HC Deb 11 June 1835 vol 28 cc695-709
Sir William Rae

rose to move that the several Petitions which had been presented respecting the Endowment and Extension of Churches in Scotland be referred to a Select Committee. He assured the House that this subject had produced a very great sensation in Scotland. The petitioners felt it their duty to appeal to the Legislature with regard to it, finding from the silence hitherto observed that his Majesty's Government were not inclined to take it up. The right hon. Gentleman observed, that the number of the petitions (upwards of 300) was a proof of the interest taken in the subject, in that country. He himself had all along felt a most anxious desire for the discussion of the subject; and, so far as he could, he had given his poor aid and advice, to bring the matter under the consideration of the House. He thought he was not the less qualified to do so, as he happened not to be a member of that Church; and, therefore, in Scotland, a Dissenter, his anxiety thus would be free from any suspicion. The petitions which had come from Scotland were not the only circumstances, however, which proved the deep interest taken in that country for the success of the motion. In addition to their unexampled number, the petitioners had proved their attachment to the Church by the unexampled subscription of 65,000l. They came with that sum in their hands to the Government of the country, and said, "you are bound to keep up the Established Church, so as to furnish, to every person of its inhabitants, the means of religious instruction." But all they wanted of the country was, to assist them with an endowment, and for what object?—for that most important object—to secure such an income to the Church as might provide to all persons connected with the Church means of attending that Church. That was the real prayer of the petitions; and it was to be seen, whether the Legislature would be disposed to throw cold water upon those petitions which came forward in the shape in which he was about to lay them before the House. The right hon. Gentleman then adverted to the two different sources from which means were at present derived for dispensing religious instruction in Scotland: first, the Endowments of the Establishment made at the time of the Reformation, and which, from the great increase of population, had become totally inadequate; and, secondly, the voluntary associations of individuals who had erected numerous chapels all over the country, but whose assistance must, he observed, be confined necessarily to the higher orders of society—those who could pay for their seats—since it was impossible for those persons to build Churches and endow them too, without some aid to their voluntary efforts, which could only be afforded by the assistance of Government, and there lay the key of the whole Question. In Scotland, by the great increase of population, &c, a great number of persons were excluded from the Churches because they could not afford to pay the seat-rents. He was prepared to prove that in every town of importance in Scotland there were numbers who actually, for that reason, could not attend church. He would call the attention of the House to only two cases. The first was that of Glasgow, with a population, in the city and suburbs, of 224,000, of which one-half, about 112,000, were under twelve years; and he would ask the House, whether it was fit that the whole population under twelve years should be excluded from the means of religious instruction? But, leaving out altogether the one half, as children, for the other portion consisting of 112,000 persons, there were (Established and Dissenting) 77,000 sittings, leaving 35,000 people who could not attend Church however disposed, even supposing that the whole number of sittings were occupied. But then the seat-rents were 13s., and the poorer classes could not afford to pay at such a rate for themselves and families; the consequence of which was, that they were ousted from all seats, and ceased to attend any place of worship. He knew it was sometimes said, that half the seats were empty. True, but how did that arise? From the people being ousted from the seats through their inability to pay the rents. It was plain, then, that the only mode of reclaiming them would be the establishing ministers in the crowded districts, who would visit the sick and aged, and instruct them pri- vately; and thus by exerting a proper influence over the community, induce them to attend the chapels. In the city of Edinburgh not one-eighth part of the population attended the Churches, though there were numbers of seats unoccupied, till a voluntary association, whose petition lay upon the Table of the House, had built a Church with free accommodation for the poor, which was speedily filled through the influence of religious instruction diffused over the population. There was not a large town in Scotland which could not be proved to include a vast number who never attended Church at all, being excluded from the Church by the high seat-rents, whereas, with a minister to visit them in private, and instruct them in private, with free accommodation, a large congregation would soon be collected from all parts of the district. But the system of inducing people to become church-goers was unknown in Scotland; and the consequence of the deficiency in religious instruction was the vast extension of vice and crime, in proof of which he begged the attention of the House to the following returns, showing the number of persons committed for criminal offences in Scotland, for the four years previous to the years 1811 and 1835 respectively. It was as follows:—In

1807 67 1831 3,950
1808 77 1832
1809 86 1833 1,898
1810 112 1834 2,711
The number of commitments was 342, average 83; for the four last years prior to 1835, the number was 8,559, averege 2,139, being an increase of no less then twenty-fivefold. Let the House now look at the state of crime in England for the same period; for the first four years, the average number was 4,419, for the second period it was 20,179, showing an increase of fourfold. So that while in England the increase of crime in twenty-five years was fourfold, in Scotland, for the same period, it was nearly twenty-five fold. Whence did that difference arise? It could not be owing to the increase of population, for in England it was nearly double, nor to the state of the law, for though severe in Scotland, the number of respites in that country was one-fourth, while in England it was only one-fourth of the number of convictions, yet had crime increased twenty-fivefold in Scotland. With such results apparent to the Legislature, he would ask the House if it was prepared to refuse a remedy—that remedy being (as he was prepared to prove) the increased means of religious instruction. The petitioners who had addressed the House upon this subject had been numerous, and had also shown their perfect disinterestedness by the voluntary offer of aid from their private resources in furtherance of these views. They had come forward to endeavour to awaken a spirit actively on the subject, and in their efforts they had been assisted by the most eminent clergyman of the church of Scotland:—the reverend Dr. Chalmers had dedicated the noble powers of his powerful mind to the service, with a zeal almost unprecedented, contributing of his private fortune to the funds, while by his writings and his preaching he had roused all Scotland. The demands of the petitioners were so moderate, and the offer of assistance they had made to carry into effect their object, so laudable, that it was impossible any government could resist their entreaties in behalf of their poorer fellow-subjects in Scotland. The boon was small; all they asked was to increase the accommodation, and the number of free seats in these churches. They came forward for what? Why to ask a sum of somewhere about 10,000l., to assist them to secure free accommodation in every crowded isle, in which a minister might be induced to settle. The scheme, as suggested by the petitioners, and supported as it was by the reverend Dr. Chalmers, might fail in its object, but he firmly held the opinion that complete success would follow its adoption. The scheme had met the approval of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland. Upwards of forty churches, by the exertions of these individuals, were now in progress of erection, and would the House withhold from them that small boon which he contended they had a right to ask? He maintained the country was bound to provide them with church room at its own expense; if they were to have an establishment at all, it must be formed so as to afford room to the poorest that walked. But that was not the extent to which they went in asking aid; all they asked was, that the House would assist them with endowments to a certain extent, that the debts of the churches might be reduced, and be made come-at-able to those persons who, they trusted in God, might be induced to become church-goers. He had proposed a Committee, as the only competent shape in which he could put his Motion. It was almost too great a concession to say he would yield so far as to submit the inquiry as to the facts he had stated to a Committee; yet even that he would embrace rather than the petitioners should be defeated in their praiseworthy object. Why the churches had been unfrequented by the lower orders, contrary to their former national habits, he would not stop to inquire. It was sufficient that he should prove, as he knew he could, that they did not go to church. He had hoped the Government would have seen that there was no necessity for an inquiry into facts so notorious. They had evidence stronger than any inquiry could produce, in the fact of individuals subscribing, at their own expense, large sums for the building of churches: it was clear they would not do so if not convinced of the real urgency of the case; and in his judgment, the case was so clear that he almost felt ashamed to ask for any inquiry, though from that inquiry he would not shrink. The question for the House to consider was not what seats were filled and what empty; but what number of people went to church, and how they might be induced to go who never went at all. And if a claim could be made out before the Committee, he would be among the first to give up the whole Question to them. He could assure that body of individuals, the dissenting interests of that country, that he bore them every good will for what they had done, and if it could be made out that they could accomplish the object, he would wish them well with all his heart. But he knew they could not; and that the country could never, by their exertions, be split into fractions, and each district provided with a minister and free sittings in the way which he proposed. The only object of the petitioners was accommodation for the poor, and that would be accepted with gratitude. He hoped sincerely, no attempt would be made on this occasion to get rid of the Motion by a side wind. He would appeal to the gentlemen of England not to throw overboard the religious instruction of the poorer classes of the people of Scotland, and he would remind all, that Scotland had fully contributed 1,500,000l. of the sums which had been charged upon the United Kingdom for the purpose of erecting churches in England. He could not believe that any gentleman of that country would think that the expenses of one country ought never to be borne by another; remembering particularly what sums had been voted to the Irish Church, it was only 10,000l. a-year for Scotland, which paid one-tenth of the whole revenues of the kingdom; that was the sum which had been trumped up to something "enormous," in order to deceive the people of Scotland. He was convinced that, when they saw the real facts of the case, there would not be an individual in that country who would not blush to be an opponent of a measure so called for, and so necessary to the well-being of his country, and he was confident that all the respectable portion of the inhabitants of that country would join in the prayer of the petitions. It behoved the members of the Established Church of England in that House, to remember that they had already incurred a moral obligation to the people of Scotland, and that this was the fitting opportunity to discharge that obligation. It would redound to their honour, and prove a blessing and a source of security to society at large. Scotland would then once more stand forth as a model to the world for piety, honesty, and sobriety. The right hon. Baronet concluded by moving, "that the petitions presented to the House relative to the building and endowing of places of worship connected with the Established Church of Scotland, be referred to a Select Committee, and that such Committee shall inquire, and report how far the building and endowing such places of worship is required for the moral and religious instruction of the lower orders of the people in Scotland."

Mr. Pringle

rose to second the Motion. He said, that he felt that Scotland was entitled to ask that endowment which was proposed, on account of its important relation to this country; on account of the passage in his Majesty's Speech, which had been met by a desire on the part of that country to come forward with repeated subscriptions and meet the case. He trusted the cause would be very dear to Parliament. It was not often that Scotchmen pressed their affairs upon the attention of the House, and he assured the House that there was no subject which had ever come before it which was attended in that country with so much anxiety. It was of great importance that the House should know the amount which was asked. They maintained that it was the duty of every government to take care of the religious instruction of the poor. Now, the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Rae) had shown that, in Scotland it was greatly deficient. They were willing to allow for that deficiency which the neglect of centuries had occasion- ed: the sum of no less than 65,000l., which had been gained by voluntary subscriptions. And all they asked of the House was, to allow an endowment for the clergymen who were inducted into those chapels which they themselves had built: not to place them in ease and affluence, but to enable them to fill those chapels in which they were bound to provide accommodation for the poorer classes, in those districts in which the parishes were of enormous extent. Church-accommodation was not accessible to many parishes because of the distance, and in these situations it was impossible to accomplish their object without the aid of Government. That was, therefore, the whole of their claim. At the Reformation the parochial superintendence of Scotland was adequate to the population, and a sufficient number of ministers provided, who were resident in their localities; but from the great increase of population, it had been since rendered impossible; the churches, even where there were any, were inaccessible to any but the rich; and that country which was once distinguished for its high moral character, had been rapidly diminishing from the diminution of religious instruction and the want of parochial superintendance. How was that defect to be met? It was only to be met by going back to the original principles, and providing the same parochial superintendence which was formerly provided. The experiment had been made, and had completely succeeded. He acknowledged the great benefits conferred upon the country by the seceding churches, but they could not do all that was needful, there was no provision to be made by them in the more remote parts of the country, they could do nothing without remuneration, which the poor could not give; for instance, in the county of Sutherland, a large and popular district, there was not one voluntary church. In all the chapels, Established or Dissenting, the seat-rents were much higher than could be afforded by the lower classes; they necessarily, therefore, absented themselves, and all that was asked was endowments to make these evils not to destroy the exertions already made, but to meet the object which all had in view. He maintained that the Established Church of that country was a part of the system of government: the established relation between England and Scotland was part of the law of the land, and it was the duty of the Government to provide religious instruction for all the inhabitants of the country. He trusted, therefore, that he should have the assent of the present and of every other government to that principle. They came not for those who could pay, but for those who could not, and who were entitled to ask of the rich to enable them; he therefore, cordially seconded the Motion.

The Lord Advocate

said, that after the statement of crime in Scotland, made by his right hon. and learned Friend, and after the opinion he had given of the importance of supplying the people of Scotland with buildings for religious instruction, it was surprising that he had not brought forward the subject long since. If it was of such a pressing nature, why did he let the first, second, or third week of the Session pass over without introducing his Motion, instead of waiting until the present time to do so? His right hon. Friend had said, that the opinion he had given was the result of long thought, and yet he had not introduced the subject before; but expressed his surprise that his Majesty's Ministers, after so many petitions had been presented to the House, did not come forward with some measure. Why had not the right hon. Gentleman come forward with the Motion before the present Ministers came into power? The right hon. and learned Baronet had dwelt with great pride and satisfaction upon the number and respectability of the petitions which had been presented to the House relative to the building and endowing of places of worship connected with the established Church of Scotland, and had urged that as a reason why the petitions should be referred to a select Committee. Now, to that he would reply, that considering the extraordinary exertions which had been made in every pulpit in Scotland, he was surprised that, instead of having 382 petitions on the subject, they had not had presented to them as many petitions as there were parishes in that country. It ought also to be recollected that there was a great number of petitions on the other side, which came from persons differing from the members of the established Church of Scotland, not in doctrine or in morals, but only in Church Government, and that that circumstance introduced no small difficulty into the decision of the question, whether a pecuniary grant ought to be made for the purposes advocated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He did not deny the importance of the Question which the right hon. and learned Baronet had raised: but how was it to be de- cided? A difference of opinion existed upon it in almost every parish in Scotland. He would take one of the petitions, presented by the hon. Member who seconded the Motion, from Selkirk, and this was signed by about 300 persons, while there was another petition on the Table which had been since presented which denied all the allegations in the first petition, and this was signed by nearly 600 persons. Now, how was the House to determine which petition was right? One party said that Church accommodation was necessary, while the other party declared it was not at all called for, but that it was matter of surprise to them that it should be asked for. And the same was the case with regard to most of the petitions; for most of them stated circumstances which were denied by other petitions. How could this question be investigated by a Committee up stairs? One of the inconveniences complained of in the petition was the situation of many of the parish Churches in Scotland; for instance, that they were placed in one corner of the parish. This, however, could not be ascertained or remedied by a Committee. According to the present law, the heritors were bound to keep the parish Churches in repair, but wherever situated, or however small, provided they were in repair, that was sufficient. The right hon. and learned Baronet said, that there was no remedy for the mischiefs which the present system generated, except by a grant of public money, but to whom, he would ask, was such a grant to be made, and from whose pockets was it to be taken? Would any man say, that the attendants on the worship of the established Church of Scotland were not as numerous and wealthy as those who composed the congregations which dissented from its doctrines? The right hon. and learned Baronet had cheerfully admitted the great aid which those dissenting congregations had of late years afforded to the cause of religion. If then such was the case, ought not the House to be reluctant to take money from the public purse in aid of a Church which the Dissenters said it was unjust to call upon them to support? The House was bound to respect the feelings of such men, for they had strong grounds for urging to the Established Church that they ought not to be called upon, contrary to their opinions and their consciences, to give to it that pecuniary aid which it was admitted that they gave at present in another way to the cause of religion. The fact was, that even among the Members of the Established Church of Scotland much difference of opinion existed upon this question. Many Members of the Establishment, who at first had signed petitions in favour of a grant of public money to the Established Church, had since seen sufficient reasons for changing their opinions, and had in consequence signed petitions against the grant, which at one time they were so anxious to obtain from Parliament. The House he repeated, ought not to forget that which had been so frankly admitted on the other side—namely, that the cause of religion had been advanced by the Dissenters from the Church of Scotland. He maintained that that Church ought to stand unimpeached in the face of the country, and that it ought not to take any measures which were likely to offend those who, though they differed from it in Government, did not differ from it in creed and morality. A grant of this kind, if given, ought to be given upon the urgency of the case; but how was the urgency of the case to be ascertained by a Committee? The House ought to deliberate well before it came to the conclusion of his right hon. Friend, especially as 79,000 Scotchmen had already remonstrated against it. The feeling in Scotland against such a grant was quite as strong as the feeling in its favour. Instead of yielding to the proposition of his right hon. Friend, the measure which he should propose would be a Commission to inquire into the whole subject. He should, therefore, move that "an humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that he will be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire into the opportunities of religious worship, and into the means of religious instruction, afforded to the people of Scotland, and especially to the poorer classes of the community, whether they belong to the Established Church, or be of any other religious persuasion; and into the state of the law for repairing or building Churches; and into the funds which may now be, or which may hereafter become, applicable to that purpose." He was aware that to the issuing of Commissions it was objected that they were productive of delay and attended with expense. The objection to the expenses of a Commission could be easily refuted. Little reflection would show to Gentlemen that the Commission would be attended with far less expense than an inquiry before a Committee of that House. The Commission would have to inquire into facts; its duty would be to inquire into the means of religious worship and of religious instruction, whether belonging to the Established Church or Dissenters. The inquiry too should be directed to a point of importance omitted by right hon. Gentlemen opposite and that was, to the state of the law, as connected with the repairing and building of Churches, and which, in many parts of the country, was a pregnant source of evil. Another point of inquiry would be as to any funds applicable to the purposes of the Established Church. It was as a friend to the Church that he took the present course for he did not wish to see that Church excite an acrimonious opposition on the part of those with whom hitherto he had been on the best terms. It was his opinion that the inquiry he suggested would be attended with the best results, and would be conducive to the promotion of good feeling.

Sir George Clerk

said, he had listened with great attention and with much disappointment to the speech of the learned Lord. With respect to the taunt thrown out against his right hon. Friend for not having brought forward a measure on this subject, the learned Lord had totally forgotten that this subject had formed one of the topics of his Majesty's Speech. His right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) had submitted a variety of measures to the House, which had met with a favourable reception; and in the Address to the Crown the House had pledged itself to take into consideration the state of the Church of Scotland, and the necessity of increasing the opportunities for religious worship to the poorer classes in Scotland. Could there be any ground, then, for the taunt of the learned Lord? The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had communicated many of his intended measures of Reform to the House, and he appealed to the House whether, if he had been prevented from proceeding in them, and from introducing others, by the great mass of business before the House, and by the loss of time occasioned by desultory conversations, the blame, if there were any, did not rest on the Gentlemen on the opposite benches. This was not the first time the subject had been brought before the House. In 1818 and in 1824 grants to the Church of Scotland had been proposed, though for certain reasons they had fallen to the ground. He regretted the tune of the learned Lord respecting the Established Church of Scotland, for the tone of his argument was fatal to the existence of all establishments. It had been said that meeting-houses had been built by Dissenters in Scotland; but, however praiseworthy might be the efforts of individuals, they did not absolve the State from the obligation of providing adequate means of worship for the people. He remembered an argument of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Dr. Lushington), when grants for building of churches were opposed on that ground; he had said it was not to be endured that members of the Church of England were to be indebted to Dissenters for the means of public worship; and the same argument applied to the Church of Scotland. He (Sir G. Clerk) objected to this new mode of governing the country by means of Commissions. If a Commission of Inquiry was conducted without party spirit, he did not decry it; but coupling the speech of the learned Lord with the Motion to which it led, he could draw no other inference than that it was intended to hang up the question for a number of years. Some of the facts proposed to be inquired into, did not need inquiry at all; for example, the law of building chapels. If there was any doubt upon that subject, why did not the learned Lord introduce a Bill to explain it? He still trusted that the House might have some hope from the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, and that the Government did not adopt the sentiments of the learned Lord.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

said, that the county he represented was unanimous in favour of the grant, and he coincided in their opinion, deeming it fitting that a grant should be made. The support of religion in a country drew after it the necessity of supporting an Establishment; and the principle of this Motion involved the question between those who were for a Church Establishment, and those who were against it. He should vote in favour of the Amendment, not for the purpose of throwing cold water on the subject; but as the facts of the case were disputed, they must be decided to the satisfaction of the country; and he was convinced they could not be so decided by means of a Committee of the House of Commons. He thought that the appointment of a Commission would be a better mode of arriving at the truth.

Mr. Wallace

said, he had never been so much surprised as when he saw the notice of the right hon. Baronet for a Committee of Inquiry, as the intention was thereby evident of wishing to prevent the information being obtained for which the Returns he (Mr. Wallace) had moved for, and which had been ordered by the House. These Returns would show the real extent of the accommodation in the Established and Dissenting Churches, and therefore ought to be had before a Committee could enter on the question. Another important point was, the amount of unappropriated teinds, or tithes, and this was a subject which no Committee of this House could investigate properly. He had to tell the House distinctly, that a large amount of Church property in Scotland, was still in the hands of the landed interest, who, along with their forefathers, had had the good sense not to make over for Church purposes more than one twenty fifth part instead of one-fifth part, which they were hound by law to do, if it should be required, for the Church. He himself held Church Tithes still unappropriated in two parishes, and he would disdain to put his hand into the public purse while he had unapplied Church property in his pocket. Would the hon. Members opposite subscribe to the same rule. The right hon. Baronet had endeavoured to prove that the increase of crime was attributable to want of Church accommodation in Scotland, and to prove the increase he had quoted the number of commitments at two different periods, to this he had to object. In the first place he ascribed the difference in the habits of the poorer classes in large towns, to the distress and destitution brought on them by Tory misrule for half a century, which had reduced them to such a state of poverty as to be without proper clothing to go to church in; and it was a well-known fact, that Scots people would rather stay at home, even from church, than be seen of a Sunday without proper clothing. As to commitments, they partly arose out of the same cause, and very considerably from the greatly increased activity and zeal in the department over which the learned Lord had so long presided. This activity had been attended with an immense expense to the country; and however profitable it was in certain quarters, the few convictions which took place as compared with the commitments, would prove how wasteful the system was. He did not mean to accuse the learned Lord of any peculiar harshness in the administration of his office. It was the office and not the learned Lord he complained of; being ready to admit, with the exception of a certain period of a peculiar character, the office had been mildly administered by the right hon. Baronet. In speaking of Commissions, he could not but declare his conviction that no office in the State required more the supervision of a Commission than that of the Lord Advocate. He said this with perfect respect for his learned Friend who now so ably filled the office. He would not longer detain the House than to repeat his conviction of a Commission being the proper and only competent means of making an inquiry, especially into the teinds, of which a large amount would be found where least expected, and especially amongst the most wealthy of the titled Aristocracy, some of whom, although liable, contributed little or nothing at present to the maintenance of the Church.

Mr. Gillon

said, he could not assent to the appointment of either a Committee or a Commission to inquire into this subject, without giving up a great principle, which he was by no means inclined to surrender. He conceived it to be utterly un-Christian in principle, and unjust in practice, to burden the members of one persuasion for the advancement either of the spiritual doctrines or the worldly emoluments of those of another. He was, therefore, inclined to meet the question by a direct negative. The right hon. Baronet had stated a deficiency of 30,000 in church accommodation at Glasgow; but in this statement he had altogether omitted the mention of 35,000 Roman Catholics, who would not accept of Protestant ministrations were they offered to them. When they were deducted, an actual surplus of accommodation would appear in Glasgow. After alluding to similar statistical returns regarding Edinburgh, he observed that he was far from denying that too many absented themselves altogether from the ordinances of religion; but how was this evil to be met? By sending Missionaries to instruct and convert the people, not by building more churches, while those already built were standing empty. But it was said that you must have more parishes and more endowed clergymen. In his opinion men, provided with endowments, were the least likely to display that zeal and diligence which ought to be the distinguishing characteristics of a Missionary in such a cause. The fact was, the clergy of the Established Church, who, from the mode of their appointment by patronage, and a degree of remissness on their part, had become unpopular, were now jealous of the progress made by Dissenters, and this was an attempt to put them down at the public expense. To show that this was the animus by which the Churchmen were actuated, he could mention that he had re- ceived accounts of various places in remote districts, where the Dissenters had erected churches, or preaching stations, which places, whatever might have been the amount of their previous spiritual destitution, had been totally neglected by the members of the Established Church. No sooner, however, had the Dissenters effected a settlement in these places than an attempt was made to dislodge them by building Chapels of Ease, or sending down Ministers provided out of the Royal bounty to oppose them, thus showing that the uprooting of dissent, and not the propagation of religion, was the object in view. But a great regard was professed for the spiritual interests of the poor. Every one knew that hitherto the Dissenters had been almost exclusively the instructors of the poor. Besides, the first use to be made of this grant of money, if obtained, was to endow the existing Chapels of Ease; thus relieving the richer classes of a burthen for which they were now responsible, instead of employing it in the instruction of the poor. In his opinion it would be better to apply all the existing endowments to this object, leaving the richer members of the Establishment to build and endow churches for themselves, than to tax the community, in order to increase the wealth and influence of a dominant sect, without regard to justice or reason. Would the Government listen to their friends, or would they attempt by weak concessions to conciliate their bitter enemies? The Clergy of the Established Church were inclined, almost to a man, to use their influence to undermine the present Government; they had been the enemies of all Reform. The Dissenters, on the other hand, had been the tried and consistent friends of public liberty. They ask no grant of money, not even to be relieved of the pressure imposed on them by the existing Establishment; they only ask to be protected against injustice and oppression. You may by such grants alienate the affections of the latter—by no concessions, however large, could you hope to conciliate the former. The Churchmen, instead of cultivating peace and good will among men, had lighted up the flames of religious discord in Scotland, which were now blazing with a force almost incredible. It was because he considered that an inquiry would only tend to perpetuate this rancour, that he conceived it better to oppose the Motion altogether.

The debate was adjourned.