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tain it,—not seldom at the close of long suspensions from labour, of protracted and expensive afflictions, and too often at the outset of widowhood and orphanage.
The effects of the change proposed, will also be serious upon the interests of religion. It will be a deadly blow to not a few of the most important Dissenting chapels in the realm. We speak only of tendency; but perhaps we should commit no breach of charity, if we affirmed that such also was its design. In due time, we shall adduce the proof. The entire measure is, we believe, one of priestly origin, as it unquestionably is one of ghostly character. The Order, the Evidence, the Report, the Bill, are all broadly stamped with Churchmanship. The great community of Dissenters appears to be an object of utter insignificance in the eyes of this Committee. The feelings, the rights, the property of Nonconformists, are things beneath their notice. The Bill coolly proposes, that this great measure, which is to affect so many of the tenderest interests and most sacred rights of society, shall be worked wholly by the clergy of each parish, or union of parishes, and the Churchwardens. It clothes these parties with the absolute power of making a rate for the purchase and preparation of the proposed Cemeteries. It not only vests in them, likewise, the right of determining the fees which both Churchmen and Dissenters shall pay; but provides for them the still richer luxury of appropriating these fees at pleasure. An ample field is thus preparing for the demon of discord, and a sumptuous feast for clerical rapacity. The utmost care is taken by the Bill, that the fees of the clergy shall be secured and paid to the last farthing; nor are the vested rights of the Vestry Clerk overlooked. The very Sexton is kindly remembered! The Dissenters alone are forgotten! Their property receives no protection; its trustees have no claims; its ministers merit no consideration! Their whole system is treated in the evidence as a “speculation;" and, in the Bill, as a nonentity. It is clearly proved that, for many years, the Established Church has been losing ground in the business of sepulture; but by this Bill she will regain it with a vengeance! To the clergy, therefore, Mr. Mackinnon, the projector of this measure, is another Midas. Mr. Mackinnon touches the sod, and instantly all is gold! By the magic of a "Be it enacted,” he will convert
the whole territory of the tomb into an inexhaustible mine of treasure! The Rev. W. W. Champneys stated, that the average number of deaths in his parish was about 1,200, while his average number of funerals was only 360. • Does not that,” says Mr. Mackinnon, “ in your opinion show the necessity of some legislation on the subject ?" To this leading question the worthy Rector of Whitechapel replies with grateful emphasis, “It does.” To baptize all, to educate all, to marry all, and to bury all, would doubtless be the consummation of clerical bliss.
Such is a general glimpse of this most unjust, most cruel, and most dangerous project. In our next Number we shall proceed to an orderly examination of the whole business, that you may be apprised of your peril, and awakened to a sense of the imperative duties which now devolve upon you. The carrying of this Bill, in its present shape, would be a grievous calamity to Dissenters of every name.
If this succeed, moreover, there is, be assured of it, more behind. This is a Church-extension scheme in disguise, and a scheme, too, of the most efficient character. There can be no doubt that Parliament will assemble early, and that this measure will be urged forward with the least possible delay. Now, therefore, is the time for all concerned to bestir themselves. Our counsel will be partly developed in the course of our expositions, and, at the close, we shall be able to recommend a plan of co-operation.
Before closing, we must press one point. Let the Trustees of chapels in large towns, of all Dissenting denominations, with burying grounds, forthwith communicate with us relative to their circumstances. We want facts for the purpose argument; such, for example, as the following:
1. The amount of debt upon their chapels.
2. The extent of their dependence on mortuary fees for the means of meeting the interest and of reducing the principal.
3. The size and situation of their burying grounds, and their condition as to fulness and management.
4. The results, to them, which must flow from the interdict of all further interment.
These are facts of which we urgently request the immediate transmission, authenticated by the names and addresses of the writers.
August 31, 1842.
ABSTRACT OF MR, MACKINNON'S BILL.
We now proceed to give the substance of Mr. Mackinnon's Bill.
The first and second clauses interdict all interments in or under any church, chapel, or other place of religious worship, and in or within the distance of Two Miles from the precincts or boundaries of the cities of London or Westminster, or the borough of Southwark, or within one mile of any other city, town, or borough in England, which shall contain a given number of houses rated for the relief of the poor to the amount of Ten Pounds or upwards.
The third clause states, that the precincts or boundary of all such places, for the purposes of the Act, are to be deemed and taken to be co-extensive with the public lamps and paving of the same.
The fourth clause provides for the appropriation of the Parochial Burial Grounds, which, after they shall have been live Years closed, may be planted with shrubs or trees; but no excavations or disturbance of the soil will be allowed till Twenty years after the last interment in the same.
The fifth clause prohibits the delay of the burial of bodies beyond a given period, which varies according to the seasons.
The sixth clause enacts that the Rector, Vicar, or Incumbent, and the Churchwardens of every parish, township, or place, in every such city, town, borough, or place, respectively, to be affected by the Bill, shall form a Parochial Committee of Health for every such parish, &c.; or, in the event of a Union of any two or more parishes for the purposes of the Act, then the collective body of the Rectors, Vicars, or Incumbents, and Churchwardens of such parishes, are to form the Committee of Health for the Union, and all the powers which the Act confers are to be executed by the majority of the members forming such Board.
Such Committee are, by a subsequent clause, authorised to lay a rate on the public, to purchase land for Cemeteries, and “to lay out and plant the same in such manner as they shall think proper.” One part of the Cemetery is to be consecrated for the burial of the dead according to the rites of the Established Church ; and such distinctive marks of separation are to be set up between the two portions of the Cemetery as the Bishop may require.
It is further proposed, that a piece both of the consecrated and of the unconsecrated ground shall be set apart for the burial of the poor; and it is to be held “lawful for the Committees of Health to make such arrangements for the conveyance to the Cemetery, and for the burial of the remains of any such poor, and to defray any expense incidental thereto, out of the money to be received by virtue of this Act, as such Committees may think proper."
The Committees are further empowered to fix and settle a Table of Fees to be paid on interments, and also the purchasemoney to be paid for the exclusive right of burial, as well as for the right of constructing any vault or place of burial, or erecting, or placing any monument or grave-stone in the Cemetery.
When any Cemetery shall have been opened, it is to be at the option of the Rector, Vicar, or Incumbent of the parish for which it has been constructed, to continue the performance of the duties and the receipt of the same fees as he enjoyed in the parochial ground; and, if he decline, he shall receive compensation. The same provision extends to the Clerk and Sexton, both of whom may also continue their offices; and, if they decline, the Committee may compensate them. The services of all these parties are limited to the consecrated ground. When the Clergyman declines, the Committee, with the consent of the Bishop, are to appoint a Chaplain ; and, when the Clerk or Sexton declines, the Committee are to appoint successors.
Such are the main clauses of this Bill. Its omissions are far more important than its provisions. The Bill, although loose and flimsy, is most craftily drawn. Its selfish origin and sectarian character are as much as possible concealed by the drapery of an affected regard for public health, and veneration for the
ashes of the dead. Its real object and sure tendencies can be discovered only by a careful scrutiny of the Evidence on which it is professedly founded.
Now, waiving for the present the principle of the Bill, which we shall afterwards fully discuss, the first thing that demands attention is, the constitution of the proposed Boards of Health, which is, in all points, the very worst that could be conceived. The proposal, however, is not an involuntary blunder, but a thing of cool deliberation and deep design. It is in flat contradiction to the plan recommended by the Select Committee in their Report, which asserts the necessity of "some central and superintending authority to be established for the purpose;" something analogous to the Poor-Law Commission. Again, in the Resolutions of the Select Committee, appended to their Report, which Resolutions comprise the main principles of the Bill, it is declared that the working of the entire scheme should be entrusted either to some department of the Government, or to a Board of Superintendence, to be constituted by the Act of Parliament." Such were the views of Mr. Mackinnon's Committee on the 15th day of June ; but, on the 5th of August, Mr. Mackinnon himself presents to the House a Bill which repudiates at once both Government interference and the creation of a Central Board !
These facts sufficiently show, as we have said, that the proposal is a deliberate one; but additional proof is ready furnished
Mr. Mackinnon's attention had been specially called to the subject in April by a Mr. Baker, an intelligent surgeon, resident in Leeds, and one of the ablest and most important witnesses that appeared before the Committee. Mr. Baker proposed to lay a rate upon Churchmen and Dissenters equally for the purchase of the ground, and then to divide it between them, “while,” says he, “ I would vest the freehold in neither, but in the Town Council; if there were no Town Council, in the Commissioners; if there were no Commissioners, in the Magistrates of the division.” In reply to this, Mr. Mackinnon asks: “Why should it not be vested in the officiating clergyman and the churchwardens ?” Mr. Baker rejoins : " If you put the freehold in neither party, neither in the Church nor in Dissent, you accomplish two objects: you take from both sides