10 AUGUST 1872, Page 2

A very strange case of libel was tried on Saturday

last before Baron Martin. The Rev. G. A. Macdonnell, curate at Lower Norwood, married a Mr. H. Jones to a lady who had been divorced from her husband on the ground of adultery, in the church of the Rev. J. E. Kempe, St. James's, Piccadilly. In asking Mr. Kempe's consent to perform the ceremony, he said nothing as to the position of the parties to be married. On discovering the facts, Mr. Kempe

wrote to the Bishop of Winchester, accusing Mr. Macdonnell of a gross act of unjustifiable concealment. The Bishop immediately inhibited Mr. Macdonnell from officiating in his diocese, and Mr. Kempe also wrote to the managers of the Curates' Aug- mentation Fund, who withdrew their small stipend. Mr. Mac- donnell, seeing no other means of redress, brought his action, but the jury, doubting whether there was a libel, a doubt entertained also by Baron Martin, though on Baron Bramwell's advice he ruled that there was, returned a verdict for the defendant. The true defendant is the Bishop of Winchester, who punished a clergyman for doing a perfectly legal act, which, had he been an incumbent instead of a curate, the Bishop could not have so much as repri- manded him for doing. Mr. Macdonnell was wanting in courtesy to Mr. Kempe in not explaining the circumstances, but he was not required by law to explain them, and want of courtesy is not a legal offence, or one which justifies one clergyman in depriving another of his income. Mr. Kempe says the marriage offended his con- science, which may very easily be true, but does not make his conscience a law to Mr. Macdonnell's.