Obrazy na stronie

to the voice of reason, or the cry of humanity, or the reproach of conscience, than slave owners of 1833; and his motion was lost by a majority of 75.

"But Mr. Wilberforce was not to be discouraged. It was the noble trait of his long and useful life, that he uniformly adhered to principle: neither calumny, nor difficulty, nor defeat, could make him swerve, even for a moment, from his determined purpose: and by principle he triumphed. On the 3d of April, 1792, he again moved the abolition; and he was again opposed by all the virulence and all the sophistry of colonial interest. The West-Indian advocates recommended, then as now, palliatives and ameliorations, but protested against the only cure. Mr. Bailey talked of the great religious cultivation of the slaves: Mr. Vaughan recommended schools for education Colonel Thornton predicted the ruin of our shipping: and Mr. Dundas had the merit of first proposing 'gradual measures!' The ruse succeeded, and gra dualism was carried by a majority of 68. Another attempt was made, on the 25th of April, to alter the period of abolition, fixed by Mr. Dundas for the 1st of January 1800, to the 1st of January 1793. This was lost by a majority of 49; but a compromise was subsequently effected, limiting the time to the 1st of January 1796. The Bill, however, did not pass the Lords. There, of course, further evidence was required!


"In 1794, Mr. Wilberforce limited his exertions to the introduction of a Bill to prohibit the supply of slaves to foreign colonies. It passed the Lower House, but was also thrown out in the Lords, by a majority of 45 to 4. Is it that Peers, like the geese of Rome, have more intellect than others to perceive approaching danger? or too much strength of mind to be unseasonably affected by the sufferings of their fellow-subjects?*

"In 1795, Mr. Wilberforce moved an Amendment on the Address. His object was to promote a pacific relation with France; and, at a later period of the session, he made another motion to the same effect; but we purposely refrain from entering upon this topic.

"Nothing could long divert him from the theme of Abolition; and, even in the midst of these busy times, he made an opportunity of again calling to it the attention of the Legislature. On the 26th of February he moved for leave to bring in his Bill. Mr. Dundas moved an amendment, for postponing the motion for six months; and it was carried by a majority of seventeen. On the 18th of February 1796, Mr. Wilberforce again

The eloquent writer would, probably, upon reflection, have expressed himself differently. The fact is too painful for


brought the question forward; but on this occasion he failed, by a majority of four in favour of postponement; and he was defeated by the same majority in 1798, although in the intervening year an address to the Crown, praying for its interposition with the Colonial Legislatures to encourage the native population of the islands, had been carried. The same bad success attended his exertions in 1799, although on this occasion he was strenuously supported by Mr. Canning.

"We believe that it was not till 1804 that Mr. Wilberforce renewed his attempts to awaken the Parliament to their duty: in that year, on the 30th of May, he moved that the House should resolve itself into committee, and he prefaced his motion with one of the most impassioned speeches ever made within its walls. We have generally heard it acknowledged to have been his grandest effort in the cause. His Bill passed the third reading, by a majority of thirty-six; but at so late a period of the session that it was too late to discuss it in the Lords; and, on the motion of Lord Hawkesbury, it was postponed to the ensuing session. This was the last time that Mr. Wilberforce took the lead in this great question. On the 10th of June, in 1806, Mr. Fox, being then in office, brought it forward at Mr. Wilberforce's special request. He introduced it with a high eulogium upon him. No man,' he observed, either from his talents, eloquence, zeal in the cause, or from the estimation in which he was held in that House and in the country, could be better qualified for the task.'

"Bitter experience has since proved how little either talents or eloquence, zeal or public estimation, have to do with the success of public measures that have no better foundation than humanity and justice, even when backed by popular opinion. Mr. Wilberforce rightly calculated on the superior influence of Ministerial power. The Bill, under the auspices of Government, passed the Lower House by a majority of 114 to 15; and, through the efforts of Lord Grenville, was, at length, triumphant in the Lords. But the triumph was fairly given to Mr. Wilberforce. He was hailed with enthusiastic acclamations on re-entering the House after his success; and the country re-echoed the applause from shore to shore. In the following year, his return for Yorkshire, which county he had represented in several successive Parliaments, was warmly contested; but such was the ardour with which the friends of humanity espoused his interest, that their subscriptions far exceeded the expense of his election, although more than 100,000l. We do not recollect the exact sum; but we believe that money to more than double that amount was subscribed.

"He remained in Parliament for many years, until he was nearly the father of the

House. About the year 1825 he retired altogether into domestic life, his increasing infirmities having latterly obliged him to relieve himself from the heavy burthen of the county business, by accepting a seat for the borough of Bramber, then in the nomination of Lord Calthorpe. Mr. Wilberforce frequently took an active part in public affairs, after the termination of his Abolition duties. On the arrival of the late Queen he exerted himself strenuously to avert those revolting discussions which he too plainly foresaw must ensue; and he moved his well-known address to her Majesty, entreating her to return to France, as we have heard whispered, in concurrence with the feelings of one at least of her legal advisers, who promised his influence to obtain her assent. That influence, if exerted, availed but little. Mr. Wilberforce, however, had the satisfaction of feeling that he had discharged an important duty to his conscience, as well as to his public character. Had he been accessible to the vanity of ordinary men, he must have felt flattered by the confidence reposed in him by the House on this occasion. His suggestion was received with almost reverential attention, and one and all seemed to regard him as the only man whose acknowledged address, and weight of character, afforded a hope of extrication from the painful dilemma in which they found themselves placed.

"We do not recollect that Mr. Wilberforce ever personally introduced any measure of importance after the Abolition Bill had passed.

"The general bias of his politics was towards the Tories; but a man more free from servile attachment to his party was never found in Parliament. Though the intimate friend and constant supporter of Mr. Pitt, he never accepted or solicited either place or honour. We doubt if he ever asked a favour for himself, though he never refused his influence to support the applications of men who possessed fair claims on the public justice. Few members attended with more assiduity in their places in Parliament. Though his frame was always weak, and his health indifferent, he rarely absented himself from public duty: he had, indeed, a higher motive to its discharge, than most men. Though more destitute of self-importance than most men, he was sensible that he had gradually risen to a peculiar responsibility, which there were few, if any, to share with him. He was regarded by the religious world, as the protector, in the Lower House, of the public morals and religious rights. He was justly conscious that this was the highest trust confided to his care, and he was vigilant in proportion. He was never to be found sleeping when any question trenching on public decorum, or the interests of religion, came before the legislature. We believe that this high

motive impelled him to a more frequent attendance than consisted with his physical strength. In his later years he often availed himself of the too frequent opportunity given by a heavy speaker, to indulge himself with an hour's sleep in the back seats under the galleries; and this indulgence was cheerfully and respectfully conceded by the House. To have disturbed the slumber of Mr. W. would have been, with one consent, scouted, as a breach of privilege, for which no ordinary apology could have atoned.

"We have scarcely reserved time or space for a few particulars of his private habits. He married Miss Barbara Spooner, the daughter of an opulent banker at Birmingham, in the year 1797. We believe that it was about this time that he published his celebrated work on Christianity. It was his only work on religious or miscellaneous subjects; but it procured for him great celebrity, not less for the elegance of its style than the sterling value of its principles. It has passed through many editions, and is now a standard book in every library. For some years after his marriage, he resided at Bloomfield House, on Clapham Common, except during the Session, when he was generally at his town residence in Old Palace Yard. He removed from Clapham to Kensington Gore, where he lived many years. For a short time, he occupied another house at Brompton; but, on leaving public life, we think about the year 1825, he purchased an estate at Highwood-hill, about two miles from Barnet, where he remained till within two years of his death. lady and his four sons have survived him. His eldest daughter died unmarried four years ago. His other daughter married the Rev. J. James, and died within twelve months of her marriage. Her loss deeply affected her venerable parent; but, faithful to that God who had never failed him throughout his arduous life, the morning of her decease found him in his usual seat at church, seeking at the altar that peace which the world cannot give. Mrs. James inherited too much of her father's beautiful mind, not to leave a wound in the parent's heart which never healed during the short time that he survived her.


"We dare not presume to describe the character of this illustrious servant of God. Nor is it necessary: every one among us, high or low, rich or poor, has been more or less familiar with his virtues ; for, in private or in public, the man was still the same. He had formed a little paradise around him, and it attended him wherever he went. Tenderness, affectionate sympathy for the least want or suffering of his neighbour, yet a benevolence so expanded that every man seemed his neighbour, characterised him at home or abroad. He was happy in himself, for he wished and he sought the happiness of all around him. The protection of the

Negro was only an emanation from that principle of love which seemed to govern every action and every thought; a brighter coruscation of that light which radiated in all directions, and spread warmth and comfort on all within its rays. He lived for others; he died for himself, to enjoy in all its fulness the heaven which he had endeavoured to realise on earth, by follow ing the footsteps of that Saviour on whose atonement he entirely rested for salvation.

"In his domestic life, Mr. Wilberforce was playful and animated to a degree which few would have supposed, who had been accustomed to regard him only as the leader of the religious world. He was extremely fond of children, and would enter into their gambols with the gaiety of a school-boy. We need scarcely add, that he was the idol of his own. Their veneration, their filial attachment, bordered on enthusiasm; their hourly attendance on his wants, resembled the maternal anxiety of a widowed parent for an only child. Mr. Wilberforce was particularly happy in conversation: his memory was richly stored with classical allusion; a natural poetry of mind constantly displayed itself; a melodious cadence marked every thought and every expression of the thought. He was seldom impassioned; not often energetic; but his tones were mellifluous and persuasive, exactly according with the sentiment they conveyed. Those who studied the character of his elocution in public, cannot fail to recognise the same distinguishing traits in all the speeches of his later years. "We must not conclude even these lengthened remarks without noticing his religious habits. His attachment to the Established Church was deep and invio

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THE length of the preceding article obliges us to postpone what we had written upon the Public Affairs of the month, which, however, was chiefly to mention the passing of several of the Bills which we have already noticed, and a summary of the most important of which, as finally settled, we hope to insert during the recess of Parliament. Among these measures, there is not one for which we feel such lively gratitude to God as the Slavery Abolition Act, which, though not all that we wish, or think just and politic, is far beyond all that three or four years ago we could have ventured so soon to expect. We have much to say on this and other measures.

The House of Lords has negatived the Jewish Disabilities Bill, and we think properly, notwithstanding it was introduced and advocated by

so good and judicious a man as Lord Bexley. It has also rejected a most unjust Bill for preventing the Claimants of Tithes instituting actions for their recovery, in anticipation of the operation of Lord Tenterden's Act, by which all claim not legally sued for during sixty years will be extinguished. We approve upon the whole of Lord Tenterden's Act, in its prospective application, as tending to prevent litigation and manifold evils, though it also quashes many just claims; but to make it apply instanter, and without notice, is most unjust, as many indubitable rights have not been prosecuted, owing to negligence, poverty, or the love of peace, on the part of the tithe owner, and chicane on the part of the payer.


H.; AN INQUIRER; W. W. W.; E. M. B. ; J. M. W.; HEINECCIUS; S.; W. D. V.; D. S. L.; E. D.; and J. H.; are under consideration.



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For the Christian Observer.

UCH as the condition of the United States of America is popularly misunderstood and misrepresented in England, in relation to matters of social and political arrangement, still greater are the mistakes which prevail in reference to the religious affairs of that vast and interesting nation. Nor can we wonder at the popular ignorance upon this subject, respecting which the mass of tourists and journalists are not qualified to afford much accurate information, when we see how credulously thousands of Englishmen receive the blunders and slanders of such flippant scribblers as Mrs. Trollope, and such wilfully party-spirited misrepresenters as the Quarterly Reviewers, in reference to matters more on the surface than those connected with the state of religion. It is not likely that writers who retail the most absurd fallacies respecting the civil condition, and obvious usages and customs of a nation, should have penetrated very carefully into the less visible indications of its moral and religious condition.

It is often asked in England, both within and without the Established Church, What is the relation of Christianity to civil government in the United States of America, and how does the system practically work? These inquiries are of considerable moment, as connected with the important question of national Church Establishments. It is urged by the opposers of Established Churches, that in the United States of America the experiment of doing without them has been tried, and has succeeded. It is replied, by the friends of national Religious Establishments, that the experiment has not yet been fully tried; for that the United States still retain much of the beneficial influence of the arrangements which existed before the Revolution; and that there is, under the present plan, a lamentable inadequacy of religious ordinances to the wants of the people, which of itself shews the need of a national church establishment. It is not, indeed, generally understood in England what are the real facts of the case-as was lately seen in the discussions on the Jewish Disabilities Bill, during which the example of the United States was appealed to as that of a truly wise and virtuous nation, in which not only is there no established church, but no national recognition of religion whatever, so that a Jew stands in every respect upon precisely the same footing as a Christian.

Now this is not the actual state of facts in the United States. It is true that the Federal Constitution declared that " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 382.

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thereof;" but the best lawyers and statesmen of America contend, that, though this prohibits a national ecclesiastical establishment, it was not intended to set aside as the national faith that Divine religion which, under varying modifications, had been professed and cherished from the earliest settlement of the country, and which it was the great object of the pilgrim fathers who quitted Great Britain for America to enjoy in the wilderness of the Western World according to the dictates of their conscience, and to hand down as the best gift to their children's children.

Believing as we do that a National Church Establishment is, under the blessing of God, an instrument of incalculable benefit to a land, we think that the United States have ventured upon a most dangerous experiment; and we do not consider it possible, without an especial miracle, which we are not authorized to expect, that the spiritual wants of the people can be supplied, and a system of religious instruction be perpetuated, under the present arrangements. At the same time, it is not just to overlook the measure of religious legislation which is still permitted, either federally or in individual States; and we firmly believe that it is chiefly to the presence of even these partial recognitions, and certainly not to the absence of more direct sanctions, that the American Union is indebted for whatever is most hopeful in her religious condition.

We are happy in being able to lay before our readers some authentic particulars relative to the connexion between Christianity and Civil Government in the United States, as detailed in an Address to the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of South Carolina by the Rev. Dr. Adams, President of Charleston College. Dr. Adams is an Episcopalian Clergyman, and a zealous advocate for the national recognition of Christianity; but he is an equally zealous opposer of the civil establishment of any particular communion. We may therefore the more confidently quote his statements, against those who are ever referring to the American commonwealth in favour of that modern "Liberalism" which would render a nation avowedly unchristian, under the pretext of not being sectarian. We do not defend America: we think her quite wrong, and we believe that ultimately she will either be obliged to alter her course, or that infidelity will work her ruin: but we ought not to represent her case as worse than it is; and Dr. Adams's facts are of great importance, as shewing the extent, however inadequate, to which legislation has gone in establishing Christianity as part and parcel of the national institutions. Should we, in quoting from Dr. Adams, be obliged to introduce any of his interwoven remarks against national church establishments, we need not say that we do not do so with approbation;-a disclaimer which we should have thought unnecessary and obtrusive, had we not learned, with much astonishment, that some readers consider all that they find in any quotation in our pages as our own sentiment, unless we explicitly state the contrary; to do which in every instance would not only be tedious or impracticable, but in most cases would be unnecessary, as the character of a periodical work is sufficiently known to its readers to enable them to discover whether or not a quoted remark is adopted as the sentiment of its conductors. We should not, however, have digressed into this explanation, had we not been gravely accused of patronising king-killing, because, in the course of a quotation in our pages from an American author, there happened to occur the title of some publication advocating that doctrine, and we did not chance to add a ridiculously superfluous note to say that we did not approve of that atrocity.

Dr. Adams relates as follows the state of ecclesiastical affairs in his native land, up to the period of its separation from Great Britain :— "The relation which the prevailing system of religion in various countries

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