The House of Commons was engaged in Committee on the Ecclesias- tical Courts Bill ; and the usually irregular discussion ofa committee was turned into perfect sport by the sallies, the humorous and friendly bandy- ing of jokes—perhaps more amusing in the warmth of the moment than they read—or by the " badgering " of Members who lost their temper. Members were as skittish as horses in a field. Mr. THOMAS DUNCOMBE set the tone ; beginning, before going into Committee, with an in- struction to abolish the Ecclesiastical Courts ! He was very facetious on the fertile subject of the absurd jurisdiction which they still retain in temporal and criminal matters ; their power to punish simony, heresy, brawling, blasphemy, perjury, adultery, incontinence, and " other evil habits "—for which honourable Members might be brought up and sentenced to do penance and recant ; their absurd charges, as 20s. for "viatics for witnesses "—which he guessed might be toll to the other world, 3s. 6d. for "sportulate"—which baffled his conjectures to in- terpret ; and then he glanced at a bill introduced by the Bishop of Exeter to suppress the very vices just mentioned,—practically attesting the inefficiency of the Courts for their professed objects. Dr. Ntettota. defended the Courts; the gist of his speech being, Mend rather than abolish. The amendment was negatived, by 115 to 70.
Mr. Boarawrcx then, dividing the House against the main motion, made some complaint of unfair treatment in not being able to bring his amendment forward as he wished; vaunted his services in "keeping a House" for Ministers ; quoted poetry, deprecating the " tyrannous " use of Sir James Graham's " giant's strength "; and spoke of " man, proud man," making " the angels weep." Mr. GALLI KNIGHT re- minded him that he had left out the " angry ape" in the quotation. Mr. BORTHWICR retorted, that he was not looking at Mr. Knight at the time. (Loud laughter.) He meant nothing offensive. (More laughter.) The original motion was carried, by 62 to 25.
Many amendments followed,—by Sir GEORGE GREY to abolish the jurisdiction of the Courts in criminal matters, then in cases of brawl- ing, then in cases of church-rates ; and by Mr. CHARLES BULLER in testamentary matters ; all of which were negatived by majorities con- sisting of 100 or more to about 60. The " brawling" motion gave rise to a little brawl. Mr. WARBURTON took some objection to making special laws for offences punishable at common law ; on which the So- LICITOR-GENERAL said that all real offences are not so punishable—as a man sitting in church with his hat on. Dr. BOWRING asked what he would do with a Quaker going to a church to hear a distinguished di- vine, and sitting with his hat on ? Colonel SIBTHORP warmly declared, that if Dr. Bowring did so, he would pull him out by the ears and put him in the stocks. (Shouts of laughter.) Mr. BULLER said, that then the Colonel would be punishable for "brawling." Another brawl fol- lowed; bit ROBERT PEEL rebuking Mr. Roebuck for being " particu- larly pugnacious tonight," and the SOLICITOR-GENERAL laughing at his " catechizing " manner. The proceedings were stopped by repeated motions of adjournment ; and the Committee did adjourn, at half-past twelve o'clock.