begged to make an explanation on the part of a venerable and most able judge, whose opinion had been misconceived by his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen), and through that misconception had been misconceived by many Members of their Lordships' House. The mention of the learned judge's name would be sufficient to secure for him and for his opinion the greatest possible respect—it was Mr. Cranston, Lord Corehouse, who had retired from the bench, but whose great faculties were entirely preserve d. He would only read the letter:—Excuse a very few lines on a very trifling subject. Lord Aberdeen has done me the honour to refer repeatedly to my opinion on his proposed bill about the Church of Scotland, under a misapprehension arising, I suppose, from some unguarded and incorrect expression of mine, though I do not recollect it. I approved at first of his bill, in so far as it was purely declaratory, thinking that, although unnecessary in other respects, it might tend to quiet the ferment which lay and clerical agitators were exciting, for I had then more faith in the good sense of the clergy of Scotland than I have now; but I never up proved of it, in so far as it could be construed to enlarge the powers of the Church in the smallest degree. Relevant objections to a presentee may be urged before the Church courts, not only as to life, literature, and doctrine, but likewise on some other grounds recognised by the Canon law, as inability to perform the duties of a minister from blindness, deafness, defective utterance, infirmity sufficient to prevent the visitation of a parish, ignorance of the language of the majority of the parishioners, necessary and unavoidable connexion with secular business to a great extent, and I believe some others. But I never held that the unexceptionableness of a presentee to the parishioners, or his not preaching in a way that they thought edifying, was by itself a relevant objection, or could be listened to at all by the Church courts. If it were relevant, it would open the way to every species of intrigue and cabal, and defeat the right of patronage, which is essential to the respectability of the Presbyterian Church. I thought 1 had explained myself fully on this subject in what I said in the first Auchterarder case. I go further, and think it would be unwise and dangerous that a declaratory act should recognise in every case the privative jurisdiction of the Church, even as to relevant objections. It is reported 494 that a Presbytery, wishing to exclude an unexceptionable presentee who was obnoxious to them, agreed to divide Church history into a number of periods, and to appropriate each period to an individual Member which he was to study for some weeks, and to make himself able to pose the candidate with a multiplicity and minuteness of questions, all which no Member of that or any other Presbytery could have answered without previous notice and long preparation. Suppose this fraud had been carried into execution, and no redress obtained in the higher Church courts. An appeal to the civil courts, I conceive, would have been competent, and so in every case where fraud or conspiracy to defeat the right of the patron or presentee can be established.It seemed incumbent upon him to notice this misconception now, because they were in the very heat of the matter. He believed this was the very day appointed for the meeting of the Scottish Church.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
wished that his noble Friend had apprised him of his intention to read this letter and bring the subject forward. It was true that his noble Friend had sent to desire his attendance in his place, but he had no idea what his object was. [Lord Brougham had said it was a communication from Lord Corehouse.] He had nothing to say against the opinion now expressed by the learned judge; it entirely confirmed what he had stated: he had never said that acceptableness was necessary, but meet-ness and suitableness, of which the court was to judge, and not the people. He would not then enter upon the subject, but he wished to say, with respect to his bill, that if he had been apprised of the noble Lord's intention, he would have shown Lord Corehouse's opinion under his own hand, that his bill only declared what the law of Scotland was then, and what it must remain so long as patronage existed. The noble Lord might say, "I do not trust the opinion till 1 see the case submitted." That case was the bill itself.