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of the snowy bosom, there is a struggle going on the more terrible for the deadly composure. All the life-forces have retreated from the surface, to concentrate themselves in the very centre of the soul. And as yet Helen can scarcely pray. But as the wind rises, and the gentle rustle of the foliage increases to a wilder sound, the pale statue is agitated throughout, and presently falls on her knees; and in agonizing prayer, not for herself, but him, the long pent-up feeling finds vent, and tears come to her relief; and they refresh and revive the sacredest of thought, and the whole heart pours itself forth to its Father and its God; and before the inmates of the house are astir, when the first beams of the sun began to bring the day, Helen is able to say, ‘Father! not my will, but thine be done.’ And then, and not till then, did she fling herself on her bed for that repose which the terrible experiences of the last few hours rendered so necessary. And though it was a solitary pillow on which she laid her aching head, and a host of tumultuous thoughts still struggled to assert themselves, yet, having once been able to say sincerely, “Thy will be done!’ these words, first taught by the Holy One to his Church, and now uttered in Christ's own spirit, were like his royal command to the wild waves of the Galilean sea, “Peace! be still!” and immediately there was great calm. Sleep, now, afflicted one! May he indeed give to his beloved sleep. There, with a brother's hand, we softly draw the curtains of thy lonesome bridal bed; we darken the window; and, breathing a kiss to thee into the air, and a prayer for thee to thy God, we leave thee, sufferer, to the rest which he may give. But who would have dreamed that, even into the wine-cup of the wedding feast, the bitter fennel-leaf should have been once more thrown l
My DeAR Victor, I proceed to fulfil my promise of giving you some account of the Lords Spiritual of the English Church. I should have done so before, but the subject has so “grown upon me'—as we English oddly express it—since I have begun to rake up the authorities for some statements which passed in the course of one of our conversations, that I have been unwilling to commence my task until I could see my way to its termination. When I volunteered to write to you I had in my mind's eye” a sheet of foreign post, on three sides of which I thought I could put “beginning,’ ‘middle, and ‘end’ How many sheets I shall now fill, I dare not even guess.
Well might you, in your last letter, express your astonishment that in so liberal a country as England, a Protestant hierarchy should possess far more power than has the Roman Catholic hierarchy in so Catholic and despotic a country as France, nay, I think you said, than in any Roman Catholic country in Europe. Yet Protestantism is not favourable to any ecclesiastical lordship, while prelatical power is the corner stone of the Romish Church. You ask me how I account for this remarkable political contrast, I answer that I am inclined to think the contrast to be, after all, more seeming than real. If your bishops have no voice in the direct making of your laws, your Church (I mean your French Roman Catholic Church) has quite as much, if not more, influence than the English Church in forming public opinion and directing public action. In France, the ecclesiastical wire pullers are not seen; in England they are not only seen, but I can assure you heard. That seems to me to be the chief difference between them. The important question is, How did our English prelates get elevated to this position? and this is the question I propose to answer in my present letter. THE LoRDs SPIRITUAL–THEIR DIGNITY AND THEIR PRIvi LEGEs; that is our subject.
If you had not asked for history, I could answer this question in two or three words. Bishops sat in Parliament before the Reformation: the State-endowed English Episcopal Church is a continuation of the State-endowed Roman Catholic Church, and therefore bishops still sit in Parliament. Our Established Church is not a new church; it is the old Roman Catholic Church with other doctrines. The essence of Romanism still leavens it; it maintains its old priestly assumptions, and still assumes to dictate to the consciences of men.
By what exact legal right bishops sit in the House of Lords is one of the vexed questions of ecclesiastical and constitutional law. There can be no doubt whatever that they were summoned to and sat in the old Saxon Parliaments; but at that time, as you know, they were really and truly representative men. That is to say, they were elected by the people, and more, they were not recognised even as ecclesiastical officers unless they were duly and equitably elected. The old Saxon history informs us that one Radulf was ordained a bishop for the Orcades by the Pope, but was rejected by all “because he was not elected by the common assent of the people,’ and the poor bishop having neither flocks nor diocese of his own, and having missed the object of his earthly ambition, was obliged to wander up and down the kingdom as an assistant to other prelates.” The peripatetic bishop ! What a pity that he has so few successors. On this early practice of the election of bishops Burns writes:—“When cities were first converted to Christianity, the bishops were elected by the clergy and the people, for it was thought convenient that the laity as well as the clergy should be considered in the election of their bishops, and
* “Rights of the Nation.” By John Sadler. 1643.
should concur in the election; that he who was to have the inspection of them all should come in by general assent.” The dignity afterwards came to be conferred by Parliament—not a Parliament like ours, for the old Witanagemote was not divided into three separate bodies, but king, barons, clergy, and commons, met together in one popular assembly. By such an assembly, according to Matthew of Paris, another old chronicler, Wulfstan, a Saxon bishop of Worcester, was elected. Bede also writes of the year 971 that, “by favour of King Edred, and of all his Witan, Oskytel was consecrated archbishop.’ You will mark that at this time they were neither ‘lords’ nor ‘barons,’ but only bishops. The bishops rose in dignity when William the Conqueror took possession of this fair and tempting country. The king had much land to give away, and he had friends in the Church whom it was a matter of policy to propitiate, or a matter of pleasure to reward. By attaching to every bishopric lands and houses, held direct from himself as king, with condition of service, he elevated the bishops to the dignity of barons. They are barons because they hold baronies. The king, however, kept his new barons thoroughly in check, and only by special favour and consent of the synod granted leave to three bishops to remove from villages to cities, namely, Herman from Thirburn to Salisbury; Stigend, from Irolsey to Chichester; and Peter, from Lichfield to Chester. By many acts and laws made at this time, the royal authority and control over the espiscopal sees was entirely established. The question has been very learnedly and acutely discussed, whether bishops sit in Parliament as bishops only or as barons that is, as lords of Parliament, or only as lords of the Church, or as both. This is a more important question than at first sight may seem. It involves their rank in the aristocracy; their rank in the House of Lords; and may even involve their right to sit in Parliament at all. It cannot be questioned, as I have said, that for centuries before they were barons bishops sat in Parliament. This is acknowledged by all the disputants; but at this point the controversialists divide themselves into three bodies. Their tenets are as follows:– I. In the Saxon times all bishops and abbots sat and voted in the state councils as such, and not on account of their tenures. After the Conquest, the abbots sat there, not as such, but by virtue of their tenures, as barons; and the bishops sat in a double capacity, as bishops and as barons.f This theory, you see, elevates the bishops above the heads of the peers. They are peers, and more than peers. It is refined upon by Bishop Warburton, who represents the bishops to sit as barons by tenure, so far as regards the judicial capacity of the Lords, and as prelates of the Church so far as the Lords act in a legislative character. The best thing that can be said on this opinion
was said by Bayle, in his article on Leo X. : it is exactly to the present point. He illustrates the absurdity of this union of spiritual and temporal authority, and the attempt to separate the person from his different offices, by the story of a German bishop, who was also a count and baron of the empire, and who, having attempted to justify to a peasant the extraordinary pomp which he assumed, by adverting to his temporal dignity, ‘Yes,’ replied the rustic, “but when my lord the count and baron is sent to hell, where will then be my lord the bishop?” II. The next theory is, that the bishops sit as barons only, and not as bishops at all. Our great Chief Justice Coke gives expression to this opinion, in his ‘Institutes, and he is followed by Blackstone, who says that all the spiritual lords “hold, or are supposed to hold, certain ancient baronies, and that in right of succession to these baronies they are allowed seats in the House of Lords.f The only reply we need make to this is, that all bishops do not hold baronies, and cannot, therefore, be barons. III. The third party maintains that bishops sit in the House of Lords by virtue of the common custom of the realm, because they are bishops, and, therefore, that they sit not as barons, but as bishops only. This is Sir Matthew Hale's opinion, who, in his manuscript treatise on the Jura Corona, deposited in the Lincoln’s-inn library, holds that their tenure has nothing whatsoever to do with their position. He is sustained by the able editors of Coke's Commentaries, Messrs. Francis Hargreaves and Charles Butler, who say:—
“We incline to concur with Lord Hale. In the Anglo-Saxon times the bishops certainly were admitted to sit in Paliament; and as this was prior to their holding their estates by a baronial tenure, it could not then be on account of their baronies; nor will it be easy to suggest any other probable reason for their presence during that period than an usage founded on the propriety of having the heads of the Church to guard it from injury, and to assist the other members of the Legislature in their deliberations on religion and other ecclesiastical concerns. At the Conquest, as we all agree, the possessions of the bishops were converted into baronies, and for a long time after they were summoned to Parliament as barons by tenure. But it is no less certain, that for many centuries past they have been called to sit, without any regard to their temporal possessions, or the tenure by which they are holden, which is more especially true in the instance of the new sees created by Henry VIII., the bishops of these never having had any estates by a baronial tenure, and consequently having no claim to be called to Parliament otherwise than as prelates of the Church, and by reason of the usage which had so long before prevailed in respect to their order. If all this be so, then though the bishops still sat in Parliament for their baronies, yet Lord Coke's position, which imports that they still sit by the same title, is not strictly accurate, but we should rather adopt Lord Hale's idea of their sitting by usage as more applicable to present circumstances.’t
Our “learned Selden’ is not less clear on this point. He says:— “Bishops have the same right to sit in Parliament as the best earls and barons; that is, those that were made by writ. If you ask one of them—Arundel, Oxford, Northumberland—why they sit in the House, they can only say, their father sat there before them, and their grandfather before him, &c. And so say the bishops; he that was a bishop of this place before me sat in the House, and he that was a bishop before him, &c. * Our present highest authority on constitutional law, Mr. Hallam, goes further than this; he maintains that the bishop's rights are superior to those of the lords temporal. ‘It has been frequently maintained, he says, “that these spiritual lords sat in Parliament only by virtue of their baronial tenure. . . . I think this is rather too contracted a view of the rights of the English hierarchy, and, indeed, by implication of the peerage. For a great council of advice and assent in matters of legislation or national importance was essential to all the Northern governments; and all of them, except, perhaps, the Lombards, invited the superior ecclesiastics to their councils. The bishops of William's age were entitled to sit in his councils by the general custom of Europe, and by the common law of England, which the Conquest did not overturn. Some smaller arguments might be urged against the supposition that their legislative rights are merely baronial; such as, that the guardian of the spiritualities was commonly summoned to Parliament during the vacancy of a bishopric, and that the five sees created by Henry VIII. have no baronies annexed to them.’t The above are the three theories concerning the status of the lords spiritual. I think you will agree with me, that the last is the only tenable one. It recognises them as an exclusive order, representing an exclusive estate, and, therefore, as likely to possess exclusive rights and privileges. An exclusive order; for they have invariably been separately summoned and mentioned, and carefully distinguished from the temporal peers; representing an exclusive estate, for the three estates of the English realm were not anciently, as is popularly believed, kings, lords, and commons: the king was not an estate of the realm at all. For purposes of government and legislation, and, as Sir William Blackstone says, for all “effectual purposes, the lords spiritual and temporal are now in reality one estate; but anciently the three estates were the prelates and clergy for one, the noblemen and gentlemen for another, and the commons for a third.’t The bishops represented, and still do represent, the estate of the prelates and clergy. Lastly, we may expect them to possess exclusive rights and privileges. These I shall indicate as I go along. We will now trace the law of England relating to bishops since the reign of William. We find the right of popular election acknowledged in Edward II.'s
* Bayle's Dict, art. ‘Leo. X.,’ note. + Rights of Persons, book i. c. 2. t Coke's Institutes, vol. iii., notes. Ed. 1813.