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duct of this argument, any expression has escaped me, stronger than was required by the necessity of the case, I have lived to express my concern for it, and to offer this open testimony to the goodness of heart, united with greatness of talent and acquirement, in that distinguished man.
Jan. 5, 1821.
MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,
AMONG the debates which distinguished a late Session of Parliament, those which took place in both Houses upon the Bill proposed to you "for the punishment, and more effectual prevention, of the crime of Adultery," were, in their own nature, sufficiently remarkable, and drew after them a more than usual attention from the public. I will not take upon me to renew the regret excited in the minds of many excellent persons by the temper which was allowed to mingle itself with those discussions. I
will only say, that the Bill was combated with a vehemence apparently unexpected by the original mover of it; and that the agitation which it produced within doors, was prolonged by public controversies on either side, when the decision of the Lower House against it had made all further expression, whether of acquiescence or opposition, equally unavailable. But, before your prorogation, notice was given in both Houses, of a determination to renew the proposal in the approaching session. I have, therefore, deemed it not foreign from my duty, to calm, if possible, the emotion that has arisen from some mistaken points of it; and before the urgency of the moment calls on you again for a decision, to state to you, in this Address, what may be reasonably concluded as to the principles on which such a measure may be founded. I make no apology for the liberty I take. A subject which involves so important a
part of domestic happiness, appeals to every man who has a conjugal interest to protect; a subject, too, in which that interest is so intimately connected with the Divine laws, cannot be shut to ecclesiastical discussion.
It was rightly observed, by one of the foremost of the disputants, that "the Divine law had been much brought in question" upon this measure; and another of them has very naturally expressed his wish, that the subject might be duly considered; the consequences resulting from it being of "too serious a nature to be suffered to rest in doubt and uncertainty." This, of itself, would tempt me to give it the precedence in the consideration I have to bestow upon it. But my fate is somewhat singular: the friends and enemies of the measure have appealed, in common, to the Scriptures, in support of their opposite persuasions; I shall have to encounter a partisan from
each side. My business will be, not to fortify the judgment of one of them against the fancy of the other, but to oppose what I conceive to be the equal error of both. A noble Earl has wished to prove, that the adulterous parties are commanded by Heaven to intermarry; and he has been reprehended by a right reverend Prelate for coming to the House with a quotation, inapplicable to his purpose, from the Law of Moses. In his turn the learned Prelate has pronounced, that all such intermarriages are gross and continued adulteries; that they are contracted in defiance of the Divine will, and consequently incur the pain of damnation. And this interpretation he draws from the Law of Christ; but in a manner nearly as summary as that of the noble Earl, and, to my apprehension, altogether as unconvincing. Permit me, therefore, in aid of your parliamentary view of the question, as it is connected with Scrip