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receive what was so freely offered them, with great thankfulness to God and his Majesty.
66 Nor could we be forgetful of Dr. Owen's having also received a thousand guineas from King Charles II., to distribute among those Dissenters who had suffered most of the severities of his reign, for receiving which, he also was reflected on afterwards, though we thought very undeservedly. We could not at the same time but very well remember, that when Doctor Daniel Williams, in the reign of Queen Anne, and while the Lord Oxford had the ascendant, refused to receive a thousand pounds that was offered him as from her Majesty, to distribute among the Dissenters, which gift was not clogged with any condition, he (though he acted in the integrity of his heart) was censured by many, as depriving a number that needed help, of the benefit they might have this way had. Not knowing how things might in time run round, we were not willing, if this offer made us should come to be known, to expose ourselves to a like censure.
“ Nor could we indeed see, why we might not thankfully accept of such a help as this, here in England, as well as our brethren in the North of Ireland, who in the year 1690 had a grant from King William of twelve hundred pounds per annum, to be paid by quarterly payments, which, notwithstanding all the complaints that have been made of it by their back friends, (and particularly of the Irish Parliament, who in 1703, voted this an unnecessary branch of the establishment,) has been continued ever since; with an addition in the reign of Queen Anne of eight hundred pounds per annum, for the South of Ireland, in which there are fewer meetings and fewer ministers than in the North. In soliciting for which, I must own, that I myself very freely joined with worthy Mr. Joseph Boyse, (who was then in London,) in an earnest application to my old acquaintance, the Earl of Sunderland, for his interest.
i Nor would it be an easy thing to give a good and substantial reason, why we that are Dissenters in England, and excluded from the emoluments of the National Church, may not as warrantably receive a thousand pounds a year from the Government, as our Presbyterian brethren in Scotland do, (according to the current and uncontradicted report of our public newspapers,) in order to the promoting Christian knowledge in their Highlands. I, therefore, here give hints of these things, that they may be considered, if this bounty of King George I. to us and our brethren should come to be universally known hereafter."-Calamy, vol. ii. pp. 465–472.
For THE THIRD ACCOUNT, though second in the order of time, we are indebted to Dr. Rees himself, who, after he had sent his pamphlet to the press, learned that the Rev. Joseph Hunter was in possession of an unpublished Memoir of his Life and Times, written by a Mr. Richard Ricards, a gentleman of great respectability, and a zealous Dissenter. He was born in 1687, and began his Memoirs in 1750. A whole passage relating to the Regium Donum, which Dr. Rees transcribed from the MSS., and printed in his Appendix, is as follows:
“ The Dissenters, in the year 1732, being generally of opinion that it was then a proper time to apply to Parliament to release them from their shackles, imposed and fastened on them by the high church persecuting party when in power, they thought the Test Act an infringement upon liberty, a hardship on conscientious clergymen as well as on the Dissenters, and was of no efficacy to keep out of place the atheist, the irreligious, or the profane, and therefore a national evil. They therefore appointed deputies from the several congregations in and about London to prosecute the repeals of the said Act and the Corporation Act, which was equally pernicious. But their friends in the administration desiring it to be postponed, they not being yet ready to assist them, it was deferred until about this time (1734), when the said deputies thought it necessary to proceed, not only as believing it to be a proper time to expect success as they ever again were likely to have, but also to comply with the general sense and desire of the Dissenters of all denominations throughout the kingdom. A committee of twenty-one was therefore appointed from among them by ballot to solicit the affair. I was one of that committee. How the attempt came to miscarry, many now living can well remember. The secession of many of the principal deputies (Mr. Holden, Mr. Brooksbank, who had court boroughs given them afterwards, and others,) from their meeting at Pinners' Hall, and their making a separate assembly, the boroughs given or promised to some of the dissenting laity, and some of their clergy* suffering themselves to be corrupted by the most expert and successful man in that way, Sir Robert Walpole, that ever England bred, it struck a damp and coldness on the application, and gave such a spirit to the opposition that it is a wonder there were so many friends to liberty, and independent, that had the courage at that time to own their principles, when they had the ministry as well as the Tories to contend with.t
* " Dr. Earl, Dr. Harris, Dr. Evans, T. Bradbury, and several others. It is said that the whole sum given among them, called Regis Donum, is but £1000 per annum; but it is believed that Dr. Earl alone has the disposal of £500 per annum."
† “ I attended the House of Commons during the time that the affair lay before them, and heard Sir R. W. say that the concessions to the Dissenters were settled and agreed to at the Revolution; that they were as much and more than the Dissenters deserved ; that he knew a great many of them, and that not one of those that he was acquainted with, solicited for, or so much as desired the repeal. Sir John Barnard, who for some particular reason began to lean to the court, said that he was brought up among the most rigid of the Dissenters (meaning the Quakers); that he did not know one honest man among them that approved of the present application; and that those Dissenters who were strenuous for the repeal were such only as wanted to be preferred into places of trust and power, that they might thereby have an opportunity to distress and persecute the church of England, as they do now, and have constantly done, to the episcopalians in Scotland, where presbytery is the established religion. When I mention the word court, I do not include the King nor any of the Royal Family, who, I believe, to be all of them for liberty of conscience, and against persecution as much as I am myself. Neither do I mean all the ministry; some of them being of honest, generous, and charitable principles ; but only the leading men among them, whose only principles are self."
“ Thus fell our hopes of recovering religious liberty for this age, at the least; for who can be trusted when our own pastors betray us and touch the poison? It may be asked what could our ministers allege in excuse for their behaviour, and to what purpose did they finger public money? The only plausible reasons for it (and those very bad ones,) were given me by one of those very ministers (Dr. Harris), who in every other respect was esteemed, as a man of learning, integrity, and good-nature, viz. that there were many poor ministers among them who wanted help; that it made the distributors of the money more respectable, and of consequence, more capable of being useful, and that if they refused the money it would come into the hands of persons that were more exceptionable, and who might make a bad use of it; and insinuated that if the Test Act, &c., were repealed, and the Dissenters got into places, it might make them more remiss in their way of living, more wavering in their principles, and thereby weaken the dissenting interest. The very reverse thereof many now living are able to demonstrate. Have not many of the rich Dissenters left us quite, notwithstanding the Test Act remains in force; others of them married their children to conformists, and given them large fortunes; and not a few who, seeing no prospect of the repeals, from ambitious views or worse, have left off all public worship as unnecessary ?"- Rees's Sketch, 8c., pp. 84-86.
We have to apologize to our readers for these lengthened extracts, but we trust that they will be gratified to learn that they are now in possession of all the original histories of this curious transaction to which Dr. Rees refers. With that gentleman and his colleagues Dr. Calamy's account is regarded as the only canonical narrative, and the other two are considered to be apocryphal and injurious.
But Dr. Rees and his associates should have remembered that Dr. Calamy himself is not an unexceptionable witness. “He was aware, as Dr. R. states, that some difference of opinion existed in his time as to the propriety of such donations from the royal purse," and he therefore wrote in his own defence, and to meet those objections which he anticipated posterity might take to the course he and his brethren had pursued.
“ Had Dr. Calamy's representatives printed his work immediately after his death, I have no doubt, says Dr. Rees, that most considerate persons amongst the Dissenters would have been satisfied with his statement, and we should probably have heard nothing of those insi. nuations and charges to which the Royal bounty gave rise at a later period. In the absence, however, of accurate information, uncharitable surmises were formed, and industriously disseminated as to the occasion and purpose of the royal grant, which was thought by some to bear a political character, and to be expressly designed to serve party purposes of state policy. But no attempt seems to have been made to attack it through the medium of the press during the long term of fifty years. At last, in the year 1774, an anonymous writer (in the London Magazine) with lofty pretensions, &c. volunteered to dispel the mystery, &c.”- Rees's Shetch, fc., pp. 13, 14.
Every person must feel that it would indeed be an hazardous attempt to maintain the accuracy of that circumstantial account of events, if we are to believe that it was first written fifty years after their supposed occurrence. Candour would have led most persons to suppose that Dr. Henry Mayo, the reputed author of that account, who was the associate of Dr. Samuel Johnson, and a tutor of Homerton College until his death, would not have “ volunteered” to publish such statements without some documentary as well as traditional information on the subject. Dr. Rees enters into a long and tiresome account of the motives which he supposes influenced Dr. Mayo to write in the London Magazine, and attempts to prejudice his character with the reader, by charging him with a falsified entry into the minute-book of the general body of ministers, which caused his retirement in disgrace from the office of secretary within a few days after his appointment;" and then adds, “the reader will have little difficulty in forming a just estimate, both of his fidelity as an historian, and his candour as a critic and a judge." This charge against the character of Dr. Mayo for a wilful falsification of a public record, while performing his official duties as a secretary, it must be confessed is sufficiently grave: but how happens it that a man who dared to commit such a crime was allowed to continue, “ for several years afterwards,” a member of that body? Are not the dissenting ministers in London usually very jealous of their characters and very choice in their ministerial associations? Where, then, is their vote of censure, if not of expulsion, against so unworthy a brother ? Dr. Rees, who was himself for many years the chary custos of the documents of that body, would doubtless have produced them if they had been in existence. Dr. Mayo, too, was a tutor of a college dependent upon public opinion for its support. Had the constituents of that venerable institution no care of the character of their tutors ? no anxiety that the rising ministers of their churches should at least be under the tuition of honest men ? Why, then, was such a man continued in the office of tutor until his death?
Happily, however, Dr. Mayo's 6 fidelity as an historian" does not test upon that issue, for there now lies on our table a pamphlet, published in 1734, that is within ten years of the first royal gift, and while several of its original distributors were still alive, which plainly states that they did interfere, as Dr. Mayo has asserted. The following are the most striking passages.
“ About the opening of the Session of Parliament in 1731, there appeared among the Protestant Dissenters, in several parts of the kingdom, a very deep sense of the unreasonableness of the Sacramental Test and Corporation Acts, as they occasioned a prostitution of a sacred rite of our holy religion, were restraints upon the consciences of many Dissenters, and a mark of infamy upon them all, and a grievous burden on all the parochial clergy, as they were founded upon persecuting principles, had occasioned two other severe laws against the Dissenters in the reign of Queen Anne; viz. the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts; and had a natural tendency to introduce other laws of the same kind. Upon this view the Protestant Dissenters prepared petitions in several parts to the House of Commons for the repeal of those two Acts, so far as they related to themselves, and wrote letters to their friends in London, communicating their design, and desiring the concurrence and joint influence of the Dissenters in this city. Some of the London ministers, who have thought fit to take the lead for some years past, and from their distributing the fund-money, and other large sums, have great weight and influence over our affairs, desired that those petitions might be laid aside until the next Session of Parliament. They acknowledged, indeed, that they were the proofs of a laudable zeal in the petitioners, but alleged, however, that they were ill-timed, the Dissenters not having concerted their measures for backing their petitions; and the petitioners themselves being like to be ill received by the ministers, because they designed but a short Session. But they added, that if their brethren in the country would agree to lay aside their petitions for the present, they would prepare pamphlets, and concert measures so fully against the ensuing Session of Parliament, as that the petitions should have the whole force of the Dissenters united to support them; and they gave the strongest and most positive assurances, that if this request of theirs was complied with, they would press the repeals with all their might, though all the ministers should be against them. Here a regard to union among themselves, a confidence in the veracity of those who promised it, with a complaisance to the ministers against what was thought to be right and reasonable, laid the foundation of their first disappointment. During the recess from Parliament, these dissenting ministers, with some other gentlemen, made application to a great man, (Sir Robert Walpole,) who told them, that the thing was just and fit in itself, and was due to them, and would be more for the service of the Government than of the Dissenters themselves. But that they had considered the list of the members, and though they could carry the repeals desired, yet it would be with as much difficulty, and by as small a majority as they have ever carried any Government question; and that it would raise the cry of the church, and prejudice some of the Whigs in their approaching elections. These dissenting ministers, who are your Lord Almoners, as I have already hinted, finding that those repeals were not agreeable to the minister, instead of entering into concert with their friends and brethren in the country, or writing in behalf of the repeal, and giving the attempt of them the force of the whole body united, though their promise was engaged, and had been unhappily trusted) avoided their most intimate friends, whom they thought to be zealous for those repeals, and used all manner of arts with the utmost industry, in private conversations and correspondences, to damp and extinguish the zeal that there was for them, and even to cry up the danger and hazard that there was to civil liberty itself and toleration in attempting them.”-pp. 2–5.
“After this committee was chosen, those dissenting ministers who, being the elder men, have the greatest power in distributing the fund money, and who, with such as they please to associate with themselves, are the sole distributors of those other large sums, which at first being made public, were generally looked on as the price of our liberty,