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which have modified their operation, Test Act, amounting as we have seen it must be evident that Nonconformists to a kind of civil outlawry. of all descriptions are out of the pur- 3. Neither is it to be overlooked, view and intent of the latter, which that the protection granted by these are professedly passed to obviate in- Acts, however complete, rests upon conveniences arising from accident or the presumption of their beiug reguinadvertence, and not such as resultlarly passed; for if, in consequence from a deliberate and conscientious of some extraordinary emergency afopposition to the law. I do not, there- fecting the usual routine of parliamenfore, think, that a judge could be se- tary business, or under the temporary verely reflected upon for illiberality, influence of some besotted hue and who should manifest a decided leaning cry against all dissidents from the to confine the relief afforded by the Church Establishment, the Act should Indemnity Acts to those against whoin not be passed at all, or be restricted no overt acts of dissent could be proved in its extent, Dissenters, who had upon which to raise a fair presump- unwarily accepted office upon the faith tion, that the omission to take the of its recurrence, would be affected Test proceeded from principle, and with all the consequences of an ex post not from ignorance or accident. Were facto law, and have no alternative bea more liberal construction established, tween swallowing the Test or braving it is evident that Roman Catholics, as the utmost penalties of the Act imwell as Protestant Dissenters, might posing it. take shelter under these Acts, and that 4. The foregoing observations apply they are entitled to do so is the pub- more particularly to the Test Act; for, lished opinion of their learned and libe- with respect to offices included under ral advocate Mr. Butler ;* adopted, the provisions of the Corporation Act, perhaps rather hastily, from the cur- it is obvious to remark, that the sacrarent notion of their beneficial opera- mental qualification ought to precede tion as to other Nonconformists. the election to office, otherwise the

2. But, assuming that the general election is declared absolutely void; terms used in the enacting clause of and the Act of 5 Geo. I. c. 6, is only the Indemnity Act would not be re- a statute of limitation, founded on the strained by the recital of its purpose political inconvenience of allowing a and intention, and that consistent latent disqualification to vitiate official Nonconformists may be considered as acts ;' it merely gives a retrospective included, it would seem that the pro- validity to the election, provided the tection afforded by these successive person shall not be removed within Acts, either to the inadvertent omis. six months ; and as the annual Indemsion or to the determined repudiation of nity Act does not re-capacitate the the Test, is by no means complete: for, party, unless he receive the Sacrament suppose an individual to have accepted before the office have been actually office five months before the passing avoided by judgment, or legally filled of the annual Act, and to have omitted up, it is plain that during half a year to qualify according to the Test Act, after entering upon office, the consis. he is not an object of the Indemnity tent Dissenter is exposed to removal proposed, for as yet he has been guilty or prosecution, which nothing but of no omission which makes him liable Conformity can avert. But this is to a prosecution ; but, in the space of not all : for a month, proceedings may be insti- 5. The candidate for a corporation tuted against him, and in the ordinary office is liable to be questioned at the course of law, final judgment may be time of election as to his previous obtained for the pecuniary penalty be- compliance with the Sacramental Test, fore the recurrence of a new bill

, and upon his confessing or not denywhich will not, in such case, relieve ing his omission in that respect, or him from any portion of the enormous (as it seems) without any reference to load of incapacity, denounced by the him, notice of his noncompliance will

* See Butler's Notes on Coke, Litt. IV. 391 (a).

* See King v. Corporation of Bedford, 1 East, 79,

the penalties denounced against them lic defeat, and our just claims be by the law as being considered a little conceded, we shall have “our charter too severe. It is by full, free and and freehold of rejoicing to us and our reiterated discussion alone, that the heirs,” and our iriumph will consist friends of the Dissenting interest, I not so much in the advancement of our would rather say of the general inte- personal and sectarian interests, as in rests of truth and liberty, (apart from rescuing our great and beloved counthese the Dissenting interest shews try from the taunts of other nations, paltry and base,) can hope finally to far behind her in religious knowledge, eradicate that dissocial, antichristian but whose renovated codes are happily system under which the Saviour has free from the abomination of imposing been so often moeked with the purple a theological shibboleth at the threshrobe of worldly dominion, and con- old of the council-chamber or the science has been made tributary to custom-house. Cæsar's treasury. It is said, however, It was my intention to have brought that preliminary discussion will expose into discussion the inconveniences to our weakness, and lay open our as- wlich Nonconformists are subjected sailable points to the attack of the by the present state of the law with enemy; but with reference to the respect to the registration of the births Corporation and Test laws, are we of their children; inconveniences which, not also concealing from our friends like the grievance of the Marriage the precise situation of danger in Law, are the result of that incongruwhich they stand, if, relying upon fan- ous union which subsists between cied indemnity, they should aspire to functions purely civil and those of an serve the public in civil offices? There ecclesiastical nature; but I must be are not many, it is to be hoped, who brief. It is well known that Dissenare perfectly contented to enjoy their ters have made provision against the birth-right, as it were, by stealth ; and loss, destruction or negligent keeping if amongst us there be any individual of their congregational registers, by a who has enough of the spirit of a Hamp- Register at Dr. Williams's

Library, she den publicly to hurl defiance against great utility of which cannot be disthese degrading laws, or of another puted, and ought to be still more Curtius boldly to leap into the gulf of generally known. But as this register civil incapacity and penalties which is unsupported by any legal sanction, they denounce, his glorious aim is to be the evidence supplied from it is not in answered, not by concealment, but by a legal point of view of the highest a full disclosure of the risk and danger and most conclusive kind, and a recent he encounters, and by a fearless chal- instance occurred at the Rolls' Court lenge to the supporters of these fa- in which the Register was not advourite laws to display their excel- mitted. See 1 Jacob and Walker's lence in their amiable operation. In Reports, p. 483. It is understood short, ours is not a petty question of that the evidence has since been acduties and drawbacks, or of agricul- cepted; but the legal difficulty untural or commercial preferences, upon questionably remains, and may prove which we must necessarily approach a fruitful source of vexatious and exthe bar of the Legislature throngh the pensive delay whenever it is urged. It audience-chamber of the First Lord of is passing strange, that in a case of the Treasury: we boldly but tempe- such general concernment, and which rately ask, Is it fitting that large classes by no means presses exclusively upon of the community should remain under Dissenters, (for the children of Disthe proscription of statutes which senters sometimes swell the ranks of were not originally levelled against Conformity,) the Legislature should them, and which were enacted under suffer the squeamish scruples of a few the pressure of a political exigency of the Church clergy to stand in the long since passed away? If we are way of reformation. If the object still denounced as unfit to be invested were to make the clergy the collectors with civil trust and honour, let us be of a tax for some just and necessary content to dignify our private stations war, how few of them would express by consistency in profession and un- any distaste for the office, or that part warering integrity in practice; but if of it in particular which would bring bigotry and intolerance receive a pub- them into collision with the self-exumph to the Dissenting cause, for a which appears to be widely prevalent contrary result would have brought amongst the Dissenters of the present Dissenters before Parliament with an day, that our cause will be best prounquestionable grievance, and they moted by a silent acquiescence in might probably have been long ago things as they are, until

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, by means of released from that bed of Procrustes, a series of amicable discussions, which upon which it was attempted to stretch some few leading individuals may have them, not by exonerating them from an opportunity of carrying on with all legal eligibility to offices which, the minister of the day, they have though burdensome, every good citi- succeeded in convincing him, by our zen will wish to share; but by erasing apparent insensibility and indifference from our Code every impious enact as to the removal of our disabilities, ment which presumes to interpose that the right moment is arrived for between man and his Maker, or to our complete enfranchisement without connect criminality and civil incapa- risk to the sacred but puny twin-sister city with a conscientious desire to of the state. I readily admit that preserve an unsullied loyalty, an un- Dissenters would be ill-advised to tainted allegiance to the King of make their appeal to the Legislature kings.

and the public in the language of vioBefore I close this subject I would lence or of marked disrespect to the offer a remark upon the strange notion institutions of their country, many of

which, how essentially bad soerer in defendant, as Sheriff of Norwich, for re- theory, are yet by the general liberality fusing to be sworn into uffice. s. Eyres, of the public mind rendered compaJustice, argued for the defendant, (and ratively innoxious in practice ; nor his opinion was said to be that of Lord would 'I be disposed to take my stand Keeper Somers) that the exclusion from upon the high" but disputable ground office was a punishment of itself, and, of abstract right as separated from therefore the party, should not be fined: expediency. But I would ask those but G. Eyres, Justice, and Holt, Chief- silent negociators, who, whilst they Justice, said, the intent of the Corporation Act was not to exempt any man

are horrified at the indiscreet downfrom serving the King, or to give ease or rightness of Dr. Priestley in the year favour to Dissenters, but rather to draw 1790, would in some sort realize his them to a reconciliation with the Church, most appalling metaphor, by depositas a way to render them capable of offices ing explosive materials, grain by in the government ; this was the design of grain, under the edifice of intolerance, the Act; and if the plea in that case was and reckon upon enlisting my Lord good, a man should be excused for not Liverpool as one of their corps of serving the King, which is one offence, sappers and miners : I would ask them, for (by) not receiving the Sacrament i say, What is the experience upon within the year, which is another offence. which they ground the delusive potion, In the same case, Holt, Chief-Justice, that the clear and manly cause of remarked, that the design of the Corporation and Test Acts was the same, the religious liberty will be most

subone to exclude Dissenters, and the other served by a patient waiting until the to exclude Papists; and it never had hearts of kings and senators are melted been thought that if a man would not by the edifying spectacle : The hisqualify bimself, it was an excuse under tory of the Test Act appears to read the Test Act ; that there never was any them a very different lesson, for it distinction between Protestant and other was upon private assurances of a Dissenters, till after the Toleration Act; speedy repeal as to the Dissenters that and that it had been for thirty years the they concurred in its enactment; nor opinion of men learved in the profession, will the late statute for the relief of that the Corporation Act did not exempt Antitrinitarians be regarded as an in

Dissenters, and they had always sub- stance in favour of this quiet policy, mitted to fines in London and Norwich whilst we have the Lord Chancellor's also. But the reasoning of the two latter declaration sounding in our ears, that Judges, or, at least, their judgment,

pro the Legislature, in passing that staration Act being not specially pleaded in tute, had no idea of establishing a bar, it being at that time regarded as a general principle of forbearance toprivate Act, though since declared a pub- wards Antitrinitarians, but merely to lic Act by Stat. 19 George III. c. 44. repeal, or rather to mitigate, some of the penalties denounced against them lic defeat, and our just claims be by the law as being considered a little conceded, we shall have “our charter too severe. It is by full, free and and freehold of rejoicing to us and our reiterated discussion alone, that the heirs,” and our iriumph will consist friends of the Dissenting interest, I not so much in the advancement of our would rather say of the general inte. personal and sectarian interests, as in rests of truth and liberty, (apart from rescuing our great and beloved counthese the Dissenting interest shews try from the taunts of other nations, paltry and base,) can hope finally to far behind her in religious knowledge, eradicate that dissocial, antichristian but whose renovated codes are happily system under which the Saviour has free from the abomination of imposing been so often mocked with the purple a theological şhibboleth at the threshrobe of worldly dominion, and con- old of the council-chamber or the science has been made tributary to custom-house. Cæsar's treasury. It is said, however, It was my intention to have brought that preliminary discussion will expose into discussion the inconveniences to our weakness, and lay open our as- which Nonconformists are subjected sailable points to the attack of the by the present state of the law with enemy ; but with reference to the respect to the registration of the births Corporation and Test laws, are we of their children; inconveniences which, not also concealing from our friends like the grievance of the Marriage the precise situation of danger in Law, are the result of that incongruwhich they stand, if, relying upon fan- ous union which subsists between cied indemnity, they should aspire to functions purely civil and those of an serve the public in civil offices ? There ecclesiastical nature; but I must be are not many, it is to be hoped, who brief. It is well known that Dissenare perfectly contented to enjoy their ters have made provision against the birth-right, as it were, by stealth ; and loss, destruction or negligent kecping if amongst us there be any individual of their congregational registers, by a who has enough of the spirit of a Hamp- Register at Dr. Williams's

Library, ihe den publicly to hurl defiance against great utility of which cannot be disa these degrading laws, or of another puted, and ought to be still more Curtius boldly to leap into the gulf of generally known. But as this register civil incapacity and penalties which is unsupported by any legal sanction, they denounce, his glorious aim is to be the evidence supplied from it is not in answered, not by concealment, but by a legal point of view of the highest a full disclosure of the risk and danger and most conclusive kind, and a recent he encounters, and by a fearless chal- instance occurred at the Rolls' Court lenge to the supporters of these fa- in which the Register was not advourite laws to display their excel- mitted. See 1 Jacob and Walker's lence in their amiable operation. In Reports, p. 483. It is understood short, ours is not a petty question of that the evidence has since been acduties and drawbacks, or of agricul- cepted; but the legal difficulty untural or commercial preferences, upon questionably remains, and may prove which we must necessarily approach a fruitful source of vexatious and exthe bar of the Legislature through the pensive delay whenever it is urged. It audience-chamber of the First Lord of is passing strange, that in a case of the Treasury: we boldly but tempe- such general concernment, and which rately ask, Is it fitting that large classes by no means presses exclusively upon of the community should remain under Dissenters, (for the children of Disthe proscription of statutes which senters sometimes swell the ranks of were not originally levelled against Conformity) the Legislature should them, and which were enacted under suffer the squeamish scruples of a few the pressure of a political exigency of the Church clergy to stand in the long since passed away? If we are way of reformation. If the object still denounced as unfit to be invested were to make the clergy the collectors with civil trust and honour, let us be of a tax for some just and necessary content to dignify our private stations war, how few of them would express by consistency in profession and un- any distaste for the office, or that part wavering integrity in practice ; but if of it in particular which would bring bigotry and intolerance receive a pub. them into collision with the self-excommunicated Dissenter! This is not clergy, there being, in fact, no provian uncharitable prognostication, but is sion for recording the date of the grounded upon fact and experience. natural birth, which is therefore left to

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By the statute 6 and 7 William III., other evidence, or to vague presumpduties were imposed upon marriages, tion as to the length of the interval births and burials, for carrying on the between the birth and baptism. The war against France with vigour ; and by objections of the clergy on this point the 24th section, persons in holy orders, are the more unreasonable, as it has deans, parsons, &c., were, for better been solemnly decided that, according levying those duties, directed within to the canons of their own Church, their respective parishes, and to take lay-baptism is as valid as any sprinkan exact and true account, and keep ling by consecrated fingers. a register in writing of all persons If this union of the Church and married, buried, christened or born, State, of ecclesiastical and civil funcunder a penalty of £100.

tions, is like the union of the ivy with By another Act, passed in the fol- the oak, to blast or check all wholelowing year, (7 and 8 William III. c. some improveinent in the latter, the 35,) after reciting that divers children, more liberal adherents of the Church who were born within this kingdom, must admit that the treaty of alliance were not christened according to the needs some revision, and that the rites and ceremonies of the Church of complaints of their Dissenting fellowEngland, and many were christened subjects are not, to this extent at in private houses, nor were the pa- least, either selfish, frivolous or vexarents of such children obliged to give tious.

R. D. notice to their respective ministers, of the births of such children, for want SIR,

adverting sons born was not kept, and many persons chargeable with the duties former Number, whether the ancient escaped payment: for remedy thereof Patriarchs and Israelites believed in it was enacted, that the parents of a future state, it may be observed, every child which should be born du- first, that the Christian Church in ring the continuance of the Acts should, general hath been on the affirmative within five days after such birth, give side of the question; and though this notice to the rector, vicar, curate or is not an absolute proof of the fact, clerk of the parish, of the day of the yet, in a case which involves no palpabirth of such child, under penalty of ble absurdity or contradiction, where 40s., the which rector, &c., was re- it is impossible to prove a negative, quired to take an exact and trne ac- and which admits at least of many count, and keep a distinct register of plausible reasons in its behalf, geneall persons so born and not christened, ral consent will operate as a consifor a fee of 6d., under a penalty of 40s. derable argument in its favour, since

It is wonderful that a regulation of it is found, that, in similar circumso much political utility should be stances, wise and reflecting men in all made dependant upon the continuance ages have thought nearly alike upon of a paltry tax; but, at any rate, we all great and important subjects. If, possess in these expired Acts that all. therefore, under the light of nature important ally, a precedent, in at- alone, such persons, reasoning from tempting, at some convenient oppor- the best ideas they could form of the tunity, to impose on the clergy the Divine perfections and character, from duty of registering the births of all the present state of man, his fears and children within their parishes, without his hopes, his desires of continued exdistinction of sect, or at least to press istence, and his anticipations of futuupon them the alternative of perform- rityprinciples which are not coning, efficiently the office of public fined to the learned and acute, but registrars, or of relinquishing it alto- are to be found, in different degrees, gether. It is matter of notoriety, that in the lowest and most degraded forins ihe Act, passed a few years ago, rela- of human society, and which will bid tive to parochial registers, was rendered defiance to all the opponents of natuvery imperfect in its operation through ral religion, whether sceptics or ultrathe intolerant scruples of some of the believers, to the end of time: if from

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