versity of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), that he could not, for their sakes, abstain from offering a few observations to the House in reply to the right hon. Gentleman. They had heard from the right hon. Gentleman what was certainly the very novel argument, that if the number of violations of the law was to be taken as a reason for its repeal, they might as well remove the prohibition against bigamy as the prohibition against a marriage with a deceased wife's sister, because statistics might be produced to show that the law against bigamy was violated in this country as much as this particular prohibition. But the right hon.Gentleman, in that passage of his splendid and declamatory speech, had not done justice to those who argued in favour of a repeal of the existing marriage law; for the argument they used with reference to this question of the non-observance of the law was not founded on the fact that there were parties in this country who evaded or broke the law, but that that violation was not visited with the censure of public opinion. When the right hon. Gentleman stated that seventeen individuals had been convicted of bigamy, did he mean to tell the House that the neighbours of those individuals approved of that violation of the criminal law? They had been guilty of a felony; but would the right hon. Gentleman undertake to bring in a Bill which would visit with the penalties of felony any Englishman or Englishwoman who had contracted one of these marriages in Germany, where they were allowed by the law? The right hon. Gentleman knew that public opinion would revolt against any such measure. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had been called to account for having stated, on a former occasion, that the law upon that subject was at present evaded, and that public opinion sanctioned the evasion. Since the noble Lord had made that statement, he (Mr. Cobden) had received the most conclusive proof of the tolerance with which public opinion regarded that evasion. A gentleman largely engaged in manufactures in the neighbourhood of Leeds had called on him after that debate and told him that he had, for the sake of his young children, married his deceased wife's sister in Germany; that when he returned home, the clergyman of his parish, who was of the High Church school, had refused to visit him, or to allow him to partake of the sacrament; and that the consequence had been that he had been called

upon and visited by neighbours of his for many miles around who had never visited him before, and that he had left the church in his immediate neighbourhood and gone to another, where he was treated in the same way as the other members of the congregation. He (Mr. Cobden) had received a letter from Mr. Arrowsmith-he mentioned the name with that gentleman's permission-who was at present, for the second time, mayor of Bolton, and who had informed him that he had married his wife's sister without having suffered in the estimation of his friends. He knew a Member of that House, whose name he had not obtained leave to mention, who had contracted a similar marriage, and who had, nevertheless, been returned by his neighbours as their representative in Parliament. Could any fair man adduce the case of a bigamist as an argument against a change like that which was then under the consideration of the House, and which was so largely sanctioned by public opinion? The right hon. Gentleman had said that the collective conscience of the world was opposed to those marriages, and would not allow the right of individual judgment upon the question. But the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, in his masterly speech upon the subject-a speech which ought to have for ever settled the question, if it were to be decided on fair argument, and not with any reference to mere sectarian prejudices

the hon. and learned Gentleman had shown that in the United States of Ame rica, and in nearly every country on the Continent of Europe, the civil law tolerated those marriages. To meet that argument the right hon. Gentleman went back to the canon law of three or four centuries ago, as if the ecclesiastical law of that period was to be binding on Europe at the present day. Why, when he (Mr. Cobden) considered the state of public opinion out of doors at the present moment, and found that the House was spending whole days in the attempt at splitting hairs in this ecclesiastical casuistry, worthy of the dark ages, he declared he thought they might be held to be almost rivalling the conduct of the inhabitants of Constantinople, who wasted their time in similar disputes, when the Turks were thundering at their gates, and the Byzantine Empire was tottering to its fall. The right hon. Gentleman had assumed that by passing that measure they would introduce anarchy into the Church of England, in whose

286 name he had undertaken to speak. But | Jews, for the last 3,000 years, had been what were the facts of the case? He in ignorance of the meaning of their law? (Mr. Cobden) believed that one-half of the He (Mr. Cobden) should observe that he clergymen of the Church of England in supported that measure chiefly in the inthis metropolis were in favour of the Bill; terest, not of the men and women, but of and he knew that it received the approval the children. He had known instances in of a large portion of the clergy in the which wives themselves on their deathnorth of England and in the manufactur- beds expressed their desire that their ing districts, not exclusively belonging to husbands, if they married again, should the Low Church party. What right, then, marry their sisters, and should thus give had the right hon. Gentleman to assume their children the best, if not the only, that he was speaking in behalf of the chance of having tender and affectionate whole Church? Did he suppose that the stepmothers; and the preamble of the Bill eminent men who were in favour of this by which they were prohibited ought to Bill wished to bring anarchy into the run thus-" Whereas it is expedient to Church of England, and to produce all prevent, as far as the law can do it, the those dire results which he asserted to be possibility of orphan children having an the object of those who supported it? The affectionate and loving stepmother, be it right hon. Gentleman had also assumed, enacted that a widower shall not be allowmoreover, that the women of England dis-ed to marry his deceased wife's sister." approved of the Bill. Now, he (Mr. Cobden) admitted that if it could be shown that the instincts of the women of this country were opposed to the measure, that would form a very cogent argument against the propriety of its adoption. But he denied the fact in question; and he would remind the House that one of the reasons why the Bill was wanted was, that so many of the women of England had effected those unions, and that many were desirous of effecting them; so that it was, in reality, as much in the interest of the women as of the men of England, that the measure was brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman had, in the course of his address, put on the passage in the 18th chapter of Leviticus the interpretation that it was the foundation of the present law, as if that argument had not been refuted over and over again. He (Mr. Cobden) would appeal to the common sense of the House whether, in attempting to place the proper construction upon the Jewish law, they could take a better course than to ascertain what was the view taken of it by the Jews themselves? He found that Dr. Adler, the Chief Rabbi in London, when asked by the Commissioners who had inquired into that subject, what interpretation the Jews put on the law of Moses on this subject, replied that the Jews were so far from having ever considered the passage in Leviticus to be a bar to these marriages, that they had always regarded them as meritorious, and that in countries in which the law did not prohibit them they had allowed them to take place earlier than any other marriages after the decease of a wife. Was it likely that the

MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE, who rose amidst loud cries for a division, said, that after the speeches of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Plymouth, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, he could have no hesitation in voting in favour of the Bill, because he felt that their arguments went to the destruction of the right of private judgment, and to the establishment of the doctrine of an infallible Church.

MR. HEYWOOD, in reply, said, he was quite willing to tell the right hon. Gentleman the principle upon which the Bill was founded. It was founded upon the principle of expediency, and was introduced to accommodate the prevailing public opinion of the day. A case had been brought under his notice which induced him to wish for the retention of the clause relating to a wife's niece. A clergyman of Buckinghamshire married twenty-five years ago, and lost his wife at the end of a year. He remained a widower for twenty years, and then married his deceased wife's niece, upon which he was suspended by the Bishop of Oxford. He thought this was a case of hardship and of ecclesiastical tyranny.

Question put.

The House divided:-The numbers reported by the Tellers were, Ayes 165; Noes 157: Majority 8.

The House being informed by Stephen Edward De Vere, esquire (who voted with the Majority), that he was not in the House when the Question was put;

Resolved-That the Vote of Stephen Edward De Vere, esquire, be disallowed.

Ayes 164; Noes 157: Majority 7.

[blocks in formation]

Northcote, Sir S. H.
Oakes, J. H. P.
O'Brien, P.
O'Brien, Sir T.
O'Brien, J.

O'Connell, J.
Packe, C. W.
Pakenham, T. II.

Palmer, R.

Parker, R. T.
Patten, J. W.
Phillips, J. H.
Phillimore, R. J.
Portal, M.

Tyler, Sir G.
Verner, Sir W.
Vernon, L. V.
Walcott, Adm.
Walter, J.
Warner, E.
Welby, Sir G. E.

West, F. R.

Starkey, Le G. N.
them had been taken, they should be trans-
Stuart, W.
mitted to their own country to be tried.
Taylor, Col.
Thesiger, Sir F.
As regarded British fishermen offending,
Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J. there was this difficulty in the way of their
conviction and punishment, that our courts
of law refused to admit evidence taken
before a French magistrate, although it
did not appear that any corresponding
difficulty existed on the other side; and it
had therefore been urged on our Govern-
ment to allow depositions to be taken of
offences committed by British fishermen
before the British consuls at foreign ports,
which might afterwards be transmitted to
England, and received as sufficient evi-
dence against the partics. The Bill ac-
cordingly proposed to do this, as also to
put a stop to poaching, during the close.
season by enabling the proper authorities
and officers of the Customs and Coast
Guard to seize, not only any dredging ma-
chines, but any oysters brought into the
ports of this country during the close sea-
son-that was to say, between the 30th
April and the 1st September. An enact-
ment of this sort was necessary, if it were
only for the sake of the health of the
metropolis; for it had been stated that as
many as 100 tons of oysters were brought
into London weekly between those terms-
a season when the fish were in a very un-
wholesome state, and when, on account of
its being the spawning time for the oys-
ters, the take was extremely injurious to
the fisheries. The Bill also gave power to
seize and destroy any dredging machines.
which might be sunk in or floating on the
sea, for it was the custom of the fishermen
to leave them standing in the water until a
fit opportunity offered to take them away.
He thought they were bound to meet the
demands of the French Government on
this head, and take stringent powers for
executing the treaty.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a. THE EARL OF WICKLOW said, there was no reasonable ground of complaint against our fishermen to make such a Bill necessary. Circumstances had made a total alteration of the conditions under which the oyster fishery was carried on. In 1839, when the convention was signed between the two countries, oysters were only found within a short distance of the shores of each. Those in the neighbourhood of the French shores were naturally regarded as belonging to France, and those near the English shores to England; and during the months to which the prohibition from taking extended oysters were con


Pritchard, J.

Russell, F. W.
Sawle, C. B. G.

Seymer, H. K.
Shirley, E. P.
Smollett, A.
Sotheron, T. H. S.
Stafford, A.
Stanhope, J. B.

Whatman, J.
Wigram, L. T.
Willoughby, Sir II.
Wise, A.

Wyndham, Gen.

Wyndham, H.
Wynne, W. W. E.


Heathcote, Sir W.
Walpole, S. H.

Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill read 2°, and committed for Wednesday, 20th June.

The House adjourned at Six o'clock.

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Thursday, May 10, 1855.


Took the Oaths.-The Viscount
PUBLIC BILLS.-1a Administration of Oaths

2a Fisheries (British Islands and France);
Church Patronage Transfer.
3a Income Tax.


Order of the Day for the Second reading read.

LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY, in moving that this Bill be read a second time, observed, that it was intended to carry into effect a Convention which had been concluded between the British and French Governments for the better regulation of the fisheries. In 1839 a Convention for this purpose was framed, and in 1844 an Act was passed for carrying it into effect; but great difficulty had been found in carrying out its provisions. The French Government complained that there were many infractions of the treaty by the British fishermen, and no sufficient means of bringing them to justice. By the provisions of the Convention it was laid down that fishermen offending against them should be carried into the port nearest to the spot where the offence had been committed, and that when the evidence against



Church Patronage



sidered unwholesome. Recently, however, I doubted whether the mid-sea oysters were extensive oyster beds had been discovered in season when they were out of season mid-sea, or rather nearer to the coast of elsewhere. He believed that in neighbourDieppe. The fishermen of Essex and Sus- ing seas oysters were in and out of season sex considered that they belonged to nei- all at the same time. ther country, and were a treasure of which they had a perfect right to avail themselves, and they sent out their boats to The French, on the dredge for them. contrary, taking advantage of the strict letter of the law, claimed these beds as their own, determined to defend them, and sent out armed vessels to protect them. The English fishermen then armed their THE EARL OF HARROWBY, in moving boats, collisions took place, and several boats and prisoners were taken into Dieppe, the second reading of this Bill, explained, where they were tried. Since that time that its object was to enable any body or no collision had taken place. Both French person who should be possessed of and English had worked at the spot, and right of patronage or presentation to any the consequence of the discovery of those benefice, or the trustees of any endowmid-sea beds was, that the London mar-ments of any church, to surrender such kets had been amply supplied with as good right of patronage or presentation, with or oysters between April and September as without consideration, provided the effect at any other period of the year-not taken of such surrender should be to obtain an from the prohibited grounds, but from the augmentation of income for any ill-enbeds to which he alluded. It appeared to dowed benefice or church to which such him that the proposed Bill was intended surrender shall relate, and also provided to deprive the fishermen of those beds and that such surrender shall be sanctioned by to prevent the people of England obtain- the bishop of the diocese: the Bill exHe did tended the same powers to any benefice of ing oysters all the year round. not oppose the Bill, but he hoped that which the patronage is in the Crown, or is time might be allowed for the fishermen part of the possessions of the Duchy of and fishmongers of the country to give Cornwall, provided that the permanent expression to their feelings before it passed yearly value of such benefice shall not exceed 2001. In the case the surrender the other House. was made by an ecclesiastical corporation, aggregate or sole, certain consents were required.

LORD REDESDALE objected, that no minimum value of the benefices to be affected by the Bill was fixed by any clause, and suggested that the point to which he callet attention should be made the subject of future consideration.

LORD CAMPBELL believed that it was a maxim which was received all the world over, that oysters were not good unless there was an "r" in the month.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.

THE EARL OF MALMESBURY said, that the subject with which the Bill proposed to deal was one of the most fruitful sources of trouble and annoyance to the Foreign Office. He had known as many as 100 English vessels detained, and justly detained, by France, for poaching upon the French oyster beds. He did not think the geographical description of the new beds given by the noble Earl was a correct


A great proportion of the mischief hitherto had arisen from the negligence of the Custom-house officers, who had allowed these vessels to go out; and he was convinced, if the authorities did not pay more attention to the subject than they had done up to this time, that the Act would remain a dead letter. He must say, in justice to the French authorities and French fishermen, that there had been very few instances of French fishermen breaking the law.

LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY, in reference to what had fallen from the noble Earl near him (the Earl of Wicklow),

THE BISHOP OF OXFORD said, he concurred with the Bill generally, and especially with that part of it which enabled corporations sole to part with their patronage; but he desired to call attention to another point which was of still more importance. He suggested that care should be taken that the whole of the proceeds of the sale should be carried to the credit of the Augmentation Fund, because it was not intended that any corporation or private individual should derive any private advantage from any sales that might take place under this Bill. He should again call their Lordships' attention to the sub. ject when the Bill was in Committee.

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