RECORD: [Church, W. R.] 1860. [Review of] On the origin of species. Guardian (London) (8 February): 134-135.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by Angus Carroll, transcribed (single key) by AEL Data, corrections by John van Wyhe 8.2009. RN1

NOTE: From a copy in the collection of Carroll.

[page] 134


On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection; or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. By CHARLES DARWIN, M.A., F.R.S., F.G.S., F.L.S., &c. Murray.

There are forms of speculation so wild and improbable, or, at any rate, so alien to our ordinary habits of thought, that they can only obtain a fair consideration under the protection of some illustrious name. If an anonymous author, or one only known as an amateur in natural science, were to propound the startling theory, that all the various tribes of living creatures which people earth, air, and water with an infinite diversity of form and habit, are descended from some four or five progenitors, whose progeny have, by small successive degrees of difference in the lapse of ages, developed into the manifold divergence of the countless species now in existence, a busy man would be justified in turning from the unread volume with a smile of incredulity. But the case is widely different when this theory is put forward by Mr. Darwin, a man confessedly in the foremost ranks of natural philosophy, a Fellow of the Royal, Geological, and Linnæan Societies, honoured among his scientific peers (as was publicly shown not long ago in the assignment to him of the medal of the Geological Society), and already favourably known to the outer world by his celebrated Journal of the Beagle. A new theory by such a man, however strange it may appear, deserves respectful attention; and this claim will be increased, when the reader, on opening the book, discovers that the small volume in his hands is the result of twenty-three years' patient investigation, and is, after all, only the condensed argument of a larger work, which, if the author's health permit, will follow it in two or three years, and supply the vast substratum of detailed facts which alone can give security to the airy and tottering fabric he is labouring to erect. And if the reader pursues the work to the end, he will rise from the perusal, not, perhaps, convinced by Mr. Darwin's arguments, but certainly supplied with many new thoughts, and strengthened and expanded by the sensation of contact with a powerful, philosophical, and richly stored mind.

The substance and force of his argument can be appreciated by no process short of reading his book; its closely condensed statements admit of no epitomising. But its direction and tendency may, per-

[page] 135

haps, be indicated in a few sentences. Observe, he says, the many varieties of plants and animals which arise under domestication and culture. What a power the gardener possesses of diversifying his tulips, dahlias, roses, potatoes, apples, cabbages! How numerous are the varieties of dogs! how distinct the breeds of sheep and cattle, woolly or fleshy, long-horned or short-horned! how far apart the dray-horse and the racehorse! how widely separated the game cock, the Cochin-China, and the bantam! And yet most naturalists believe that these widely divergent types are, in each instance, descended from common ancestors; that they are, in short,varieties, and not species. Or—to take a less obvious instance, to which Mr. Darwin is fond of recurring, that of the pigeon—what can be more apparently distinct than the curious birds which fill the cages of the pigeon-fancier? There is the Tumbler, that cannot fly many yards without going head over heels in the air, the Pouter with its enormous crop, the Jacobin with its feathers reversed along the back of the neck so as to form a hood, the Fantail with its numerous expanded tail-feathers, and many others, familiar to all who are interested in the subject. Is it possible to consider all these to be distinct species? Mr. Darwin thinks none of them are so, and conceives that their common ancestry is indicated, among other facts, by a continual tendency frequently manifested in each separate breed to revert to the characteristics of the supposed original parent of all, the rock-pigeon. This pigeon is of a slaty-blue colour, has a white rump, a dark bar across the tail, and white-edged feather tails. These marks are characteristic of no special breed, and yet perpetually recur, as it were accidentally, in every breed. Whence, then, are they derived, if not from a common ancester?

If, then, it must be granted that plants and animals have a great power of variability under man's culture, how is that variability developed? What is the process by which the apple, the horse, or the pigeon diverges into such distinct forms? Clearly, by careful breeding from selected individuals. Some individual appears with a slight variation, which either ministers to the use, or catches the fancy, of its owner. That individual is cherished and protected with a care beyond its fellows: its offspring inherit the same peculiarity in a slightly increased degree: they, too, receive the same attention, and transmit, in a still higher degree, the same characteristic. Repeat this process for an indefinite number of generations, and you will have an indefinite amount of divergence. To some extent this process may be actually traced, though in most instances the immense lapse of time required for its operation makes it a matter of inference only. Thus—

Youatt speaks of the principle of selection as "that which enables the agriculturist, not only to modify the character of his flock, but to change it altogether." Lord Somerville, speaking of what breeders have done for sheep, says—It would seem as if they had chalked out upon a wall a form perfect in itself, and then had given it existence." That most skilful breeder, Sir John Sebright, used to say, with respect to pigeons, that "he would produce any given feather in three years, but it would take him six years to obtain head and beak." In Saxony the importance of the principle of selection in regard to merino sheep is so fully recognised, that men follow it as a trade; the sheep are placed on a table and are studied, like a picture by a connoisseur; this is done three times at intervals of months, and the sheep are each time marked and classed, so that the very best may ultimately be selected for breeding.

From domestic to wild life the step is easy, and the inferences manifold. If man, with his limited knowledge, capricious intention, and feeble resources, can produce so great an effect in the variation of the comparatively small number of individuals which fall under his control, what may not be expected from the constant, unfailing, determinate action over the whole face of the world of that system of Divine operation regulated by law, which, for shortness' sake, we term Nature? The only question is, can we see any reason why Nature should act like man in this respect? She could, no doubt, select and heighten, by a long course of careful breeding, any individual particularity into a special breed; but is there any reason why she should do so? Is there, in short, any motive for Natural Selection, as there obviously is for human selection? There is such a motive, says Mr. Darwin, and a very plain and powerful one. You will find it in the consideration of the universal struggle for life. It follows from the obvious fact that all organised creatures reproduce their kind in a geometrical ratio of increase, that earth, sea, and air are over-peopled with life. All plants and animals are competitors for an insufficient supply of the conditions of existence. There is not, and by the very law of their increase, there cannot be, enough for all:—

In looking at nature, it is most necessary . . . never to forget that every single organic being around us may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers; that each lives by a struggle at some period of its life; that heavy destruction inevitably falls either on the young or old during each generation, or at recurrent intervals. Lighten any check, mitigate the destruction ever so little, and the number of the species will almost instantaneously increase to any amount. The face of nature may be compared to a yielding surface, with ten thousand sharp wedges packed close together, and driven inwards by incessant blows, sometimes one wedge being struck, and then another, with greater force.

Under these circumstances, any variation which gives ever so slight an advantage in the struggle for life, will have a tendency to he preserved and reproduced, while any variation in the opposite direction will as surely be suppressed and perish. Thus every species will be continually, though by imperceptible degrees, adapting itself more and more to the special conditions of life under which it happens to be placed. As it spreads from its central home, these conditions will themselves vary. Climate, soil, food, competitors for life, will all become changed, and the species itself must change with them. And these causes will suggest far greater results, if we contemplate them in their operation through the vast cycle of geological periods. During all this time Nature will have been engaged in the process of selection, and, by consequence, of variation. And her principle of selection will have been—not like man's, uncertain and variable, and adapted to the owner's benefit—but steady and determinate, looking only to the advantage of the creature itself. It is forcibly expressed in the general law, "Multiply, vary, let the strongest live, and the weakest die." Thus old species are for ever dying out, new species for ever forming. The following noble simile will give a better notion of the extent and grandeur of Mr. Darwin's theory than any paraphrase can do:—

The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks the truth. The green and budding twigs may represent existing species, and those produced during each former year may represent the long succession of extinct species. At each period of growth all the growing twigs have tried to branch out on all sides, and to overtop and kill the surrounding twigs and branches, in the same manner as species and groups of species have tried to overmaster other species in the great battle for life. The limbs divided into great branches, and these into lesser and lesser branches, were themselves once, when the tree was small, budding twigs; and this connection of the former and present buds by ramifying branches may well represent the classification of all extinct and living species in groups subordinate to groups. Of the many twigs which flourished when the tree was a mere bush, only two or three, now grown into great branches, yet survive and bear all the other branches; so with the species which lived during long-past geological periods—very few now have living and modified descendants, from the first growth of the tree many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these lost branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only from having been found in a fossil state. As we here and there see a thin straggling branch springing from a fork low down in a tree, and which, by some chance, has been favoured and is still alive on its summit, so we occasionally see an animal like the Ornithorynchus or Lepidosiren, which in some small degree connects by its affinities two large branches of life, and which has apparently been saved from fatal competition by having inhabited a protected station. As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feeble branch, so by generation, I believe, it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.

Mr. Darwin is by no means insensible to the great difficulties which beset his theory. Fully one half of the book is devoted to their consideration. The mere mention of such topics as Instinct, Hybridism, the Geological Record, Geographical Distribution, will suggest at once a multitude of objections. Why, if species are but variations of a common type, are their hybrid offspring barren? What imaginable process of selection can have produced the migratory instinct of the swallow, the cell-building instinct of the bee, or the curious habit of some races of ants, which carry on their work by means of captured slaves? If all existing species are but developments of ancient species, why can we not trace each step of the process through successive fossil strata? Or, again, how can we reconcile the theory of a common descent with the generally admitted fact of the existence of certain definite centres of dispersion, from which distinct types seem, as it were, to have radiated into the surrounding districts? All these formidable difficulties are fairly stated, and most ingeniously explained by Mr. Darwin; though he is obliged, in many cases, to take shelter, as a last resource, under the wide-covering protection of human ignorance, and to expect the chance of what may yet be revealed in his favour by future research. Time alone and the discussion of the learned will set the seal of value upon his speculations. Most readers will think that he has established the fact that the number of species in the world is far smaller than would appear from the ordinary classification of naturalists; few, probably, will be disposed to follow him to the extent implied in the following passages:—

I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number.

Analogy would lead me one step further—namely, to the belief that all animals and plants have descended from some one prototype. But analogy may be a deceitful guide. Nevertheless, all living things have much in common, in their chemical composition, their germinal vesicles, their cellular structure, and their laws of growth and reproduction. We see this even in so trifling a circumstance as that the same poison often similarly affects plants and animals; or that the poison secreted by the gall-fly produces monstrous growths on the wild rose or oak tree. Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed. . . . In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.

Diaries and Correspondence of the Right Hon. George Rose. Edited by the Rev. LEVESON VERNON HARCOURT. Two Vols. Bentley.

Mr. Rose was a laborious and useful public servant; but that which justifies the publication of his remains is not any special interest that his name calls up, but his intimate connection with Mr. Pitt. Mr. Rose was the fidus Achates of the great statesman, both in his affectionate attachment to him as a friend, and in the veneration and almost unshaken allegiance with which he regarded him as a political chief. It is one of those instances of unbounded loyalty to a leader which has nothing of servility and obsequiousness to tarnish it, and which is a pleasant sight to contemplate. For the chief was one worthy of homage; and the homage was rendered in a manly way. It did not imply the surrender of judgment. On the contrary, Mr. Rose was a staunch Tory of the George III. school, and Mr. Pitt, though the great Tory Minister, was in his political ideas a good way in advance of his time; and with all his admiration and confidence, Mr. Rose kept to his genuine antipathies to Parliamentary Reform and Roman Catholic Emancipation, though he knew how different were Mr. Pitt's sentiments upon these subjects. There is something amusing—amusing and not at all offensive—in the way in which, as so often happens, the inferior mind kept anxious watch on the movements of the superior one, with really affectionate interest, and with the most unsuspecting confidence in the soundness of its own judgment, and the unquestionable correctness of its own point of view. It is not self-conceit or want of modesty—it is merely the unconscious assumption that it, the inferior mind, by the very condition of its inferiority, is on solid terra firma, while the superior one is wheeling and circling above the earth in unsubstantial mid-air, and therefore in more danger of mistakes and falls.

Mr. Rose's career is soon told. He began life in the navy, and commanded a boat at the landing in Cancale Bay in 1758. He afterwards became connected with the Record-office, and then with the War-office, where he came under the notice of Lord Shelburne, by whose patronage he became Secretary to the Treasury. In 1783 he met Mr. Pitt at Paris, and formed an intimacy with him, which continued till Mr. Pitt's death. He took office and entered Parliament under Mr. Pitt, to whom he was one of the most useful of subordinates, and most trusty, if not always the wisest, of counsellors. He held various positions of responsibility, though he never reached high official rank. Under the Duke of Portland he was appointed Treasurer to the Navy, which office he held till his death, in 1818.

The main value of the book consists in this, that Mr. Rose was for more than twenty years in close and intimate communication with Mr. Pitt, and that in the relics of this communication we may expect to get a nearer view of a statesman who, with all his greatness, seems to be less familiarly known than most of his equals. A good many of his letters are here given, and still more of those of Mr. Rose and his friends. But the importance of these remains is considerably diminished by a circumstance which is noticed by the editor of them. Mr. Pitt was a particularly cautious letter-writer. He preferred talking over matters to writing about them; and so the best part of his private communications is lost:—"His statesmanlike caution in writing is very remarkable. He never expatiates upon passing events; he never reveals his intentions to his most intimate friend; he never trusts his opinions to the perfidies of the Post-office; but is always contriving the most convenient means of personal intercourse, when any measure is to be discussed." The interest, therefore, of the letters is mainly to be found in the reflection which they present of Pitt's private ways of feeling and speaking. Mr. Vernon Harcourt remarks on their generosity of tone:—"He never abuses any one; he never depreciates his adversaries; and when unbosoming himself in the most confidential communications with his dearest friend, not a word of ill-nature escapes him." This is true; but to our mind their prominent feature is a kind of proud, lofty, but effortless stoicism. You might almost say that he looked on at imminent dangers and at things going wrong without caring for them, if you did not perceive, from other parts of the letters, not only how closely he was watching everything, but how clear were his ideas of what he was prepared to do. He had—in spite of Lord Eldon's account to the contrary—a low estimate of people round him; if he were not so magnanimous we should almost read in his letters that he was a despiser of mankind, or at least of his generation. But while everybody else, friend or foe, is in a state of excitement—excitement natural enough in days such as those that they lived in, but often passing into weak fuss and hurry—he looks on, measuring faults, hazards, menaces, with as true an eye as any one, but so undisturbed that you might almost fancy that he hardly held them worth his efforts to struggle against. It is the absence of what the Latin expresses by the word trepidatio, which distinguishes him from his compeers. He was what almost every one else was proud of not being—in the largest and classical sense of the word, an intrepid man. In power and under responsibility there was no limit to his energy and labour; and he drank in largely the intoxication of feeling himself powerful. But out of power the taste for it subsided of its own accord. Pertinacious and resolute in matters of pressing moment, when they seemed the only remedies within his reach against immediate ruin, he was not inflexible in the prosecution of measures which he approved and thought desirable only on general grounds of public principle. His financial policy he was not to be turned aside in. Holding both Reform and Emancipation to be right and necessary measures, he gave way to the opposition which they called forth, and thought it of no great consequence if they had to wait. It was the fatality of his position that, born with a mind capable of, and inclining him to, a comprehensive and far-reaching policy, his work was appointed in a time when all that he could do was to apply such makeshift and often coarse remedies, as were at hand, to immediate dangers, and to keep the ship of the State from foundering. Great as he was, it would have required a happier age, and both associates add rivals of larger intelligence and improved public morality, to have shown how great he might have been.

Mr. Vernon Harcourt has done his work with considerable labour, but not, to our thinking, altogether happily. In the first place, a good deal of compression and omission in the correspondence itself would have been desirable. The important or curious portions of the work—under which latter head come some copious notes of George III.'s very characteristic talk—are buried under a mass of what is either insignificant or not properly belonging to this collection. Next, his own portion of the work is inexcusably prolix and tiresome. He undertook to edit Mr. Rose's diaries and correspondence, not to write desultory comments on them, which might do for articles in a Review. In such a work, indeed, connecting explanatory paragraphs or concise historical notes are of the utmost value. We want to be put up to what the letters are about, and to be told who the people are, who are mentioned in them. But in a book which contains only the materials or the illustrations of history, we do not look for controversial disquisitions on the subject which it touches on. Mr. Vernon Harcourt may be desirous to break a lance with the Whig historians in defence of Mr. Pitt, and to expose the misrepresentations of Lord Holland or Lord John Russell about Mr. Pitt's conduct in breaking with France in 1793, or in giving up Roman Catholic emancipation but whatever the force of his arguments, this is not the place for them, and it is not fair to his readers to interpolate independent essays of fifty pages on the general history of the period, merely because the subject of them is suggested by the correspondence which he edits. So again, Mr. Rose's efforts to obtain for Lady Hamilton some assistance from the Government, according to Nelson's dying request, are fairly enough touched upon, for they form the subject of a mass of his letters—though it was hardly necessary to print all those letters. But twenty pages of correspondence and comment on Nelson's conduct in the Bay of Naples, and his crime in hanging Caraccioli, have nothing whatever to do with Mr. Rose or his proceedings. A book should be either one thing or the other. If it is meant for history, let it be history. If it be correspondence, let it be correspondence. But it is unprofitable and wearisome in the extreme to be interrupted in getting through a mass of what professes to be mere material, and of which a reader wishes to gain a general notion with as little loss of time as possible, by fragments of extraneous narrative, or of a warm and rhetorical attack on the opinions and arguments of opposite partisans. Such discursive writing is for the most part unsatisfactory as a political pamphlet, and much more so as a contribution to history; and in these days of the publication of correspondences, it is absolutely necessary, for the protection of readers, that the line should be rigorously drawn and kept to, which divides the functions of an editor from those of an original writer; of him who provides and arranges the materials, and him who uses them. In the present work these functions have been, confounded.

Part I. of Photographs from Original Sketches in the Holy Land and Syria, by Conway Shipley, Esq. (Masters), promises an interesting series. They are by Messrs. Lock and Whitfield, who take the first rank among photographers. Of the four views given—Nazareth, and a street view in Jerusalem, please us best.

Mr. Jackson, of Stoke Newington, has published a volume of Sermons preached chiefly on Public Occasions (Longmans), Sound and practical, although diffuse in style. He himself appears to be conscious of the "redundant and pleonastic forms of expression" which characterise his language, and defends them on the ground of their adaptation to spoken compositions. No doubt it is a hard task to write a discourse which shall address itself with equal excellence to the ear and to the eye, and shall be alike suited to the pulpit and to the closet. Independently of this feature in their style, the sermons address themselves ably to the practical topics of the present time, and urge right principles with considerable rhetorical power. They were preached mostly to audiences above the average or for special purpose; and are published at the request of those who heard them.

Sermons for Soldiers, preached at Home and Abroad, by the Rev. S. B. Windsor (Masters), deserve a strong recommendation, as plain, practical, thoughtful, and pointed sermons, of a reasonable shortness, for uneducated people. They will suit the young men of our country villages quite as well as the soldiers, for whom they were written, but to whose circumstances they are by no means confined, and who indeed are mainly recruited from country lads. Their excellence induces us to notice a few blemishes that have caught our attention in perusing them. The words in p. 136 that our Lord resisted temptation "only by His own inherent deity"—are surely both of questionable truth, and lead to a mischievous inference. Again in p. 172, in the effort to express intelligibly a very deep truth, there occurs the rash expression that "God first sets Himself laws," and so cannot but maintain them It is questionable also whether the Sabbath was observed from the Creation; and at any rate it would be better not (unnecessarily) to rest the authority of the Lord's Day upon that to which there is at the best doubtful evidence, while the Fathers generally deny it.

Is it right to put forward the tastes and wishes of the congregation— as the Bishop of Winchester does in his recent Ordination Charge, just published (Hatchards)—as the sole consideration to be attended to by the clergy in rubrical matters not settled by precise law? We speak with respect of the kindly and solemn words of one who is among the oldest of our Bishops. But while doing all that is possible to conciliate serious and conscientious objectors, surely every priest is bound to lead his flock to what is right, not to follow them wherever they may strive to lead him. Moreover it is hard upon the clergy of St. George's-in-the-East to blame them, as the Bishop does, without uttering a single syllable of blame against the actual rioters and blasphemers in that unhappy parish.

The style and language of Mr. C. H. Collette are simply indefensible. But as regards the substance of his book upon Dr. Wiseman's Popish Literary Blunders (Hall, Virtue, and Co.), which has grown out of a pamphlet into a volume, he seems to have made out a strong case, to this extent, that the Cardinal has quoted at second or third hand from unreliable authorities, wording his statements as though they rested upon his own learning, and has signally mis-quoted in consequence.

We wish to commend a sensible, and in these times appropriate, tract upon the interpretation of yet unfulfilled prophecy, entitled The Second Coming of Christ and the Manifestation of Antichrist (Lendrum, and Masters).

The article from the Ecclesiastic of December, 1859, upon the Bishop of St. Andrew's and his Cathedral, is reprinted for private circulation. An answer must needs be given both to it and to Canon Humble's pamphlet, if Bishop Wordsworth desires to retain the respect, and more than respect, with which he was regarded in old times.

A nicely written story in Mr. Bentley's series of Standard Novels, Truth Answers Best, is founded on an attempt which was actually made to personate the unfortunate Dauphin, whose lingering death fills, perhaps, the saddest page of the history of the French Revolution. The young impostor dies without owning his fraud.

Temptations which beset young girls in service have been especially considered in the incidents of Straight Forward (Mozley), but Mrs. Lefroy has told her tale so well that no one, in whatever station he may be, can read it without that kind of interest which will commend the moral to his own heart. We should have criticised the characters of the second story as somewhat improbable; but the writer assures us that her portrait of "The Dissembler" is drawn from real life. It is drawn with power and simplicity of expression.

[page 136]



The Guardian.


Parliamentary Intelligence.


On Monday Lord Palmerston stated that, in consequence of the unfortunate indisposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the financial statement, which would involve a considerable length of speech, was unavoidably postponed till Friday.

It was also stated in both houses that the Treaty of Commerce with France could not, in consequence, be laid upon the table till the same evening, as it was thought better to delay its production till such time as the whole subject could be brought under the notice of Parliament.

Replying to Lord Donoughmore, as to whether the résumé of the treaty in the Indépendance Belge was correct or not, Earl Granville said, that not being a subscriber to the paper, he could not tell!


On Monday the Earl of Derby gave notice of his intention to ask, the next day, what steps had been taken by the Government for the purpose of checking the disgraceful exhibitions which have taken place Sunday after Sunday for a considerable time past at St. George's-in-the-East, remarking—

I do not wish to make any motion or to raise any discussion on the subject, but certainly the scenes which have taken place are such a disgrace to a civilised country, and, whatever may be the errors and want of judgment on the part of the clergy, they have now arrived at such a point, that it is impossible for any Government to submit to this constant violation of all order and decency. (Cheers.)

Lord Brougham—I quite agree with my noble friend in the absolute necessity of some effectual measures for the suppression of this weekly nuisance: and I beg to have it distinctly understood that the question of putting down this disgraceful nuisance has nothing whatever to do with the supposed errors out of which these disturbances have arisen. Be the clergyman ever so much in the wrong (and I do not say that he is in the wrong), this does not furnish an atom of excuse, or even of extenuation, for such scandalous exhibitions.

A different view appears to be taken by the Home Secretary, for when Mr. Byng, in the Commons, the same evening, asked whether it was the right hon. baronet's intention, either by legal enactment or by giving more explicit directions to the police, to prevent, if possible, the repetition of such scenes for the future, Sir G. C. Lewis replied that before he answered the question of the hon. member he should demur to his designating as outrages the scandalous scenes which occurred on Sunday at the parish church of St. George's-in-the-East:—

He had received reports with regard to the circumstances attending the various services, and there appeared to him that nothing had occurred amounting to what was ordinarily denominated an "outrage"—that was to say, a forcible breach of the peace, though, in one sense of the word outrage, it might be applied to what was an offence against the decorum and propriety of public worship. The house was aware that the law did not arm the police with the power of summary interference in the case of noisy disturbances or interruptions of silence and order during public worship. He had taken the steps which appeared to him requisite for maintaining public peace, and, as far as he could collect the feeling of the house on a former occasion, there appeared to be many persons who thought he had even gone further than he was justified in doing for the prevention of disturbances. The course which had been taken by Sir Richard Mayne appeared to him adequate for the purpose of maintaining order, and beyond that he (Sir G. Lewis) was not prepared to go. He could only express his regret that the mode of performing public services at St. George's-in-the-East which the incumbent thought fit to adopt should be such as to create so much dissatisfaction.


On Thursday, Mr. Hubbard, in asking for leave to introduce a bill to amend the law of church-rates, said he trusted he should need no other justification for bringing before the house the question of the law of church-rates than the importance of the subject itself, the wide difference of opinion which prevailed respecting it, and the general desire that was felt to come to some settlement:—

The bill he had prepared proposed to take a middle course between the extreme views which were entertained on either side. But it was not in the nature of a compromise. True, it occupied a middle ground which might fairly be the meeting-place of those who held the most contrary opinions: but he repeated that it was not a compromise so far as he was concerned, for in the bill which he begged to move nothing was conceded which he did not believe to be required by justice, and nothing was retained which might be lawfully conceded. The measure had been framed with a sincere desire to meet and to satisfy every complaint which could be fairly urged by those who were dissatisfied, as not being members of the Church of England. But, on the other hand, it abstained from needlessly injuring the interests of religion by interfering with those settled means which Churchmen already possessed for raising amongst themselves the funds which were requisite for the sustentation of their religious edifices, and for the maintenance of the services within them. The house would permit him briefly to explain the nature of the few clauses of which the bill was composed. In the first place it contemplated that those who did not conform to the services of the Church of England might, upon due notice given of an intention to make a rate, state that they did not conform to her services, and were desirous of not contributing to the rate; and these two positions were not always concurrent, but if they should be at once dissidents from her communion and unwilling to pay the rate, they should then be relieved from any liability to contribute thereto. These hostile elements being thus eliminated from the vestry, that body would then consist of a Church vestry so called, and in that vestry, as a matter of course, no Nonconformist would find his place, for he could not very well be excused from contributing to a rate for a special purpose, and yet claim a right either to take part in raising that rate or in disbursing the funds so raised; and in the Church vestry thus constituted no other question would be raised than that which related to the raising and the application of such rates. It had long been the complaint that in various parts of the country, and particularly in towns, many churches and district chapels were forced to contribute to rates which were levied and disbursed by the mother church, whilst they themselves had, in addition, the onus imposed upon them of providing for their own expenditure. One of the clauses of his bill would remedy that inequality in the existing practice—it would constitute every such district church or chapel an ecclesiastical district, and recognise in it a power of raising a rate for its own purposes; and upon the raising of such rate every such church or chapel would be exonerated from contributing to any other church whatever. The only other clause which he need mention was one that would assimilate both the assessment and mode of collecting church-rates to that which prevailed with regard to poor-rates, and would withdraw the cognisance of such cases entirely from the ecclesiastical courts. He would say no more descriptive of the contents of the measure. He was anxious that the house should permit the bill to be printed and laid before it, and he would only say, in conclusion, that it had been prepared with an earnest desire to contribute towards the settlement of this long-litigated question; and individually he might say that in the part he had taken in the matter, he was influenced by two feelings that were perfectly compatible—one, an entire and frank admission of the principle of civil and religious liberty; the other, a dutiful allegiance and loyalty to the Church of England.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.


On Friday, in reply to some observations of Earl Carnarvon, Lord Cranworth stated that in one respect his bill would differ from that of the select committee of the House of Commons last year, inasmuch as he provided in the seventh clause that, unless it was otherwise expressed in the will or deed of endowment, no trustee should be deemed ineligible, whatever his religious faith might be, whilst the bill drawn up as a compromise by the select committee provided that, unless otherwise expressed by the will or deed, and where it appeared that for twenty-five years immediately preceding the present time trustees of various denominations had been appointed, it should henceforth be understood that any trustees of any denomination should be eligible to be appointed. Lord Chelmsford said that as Sir Hugh Cairns intended to introduce a bill founded entirely on the report of the select committee of last year, it would be advisable to allow the House of Commons to have the two bills before them, and to determine which they preferred. Ultimately Lord Cranworth consented to postpone the second reading till Thursday.


Lord John Russell, in replying to a question from Mr. Disraeli, on Monday, for the production of any correspondence relating to the annexation of Savoy, said—

I have considered that subject, and have communicated with her Majesty's Ambassador in Paris, and I have come to the conclusion that it would not be proper to produce the papers for which the right hon. gentleman asked the other day. I am quite willing, however, to state the general purport of those papers. In the beginning of July, in consequence of a despatch from Mr. Harris, the British Minister in Switzerland, Count Walewski was asked by Lord Cowley whether there was any truth in the rumour that there was a project on foot for the annexation of Savoy to the Empire of France. Some conversation passed between them, and Count Walewski's remarks were not explicit on the subject on which Lord Cowley asked for information. Some time after this Count Walewski assured the Government that there was no intention on the part of the Emperor of the French to propose the annexation in question. On the former occasion Lord Cowley stated that such a proposal would be viewed with disapprobation by her Majesty's Government, and the language he held was approved by her Majesty's Government. On the second occasion her Majesty's Government directed a despatch to the British Ambassador in Paris, expressing the satisfaction with which her Majesty's Government had received the assurance that no such project was in contemplation.


Mr. Kinglake inquired, on Friday, whether any communications had been received concerning the naval and military preparations of the Emperor of the French. He was the more induced to put this question as the information which reached him from private sources was not at all of an assuring kind; and he was told that not only was the furlough of some 40,000 veterans suspended, but that orders had been issued for a fresh levy of 140,000 men. Lord John Russell said that it was hardly to be expected that a peace establishment should be resorted to immediately on the close of a war, especially as the Congress had not yet met; but he had received no intelligence of any special conscription as that alluded to:—

I received an account to-day from the Sardinian Government, to whom we had represented the dangers of any collision either in Perugia or the Papal States; and they assured the Government that they would do nothing that would provoke any renewal of hostilities there. There are, therefore, reasons to believe on the one hand that France is far from desirous of renewing the war, and that the Government of the Emperor is exerting itself earnestly to provide for the stability and permanence of peace. On the other hand, the Government of Austria, though unwilling to acquiesce in the present state of things in Italy, is by no means disposed to renew that war, or to make any attack upon the Powers at present in possession of the Italian provinces. Therefore, without saying anything in the way of prediction, without venturing to say what may be the events of next year—(a laugh)—I should say that the present aspect of things was favourable, and that we have no reason to suppose that the Emperor of the French is making those extensive preparations to which the hon. gentleman alluded. With regard to the arsenals of France, I believe that great activity prevails there. We all know that a great change has taken place in the mode of naval warfare. It is matter of speculation in books and pamphlets what the next war will be, and every one is convinced that it will not resemble any of the naval wars that are past. The late King of the French laid down a special system for the reconstruction of his navy, and I believe that every king and ruler of the French for nearly the last 100 years has endeavoured to make the marine of France superior. The ruler of France considers, naturally enough, that France ought to be a great maritime Power. There is great activity in our own docks and arsenals; both nations are endeavouring to be strong at sea, not with a view to any quarrel that is contemplated, but with a view to each being able to maintain its position in the event of hostilities arising, which no man may always be able to prevent. I cannot say that the naval preparations of France ought to be matter of jealousy to us. If the two nations could agree that there should be no more preparations, no strong navy—and I am unable to say whether that is possible or not—we might expect France to follow our course in that respect. But while France is determined to have a strong navy, we likewise wish to have a strong navy. I think there is no cause for disputing with one another if each maintains a navy at the strength which it thinks necessary.


In reply to Mr. P. Urquhart, Mr. Palk, and Colonel Dixon, the same evening, relative to these two corps, Mr. S. Herbert said of the first that it was only raised for a special purpose, the Crimean war, that all claims had been investigated and settled by a select committee, and that the case of the officers, who now complained of not having been promoted, could not be entertained. On the second head he observed that however much the Government regretted the inconvenience and disappointment caused by disembodying militia regiments, their numbers would be gradually reduced as the regular troops returned home.


Replying to Lord Vivian, who on Monday suggested that rifle corps ought to be provided with uniform by the Government, and the artillery corps also with pay whilst on drill, Earl de Grey and Ripon, the Under-Secretary for War, explained the steps which had been taken to render these corps efficient, and stated it was the intention of the Government to supply all effective members of the corps with rifles, but not with clothing. Efficient adjutants would also be appointed. The force already enrolled amounted to between 60,000 and 70,000 men, and was daily increasing. There was no intention on the part of the Government to violate the principle of volunteering by paying the artillery Volunteer corps during the period they were on drill. The Government, however, intended to encourage the movement by establishing a system of inspection throughout the country, which would, he considered, render the Volunteer corps, if ever their services should be required, most formidable opponents. In reply to questions from Lords Ellenborough and Wensleydale, he said that it was not at present the intention of the Government to pay drill sergeants for every company of Volunteers:—

The Government hoped, however, that when the adjutants were generally appointed they would themselves be able to superintend the drill of each corps. It was intended that sergeants of the line discharged with the consent of their commanding officers should be allowed to reckon their time of service with Volunteer corps for pension at the rate of one month for every two months' service with the Volunteer corps.


In the Lords, on Thursday, Lord Brougham, in moving that the bill for the transfer of property be printed, explained that it differed in principle from one of Sir Hugh Cairns, and its object was to extend to all conveyances the customary tenure of copyhold conveyance known in the north of England.—Agreed to. Lord St. Leonard's afterwards explained the provisions of his bill on the law of property, and stated that he had last session introduced a bill on the same subject which passed that house, but when it reached the Commons it was so altered as entirely to destroy its objects and purpose, and it was with the view of remedying the defects in that bill he had introduced the present measure.

Lord Brougham remarked that their lordships, the profession, and the public at large could not fail to be of opinion that the nation at large were under great obligations to his learned friend for devoting his retirement to the amendment of the law.

The Lord Chancellor entirely approved of the bill, and thought their lordships and the public were much indebted to the noble and learned lord (St. Leonard's) for his perseverance. With all respect to the House of Commons, it was not in advance in the work of law reform. Very useful law measures, passed by their lordships, had subsequently been thrown out in the other House of Parliament.

On Friday the Law of Property Bill was read a third time and passed.

On Monday the Lord Chancellor brought in a bill for consolidating the existing laws on the winding up of joint-stock companies.

The same evening Lord Brougham urged the further extension of the jurisdiction of the County Court over sums exceeding 50l. He stated that the plaints had increased from 536,000 in 1854, to 744,000 in 1857, and the sum received from 1,500,000l. to 2,000,000l. Further returns were ordered.


On Wednesday Mr. M'Mahon moved the second reading of the Appeal in Criminal Cases Bill. It was substantially the same as that of a previous session, with a few alterations to obviate objections to clauses which were not intended to bear the construction that had been put upon them, as he never proposed to give a right of appeal to the Crown when the prisoner had been acquitted, nor to the prisoner, unless he had been found guilty. He reinforced his argument in support of the bill by testimonies from high authorities in favour of this change in our criminal procedure, quoting the opinions of the Lord Chancellor, Chief Baron Pollock, and Sir F. Kelly; the report of the Criminal Law Commissioners of 1845; Mr. Greaves, who drew up the report on criminal procedure in 1856 and 1857; all favourable to an appeal in criminal cases. He also adduced the criminal law of France and other Continental States. Mr. W. Ewart seconded the motion, and, supporting the principle of the bill but not its details, recommended that it should be referred to a select committee. Sir G. Lewis was of opinion that serious consequences would follow the adoption of the principles of the bill, and believed that, notwithstanding the authorities cited by Mr. M'Mahon, he could produce a greater number who had come to an opposite conclusion:—

In 1848 a committee of the House of Lords was appointed to consider the Criminal Law Administration Amendment Bill, and Baron Parke, now Lord Wensleydale, and Baron Alderson, were examined before it on the very question to which this bill referred. Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Brougham, and Lord Denman (then Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench) were also examined before the committee, and gave their opinion on the same subject, particularly with reference to the evidence of Barons Parke and Alderson. The evidence of these eminent persons was sent round to all the other Judges, with a request that they would give their opinion upon the question referred to them. Barons Parke and Alderson pronounced a very decided opinion against criminal appeals—i.e., the power either to the Crown or to the prisoner to move for a new trial, as in civil cases. That opinion was concurred in without any modification at all, but rather on stronger grounds, by Lords Denman and Brougham; and also, in written communications to the committee, by Mr. Justice Patteson, Mr. Justice Coleridge, Mr. Justice Wightman, Mr. Justice Erie (now Chief Justice of the Common Pleas), Mr. Justice Coltman, Mr. Justice Maule, Mr. Justice Cresswell, Mr. Justice V. Williams, Lord Chief Baron Pollock, Mr. Baron Rolfe (the late Lord Chancellor), altogether by twelve Judges, besides the Chief Justice.

As regarded Mr. M'Mahon's argument that, as there was no sufficient ground for any distinction between civil and criminal trials, the laws of both should assimilate, Sir G. Lewis pointed out that if there were a primâ facie resemblance between the two branches of law, the practice, as a rule, varied in each of them; and wherever trial by jury was known, it was not the custom to grant appeals in criminal cases:—

The number of countries in Europe which had not trial by jury was very considerable, and it included Russia, Austria, Spain, Naples, Saxony, Holland, Sardinia (except in cases relating to the press), Tuscany, Parma, Modena, Rome, Sweden, and Denmark; but in those countries in which trial by jury prevailed there was a new trial permitted of criminal cases upon certain conditions. In most of the German States, in Greece, in Belgium, where the French code nearly was in operation, a criminal appeal from a jury was allowed in three cases—first, where two persons were convicted of the same offence; secondly, where, after a conviction for murder or manslaughter, the person supposed to be killed was proved to be alive—(laughter)—and, thirdly, where some of the material witnesses against the prisoner were subsequently convicted of perjury. This showed that these countries did not go very far in the permission they granted for appeals in criminal cases. But the French code, which the hon. and learned member had not clearly quoted, went somewhat further. If the Court was unanimously of opinion that the jury was mistaken in declaring the prisoner guilty, it could send the case to another jury; but the Court took this step ex officio, and no one could demand it, and it could only be taken immediately after the verdict, and before the sentence, by the Court declaring judgment was postponed. The law was nearly precisely the same in Belgium, and this was the fullest extent to which the law of any foreign country went with respect to criminal appeals. The hon. and learned gentleman referred to the Court of Cassation; but he should remember that it only had jurisdiction in matters of form, and that there was no appeal to it in matters of fact. It had merely jurisdiction to casser—to do what we called quashing a proceeding on the ground of its novelty—not to grant a new trial, or hear any new matters. There was the case of Madame Lemoine, who was found guilty, and sentenced by the Court of Assize to twenty years' hard labour, for burning alive the illegitimate child of her own daughter. She appealed to the Court of Cassation to reverse the sentence, but entirely upon technical grounds, and the Court decided that the objections were not sufficient to invalidate the condemnation, and rejected the appeal. Therefore this case did not afford the smallest countenance to the present measure. The hon. and learned gentleman said that the law of the United States drew no distinction between civil and criminal appeals, but he did not quote his authority. [Mr. M'Mahon was understood to say that his authority was Kent's Commenturies.] He (Sir G. Lewis) could only say that he could not find the smallest trace of any power in the States of the American Union to grant new trials in criminal cases. He, therefore, ventured to affirm that the distinction between the civil and criminal law with respect to new trials by appeal, was, if not universal, at all events, up to the present time, nearly universal in every country which had trial by jury.

The Home Secretary then proceeded to point out the probable consequences of the proposed change—the delay and uncertainty it would import into the administration of our criminal law; the multiplication of trials, which would require an addition to the judicial bench; the costs of the new trial, which, if they were to be paid by a poor man, would make the remedy a mockery, and they must eventually be defrayed out of some public fund; and if an absolute right of appeal were given to a prisoner, it would be unjust to deny it to the prosecutor. He concluded with moving to defer the second reading for six months. Mr. Denman said that during a considerable experience he had never known but one case in which, he thought

This document has been accessed 2536 times

Return to homepage

Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

File last updated 2 July, 2012