§ MR. HORSMAN
, on rising to bring forward his Motion respecting the living of Bishop Wearmouth, said that the petitions he had just presented from the 6,000 parishioners of that place and Sunderland, were themselves illustrative of it. They said that, as members of the Established Church, and representing a population of no less than 50,000, they were desirous of being continued in the blessings of its teaching and its community. They complained that, notwithstanding the enormous revenues of the parishes to which they belonged, the religious teaching for which those revenues were destined was withheld, and they asked the interference of that House to enable them to derive the advantage which the law intended they should. Their prayer was so simple in its object, and so just in itself, that he could not conceive there could be any hesitation on the part of the House to accede to it. The noble Lord at the head of the Government much misunderstood the object of the question which he put to him on a former occasion respecting Bishop Wearmouth. His object then was not to impugn any act, nor to call upon the House to impugn any proceeding of the patron of that parish; his object was to get from authority a confirmation of what had been stated, namely, that the patron had declared that the income was much too large for the incumbent, that it ought to be reduced, and the surplus applied to general parochial purposes. Having got that statement from authority, he felt that he had acquired Parliamentary ground for his Motion, which would only be prospective and not retrospective in its operation. It was not antagonistic but auxiliary to the patron, who had declared that there ought to be a redistribution of revenues preceded by inquiry; but that redistribution could not be carried out without the interference of Parliament. The living of Bishop Wearmouth might be said to be very wealthy. It nearly approached, if it did not exceed, 1033 5,000l. a year; and the manner in which it was made up was as follows: from tithes commuted, 1,500l a year; rent of glebe farm, 420l.: surplice fees, at least, 180l.; rents and wayleaves, 1,700l.; coal rents, 350l.; besides these, there was the rectory park, which, if let for building ground, for which it was well situated, had been valued at 720l.; making a total of 4,870l. He believed this to be an extremely moderate statement, and within the mark, because the coal rents were taken at an average of many years, whereas new coal grounds had been opened, which last year and the year before produced not much under 1,000l., and he believed the coal rents might be taken at least at that sum, instead of 350l. The late rector returned his net income at 2,900l., and the noble Lord stated recently his payments at 1,600l. for parochial purposes. But that was made upon a return eighteen years ago, since when new coal works had been opened. But he would admit that it was quite immaterial to his Motion whether the amount was as he calculated or not; he was willing to take it at 3,800l., as stated in that House, and the surplus expected at 1,600l. It was to that surplus that his Motion was directed. There were besides the parish church four district chapelries, and, as it frequently happened with artificial as well as natural bodies, where there was too much blood at the head, the extremities were proportionately marked by coldness and poverty. There were seen in contrast the enormously wealthy beneficed clergy, and the poor half-starved curates. In the rectory was seen an exemplification of Dives, from whose sumptuous table only a few crumbs occasionally reached his poorer brethren in the hamlets. Two of the four chapelries were not legally constituted parishes, and had only very small incomes. There were also two district churches, which, when established, were understood to be maintained out of the rectorial estate; and payments were made to them out of that estate. The incumbent of St. Thomas had the charge of a population of 10,000, for which he received 200l. a year; the other incumbent (St. Andrew's, Deptford) had the charge of 8,000 souls, and got 150l. a year. The incumbent of Ryhope, with a population of 800, received 100l. per annum; and the incumbent of South Hylton, with a population of 4,000, 80l. One of these incumbents received 200l. a year from pew rents; the other three did not 1034 derive from pew rents and all other sources more than 100l. a year amongst them. The incumbent of Deptford kept a curate, in which he was assisted by the Diocesan Society. Such, therefore, was the condition of Bishop Wearmouth. The late rector of this wealthy parish received, including the income of a stall in the cathedral, probably not less than 7,000l. or 8,000l. a year; but he was non-resident, and the parish, even in the support of curates, had been aided by church societies. As might be expected, the difficulties of those of the clergy on whom the burden fell, were considerably increased by the non-residence of the rector, and by their own poverty; and the Church was rendered less efficient in its operations, in proportion as they were circumscribed in their means. This was one of the cases in which we might be thankful that there were Dissenters in the country; for, by their means, all that had been lost to the Church had not been lost to Christianity. They had come forward with so much promptitude, that three-fourths of the worshipping community of this wealthy parish were now members of Dissenting congregations. One fact alone would show the spiritual condition of the parish in this respect. There were five churches belonging to the Establishment, and no less than eighteen places of worship belonging to the Dissenters. In the five churches were 4,200 sittings; in the Dissenters' places of worship, 14,350; the former were only moderately filled, the latter densely crowded. This was one of the many exemplifications that might be given of the fact, that wherever there were large revenues ill distributed, there the Establishmnnt was the weakest, and religion in the Establishment was most apt to languish. Such was Bishop Wearmouth, with a dense population, neglected by the Church, and the inhabitants daily falling off from it. But he had stated only one half the evil. Sunderland and Bishop Wearmouth were originally one parish; they had been disunited, but still remained, for all ecclesiastical purposes, one town and one community. Sunderland, with its population of 20,000, was probably in a still worse condition than Bishop Wearmouth. Its population was of a different kind. Bishop Wearmouth might be called "the west-end;" Sunderland was composed of the poorest and most wretched inhabitants, to whom religious teaching and superintendence were most necessary. That population was the most liable to every contagious disease and fever; and at 1035 this moment cholera was most fiercely raging there, while other parts of England were comparatively exempt. In Sunderland there were three churches, all under one rector, whose income was something under 600l. a year; and for that population and those three churches, he had the assistance of two curates, in whoso maintenance he was aided by the diocesan societies. There were, therefore, independently of the rector of Bishop Wearmouth, seven clergymen, for this population of 50,000; their average income was under 180l.; and of five of them, the average net income was under 90l. This state of things had been long felt and seriously deplored throughout the parish; but one prospect held out some distant hope of amendment. The rector was a very old man; in the course of things some change must take place before long; and as the patron of the living was also the bishop of the diocese, it was thought probable that, when that change did take place, under his paternal care, it would conduce to a very considerable improvement. Last October, the rector of Bishop Wearmouth had died; and as, though to make the opportunity still better, and the change still more blessed for the population, it happened at the same instant that there was a vacancy in the neighbouring parish of Sunderland. Both benefices, so vacant, were in the gift of the same patron, who had therefore the fullest and amplest opportunity of making any new arrangement he pleased, and thus contributing to the utmost extent to the spiritual improvement and welfare of the parishioners. Considerable sensation was created in the parish; it was felt to be a great opportunity; and, accordingly, all parties who had any influence with the Bishop, or any interest in the result, addressed him on the occasion. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated in the first week of the Session that he had corresponded with the Bishop; and rumour said that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with that scrupulous regard which they always showed for the interests of the Church, when not opposed to their own, had also given their advice to the Bishop. Memorials were addressed to him by the inhabitants both of Sunderland and Bishop Wearmouth; those memorials were before the House. They remained unanswered six weeks. These memorials were from very different parties—the vestry of Bishop Wearmouth being a self-elected body, and their proceedings being secret; while the vestry of 1036 Sunderland was elected by the ratepayers, and properly represented the inhabitants of the town. Writing to the Bishop Wearmouth vestry, and telling them the arrangements that had been made, the Bishop said—I have only fixed upon Mr. Eden, the incumbent of this place, of whose sound judgment, active but well-regulated zeal, and conciliatory manners, I have had much experience, at a great sacrifice of my own feelings, and in some degree of my own wishes.No eulogium would be passed upon Mr. Eden that he did not deserve. Appointed under circumstances which rendered him not at that time acceptable to the parishioners, he had already gained upon their respect and affections; and his ministration would probably be a great blessing. But the whole of the arrangement was certainly not satisfactory. Mr. Eden had vacated the living of Bishop Auckland, which, next to Bishop Wearmouth, was one of the richest in the diocese; the Bishop had thereupon ordained a nephew of his own, not then in holy orders, and had presented him to that living. Part of the arrangement was that the income of the new rector of Bishop Wearmouth should be limited to 2,000l.; the surplus to be placed in the hands of trustees, for a certain period, to be applied at a future time, for purposes and in proportions not yet stated. So far as that arrangement was legal, the parishioners had no complaint to make. They might have their own opinion on the subject, and might comment on what they could not altogether approve; they might believe that 2,000l. was rather excessive, and that an unnecessary contrast had been made in the course pursued towards the two rectors. The one was to have, until the month of May, the whole income accruing from the rectorial estate, to enable him to go into the rectory; the other was left in such comparative poverty that, though there was a rectory at Sunderland, he was not able to take possession of it, and had been obliged to occupy rooms in a lodging. But as far as the proceeding was legal, the parishioners bowed submissively to the law; but a portion of it was not satisfactory, and was not legal. The new rector of Bishop Wearmouth, acting no doubt from a very good intention, had got himself into a not very agreeable dilemma. There was no doubt that the proceeding on his part was simoniacal. The patron had the right to present any one whom he pleased; but with the patronage the temporalities necessarily went, and the patron had no power 1037 of interfering and keeping back a portio after the institution had taken place. In a note in Stephens's Ecclesiastical Statutes, it was distinctly laid down that—The cure of souls of every parish or parochial district belongs to, and all its emoluments are by the original founder and endower sot apart for the maintenance of the incumbent and his successors, and become vested in the existing incumbent by his institution and induction.Hence, the Bishop might give or withhold a benefice; but giving the living, he could not withhold the temporalities. In this case a condition had been made that the rector should give up his title to a certain portion of the temporalities, and, on that condition, he had been presented. Every lawyer would say that this was a case of direct simony. There was a case exactly in point, where, the patronage being in the hands of certain parishioners, they had presented on specific conditions; the court held, that the agreement entered into for the purpose of restraining the then curate from asserting his claim to the small tithes by duo course of law, and furnishing evidence against his successor, was simoniacal, and the presentation made thereon void. This was a case exactly in point. In both instances, previous to presentation, the presentee had agreed not to assert his rights to certain portions of the temporalities; and such an agreement had always been hold to be simoniacal. Putting that aside, the arrangement was unsatisfactory in other respects. It was left in such a state that, if the rector died, after several years' accumulations, these might be claimed by his representatives; or his successor, when appointed, might lay claim to the temporalities, and, if the patronage were then vested in another bishop, the whole of those temporalities might be given. The patron having endeavoured to carry out a proceeding which he had no legal power to carry out, let the House institute an inquiry with the view of carrying out an arrangement which the patron himself had admitted to be desirable. There were strong reasons why Parliament should take this question into its own hands. The parishioners were anxious for it. They did not wish to express any distrust of their patron; still, if there was to be an inquiry, and a redistribution of the revenues, they should have more confidence in its being done under the authority of Parliament than under that of the patron and his present advisers. These advisers were the very same gentle- 1038 men, the self-elected body, who had gone to him and represented themselves as speaking in the name of the inhabitants, from whom their proceedings were kept secret. He had made certain inquiries of them which would have been more properly put to those responsible for the spiritual condition of the parish. If the in habitants felt distrust as to those arrangements, they were certainly justified by past circumstances in the government of that parish. Let any one go through the length and breadth of the land, and observe the evils, abuses, and eyesores which, in different dioceses, pervaded the functions and diminished the usefulness of our ecclesiastical and parochial system, and they would find that there was not one of those evils of which there was not an exemplification, in an abridged form, in this unfortunate parish of Bishop Wear-mouth, whose wealth had been the attraction of every possible abuse. There were abuses and defects which operated most injuriously upon the material agencies of our ecclesiastical system: first, the existence of these immense parishes, with enormous populations, and most deficient spiritual instruction; secondly, the immense disproportion between the labour and the payment of the clergy, and between the income of the one clergyman and another; then, the comparative isolation of the poorest and most neglected of the clergy, and the want of all countenance and sympathy for them by their diocesan. There was also the question of the abuse of patronage, which, instead of being exercised as a public trust, was too often exercised in a very different manner, so as to dishonour both the Church and the patron. Then there was the glaring and gross waste of Church property, which was going on not only unchecked, but absolutely, in some instances, encouraged by those who had authority to check it. All these evils and abuses were here congregated. The abuse of patronage, in particular, was strongly felt by the parishioners; and any one looking through the rich livings in the patronage of the Bishop of Durham, and observing how the six which had fallen vacant in the episcopacy of the present prelate had been disposed of, must be convinced that the view practically taken in his case, and taken in many others, was, that the patronage of the Church was not a public trust, to be used for a sacred purpose, but might be used to gratify the private wishes and feel- 1039 ings of the individual patron. The waste of church property was a still more serious matter; its extent was such that it was impossible to contemplate it without surprise and grief. In the parish of Bishop Wearmouth this abuse had been very recently practised, and 1,000l. a year was now received from a coal mine opened within a recent period. This being a mineral district, and the wealth of the Church there being principally mineral wealth, it was obvious that the system of spoliation there going on must he speedily arrested, or it would soon exhaust the revenues of the Church. It was so illegal that no ecclesiastical offence was visited with higher penalties. On this subject he would cite one authority, taken from what had occurred in this very diocese. In the case of "Jefferson v. Shute, Bishop of Durham," Chief Justice Eyre concluded his elaborate judgment with some observations, which had been commended by Lord Chancellor Eldon, and which were deserving of general attention. He said—Few who know the hon. and right rev. Prelate, who have been witnesses to the munificence which he has displayed in repairing and beautifying the fabric of his church, of his castles, and his palaces, will suspect him of having intentionally wasted the possessions of the see of Durham. At the same time, it is by no means impossible that he, as well as many other Churchmen, may unwarily have slid into this heavy ecclesiastical offence, which all agree to be a cause of deprivation, and which may probably be found to be also an injury cognisable by some of the King's temporal courts.In spite of this law, so strong and so decided, the spoliation and waste in the diocese of Durham had gone on as profusely and as notoriously as if there had boon no law on the subject. From the highest dignitary to the lowest incumbent the system prevailed; it was one perpetual scramble of busy, incessant, rapacious, active digging, as it was in California itself. And who was to interfere? Certainly not the bishop of the diocese; for while a comparatively poor rector added a few hundreds to his income, thousands found their way into the episcopal coffers; and the bishop, who had been intended by Parliament to have his income reduced to 8,000l., had received in one year no less than 21,000l If this spoliation went on—if thieves had broken into the treasury of the Church in Durham—it was certainly not the diocesan who could be sent after them in pursuit—he was too heavily laden with the spoil to be able to move with much agility. This working out of minerals in the diocese of 1040 Durham was a matter of such serious importance that, before long, he hoped to make it the subject of a substantive Motion. When he had formerly alluded to the subject of Bishop Wearmouth, he had been met on the threshold by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who said it was not a question at all for Parliamentary interference, and denied that the Legislature could take cognisance of it, thereby implying that the patron was invested with certain rights and privileges which, during his lifetime, he was entitled to exercise without challenge, just as any private patron might exercise any right conferred on him by the law. He entirely denied that doctrine. Between the right of a private and a public patron there was no analogy whatever. The right of a private patron was, in the eye of the law, a private right: that of a bishop was a public right. In the one case the law held it to be personal property attached to the individual, and which he might use for his own individual profit; in the other, it was attached, not to the individual, but to the office; and every administration of it was an official act, for which he was as much responsible as any other public functionary for his acts. This was at once the law, the constitution, and the practice of the country. As to the law he need go no further than what was notorious to everybody, and what was seen every day. A private patron might acquire a right by inheritance or purchase; he might alienate it, or do with it as he pleased. But a public patron not only could not alienate or sell his right, he could not exercise the smallest prospective right, not even to make the next presentation during the lifetime of the incumbent. The law itself was specific on this point. In the case he had already cited, Mr. Justice Rooke said—"I consider the bishop as having, for a certain purpose, a fee-simple in his bishopric; but he is seised for a special intent, as a public officer, and for a public trust." He then cited Sir W. Black-stone, who said—"The design of an ecclesiastical corporation is to be the furtherance of religion, and perpetuating the rights of the Church." And Sir Edward Coke said—"Masters and fellows are seised to them and their successors for ever, in jure collegii, pro bono publico, and to pious and charitable uses." To the same effect a great variety of authorities might be cited. The highest ecclesiastical authorities all concurred in showing not 1041 only that this principle of law was correct, but that it flowed from a source which rendered it impossible that it should be otherwise. He would only mention one, that of Hooker, who said—Persons ecclesiastical are God's stewards, not only that he hath set them over his family as the ministers of ghostly food, but oven for this cause also—that they are to receive and dispose of his temporal revenues, the gifts and oblations which men bring him.And he quotes in confirmation of this view the words of Tertullian, who said—Touching such goods—the law civil, following mere light of nature, defineth them to be no man's, because no man nor community of men hath right of property in them.And again, Hooker says, in another passage—For the better information of men which carry true, honest, and indifferent minds, these things we will endeavour to make clearly manifest—first, that in goods and livings of the Church none hath property but God himself; secondly, that the honour which the clergy therein hath is to be as it were God's receivers.No one would deny, such being the law of the land, that persons in authority in the Church were vested with a public trust, proceeding from the very highest source, and held under a solemn and sacred responsibility, which those authorities insisted they could not and ought not to violate. He would briefly state what had been the practice on the subject. The last time the question was brought before Parliament was in the case of the Bishop of Peterborough, in the House of Lords. It was a much stronger case than the present, inasmuch as there was Parliamentary interference, not merely in the administration of temporalities, but with the exercise of a purely spiritual function. The Bishop of Peterborough had determined on a certain list of questions which he submitted to every candidate for ordination, and made the answers to those questions the condition of ordination. Lord Dacre presented a petition from one of those candidates, stating that he did so with a view of founding upon it an address to the Crown. The Bishop of Peterborough protested against the interference, and said there was no authority for it—that it would be a dangerous precedent, and would lead to serious embarrassment. The House did not adopt that view; Lord Harrow by, a great friend of the Church, voted for inquiry; Lord Calthorp said the conduct of the bishop ought to meet with the reprobation of the House. But the strongest denunciations 1042 were uttered by the political friends of the noble Lord. Earl Grey said that he thought the House of Lords had the power of applying a remedy, and the Marquess of Lansdowne used similar language. Not a single bishop in the House of Lords took the view of the Bishop of Peterborough. They were taunted with their silence, but not one of them ventured to vindicate the doctrine of ecclesiastical irresponsibility, of which the noble Lord unexpectedly came forward as the advocate. He dwelt more on these points, because though they did not immediately affect the Motion he was now moving, they would affect others which he should have to make ere long. He was only waiting to see what course the Government were taking with regard to those measures of ecclesiastical reform on which he had received such strong assurances from the noble Lord. He must confess he thought no great alacrity had been shown in performing those promises. He would not hastily impute blame to the noble Lord for that. He would not come prematurely to the conclusion that measures of a large and satisfactory character would not he introduced before long. There were, no doubt, obstacles in the way; but the noble Lord must have felt that these obstacles were to be apprehended, and that on the part of the episcopal bench great efforts might be made to defeat the expectations that had been held out. If that were the case, it would not he long before he tested the doctrine of episcopal irresponsibility now broached. He would invite the House to go with him from diocese to diocese, from parish to parish, and he would show them the manner in which ecclesiastical duties had been performed, the mode in which episcopal estates had been managed—in which temporalities had been administered, and patronage bestowed. The materials which he had in his possession (which, however, he did not mean to use except in the last extremity) were such as would startle both the House and the public. He would give them an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion as to the propriety of imposing responsibility and control where the want of responsibility and control had been hitherto attended with such disastrous results. But this was foreign to the present Motion. He would now only ask the House to consider the case which these petitioners presented, and the prayer which they made to the House. Their object was simple, and their prayer so moderate, that he would venture to say 1043 its rejection would lead to very serious consequences. Let them mark if the character of those districts in which these petitioners resided, as given by the Bishop of Durham himself, in a charge to his clergy on his introduction to the diocese in 1836, was correct. Every word of that charge was so admirable in its character, so truly episcopal in feeling—it showed an eye that saw so clearly, a heart that felt so warmly what was the responsibility and what the duty that devolved on him, that he would read a portion of it to the House:—Perhaps," he says, "this diocese differs from most others, if not in peculiar features of country, yet in the singular and most appalling frequency with which changes of population take place in it. There is no diocese in which so many thousands are found to lie so scattered as to be thrown at a most inconvenient distance from existing places of worship; nor is there, perhaps, any diocese in which such numerous instances occur of the inhabitants so rapidly increasing, or being so suddenly created. Where a barren moor lately presented the appearance of a desert, never inhabited, and but rarely visited by man, a railroad may perhaps be formed, or a coal-pit opened out; cottages are built, and men, women, and children appear diligently employed in gaining their daily bread, but seeking in vain for that bread which sustains the vital principle even to everlasting ages. Lastly, I fear there is no diocese which presents so many instances of redundant population and scanty endowment; for it should be remembered that, in large parishes, the care of one man, however zealous and active, will not suffice. The united exertions of two or more are probably required, while the income may not afford adequate remuneration even to the laborious and conscientious incumbent. Hence it appears that in many cases a necessity exists for the erection of chapels, and providing for the due discharge of sacred duties in them. In other cases it must be apparent that schools should be built, and diligent and well-qualified masters appointed to superintend over them. In some parishes, again, however urgent may be the want of assistance to the incumbent, his income is so limited, or his family so circumstanced, that it cannot provide him with that aid of which he is so deeply sensible his parishioners, as well as himself, stand in need. …. I am bound to say of my predecessors, that they seem to have held their almost princely revenues as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, and freely imparted to all as all had need. …. And I have only to express an earnest wish that, in any future arrangements which may be made, whether in revising such as have now received the force of law, or in any other contemplated changes, all the resources which are drawn from one part of the ecclesiastical fund of the diocese, may, as much as possible, be devoted to the assistance and improvement of the others.Having thus shown what was the condition of this diocese on the highest authority resident within it, let him show what was the condition of the population of England generally, and the character of the times 1044 which rendered great reform in the Church necessary. He held in his hand an extract from a sermon of one of the greatest ornaments which the Church had lately seen, the late Dr. Arnold, Ina sermon delivered by him in 1843, he says—Well, then, let us come to what we can conceive at any rate, and ask what would be our feelings, if this nation were visited with a season of great misery, with famine, and pestilence, and war. In this land, it is true, we know but little by our own experience of any of these things, for when pestilence did visit us a few years since, it was by no means in its most fearful form, and famine and war are strangers to us altogether; yet we well know that there are many living who have seen and suffered all these things. Now should it please God that we also should suffer them; that one or two more unfavourable seasons, added to a general depression of trade, should deepen difficulty into distress, and distress into actual starvation; that famine, as it is so apt to do, should breed pestilence; that our crowded population, so crowded for the narrow limits of our island, should increase all this misery by even worse misery of their own making; that discontent should become violence, and that tumults, and fires, and bloodshed, should rage from one end of the nation to the other, as they did a few years back in France—what account," he goes on ask—"could we give of the population committed to our care?What account, indeed, could they give, when they saw the condition of that neglected population in this wealthy parish? Truly, when they considered how the Church—and especially those who had rule and authority in that Church—had left the parish, they might feel that great responsibility rested on those who had not, as faithful stewards, turned to the best account the talent which had been intrusted to them. Let them not aggravate that responsibility, and increase the danger, by refusing the prayer of this petition. By listening to the prayer of these petitioners, this House would earn their gratitude, and would strengthen the Establishment; but, neglecting it, they would turn from this House in despair, and they would cast this reproach upon them, that, though they professed themselves favourable to ecclesiastical reform in the abstract, yet when the opportunity occurred of giving a practical proof of the sincerity of their professions, they then shrank from the test; and then these parties, finding that the Church had nothing to hope from their sympathy, and nothing to expect from their justice, would turn away, their interests neglected, their hope disappointed, and their affections alienated—and tell them that, in the treatment they had received, they had written their own condemnation, and, as 1045 far as depended on them, had pronounced their Church's doom. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be pleased to issue a Commission of Inquiry into the allegations contained in the petitions presented to this House from the parishioners of Bishop Wearmouth and Sunderland; and that the said Commissioners be directed to take into consideration the agreement stated in Parliament (on the authority of the patron of the Living of Bishop Wearmouth) to have been entered into between himself and the present Incumbent, whereby the surplus income of the Living, over and above the sum of 2,000l. a year reserved as the income of the Incumbent, is to be paid over to trustees; and to report on the best mode of appropriating that surplus to spiritual purposes connected with the two parishes, and of giving legal effect to such appropriation.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said: The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has stated that, on a former occasion, I laid down the doctrine of episcopal irresponsibility. I beg to state that I laid down no such doctrine, nor any doctrine resembling it. The hon. Gentleman has quoted various passages, unnecessary, as I think, because it could not be disputed, showing that all bishops, and persons in authority in the Church, have a responsibility cast upon them—a public trust reposed in them, and that they are bound to exercise any patronage, or any power which they have, with a due regard to the benefits of the Church, and the promotion of the religion of which they are appointed the ministers. Of this there can be no doubt whatever. It is, however, a very large step to go from that doctrine of episcopal responsibility, and to say that, in each particular place where a bishop has exercised the patronage vested in him, and bestowed a living upon a particular person, with certain duties and trusts annexed to it, that in such a case the House will be called upon to interfere and give its opinion as to whether such patronage has been rightly and properly exercised or not. While I quite agree in this general statement of responsibility as stated by the hon. Member for Cockermouth, I do not think it would be convenient that the House should enter into each case of episcopal patronage which may be brought before us by any hon. Member, sometimes, perhaps, by a member of the Church of England, and sometimes by an hon. Member who is not a member of the Church, being called upon to discuss these things with an imperfect knowledge of the whole transaction. With 1046 respect to the acts of the Bishop of Durham, or any other bishop whose distribution of patronage may hereafter, encouraged by this example, be brought before the House, there could be no person present authorised or enabled to speak as to the facts of the distribution of such patronage. It did so happen in this particular case, that to my right rev. Friend the Bishop of Durham, whose friendship I am not at all ashamed to own even after all the imputations which have been cast upon him by the hon. Member, I did write a private letter on the subject of his patronage of the parish of Bishop Wearmouth, not at all in the sense in which the hon. Member for Cockermouth has referred to it, but a letter merely of a general character, trusting that he would get over the difficulties with which the distribution of the spiritual cure of so large a parish must be connected. The hon. Gentleman, in proposing this Motion for a Commission to inquire into what has been done at Bishop Wearmouth, and with a great deal of imputation against the Bishop of Durham, has not hesitated to confirm one part of the statement of the petitioners, which is to the following effect:—"That your petitioners have no complaint to make to the appointment of the present rectors of the parish of Bishop Wearmouth or Sunderland, both of whom they believe to be clergymen of exemplary character and great ministerial devotedness. "The hon. Gentleman alluded in the same manner to the appointment of the rector of the parish of Bishop Wearmouth, and said that he believed his appointment would prove a great blessing to the parish. I should have thought that if complaints were to be made to this House, and if this House were to be made the court of appeal to decide with respect to the appointment of a clergyman to a particular parish, that one chief ground of inquiry would have been whether an immoral or improper person had been appointed to the rectory of the parish. Both the hon. Gentlemen who brought forward the Motion, and the petitioners, however, disavow altogether any such thing. They allege that the person appointed by the bishop was a fit and proper person to discharge the duties of the office to which he was appointed. In speaking of this question of episcopal patronage, I must protest against the doctrine, that while a bishop is bound to consider the exercise of his patronage as a public trust, to be used only for the public 1047 benefit, that other persons having the power to appoint ministers to large, or even small, parishes—having the power to appoint clergymen to the cure of souls—are not equally bound by the same consideration. I say that they neglect a most solemn duty incumbent upon them, whatever may be their right, if they use such patronage solely for the purpose of promoting their own individual benefit. But if that charge with respect to the Bishop is taken away, what then remains to be considered? What are the other charges upon which this petition and Motion are founded? I have received from my right rev. Friend the Bishop of Durham—and this is one proof of the inutility of such a proceeding as that proposed by the hon. Member—a general explanation of the grounds upon which he has proceeded in the distribution of the revenues of the parish. I know not to what extent he has carried his inquiries, what are his general views of the subject, what was the nature of the representations made to him, or in what manner he expects that the arrangement he has made will be the best adapted for promoting the benefit of the parish; and if I am thus ignorant of those subjects, having been, as I have said, for many years the friend of the Bishop of Durham, I ask how is it to be expected that in every case which may be brought forward by hon. Members who have taken pains to collect all the complaints and dissatisfactions of those who are disappointed in the distribution of patronage—how is it possible, I say, for any Minister of the Crown, or any one else, to be ready in this House to go through, in each case, all the grounds upon which each appointment has taken place, or upon which it may be defended? The other ground of complaint referred to by the hon. Gentleman is, that there is a very great population in this parish, and that the spiritual wants of that population are not sufficiently provided for in the distribution of the revenues as made by the Bishop of Durham. Now, there is a remarkable circumstance, of which the hon. Gentleman took some notice, but to which he did not give that prominence which belongs to it, although it is the very essence of the petition and of the complaint. Bishop Wear-mouth is connected with the town of Sunderland, but the two parishes are totally distinct. The hon. Gentleman says that the town of Sunderland has many very miserable streets and lanes, and that a 1048 great part of its population are living in wretched houses, and are in a miserable condition with respect both to their temporal and spiritual wants. From numerous letters which I have received from persons unconnected with the Bishop of Durham, I am informed that there are persons in the town of Sunderland who are proprietors of these small houses, and that they are very profitable to the owners, yielding a very large interest for the money invested in them, but in which the poor persons who reside are miserably cared and provided for; while the want of cleanliness, and, in many cases, of the necessaries of life, frequently produce severe illness and great mortality. That is, I believe, the case with Sunderland; and it is a great misfortune that it is so. But what is the prayer of the petition presented to the House to-night? The petitioners state—That the spiritual wants and present position of the town of Sunderland, including the two parishes, as well as the interests of the Established Church, require that the said surplus revenues should be immediately applied to the endowment of other churches and chapelries in the said town at large.This is a prayer which, I apprehend, this House will not accede to, the simple facts of the case being, that here are two distinct parishes of Bishop Wearmouth and Sunderland; and the inhabitants of Sunderland say that the rectory of Bishop Wearmouth being a very rich one, we should like to have the surplus revenues of that rectory applied to the relief of our spiritual wants, and to the payment of the clergy in our town. Any poor parish in the metropolis might demand, in the same way, that the surplus revenues of any other neighbouring parish which happened to be a rich one might be applied to their spiritual wants; and those who pay the tithes of the parish which gives a rich income to the rector, would be required to hand over those tithes to the rector of a neighbouring parish. That, however, was not at present the state of the law, and if insisted upon, would lead to great injustice. Those who pay the tithes might say very justly, "If you require these tithes from us, or any portion of them, let them be given to the benefit of the Church at large. We do not see how the neighbouring parish has any claim to the revenues which belong to us, and which have been applied for a long period to the spiritual wants of our own parish." That is the prayer of the petition, and that is the subject which 1049 it would be the duty of the commission, if appointed, to inquire into. What I understand my right rev. Friend the Bishop of Durham to have done is this—there being a rector who was formerly non-resident, having an income of 3,800l. a year, he has appointed a rector to whom an income is assigned of 1,200l. a year. There is, besides, a parsonage, which is said to be worth 600l. a year, but which is not, in truth, of any such value; there is also a certain interest given in the different chapelries belonging to the parish; and there is, besides, a sum arising from coals and the way-leaves, which it is intended to carry forward to the account of trustees, to be applied in future for the benefit of the different localities of the parish. Now, whether or not that is a proper distribution—whether the proper sum has been given to the rector—whether the chapelries should have been immediately augmented—or whether it was proper that this sum should have been placed in the hands of trustees for the future augmentation of the chapelries—is not a subject upon which I can pronounce any opinion. All I can say is, that the different arrangements seem to have been made with a view of devoting a large proportion of the revenue of the former rector to the spiritual improvement of the parish, and the augmentation of the chapelries. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward this subject then, changing his ground, complained of the large sum given to the rector, and said, that by carrying out that agreement he had entered into a simoniacal bargain, and that the appointment was perfectly void in consequence. Now, he would submit that these were questions for the law courts to decide. [Mr. HORSMAN: Hear, hear!] Then, did the hon. Gentleman mean that under cover of his Motion a prosecution should be directed against the Bishop of Durham and the Rector of Bishop Wear-mouth for simoniacal practices? If the inhabitants of Bishop Wearmouth were wronged by this arrangement, they might institute such proceedings as it might be expedient to take in the courts of law. I think it is much better for the House to adopt some general measure on the subject, than to go into any one individual ease like the present. With respect to the whole case, therefore, declining to give any opinion with respect to whether the arrangement which has been made is the best that could possibly be made, I beg the House to observe, in the first instance, that it is con- 1050 fessed by the petitioners that the clergyman appointed to this benefice was a person eminently fitted, who, to use their own words, was a person "of exemplary character and great ministerial devotedness." In the next place, the House will recollect that the diminution of the income of the rector has been made with a view to the promotion of the spiritual instruction of the parish; and in the last place, what is asked by the petitioners is, not that the parish of Bishop Wearmouth should be better provided for, not that the income of that parish should be distributed within the parish, but given to the town of Sunderland. The hon. Member for Cockermouth has taken this opportunity, not being able to impugn this particular instance of patronage, of making certain imputations against the general character of the patronage of my right rev. Friend the Bishop of Durham. I can only meet that assertion by another general assertion. I believe that the Bishop of Durham has acted throughout with a duo regard to that heavy and high responsibility to which he is subject as a bishop of the Established Church of this country. I know the Bishop of Durham many years ago. I knew him as a scholar, devoted entirely to the pursuits of learning, not entering much into worldly pursuits, or taking much interest in any other concerns but those of learning and those which belonged to divinity, and the study of that which belongs to the sacred character of the duties which would devolve upon him. He was afterwards recommended to the Crown for a bishopric, and when appointed to the bishopric of Durham, out of an income of 21,000l., 13,000l. was taken away by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. I believe he has always acted with the greatest generosity and liberality, that he is respected in his diocese, and that he has endeavoured to dispose of his patronage in such a way as best to conduce to the spiritual interests of those committed to his charge. However that may be, I submit to the House, that he ought not to be singled out for this invidious Motion. If any Motion is to be made upon this subject, let it be of a general kind, and not of the special nature of the Motion now before the House. With respect to reforms of the Church generally, there are inquiries going on upon the subject, and the Commission appointed on the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Bath (Lord Ashley), will also tend to still greater reforms than have hitherto taken place. Acts of Parliament 1051 have been passed from year to year, which have done away with many abuses of the Church; and I trust, that year by year we shall witness still further reforms, and that the spiritual instruction, as given by the Church, will be more efficient and more widely extended than hitherto. I shall be most happy to co-operate in all reforms of this nature; but I cannot give my assent to a Motion such as this, which is intended as against an individual, and which, if brought forward at all, ought to be brought before a court of law, if inquiries are to be made into the simoniacal character of the transaction.
, having been connected with the town of Sunderland, could not consent to give a silent vote on this occasion. He certainly was not prepared to see the noble Lord at the head of the Government acquiesce in the Motion of the hon. Member for Cockermouth; but he certainly had expected that the noble Lord would have announced that it was the intention of the Bishop of Durham to introduce a Bill for the purpose of dealing with the temporalities of the rectory of Bishop Wearmouth.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Probably the Bishop may introduce such a Bill. All I say is, that I have had no intimation from him of any such intention.
had certainly hoped that it would have been in the noble Lord's power to make some definite statement on the subject. With regard to the Motion itself, it did not appear to him to afford in any way an inconvenient precedent in reference to the mode in which either bishops or others dispensed their patronage. It was a matter per se; he knew of no analogous case. He believed that the clergyman appointed was highly deserving of the appointment, and had given universal satisfaction; but what was complained of was, that the Bishop of Durham should hypothecate half the revenues belonging to the rectory of Bishop Wearmouth, without stating the mode in which he intended to apply them. He knew well that the Rev. Mr. Grey, the late rector of Sunderland, if he had not been a person of large private fortune, would have been unable to meet the many demands that were made upon him, and he ultimately sacrificed his life in visiting the sick poor. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Webb, who was appointed at the solicitation of the inhabitants of Sunderland. Now, Mr. Webb had not the same means of relieving the poor of the parish, and 1052 finding that their wants occasioned a heavy pressure upon his purse, he was glad to be relieved of the responsibility, and he understood the Bishop gave him another living. The parish of Sunderland was peculiarly circumstanced, and must not be judged of by other parishes. It was said, that the late rector of Bishop Wearmouth was non-resident. He did not think that was the fact—he was of course occasionally absent from unavoidable circumstances, but spent a very large portion of his time in Bishop Wearmouth. The noble Lord said, the living was only worth 1,200l. a year; but he had heard it estimated at 2,100l., from which, of course, was to be deducted the stipend paid to four curates, which must have reduced it to nearly the amount stated by the noble Lord. It appeared that in the present case the two parishes joined in the prayer that there should be a better distribution of the temporalities of the two parishes. He did not think the noble Lord had exercised his usual candour in saying that Sunderland had no more right to participate in the revenues of Bishop Wearmouth than any other parish in the diocese, as they were originally united, and had some peculiarities in common. It appeared to him, that it would be much more satisfactory to the Church, if the Bishop of Durham had himself introduced a Bill to deal with the temporalities of the rectory. If the hon. Member for Cockermouth pressed his Motion to a division, he (Alderman Thompson) would feel it his duty to vote with him.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
explained, that with regard to introducing a Bill, he had had no communications with the Bishop of Durham on the subject. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that it would be far better to have a Bill introduced on the subject.
§ LORD H. VANE
said, he also was of opinion that the best course would have been to introduce a Bill to secure a distribution of the revenues between the two parishes. At the same time he thought the manner in which the Motion had been brought forward was most unfair. So far from the patronage of the Bishop having been generally exercised as described, he must declare, from his knowledge of cases in which incumbencies had been granted, that nothing could be fairer than his disposal of patronage; while he had himself contributed liberally in the case of small livings, and had even employed curates at his own expense. He was himself ac- 1053 quainted with cases in which large portions of church property in the county of Durham—he now spoke more particularly of property belonging to the dean and chapter—had been applied to the augmentation of small livings; and he had been informed that in many instances the right rev. Prelate had himself pursued a similar line of conduct. As regarded the way-leaves, they were of so precarious a nature that it was impossible to form a permanent endowment from them; and the right rev. Prelate determined last year to set apart the proceeds as a fund for the endowment of small incumbencies, instead of attempting to form endowments for which they might prove inadequate. He hoped the House would not accede to a Motion of so invidious a character, however desirable it might be that the right rev. Prelate should himself introduce a measure.
§ MR. DISRAELI
shared in the reluctance of the noble Lord who had just spoken to vote for any proposition of an invidious nature; but, without entering into any of the details which had been advanced either to advocate or to vindicate the Bishop of Durham, he wanted to know why the Bishop of Durham should be the person to introduce a Bill, which everybody said was the preferable course. It was quite in the power of Her Majesty's Government to introduce such a Bill; and as the noble Lord at the head of the Government had frankly expressed his opinion that such was the best course to pursue, if he would say that he was ready to bring in a Bill, he (Mr. Disraeli) would be released from a very painful position, and would be spared a vote which, under other circumstances, he should be obliged to give for the Motion. The circumstances of the case had been fairly placed before the House by the hon. Member for Westmoreland, who had shown that voting for the Motion would not establish a precedent of a perilous character. At the same time he thought that in a case of this kind, the House ought not to be called on to decide the question by a division, and therefore, as they had the authority of the First Minister of the Crown for saying that a Bill would be the course most desirable to adopt, if Her Majesty's Ministers would assure the House that an opportunity would be given to the Bishop of Durham to introduce such a measure, and that the Government would do so if he did not profit by the opportunity thus afforded him, some hon. Members would be spared the discharge of a very painful duty.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
thought that the hen. Gentleman, the Member for Buckinghamshire must see that this was not a matter in which the Government could interpose. The incumbent of Bishop Wearmouth had a clear right to the whole proceeds of that living; and if an Act were introduced by the Government, it would be an act of spoliation, and would take from him that to which he had at that moment a perfect and indefeasible right. With regard to the conduct of the Bishop of Durham, in the general administration of his diocese, nothing could be more liberal. His noble Friend the Member for South Durham had borne testimony to the munificence with which the right rev. Prelate had contributed towards the augmentation of the poorer livings in his diocese; and as one of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought it right to state a circumstance which had come to his own knowledge. It might be known to the House that a certain income was assigned to the Bishop of Durham when he was appointed to his diocese; but the sources of that income produced a larger revenue than was contemplated. Of course the Bishop had a perfect right to retain the whole revenue of the see, but feeling that it was larger than was originally designed, he signified his intention to pay to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners 2,000l. a year for the purpose of augmenting the smaller livings in his diocese, so long as he remained Bishop of Durham. This payment, the House would observe, was totally irrespective of any augmentation which proceeded from the Bishop directly, and was payable notwithstanding any loss which the Bishop's income might suffer from the failure of other sources of revenue. The sum of 2,000l. had, accordingly, been paid over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, ever since the offer was made, and had been applied, under their direction, to the augmentation of poorer livings in the diocese, He thought it was only fair to the Bishop of Durham that this statement should be made. They were asked now to apply the proceeds of the surplus revenues of one parish to another parish; but he thought that it would be much better that any surplus should be applied generally under the direction of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that the House of Commons should leave the arrangement to them, instead of expressing an opinion upon one particular case, without reference to the 1055 claims of other parishes within the same diocese.
§ SIR R. PEEL
said, he thought the House ought not to select a particular act, and by a censure of that act, imply a want of confidence in a right rev. Prelate, who was entitled to every possible respect. He would say, for himself, that, when First Minister of the Crown, and entitled, under the Act of 1844, to certain ecclesiastical patronage, such was the confidence which he reposed in the judgment and impartiality of the right rev. Prelate who presided over that see, that he placed that patronage, so far as the see of Durham was concerned, at his disposal; and the favourable opinion which he had formed of the manner in which patronage intrusted to such hands would be bestowed, had not, in any respect, been disappointed. The most deserving curates in the diocese had been sought out, and any benefice thus placed in the hands of the Bishop of Durham had been conferred without reference to any other consideration than that of professional merit. With respect to the question on which the House was now called upon to pronounce a decision, there would be less difficulty if a general proposition were before them. But if, according to the proposition of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, they were to deal with a single case, they would be gradually so involved, with respect to other cases, as to occasion no inconsiderable degree of embarrassment. If they agreed to the present Motion, it would not be long before some other great living would be found, requiring the House of Commons to adopt in its case some such special arrangement as that proposed by the hon. Member for Cockermouth. At the same time that he thought it right to make these observations with regard to the difficulty of intervention in individual cases; and while he objected to the particular Motion made by the hon. Gentleman, on the ground of its implying a want of confidence in a Prelate of the advanced age and the eminent attainments, both as a scholar and a divine, which distinguished the Bishop of Durham; he felt bound to express his concurrence in the main object which the Member for Cockermouth had in view. There were two questions in the present case; one of them arose out of the disproportioned revenue of two adjoining parishes. He thought it would be an excellent example if the Church were to require authority to 1056 make a fresh distribution of those revenues by Act of Parliament. Many laymen had taken a similar course, and had asked for power to make a new appropriation of valuable ecclesiastical patronage, for the sole purpose of promoting the spiritual welfare of the localities which it immediately concerned. He thought it would be most seemly if the Church were to follow the same course, and require a similar authority under similar circumstances. He could not concur with those who thought that in this case the parish of Sunderland had no higher claim upon the revenues of the parish of Bishop Wear-mouth than any other parish. It should be recollected how much Bishop Wear-mouth was affected by its proximity to the largo and poor population of the port of Sunderland; above all, it was not to be forgotten that, at the time when the revenues in question received their present appropriation, the two parishes were a united parish. He, therefore, considered it impossible to contend that Sunderland had no greater claim on any surplus there might be after amply providing for the spiritual wants of Bishop Wearmouth, than a parish in a distant part of England. He did not think it necessary then to call on the noble Lord at the head of the Government to make any declaration about bringing in a Bill—he thought it would be more prudent in him to avoid making any such declaration; but if the noble Lord succeeded in negativing the present resolution, he might surely enter into a friendly communication with the right rev. Prelate on this subject. Such communication might enable the noble Lord, with the willing concurrence of the Bishop of Durham, to set a useful example, on the part of the Church, and by a well-considered scheme for a new distribution of this parochial revenue, to consult the spiritual interests of a great mass of the population which possessed an additional claim upon the attention of the Legislature, inasmuch as they had hitherto been grievously neglected.
§ MR. MANGLES
heartily wished he could get some admission from the noble Lord at the head of the Government as to the course they meant to adopt. He was extremely anxious that it should be stated that if the Bishop did not come to some arrangement the Government would take the matter into their own hands. He must be permitted to say he did not think that the noble Lord had done his hon. Friend 1057 the Member for Cockermouth justice. He thought that the speech of the noble Lord was more like an attack upon the motives and conduct of his hon. Friend, than a fair meeting of the statements made in regard to church abuses. His hon. Friend, actuated by the highest and most Christian public spirit, had brought forward this Motion with the view as he (Mr. Mangles) believed, of strengthening the Establishment—although for doing so he had been attacked as an enemy of the Establishment, he believed that his hon. Friend was the sincere friend and supporter of the Church of England; and if the measures which he advocated had been adopted, he was of opinion that the interests of the Church would have been strengthened. His hon. Friend had never charged the Bishop of Durham with simoniacal practices, but he said that in point of law he might be open to such a charge, although he believed his motives were of the purest character. He would reurge upon the noble Lord the propriety of adopting such a course as would have the effect of relieving the sincere members of the Church, like himself, from taking the course which they would otherwise be obliged to adopt.
§ LORD ASHLEY
was not disposed to offer any opposition to the introduction of some great remedial measure upon the subject. He much regretted that the Bishop of Durham was not advised to take a different course. He did not understand that his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth had made any objection to the appointment of the incumbent, nor did he seem to object to the distribution of these funds. His hon. Friend's objection was that there was no distribution at all; instead of the funds being distributed, and the parish being subdivided and a competent salary being assigned to the incumbent of each of the districts, it appeared that the Bishop thought proper to make an appropriation of the income, to put it into the hands of trustees, and to allow it to accumulate without any definite purpose, and for a period that was altogether indefinite. He should doubt very much whether this was a legal arrangement. These funds, which had been given by pious donors for spiritual purposes, instead of being so assigned were allowed to accumulate, and how long it was intended that this system should go on was not known to any one but the Bishop himself. This state of things, he thought, was most unsatisfactory to those districts—most un- 1058 satisfactory to the Church itself, and to the principle upon which church property was regulated. He most heartily concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for Cockermouth in the principle of the Motion which he had made, and he wished to bear his full testimony to the zeal and the integrity of his exertions in respect to these matters. He had the honour and pleasure of seeing his hon. Friend much in private, and he did not hesitate to say it was his conscientious belief that in all which he had undertaken he was influenced by a sincere desire to promote the welfare and the efficiency of the Church. He hoped, however, that his hon. Friend would allow him to make an appeal to him as to the course which he thought he ought now to take upon this subject. Having elicited the strongest expressions of feeling from both sides of the House, he hoped his hon. Friend would see the propriety of not pushing his Motion to a division. He thought that his hon. Friend could gather from the tone of all those that had addressed the House, that they concurred in the principle of the Motion, but that they were unwilling to come to a vote that might partake somewhat of a personal character. He therefore hoped that the hon. Member would remain satisfied with this general expression of opinion, and that he would abstain from dividing the House upon this question, trusting to the good sense and feeling of the Bishop of Durham that he would introduce a measure in accordance with the reasonable, and, he might say, the conscientious feelings of Parliament.
§ MR. J. S. WORTLEY
could not go to a division with the hon. Member for Cockermouth; but, at the same time, he agreed with almost every Member who had spoken on the almost absolute necessity which existed for some legislative measure. He trusted that the House would hear from the law-officers of the Crown whether the agreement which had been referred to was such an one as would secure to the parishes of Bishop Wearmouth and Sunderland the arrangement which had met the views of the Bishop of Durham. He would take it for granted that the Bishop acted from the best motives, but at the same time, he wanted to know whether it was a valid agreement. If the living were sequestrated, it was manifest that the agreement could not stand in law; and though, in calling it a simoniacal agreement, he had not the least intention of imputing corruption either to the Bishop or the incumbent, 1059 it was clear that could not prevail against a creditor. He trusted, therefore, that the noble Lord, having collected what was the general opinion of the House, would cause a communication to be made to the Bishop on the subject; and that, on the other hand, the hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion.
MR. J. A. SMITH
concurred in the object of the Motion, but would feel the greatest reluctance in voting for it, as he had known the right reverend Prelate, whose conduct was called in question, many years, and could bear testimony to the eminent services he had rendered to the Church. If the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth did not accede to the recommendation of the noble Lord the Member for Bath (Lord Ashley), there was another course which might be pursued. That course was moving the adjournment of the debate. He could not doubt but that the general expression of the feelings of that House would not be lost on the Bishop. His hon. Friend, therefore, could not suppose that his Motion would end without some result. The hon. Member concluded with moving the adjournment of the debate, but the Motion was not seconded.
§ MR. WAWN
expressed a hope that the hon. Member for Cockermouth would not consent to withdraw his Motion, until he heard from the noble Lord the Member for the city of London whether there existed, on the part of the Government any sincere desire to divide the revenues of the rectorship of Bishop Wearmouth in the mode that equity pointed out. What security was there afforded to the parishioners that this division would be effected? The agreement that had been entered into with the rector was illegal unless it obtained the sanction of Parliament. If the hon. Member divided the House, he should vote with him.
§ MR. HORSMAN
assured the House that the kindness and attention which he had received had made a strong impression on his mind; but he wished very shortly to remind them of what had already taken place. His situation was very peculiar with regard to this question. Other hon. Members might entertain their individual feelings with regard to this subject; but it was not an isolated question with him, but part of the general question. When, therefore, he was asked by the noble Lord to withdraw the Motion, he could not forget how often such applications had been 1060 made to him. Last year he had brought forward a series of Motions which that House had received with a unanimous feeling, and every one of them he was induced to withdraw on a distinct pledge given by the noble Lord. He had brought forward a Motion for the fusion of the episcopal and common funds under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the propriety of which was generally agreed to, and he was promised that the principle should be adopted; he therefore consented to withdraw his Motion, but, in doing so, he made these remarks:—"The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) only asked for time to confer with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and with a view not only to introducing a measure on this subject, but on others to which he had referred. With that assurance he was quite satisfied. He warned the noble Lord that the other measures to be proposed must be full and comprehensive; and upon that understanding—it being distinctly stated by the noble Lord that he agreed in the object of this resolution—that he was ready, after conferring with the Archbishop of Canterbury to introduce a Bill not only embracing this but other measures of still greater importance—understanding that clearly from the noble Lord—he should not press his Motion to a division, but leave the subject most cheerfully and gladly in the hands of the Government." Upon this distinct pledge he had withdrawn his Motion, but the pledge had not been redeemed, nor did he know when it would be. He then brought forward a Motion on the subject of the state of the cathedrals and collegiate churches, which was also received with a unanimous feeling in its favour; and when he was again asked to withdraw his Motion, on being pressed, he was induced to give way. The noble Lord having promised to take up the matter, he (Mr. Horsman) was reported to have said, that "after what had fallen from the noble Lord, namely, that without going the full length of issuing a Commission of Inquiry, he admitted that necessity for inquiry, and was ready to institute it, though not in the precise shape he proposed, if he correctly understood the noble Lord to give this pledge—believing that it was given in good faith, and would be fully acted up to—he should not be justified in pressing for the inquiry in the shape he had proposed, and he would not trouble the House to divide on his Motion." The pledge had been given, but it had not been redeemed; 1061 and, so far as he had learnt from the noble Lord, he saw no prospect of its being so. On these occasions many hon. Gentlemen had foretold what had taken place, and had told him that he was losing the confidence of his friends out of the House, as they supposed that he was making sham Motions. On this question, also, he had been warned that a similar proceeding would, on the present occasion, take place, and he would again be asked to withdraw his Motion. He had given way on former occasions, and he most respectfully but reluctantly yielded to the feelings of the House; and he now asked it whether he was to blame when he hesitated to give way when he saw the result of his yielding on former occasions? On former occasions, however, he might more readily do so, as these Motions might to a certain extent be regarded as of an abstract character; but here the question was brought before the House as involving a specific grievance, and was founded on the allegations of numerous petitions which had been laid on the table of the House. If he was right in the course which he proposed to adopt, as the House had told him that some such a principle as he had suggested should be adopted, he knew not why the House should not come to an expression of its feelings in a legitimate manner by recording its opinions on the subject. He agreed with hon. Gentlemen opposite, that it would have been far better if the Bishop of Durham had introduced a Bill, as he (Mr. Horsman) had expected that he would have done at the beginning of the Session; and if he believed that the right rev. Prelate would do so now, he would not have brought forward his Motion. This being the case, he thought that it was the proper course to proceed with what the noble Lord said in his speech was the necessary mode of proceeding. It was very painful to any Gentleman to cast what might appear to be severe censures on a dignitary of his own Church; but he begged to repeat that he did not quarrel with the manner in which the patronage had been bestowed on that occasion, as he believed that the right rev. Prelate had appointed a gentleman who would be a blessing to the large population of this parish. He had said that the income of 2,000l. a year, which was to be given to the new incumbent, might appear to some to be exorbitant; but he would not quarrel with it under the circumstances of the case. The noble Lord said that there might be some 1062 inquiry: all that he required was that they should make that inquiry, and proceed in a legal manner. He did not wish to bring forward any Motion of a personal character; but on this subject he was too much in earnest to let the great and paramount interests of the population at large give way to any conventional feelings. He entertained the greatest respect for the bishops of his own Church, and he wished to see them enjoy in the highest degree the approval of public opinion; but he felt bound to say that for much of the deficiencies which existed in our ecclesiastical system our ecclesiastical rulers were mainly responsible. He wished the House to remember that the ecclesiastical duties of Bishop Wearmouth had been divided amongst four curates, and their average income was 90l a year net, and the average period during which they had held their appointments was twenty years each. He did not believe that there was in the Church of England a parish containing a denser population in which the clergy in a more zealous and exemplary manner discharged the duties of their sacred offices, than in Bishop Wearmouth. He thanked the House that during the discussion no imputation had been thrown out against him, as he felt that he had a very invidious task to perform, for which he had incurred some obloquy out of doors. He should press his Motion, because he entertained a strong feeling towards the working clergy of the Church; and he felt that theirs was a holy and just cause, and in which, with God's blessing, he would persevere.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth had charged him with something like a breach of good faith, and he hoped that the House would permit him to make a few observations in explanation. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the Motion which he (Mr. Horsman) had brought forward as to the episcopal and common funds of the Church, under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He (Lord J. Russell) had promised on that occasion that he would speak to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the subject, who had then but lately been appointed to that see. Shortly afterwards he saw the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they conversed together on the subject, and they went over the various grounds as to the propriety of adopting the arrangement, and the result was, that the Archbishop agreed with him (Lord J. Russell) that there was no valid ground of ob- 1063 jection to the adoption of such a course, lie, since that time, brought the subject under the consideration of the Cabinet; and it had agreed that some measure should be introduced for effecting that object. The hon. Gentleman then made a proposition for a different arrangement respecting cathedrals and collegiate churches. This was a more difficult matter. He thought it advisable that an inquiry should take place before any further proceedings were taken, and he advised the Crown to appoint a commission for that purpose. This had been assented to, and the commission had been appointed, over which the Earl of Harrow by presided, and of which several Members of that House were members. As to the question why he had not introduced legislative measures on these subjects during the present Session, he had already said that the Cabinet had assented to the introduction of one of those measures; but the hon. Gentleman had said that he (Lord J. Russell) had violated his pledges, without in any degree considering what had taken place in the present Session. There were only two days in the week, or eight in the month, at the disposal of the Government, and the hon. Gentleman ought to be aware of the time which was taken up in proceeding with any Bill through that House. During the present Session they had, in the first place, to bring forward a Bill for the further Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland, for the previous Bill expired on the 1st of March. With regard to the navigation laws, a great deal of excitement existed on this subject in Canada and other colonies, as well as in this country, and it was most desirable that some certain decision of Parliament should be arrived at with as little delay as possible. Likewise further measures were deemed to be of imperative necessity respecting the famine in parts of Ireland. It was likewise necessary that they should take some votes in the Army and Navy estimates, or otherwise the Mutiny Act would expire without renewal. He, therefore, put it to the House whether, in neglecting, up to this period of the Session, to introduce Bills for the purposes he had named, he had broken any pledges? He, no doubt, had brought forward other measures, but those were of urgent necessity. They could not allow the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act to expire without attempting to get it renewed; and as to the navigation laws, it was essential that they should be brought forward 1064 at an early period of the Session. It was necessary that they should proceed to the consideration of the destitute state of the western districts in Ireland, and not let the famine progress further. These were the reasons which had induced him to postpone bringing forward for the present the measures he had alluded to, but he certainly would bring them forward in good time.
appealed to the hon. Member for Cockermouth not to go to a division after the expression of the feeling of the House.
SIR F. T. BARING
stated, that he had waited to the last moment for the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Motion, as he was satisfied that that was the best course that could be pursued. As, however, the hon. Gentleman felt it to be his duty to press his Motion, and as he (Sir F. Baring) felt the great inconvenience of coming to a decision one way or other on the subject, the course which he believed would be most convenient and satisfactory to the House, and which really expressed the opinion of the House in a manner which would not give pain to any one, was to move the previous question. This certainly would express the feelings of the majority of the House. The right hon. Gentleman then moved the previous question.
§ Whereupon Previous Question "That that Question be now put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 39; 52: Majority 13.
|List of the AYES.|
|Anderson, A.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Ashley, Lord||O'Connor, F.|
|Brown, H.||Osborne, R.|
|Clay, J.||Pattison, J.|
|Cobden, R.||Raphael, A.|
|Cowan, C.||Sandars, G.|
|Currie, H.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Duncan, G.||Smith, J. A.|
|Duncuft, J.||Smith, J. B.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Spooner, R.|
|Greenall, G.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Hastie, A.||Thompson, Col.|
|Henry, A.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Heyworth, L.||Thompson, G.|
|Kershaw, J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Langston, J. H.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Lockhart, W.||Wood, W. P.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Horsman, E.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Hume, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Baines, M. T.||Berkeley, hon. Capt.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Blackall, S. W.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Brotherton, J.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Parker, J.|
|Craig, W. G.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Cubitt, W.||Reid, Col.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Rice, E. R.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Rich, H.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Richards, R.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Edwards, H.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||Shell, rt. hon. R. L.|
|French, F.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Grenfcll, C. P.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hawes, B.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Wilson, J.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Hope, A.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Wyld, J.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Wyvill, M.|
|Lewis, G. C.|
|Maitland, T.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Grey, R. W.|
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
then stated, that he had no hesitation, after the division which had taken place, to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, and communicate with the Bishop of Durham with reference to the feeling of the House on the subject.