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honoured with the epithet “twice born.” But, not to mention that he is so called (we conceive) in reference to the places whence rather than the places where he was delivered, -for, by either birth, he may probably be challenged for a Theban, --in a strict way of speaking, he was a filius femoris by no means in the same sense as he had been before a filius alvi ; for that latter was but a secondary and tralatitious way of being born, and he but a denizen of the second house of his geniture. Thus much by way of explanation was thought due to the courteous “ Wiltshire Man.”
To “Indagator,” “Investigator,” “Incertus,” and the rest of the pack, that are so importunate about the true localities of his birth, -as if, forsooth, Elia were presently about to be passed to his parish,—to all such church warden critics he answereth, that, any explanation here given notwithstanding, he hath not so fixed his nativity (like a rusty vane) to one dull spot, but that, if he seeth occasion, or the argument shall demand it, he will be born again, in future papers, in whatever place, and at whatever period, shall seem good unto him.
Modd me Thebis, modd Athenis.
Metamorph., lib. iii.
LEAR M— ,—Though none of your YES acquaintance can with greater sincerity Impre congratulate you upon this happy conSnad juncture than myself, one of the oldest of them, it was with pain I found you, after the ceremony, depositing in the vestry-room what is called a Protest. I thought you superior to this little sophistry. What ! after submitting to the service of the Church of England,-after consenting to receive a boon from her, in the person of your amiable consort, -was it consistent with sense, or common good manners, to turn round upon her, and flatly taunt her with salse worship? This language is a little of the strongest in your books and from your pulpits, though there it may well enough be excused from religious zeal and the native warmth of nonconformity. But at the altar,—the Churchof-England altar,-adopting her forms, and complying with her requisitions to the letter,-to be consistent, together with the practice, I fear, you must drop the language of dissent. You are no longer sturdy non-cons : you are there occasional conformists. You submit to accept the privileges communicated by a form of words, exceptionable, and perhaps justly, in your view ; but, so submitting, you have no right to quarrel with the ritual which you have just condescended to owe an obligation to. They do not force you into their churches. You come voluntarily, knowing the terms. You marry in the name of the Trinity. There is no evading this by pretending that you take the formula with your own interpretation : (and, so long as you can do this, where is the necessity of protesting ?) for the meaning of a vow is to be settled by the sense of the imposer, not by any forced construction of the taker ; else might all vows, and oaths too, be eluded with impunity. You marry, then, essentially as Trinitarians; and the altar no sooner satisfied than, hey, presto! with the celerity of a juggler, you shift habits, and proceed pure Unitarians again in the vestry. You cheat the church out of a wife, and go home smiling in your sleeves that you have so cunningly despoiled the Egyptians. In plain English, the Church has married you in the name of so and so, assuming that you took the words in her sense : but you outwitted her ; you assented to them in your sense only, and took from her what, upon a right understanding, she would have declined giving you,
This is the fair construction to be put upon all Unitarian marriages, as at present contracted; and, so long as you Unitarians could salve your consciences with the équivoque, I do not see why the Established Church should have troubled herself at all about the matter. But the protesters necessarily see farther. They have some glimmerings of the deception; they apprehend a flaw somewhere; they would fain be honest, and yet they must marry
notwithstanding; for honesty's sake, they are fain to dehonestate themselves a little. Let me try the very words of your own protest, to see what confessions we can pick out of them.
“As Unitarians, therefore, we” (you and your newly-espoused bride) “most solemnly protest against the service” (which yourselves have just demanded), “because we are thereby called upon not only tacitly to acquiesce, but to profess a belief in a doctrine which is a dogma, as we believe, totally unfounded.” But do you profess that belief during the ceremony? or are you only called upon for the profession, but do not make it? If the latter, then you fall in with the rest of your more consistent brethren who waive the protest; if the former, then, I fear, your protest cannot save you.
Hard and grievous it is, that, in any case, an institution so broad and general as the union of man and wife should be so cramped and straitened by the hands of an imposing hierarchy, that, to plight troth to a lovely woman, a man must be necessitated to compromise his truth and faith to Heaven ; but so it must be, so long as you choose to marry by the forms of the Church over which that hierarchy presides.
“ Therefore," say you, “we protest.” Oh, poor and much-fallen word, Protest! It was not so that the first heroic reformers protested. They departed out of Babylon once for good and all; they came not back for an occasional contact with her altars, –a dallying, and then a protesting against dalliance ; they stood not shuffling in the porch, with a Popish foot within, and its lame Lutheran fellow without, halting betwixt. These were the true Protestants. You are--protesters.
Besides the inconsistency of this proceeding, I must think it a piece of impertinence, unseasonable at least, and out of place, to obtrude these papers upon the officiating clergyman ; to offer to a public functionary an instrument which by the tenor of his function he is not obliged to accept, but rather he is called upon to reject. Is it done in his clerical capacity? He has no power of redressing the grievance. It is to take the benefit of his ministry, and then insult him. If in his capacity of fellowChristian only, what are your scruples to him, so long as you yourselves are able to get over them, and do get over them by the very fact of coming to require his services? The thing you call a Protest might with just as good a reason be presented to the church warden for the time being, to the parish-clerk, or the pew-opener.
The Parliament alone can redress your grievance, if any. Yet I see not how with any grace your people can petition for relief, so long as, by the very fact of your coming to church to be married, they do bonâ fide and strictly relieve themselves. The Upper House, in particular, is not unused to these same things, called Protests, among themselves. But how would this honourable body stare to find a noble lord conceding a measure, and in the next breath, by a solemn protest, disowning it! A protest there is a reason given for noncompliance, not a subterfuge for an equivocal occasional compliance. It was reasonable in the primitive Christians to avert from their persons, by whatever lawful means, the compulsory eating of meats which had been offered unto idols. I dare say the Roman prefects and exarchates had plenty of petitioning in their days. But what would a Festus or Agrippa have replied to a petition to that effect, presented to him by some evasive Lao