« ElőzőTovább »
VIEW OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
the extension of education among the Op France, which from its proximity rising population, an object now so to our own shores, as well as from its extensively and so wisely patronized weight and imporiance among the na- in that country, is one most important tions of Europe, naturally attracts our step; a step, however, which must, in first attention in surveying the politi- the event, either lead to a reformation cal occurrences of the continent. We in the established religion, or confirm have not at present much to commu- the people in their infidelity, by pointnicate. The proceedings in the two ing out still more forcibly the absurchambers, which continue to be the dities and incredibilities of the Romish most interesting topic of the French faith, which is the only modification journals, are marked by a vacillating of Christianity from which, as a body, play of parties, which often renders it they can possibly take their estimate difficult on this side the channel to of the nature and principles of the Goascertain their real complexion. In spel. This state of things calls loudly France, there is wanting that broad and upon British Christians, instead of marked distinction of parties which indulging in irritating asperities of is so observable in our own senate, language, and fostering national preand which renders our parliamentary judices, to use their utmost endeadebates so sure a criterion of the real
to circulate the Scriptures state of political feeling among us. throughout that country. And here And we apprehend, that until time we may just remark, by way of anshall have given stability to their in- swer to some of our correspondents, stitutions, and until something of an whose“ hard sayings" on this subject aristocracy, composed of the rank, would only tend to increase the hostile wealth, and talent of the country, shall feeling between the two nations, withhave been formed, and obtain its due out benefiting either party; that the influence in society, the proceedings severe, unchristian, and supercilious of the Chambers must continue to be remarks, which so frequently appear characterized by apparent inconsisten in the journals and other publications cies and anomalies, and it will scarce- of Great Britain, when speaking of ly be practicable to foretel what will France, are currently mentioned by be their decision on any given subject. the friends of Bible Societies and siFrom some late proceedings, it would milar institutions in that kingdom, as appear, that the influence of the pre. one of the greatest obstacles in the sent ministry stands on a foundation way of that conciliatory spirit which by no means secure; but the deci- they are anxious to promote, and withsions of to-morrow may wear a totally out which no institution or generous different aspect, so that the govern design emanating from this country ment itself can scarcely know with can be popular in the neighbouring any certainty on what footing it stands. kingdom. Indeed, some fears seem to be enter- Spain appears to be on the very eve tained by it of fresh agitations; for we of some convulsion. Another insurfind the king replying to the deputation rection, which appears far better orfrom the chamber of deputies who ganized than the first, has broken out caine to congratulate hin on the new
among the troops collected at Cadiz, year, “ We are at peace with all Eu- for embarkation to South America. rope; but we have an enemy to com- The insurgents are said to be in posbat;-that enemy is anarchy. Our session of Seville, and to be marching situation can present no danger so long on Madrid. as I can place the sume reliance on you Germany, and the neighbouring that you may upon me." For ourselves, states, are far from enjoying a state of we ground our hope of permanent in- internal repose and security: The ternal tranquillity for France, only on old despotic governments, having prothe successful efforts which may be hibited the free expression of public made to eradicate the atheistical spi- opinion among their own subjects, rit, and the anti-social and demoraliz- are adopting measures to prevent the ing philosophism which marked the light penetrating from other quarters French Revolution. In this respect, not under their control. The king of Prussia has forbidden, under heavy fee is reduced one-third. The new du. penalties, the introduction into his ties may not be as low as this country dominions of any newspaper in the might wish: nor is it likely they German language printed in France should be so, as doubtless the Russian or England, or any newspaper pub- government intended the regulation lished in the kingdom of the Neiher- as much for financial as commercial lands either in French or Dutch. purposes: but it is something to see The advocates for a free trade among the ancient restrictive system broken the German states, for want of which in upon; and we trust it will not be all parties are more or less suffering, long before our own country will dishave not yet made the impression that cover the necessity of revising the is so desirable upon the public mind. principles of its commercial code. We The Prussian government, it is true, have hitherto been among the greatprofesses its willingness to procure est abettors of the narrow and exclufor all Germany this great advantage, sive system; and we are certainly not “ upon the principles of justice;" but among the least sufferers from it. it expresses its conviction that the Since our last Number, the Message governments of the different states are of the President of the United States by no means prepared for common to Congress has arrived; a document measures on this point, and that till always more important than ordinary this is the case little can be effected.. addresses of a similar character, from
We are happy, however, to be able the circumstance, that in America, to record two important measures the nature of the government requires which have been adopted on the con- that the legislature and people should tinent, which are conceived in a very be fully apprised of the reasons of different spirit, and which, we trust, public measures, since without this it may prove the first of a series of plans would be impossible to insure their for the social improvement and com- concurrence. The President -- after mercial prosperity of Europe at large. announcing the forward state of the
The first, is an ordinance by the public works, lamenting the ravages prince regent, in the name of our of the late epidemic, the commercial revered monarch, as king of Hanover, distresses of the union, and the deficonstituting two chambers resenb- ciency of the last harvest, and adding ling, mu!atis mutandis, our own houses as topics of consolation under each of parliament. The members may be head that the pestilence had disapof either of the three Christian Con- peared; that commercial embarrassfessions (the Reformed, the Lutheran, ments were diminishing; and that and the Catholic), allowed and equa- the harvest was sufficient for home Jized in that country by the congress consumption, though it would not of Vienna. These chainbers will, in allow of the usual extent of exportafuture, be the Assembly of the States-. tion-proceeds to advert to the subGeneral, and will make laws, voteject of the treaty with Spain for the tases, &c. for the whole kingdom; cession of Florida. After a lengththus superseding the disjointed sys- ened, and somewhat involved distem of independent provincial assem- cussion, he comes to the conclusion blies.
that the United States are entitled to The second measure to which we the occupancy of the provinces in allude, is the abolition of the war im- question, even if Spain should refuse posts, and the establishment of a new to ratify the treaty. He endeavours, tariff of commercial duties on imports however, to account for its non-raby the patriotic and enlightened Em- tification by stating, that the Spanish peror of Russia. Many descriptions government conceived that America of goods hitherto prohibited, are to be had materially altered the effect of admitted under the new regulations, one of the articles of the treaty by a and on some others the duty is re- declaration which accompanied the duced. This measure promises an ratification of it, and had also toleextension to the exportation both of rated or protected an expedition from our home manufactures, and of some the Uniied States into the province articles of our colonial produce. of Texas. The president replies, that Among the hitherto probibited, but this expedition was notoriously against now permitted articles, are printed the wishes of the government of the cottons, chintz, muslins, linens of all United States; and that as for the kinds, silk and half-silk manufactures, declaration complained of, it had been and earthen-ware. The duty on cof- made only to prevent the Spanish government from alienating lands in of December; the House of Lords, Florida subsequently to the date of till the 17th, and the Commons till the treaty. The President, therefore, the 15th, of February. The only maconsiders the United States as justi- terial circumstance occurring, during fied in keeping Spain to its agreement, the few last days of their session, and suggests that a law be passed for which we have not already mentioned, that purpose. The President states, was a financial statement of the Chanthat both England and France are cellor of the Exchequer, of a mucha favourable to the execution of the more favourable kind than had been treaty.
generally anticipated. We forbear 10 We are sorry to find that the com- take up the subject at present, as mercial arrangements of this country some ambiguity rests upon it, which with the United States are not yet may possibly be cleared up before our satisfactorily concluded; and that ihe next Number. President conceives that some new The operation of the new laws beprobibitory laws may be necessary, in gins to be seen in the disappearance order to extort from us the desired of illegal meetings, and blasphemous concessions with respect to the trade and seditious libels. Several conof our West-India Colonies.
victions have taken place for vending
these obnoxious publications, and we DOMESTIC.
trust not without effect. We feel great concern in announc- The severity of the weather has ing to our readers the death, after a caused much temporary embarrassfew days' illness, of his royal highnessment and distress throughout the the Duke of Kent, the fourth son of country. The state of the roads, the King, at Sidmouth, on the 23d rivers, and canals, has greatly iminstant. He was in the fifty-third peded the operations of trade; and year of his age. The complaint which vast numbers of persons, in a variety terminated the life of his royal high- of departments, have been thrown for ness appears to have been a neglected a season out of employment. The occold, caught from sitting in wet boots, casion loudly called for the exercise and which produced a violent inflam- of Christian benevolence, and the apmation of the lungs. In May, 1818, peal has not been unheeded. In alhe married the widow of the Prince most every part of the country, and of Leiningen, sister of the Prince of particularly in the metropolis, and Saxe Cobourg, by whom he has left other large towns, great exertions, a daughter, nanied Alexandrina Vic- both private and public, have been toria, born on the 24th of May last. made to assist the distressed, and The Duke of Kent was well and ho- perishing, and houseless poor. In nourably known to the public, as the ihis object party-spirit has been laid patron of almost all our great cha- aside; and even the character of the ritable institutions, over many of claimants-a point of such primary which he presided with signal advan- importance in the ordinary exercise of tage to their interests, as well as high charity-has been justly overlooked in credit to his own active and enlight- the pressing necessity of their wants. ened benevolence. His practical good We trust that kind offices like these sense; his dignified, yet condescend- may tend to bind the rich and poor ing deportment; and the uniform ur- more closely together as fellow-men, banity and affability of his manners fellow-citizens, and fellow-Christians; and conversation, rendered him de- lhat the foriner may learn more and servedly popular with all who ap- more to syınpathise with their less proached him.
prosperous brethren; and that the The late agitation of the public latter may find in the benefits which mind has almost entirely subsided, they receive from this relation, no and has been followed by a general slight argument for the providential stagnation of political topics. We arrangement of the Almighty in the trust we shall not again be called diversity of human conditions, and upon to write on subjects co pain- no feeble refutation of the reasonings fully interesting as those which have which have been su widely circulated lately occupied this department of to stir them up to discontent, and our pages.
disaffection. Parliament adjourned on the 30th
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
Clericus; J. M. W.; T. B. P.; J. S.; and QUÆRENS; have been received,
and will be duly considered. Io answer to the query of a Correspondent, who wishes to knowi whether our last
Number was duly published on the first of January, we reply, that it was published on the forenoon of the preceding day, as is customary; but that, owing to a recent resolution of the London Booksellers, not to take copies of any periodical work after nine o'clock of the last day of the month, some copies did not reach their destination in due time. A similar accident occurred to other publications
as well as ours. It will be guarded against in future. Clericus WARWICENsis will perceive that the object of his letter had not escaped
our attention. We have received a letter purporting to come from “ The Committee for condacting the Curates' Appeal;' complaining of the statements in onr last Number, p. 828, relative to Curates' Licences. The object of our statements was to shew ihat we are very far from being “remiss or indifferent respecting the condition of that most valuable and useful body of clergymen.” We referred our readers to our volumes generally, and, by name, to those for 1802 and 1803, (see pages 265, 397,513, of the former, and 212, 236, 289, of the latter), for our views on the general question of the danger of giving too extensive discretionary powers to our prelates; powers which, while bishops are men, must ever be liable to abuse. With regard to the particular case of curates' licences, as incladed in this general question, we stated, that the laws on this subject remain as they were long before our work commenced; and that the clause in the Consolidation Act of 1817, on which so much has been said, was nothiog more than a transcript of that of 1796. The inference was, that the provision is not (as has very widely gone abroad) “ a norel scheme," for that old liceuses run only during the bishop's pleasure; and that, consequently, the argument of the Curates' Appeal "might have been written as justly in the last century as in the present." We, however, added, that we were very far from justifying the provision; for that we thought, and we still think, that every accused person ought to know both the charge and the evidence brought against him, and that a licensed curate removed without due cause assigned, might justly feel himself aggrieved. We also expressly stated, that the circumstance of the law being older than many persons seem to suppose, is no diminution of the hardship of the curate
who suffers by it, “ especially if in any case the power has been abused." Now, on the maturest deliberation, we can see nothing in this statement
that could have given offence to any person; yet we have received not a very coasteous letter, signed as above, accusing us of " making excuses,” giving " an unjust turn,” of “ being unjust,” of “ treating curates improperly,” of "nullifying their attempts,” &c. How far all this is deserved, we leave our
readers to determine. The anonymous writer of this letter begins with taking for granted, that
the “ Carates' Appeal” is not intended to be further poticed in the Christian Observer; a circumstance which he seems to attribute to our indifference respectiug the condition of curates. It is, however, very possible to be ex. tremely anxious for the removal of the present arbitrary power of bishops to revoke curates' licences, and yet not to approve of the toue of any particular work on the subject. The fact, however, is, that we never gave any hint as to whether we shonld review the work in question or not. We certainly shall dever sbut our pages against any useful discussion, if conducted in a proper
spirit and with due ability. Oar anonymous correspondent proceeds to blame us for not animadverting
upon the “ cruel and unjust treatment which many curates now endure," and of wbich he couceives we have “as good evidence, as that there are any serious
distresses in the country.” Now what evidence of a public and docnmentary kind have we to bring
forward, supposing that we were to take up the subject? We liave, Ist, å sermon entitled an “ Appeal to Truth, by the Rev. G. Bugg, late Curate of Lutterworth ; delivered," as the title-page states, “ before a large audience, in consequence of the anthor's dismissal from his curacy by the lord bishop of Lincolo, being the third time he has been removed under the influence of existing laws;" but without any specified facts explanatory of the cause of those removals. We have, 2dly, The Curates' Appeal," an anonymous publication, written in the plural number, and stating that facts in abundance might be mentioned, but mentioning none. We have, 3dly, the anonymous letter now on our table, with the Bedford post mark, stating that “ We assure the Observer and the world, that every particular relative to the cases reported in the Curates' Appeal, is most scrupulously correct.” Now what is there in al this, that, as public writers, we conld venture to bring forward as evidence against the bench of bishops? Au allegation of cruelty, tyranny, and injustice against that venerable body, deeds more than assertions to prevent its recoiling upon the assailant. We have no scruple to say, of our own knowledge, that we believe instances have occurred in which the ear of bishops has been abused by ex parte evidence, and others in which they have exercised a misplaced though legal discretionary power, iv revoking licences. But general statements of this nature would not satisfy, and ought not to satisfy, the public mind on so grave a qnestion. We, therefore, have declined resting the merits of the case upon these alleged facts. It is the principle with which we contend. If no instance whatever has occurred of the unwise use of these powers, they are still such as ought uot to be conferred upon any fallible being. A bishop's discretion onght to be large, but not unlimited. He ought, we conceive, in re. voking a licence, to be obliged to state the crime, and to name the accuser, and to produce the evidence. Without this, his decision may indeed be wise, and just, and for the immediate benefit of religion and the church; but it can never satisfy the feelings of a British subject, or produce, what is the great object of all punishment, a salutary check on others against committing the same
offence. As a proof how little we can rely upon anonymous statements of facts, we turn
to the letter before us; in which the writer, after accusing us of " speaking indefinitely about old licences;" and the power of bishops to revoke licences long before the Consolidation Act, adds in the name of his Committee,“ We admit that old licences ruu during the bishop's pleusure. It is to be remarked, likewise, that modern licences, or licences granted since the curates' act took place, do not run during the bishop's pleasure. What is the reason of this difference? We are sure licences do actually apply only during the bishop's pleasure now. Why, then, is the ancient language laid aside? The reason appears to us to be this. The law before consisted in ecclesiastical custom and regulation which was kept up by the language of the licences. But now the law is fixed by Acts of Parliament, and, therefore, Deeds no such memento-having become the law of the land." The whole of this alleged alteration, and, consequently, the reasoning ground
ed on it, is totally incorrect in point of fact. No such change has taken place: licences granted since the act of 1796, are as much during the bishop's good pleasure as those before. We have one now on our table, dated Angust, 1816, which has the emphatic clause," Only during our pleasure, aud till you are otherwise enjoined by us." It is a printed form, and, consequently, a fucsimile of all others in the same diocese, and we have no reason to suppose that
the diocese in question has a form different from that of others. Qur correspondent is particulariy offended that we should have said that
“ the argument of the Curates' Appeal might have been written as justly in the last century as the present.” That argument he states to consist of law and facts. In reply, we say, that though there are allegations in plenty, facts (we mean facts duly specified and authenticated) there are none; the whole charge is anonymous; and we think that bishops ought not to be denied the same mea. sure of justice which we wish to see giveu to curates. But we did not say that the facts, but the argument, might have been written in the last cemury. We forgive the harmless pleasantry
about the small space of time which elapsed between the passing of the act of 1796, and the close of the century, as if that affected the urmth of our assertion. We will not only repeat, but extend our assertion :--for the truth is, that had that act, or the act of 1817, or lord Harrowby's act of 1813, (an act, by the way, passed in opposition to the whole bench of bishops, but which continued to their lordship’s all their former powers), never passed, the argument of the Curates' Appeal might have been written; for licences were revokable at pleasure long before these dates, so that the same opening for abuse existed which exists at present, though a little more trouble might perhaps have been given to a bishop in carrying his powers into execution. We as sincerely wish to see the present law repealed as our correspondent: but we cannot consent to make our work a vehicle for party statements, or general charges on constituted authorities; for which, while the writer is concealed, we ourselves must be responsible.