The Lord Chancellor
said, he held in his hand a Petition, which had been intrusted to his care by a very numerous and respectable body of his fellow-subjects, residing in the city and neighbourhood of Glasgow. The petition proceeded from a meeting assembled in one of the churches or chapels of that city, after long, formal, and public notice, the requisition for that purpose having been signed by 272 respectable housekeepers and inhabitants of Glasgow. The meeting, which was held on the 6th of March, was most numerously and respectably attended, and he signatures affixed to the petition, which was then unanimously agreed to, at and after the meeting, amounted to 48,600. A similar petition, which had been presented in the last Session, or the Session before, from the same neighbourhood, and which emanated from a similar meeting, did not receive, as he was informed, more than one-third of the signatures that were attached to the petition which he was now about to lay before their Lordships; the signatures to the former petition being, he believed, under 15,000—a circumstance which he particularly stated, as undoubtedly showing that the opinion and feeling which had given rise to these petitions had not diminished, had not remained stationary in that part of the country, but, that they had largely, and, he might add, rapidly increased and 844 advanced. He felt, as an individual ought to feel, highly gratified at the great and distinguished honour which so large and enlightened a body had conferred on him by agreeing unanimously to intrust to him a petition so respectably promoted, and so numerously signed—a petition breathing their wishes on a subject which they deemed to be of such paramount importance, which was so dear to their feelings, and which lay so near their hearts. In presenting such a petition on such a subject, and coming to his hands from such a quarter, it would have given him the greatest satisfaction if there had prevailed between the numerous body from whom it emanated and himself such a degree of unanimity of opinion and feeling, as would have enabled him to give that support to the whole of the prayer of this petition, which he was always anxious to give to the prayer of any petition, that it became his duty to present to their Lordships. Undoubtedly he agreed with a large portion of the prayer of the petition; indeed, he might say, that with the greater portion of it he entirely agreed. The prayer of the petition was not in favour of the Dissenters of Scotland, or of England—no, the petitioners, acting upon principles of the greatest liberality and disinterestedness, called the attention of their Lordships, not to the state in which the Dissenting population of England and Scotland were placed, but put forward the claims of the Dissenters all over the United Kingdom, and solicited the redress of those grievances, and the removal of those disabilities which were by them suffered. It was not necessary for him to remind their Lordships, or to inform those petitioners, that there was no individual in either House of Parliament, who had ever manifested, or who had ever expressed, feelings more firm or more zealous in support of the principle of religious toleration in its widest and fullest extent than he had done. He had always expressed this opinion, that no man ought to be prejudiced or injured in the enjoyment of his civil rights on account of his professing particular religious tenets. But although holding this opinion, although imbued with, and acting on these principles, he could not go along with the petitioners in professing sentiments which were to be found in the residue of that prayer—he meant that part of it in which the petitioners prayed their Lord- 845 ships to take measures for the dissolution of what they called the unjust, the unscriptural, and injurious connexion between the Church and State. This was a new form of expression which had lately crept into the language of petitions, and which seemed to have originated in political rather than religious dissensions; perhaps it was a loose form of expression; and he was not sure that he perfectly understood it; but he took it to mean, that the wishes of the petitioners were, that there should no longer be any Established Church, but that religion should look for support to the principle of voluntary contributions. They desired that there should be no annuity, no tax, no compulsory provision whatsoever, for the maintenance of religious establishments; but that all sects and individuals, the ignorant and uninstructed, as well as the better-informed, might be left to provide for themselves that portion of religious instruction, of which they stood in need, so that every man might be a sect and a church to himself. On this point he professed a difference, an irreversible difference, of opinion with the petitioners, and he could not but advert with feelings of alarm, and even of dismay, to the state of things inevitable on the concession of this portion of their prayer. The prayer was, in fact, one for the total abolition and extinction of all hierarchies in Scotland, as well as in England—as well for the suppression of the economical Church of Scotland, as of the less economical establishment of England; but he could not think of leaving 14,000,000, he believed he might say 16,000,000 or 18,000,000 of persons, wholly without any established or enduring means for the maintenance and support of religion. And why did he hold this unalterable, this irreversible differerence of opinion—a difference of opinion which he had not withheld from those who had intrusted him with the petition,—why did he thus dissent from the views entertained by the petitioners? There were some wants which might safely be left to the animal instincts of our nature to be supplied; the cravings of hunger and thirst were sure to meet with attention through the summons of our physical necessities; the more a man felt them, the more he desired to satisfy them; but the case was not so with the more refined and elevated feelings. It was not so in the instance of a common secular education. 846 The less enlightened men were, the less they felt their ignorance, and the less pains they took to advance their own improvement; and surely this argument would apply to religious instruction. This was the first argument he had to urge; but, claiming for himself the same freedom of religious opinion which he asked for the Dissenters, he must say, that he viewed with alarm and consternation the possibility of leaving 16,000,000 or 18,000,000 of men wholly unprovided for in respect of a religious establishment. Another argument, on which however he did not lay so much stress as on that which he had just used, might be found in the fact, that an Established Church, whether in connexion or not with the State did not much matter, he would not argue on a phrase—that an Established Church, or, in other words a recognized clerical body, was the only obstacle that could be opposed, the only safeguard that could be devised against the unbridled licence of fanaticism. His opinion was fixed in favour of some religious establishment, but what kind of religious establishment that ought to be, what defects were to be found in our own, and of what improvements it was susceptible, was a question which, however interesting, was thrown aside by the declaration of the petitioners, who prayed their Lordships to take measures to abolish all religious establishments. The language of the petition went to affirm that an Established Church was not only not enjoined, but expressly prohibited, by the precepts of the Christian religion. Now if the petitioners, looking back only to the primitive times of Christianity, grounded their argument on the posture of affairs which the state of the early Church presented to the historical inquirer—if they did this, he must say, that they took a very short-sighted and imperfect view of a very important question. They had forgotten that the Gospel was propagated by human aid, acting in concert with Divine interposition, and Divine Providence having thus strongly established the principle of acting by second causes, it might reasonably be concluded, that to second causes much was still intrusted. No man who had any acquaintance with that part of the Roman history which comprehended the period referred to could suppose that an Established Church, such as was to be found in our own country at the present 847 day, was not wholly inconsistent with the fabric of society at that time; but it did not follow, that because an establishment was ill adapted to those the early ages of the Church, that a different rule might advantageously be applied to different circumstances. He spoke under correction, in the presence of those who would set him right if he were wrong, and who were better acquainted than he could pretend to be with these controversial points. He had thus endeavoured to show, that the fact of there having been no establishment in the early ages of the Church was no argument against the existence of one now; but if the petitioners could prove, that an establishment was actually prohibited by the positive injunctions of Christianity, "then," said the noble and learned Lord, "cadit quœstio, and my argument is at an end." This point, however, yet remained to be proved. To this extent, and to this extent only, did he differ from the prayer of the petition. He had always thought, and he had never concealed his opinion from their Lordships, that the Dissenters had many practical grievances which ought to be redressed. Whether they were English, Irish, or Scotch, they had never wanted, and never should want, his feeble assistance, which should always be heartily though inefficiently rendered, to remove every iota of a cause for just complaint on their part. But he wished to warn them, as they valued their redemption from civil disabilities—as they regarded the good opinion of their best friends—as they esteemed their own character for good sense and consistency—as they would triumph over those who were opposed to them—not to cease one moment, not to lose one instant of time, in avoiding any foundation, which might otherwise be laid, for a suspicion that they were opposed to any system of religious instruction. He was much concerned that so numerous, so respectable, and so enlightened a body of men as the Protestant Dissenters should have shown themselves on this, as on one or two other points, so difficult to please. Let them look to the nature of the grievance of which they complained, and the means for its redress and removal; but let them accept that redress when it was offered them, and not trouble themselves with trifling, speculative, and unimportant points. They complained, and with rea- 848 son, that they were deprived of the advantages of a legal marriage, which would be good for the Established Church as well as the Dissenters, since the present practice was an inducement to what he would call brawls in the place of worship. The Dissenter was conscientiously bound to enter his protest against the marriage ceremony, as solemnized in conformity with the ritual of the Church of England. Well, this grievance it was proposed to redress altogether; to allow the celebration of marriage in dissenting chapels and meeting houses; but because the Marriage Act required not for religious, but merely secular and civil purposes, that bans should be proclaimed on three successive Sundays, the respectable body for whose benefit the measure was intended, much to his sorrow, thought proper to reject it. Now, the Church had a right to dissent from such a proposition, society had a right, the Legislature had a right to oppose it; they could not give up the publicity which ought to belong to all transactions of this nature, and open the gate wide to youthful imprudence, clandestine connexion, and forcible abduction. This was the only reason for enforcing such a regulation, and he was sorry, that the policy of it was not more clearly seen by the Dissenters. In connexion with this point, he felt bound to mention, that he thought it a great evil, and the greater in a country like this, that the registers of births, deaths, and marriages, should be so incomplete. His noble and learned friend on the cross-bench knew as well as he did of an instance where an estate of 6,000l. or 7,000l. a-year was within a hair's breadth of going to the wrong person, in consequence of the defectiveness of the parish register of baptism. All ranks and persuasions might, indeed, justly complain of the evil, but the Baptists were peculiarly subject to its pressure. It gave him pleasure, however, to think that a measure to remove that evil had been introduced into the other House by an hon. and learned relative of his own, and he believed that it stood for discussion that very evening. He had stated his opinions on this question, and had shown how far he agreed with the prayer of the petition he had the honour to present, and he should not have done his duty if he had not stated his opinion, as well as the grounds on which he protested against a portion of that petition.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
said, if the petition presented by the noble Lord had confined itself to desiring the removal of the grievances or disabilities under which the Dissenters laboured—if it had merely required at their Lordships' hands toleration to the full extent to which liberty of conscience could be granted, he should have most heartily concurred in its prayer, because it was his earnest wish to see every disability under which any class of his Majesty's subjects unjustly laboured removed as speedily as possible. He could assure their Lordships that he was as solicitous as any Member of that House—as any man in the country—to redress the grievances of the Dissenters, as far as that redress was consistent with the duty which he owed to the Church to which he belonged; but, although he made this statement, he was at the same time bound to declare, that if the demands of the Dissenters were at all directed against the stability of the Establishment it would be a duty imperative on him to give them every opposition in his power. Had the petition gone no further than to claim for the Dissenters reasonable advantages, comforts, privileges, and dignities—had it merely asked that they might be secured in the enjoyment of property—in a word, had they demanded to be put in full possession of all those civil rights to which they were legally and constitutionally entitled, he should not have offered a syllable in opposition to its prayer; but when this was not the case—when, instead of seeking that for which they had a right to look, the petitioners avowed principles which he could not recognise, which were subversive of the Established Church—he felt that he would be wanting in his duty if he allowed the subject to pass over in silence. He must say, that he entirely concurred in the greater part of the sentiments which had been so ably and eloquently expressed by the noble and learned Lord who had just sat down, and that he could not hear such demands as this petition contained, made in that House without standing up in his place to protest against their going any such length as these petitioners would have them go. But really the proposition was altogether so wild, so absurd, and, he would add, so unreasonably extravagant, that he could hardly suppose it to have emanated from persons of the known intelligence and respect- 850 ability of those whose names were affixed to this petition. Surely, in making such a proposition, they could not have kept in view the great object which an Established Church was designed to accomplish, namely, the dissemination of a pure and holy religion, not only in the lanes and alleys of populous towns throughout obscure villages, but, he might say, over the whole surface of the empire. The light of true religion could not possibly be extended to remote and insignificant places without the aid of an Established Church; and it was therefore on the grounds of its vast usefulness that it was to be defended. The noble and learned Lord had most justly, and with that ability for which he was distinguished, explained the particular wants which it was intended to supply; and to those who thought with him, that a religious institution was a blessing, the advantages of an Established Church must be sufficiently obvious, to dispense with the necessity of his taking up the time of their Lordships, by then pointing them out at any length. When he spoke of a religious Establishment of any kind, he merely looked at it as a means for carrying into effect the designs of the Almighty in revealing the Holy Gospels for the benefit of mankind. The Gospels were revealed for the benefit of the poor as much as for the advantage of the rich; and if no Established Church existed, he should like to know how the light of Divine Truth could reach the habitations of the poor? It was no doubt true, that even though no Established Church existed, individual piety, in a rich country like this, would find means for diffusing religious instruction to a certain extent. In the wealthier part of great towns, churches might be found, as convenient and as well adapted for the purposes of Divine Worship as at present; but, although this would do very well so far as the rich were concerned, the poor, who were scattered over the whole face of the country, must be totally neglected, if religious instruction were not provided for them by the State. Without an Established Church, the poor would be left in gross ignorance of the beauty as well as of the moral precepts of religion. They would be strangers to the hopes of the blessed hereafter which it held out; or else, instead of being taught a sound religion, and a pure faith, they would be left at the mercy of ignorant and illiterate 851 fanatics, by whom they might be led into gross and absurd beliefs, which, in his opinion, would be just as bad as the absence of all religion. But there were also other points of view in which a religious establishment was important. It might be considered as holding out the light of pure Christianity—as preserving that true religion which had been really revealed from Heaven. Every man must be aware that a contaminated religion was worse than no religion at all; and, as the object of the Church was, to preserve Christianity pure and undefiled, it was in that point of view most important, not only to the unfortunate people who now existed—the present generation—but to all future ages. Had no Church, he would not say Establishment, existed from the earliest times, how could the doctrines of Christianity be discriminated at the present day from the beliefs of the numerous sects with which the world abounded, and all of whom asserted that the notions which each entertained constituted the only true religion of Christ? Amidst such endless confusion and discord, was it not evident, that without some Establishment the ignorant would be unable to obtain the information requisite to enable them to arrive at truth? Corruptions might have crept into the Church, but, as it had been the means of preserving a pure record of the Divine Truths which could otherwise not have been obtained, in so far was its existence salutary, and, therefore, they should not suffer themselves to be led away by the idle outcry which had of late been raised against it. But, he could not believe, that the respectable and learned clergymen who were said to have signed the petition could have taken into their consideration the whole of the arguments in favour of a religious establishment, or they never would have advocated the proposition now put forward for destroying it. The Dissenters declared, that they were the friends of religion, and, if this were so, they should examine well the voluntary system upon which their churches were supported, before they recommended that system for general adoption. Did they not, he would ask, complain of the inefficiency of the wretched provision, derived from voluntary contributions, made for their ministers, or had they never expressed sorrow for the want of a sufficient number of places of worship to accommodate their congregations? He was misinformed, or else they 852 had, and had he not, therefore, a right to say, that if the whole country were put under the voluntary system, so much extolled by those who were unfriendly to the Church, the result would be, that the wants complained of by the Dissenters themselves would be multiplied in exact proportion to the number of Protestants as compared with the number of Dissenters? The evil would be increased to an incredible extent, but it was not then necessary for him to enter further upon the advantages of a national Church. He could not help expressing his deep concern and regret at the course which the Dissenters had taken, neither was he able to conjecture the cause which had so recently produced such an alteration in their sentiments on this subject. Their objection to the Church Establishment was perfectly new. He believed, that no such notion had ever existed in this country prior to the time of the French Revolution, and, he knew, that before that period, many respectable Dissenters had advocated the necessity of a Church Establishment. Topics of a different kind they had undoubtedly discussed with great warmth, but until now they had not thought, even, of bringing forward a scheme so wild and extravagant as the abolition of the Established Church. He must confess he was wholly at a loss to know to what this change of sentiment was to be attributed. The noble and learned Lord was quite right as to there being no text of Scripture which went to show the inexpediency of an Established religion. It had been stated, at the Dissenters meetings, that the Church Establishment did more harm than good. The parties who made this injurious assertion—and among them were some whom he regretted to see in such a position—declared, that they represented the great body of the Dissenters of this country; but, although that might be the case, he still believed, there were many belonging to these benevolent and distinguished communities, who did not participate in any such principles or feelings, but who, on the contrary, were strongly convinced of the benefits derived by the community at large from the Church Establishment. The silence which such persons had hitherto observed, had been construed into a sanction of the violent language used at the meetings to which he alluded, and, therefore, he hoped they would take 853 an early opportunity of coming forward to avow their real sentiments, and state, whether they regarded the Church of England as a grievance from which they desired to be delivered. The feelings which Churchmen once entertained for Dissenters were completely worn out; and he could now deny, without hesitation, that any—even the least—feeling of hostility existed in the mind of Churchmen against Dissenters. It was, therefore, unfair that the latter should exhibit such hostility against the former. But was that, he would ask, the way to preserve peace; or, was it not rather the way to revive gone-by animosities, which ought not to be re-called into existence? As for himself, he solemnly declared, that he did not entertain the slightest feeling of either animosity or disrespect towards the Dissenters; and he might make a similar statement on behalf, not only of the clergy with whom he had communicated, but of the clergy generally. Whenever the assault that was made upon the Church, became the topic of conversation amongst those of the clergy with whom he had spoken, no expression escaped them that was inconsistent with Christian charity, or that manifested the least animosity towards the Dissenters. On the contrary, they one and all agreed, that all the concessions that could be made with safety, should be granted; and this, he could assure their Lordships, was the common language in which every Address on the subject that he had received was couched. But it had been said, that the clergy felt the danger which surrounded them, and were, therefore, afraid to speak their sentiments freely one to another. That, however, their Lordships would readily believe, was not the case; but, even supposing for the argument sake, that they were in danger, could it for a moment receive credence that they were so wanting in spirit as to fail in self-defence? That defence they were prepared to make, should the necessity arise; but, then, it should always be carried on in a Christian spirit. But before the Dissenters had assumed their present threatening attitude, he would ask, what had been the conduct of Churchmen towards them and their claims? They had opposed the Catholic Emancipation Bill, not from any wish to deprive the Catholics of any advantage to which they were entitled; but, because they conceived the measure to be injurious 854 not only to the Irish Church, but to the Church of England. The records of the speeches delivered in that House would show the grounds upon which they resisted the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, by which Dissenters received such considerable relief. They opposed that measure, not on account or with reference to the Church, but because they found it impossible to reconcile it with the general policy of the country. Without occupying the time of their Lordships longer, he begged, in conclusion, to say, that whatever steps might be taken against the Church—whatever irritating language might be used or aspersions cast upon the clergy—and whatever means might be resorted to for the purpose of destroying or overturning the Church, he yet hoped, that the clergy would never forget that Christian spirit which alone should actuate the ministers of religion. They should uncompromisingly oppose anything that tended to impair or diminish the efficiency of the Church; but then, they should discharge their duty in a Christian spirit, and not endeavour to deprive those by whom they were assailed of any advantages to which they were legally, fairly, and constitutionally entitled.
§ Earl Fitzwilliam
was understood to express his regret, that the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, than whom there had never existed a more anxious, able, or consistent advocate for religious toleration, had not, in pursuing his argument as to the necessity of a Church Establishment, followed his position up by contending for the equal necessity of revenues applicable to that Establishment. There was another point to which the noble and learned Lord had addressed some observations in which he regretted that he could not concur—namely, that the measure which had been proposed in another place, having for its object the relief of Dissenters from the grievances to which they were exposed on the celebration of their marriages, would be satisfactory to them. They felt the provision for the publication of bans in a Church to the doctrines of which they were opposed, would be only a continuance of one of the grievances of which they complained. He could not agree with the noble and learned Lord, that this provision was necessary, in order to prevent clandestine marriages. With respect to what had fallen from the most reverend Prelate who had just resumed his seat, he 855 must observe, that no person, Dissenter or otherwise, could have heard the most reverend Prelate without being imbued with the highest respect for his character; but the most reverend Prelate, in reverting to past transactions, the history of which still survived in the memory of the Dissenters of this country, had omitted to trace the generation of the jealousy existing from the mere claim of superiority, which was still thought by that body to be found in the continued maintenance of the Church Establishment. Whatever might have been the conduct of the right reverend Prelates of the Church of England on former occasions, when the claims of Dissenters came under consideration, six years had not elapsed since a great fight had been made in another place to continue the exclusion of Dissenters from corporate and other offices. Then it was, that the party who represented, or assumed to represent, the Church of England, and so assuming, took it under their care and protection, told the Dissenters, that they were not fit to fill the office of Alderman, nor even that of Common Councilman, in any corporate body. Could it be supposed, that such a circumstance did not still live in the recollection of Dissenters, and excite their animosity towards the Church Establishment? To that Church he himself belonged: to its Prelates and Ministers he owed, and entertained the highest reverence, but he thought they had not sufficiently studied the government of all classes, and if they were now exposed to the taunts of men who had been partially relieved from grievances, he hoped they would receive a lesson from which they would profit. He denied, that the prayer of the petition just submitted, embodied any new wish on the part of the Dissenters, as had been suggested by the most reverend Prelate who had just addressed their Lordships. The noble Lord concluded by repeating his conviction, that the provision of the Bill elsewhere introduced for regulating the marriage of Dissenters, was most objectionable to the great portion of that numerous and respectable body.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that some provision must be made for giving publicity to marriages contemplated between Dissenters and members of the Church of England. That such a provision was necessary, he thought could not be denied, for nothing could be more easy, if public- 856 ation was only required in a chapel or meeting-house, for the daughter or sister of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Fitzwilliam) or for his (the Lord Chancellor's) daughter to become a Dissenter, in order to effect a clandestine marriage, and to keep its very contemplation a secret from those who ought to be the best informed. He, however, would not deny, that many better modes of publicity than bans in a parish church might be devised; but certainly their publication in a meeting-house was not calculated to give information to all men that their daughters were about to be run away with.
§ Earl Fitzwilliam
repeated, the objection of the Dissenters was, their being called upon to conform to the customs of a Church to which they did not belong, by the publication of bans of marriage.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
was aware, that objections had been made to the present mode of publishing the bans. A different system was acted upon some time since; that was, that the names of the parties were affixed to the doors of the parish church. This was found to create general disgust throughout the country, and led to a diminution of the number of marriages, and it was therefore found necessary to alter it.
The Earl of Haddington
wished for a moment to call their Lordships' attention to the nature of the Petition from Glasgow, and also to the number of persons whom it had been stated had subscribed their names to it. This petition was said to be signed by 52,000 inhabitants of that great and industrious city; and the object of the petition was to get rid of the unscriptural and injurious alliance subsisting between Church and State. He was astonished at the prayer of the petition, coming as it did from a place celebrated for its attachment to the Church of Scotland. He thought it most surprising, that any number of persons should be found in that place to sign a petition which was to have such an effect on the national Church of that part of the empire. He had been assured, however, by a Gentleman of great respectability, who was well acquainted with Glasgow, that a great number of names had been signed to that petition without the knowledge of the persons who bore them; that some had signed their names over and over again, and that many 857 were sham names; and also, that, boys had, for the purpose of amusement, signed their names to it. He had no doubt, that by such means as many as 100,000 signatures might have been obtained for any petition, however absurd the object of it might be. He had felt called upon to make the observations he had addressed to their Lordships, in order to relieve the people of Glasgow from the imputation of being supposed to desire the adoption of any measure tending to the separation of the Church from the State. It could not be supposed, that all the names affixed to the petition were those of persons qualified to judge of it. The number of the signatures was equal to the whole adult males in Glasgow, and he was sure, that their Lordships would not suppose, that the whole of the population of that great city entertained such opinions as were set forth in the petition. He would venture to assert, that the prayer of the petition was contrary to all the feelings, all the desires, which the great body of the people of that city entertained for the Established Church of Scotland. He believed, that many persons had signed the petition without knowing what they had signed, and also the names of many persons were affixed to it, not members of the Church of Scotland, and not wishing that that Church might be separated from the State, but who wished to promote the ruin of all Churches. He trusted, that their Lordships would bear this in mind, when they came to consider the grievances of which Dissenters complained, and he sincerely hoped, that their Lordships would remove all those which justly could be considered grievances. At the same time, however disposed their Lordships might feel to make such concessions, they should take care not to yield to the clamour of those who declared, that it was their wish and intention to destroy those sacred institutions which it was the duty of their Lordships to support.
The Lord Chancellor
observed, that the petition he had presented from Glasgow was signed by 48,600 names. He did not believe, that any great portion of the names affixed to it were of the nature described by his noble friend, although it was very probable, that some of the signatures were those of boys, and some had signed their names more than once to it with a view to give increased weight to it from great numbers. This latter cir- 858 cumstance, however, was incidental to petitions having many signatures. He had reason to believe, that the persons who had signed the requisition for the meeting, had used great care so as to prevent such proceedings as had been alluded to by the noble Earl, as they had gone round with the petition. The persons in question were 252 in number, and were most respectable Gentlemen. But even if he admitted, that such things had been done as were stated by his noble friend, and if he deducted in consequence the 8,600, which was certainly more than could be excepted, against them there would still remain 40,000 signatures. He was given to understand, that the petition did not come merely from Glasgow; but from that city and its vicinity, namely, Glasgow and six or nine miles round, which would give an abundant population, and he need hardly say, that it was a very religious part of the country.
The Bishop of London
said, that the city of Glasgow and its vicinity, showed the advantages that those places with an Established Church had over other places where there was no Establishment. The Establishment at Glasgow, however, was very limited in comparison with the population. There was, however, a man at Glasgow connected with the Established Church of Scotland, who had effected greater moral, and he hoped, that he might be able to add political, good in that place than any individual of his day. He need hardly say, that he alluded to Dr. Chalmers. There was in the neighbourhood of that place between 50,000 and 60,000 persons for which the clergy of the Church of Scotland were exerting themselves to provide the means of religious worship; and he would ask, what had the Dissenters done for that purpose? The clergy by their exertions had already raised 12,000l., and they relied upon raising 40,000l., with which they intended to endow the churches they were erecting.
§ The Petition laid on the Table.