understood the Bishop of Stepney aright, any clergyman in East London who disregarded an episcopal admonition with regard to disputed points of ritual would find his grant withdrawn. Any of them who might be so dealt with he invited to go to the West End, where, if there were no organisations, there were at least individuals who would sec that they did not suffer because they had paid obedience to what they believed to be the Church's law.I think the most reverend Prelates must be possessed of a great deal more 99 faith than reason if they suppose that, by deciding in accordance with the decision of the court of law, they will meet with the approval or submission of those who differ from them on this point. I will venture to quote to your Lordships the authority upon this matter of a very great, a very good, and a very distinguished man. I do not think, my Lords, that the authority of the late Lord Selborne is one that is likely to be disregarded by those who are strong Churchmen or members and friends of the Established Church. I daresay many of your Lordships may already have read his "Personal and Political Memoirs," which have recently been published. In those Memoirs, speaking of the English Church Union, he uses these singularly prophetic words—It sets itself by degrees more and more against all existing authority in the Church of England, whether of Courts or of Bishops who followed the judgments of Courts, having itself no species of authority. The danger of such an imperium in imperio and its fundamental inconsistency with Church principles may have been the reason why such men as Sir John Patteson and Sir John Coleridge withdrew from it.No words of mine can add weight to the words of Lord Selborne, who has put so clearly and tersely the attitude of this body in the Church of England; but I venture to say that if this tribunal is not useless, its effect will be mischievous. Supposing that the tribunal, contrary to the express statements and decisions of the Privy Council and of the courts of law, decided in favour of these practices, what is the practical position? The practical position is this—that the Bishops are unable to change the law, they are unable to make an illegal thing legal, but the effect will be that they will be able, by the abuse of an Act of Parliament, and by the interposition of the Episcopal Veto, to prevent the law from taking its due and proper course. That is a position which is a very dangerous one, and one almost as much to be deprecated as the other. Now, in regard to my second question, I do not desire to enter upon the personal, and, if I may say so, the domestic story and incidents relating to the son of Mr. Cavalier; they are very painful, they are very distressing, and it must be admitted, in 100 all fairness, that the testimony of a young and over-wrought and unstrung boy is not to be depended upon. I wish your Lordships to understand that in this matter I do not wish to question the opinion of any gentleman, and I see that Mr. Bridge, the clergyman affected, has denied certain statements in the letter on the part of the boy. As one gentleman to another, I am, of course, prepared to accept his denial without question and without reserve; but, my Lords, there is a matter which has not been denied. Mr. Bridge has admitted, first of all, that he did hear the boy's confession without obtaining the consent of the parent, and Mr. Bridge has admitted—that is the whole gravamen of the charge I bring in regard to this matter—that he did give at such a time, at the time of receiving the boy's first confession, Cardinal Manning's Manual. I cannot agree with the right reverend Prelate that it is any question whether this was the first and the last time he ever gave him a Roman Catholic book. It was the first time, of course, because it was the first opportunity he had, but the point of principle is, does Mr. Bridge repudiate, or has Mr. Bridge repudiated, the doctrine and the teaching in that book? That book inculcates, as, indeed, my Lords, we should expect it to inculcate, as a Roman Catholic book—and I wish to speak without any disrespect, but with all respect, of the principles of Roman Catholics—that book inculcates that the sacrament of absolution and of confession with absolution, is the only revealed channel of the pardon of our Lord to those who fall from baptismal grace. I need not remind your Lordships of the definite and distinct words of the Prayer Book in reference to this matter—There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, i.e., Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. Those five commonly called Sacraments, of which penance is one, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel; for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.My charge against the right reverend Prelate, if I may say so, is this: Putting a book of that kind, a book which inculcates these principles and these views, into the hands of a young man at his first confession, at the time when he is most impressionable, when, indeed, he 101 would expect that those in a position of trust would speak to him on religious matters in the fullest and deepest sense—it is not a question whether this was the first or the last time these doctrines were openly and avowedly put forward in the name and on the authority of a Cardinal of a different creed. We have a right to expect that, when a. curate, who can be proceeded against without difficulty and delay, put into the hands of young men a book of this kind, teaching doctrines avowedly opposite to those of the Communion to which he belonged. his conduct should be condemned as rendering him undeserving of confidence or a position of trust. I hope the right reverend Prelate will be able, in the course of this discussion, to speak in somewhat stronger language than he used in his letter. It is not that we want this book or that book condemned, or this action or that action condemned as imprudent, but we want every clergyman in the Church of England who inculcates doctrines of this kind to know that they are not fulfilling their proper position of trust. The name of another clergyman—Mr. Wason—has been mentioned in relation to this matter, and I think I ought to tell your Lordships that I wrote to the Bishop of Southwell and asked him whether it was true, as stated in the letter to "The Times." that this man was a curate of Holy Trinity. Ilkeston, in his diocese, and whether he intended to take any proceedings in the matter. I regret that it was from a bed of sickness my right reverend Friend the Bishop of Southwell has written me a letter, from which I will read the following extract, which is a straightforward answer to my letter—In regard to Mr. Wason's employment in this diocese, my simple answer is that Mr. Wason is not a curate of Holy Trinity, Ilkeston, though he had been assisting as a visitor for some time without my knowledge. He has since applied to me to be licenced as curate, but I was unable to give him any hope of obtaining such licence.Now, my Lords, I come to another matter which has reference to this question. The very strong feeling against auricular confession has more than once been expressed in this House, and on a recent occasion those right reverend Prelates who did speak expressed themselves most strongly and most pointedly against such a practice, but I regret to say that I am forced to believe that in 102 this matter they do not speak the mind of a united Episcopal bench. Yesterday morning I had placed in my hands a notice, which I shall allude to presently, which was distributed on Sunday last at St. Saviour's Diocesan Church. As soon as I was able to verify the authenticity of this document I at once communicated, by letter, with the Bishop of St. Albans, whom I regret is not in his place this evening, informing him that I was going to refer to the matter in the course of my speech. Now, my Lords, what does this paper tell us? It is a paper that was distributed on Sunday last, and it gives a long list of the different ceremonies during Holy Week and Easter, and at the end of the paper I find the following notice—The clergy will be in the Church for the purpose of giving help in preparation for Easter Communion, and to receive confessions as follows:—The Diocesan Missioner on Monday. Thursday, on Good Friday, and on Holy Saturday at any time by appointment. The Assistant Missioner from Monday till mid-day on Maundy Thursday (with the exception of Tuesday morning). on Good Friday at 9 p.m., and on Holy Saturday at any time. The Rev. George Edwards on Good Friday and on Holy Saturday by appointment.I would venture to remind your Lordships of the language which was used by one who was a great ornament of your Lordships' House, and, perhaps, one of the greatest and the most eloquent speakers that ever addressed this House—I allude to Dr. Magee, the late Archbishop of York. I do not feel that anything I say can better put, or put in more burning or eloquent language, his views upon this system of auricular confession in the Church of England than the following quotation—I denounce the system as an outrage on decency and common sense, as well as on God's word, which allows an innocent child to have her feelings lacerated, her conscience defiled by coarse hands that have been dabbling in filth. The confessor becomes immediately master of the conscience of the penitent… who sets himself up as a spiritual tyrant." "I maintain that taking God's place without God's attributes it is impossible, however prudent the priest may be, to avoid instilling vice by the confessional.What is the language of a distinguished and worthy successor of that Archbishop, the present Archbishop of York? In his Advent Pastoral to the 103 clergy of his diocese last year, Archbishop Maclagan said—The Church evidently regards it (confession) as something very solemn and momentous in its character." "It is clear that the use is intended to be exceptional and not habitual.But, my Lords, is the system that goes on either through gross ignorance of what takes place in his own mission church and done by his own diocesan missioner, or is it with the consent and approval of the Bishop himself, and is confession there either solemn or momentous in its character? My Lords, just for one moment bear in mind the conditions of the present period of the year. Who are those people who are most likely to be asked and invited to come in this promiscuous way to confession next week in this Church? Young men and probably young girls just confirmed‡ Who are to be the persons to whom they are to confess? Young men probably, certainly men of no experience of life, probably unmarried, and of no age, without any of the conditions, without any of the restrictions which the Roman Church—knowing the evils and knowing the grave abuses which surround the system of confession—has imposed upon it as a protection and safeguard ‡ My Lords, I feel that this is a burning question now, and I believe it will become still more burning every day until it is put down. I regret most deeply that the most reverend Prelate should look upon this question, and upon the feelings which are aroused by questions of this kind, as a mere passing excitement—as a little fire among a little straw. My Lords, I beg to differ, with great respect, but with great earnestness, from that attitude and that view. If it were right, I do not believe it would be possible to lull the public conscience and the public mind into a sense of false security, for I believe, and I am thankful to believe, that, in spite of the treachery of some of the clergy to the masses of my fellow-countrymen, the Protestant faith still speaks as a living and a vital force. It is true, my Lords—it may be, perhaps, profoundly true—that, as the noble Marquess the Prime Minister has said, there is at this time a dislike to coerce men's consciences. It may be, my Lords, that there is a growing dislike and a growing repugnance to inter- 104 fere with religious opinions or with the manner in which men choose to clothe their religious opinions. That is a generous and a noble instinct, with which I have the deepest and most profound sympathy. Nothing is so odious, nothing is so hateful, as religious controversy. But, my Lords, that instinct leads us to a conclusion which in itself many men would deplore, and which is a conclusion of far-reaching and very deep significance. It means that men are questioning to-day, in a manner and to an extent that they have never questioned before, the value of an Established Church. My Lords, I beg to ask the two Questions which stand in my name.
§ * THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, I do not rise for the purpose of taking any part in the Debate which my noble Friend has raised, but he has referred, and referred in terms for which I thank him, to the opinions which my father held in relation to the first' part of the subject he has brought before your Lordships. I am quite sure my noble Friend is the last man who would wish, however inadvertently, to give an erroneous impression of the views of my father in respect to the first part of the subject brought forward by him to-day. He quoted my father's words in the recently published "Memorials" on the subject of the English Church Union, and he quoted them quite correctly. My father always had a strong dislike to these societies within the Church, but my noble Friend brought in my father's name in connection with the attack which he made on the hearing by——
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I beg my noble Friend's pardon. I merely quoted words of the late Lord Selborne which my noble Friend admits were correct.
§ * THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I venture to think that anyone reading what the noble Earl has said would be inclined to gather that my father was supposed to be in general sympathy with the attitude which my noble Friend takes up in reference to the hearing of these cases and these questions by the Archbishops. At all events, that is how it struck me, and I should not be fulfilling my duty to my father if I did not take this opportunity of reminding my 105 noble Friend that in the same "Memorials" from which he has quoted, my father expressed his strong personal opinion in favour of the principle of hearing these cases by the Archbishops.
My Lords, Mr. Cavalier was a friend of mine, and this happened while we were travelling together in India. I have known him 12 or 15 years, and what he felt most strongly was that during his absence it was possible for a boy attending a public school to be exposed to strong influences of the character referred to. I believe the statement which was made in the paper to be essentially true, but Mr. Cavalier has started with a deputation to Australia, and therefore has not been able to refer to anything further since the correspondence came out
THE BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, it may suit your convenience if I deal with the greatest brevity with the questions put to me by the noble Earl. I did not come prepared to take part in a general Debate on the whole policy of the Church, nor do I think any public advantage would be served by my doing so. But I would state, in answer to the first question, that by my reference in the letter, which the noble Earl has quoted, to the submission of these questions to the Archbishop I had no intention whatever of stating that-such a decision had any authority to alter the law as already declared by courts of competent jurisdiction. But what occurred was, I found, upon asking a clergyman to discontinue the services complained of, that he expressed considerable doubts about the matter. I thereupon referred the solution of these doubts to the Archbishop, in accordance with the order prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. As to the wisdom of that reference, I really cannot myself presume to judge, and I should venture to urge that the wisdom of it, and of any course of action, is to be determined in reference to its ultimate solution. On the second point, the incident to which the noble Earl draws attention is one which I personally most sincerely deplore. There is nothing which, in common with your Lordships, I would deprecate more than any appearance of ecclesiastical inter- 106 ference with the sanctity of the relationship of domestic life, and it is lamentable that such a story as has been told to the public should have been told by an aggrieved parent. But while we all regret that fact, yet, as Lord Kinnaird has just reminded us, the two principal persons concerned have now left this country. The statement was not made public until two days after they departed, so it is impossible to attempt to apportion the various degrees of blame to all the parties concerned. But I am asked another Question—about the conduct of a clergyman in my own diocese. I have really little to add to the letter Mr. Cavalier has published from me. As you are aware, as soon as complaint was made to me, I at once inquired into the matter, and the noble Earl has spoken in language entirely justifiable about the conduct of Mr. Bridge in putting into the hands of a boy a Manual, which he undoubtedly did place in his hands. But Mr. Bridge stated to me that the book was one which he had only bought the day before and had not read, that it happened to be lying on his table, and, wishing to make the boy a present, he picked up the book and gave it to him. I naturally called his attention to the exceeding imprudence and indiscretion of such conduct, and I laid down a rule which, really, when I had laid it down, seemed to me exceedingly arbitrary. I said, "I do not think you are justified in giving to anyone, particularly a young man, a book written by a member of another Communion." But what should we say, for instance, supposing a clergyman had picked up a book written by an eminent Nonconformist Minister, and given it to the boy? There are books which are harmless, and books that are harmful, and it is, of course, difficult for any authority what-ever to act as censor of all books, and still more to regulate what books a clergyman in his private capacity should give to anyone who comes to consult him. At the same time, Mr. Bridge told me he had never before given any book of that kind, and that his giving it was entirely accidental. It. occurred in that way. Mr. Bridge is an honourable man, and I have no reason to doubt his word, much as I regret this incident should have taken place, which has been brought into prominence not really its 107 due. On the other point, of admitting boys to the confession, I also remonstrated with him most seriously. I know there is a strong feeling, and it is natural there should be, on this subject. The objection taken to confession as, a system is taken quite properly. The objection is to the system of confession, and it is anything like the introduction into the Church of England of the system of confession that has to be very carefully guarded against, but I think that that is entirely impossible, and that there is no need whatever for any really serious anxiety upon the point. It is impossible, for the simple reason that there is no means whatever of enforcing confession, or of requiring confession as a necessity for the reception of Holy Communion. That being so, it is obvious that confession must remain voluntary, and, while remaining voluntary, it it most necessary that those who can make their voices heard should on all occasions urge upon the clergy that they are not fulfilling their functions properly if they strive to use their influence to urge upon any, and particularly upon young people, the necessity or even the desirability of habitual confession. I have myself, with all the influence I possess, urged that point upon my clergy privately, and I continue to do so on all occasions on which I have an opportunity. In this particular matter, Mr. Bridge told me that this boy, who is nearly 18 years old, came to him of his own accord, that he only saw him twice, that as regards his leaving his father's house he knew nothing whatever, and ho professed to me his willingness to do all he could to secure his speedy return. I will only read to your Lordships a letter from Mr. Cavalier, which was written in answer to one from me, which he published. He said—I thank you for your kindness and for the promptness with which you have been able to attend to this matter. I feel that so far as Mr. Bridge is concerned your Lordship has dealt with it fully.That was Mr. Cavalier's opinion. I consider that there has been a great deal of culpable and blameworthy imprudence, for which I reproved Mr. Bridge. I may say he accepted my admonitions, and promised on both these 108 points—that of the giving of Manuals written by members of another Communion, and the reception of any person under age, under any circumstances whatever, to confession of any kind or sort—to discontinue the practices in future.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
The noble Earl opposite has mentioned my name in connection with this subject, and I think, though I was not in the least aware of the kind of speech which the noble Earl was going to make, that I ought to address a few remarks to your Lordships on the subject. It so happens, my Lords, that I have an extremely slight and imperfect acquaintance both with Mr. Bridge and Mr. Wason, whose names have been mentioned in the course of the present discussion. I do not think your Lordships would agree that I was acting as one who wishes to be just if I did not state one or two facts in connection with the case which I venture to think put a different light and complexion upon it. The right rev. Prelate has mentioned Mr. Bridge. He has said nothing about Mr. Wason. In point of fact, Mr. Cavalier is a young man who is interested in Church services. You may think it extremely foolish for a young man to be interested in Church services, and that it would be better for him to limit himself to his parish church. But, at all events, that a young man should be interested with what is going on in different Churches is not a very culpable offence. It appears that he was brought to Mr. Bridge's church, and that he asked that clergyman to hear his confession. The young man was perfectly entitled to do so. Mr. Bridge declined to hear it, and said he ought to think the matter well over; and it was not until some three or four weeks had elapsed that the young man came back and again asked Mr. Bridge to hear his confession, and as long as the Prayer Book remains as it is he had a perfect right to do so. Mr. Bridge did hear his confession. I should like to know what fault there is to be found with regard to Mr. Bridge in that matter. Mr. Cavalier, senior, afterwards called upon Mr. Bridge and accused him of corrupting the morals of his son, and in the end Mr. Cavalier said the matter should be referred to the Bishop, to 109 which Mr. Bridge replied, "If you do not refer it to the Bishop, I shall." So far as Mr. Bridge is concerned, I say he was perfectly innocent in the matter. If a young man, 17 or 18 years of age, goes to a clergyman and asks him to hear his confession, that clergyman is bound to hear it according to the Book of Common Prayer. The action of Mr. Wason in connection with this matter is simply this: In November he made the acquaintance of Mr. Cavalier, junior, through the intervention of some casual friend. He saw him for two or three minutes, but about Christmas time he got a letter from the young man who had introduced Mr. Cavalier to him to say that Mr. Cavalier was going to be turned out of his father's house on account of his religious opinions. Whether that was a kind of step by which parents are likely to influence their children your Lordships can judge. Mr. Wason replied that if this young man was really turned into the street by his father, and he liked to pay Mr. Wason a visit, he would try and get him some work. He heard no more about the matter until he got a telegram on 8th February, saying, "Young man coming down by next train." Was Mr. Wason to blame for that? When young Cavalier did come down Mr. Wason asked him, "Does your father know where you have gone to?" and he replied, "No." Mr. Wason insisted upon his writing to his father at once, telling him where he was; and it was owing to Mr. Wason's advice and assistance that young Cavalier went back to his father at the end of a couple of weeks. Mr. Bridge and Mr. Wason may have behaved indiscreetly, but it is quite evident that Mr. Cavalier is incompetent to manage his own family. It is quite atrocious—I use the word advisedly—to bring this kind of charge against two men without investigating the facts, and parading the men before the British public as treacherous, deceitful, and dishonourable to their engagements, when, in point of fact, the first had only done that which was allowed by the Prayer Book, and the second had sent the young man back to his father. If the noble Earl had confined himself to saying that Mr. Bridge had been guilty of indiscretion in giving Cardinal Manning's book to the young man, probably I should have entirely agreed with him; but your Lordships must see that it is not 110 a question of a particular book being given, but the practice of confession altogether that the noble Earl objects to. [Cheers.] Noble Lords may cheer, but if they want to get rid of the practice of confession let them alter the Prayer Book, and we shall know where we are. I am perfectly at a loss to know what the Bishop of St. Albans has to do with St. Saviour's, Southwark, which is in the diocese of Rochester.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
The church I was referring to was the diocesan church of St. Saviour's, near St. Albans.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. Everyone knows that confession is not food, but a medicine, which the Book of Common Prayer categorically says was introduced by our Lord in case of grievous sin, and as long as those words remain in the Prayer Book members of the Church of England will have recourse to confession, and nothing noble Lords will say on the matter will have the smallest influence. The noble Earl talks about the law of the Church of England, and affirms that the law was definitely laid down by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Will noble Lords just give themselves the trouble to go back to the history of the Church of England for the last 30 or 40 years? I suppose there never was an Archbishop of Canterbury who occupied a more commanding position, at all events in later times, than Archbishop Tait. Nobody will say Archbishop Tait began life with any special tendency to High Church principles. Archbishop Tait, in connection with Lord Shaftesbury, was more responsible than anyone else for introducing the Public Worship Regulation Act into Parliament, the object of which was to enforce upon the Church the decisions of the Privy Council. Was that Act successful? Your Lordships know, and it does not require me to press that point, that that Act was absolutely and entirely useless. I must qualify that phrase. It was not useless, because it did one thing quite effectually—it completely killed the authority of the Judicial Committee in regard to Church matters, and so much was that the. case that Archbishop Tait himself obtained the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the constitution of the 111 Ecclesiastical Courts. The inquiry proved that the contention of the High Church party was abundantly and completely justified, and that the claim of the Judicial Committee to decide the doctrine and ceremonial of the Church is no longer part of the Reformation Settlement, but is the result of an accident. Certainly it is absolutely impossible now to enforce upon the Church of England the decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Trivy Council. The noble Earl opposite has implied blame to me for having stated that fact in a recent speech on behalf of the English Church Union. I have every hope that the proposals made by the Archbishops may have the result of bringing peace to the Church; but that cannot be if it is asserted that they are the mere method and advice for enforcing by a. side wind decisions which no one would accept.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, I hope I yield to no one in this House in my desire that there should be peace in the Church. The only remark I will make concerning the speech of my noble Friend (Viscount Halifax) is this—that I do not think the attitude he assumes, or the tone of his speech, are at all calculated to encourage peace. I am not disposed to enter into an argument with him about confession, for I respect his conscientious opinions, but I hope he will excuse me when I say that if this question, which is a very serious question, is approached in the temper which he and some of his friends display, I fear that the possible chances of peace are not great. I must say one other thing. I am not going to criticise now the proposal which has been made by the Archbishops, or the probabilities of its success. If it brings peace to the Church, I shall rejoice as much as any one; but, of this I am certain, that that kind of denunciation which we have heard from the noble Viscount of the constituted tribunals of this country, which tribunals are the law of this country, will not be listened to with any acquiescence by any great body of the laity of this country. Be it as regards the Church, or the other affairs of the State, the great mass, I am convinced, of Englishmen are determined that the law of this country shall prevail on all occasions. I am not disposed to exaggerate the importance of the case 112 brought forward to-day. Of course, there will always be imprudent clergymen. The only thing I wish to criticise in the letter of the right reverend Prelate is that I wish he had used a rather stronger word than "imprudence," because I think it was a case of gross impropriety. As to the excuse put forward by Mr. Bridge for placing the book in the hands of the young man—the excuse that he had not read the book—all I can say is that no better proof could be adduced of the impropriety of his conduct. The excuse was so flimsy that it is not worthy of a moment's consideration. I have one other remark to make. The right reverend Prelate said, and I should be glad to be able to agree with him, that there is no real reason to dread the introduction of what I think he happily termed a "system of confession." We all admit that, under certain circumstances, confession is recommended in the Prayer Book; but what we object to is what is called a system of confession, and especially with regard to young people. I read with regret—but possibly it may not be a perfectly correct report—a statement of what has been said by the Bishop of Oxford when addressing candidates at a Confirmation Service at High Wycombe yesterday morning. He urged them to confess to their clergy if they had any sins which caused them uneasiness, and so obtain advice which would enable them to clear their consciences. Now, that seems to me to go further than what the Prayer Book recommends. To give a general injunction to young people about to be confirmed that they are to have resort to confession seems to me very dangerous advice, and inconsistent with the practice of the Church of England.
My Lords, I do not accept Viscount Halifax's statement of what happened with reference to Mr. Cavalier. I do not think the dates agree. I understand the boy was taken away, and did not communicate for a great many more days than has been stated by Viscount Halifax. I think the remark of the noble Viscount with regard to Mr. Cavalier's competence to manage his own family most uncalled for. I have known Mr. Cavalier intimately for 15 years, and all his children have turned out remarkably well except this one, who was entrapped away while at school.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
I know absolutely nothing as to how young Mr. Cavalier left his father's home, neither do I know anything about his being entrapped while at school. All I know is that Mr. Wason knew nothing at all about the young man coming until he arrived. I do not know anything about Mr. Cavalier, senior, but I saw a letter from the son stating that his father had beaten him severely on account of his religious opinions. However, the young man may have told lies.
§ The subject then dropped.
§ House adjourned at forty minutes after Five of the clock.