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political prudence. He appears to know but little of the feelings and constitution of English society, and also to be a stranger to the subject of civil equality and religious freedom. There is reason, however, to believe that he is little more than a Parliamentary agent in the business—a sort of cat’s-paw to the clergy.
September 3, 1842.
SELFISH CONSIDERATIONS IN WHICH THE BILL ORIGINATED.
You have already witnessed the invincible determination of Mr. Mackinnon, if possible, to throw the entire management of the sepulture of the great towns of England into the hands of the clergy. This fact explains the otherwise inexplicable declaration of the Bishop of London, set forth in the foregoing Letter. The wily Churchman well understood his position; he felt that, with such a coadjutor, he might safely for once merge the prelate in the patriot, and give good counsel. His Lordship confessedly knew all that had been spoken by the majority of the previous witnesses. He was fully apprised of what had been said upon the subject of parochial authority during the examination of the Rev. Dr. Russell, H. H. Milman, J. T. Robinson, W. W. Champneys, and others. The place among the witnesses assigned to this consummate master of worldly wisdom, was worthy of his acceptance, and well fitted to serve his object. He came last, and performed his part with great ability and dexterity, in correcting, confirming, and supplementing former evidence. Throughout, his candour, as usual, ministers to his cunning. It is instructive to observe with what tact and prudence he advances, step by step, soft and slow, like the fox upon the hen-roost, till he reaches the main point whence he springs upon his object. And what is that object? It is to place the working of this great measure in the hands of the Church-building Commissioners ! Hear his Lordship: “My opinion is, that, if you should think it desirable to have the control or direction of anything like a central authority, you could not entrust it to better hands than those of the Church-building Commissioners.” Here Charles James is himself again, still true to his principles and character. After the deepest recession,
6 I have seen The ambitious ocean swell, and rage, and foam, To be exalted with the threatening clouds,"
The Bishop enforces this most ominous suggestion by an intimation that the Church-building Commissioners, (of whom his Lordship is himself the leader,) “ have been engaged now for some months in endeavouring to consolidate the eight Churchbuilding Acts into one; and,” he significantly and emphatically adds, “ we certainly propose in that Act to take a more clearly defined power of calling upon parishes to provide additional burial-grounds.” In this way the sagacious Bishop is multiplying the chances of success in the present desperate effort to recover the ground which the Church has lost in the empire of Death. If the Commissioners cannot obtain the command of the Cemeteries, the next step is, to place them in the hands of the clergy, which will serve quite as well. The Cemetery scheme is, after all, only the counterpart of the Church-extension scheme. It is the object of the one to provide for the accommodation of the living; of the other, for that of the dead. The Church considers that, in past times she neglected her duty to both ; and she'finds that of both, a great majority have slipped away from her. While, therefore, the Bishops control the new churches, they also aspire, either directly by the Commission, or indirectly through the clergy, to control the new Cemeteries. This is chance the first. If this fail, there will be no Cemeteries; the present Bill will drop, and the power of compelling parishes to provide new burial-grounds will be demanded in the forthcoming Bill of the Church-building Commissioners. This is chance the second. Whatever be the result, however, the territory of the tomb will not even then be surrendered. For the recovery, extension, and preservation of this, "the successors of the Apostles” will contend, if not with fire and sword, at least
with spade and pick-axe. Mark our words, and prepare for the defence of your rights and privileges, as Englishmen and as Christians !
Great zeal is now manifested for the public health ; and frightful discoveries are, for the first time, now made of the impending perils of city sepulture. Have you still to be taught to distrust the zeal of Churchmen? Do you believe that they are borne down by an overwhelming anxiety for the public health? No! But, to do them justice, they do not profess it. They candidly avow that it is with them very much an affair of bread and meat, of roast beef and plum-pudding. Both Bishop and clergy, and even the sextons avow this to be the case. How could they with decency do otherwise ? The Church has not moved till the spirit of lawful commerce has surrounded the city with abundance of Cemeteries of the most excellent description. Witness that of Kensal-green on the west, of Norwood and of Nunhead on the south, of Abney-park on the east, of Highgate on the north, besides others nearer town. It is not the want, but the increase of accommodation for the dead, apart from the Church, that alarms the good lady with her children. This new order of things has now reached a pass that threatens the utmost peril to her privileged fraternity. The Bishop, in his evidence, in spite of his caution, lets out many curious points of inference, as well as matters of fact illustrative of the real character of this project. It shows that two classes of Cemeteries have been opened, the one with and the other without Acts of Parliament. The spiritual Lord is much concerned that there are several “ Cemeteries of considerable size in London, which are open without the sanction of the Act of Parliament, and consequently without consecration.” Now, you must understand, that such measures as this are fraught with double mischief: first and worst, the enormous fee for consecration is lost to his Lordship-an evil of no slight magnitude ; for, if he charges for Cemeteries as he does for churches, the sum would purchase no mean freehold. But, secondly, in such Cemeteries, no fees are provided for the clergy of the Established Church. In addition, therefore, to whatever benefits may accrue to the dead from cemeterial consecration, there is always a twofold blessing to the living. The Bishop,
foreseeing the effect of the Cemeteries, determined to wield his crosier for the protection of his sons in the Gospel. He resolved to consecrate no place whose directors did not bind themselves by Act of Parliament, to pay a tax upon every corpse they interred, to the minister from whose parish it was brought; and thus the Bishop supported the clergy. The clergy, in their turn, will bury in no place which has not first been consecrated, and thus the clergy support the Bishop.
Dr. Blomfield, notwithstanding his far-sightedness, was rather puzzled, in the absence of experience, how to determine the amount of the tax to be exacted of the Cemeteries. That imposed on Kensal-green, “proved,” according to the Bishop, “to be an utterly inadequate compensation ;" the Incumbent of Paddington “considers himself to have lost at least 2001. a-year; and the loss to the Rector of St. Mary-le-bone,” the Bishop says, “cannot be less.” The next Cemetery opened was that of Highgate, the Act for which was passed during the Bishop's absence from Parliament through severe illness. That Act imposes a tax on bodies for the benefit of the Clergymen from whose parishes they are carried ; and “there again,” says the Bishop, “ they are great losers.” This was the second blunder, but it was the last. “ The next Cemetery near London," he tells us,
was that of West London and Westminster. In that case, the Company are obliged by law to pay a fee of ten shillings for every funeral, to the Clergyman from whose parish it comes. That sum was considered by the Clergymen whom I consulted upon that occasion, as being a fair compensation.” Here, then, is a sight worth beholding,-a body of satisfied Clergymen! The wonder, however, lies in the fact, not in the reason. Ten shillings sterling for every corpse in their parish taken to the Cemetery! He must indeed be
“A fox in stealth, a wolf in greediness,"
whom such an extortion would not gratify. We blush while we record it! On what principle of justice, reason, or Scripture, can such a system be defended ? Before we can place a little infant dust in that ground, independently of the charges for the funeral and the tomb, we must be taxed the sum of ten shillings for the benefit of a man whom, perhaps, we never heard, never saw before, and from whom neither we nor our household ever received the slightest advantage! Is this the religion of the Bible? Is this a Pauline tradition? Is this a mark of the true “ Apostolic succession ?" Let the Bishop and the metropolitan clergy look into the evidence under Question 1865, that they may be instructed, corrected, and confounded by an exhibition of barbarian justice, with regard to the rights of conscience and the rights of man. Colonel Campbell, at whose instance all the burial-places were removed out of Alexandria, on occasion of the plague, states, that "for each religion there was a separate burial-place; a Protestant burying-place, a Roman Catholic burying-place, a Greek Church buryingplace, a Jewish burying-place, a Mahometan burying-place, and an Armenian burying-place.” But we injure Mehemet Ali in styling his government barbarous. In many points, but especially in this, the Mahometan vassal is at once an example and a reproach to the bench of English Bishops.
The State Clergy have been so long accustomed to domineer over the people of this country, and in particular to trample on the rights of Dissenters, that, in many of their bosoms, the moral sense seems nearly dead. Of this an extraordinary example is furnished in the examination of the modest Rector of Whitechapel, the Rev. W. W. Champneys. When informed by the Committee, that, in the Cemeteries established by companies, two chapels were generally erected, one for the Church and another for Dissenters, in their respective portions of the ground, and asked, whether he felt any objection to that system being carried out in the Cemeteries contemplated by this measure, the reverend witness was utterly shocked! This Minister of Righteousness saw nothing but rectitude and beauty in first taxing Churchmen and Dissenters indiscriminately for the purchase and preparation of the Cemeteries, - that preparation including a fine structure for the funeral services of the Churchman,—and leaving the poor Dissenter to perform his services in the open air, or with his own funds to build a Chapel for himself! But “ by legislative enactment erecting the Chapel of the Dissenter on a level by law with the Church,” even with funds taken from his own pockets, was a deed which excessively