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read the following Declaration, which was adopted at a Meeting held in Nottingham on the 21st ult:
“ DECLARATION. "At a time when the clergy of England and Wales have felt it their duty to address their Primate with an expression of unshaken adherence to the doctrine and discipline of the church of which they are ministers, we, the undersigned, as lay members of the same, are not less anxious to record our firm attachment to her pure faith and worship, and her Apostolic form of Government.
“We further find ourselves called upon, by the events which are daily passing around us, to declare our firm conviction, that the consecration of the State, by the public maintenance of the Christian religion, is the first and paramount duty of a Christian people; and that the church established in these realms, by carrying its sacred and beneficial influences through all orders and degrees, and into every corner of the land, has, for many ages, been the great and distinguishing blessing of this country, and not less the means, under Divine Providence, of national prosperity than of individual piety.
“In the preservation, therefore, of this our national church in the integrity of her rights and privileges, and in her alliance with the state, we feel that we have an interest no less real, and no less direct, than her immediate ministers ; and we accordingly avow our firm determination to do all that in us lies, in our several stations, to uphold, unimpaired in her security and efficiency, that establishment, which we have received as the richest legacy of our forefathers, and desire to hand down, as the best inheritance, to our posterity."
Mr. Hicklin afterwards begged to observe, that the Declaration might be justly considered a spontaneous manifestation of attachment to the church from the laity, who felt themselves called upon to record their opinions in her favour; and wished to impress upon his Grace's mind, that the signatures included, not only the names of county magistrates, landed proprietors, bankers, and respectable tradesmen, but also a great number of the working classes of society, who were thus anxious to express their sense of the benefits secured to them by an established church, in providing for them gratuitous religious instruction.
Mr. Flewker then remarked, that he would take the liberty of observing to his Grace, that the state of opinion in Nottingham on this important subject had been much misrepresented. A memorial, professing to come from the dissenters of that town, had lately been presented to Earl Grey, in which much vebement language had been employed, and many extraordinary demands had been urged on the attention of the Government. Now he (Mr. F.) would beg to state to his Grace, that the memorial did not represent the feelings or wishes of the most respectable and influential portion of the dissenters, but might be fairly said to express the opinions of the more violent part of that body. There were, in fact, in Nottingham, two distinct parties of dissenters—the moderate class, who totally disapproved of the late proceedings ; and the more violent party, who were the originators and conductors of the business on that occasion. Mr. F. then commented on the circumstances which led to the meeting for the adoption of the Declarationstated the grounds on which the friends, whom the deputation represented, founded their support of the church-and expressed a hope that the Declaration met with his Grace's concurrence.
The Archbishop replied, that he fully concurred in the sentiments so well and eloquently expressed in the Declaration; he never wished the defence of the church to rest on better grounds. It was to him a source of the highest pleasure and satisfaction to receive a memorial like that just presented from the town of Nottingham-a town in which it was always supposed there was so overwhelming a majority of persons opposed to a church establishment, and which had lately been represented in high quarters as hostile to the
principles advocated in the Declaration. His Grace proceeded to observe, that, naturally feeling an interest in what concerned the church, he had read, with high gratification, the report of the meeting at Nottingham in the papers; and he received the deputation with the greater pleasure, as they represented the opinions of the lay members of the church, who could not be accused or suspected of any interested motives in standing forward in her defence, as it was particularly desirable that a church, which is established for the moral and spiritual good of the nation, should rest upon the affections of the people. The endowments of the church were bestowed upon her, not for the purpose of increasing the wealth or importance of certain individuals ; neither was it on this ground that they were defended : the object they were intended to serve, was to render the ministrations of religion more accessible to the poor, and to extend, with greater efficiency, the knowledge of those truths which, not only made men happy in time, but secured their eternal salvation. If the church were stripped of her endowments, no classes of society would be gainers but the landed proprietors, and her efficiency would be greatly impaired. The advantages and importance of a church establishment, and the duty of a Christian Government, were well set forth in the Declaration; and, he would again repeat, that, holding the situation he had the honour to fill; and attached, as he was, from conviction and principle, to the church, he experienced the highest gratification in receiving such a memorial from Nottingham.
The Archbishop then looked over several of the signatures; and, in the most courteous manner, entered into an interesting and instructive conversa. tion with the deputation on the effects of religion, the prospects of the church, and the duty of her members. The Archbishop of York not having arrived in town, his Grace of Canterbury kindly offered to forward the Declaration to him; and said that he should take the opporiunity of expressing the pleasure which this interview had afforded him. The deputation, after thanking this amiable dignitary for his kindness and condescension, then withdrew.
On Monday last, by appointment, the deputation waited upon Earl Grey, at his residence, in Downing-street, and were most courteously received. Mr. Horsfall introduced the business, and presented the Declaration (a copy of which is given above), to the Premier, who, after reading it, expressed his full concurrence in the sentiments therein advocated. Mr. Hicklin then explained the nature of the circumstances which led to the meeting, and the objects contemplated by the memorialists ; after which Mr. Flewker begged to endeavour to remove from his Lordship’s mind any erroneous impressions that might have originated in the presentation of a memorial by Mr. Howitt and Mr. Hunter. The deputation begged to assure his Lordship that the memorial alluded to did not express the sentiments of the most influential dissenters of Nottingham, for the more respectable portion of that body had declared their regret at the violenee of the proceedings in Parliament-street Chapel. It was futher stated to his Lordship, that the more moderate party of dissenters had expressed a desire to draw up a declaration very different in its character from the one lately presented by Mr. Howitt and his friend, as the sentiments of the Nottingham dissenters. Earl Grey replied, that he was very glad to hear such was the case ; and he expressed much surprise at the “wild notions” (as his Lordship termed them) which Mr. Howitt advocated. The Premier further inquired whether there were not, even among the dissenters, many who entertained sentiments in accordance with those contained in the Declaration before him? To which it was replied that, although some classes of conscientious dissenters could not consistently sign a memorial which advocated the union of church and state, there was a numerous and respectable body in Nottingham who strongly deprecated such violent measures as had lately been adopted ; and there were also unquestionably some who would gladly push forward any change in the existing order of things, no
matter how sweeping, or under what pretence. Earl Grey then observed that, as he had before remarked to Mr. Howitt and his friend, he had ever been, and always should be, ready from principle to relieve dissenters from any real grievances which might be found to press upon them ; but, if their present efforts were intended as an attack upon the church, he should strenuously resist them. He took it for granted, that the Declaration, which had just been put into his hands, did not go to oppose the correction of any abuse, or the removal of any cause which had given occasion of complaint, in some respects, against the church. To this it was replied, that such questions must necessarily be left for the consideration of the Government. Mr. Hicklin also begged it to be understood, as the wish of the body whom the deputation represented, that, in the Parliamentary discussion of any question connected with the church, his Lordship would keep steadily in view the leading principles laid down in the Declaration. To which remark, Earl Grey observed, that such was the intention of himself and his colleagues : in any measures which might be proposed, he should certainly endeavour to maintain the stability, and increase the efficiency, of the church, as he was fully convinced of the necessity and advantages of a church establishment.
After expressing to his Lordship their thanks for the kind condescension with which they had been received, the deputation rose, and withdrew. The deputation also wish to record their grateful sense of the courteous and cordial manner in which their business was facilitated by the advice of the Earl of Lincoln,
EARL GREY AND THE DISSENTERS.
(From the Bristol Mirror.) We insert the following letter, addressed by Earl Grey to the Rev. Thomas Roberts, of this city :
Downing-street, 6th February, 1834. “SIR,—I have received your letter of the 1st instant, with the
satisfactory account of your own feelings, and those of a majority of the dissenters of England, with respect to the proposition so pertinaciously urged by some persons in Nottingham, but not in concurrence, I hope and sincerely believe, with the opinions of the majority of the dissenters in that place.
“ Nothing could be more injurious to their cause than to urge the adoption of measures which those, amongst whom I must number myself, who are sincerely desirous of relieving them from all real causes of complaint, would feel it their duty to oppose.
Sir, your most obedient servant,
GLOUCESTER. PRESENTATION OF THE ADDRESS FROM THE
CLERGY TO THE BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE. On Thursday last, the Archdeacon of the Diocese, supported by the Dean of Gloucester, the Rev. Dr. Hall, and nearly all the Clergy of this city and neighbourhood, presented to the Bishop an Address which was unanimously agreed upon at the recent General Meeting of the Clergy. The Archdeacon, in presenting the petition, addressed his Lordship in the following terms :
My Lord Bishop,—We wait upon your Lordship, by desire of the Clergy of this diocese, at a meeting held on the 14th of this month, for the purpose of taking into consideration the spiritual state of Church. On that occasion many topics were discussed, and several resolutions unanimously carried ; one of which was, that the Address I now hold in my hand should be presented to
VOL. V. - March, 1834.
your Lordship. For it was impossible for the Clergy then assembled not to recollect with grateful feelings the firmness displayed, and the part taken by your Lordship, uninfluenced by interest, and unbiassed by party, on the great Church questions lately brought before Parliament. For this your Lordship now receives the sincere thanks of your Clergy; and they have also to offer up their thanksgivings to the Almighty disposer of all events, for having at the present juncture placed over this diocese a spiritual ruler endowed with such a mind. Looking to the past, we presume to hope that your Lordship’s high talents and distinguishod abilities, will still be exerted with unabated zeal and perseverance in resisting any attempts that may be made to invade the spiritualities of our Church, as by law established. In so doing your Lordship may rest assured, that the hearts and the prayers of your Clergy will be with you ; and should such endeavours fail, and evil befal our Church, it will be one consolation to your clergy to reflect, that it can never be imputed to any want of energy in their worthy Diocesan. With these observations, I beg leave to read the Address I now present to your Lordship from the Clergy of your Diocese. The Archdeacon then read the AddressTo the Right Reverend James Henry, by divine permission,
Lord Bishop of Gloucester. “We, the undersigned, Clergy of the Diocese of Gloucester, approach your Lordship with the assurance of our veneration for the sacred and apostolic office which you have been called to fill in this diocese, our high estimation of the energy and ability with which you direct the affairs, and maintain the interests of the Church, and our confidence in your zeal, as calculated to serve and protect the same, under the difficulties of her present position. In anticipation of the trials which await our Apostolical Church, we declare to your Lordship our united resolution, under the Divine blessing, to withstand by such means as become the ministers of Christ, all encroachments upon the essential internal polity, or spiritual privileges of the Church: and we do furthermore declare, that, while we are willing to co-operate and acquiese in any measures that may be deemed necessary by your Lordship and our other Ecclesiastical Rulers, and the whole body of the Clergy'assembled in Convocation, to strengthen and consolidate the discipline and polity of the Church, we are prepared dutifully, but firmly, to protest against any suppression of her scriptural doctrines, any departure from her primitive practice in the celebration of the sacraments, and in other religious ministrations, or any innovation upon the apostolic offices or commission of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, or any change therein, except by the authority and through the medium of due legitimate and scripturally recommended councils, held by the higher and inferior representatives of the great body of the Clergy." To which his Lordship was pleased thus to reply :
Mr. Archdeacon and Gentlemen,-I accept with sentiments of the liveliest satisfaction, this testimony of approbation and confidence from the Clergy of my Diocese; an approbation which it is certainly my earnest wish to merit, by the conscientious discharge of the duties of my station ; and a confidence which, by the blessings of Divine Providence, I hope never to disappoint.-In the determination expressed by you in this Address, respecting the doctrines of our Apostolical Church, and in regard to innovations in her discipline and polity, which may be made by any authority except that of her ecclesiastical rulers and representatives, I beg leave to declare my full and entire concurrence; and to add, that I consider this your resolution to be conceived in the genuine spirit of our reformed Church.--I will not lose this opportunity testifying my extreme satisfaction at seeing such a complete union and coincidence of sentiment, as appears to actuate the Clergy in supporting the integrity of our scriptural establishment: a union which must confound the hopes of those who reckon upon internal divisions in the Church as a means of
advancing their designs for her overthrow. At the same time I must avow that it affords me peculiar pleasure to see the prominent part which has been taken in the expression of such principles by the Diocese over which I have been called to preside.
LOCAL TESTAMENTARY COURTS. It is understood that an extraordinary measure is now in preparation, which, if carried into a law, will produce the most alarming alterations in the existing mode of preserving wills, and of taking out probates and letters of administration in every part of this kingdom, not comprised within the precincts of the metropolis. This Bill is said to contemplate, in the first place, the immediate removal to London of all original wills, from the places where they are now deposited throughout the several counties of England and Wales; and to provide that in future all such instruments shall be regularly transmitted to Doctors' Commons, to be there perpetually retained. Consequently if this measure be successful, persons living at a distance from the capital, will be precluded, in future, from obtaining authentic information as to the contents of any will in which they may be interested, unless they submit to the inconvenience and expense of journeys to and from town, or pay an agent specially employed for the purpose. Thus, in either case, they must incur heavy charges not hitherto imposed on individuals resident in the country, and from which the inhabitants of the metropolis would be altogether free. How are the fourteen thousand probates and letters of administration now annually taken out at short distances from the homes of the parties, through the instrumentality of local tribunals, to be obtained by country families under the New Bill? It is impossible to devise any machinery for the accomplishment of this object, which will not very considerably increase the present rate of expense.
It was stated in evidence before the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as well as before a committee of the House of Commons, that wills have been proved at Doctors' Commons of persons actually living when the probates were taken out; and that letters of administration have been granted to persons having no title thereto, upon the securities of men of straw. By stratagems of this kind, great frauds have been perpetrated. Can it be doubted that the proposed system of having all the country business transacted through that court, but at various and remote distances from it, would suggest irresistible temptations for new frauds of a still more formidable character?
By reason of the present state of the law with respect to bona notabilia, and of the fact that the great mass of the personal property of the kingdom is centered in the metropolis, probates or administrations appertaining to effects of large amount are now usually taken out at Doctors' Commons; while those disposing of personal chattels of small amount are for the most part taken out in the country. The former are not often under the sum of 1,000l. ; the latter very seldom exceed that sum. The annual number of probates and administrations taken out in the country courts is about fourteen thousand; and of these, twelve thousand five hundred are under 1,000l.; seven thousand are under 2001.; and four thousand seven hundred are absolutely under 1,001. Therefore the new bill is designed to impose upon the small properties of the country, a new species of taxation, which is not to be levied on the riches of the higher orders !-and for what purpose ? Simply that the Prerogative court may monopolize all the testamentary jurisdiction now distributed over the face of the kingdom.
By way of finding a pretext for this unwarrantable innovation upon the ancient usages of the realm, the report of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners,
The Clerical Commissioners are understood to have left this part of the busi, ness entirely to their legal colleagues.--Ed.