5 JUNE 1880, Page 5


BOTH the debate and the majority gained by the Govern- ment for Lord Selborne's Burials Bill in the Lords are satisfactory, and seem to promise that in spite of the opposi- tion of such prelates as Bishop Wordsworth and Lord Arthur Hervey, this time-honoured dispute will now at last be settled in a reasonable way. In fact, the debate proves nothing so much as the extreme difficulty which the Conservatives feel in even giving their opposition a wholly sane and reasonable air. The Bishop of Lincoln, at all events, did not succeed

in assuming a rational attitude. His speech was not so much weak as simply ludicrous. Because a Bill opening Irish Churchyards to ministers of all Churches and sects in the very few cases in which previously the incumbents had exercised their legal right to refuse permission, was passed in 1868—the main measure itself was passed in 1824, and had been in constant use ever since—Dr. Wordsworth was pleased to assume that this insignificant little measure of 1868 was the avant-courier of the Irish Church Disestablishment and Disendowment Bill of 1869, and that a similar result in relation to the Established Church of England will follow the passing of the present Burials Bill in 1880. "The truth was,' said the Bishop of Lincoln," the question now raised was not so much that of the right of burial as that of the existence of the National Church, the disestablishment of which, he was sorry to say, some persons had set their minds upon." This is very like the foreboding of the man who argued during a time of famine that because he had seen a friend die after the first prudent and frugal adminis- tration of food, the like antecedent was sure to be followed by the like consequent in a new case. The Burials Bill, as Lord Derby said, is not, of course, very likely to diminish gravely the strength of the agitation against the Esta- blishment. If a man has the toothache, and is also racked by rheumatism or gout, you will not restore him to complacency by only extinguishing the pain in his tooth. Still, though you will not restore him to complacency, you will at least diminish his troubles. He will feel a little less desperate, instead of a little more so. The tendency of what you have done will be to reconcile him to life, though you may not quite succeed in reconciling him to life. And so it is with this Burials Bill. It will not, of course, remove all the grievances of Dissenters, but it will remove one of the most obvious and superfluous of their grievances. So far as it goes it will diminish their irritation against the Church, and, indeed, will extinguish the only glaring and, as we think, the only just grievance. That, so far as it goes, will do good. It will not condense all the steam in the Disestablishment engines, but it will condense some of the superheated steam. It will weaken the movement against the Establishment, and not strengthen it. As to the delicate episcopal scruple advanced by the Bishop of Lincoln as another argument against the Bill, that if this Bill passes, he rather doubts whether he shall be justified "in consecrating ground on which services of any kind might after- wards be performed," it is one of a kind into which a mere layman can hardly be expected to enter. It strikes us as a little like the plea of the schoolboy, who had a moral scruple against saying his prayers in a room where so many of his school- fellows indulged in bad language. But we venture to suggest, that should the apprehensions of the Bishop of Lincoln prove too much for him and should he decline in future to consecrate graveyards liable to the profanation of Dissenters and Secularists, we yet shall not believe that the sum-total of the piety of Lincolnshire will be very much diminished by the result. We go so far as to think that God is present in uncon- secrated places, and does not confine his blessing even to the happy spots which the Bishop of Lincoln has felt no scruple in dedicating to God's service.

We turned to Lord Cranbrook's speech with some interest, to discover on what ground he could place his opposition to this Bill, for of course Lord Cranbrook could not oppose it on the principle that it would place Bishops in a difficulty as to the propriety of consecrating Churchyards in which unorthodox theology might chance to be uttered. But it is not very easy to

THERE will, it is evident, be a good deal of resistance, both tacit and avowed, to Mr. Forster's apparently simple measure for reducing the borough franchise in Ireland to the level of that of Great Britain. The Standard announces, we presume on authority, that the Tories will oppose the Bill ; and Sir George Campbell, a sound Liberal on most points, has given notice of an amendment which means that the Bill ought to be preceded by a very largo measure of redistribution. Both forms of opposition arise, we believe, from a latent belief as to the consequences of the Bill, and both seem to us to be founded on an error as to its object. That object is not merely to make an improvement in the suffrage. It is quite possible, as all Tories and many Scotchmen believe, that no visible im- provement, or even alteration, will result from the reduction. They think, and would say, if they spoke out their hearts, that the Irish electors of the towns, few as they are, already send up bad representatives, and that if the suffrage is extended, they will send up worse,—that we shall have more Home- rulers, and hotter Home-rulers, and less reasonable Home- rulers introduced into a House where they already exercise a dangerous, or at least an inconvenient, influence. Of course, what will be openly said is that a 14 suffrage in Ireland is equivalent to household suffrage in England ; say what Lord Cranbrook's objection to the Bill really is. He that the argument from numbers leads direct to um-

appears to rest his opposition chiefly on this,—that it appears to make Churchmen in this country "the only body of reli- gionists who are unable to dedicate anything in safety for the benefit of their religion." The answer, of course, is that the Churchyards of the National Church are not places dedi- cated for the burial of members of the Established Church, but places dedicated for the burial of Englishmen, to what- ever Church they may belong ; and that there is nothing at all in this Bill to prevent Lord Cranbrook from safely setting apart a graveyard for the burial of those only whose relatives conform to the Established Church, without the smallest danger of the trust ever being widened by any legal- ised infringement of that limitation. Only, of course, Lord Cranbrook, if he sets apart such a graveyard, must not give it to the National Establishment. He must not add it to the ground in which every Englishman who dies in the parish has a right of interment. He must make a strictly sectarian grave- yard of it, and if he does, there will be no more difficulty in his making it Anglican than in making it Baptist. His fancy that this Bill interferes in some mysterious way with burial- grounds dedicated for the separate use of members of the Anglican Church is a mere dream, with no foundation whatever. Lord Cranbrook also seems to object to something which he calls "mixing up different forms of religion," which he thinks will "throw discredit upon all religions whatever." Now, so far as we see, there is no proposal to mix up different forms of religion in this Bill. The one feature of the proposal is that it suggests the unmixing of all such different forms of religion as do not like being mixed. Lord Cranbrook, indeed, seems to suppose that because every different sect might have its own religious service in the Churchyard, the religions would somehow get "mixed." But he does not seem aware of the fact that people who take their different religious beliefs and rites at different times into the same church even, —which is common enough on the Continent,—do not get their religions mixed. There is no reciprocal permeation of creeds, as there is permeation of gases which are placed in contact. Lord Cranbrook has some vague idea that all the 150 denominations will be celebrating their religious services in the same churchyard at the same time, but this is a mis- take of Lord Cranbrook's. Death is not quite so hard upon us as all that. In point of fact, the Dissenting religions which have often been "mixed" with the religion of the Anglican Church, in Burial Services, very much against the will of many Dissenters, are likely to be disentangled from it by the help of this Bill, and Lord Cranbrook has really no cause at all for his assumption that there is some- thing grievously undermining to all religion, in the mere fact that very different religious services may sometimes succeed each other on the same spot. " Place" is not of that extraordinary importance in relation to worship, which Lord Cranbrook and the Bishop of Lincoln seem to assign to it. It is, indeed, a somewhat physical and earthly view of religion, which anticipates that the utterance of a different class of beliefs and hopes in the same atmosphere at different times, will result in something unholy, which it is the bounden duty of orthodox persons to discourage and disallow.