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COMMENCEMENT OF THE PRESENT REIGN.
wise than by the established clergy; and another for a on the most friendly terms with the other nations of general registry of births, deaths, and marriages. They Europe—co-operating with them in the extension and likewise reduced the stamp-duty on newspapers to one liberation of commerce, the continuance of peace, the penny, by which the circulation of that class of public suppression of slavery, and the advancement of other cations was very largely increased. From this time, measures of importance to civilisation; and it is fondly there was a marked diminution in the zeal which had hoped that the recent and still unsettled constitutional for some years been manifested for changes in the na- changes in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, will tional institutions. Early in 1837, the ministry again affect in any material degree this gratifying pm. introduced into the House of Commons a bill for set- gress of peace and social improvement. In the East, a tling the Irish tithe question; but before this or any short, but somewhat cruel war with China has opened other measure of importance had been carried, the king up a new and more liberal system of trade with that died of ossification of the vital organs (June 20), in the country; an unnecessary aggression upon Affghanistaji seventy-third year of his age, and seventh of his reign, was followed by a disastrous defeat of our troops, and being succeeded by his niece, the PRINCESS Victoria. their subsequent withdrawal from that country; and The deceased monarch is allowed to have been a con- an extension of British rule has taken place in India scientious and amiable man, not remarkable for ability, after several severe battles with the forces of the Sikh but at the same time free from all gross faults. territory. The disputed boundaries between British
America and the United States have been determined
by friendly negotiation ; thus giving permanency in Qucen Victoria began to reign June 20, 1837, having the new world as well as in the old to the spirit of just completed her eighteenth year; was crowned on peace and national brotherhood. the 28th of June in the following year; and was married to her cousin, Prince Albert of Coburg and Gotha,
MISCELLANEOUS CIRCUMSTANCES FROM 1820 to 1849. February 10, 1840. This union has now (February This period is remarkable for the great efforts which 1849) been followed by the birth of two princes and were made to diffuse knowledge more generally amongst four princesses-thus giving new security to the con- the people. Mechanics’ Institutions were formed in tinuance of the present dynasty. In the autumns of most of the larger towns, for the instruction of that 1842, 244, 247, and '48, her majesty visited Scotland, but class of the community in mechanical and natural on each occasion more in a private than in a state ca- science. Various periodical works of a cheap nature pacity; residing at the mansions of the nobility that were also set agoing, for the purpose of communicating lay in her route to the Highlands, where the Prince Con- science and other branches of knowledge, in such fortus sort enjoyed the invigorating sports of grouse-shooting as to be intelligible to the less educated classes. At and deer-stalking. In 1843 she paid a visit, entirely the same time, considerable efforts were made by means divested of state formalities, to the late royal family of of ordinary schools, schools of design, philosophical France; and shortly after made another to her uncle, associations, and the like, to extend still further the the king of the Belgians. In 1845, besides making the benefits of education. Amongst the individuals who tour of the English midland counties, the royal pair sought to promote these objects, the most conspicuous visited the family of Prince Albert at Coburg and was Lord Brougham, who filled the office of Lord ChaliGotha; receiving the attentions of the various German cellor in the Grey adıninistration. Important progress powers that lay on their outward and homeward route. was also made in the natter of public health: the Her majesty has received in turn the friendly visits of erection of baths, the laying out of parks for recreaseveral crowned heads, among whom have been the tion, the enforcement of better sewerage, the prohi. ex-king of the French, Leopold of Belgium, the king of bition of underground dwellings, and the disseminaSaxony, and the emperor of Russia. Such interchanges tion of sounder views as to cleanliness and ventilation, and attentions are not without their importance; at all being features peculiar to the period. Great improveerents they are characteristic of a new era in the in- inent was likewise effected in our prison discipline ternational history of Europe.
by the erection of appropriate jails, and a careful The Whig ministry and measures, which had for classification and treatment of criminals; while, with some time been on the decline, were set aside by a vote a view to lessen juvenile depravity, Industrial Schools of no confidence in the summer of 1841; a dissolu- were established in many of the more populous towns. tion of Parliament was the consequence; and after the In this period, also, the national energies were chiefly new elections, the Opposition was found to be so far in turned towards the arts of peace, and accordingly the the ascendancy, that Viscount Melbourne tendered his prosperity of the country made, upon the whole, great resignation, and retired from public life, leaving Sir advances. Though agricultural produce had ceased to Robert Peel again to take the helm of affairs. The bring the high prices it realised during the war, the Parliament of 1841, under the direction of the Peel farmers paid equally high, or even higher rents; and ministry, was in many respects one of the most im- this they were enabled to do in consequence of the soil portant during the reigning dynasty. Besides passing having been so much improved by draining, manuring, several measures of benefit to the internal management and the introduction of more scientific modes of cul. of the country, it established, by the abolition of the ture. During this period, steam navigation, both coastcorn-laws and other restrictive duties, the principles of wise and to foreign parts, was immensely increased; free trade, and in that course Britain has since been ordinary roads were improved by the mode of paving followed by other nations; it gave, by the imposition invented by Mr Macadam ; railways began to overof a property and income tax, a preference to the doc- spread all parts of the country, for the conveyance of trine of direct taxation; it countenanced in all its goods and passengers, by means of steam locomotives, the diplomatic negotiations the duties and advantages of a ordinary speed of which is upwards of thirty miles an peace policy ; and engaged less with political theories hour; the electric telegraph was put in operation ; iron than with practical and business-like arrangements for was extensively applied to ship-building, especially to the commerce, health, and education of the country. In the construction of steamers; machinery of every descrip, consequence of ministerial differences, Sir Robert Peel tion was much improved, and its application extended tendered his resignation as premier in June 1846, and to almost every known process. The last twenty ycars was succeeded in office by Lord John Russell, to whom have also been marked by considerable social advancewas assigned the further task of carrying out the prin- ment; for although discontent and outbreaks have oeciples of free trade, of legislating for Ireland in a time curred in certain localities, in consequence of occasional of dearth and famine (caused by successive failures of stagnation in trade, the dearth of provisions, and supthe potato crop), and of adopting some plan of national posed political grievances, yet the general aspect of the education--a subject which has been too long neglected country has been one of peace and progress, tending to in this otherwise great and prosperous empire. a diminution of the graver crimes, and to more correct Since the accession of her majesty, Britain has been views both as to moral and physical relations,
CONSTITUTION AND RESOURCES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE,
FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
The British Empire consists of the United Kingdom of best of blades in the days of Cour de Lion, and in the Great Britain and Ireland (including a number of time of Elizabeth their sails whitened every neighbourminor islands around their shores), and of several ing sea. Arts, driven out of other countries by ruth. colonics and other dependencies in different quarters less bigotry, found refuge and flourished amongst a of the world. The most remarkable peculiarity in the people who eagerly grasp at every kind of employment political condition of the British Empire, is the high which promises to be useful. It is to their persevering degree of civil and religious liberty which all classes industry, exercised by favour of so many natural cirof subjects practically enjoy. Slavery exists in no cumstances, and constantly protected by free instituquarter of the British dominions : personal freedom, tions, that we are mainly and most imnuediately to look with liberty to come and go, unquestioned and unin for the source of the greatness of the British Empire. peded, is assured to all, without respect of birth, rank, profession, language, colour, or religion.
Britain, while in population and some other respects The government of the United Kingdom is constitu. surpassed by several other nations, possesses a degree tional, or possesses a regular form, in which the civil of wealth and political influence which may be said to rights of all classes are acknowledged and guaranteed. place her at the head of all nations. This unprece. The constitution is a monarchy, in which the sovereigu dented affluence and power appears to have taken its accepts of his dignity under an express agreement to rise in a fortunate concurrence of favouring circum- abide by certain prescribed forms of government accordstances, some of a physical and others of a moral cha- ing to the laws of the realm, and to maintain inviolate racter. The first of the physical causes in importance the Protestant religion, with all the rights and priviis unquestionably the insular situation, at once pro- leges of the church. The sovereign is the head or ditecting the country from the destructive invasions recting power in the executive of government, the founwhich have so much depressed and retarded many con- tain of all honours, and the watchful guardian of the tinental states, and furnishing opportunities for a interests of the state : he is held to be incapable of ready commerce with all the shores of the civilised doing wrong; and if an unlawful act is done, the mi. world. The second of these causes is to be found in nister instrumental in that act is alone obnoxious to the natural fertility of a arge portion of the United punishment. The legislative part of the government Kingdom, and the temperate climate enjoyed by it, is composed of two deliberating bodies-the House of favouring the production of the food necessary for a Lords and the House of Commons, both of which conlarge population. A third cause is the large amount sist of individuals belonging to the United Kingdom of her mineral and metallic stores, furnishing her with only, the colonial dependencies of the empire having the means of prosecuting manufactures to an extent no share in the general management. beyond all which the world has ever before had ex- The persons who compose the House of Lords form perience of. Thus Britain has been naturally qualified a separate class or rank, which is called collectively to become the seat of a great agricultural, manufac- the Peerage, whose members enjoy certain exclusive turing, and commercial nation, and must always, from privileges and honours. The members of the House the nature of things, have tended to assume that cha. of Lords are either lords spiritual or temporal. The racter. Moral causes, likewise, hare had a powerful spiritual lords are archbishops and bishops, and hold effect. The stock of the British population happens to their seats for life in virtue of their ecclesiastical office; have sprung from the Teutonic branch of the Caucasian the temporal lords enjoy their seats from hereditary variety of the human species, which has in many coun. right, or in virtue of being elevated to the peerage. tries proved the superiority of its intellectual and moral | In 1848, the number of members of the House of Lords organisation. The idea of trial by jury, and of arrang. was 438-namely, 2 princes of the blood royal, 2 Enging public affairs by a representative body, hit upon lish archbishops, 20 dukes, 17 marquises, 115 earls, 20 at an early period by this race, show that it possesses a viscounts, 24 English bishops, 4 Irish prelates, 192 natural aptitude for forming improved political insti- barons, 16 representative peers of Scotland, and 26 tutions. Its connection with most of the important representative peers of Ireland. The House of Lords inventions of nodern times shows its ingenuity in the is liable at all times to an increase of number by the arts. Its maritime enterprise and mercantile intre elevation of commoners to the peerage; but this propidity were testified at a time when other nations rogative of the crown is sparingly used. The number were engaged only in feudal broils. Planted in Eng- also fluctuates in consequence there usually being land in the fifth century, and probably in Scotland several minors among the hereditary peers; at present, many centuries before, we see this people making a for instance, there are fourteen under age. continual advance ever since in political institutions The House of Commons consists at present (February and in the arts of peace. Historians point out the 1849) of 656 members ; of whom 253 are chosen by accidents which effected conspicuous changes; but counties, 6 by universities, and 397 by cities, boroughs, while the feebleness and wickedness of a John may and towns. England returus 469, Wales 29, Ireland have been the immediate cause of the Magna Charta, 105, and Scotland 53. The number of persons entitled and the passions of Henry VIII, the proximate cause to vote in the election of these members is above a of the reformation of religion, there must have also been million; of whom about 620,000 vote for county memsomething in the people pressing them irresistibly to- bers, 5000 for representatives of universities, and 440,000 warus liberty of person and of conscience, and enabling for members for cities, boroughs, and towns. The great them to overcome all obstacles to the accomplishment bulk of the voters, as settled by the Reform Acts of of those objects. It was in the nature of the people to 1832, is composed of the agricultural tenantry and the establish free institutions—and they were established. occupants of houses of £10 of yearly rent; in other words, A people so active and so ingenious could not fail to the middle classes. The operative classes, on account take advantage of the natural facilities which they en- of not in general inhabiting houses of such value, posjoyed for manufactures and commerce. They made the sess little direct influence in the election of members
* Por an account of the physical features, natural products, of the House of Commons. The qualifications of an political and civil divisione of Great Britain and her dependen- elector in counties are - a title to have voted on a cies, the reader is referred to the GEOGRAPHICAL Nos, from 63 freehold qualification before the passing of the Reform to 70 inclusive.
Act, the possession of freehold property to the value No. 62.
of 40s. annually, or of land in copyhold of the clear promoter in the form of an act of Parliament, but is annual value of ten pounds, the possession of land or only known by the name of a bill while under discushouses of ten pounds annual value in property, or of sion: permission must first be obtained to introduce a lease of not less than sixty years in England, and the bill, and it must then be read and considered by fifty-seven in Scotland, and the occupation of lands or the House three several times, besides being once scrutenements in England for any period, and in Scotland tinised more closely by a committee or select number for nineteen years, at an annual rent of not less than of the members, and, if a public bill, by the whole House fifty pounds. The qualification of an elector in sitting as a committee, when each member is permitted boroughs is the occupation of a house of ten pounds to speak as frequently as he sees occasion, whereas in annual rent; the resident freemen in English and the regular sittings of the House no one is allowed to Irish boroughs being also allowed to vote. A House speak more than once, except to explain where his first of Commons cannot legally exist for more than seren statements have been misunderstood. If it is not reyears; but, in reality, it rarely exists so long; the death jected in any of these three readings, or given up in of the sovereign, change of ministry, and other circum- the committee, the bill is said to have passed. It must stances, causing a renewal on an average every three then go through the same process in the other House, or four years. Reckoning from 1802 till November where it is sometimes adopted, sometimes rejected; but 1847, there were fifteen Houses of Commons; as the if any alterations are made on it here, they must be fifteenth still exists (February 1849), we have an ave- reported to the House where it first originated. If the rage of three years for each : those of longest duration two cannot agree on the changes proposed, the bill falls were the fourth, from 1807 to 1812; the fifth, from to the ground; but some modification is generally con. 1812 to 1818; and the fourteenth, from 1841 to 1847. trived which satisfies both parties. It still remains to
The Houses of Lords and Commons compose the obtain the sanction of the sovereign, which is hardly Parliament. The Parliaments of England and Scot- ever refused, after which the bill becomes an act of land were united in 1707, and then called the British Parliament or law. Parliament, In 1800, the Irish Parliament merged The members of both Houses bare certain personal in the British Parliament. The three kingdoms were privileges, which are deemed necessary for enabling first represented in one Parliament in 1801. Since that them properly to attend to their public duties. In period it has been entitled the Imperial Parliament, Parliament, they enjoy absolute freedom of speech, and is always convened at Westminster,
and cannot be questioned out of the House for anyThe two Houses, with the sovereign, compose the thing said in the debates; they and their servants are three estates of the realm, or legislative body. The exempted from arrest (except in criminal cases) during sovereign takes no personal concern in the proceedings their attendance in Parliament. of Parliament, further than opening or proroguing the The Erecutive, as already stated, is reposed in the sessions; but the interests of the crown in Parliament hands of a sovereign. The dignity of the sovereign is are intrusted to members of the cabinet council or mi- hereditary in the family of Brunswick, now on the nistry, and by them are defended and explained. The throne, and in the person of either a male or female. two Houses, with the sovereign, have the power to pass A queen reigning, therefore, enjoys the same privilaws, impose taxes, borrow money, make inquiries into leges as a king. Besides enforcing the laws of the the management of the public revenues, or the trans- realm, through the medium of courts of justice, and actions of the great officers of government, and even a variety of functionaries, the sovereign is charged to bring the latter to trial, if necessary. Members of with the office of levying taxes granted for the public either House inquire into the manner in which all service, and of defending the empire at home or great public institutions or boards of management are abroad against foreign enemies. He, or she (with conducted, such as those for education, for purposes reference to our present sovereign), also conducts all of charity, for the erection of lighthouses on the coast, intercourse with the rulers of other nations, forming for the construction of harbours, and generally, indeed, treaties and alliances, declaring war or concluding into all the business which is intrusted to the executive peace. She has the duty of protecting the persons and part of the government; they cannot direct what is to trade of British subjects in foreign countries. For this be done, but may always make scrutiny into it after- purpose, she has the sole appointment of the officers wards, if any error or mismanagement has taken place. who perform these duties; of judges in the several The discussions on these subjects are often very warm courts of law; of officers in the army and navy; of and eager, and bring to light facts of great public im- public ambassadors, and of consuls at foreign ports for portance. No act of the two deliberative bodies becomes the safety of trade; and of the officers who levy the valid as a law without the assent of the sovereign; and taxes. She has also large forces, both naval and miliall propositions relating to money to be raised for the tary, at her disposal, which are stationed in different public service, must originate with the House of Com parts of the empire where she or her advisers think that mons, the Lords merely giving their assent as a matter they are wanted for the time. The task of managing all of form, without being allowed to alter anything. This these extensive concerns, which would fall into confucircumstance gives a much larger share of influence to sion in the hands of one person, is deputed by the Queen the Commons than is possessed by the Lords; the for- to a number of persons, who are denominated her Mi. iner having it in their power, when dissatisfied with nisters, and sometimes the Cabinet. These are nomithe measures of government, to stop the supplies of nally selected and appointed by the Queen herself; but money, and thus bring the whole machinery to a stand. as her choice would be in vain if it were to fall on men
Each of the two Houses has one presiding member, who were disagreeable to Parliament (which might in whose duty it is to preserve order and see that the re- that case refuse to grant supplies for national busigulations of the assembly are attended to by the mem- ness), the ministry is generally chosen from among such bers; he is also the person through whom any commu. men as enjoy a considerable share of public confidence. nication passes between the House and the Queen, he They have all some high state office. The chief is the alone having the privilege of addressing her majesty in First Lord of the Treasury, whose nominal duty is the name of the House. Hence, in the House of Commons, receiving and issuing of the public money, while his this officer is called the Speaker; in the House of Lords actual station is that of leader of the adininistration; he is commonly known as the Lord Chancellor, from he is the first who is appointed in any ministry, and another office which he holds ; but the duties of the generally selects all the other members, according to latter are quite the same as those of the Speaker of the his own views of their abilities, or of the influence they Commons. There are numerous forms established for possess in the country or in Parliament; and any the regularity of business in Parliament, but of these changes afterwards made are generally at his suggesthere are only a few which need be mentioned here. tion, or at least with his full assent. Ñext is the Lord Any proposal which is laid before either of the Houses, High Chancellor, who presides in the highest law-court in order to pass into a law, must be made out by its of the kingdom, and is Speaker of the House of Lords;
he is chief adviser of the sovereign in all that relates cuits, in some instances once, and in others twice a to the laws of the country, and has the disposal of a year. Minor cases, criminal as well as civil, are judged great number of clerical and law offices. After him by bodies of provincial magistracy, termed Justices of are the principal secretaries of state, who are five in the Peace, who meet in every county once every quarnumber, each having a separate charge; the first is ter of a year. Besides the civil and criminal tribunals, Secretary for the Home Department, after whom are there are ecclesiastical courts, which have jurisdiction the Secretaries for Foreign Affairs and for the Colonies, in matters connected with marriage, wills, &c. and the Secretary at War, and the Secretary for Ireland. adopt the principles of the old canon law. There are These, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the first also courts of Admiralty, which decide questions beLord of the Admiralty, the Master - General of the tween persons of different nations, according to the Ordnance, the President of the Board of Control, and code of civil law recognised throughout Europe. one or two others, constitute what is called the Mi.
Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and other small islands nistry, the Cabinet Council, or briefly the Cabinet; and in the British Channel, which politically belong to the all the measures of the executive government are settled United Kingdom, possess a variety of peculiar privileges by their deliberations. Besides this body, the Queen and legal usages. The Isle of Man, situated in the sea has a Privy Council, consisting of persons eminent from between England and Ireland, likewise possesses rank, office, or personal character, who may be at vari- absurdly enough-certain peculiar privileges. auce with the Cabinet Council, but who take no share In Scotland, laws peculiar to itself, founded upon the in the government, except when summoned by the royal principles of the Roman and the Feudal law, are admiauthority. They are then in the same situation with nistered by a supreme civil tribunal, denominated the the cabinet ministers, and become responsible for the Court of Session, which remains fixed at Edinburgh, advice they give.
and by a criminal tribunal, named the Court of JustiThe regular division of labour which is established ciary, which not only sits in the same city, but makes in the British government, under the respective heads circuits through the provinces. Minor civil and crimiof the Cabinet, Treasury, Exchequer, Board of Trade, nal cases are also judged in Scotland by the sheriffs Mint, Revenue Boards, Admiralty, War Office, &c. is of the various counties, and the magistrates of the one of its chief excellencies; because every secretary, boroughs. Scotland possesses the advantage of public or other officer of state, having a particular department prosecution of offences, the injured party being only a assigned to him, the responsibility for any error or complainer to the public prosecutor. The chief public misinanagement is established at once, and may be prosecutor is the Lord Advocate; the inferior public either rectified or punished. Parliament itself has its prosecutors, in connection with the various minor courts, duties; and when these are not performed to the satis- are termed Procurators-Fiscal. The whole expense of faction of the electors, the members can be dismissed prosecution is defrayed by the national exchequer. at next election, to make way for others.
The peculiar boast of the criminal law of the British The British constitution, thus slightly sketched, may Empire, is the Jury. In England and Ireland, where be generally described as an anomaly in political the principle of the criminal law requires the injured science, being both professedly and in reality a mixture party or his representative to prosecute, he can only of all the three kinds of government-monarchical, do so by permission of a jury of accusation, called the aristocratical, and democratical. Such a government Grand Jury; another jury sits for the purpose of would probably be found totally inapplicable in other deciding if the evidence against the accused has estabsocieties; but in Britain it answers well, having grown lished the guilt. These juries consist in England and up in conformity with the views and character of the Ireland of twelve men, whose verdict must be unanipeople, and enjoying, in consequence of that conformity, mous; in Scotland, the jury upon the charge consists and of its long existence, the respect required to enable of fifteen men, who decide by a plurality of votes. The any system to work. Upon the whole, notwithstanding jury is an institution of Scandinavian origin, transthe Reform Acts, the aristocratic principle predomi- mitted to Britain through the Saxons; and it is justly nates
, yet fully as much from the spirit of the people considered as a most efficient protection of the subject themselves, as from any forms of the constitution. from the vindictiveness of power. Civil cases, turning
upon matters of fact, are likewise decided in all parts
of the United Kingdom by juries. Justice, civil and criminal, is administered in Eng- The House of Lords, as the great council of the land and Ireland according to laws and forms which sovereign, acts as a court of last appeal from the civil took their rise in the former country, and were in time tribunals of Britain and Ireland. Practically, the busiextended to the latter. The English law, as it is com- ness of hearing these appeals is undertaken by some prehensively termed, is of two kinds--written or statute law lord, such as the Lord Chancellor, who, as there law, consisting of the laws established by acts of Par- must be three persons present, is usually accompanied liament
, and consuetudinary law, consisting of customs by a temporal peer and a bishop. Before deciding, the which have existed from time immemorial, and have House sometimes demands the opinions of the English Texeired the sanction of the judges. Consuetudinary judges. Independently of their power as judges of law is again divided into common law and equity; the appeal, the peers act as a criminal court in all cases foriner is administered by courts which profess to ad- where a peer of the realm is tried for a capital crime. here strictly to the old laws of England, except in as
The laws and judicial usages of England are exfar as they are altered by statute; the latter was founded tended to most of the colonial possessions, along with upon the principle that the king, in cases of hardship, all the rights and privileges which are common to was entitled to give relief from the strictness of the British subjects. Hence the inhabitants of the most common law. Equity, though thus originated, has now distant part of the empire, whatever be their origin, become also a fixed kind of law, and is administered in rank, or colour, are entitled by the constitution to courts which decide according to established rules.
enjoy the saine degree of civil and religious liberty, The principal court for civil suits is the Court of and the same careful protection of life and property, Catamon Pleas. The Court of King's (or Queen's) as their fellow-subjects in the mother country. This Beach, which was at first only a criminal tribunal, and is an invaluable boon, for in no nation do the people the Court of Exchequer, which was designed only to practically enjoy greater liberty of speech or action decide in cases concerning the revenue, have become (without licentiousness), and in none is the press
more cish courts by means of fictions in their respective unshackled. Next in point of value to the privilege modes of procedure. The Court of Chancery, presided of trial by jury, the British subject places the right of orer by the Lord Chancellor, administers the law of petition to the Houses of Parliament, either for an in. eouity. Courts under these designations sit both in provement in the laws or a redress of grievances. As Viestainster and in Dublin: there are also courts of this involves the right of assembling publicly in a size, which, in England, perform six provincial cir- peaceful manner, or of meeting constitutionally, to dis
DISPENSATION OF LAWS.
RELIGION AND THE CHURCH,
cuss measures of government and legislation, it is £32,160. In 1834, the gross revenues of the deans and
With respect to the parochial branch of church emolu-
10,478 benefices, from which returns have been re-
In 1847, the total number of congregations belonging
The revenues exigible by law for the support of the number of parishes, including perpetual curacies, is
1848, amounted to £79,917 annually; and the total
body, the chief dissenting communion is that of the