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testant Dissenters. This encouraged me to seek an interview with him, to which I was introduced and accompanied by Mr. Brougham. In the conversation which ensued, Mr. Smith spoke strongly of the Test and Corporation Acts, which he characterised as a disgrace to the Statute-book, at the same time expressing his astonishment, that the Dissenters were so tranquil under their operation, and stating, that he should be happy if he were called upon to move for their repeal. In consequence of this, I applied to an influential member of our London Committee, urging him to press that body to make the requisite application to Parliament. But this gentleman was dubious and hesitating. He thought that the time was not yet come, and that we ought to wait to sail in the wake of the Catholics. I differed from him in opinion; and at the end of an amicable discussion, I told him, that whatever the Dissenters of London might do, the Lancashire Dissenters would stir. Accordingly, soon after my return to the country, we put ourselves in motion. Happily, the London Committee soon afterwards took the field, and they managed our cause with a skill, industry, and ability, which claim from us that tribute of warm thanks, which we sball, by and by, give them in due form.
“As to the proceedings which have lately taken place in Parliament, on the motion for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, I must remind you, that, at the commencement of those proceedings, the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel brought down the whole force of government in opposition to us.
So far we owe them not the slightest obligation. But in justice to them, it must not be forgotten, that when they deemed it expedient to concede, they did so frankly and handsomely. They played no tricks, but took their ground firmly, and adhered to it; and gave us a cordial and effectual support. Indeed, the only opposition of a formidable nature which we encountered, arose from the wicked ingenuity of John Lord Eldon. But for this venerable statesman, great allowances ought to be made. He had not then recovered, nor, am I aware, that he has yet recovered, from the shock which he felt on his sudden and unexpected fall from the height and eminence of political power. To add to his distress, his lordship saw in his successor, a man in the prime of life, and of superior talents. Indeed, so quick is the intellect of Lord Lyndhurst, that I am credibly informed, that since his promotion, he has gone creditably through the grammar of equity law, and that he has advanced into .easy sentences!' His Lordship is also blessed with a good constitution, and with such a happy pliability of political principle, that, like a glove that will fit any hand, he will fit any ministry that can possibly be conceived in the imagination of man! Gentlemen, in the books of our Town Council, there is an entry made, I believe in the reign of Charles II. which sets forth, that • John Gibson was fined five shillings for profanely swearing, that, let who the devil will be Mayor, he would be Town Clerk!" In like manner, Lord Lyndhurst seems to be determined, that let who will be the Minister, he will be Lord Chancellor! Thus seeing the prospect of a resumption of the scals to be hopeless, no wonder that Lord Eldon is peevish and morose. But he was so well disciplined for his opposition against us, by the Bishop of Chester, that I will say nothing more of him but this,--that in reference to his prognostications of woe and destruction as awaiting the Established Church, in consequence of concession to the Dissenters, I wish his lordship may live a thousand years to witness the falsification of his prophecy-always provided, that he never again insinuates himself upon the woolsack. As to the tacking of the declaration to the Bill of Repeal, I may be permitted to observe, that, if this was the work of the ministers, it reminds me of an avaricious old gentleman, who, being melted by a tale of woe, gave the applicant sixpence, but instantly thinking that he had carried his liberality too far, called the petitioner back, and said, 'Here you, Sir, give me back a penny in change!
I cannot, indeed, but wonder at the sensitiveness of the Church of England. For, speaking of that Church as a religious and political corporation, united with the State, I hold it to be impossible that the Protestant Dissenters should do her any injury. In the first place, the great body of Dissenters would never permit us, their ministers, to seize its emoluments, or to invest ourselves with its dignities. But, suppose for a moment, that the whole body of Dissenters was infected with the folly of this evil concupiscence, what would be the consequence? If the Unitarians were to grasp at the glittering prize, they would be instantly repulsed by the Calvinists; and if the Baptists were to move towards it, they would be immediately checkmated by the Independents. And if the Roman Catholics were to aim at it, the whole body of the Dissenters would be arrayed against them, and would form the rear-guard of the Established Church. That Church, then, is strong by our disunion. But we are reminded, as usual, of the times of old. We are told, that in the reign of Charles I. the Dissenters united and overthrew the Establishment. To this I answer, that if the Church of England had now a Laud for an Archbishop of Canterbury—if she were now armed with a High Commission Court--if she were now to consign to indefinite imprisonments, those who disputed her doctrines--if she were now to cut off the ear, and to slit the noses of those who found fault with her discipline, the Dissenters would again muster, and avail themselves of the first opportunity again to put her down. But the Church of England is strengthened by the abridgment of her power. Happily for her, her dentes canini have been drawn. She hardly possesses sufficient power to maintain discipline among her own communicants she has no power to persecute. We have, then, no quarrel with the Church of England, as a Church, except in so far as she may place herself as an obstruction to us in the acquisition of our civil rights. But we have experienced no obstruction from her on the late occasion. On the contrary, we found some of our most enlightened and firm supporters on the episcopal bench. And, gentlemen, we ought not to shut our eyes to this fact, that the prelates who espoused our cause, and the ministers of the day, ran a risk in supporting our question. They are watched with a jealous eye by the ignorant and the bigotted of their own persuasion; and during the progress of our Bill, Lord Eldon was vigilantly watching for an occasion to raise against them the cry of the danger of the Church.' We need not wonder, then, that they thought it incumbent upon them to do something as a salvo for the honour of the Church. Hence the origin of the Declaration, which formula was devised in a spirit of accommodation, and is, in my opinion, perfectly innocent. It precludes no one from resisting an illegal demand of tithes. It precludes no one from opposing the encroachments of an oppressive clerical magistrate, if such a being is to be found. In short, while the Bill of Repeal confers a valuable boon, it takes away no right which we antecedently enjoyed. Speaking individually, therefore, I shall say, in the words which my late friend, John Horne Tooke, caused to be engraved on his tomb, that I am content and grateful' in accepting of the Bill as it received the assent of his Majesty.
6 Gentlemen, I thank you for the patience with which you have hitherto heard me, and though I am sensible that I have trespassed too much upon your time, there is one more topic to which you will permit me to advert, before I conclude. And I approach this topic with an anxiety which arises from my sense of its importance, rather than from any doubt as to the spirit with which you will receive the sentiments which I am going to utter. Gentlemen, Lucretius, at the commencement of the second book of his poem on the nature of things,' makes the following selfish remark:
Suave mari magno, turbantibus equora ventis,
Another struggling 'midst the billow's roar. Shall we, gentlemen, adopt this scandalous sentiment, as our principle of action? I trust not. With regard to ourselves, the fury of the storm is past, and our vessel rides safely in the harbour. But there are others that are still struggling with the violence of the political tempest. We have lived to see the repeal of those statutes by which we were aggrieved, but our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects are still labouring under disabilities far more vexatious than any which we have ever experienced. And shall not we make use of our vantage ground to lend them a helping hand ? I rejoice to observe, that by these plaudits you answer in the affirmative. Yes, it is our duty to aid the Catholics in the fur. therance of their cause, as a matter of principle. It is also our duty so to do, as the payment of a debt of gratitude. For in the day of our triumph, weought not to forget that the Catholic Association recommended our cause to the patronage of the Irish members, in an address drawn up by Mr. O'Connel, with the utmost perspicuity, and the most forcible energy of language; and whenever Daniel O'Connel issues his recommendation to the Irish members, they do not treat that recommendation lightly. To the Catholics, then, we are under great obligations. Let us testify our sense of those obligations, by supporting their cause in private conversation, and in public discussion; and when the proper occasion
occurs, let us besiege the House of Commons with petitions on their behalf, and let us never remit our endeavours, till the advent of the happy time, when all classes of his Majesty's subjects shall reeline at their ease under the broad shade of the constitution under the shade of that venerable tree, with respect to which, it is our fervent wish, that being disencumbered of the decayed branches which deformed it, and of the parasitic plants whose mischievous adhesion robs it of its nourishment, it may stand green and flourishing, till time shall be no more.
A MAGNIFICENT service of Plate, the splendid gift of persons of various religious denominations in Belfast and the adjoining Counties, was presented on the 17th June last, to the Rev. Henry Montgomery. Upwards of five · hundred persons met together in the Assembly Rooms, on its presentation. It was given, the inscription states, “in testimony of their high respect for him as a Christian minister, a friend of freedom of inquiry and universal toleration, and as an eloquent and fearless advocate of the right of private judgment.” Mr. Montgomery made the following reply: “ ESTEEMED FRIENDS AND CHRISTIAN BRETHREN,
“ WITH profound gratitude and honest pride, I receive the truly valuable and splendid testimonial of your regard, which has just been presented for my acceptance, accompanied by an address equally remarkable for its cordiality, its talent, its eloquence, and its moderation. Next to the approbation of God and my own conscience, I have always valued the esteem of the wise and good amongst my fellow-men; and when I consider the number, the station, and, above all, the moral respectability, of the persons by whose liberality I have been presented with a gift more magnificent than was ever bestowed upon any private individual in this part of Ireland, I feel that I am placed in a situation sufficient to gratify the highest earthly ambition. Had this affair been commenced and prosecuted with a view to support sectarian theology or party politics, I might have been grateful for the zeal of my friends, whilst I regretted the contracted feelings in which it originated; but when I perceive amongst the subscribers, men of distinguished rank and character, widely differing both in their religious and political sentiments, I exult in the important fact, that the honour conferred upon a humble individual, is connected with a glorious and immutable principle, infinitely raised above the tainted atmosphere of sect and party. The very names of your Committee, that so fairly represent the great body of the contributors, stamp upon the whole proceeding, a character equally unassailable and influential.
“ It would be unjust towards you, presumptuous in myself, and derogatory to your objects, to imagine for a moment, that any trifling service, which, in the conscientious discharge of duty, I
may have been able to render to the holy cause of Christian toleration, has been the only, or even the principal reason of the distinguished reward bestowed upon my feeble exertions, by so large a body of the Laity of different Churches. Your own hearts being attuned to generous and liberal sentiments, it evident, from the general tenor of your address, that you greatly overvalued the power of the feeble hand which touched the living instrument; but, at the same time, it is my highest gratification to perceive, that you have honoured me with your approbation, not so much as a private individual, as the humble advocate of the sacred cause of Christian liberty. Such a testimonial, from such characters, in support of an indefeasible public principle, must, in these irritated and unsettled times, produce a salutary effect. It proves, beyond question, that although individuals may err, and public bodies lose sight of their principles, there is still a noble spirit of religious liberty alive and active in the great mass of the community. Nay more; it demonstrates, that this hallowed spirit is not confined to sect or party, but that it is the denizen of every generous breast, without distinction of creed or denomination. It is a triumphant consideration, that whilst in all ages some have endeavoured to circumscribe the charities of nature, others have still been found whose ample hearts swelled beyond the measure of all human restraints, and whose benevolent sympathies were bounded only by the rational creation of God. If such men always existed, if the darkest ages and the direst tyranny could not blot them from the earth, it is not wonderful that they should abound in the nineteenth century, and under the protection of the British constitution. Erring men may vainly imagine that they can stem the current of Christian liberty, and they may invoke the passions and prejudices of the multitude, to aid them in opposing barriers to its course; but although their puny efforts may create a momentary ripple upon its surface, it will continue to roll forward with irresistible majesty, adorning and fructifying the world. It has been well observed, that the school-master is abroad'--the spirit of fearless inquiry is abroadyes, and what is more important still, the Bible is abroad; and he who shall attempt to convince mankind that strife and vainglory may be co-existent with Christianity, will soon discover the error of his calculations.
“ The proceedings of the late Synod of Ulster, may cast a momentary cloud over this cheering prospect; but I am convinced, that, in the end, they will be the means of diffusing religious light and moral beauty. Under the influence of a sudden and unexpected impulse, many estimable men forgot, for a season, the principles of their Church, and acceded to measures which they now deplore. I am perfectly satisfied, that amongst the most enlightened, experienced, and upright, of my Calvinistic brethren, there exists as little desire to place the yoke of bondage' on my neck, as I entertain to place it upon theirs; and I am willing to hope, that amongst the less experienced members, dogmatic theology will not be able to turn back the genial current of nature, and to implant ungenerous sentiments in the youthful breast. I