Project Canterbury

REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSION ON ECCLESIASTICAL DISCIPLINE.

Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty
1906.

transcribed by Mr Thomas J W Mason
AD 2001


CHAPTER IX.
HISTORICAL SURVEY
.

The foregoing summary leads obviously to the question: How, and in what circumstances, have usages which are apparently inconsistent with the rules of the Church of England become in some churches habitual, and, further, during how long a period has such development been going on? The ecclesiastical conditions out of which the Oxford movement arose, and the nature of the movement itself, hardly admit of discussion here: but the more modern history of the question has been very fully treated in the evidence brought before us by the Archbishop of Canterbury. We think it will elucidate our report and recommendations if we give here a brief outline of what appear to be the facts.

We have already alluded to the many examples, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, of disobedience to even explicit and undisputed rubrical directions; and the century and a quarter which elapsed between the death of Queen Anne and the reign of Queen Victoria exhibited a wide-spread laxity or carelessness of ritual observance, which probably reached its climax about a hundred years ago. It is to the wholesome reaction against what was called the “slovenliness” of Divine Service in the early decades of the nineteenth century that we must trace the origin of changes which have culminated in the irregularities of an opposite sort which are the subject of most of the evidence brought before us. The men to whose ritual action exception was first taken, say between the years 1830 and 1850, were for the most part engaged, as it seems to us, in a simply endeavour to restore the orderly observance of rubrics. With no necessary doctrinal purpose, people were coming to care more about orderliness, and, under the influence, it is often said, of the writings of Sir Walter Scott, to have a reverent respect for things which were old, and not least for venerable buildings of architectural beauty. By careful study and imitation of medieval models, Pugin and his followers have expression in their building to the spirit of the Gothic revival. In 1839 the Camden Architectural Society was founded at Cambridge and the restoration and decoration of churches and cathedrals, under the influence of religious, historical, and artistic motives, displayed, if not always wisely, the revived interest in and love of the monuments of the past. The “Tractarian Movement,” from 1833 onwards, contributed, though from a different channel, a current which set in the same direction; and the confluence of the two streams or tendencies gave to, each a character somewhat different from, though not uncongenial to, that which it derived from its source. The conception which lay at the base of the Tractarian Movement was that of the Holy Catholic Church as a visible body upon earth, bound together by a spiritual, but absolute, unity, though divided, before the eyes of men, into national and other sections. This conception drew with it, as an inevitable corollary, the sense of ecclesiastical continuity, of the intimate and unbroken connexion between the primitive Church and the Church of England, and of the importance of the Fathers as guides and teachers for churchmen in the present day. It also tended to emphasise point of communion rather than points of difference between those different branches of the Church, which recognise the doctrine or fact of Apostolic succession. While by no means desiring to pass over the Reformation or to undo its work, the Tractarians set themselves to prove that the reforms of the sixteenth century involved no such breach with the past as was commonly supposed. In a word, the practical end in view was to be promoted by the diffusion of ideas resting largely upon a historical basis, enlisting the aid of the past to vitalise and inspire the present and the future. to quote the words of the “Advertisement,” or Preface to the “Tracts for the times,” published in 1834:—

“Methodism and Popery are in different ways the refuge of those to whom the Church stints the gifts of grace: they are the foster-mothers of abandoned children. The neglect of the daily service, the desecration of festivals, the Eucharist scantily administered, insubordination permitted in all ranks of the church, orders and offices imperfectly developed, the want of societies for particular religious objects, and the like deficiencies, lead the fevered mind, desirous of a vent to its feelings, and a stricter rule of life, to the smaller religious communities, to prayer and Bible meetings, and ill-advised institutions and societies on the one hand—on the other to the solemn and captivating services by which Popery gains its proselytes.”

But, in the earlier stages at least, this revival did not greatly affect the arrangements or accessories of public worship in the Church of England. If on the one hand it is true to say that what is called Ritualism is a development of the Tractarian Movement, it is on the other hand as true to say that it represented a great change, an unforeseen phase, a new departure in that movement. No plan or expectation of any such development appears in the work of those who gave life and guidance to the Oxford Movement in its early days and wrote the “Tracts for the Times.” Although those of them who lived on into the days of the Ritual controversy maintain a general sympathy with their followers in the High Church cause, they personally discouraged the sort of advance which became the chief cause of difficulty. Even when their sympathies had been strengthened by their belief that the ritualists were being hardly treated, their own feeling in regard to extreme ritual remained unchanged; and that feeling was strongly expressed by Dr. Pusey in 1874 and 1875.

For convenience of investigation, the years under consideration may be divided roughly, and perhaps somewhat arbitrarily, into three sections:—

(A)  From 1840 to 1866.

(B)   From 1866 to 1892.

(C)  From 1892.

(A) At the outset of this first period what is now called Ritualism was practically unknown. So rare was the use even of what is called the “eastward position” of the celebrant in the Office of Holy Communion, that an observant writer upon ritual matters declares in 1843 that he had personally never once seen it adopted, and so late as 1851 Dr. Pusey writes to a friend as follows:—

“I am grieved to hear of your trouble about ritual. One most grevious offence seems to be turning your back to the people. I was not ritualist enough to know until the other day that the acts of turning had any special meaning in the Consecration. And it certainly seemed against the Rubric that the Consecration should take place so that they cannot see it. Dear Newman consecrated to the last of his Consecrations at the North end of the altar.”

On the other hand, early in this period, such usages as preaching in the surplice, administering baptism during Morning or Evening Prayer as prescribed in the rubric, vesting the choristers in surplices, the use of credence tables, the reading to the Prayer for the Church Militant when there was no Communion, the daily recital of Morning and Evening Prayer and other orderly, and now ordinary, usages, most of them definitely required by the rubrics, were becoming tolerably frequent, especially in towns, notwithstanding the vehement opposition which they sometimes around. Most of the Bishops mildly deprecated such changes from the long accustomed use, although they could not challenge the fact that the so-called innovators, who were sometimes nicknamed “ultra-rubricians,” were for the most part technically in the right. In January, 1845, Dr. Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a Pastoral Letter to the whole Province in virtual defence of those who followed customary usage rather than rubrics.

“Questions,” he said, “relating to matter in themselves indifferent, but deriving importance from their connection with the maintenance of uniformity and order in the solemn ministrations of the Church, are rendered difficult by the ambiguity of the rubrics in some instances and in all by the doubt which may arise as to the weight which should be allowed to general usage when it varies from the written law . . . . The laity, it may be hoped, will see the propriety of respecting the consciences of such of the clergy as have held themselves bound to strict compliance with the express directions of the rubric, and the clergy will perceive the expediency of not pressing too harshly or abruptly the observance of laws, which, having been by themselves or their predecessors over long suffered to sleep, have now the appearance of novelty . . . .What I would most earnestly recommend for the present is the discontinuance of any proceedings in either direction on the controverted questions. In churches where alterations have been introduced with general acquiescence, let things remains as they are; in those which retain the less accurate usage, let no risk of division be incurred by any attempt to change till some final arrangements can be made with the sanction of the proper authorities.”

A series of incidents which occurred in 1850 and 1851 brought the whole question for the first time into public prominence. Choral services and surpliced processions in the newly consecrated church of St. Barnabas, Pimlico, gave rise to serious riots in the church and in the streets. In October, 1850, the so-called “Papal Aggression” embodied in the Bull issued “from the Flaminain Gate,” evoked from the Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, his celebrated “Durham Letter,” wherein he took occasion to denounce those “unworthy sons of the Church of England” who were, he said, “leading their flocks step by step to the very verge of the precipice.”

Shortly after the publication of that letter, and probably in consequence of it, a memorial, signed by 231,000 people, was addressed to the Queen, asking that the Bishops might be directed,

“as respects external and visible observances in which many novelties have been introduced, to take care that measures may be promptly adopted for the repression of all such practices.”

In the same month, March, 1851, the Bishops, with four exceptions, signed a joint pastoral letter, which will be found in extenso in the evidence given to us.

“We have viewed,” they said, “with the deepest anxiety the troubles, suspicions, and discontent which have of late, in some parishes, accompanied the introduction of ritual observances exceeding those in common use amongst us. . . . . The principal point in dispute is this, whether where the letter of the rubric seems to warrant a measure of ritual observance, which yet by long and possibly unbroken practice has not been carried out, the clergy are either in conscience required or absolutely at liberty to act each upon his own view of the letter of the precept rather than by the rule of common practice.”

After general counsels of moderation and caution corresponding to those given by Archbishop Howley five years before, they go on to say:—

“But beyond mere attempts to restore unusual strictness of ritual observance, we have to deal with a distinct and serious evil. A principle has of late been avowed and acted upon, which, if admitted, would justify far greater and more uncertain changes. It is that—that as the Church of England is the ancient Catholic Church settled in this land before the Reformation, and was then reformed only by the casting away of certain strictly defined corruptions; therefore, whatever form or use exists in the Church before its reformation, may now be freely introduced and observed, unless there can be alleged against it the distinct letter of some formal prohibition. Now, against any such inference from the undoubted identity of the Church before and after the Reformation, we feel bound to enter our clear and unhesitating protest.”

Notwithstanding this paragraph, the importance, for our purpose, of this joint pastoral letter, the first of its kind, consists in the evidence it affords that the majority of the new school of clergy were not at that time accused of doing what was illegal. On the contrary, they were, in the opinion of the Bishops, engaged in “attempts to restore unusual strictness of ritual observance”; a view of their position which was expressed by the other critics who gave them the title of “ultra-rubricians.”

Before long the matters in dispute, or some of them, received formal arbitrament in a Court of Law. In 1854 Mr. Westerton, churchwarden of St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge, the mother-church of St. Barnabas, Pimlico, and Mr. Beal, “an inhabitant of the district of St. Barnabas,” instituted suits against the incumbent, Mr. Liddell, praying for a faculty for the removal of certain “ornaments,” including

“the High Altar with the Cross elevated thereon or attached thereto, gilded candlesticks and candles, a credence table, various altar coverings, a chancel screen, and a Cross upon it.”

The suits came successively before the Diocesan, and Provincial Courts which virtually condemned all the articles as illegal, except the candlesticks and candles, and the chancel screen.

Mr. Liddell thereupon appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, where the case was gain elaborately argued, and on March 21, 1857, judgment was delivered. It reversed in important particulars the decisions of the Diocesan and Provincial Courts, and authorised the use of the credence table and of the coloured frontals or coverings. It also authorised, then or subsequently, the Cross upon the chancel screen, and the Cross above the Holy Table, though not if placed upon it. This was regarded, not without justification, as a substantial victory for those who were in favour of the “advanced” ritual; and special importance was attached to the following dictum by the Judicial Committee with reference to the Ornaments Rubric:—

“The rubric to the Prayer Book of Jan. 1, 1604, adopts the language of the rubric of Elizabeth. The rubric to the present Prayer Book adopts the language of the statute of Elizabeth; but they all obviously mean the same thing, that the same dresses and the same utensils, or articles, which were used under the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. may still be used.”

This was the point for which the “Ritualists,” as they now began to be called, had been contending; and they were now able to urge that, so soon as the question was considered by he highest legal authority, they were shown to be right. Nor could it be said that th4 standard writers upon Church Law took a different view from that of the Judicial Committee. Such men as Nicholl, Wheatly, Gibson, Burn, and even Dr. Stephens, who for many years represented the complaints in the ritual suits, gave the same interpretation.

These facts seem to us to be important to the right understanding of the ritual development which took place in the years which followed the Privy Council judgment in Westerton v. Liddell. Those who advocated the introduction of the eucharistic vestments naturally relied, in regard to the “ornaments” of the minister, upon what the Judicial Committee had said; and the Episcopal disapproval of such changes (resting, as it did, not upon their illegality, but upon their inexpediency) was not very different from the earlier Episcopal disapproval of changes, such as the introduction of choral services and surpliced choirs, which were some of them by this time becoming widely acceptable. It is, at all events, indisputable that between the years 1857 and 1866 there was a development and extension of ritual usages, such as the eucharistic vestments, altar lights, flowers and incense, and the claims that they were perfectly legal was asserted with increasing confidence.

To this period also belong the discussion arising out of the riots in St. George’s-in-the-East in 1859-1860, to which reference is made in the evidence.

(B) Throughout the earlier years of the second of the periods (1866-1892) into which we have, for convenience, divided the story of ritual development, the subject was constantly under public discussion, and controversy was rife. The English Church Union had been founded in 1860 and the Church Association in 1865.

(a) In reply to a deputation received by him early in 1866, Archbishop Longley stated that it was the intention of the Bishops “to ascertain distinctly what the law allows and hat it does not allow.” The opinion of four of the most eminent counsel of the day was accordingly taken by the Bishops; whereupon the English Church Union, on the other side, presented a case for the opinion of nine such counsel. Those who were consulted by the bishops gave as their opinion that the Eucharistic vestments, altar-lights, incense, the ceremonially mixed chalice, and the use of wafer-bread, were all illegal. The other group of lawyers gave their opinion, speaking generally in favour of the legality of most of the controverted usages, with the noteworthy exception of the use of incense, which all the thirteen lawyers who were consulted agreed in declaring to be unlawful. This was in the autumn of 1866; and after such difference of legal opinion it became clear that further litigation was inevitable.

(b) In the meanwhile the whole subject had been discussed in the Convocation of Canterbury. A voluminous report was drawn up by a strong committee of the Lower House, under the chairmanship of Dr. Harvey Goodwin, Dean of Ely, afterwards Bishop of Carlisle, and on June 28, 1866, the following resolution was, on the motion of Archdeacon Denison, adopted without a division:—

“That with regard to the six point of ritual which have been specially discussed in the report, the judgment of the House is as follows:—1. That the use in parish churches of the surplice is a sufficient compliance with the direction of the Church. 2. That without pronouncing on the legality of the vestments prescribed in the first Prayer Book of King Edward VI., or of altar lights, the House considers that they should not be introduced into any parish church without reference ot the Bishop, and that a similar reference should be made with regard to the introduction of incense in the simpler manner described in the Report. 3. That the House expresses its entire disapproval of the practice of censing persons and things, and of all elevation of the elements after consecration, and considers that the presence of non-communicants excepting in special cases, during the celebration of Holy Communion, and the use of wafer bread, are to be discouraged.

Following upon this, both Houses of Canterbury Convocation resolved in February, 1867:—

“That no alteration from the long-sanctioned and usual ritual ought to be made in our churches until the sanction of the Bishop of the Diocese has been obtained thereunto.”

In connexion with this it may here be noted that the Resolution thus passed became the basis, eleven years later (in July, 1878), of a Resolution unanimously passed by the second “Lambeth Conference,” consisting of 100 Bishops from all parts of the world. Their words are as follows:—

“Considering unhappy divisions on questions of ritual, whereby divers congregations in the church of England and elsewhere have been seriously disquieted, [we] desire to affirm the principle that no alteration from long accustomed ritual should be made contrary to the admonition of the Bishop of the Diocese.”

(c) On June 3, 1867, a Royal Commission of no fewer than twenty-nine members, drawn from all sections of the Church of England, was appointed by the Crown with the following terms of reference:—

“Whereas it has been represented unto us that differences of practice have arisen from varying interpretations put upon the rubrics, orders and directions for regulating the course and conduct of public worship, the administration of the Sacraments, and the other Services contained in the Book of Common Prayer . . . . . and more especially with reference to the ornaments used in the churches and chapels of the said United Church and the vestments worn by the ministers thereof at the time of their ministration: And whereas it s expedient that a full and impartial enquiry should be made into the matters aforesaid, with the view of explaining or amending the said rubrics orders and directions so as to secure general uniformity of practice in such matters as may be deemed essential . . . . We do hereby enjoin you . . . . to make diligent enquiry into all and every the matters aforesaid and to report thereupon . . . . . having regard not only to the said rubrics . . . . . but also to any other laws or customs relating to the matters aforesaid, with power to suggest any alterations, improvements to amendments, with respect to such matters or any of them as you . . . . . may think fit to recommend.”

This Commission sat for more than three years and issued four Reports, published successively in 1867, 1868, 1869, and 1870. The evidence laid before the Commissioners or collected by them comprised voluminous reprints of documents from the past and contemporary history of the Church as well as oral and written testimony from about twenty witnesses. It is hardly necessary to say that its volumes are a storehouse of information upon the whole subject.

The first of its Reports (issued August 19, 1867) was confined to the question of the use of the Eucharistic vestments and was agreed to with virtual unanimity. Its main paragraph is as follows:—

“We find that, whilst these vestments are regarded by some witnesses as symbolic of doctrine, and by others as a distinctive vesture whereby they desire to do honour to the Holy Communion as the highest act of Christian worship, they are by none regarded as essential, and they give grave offence to many. We are of opinion that it is expedient to restrain in the public services of the United Church of England and Ireland all variations in respect of vesture from that which has long been the established usage of the said united Church, and we think that this may be best secured by providing aggrieved parishioners with an easy and effectual process for complaint and redress."

Its second Report was issued in 1868 and dealt with lights and incense. Its third Report, issued in 1869, dealt with the Lectionary only and was unanimous. Its fourth and last Report, issued in August, 1870, dealt with the rubrics of the Prayer Book generally. Its second and fourth Reports were weakened by a lack of unanimity on the part of the Commissioners, which makes a summary of their recommendations almost impossible.

(d) Meanwhile Lord Shaftesbury, who had objected to the appointment of a Royal Commission and was in favour of immediate legislation, introduced a Bill into the House of Lord, the effect of which was to give the force of law to Canon, which enjoins that:—

“Every Minister saying the public prayers or ministering the Sacrament or other rites of the Church shall wear a decent and comely surplice with sleeves to be provided at the charge of the parish.”

He moved the second reading of this Bill on May 14, 1867, in an elaborate speech. Archbishop Longley urged the advantage of waiting for the report of the royal Commission which was about to be appointed; and the Bill failed to obtain a second reading. To protest against such legislation a meeting was held in St. James’ Hall on November 19, 1867, when a memorial was adopted on the motion of Archdeacon Denison, the Hon. Charles Wood, the Rev. T.T. Carter and others, to protest against the attempt by new legislation to undo the liberty which the decision of the Privy Council in the case of Westerton v. Liddell appeared to have given to those who desired to adopt a high ceremonial. The text of this memorial will be found in extenso in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s evidence.

In the years 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871, and 1872, Lord Shaftesbury unsuccessfully renewed his attempt to secure legislation upon the subject either of the usages themselves or of the Courts which where to deal with them.

(e) When the Royal Commission on Ritual was appointed, on June 3, 1867, no modern case had come for decision before any Court, ecclesiastical or other, affecting the vesture of the officiating minister or his manner of conducting Divine Service. But in that year a suit was instituted against the Rev. A.H. Mackonochie, vicar of St. Alban’s, Holborn, in regard to the elevation of the elements and kneeling during the consecration Prayer, altar-lights, incense, and the mixed chalice. It is significant that, although Mr. Mackonochie had since 1864 worn the Eucharistic vestments, no charge was preferred in respect thereto. On March 28, 1868, Sir Robert Phillimore delivered judgment in the Court of Arches, deciding against the legality of elevation, of the use of incense, and of the ceremonially-mixed chalice, but sanctioning the altar-lights, and expressing the opinion that questions as to the posture of the defendant during the Prayer of Consecration ought to be referred to the Bishop for his directions.

The promoter appealed to the Privy Council and that Court delivered judgment on December 23, 1868, condemning the altar-lights and requiring strict compliance with the rubric respecting the celebrant’s attitude during the Prayer of Consecration.

A far more important case affecting the vesture and position of the celebrant came before the Court a year later in a suit instituted against the Rev. John Purchas, perpetual curate of St. James’ Chapel, Brighton. This suit raised among many other matters of less importance the question of the legality of the eastward position, Eucharistic vestments, wafer-bread, and the mixed chalice. On February 3, 1870, Sir Robert Phillimore, as Dean of Arches, decided virtually in favour of Mr. Purchas on all these points. Appeal was made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; and that Court on February 23, 1871, reversed the decision in respect of these matters. Thus for the first time the vestments were judicially declared to be illegal, the eastward position was declared to be illegal, and the use of the mixed chalice (whensoever mixed) and of wafer-bread was also forbidden. The suit was undefended. Mr. Purchas did not appear, not because he raised objection to the jurisdiction of the Court, but because he pleaded poverty. After the decision he unsuccessfully applied to have the case reheard by the Judicial Committee.

This decision created widespread consternation among High Churchmen of all sections, less, it would seem, on account of the prohibition of the eucharistic vestments, which were up to that time not very common, than on account of the prohibition of the eastward position, which had already become widely prevalent. without any delay a protest was signed by 4,700 clergy upon the specific point of the eastward position, the memorialists contending:—

“That the rubrics affecting this particular question having been diversely observed ever since they were framed, the Judicial Committee have given to these rubrics a restrictive interpretation, condemnatory of a usage which has continuously existed in the Church of England, and has for many years widely prevailed.”

It is probably true to say that the Purchas judgment, by consolidating the different schools of High Churchmen in dislike or criticism of its censure of the eastward position, led to an increase rather than to a diminution of the ritual usages which it condemned. The main growth of the objection alleged against the Judicial Committee as a Court of Appeal in ritual as distinct from doctrinal matters can certainly be traced to that date.

(f) On February 7, 1872, a letter of Business was issued by the Crown to the Convocations of both Provinces, directing or authorising them to consider and report upon the contents of the recently issued fourth Report of the ritual Commission to which reference has been already made. This letter of Business (which was renewed after the General election of 1874) was virtually an instruction to revise, so far as the Convocations might think fit, all the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer (with the exception of the Lectionary, upon which legislation had in 1871 taken place); and the Convocations accordingly entered upon the task. With the help of important committees which, in accordance with usage, made recommendations upon points of details, the form of “Shortened Service” referred to in an earlier part of this Report (paragraph 33) was agreed upon in both Convocations within a few weeks from the issue of the Letter of Business, the formal signatures of Bishops and Clergy being finally appended in Canterbury Convocation on March 6, and the signature of the Archbishop of York on behalf of the York Convocation on April 10, 1872. The recommendations of the Convocations were forthwith embodied in a Bill which recited in its preamble the procedure which had been followed. the Bill passed easily through both Houses of Parliament, and on July 18, 1872, received the Royal Assent as the “Act of Uniformity Amendment Act, 1872” (35 and 36 Victoria, cp. 35). Some account of the prolonged deliberations which took place upon the larger measure of rubrical revision has been brought before us in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s evidence; and it is not necessary to say more than that the replies or reports of the two Convocations were not finally drawn up and transmitted to the Crown until July, 1879. The formal Reply was in each case accompanied by a schedule setting forth the suggested changes. The recommendations of the two Convocations were not identical, the most notable difference being that, whereas the Northern Convocation desired that the Ornaments Rubric should remain unaltered, the southern Convocation recommended an important addendum which would have made the whole rubric run as follows:—

"And here it is to be noted, that such ornaments of the Church, and of the ministers thereof, at all times of their ministration, shall be retained, and be in use, as were in this Church of England by the authority of Parliament, in the second year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth, until further order be taken by lawful authority.

In saying Public Prayers and ministering the Sacraments and other rites of the Church, every priest and deacon shall wear a surplice with a stole or scarf, and the hood of his degree, and in preaching he shall wear a surplice with a stole and scarf, and the hood of his degree, or, if he think fit, a gown with hood and scarf; and no other ornament shall at any time of his ministrations be used by him contrary to the monition of the bishop of the diocese.

Provided always that this rubric shall not be understood to repeal the 24th, 25th, and 58th of the Canons of 1604.”

The Reply sent from Canterbury Convocation was accompanied by the following condition, in which York Convocation concurred:—

“We do not wish to be understood to invite the sanction of the two Houses of Parliament to what we have proposed until the draft Bill which will be presented to your Majesty with this Report shall have become law.”

The provision of the “draft Bill” alluded to were to the effect that the rubrics of the Prayer Book might be altered from time to time by Order in Council, on the formal request of the two Convocations which should draft the particular scheme desired; and that such Order in Council should be subject to the veto of either House of Parliament.

(g) In 1874 the “Public Worship Regulation Act” was passed through Parliament in the face of Convocation’s criticism and in spite of vehement opposition on the past of High Churchmen in the country. The speech of Archbishop Tait, in moving the second reading, gave evidence of the increase of “advanced” usages throughout England and of the unanimous desire on the part of the Bishops that some change should be made in the system of ecclesiastical judicature. the transformation which the Bill underwent in Committee on the motion of Lord Shaftesbury, with the support of Lord Cairns, then Lord Chancellor, but contrary to the wish of its original promoters, led to sharp recriminations in Parliament, to widespread disaffection outside, and to a further consolidation of those who regarded the Bill as an engine of oppression of High Churchmanship. In the litigation of the years which followed it became apparent that the Act, apart from constitutional questions raised by it, was cumbrous in its working. In view of all the facts we think that the Acts should be repealed.

(h) To the five years which followed the Act of 1874 belongs the largest number of suits or attempted suits on ritual matters, but, with the important exception of the Ridsdale case, the litigation was rather for the enforcement of the declared law than for the decision of disputable points. It is mainly in those years (1876-1880) that the examples are found of that exercise of Episcopal veto which has given rise to controversy. We have dealt wit the subject in paragraph 376 of our Report.

(i) The facts as to the Ridsdale case were as follows It was generally felt to be unsatisfactory that the question of the legality of the “eastward position” of the celebrant (by which a larger number of clergy were affected than by any other question in dispute) should depend upon the decision given in the undefended suit of Hebbert v, Purchas, and when the point was raised afresh in the suit of Clifton v. Ridsdale in 1875, eminent counsel were retained for the defence. Lord Penzance, who had succeeded Sir Robert Phillimore as Dean of the Arches, and held also the position of judge under the Act of 1874, followed the decision of the Judicial Committee in the Purchas case, condemning Mr. Ridsdale on the three main points of the wearing of Eucharistic vestments, the use of wafer-bread, and the adoption of the eastward position. Mr. Ridsdale appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; and on May12, 1877, a decision was given, after great elaboration or argument, by a Court of exceptional strength. The Court confirmed Lord Penzance’s decision as to the illegality of the Eucharistic vestments, modified the decision as to wafer-bread, and declared the Eastward position during the Prayer of Consecration to be in accordance with the law, provided it did not render the manual acts invisible to the congregation. When the decision was published, those who had declined to give up the eastward position in obedience to the Purchas judgment of 1871 were able to content that on the particular point at issue they had, like their predecessors in 1857 (see paragraph 313), been substantially in the right.

Hopes were widely expressed that the Ridsdale decision, after the full discussion which the case had received, would tend to allay the ritual controversy and to promote obedience to Episcopal authority exercised in restraint of excessive ritual. These anticipations, however, were not fulfilled; and the committal of four clergymen to prison in the years 1878-81 for disobedience to the order of the Courts whose jurisdiction they challenged increased the general confusion, irritation, and unrest.

(j) In December, 1880, Archbishop Tait formally asked that those clergy who were dissatisfied with the existing system of ecclesiastical legislation and judicature should state explicitly what changes they desired to see, promising that “the suggestions so made should be respectfully and calmly considered.” Memorials on either side were immediately prepared, some 10,000 clergy appended their names to one or other of them, and in March, 1881, Archbishop Tait moved in Parliament for the appointment of a Royal Commission to consider the whole subject of Ecclesiastical Courts. To the findings and recommendations of that Commission we refer in a later part of this Report (See paragraph 368).

(k) In the meantime, owing partly to the scandal cause by the imprisonment of clergy, and partly to other causes, prosecutions for ritual irregularity had come to be deprecated on all sides, by Low Churchmen as well as High Churchmen; but it is difficult to say how far the cessation of prosecution affected the advance of ritual in subsequent years. Archbishop Benson, who became Primate in 1883, and whose words carried weight with High Churchmen as those of a student of ritual subjects, used his influence to discourage excessive ritual. His reference in successive charges to such subjects as non-communicating attendance, the insistence upon the fast before Communion, and the use of the term Mass, which he described as “always meaningless, and the poorest term ever used for the Eucharist,” are well-known. Dr. Temple became Bishop of London in 1885; and a belief, whether justifiable or not, became speedily current that, robust and active as was his general administration, a very large liberty in ritual matters would be allowed to clergy whose work in their parishes was vigorous and effective. His unfailing admiration for real devotion to a hard task, and his instinctive desire to carry his sympathy to the widest possible limits, doubtless stayed him from interfering with many things of which he gravely disapproved. It is certainly true that in the evidence given before us a great many of the “advanced” usages described in London churches are said to have been introduced about that time.

(l) In 1888 the Church Association, acting in the name of certain parishioners in Lincoln, instituted legal proceedings against Dr. King, Bishop of Lincoln, as a prominent and representative High Churchman, in order to test, or test afresh, the legality of certain usages which may be summarised as follows: the use of the mixed chalice, the adoption of the eastward position by the celebrant throughout the service, the singing of the Agnus Dei, the performance of what are known as the ablutions, the use of two altar-lights, and the signing of the Cross in the air when giving the Absolution and the Benediction. After prolonged discussions and decision as to the legitimacy and appropriateness of the hearing of the suit by the Archbishop of the Province sitting with Episcopal assessors, the case was fully argued on its merits, and on November 21, 1890, Archbishop Benson gave his judgment, sanctioning, under carefully defined conditions, the use of the mixed chalice, and of altar-lights, the adoptions of the eastward position, and the singing of the Agnus Dei; permitting the performance of the ablutions in the manner described in the evidence given in the suit; and forbidding the signing of the Cross when giving the Absolution and the Benediction. an appeal was brought to the Privy Council, and on August 2, 1892, the Judicial Committee confirmed the Archbishop’s decision on all points, except that they pronounced no decision about the altar-lights, not regarding the Bishop as personally responsible for what had taken place in regard thereto. There can, we believe, be no question that the decision given by the Archbishop in this memorable case produced for a time, on account both of its intrinsic weight and of the manner in which it handled the questions at issue,  salutary and quieting effect upon the Church opinion, and tended to unite the central body of High Churchmen in restraint or irregular and illegal usages. We feel bound to add, on the strength of the evidence before us, that it appears to be certain that many of those who welcomed the sanctions which this judgment gave (notably to the mixed chalice and to the eastward position) have not observed the conditions attached by Archbishop Benson to such use.

(C) Of the third and last period (1892 and subsequently) of the three into which we have, for convenience sake, divided this historical summary, less need be said. Facts belonging to its later years have been amply depicted in the evidence brought before us.

The enthronement of Bishop Temple as Archbishop of Canterbury took place on January 8, 1897; and he had soon to deal with difficulties in regard to ritual matters.

(a) The growth of dislike and even hostility to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a Court of Ecclesiastical Appeal, and the notion that the Bishops and their legal officers must be guided thereby in giving their own decision, had tended, almost inevitably, towards the disregard of authority and to an increasing habit on the part of the clergy to act in ritual matters on their individual discretion or on the advice of irresponsible partisan societies. This found expression in more ways than one. Early in Archbishop Temple’s primacy it became clear that there had been during recent years a development of the use of special services outside the Book of Common Prayer, most of them profitable or harmless, but some of them open to grave exception as inconsistent with the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England or as definitely excluded from her services. It appears that the Bishops in the Convocation of Canterbury were about to take action in this and some other ritual matters, under the guidance of Archbishop temple, as was subsequently explained by him in a well-known speech. But this contemplated action was interfered with by a series of disturbances, of which the first took place in a London church on Good Friday, 1898, in connexion with a special service for “the Veneration of the Cross.”

Evidence has been brought before us by several Bishops as to the Episcopal inquiries and action which took place in the summer of 1898; and it would appears, as we have elsewhere said (See paragraph 385), that, so far as this class of special services was concerned the authority of the Bishops was loyally recognised and their action met with a great measure of success.

(b) In the summer of 1898 Sir William Harcourt, in a series of letters to The Times, called attention to the whole question of “Ritualistic” disobedience to the law, especially to what he conceived to be the misuse of the Episcopal veto; and the newspaper controversy which ensued, together with the action of Mr. Kensit and his followers, kept the subject constantly under the public eye. In his primary visitation charge, delivered in October, 1989, Archbishop Temple dealt at length with ritual questions, especially in their doctrinal aspect. In the same year was published the notable memorandum, signed by a large number of leading High Churchmen, giving expression to their desire for a greater measure of submission to authority as “the first principle of Catholicism,” and for the discouragement of what they described as an unauthorised “return to certain practices which were explicitly or by implication abolished at the Reformation.” To this important memorandum attention has been called in the evidence.

(c) In 1899 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, sitting together at Lambeth, in accordance with special arrangements agreed to by all the Bishops, which had been carefully announced beforehand, and had been welcomed on behalf of High Churchmen generally, heard legal and expert arguments on the subjects (a) of the use of incense and of processional lights, and (b) of the practice of reservation. For these “Hearings,” as they were termed, no exact historical precedent exists; but it was widely thought that advantage might usefully be taken, in this public way, of the provision in the Prayer Book which prescribes reference to the Bishop of the diocese and finally to the Archbishop of the Province for the resolution of doubts as to the interpretation of rubrical directions. On July 31, 1899, the Archbishops, in a joint “Opinion,” declared the use of incense and processional lights to be inadmissible; and on May 1, 1900, in two independent “Opinions,” the concurred in forbidding any form of reservation of the consecrated elements. Notwithstanding the issue of a joint Pastoral Letter by the Bishops of both Provinces enjoining compliance with Episcopal direction on the lines laid down by the Archbishops, it cannot be said that the Lambeth Hearings have attained the result at which their promoters aimed—the settlement of the questions which were at issue.

(d) The subject of ritual excesses, or, to quote the phrase used, “disorders in he Church,” also came before Parliament on several occasions, an important debate taking place in the House of Lords on February 9, 1899. On May 10, 1899, the second reading of a “Church Discipline Bill,” introduced by Mr. McArthur, was the subject of prolonged debate in the House of Commons. This Bill (Clause 1) was intended to deal with the following acts as offences:—(a) use of the word Mass; (b,c) requirement of confession as a condition of participation in Holy Communion, or of regular confession; (d) introduction or use of illegal ornaments of the church or minister; (e) use of illegal ceremonies or alteration of services by addition of omission. Clause 3 created a new Court to deal with the above offences. It was to consist of a Judge of the Supreme Court appointed by the Crown, and a Bishop acting as an assessor only. An appeal was to lie from this Court to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. This Bill was thrown out on second reading, May 10, 1899, by 315 to 156 votes, the following amendment having been moved by the Attorney-General on behalf of the Government:—

"That this House, while not prepared to accept a measure which creates fresh offences and ignores the authority of the Bishops in maintaining the discipline of the Church, is of opinion that, if the efforts now being made by the Archbishop and Bishops to secure the due obedience of the Clergy are not speedily effectual, further legislation will be required to maintain the observance of the existing laws of Church and Realm."

A similar Church Discipline bill was introduced in 1900, 1901, and 1902, but did not reach second reading in any of those years.

In February, 1903, a Church Discipline Bill, promoted by the Church Association, was introduced in the House of Commons by Mr. Austin Taylor and others, Clauses 1 and 2 of this Bill abolished the veto; Clause 5 abolished imprisonment as a result of disobedience to a monition and substituted deprivation. this Bill was read a second time, March 13, 1903 (190 to 139 votes) but did not emerge from the committee stage.

In March, 1903, a Church Discipline Bill (No. 2) was introduced in the House of Commons by Mr. Cripps. K.C., and others. This Bill (Clause 1) empowered a clergyman, against whom complaint on account of doctrine or ritual had been made, to have the matter dealt with by the Bishop personally instead of by the Ecclesiastical Courts, but so that (Clauses 3 and 4) a monition issued by the Bishop personally to such clergyman might be enforced by suspension and avoidance of benefice. The clergyman was (Clause 2) given the right to elect to have his case dealt with by the Ecclesiastical Courts. This Bill was read a second time on May 12, 1903 (78 to 58 votes), but proceeded no further.