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This effect the present rulers of this country are not conscious of, or they disregard it. For many years past, the tendency of society amongst almost all the nations of Europe has been to produce it. But recently, by the spreading of manufactures through every part of the country, by the heavy taxes upon postage, by workhouses, houses of industry, and the invention of soup-shops, &c. &c., superadded to the increasing disproportion between the price of labour and that of the necessaries of life, the bonds of domestic feeling among the poor, as far as the influence of these things has extended, have been weakened, and in innumerable instances entirely destroyed. The evil would be the less to be regretted if these institutions were regarded only as palliatives to a disease; but the vanity and pride of their promoters are so subtly interwoven with them, that they are deemed great discoveries and blessings to humanity. In the mean time, parents are separated from their children, and children from their parents; the wife no longer prepares with her own hands a meal for her husband, the produce of his labour; there is little doing in his house in which his affections can be interested, and but little left in it which he can love. I have two neighbours, a man and his wife, both upwards of eighty years of age; they live alone; the husband has been confined to his bed many months, and has never had, nor till within these few weeks has ever needed, anybody to attend to him but his wife. She has recently been seized with a lameness which has often prevented her from being able to carry him his food to his bed. The neighbours fetch water for her from the well, and do other kind offices for them both, but her infirmities increase. She told my servant two days ago that she was afraid they must both be boarded out among some other poor of the parish (they have long been supported by the parish); but she said it was hard, having kept house together so long, to come to this, and she was sure “it would burst her heart.” I mention this fact to shew how deeply the spirit of independence is, even yet, rooted in some parts of the country. These people could not express themselves in this way without an almost sublime conviction of the blessings of independent domestic life. If it is true, as I believe, that this spirit is rapidly disappearing, no greater curse can befal a land. I earnestly entreat your pardon for having detained you so long. In
“The Brothers” and “Michael," I have attempted to draw a picture of the domestic affections as I know they exist amongst a class of men who are now almost confined to the North of England. They are small independent proprietors of land, here called statesmen, men of respectable education, who daily labour on their own little properties. The domestic affections will always be strong amongst men who live in a country not crowded with population, if these men are placed above poverty. But if they are proprietors of small estates which have descended to them from their ancestors, the power which these affections will acquire amongst such men is inconceivable by those who have only had an opportunity of observing hired labourers, farmers and the manufacturing poor. Their little tract of land serves as a kind of permanent rallying-point for their domestic feelings, as a tablet upon which they are written, which makes them objects of memory in a thousand instances when they would otherwise be forgotten. It is a fountain fitted to the nature of social man, from which
the two poems,
supplies of affection, as pure as his heart was intended for, are daily drawn. This class of men is rapidly disappearing. You, Sir, have a consciousness, upon which every good man will congratulate you, that the whole of your public conduct has in one way or other been directed to the preservation of this class of men, and those who hold similar situations. You have felt that the most sacred of all property is the property of the poor. The two poems which I have mentioned were written with a view to shew that men who do not wear fine clothes can feel deeply. “Pectus enim est quod disertos facit, et vis mentis. Ideoque imperitis quoque, si modo sint aliquo affectu concitati, verba non desunt." The poems are faithful copies from nature; and I hope whatever effect they may have upon you, you will at least be able to perceive that they may excite profitable sympathies in many kind and good hearts, and may in some small degree enlarge our feelings of reverence for our species, and our knowledge of human nature, by shewing that our best qualities are possessed by men whom we are too apt to consider, not with reference to the points in which they resemble us, but to those in which they manifestly differ from us. I thought, at a time when these feelings are sapped in so many ways, that the two poems might co-operate, however feebly, with the illustrious efforts which you have made to stem this and other evils with which the country is labouring, and it is on this account alone that I have taken the liberty of thus addressing you.
Wishing earnestly that the time may come when the country may perceive what it has lost by neglecting your advice, and hoping that your latter days may be attended with health and comfort, I remain, with the highest respect and admiration, Your most obedient and humble servant,
LIBERTY. PERMIT me to tell you what the freedom is that I love. . . . This is the more necessary, because, of all the loose terms in the world, Liberty is the most indefinite. It is not solitary, unconnected, individual, selfish liberty, as if every man was to regulate the whole of his conduct by his own will. The liberty I mean is social freedom. It is that state of things in which liberty is secured by the equality of restraint. ... This kind of liberty is indeed but another name for justice,--ascertained by wise laws, and secured by wellconstructed institutions. ... I do not believe that men ever did submit, certain I am that they ought never to have submitted, to the arbitrary pleasure of one man: but, under circumstances in which the arbitrary pleasure of many persons in the community pressed with an intolerable harshness upon the just and equal rights of their fellows, such a choice might be made as among wrongs. The moment will is set above reason and justice in any community, a great question may arise in sober minds,-in what part or portion of the community that dangerous dominion of will may be the least mischievously placed.-BURKE, Correspondence.
THE POETRY OF COURTSHIP. THEIR courtship was carried on in poetry. Alas! many an enamoured pair have courted in poetry, and after marriage lived in prose.—John FOSTER.
REGIUM DONUM. SIR, The liberal manner in which you have, in your editorial capacity, always treated the much controverted subject of the Regium Donum, or Parliamentary grant to the poor Dissenting ministers of England and Wales, assures me that I shall not solicit in vain for a short space in the Christian Reformer for a few observations I deem it necessary to offer upon some matters, personal to myself, arising from the recent discussions both in and out of Parliament. My position in the administration of this charity, and the evidence which, in consequence of that position, I was required to give in relation to it before a Committee of the House of Commons, have subjected me to various animadversions which may seem to require some reply. If I have refrained from so early a notice of them, from the press, as might have been expected, my plea is, that I thought it best to wait till the feverish agitation into which the adversaries of the grant had been thrown, and which had imparted so much bitterness to their censures, had somewhat subsided, and a better chance presented itself of more dispassionate attention to what I might have to allege in my defence and justification. The multiplicity of the quarters from which I have been attacked renders it impracticable to meet every assailant on his own ground. I have for this reason chosen to throw myself on your indulgence to be allowed to embody in your pages the whole of what I intend to offer in the way of explanation or defence.
My purport is to select for notice some parts of my printed evidence which have been made the subject of criticism, subjoining, as I proceed, some remarks on the topics to which they relate, and to add a brief reply to some recent animadversions on my Sketch of the History and Vindication of the Distributors of the Grant.
In my examination by the Committee on the Miscellaneous Estimates, I was asked, if the chief part of the distribution were made to ministers in Wales ? My first answer is correctly reported—“A very large proportion of it goes to Wales.” But I am made to add,-"taken alto. gether, the greatest number of recipients are Welsh.” My words are here not given accurately. The whole bearing of this part of the examination was to ascertain the proportion of the money distributed in the Principality. Hence the question, “ You do not consider yourselves bound in this distribution to attend to something approaching to an equal distribution among the localities of Great Britain ?” I was not prepared to state the number of the Welsh recipients, but I felt no difficulty in affirming that, comparing the territorial extent of Wales with that of England, the larger proportion of the exhibitions went to the Principality
In accounting for this appropriation, I took occasion to advert to the prevalence and to the origin of Dissent in Wales. In my brief statement on this subject, I had the misfortune to employ one term which has exposed me to the censure of the honourable Member for Manchester, Mr. Bright, for whose character I entertain high respect. In commenting on my evidence, the honourable gentleman is reported to have said “Dr. Rees speaks of Dissent as an EVIL-a pretty Dissenter, truly!” This comment, I confess, surprised me not a little. Had I, inadvertently or advisedly, enunciated the proposition, that Dissent was an evil, would the honourable Member, in his calmer moments, have denied its truth? Would he maintain that, in no sense and under no circumstances, is Dissent an evil, and an evil fruitful in grievances, from which Dissenters of all classes have long and earnestly laboured to obtain relief? But waiving these things, my simple reply to the taunt is, that the term evil, as employed by me, did not warrant the construction thus put upon it. The passage in my evidence is as follows :—“Wales is peculiarly a Dissenting country, accidentally so from the course taken in the reign of Elizabeth to force a Service Book in the English language upon a nation which did not understand a word of it. Dissent was created to a very large extent before the evil was perceived.” What evil could here have been intended ? Not, certainly, the withdrawal of the people from the public service, but the compulsory imposition of a form of worship as unintelligible to their understanding as the Popish Mass Book which it had superseded. The evil then inflicted on the Welsh worshipers was similar to that inflicted by the Bartholomew Act of Charles II. on the clergy, which caused the secession from the Church of the memorable Two Thousand. In Wales, when the consequence of the arbitrary proceeding was seen, orders were given to provide for conducting the Church service in the Welsh language. But the proposed remedy came too late. A long period elapsed before a translation of the Liturgy could be procured. The people, in the interval, and among them venerable ancestors of my own, had deserted the Church, and, at the imminent peril of their lives, retired to worship among the woods and rocks of their native valleys.
A part of the interrogatories of the Committee related to the secrecy observed by the distributors of the grant with respect to the names of the recipients, and my replies have been censured as contradictory. When asked if any return had been made to Parliament of the names of the ministers receiving exhibitions, I replied in the negative, and mentioned two reasons—first, that the distributors felt bound not to wound the feelings of the poor ministers by the exposure of their necessities; and, secondly, that the discovery of their names would be sure to draw upon them obloquy and condemnation from many persons of their denominations. Being again asked, if the congregations had any knowledge of the grant to their ministers, I answered, “No doubt of it, in most instances.” It was then inquired, whether there were any secrecy about the distribution which would prevent congregations being aware of it. My reply was, “None.” To reconcile these answers I must observe, that the distributors never disclose the names of the exhibitioners beyond their own circle. But the same secrecy is not always observed by the recipients. It may not be strictly true that“ in most instances” the congregations are aware that their ministers receive this money, but frequently, in their confidential intercourse with some members, they declare the fact. And I have known many cases in which, on the change of a minister, some official person in the congregation has solicited for the new minister the continuance of the donation from the Parliamentary grant which had been occasionally received by his predecessor.
The secrecy observed in the administration of this charity has been made the subject of hostile comment, both in and out of Parliament. But it has always been regarded by the trustees as a necessary condition of the grant. The bounty was from the first professedly given for a class, not for specific individuals; and it was placed in the hands of men, ranking among the most esteemed in their several denominations, with the understanding that it was left to their judgment and discretion to select the persons to whom such eleemosynary aid would be most serviceable, without subjecting them to the unnecessary exposure of their poverty. This principle, of confidential privacy in the selection of the objects, was transmitted to their successors, and on this principle they have felt bound to conduct their proceedings. This was a matter tacitly understood between the distributors and the recipients while the fund was strictly a Regium Donum, a grant from the Privy Purse, the private personal income of the Sovereign. When, for particular State reasons, a change was made in the mode of providing for the support of the Royal household, Parliament relieved the Privy Purse from the payment of this “Royal charity," placed itself in respect to it in the Sovereign's place, and engaged to pay the Royal bounty in the form of a Parliamentary grant. At the time this change was made, the Minister (Mr. Perceval) said, “ He would direct the attention of the Committee (of the House of Commons) to those pensions and allowances which his Majesty permanently bestowed on the objects of his bounty. These charges were always, and with propriety, taken out of the Privy Purse; and as the Committee would certainly think it necessary to continue those grants, there was no necessity for making any difference with respect to the fund out of which they should be satisfied.”
The change now made was considered to be merely one of arrangement: there was no intimation of any alteration as to the principle of the grant or the mode of its administration. It was under this impression that, when it was proposed in the House of Commons to move for a return of the names of the recipients, I intimated the scruples of the distributors, and that part of the motion was not pressed. The distributors have felt strongly the other objection the consequences in which the disclosure of their names would be sure, in a great many cases, to involve the recipients. They well knew that they would be denounced as apostates from their Dissenting principles, and probably be excluded from the benefit of other funds in the gift of those who condemned them.
A part of my evidence, to which some importance has been attached in the late discussions, is that relating to the mode of appointing the trustees by self-election. It was gravely objected that they were not appointed by any recognized body of Dissenters. But I would ask, what is the recognized body of Dissenters to whom could be committed the choice of trustees for such a charity? The fund being intended for the joint benefit of poor ministers of the Three Denominations, it would be necessary, in order to secure an impartial selection of trustees of each persuasion, that the electing body should itself be composed of these three classes. But no such body now exists, either lay or clerical. The Body of English Presbyterian Ministers of London and the vicinity have separated from the other two denominations, and have thus broken up the old General Body of Ministers of the Three Denominations. The Presbyterian congregations have also ceased to send