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at the present ratio of interment, it will require a whole generation to fill it! But what of "decency ?” The best authorities do most confidently vouch for it, that no impropriety of any kind has occurred during the period in which the vaults, &c., have been opened. But is it not a nuisance to the neighbourhood ? The contrary is maintained, and, we are assured, can be fully proved on the testimony of the nearest residents.
But, Sir, the matter does not end here. There are other and not unimportant parties whom it most deeply concerns. If the Chapel in question be sold, what is to become of the
congregation, who raised, by voluntary contributions, 11,0001. out of the 21,0001.? They, too, are involved in the ruin of the Mortgagees.
And what of the minister of the chapel? You destroy his freehold and living, as well as the religious home and privileges of his flock. If the Chapel be lost, what is to become of the congregation? If the congregation be broken up, what is to become of the minister? If the Mortgagees sell for only 4,0001., they lose 6,0001. If the congregation buy for 4,0001., they just lose 4,0001., for they are buying back what was once their
If the congregation suffer the chapel to go, and build afresh, the outlay is just so much loss; for they had already provided for their own accommodation. The inevitable result of your Bill is, in all its aspects, marked by calamity and cruelty, loss and robbery! Such are the fruits of your precious measure! The case we have described may be an extreme one; but such, though in different degrees, will be its effects on a multitude of Chapels belonging to different denominations.
October 17, 1842.
THE ARGUMENT FOR COMPENSATION TO DISSENTERS—THE BISHOP OF
LONDON'S STANDARD OF CLERICAL COMPENSATION.
SIR,--Having set before you some of the manifold and multiform evils affecting Dissenting chapels with burial grounds, which would result from the passing of your Bill, we now beg leave to ask, are you still determined to proceed with your measure, or have you made up your mind to its abandonment? Do you seriously believe that you can obtain the sanction of either House of Parliament to a project so fraught with destruction to the rights of property? From your studies at Lincoln's Inn
you might surely have ascertained enough of the jura rerum from Blackstone, to know that your Bill is wholly inconsistent with British law, as well as with moral justice; and it is the province of the Legislature to protect property, not to destroy it. Before you proceed with your Bill, it behoves you to ascertain the exact position of Dissenting vaults and burial grounds according to the Common Law of England. Does not the same law which permits Dissenters to purchase ground and erect chapels on it, permit them also to construct vaults under, and form cemeteries around them? In granting such permission to Dissenters, the Legislature exercised neither grace nor bounty; it merely placed them on a level with the Established Church. It was, moreover, necessary that the same law which authorised Dissenters to erect edifices for the living, should also allow them to provide places of sepulture for the dead, since Dissenting ministers were interdicted the performance of funeral duties in the parochial grounds. Thus, the right of interment is, to the Dissenter, both a matter of property and a matter of privilege, a legal source of revenue, and a special means of religious accommodation. The Legislature, we submit, has no more right to interdict the proper use of Dissenting burial grounds, than to interdict the proper use of Dissenting chapels. Cæmeterium gaudet eodem privilegio quo ecclesia, is an ancient maxim as applied to the Established Church ; and we insist on the extension of the principle to the grounds of Dissenters. This is the foundation of our present argument.
Let us now look at the position of the clergy of the Church of England. The parson, we grant, according to both law and usage, has in himself, during his life, the freehold of the
parsonage-house, of the Church, a portion of the produce of the churchyard, of the glebe, of the tithes, and of other dues. Is this the ground on which your Bill proposes to transfer the services of the clergy to the projected Cemeteries, or, in the event of their refusing, to give them compensation? If it be
so, we should like to know for what reason you deny compensation to Dissenters. Are not the principles of justice immutable? On Dissenters you inflict the wound, and, without the provision of either balm or bandage, you pass on, lavishing all your attention on others, whose injuries, and, consequently, whose claims are no greater. How is this? Do oblige us by a statement of your reasons. In the case of the Establishment, the church-yard enclosure belongs to the parish ; the produce, in part, goes to the minister, and in part to the wardens and parish clerk. In the case of the Dissenters, the inclosure belongs to the congregation ; the produce, in part or in whole, may go to the trustees, and be appropriated to the payment of interest or of debt, to the repairs of the edifice, or the maintenance of the minister. Thus far, for all practical purposes, the analogy is perfect. In both cases, the incumbents may die ; but the corporate bodies, the parish and the congregation, live. Your Bill provides for both the parish and the priest; but there you leave the matter. How is this, Sir ? Have you forgotten the Bishop's weighty words when he sat before you as a witness ? Referring to his clergy, and to the compensation which they claimed, did he not say, “ You cannot expect men, the principal part of whose subsistence, in some cases, depends upon the fees arising from a practice that has hitherto not been complained of, willingly to give up the whole source of that income without some compensation !" Sir, is justice temporary and mutable-a thing of times, places, and persons? If otherwise, why concede that to Churchmen which you refuse to Dissenters? But the claims you reject are much stronger than those you sustain. In the one case you protect an individual; in the other, you rob a multitude. You protect the parson's “ fees,” to which he has no legal, no moral claim; you spoil a Dissenting congregation of the fair and legal revenues resulting from property purchased with their own money.
Sir, is this just legislation ? As we have once already reminded you, it is to no purpose you talk of a public nuisance. You must prove that nuisance, and prove it in every case. We beg also to remind you, that you must prove the nuisance to have been brought to the parties aggrieved, and show that they have not come to it; otherwise, they have no remedy either in
law or in equity. Now, it will be proved to the House of Commons, that a number of the most important Dissenting chapels, with their burial-grounds, and some of those which will be most affected by your Bill, at their original formation stood alone, far removed on every side from the habitations of men. Is it, then, for those who voluntarily sat down beside them, to frame complaints? Is not the blame wholly their own? Were their grievance real, how could such persons merit either pity or redress?
But, Sir, one of the most vexatious circumstances connected with your projected robbery, is the fact, that, with a single exception, most monstrously exaggerated, all the special facts on which your Bill is grounded, stand connected with the Established Church. If you take the burial-grounds of the Friends, Jews, Independents, Baptists, and Methodists, we fearlessly affirm, that you will find among them very few grounds that even approach repletion, or from which one substantial reason can be deduced for the closing of the same. In the name of these bodies of Dissenters, therefore, we protest against your wholesale proceedings, and your project of reckless plunder! We challenge investigation; the parties for whom we plead court it; they demand it! Will you refuse them? We give you timely warning that they will take no denial. They know their rights, and they are determined to assert them. You may rest assured that they now see through your project, and will not neglect to avail themselves of the means they possess of averting the evil which your Bill is calculated to inflict upon them. If your own Church has been committing abominations, by all means correct them, and use all proper severity against the wrong-doers; but beware of confounding the innocent with the guilty !
Let us now glance at the question of Clerical Compensation, as it stands related to the general public,-a point which we view with much and most unfeigned alarm. Your Bill provides that " the Rector, Vicar, or Incumbent,
shall receive as compensation for the loss to him of fees, in consequence of the formation of such Cemetery, on any burial that shall take place in the consecrated part thereof, such amount of such fees as shall be fixed and determined by the Bishop of the diocese in which
such Cemetery shall be situated." How pleasant a prospect this opens up to the inhabitants of London! Two millions of men will thus be placed at the mercy of episcopal authority, which, if not strenuously resisted, will succeed in putting in operation an efficient machinery for robbing and peeling them and their multiplying descendants in all coming time! Bishop Blomfield, when it suits his purposes, can, at will, assume the appearance of openness, candour, and manly dignity ; but, even then, he is ever meditating the means of uprooting Nonconformity. It is no more safe to view his conduct than his character in parts. He must be judged as a whole. Cunning man!
“ Instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades,
Degrees, observances, customs, and laws,
Decline to your confounding contraries." His Lordship is incomparably the best living example of the grand rule of the great Casuist, which runs thus: “ Upon holy days let the matter of your meditations be according to the mystery of the day, and to your ordinary devotions of every day, add the prayer which is fitted to the mystery.” All the days of Charles James are holy, and every day has its mystery, every mystery its meditation, and every meditation its prayer. His favourite mystery, at present, is the theory of clerical compensation. He has already proved to his own satisfaction and to that of his clergy, that “compensation” is “sacrifice," and that he who receives three times more than he surrenders, is, after all, no gainer! We will illustrate these points, that we may apprise the people of England of the peril of that clause of your Bill, which empowers the Bishop to fix the amount of the parson's compensation. We shall sift this “mystery" of Charles James to the bottom; and we hope the burst of public indignation will blow it to atoms!
Happily for the public, Bishop Blomfield, after several experiments in framing tariffs for the tomb, after much consultation with his clergy, and still more with himself, has already fixed the general standard of compensation. The taxes of 5s. and 1s. 6d. upon each body interred at Kensal-green, and in the Cemeteries of the North, South, and East London Cemetery Company, although far above the average sum now received by