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Is it not a little inconsistent, that, on all the common occasions of life, a Dissenter should be allowed to worship as he pleasesthat, on one of the most important occasions of his life, he must worship as other persons please-that, in the midst of a general system of toleration, there should be this single exceptionthat you should give all men leave to build chapels—that you should protect their worship-privilege their ministers;—and then, when they have been suckled and nurtured in dissent, suddenly, singly and capriciously, drag them to the Mother Church? And for what purpose?-not to prevent clandestine marriages, for they may just as well be prevented if the service. were omitted;-not to promote piety, because it gives the most serious offence;-not to secure the emoluments of the Church, for they may be secured by registration;-not to increase the subjects of the Church, because it multiplies her enemies. The Marriage Act was never intended as any abridgment of religious freedom: the only two sects who asked for the exemption, had it; and if other Dissenters had been as watchful of their civil rights then, as they are now, they probably would have been included in the exception; but the carelessness of Dissenters in the time of George II., cannot affect the rights, or weaken the reasons of their descendants. When men are asleep, they say nothing; as soon as they are awake, and talk about their civil rights, they should be heard: It is nothing to the purpose why they did not wake sooner.
We utterly deride the idea of the Church being endangered by such sort of concessions. We believe that Establishments, like individuals, are strengthened by the number of their friends, and weakened by the number of their enemies; and that it is utterly impossible that any man should not be the implacable enemy of an Establishment, which compels him to abjure his faith before it will allow him to marry. But we augur a better fate to the measure, and a more humane and rational conduct from the heads of the English Church. We believe they will consider the hardships to which the Dissenters are exposed, as a mere omitted case in the Marriage Act; and when they have secured, as they have a right to do, the emoluments of the Church, and, as they ought to do, the publicity of Dissenters' marriages, they will hasten to expunge from the Statute-book so disgraceful a relic of the spirit of persecution. Should we be disappointed in these expectations, we really think that the greatest of all theologians, the first Lord of the Treasury for the time being, should interfere as a teacher of moderation. The reasonable part of the public will go along with him in the measure, and will respect his mediation as the act of a man of sense and principle.
There is contained in this same volume from whence we have collected the case of Dissenters' marriages, the proceedings of a Protestant Society for defending and encouraging the principles and practice of toleration-an excellent Society, in which we hope all descriptions of Christians, forgetting their mutual animosities, will cordially unite; for though we despair that the Calvinist will ever convert the Arminian, or the Trinitarian soften the Unitarian, we know no reason why all the good of every sect may not heartily concur in the object of making all sects free, and of guarding against the constant monopolies and usurpations of power. The secretary to this Association is a Mr Wilkes, we believe a solicitor in the city, whose Speech is certainly very eloquent, and very impressive; and we shall pay some attention to the grievances which it enumerates. There is no occasion that Dissenters should suffer grievances of any degree, or of any description. They are quite right to do all lawful things, and take all lawful means for their removal; but we must say, it is no mean triumph to the friends of toleration, to perceive how very little (the Marriage question excepted) there is to do for Protestant Dissenters, and how very trifling the amount of their remaining wrongs really is. In the first place, they are made to pay turnpikes if they attend any place of worship out of their parish-so are Churchmen; but if it is thought proper to grant any relief to Dissenters in this point, the difficulty will be, to prevent frauds upon turnpikes; for if any man, going to any place of worship, is to be exempted from tolls on Sundays, the number of religious persons rushing about on that day will be strangely increased; and the astonished tollman will in vain look for a single person whose purpose is secular, or whose master is Mammon. If the interests of the Tabernacle and the Toll-bar can be accommodated, the Dissenters certainly ought to have the indulgence they ask for. In the same way with meeting-houses. The principle is surely a very fair one which the law lays down. If you build an house merely for the purposes of religion, you shall pay no parochial taxes for it; but if you build an house of prayer, to make money by it, it then is as taxable as any other property by which money is made.' We cannot see any oppression in this; and, whether money is made or not by it, must be left to the examination of those magistrates who decide small civil questions on other occasions. They may be indulgent or rude in this examination: this must depend upon accident-but the law is surely not unfair.
It has been decided completely, that a clergyman has no right to refuse burial to Dissenters; but of what consequence can the right of being buried in the churchyard be to Dissent
ers, who never come to the church, and who deny the right of the Bishop who consecrated it, or the efficacy of any consecration of any ground? Why do not such men, like the Quakers, provide themselves with a burial ground? But if they prefer the orthodox churchyard, they have the legal right to be interred there.
If single Clergymen are oppressive and unjust in their conduct to Dissenters, and many such instances (whether true or false we know not) Mr Wilkes produces-currat lex. If the law affords protection, and the Dissenter does not recur to it, who can he blame? Clergymen, like other persons, will abuse power, if they are permitted to do so with impunity.
As to the Corporation and Test acts, they are really the most absurd enactments (as they at present stand) which ever disgraced the Statute-book of any country. They are so severe that it is absolutely impossible to execute them. They have been regularly suspended for nearly 80 years. Their suspension is as much a matter of course as an attack upon pockets by a good and faithful Commons; and yet, though, during this long period, the execution of these laws has not even been proposed their sus pension never objected to-their abolition is supposed to be replete with ruin and destruction. Is this the meaning of
Nullum Tempus occurrit Ecclesia?
ART. IV. Sketch of the late Revolution at Naples. By An EveWITNESS. London, Carpenter, 1820.
AMONG the many evil consequences of the proceedings which
have the country for the last twelve and will affix a stigma upon the character of its government for years to come, none deserves more to be lamented than their unhappy influence in withdrawing the publick attention from all that most nearly concerns our real interests, or should have interested our best feelings. The unexampled distresses of the country, and events abroad, which, even after the French Revolution, might well have astonished us, were suffered to pass nearly unmarked; while the whole faculties of all ranks seemed absorbed in contemplating the progress and issue of a Family dispute. The people may well be forgiven, and indeed admired, for their enthusiasm; but the consequences are not the less unfortunate, if the moment shall be found to have passed away, when a similar expression of generous feeling towards the oppressed, and of indignation at the sight of manifest injustice,
could have encouraged men, armed in the sacred cause of liberty, and carried consternation among their oppressors. The reader will easily perceive, that we are alluding to the important revolutions which have lately taken place in Spain, Portugal and Naples-but more especially the last.
The pamphlet now before us contains a plain, sensible, and very interesting account of that singular event, by an English Gentleman, resident in the country, and who appears to be well acquainted with its situation. His principal object seems to be the correction of some errors which prevailed in England, respecting the causes of the change, and particularly that which described it as entirely a military operation,-a revolution brought about by the troops, and in which the body of the people bore no part, and took very little interest. The efforts of those in this country who hate freedom, were naturally directed to represent it in this point of view; because they might thus expect to render it an object of distrust, if not of aversion, to men of sound constitutional principles. The facts detailed in this tract are well adapted to remove such an impression,-and they have been fully confirmed by every thing that has transpired since its publication last Autumn. We shall first give an abstract of them, and then suggest a few considerations which naturally arise out of the view they give us of the question. Before these pages see the light, the contest now commencing will in all probability be decided one way or another; to speculate upon its issue, then, would be absurd; but its more remote consequences must afford matter of deep and lasting meditation to the people of England upon the conduct of their rulers, whatever may be the immediate events; and it is fit that we should pause at the present moment to examine the causes, before all attention is engrossed by the results.
The drawing-room held on the 2d of July, the day of the Duke of Calabria's return to Naples, exhibited, it seems, the first symptoms of uneasiness among the Ministers of the King. At the Opera which immediately followed on the same evening, rumours were current of a considerable desertion among the troops; but at first these were supposed only to be a predatory movement, or to have arisen from the desire of the soldiery to return home. The intelligence that a number of the inhabitants had quitted Salerno and repaired to Avellino, the capital of the Principato Ultra, gave a greater weight to the former reports; and on the night of the 3d, and morning of the 4th, all doubts of their importance were removed, by the abrupt departure of detachments from the garrison of Naples, and a train of artillery towards Nola, and the precautions taken to
defend the entrance of the city from the Calabrian side. It was soon ascertained that Avellino had become the rendezvous of great numbers of the inhabitants from the other towns, and that some of the military sent in pursuit of the first deserters had joined them. The troops forming the line of defence continued steady in appearance; but no attack had been risked; and the contending parties remained for two days close to each other, while their leaders had frequent parleys together. The capital continued perfectly tranquil, and its police was entrusted to the Civic Guard, composed of the most respectable classes which had before been successful in preserving order under similar circumstances of alarm. At this critical moment General Guglielmo Pepe, an officer of great distinction, and who had for two years commanded in the provinces, but was then at Naples, joined the insurgents at Avellino. Our author thus describes his desertion, and its immediate consequences.
On the evening of the 5th of July, this officer having retired home, was accosted by two others, particular friends of his, and a general; one of the former commanded the regiment of dragoon then stationed at the Ponte della Maddalena; and they were accompanied by two gentlemen of good family of the town of Naples.
They jointly informed him, that they had certain intelligence that the ministers had come to the determination of arresting him that very night; that they came to urge him to escape, and moreover to request him to put himself at the head of the numerous assemblage of inhabitants from all parts of the kingdom, now collected at Avellino, who were only waiting for a chief, as distinguished for his military talents as he was beloved for his private virtues, in whom they could place unlimited confidence. They represented, that the revolution was now inevitable, and that his refusal might possibly injure himself, but could by no means avert the change which was about to take place: They added, that the cavalry regiment which one of then commanded, was at that moment ready to set off for the purpose of joining the insurgents, and that the greater part of an infantry regiment was to meet them in the course of the night, and accompany them to Avellino.
This conversation produced the result that was expected: General Pepe entered the carriage that was prepared for him, and passing over the bridge, was from thence escorted by the above mentioned dragoons, who were already mounted and armed. By avoiding the main road, they reached the vanguard of the insurgents by daybreak, and Avellino early in the morning.
The account of this defection was not long reaching the ears of the Cabinet, and proved the death-blow to all hopes of resistance. A council was immediately held; and in consequence of its decision, the King issued a proclamation, announcing his compliance with the wish of his subjects to have a representative government, and his promise to publish the fundamental bases of it within eight days.