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him to rob the possessor. No matter professed to act. If the Quakers pleaded whether religion was or was not the foun. sincerity in their own behalf, so might the dation of his opinion, no religion could partizans of the levelling system ; or if sanction civil injustice. Did it not sound the levellers were accused of interested odd, that a man should take a farm and views in wishing to despoil others of their get an allowance from the landlord for property, so might the Quakers, who rewhat he was to pay in tithes, and, by way fused to pay that property to which others of putting this allowance in his pocket, were entitled. He wished the legislature plead that his conscience would not per- therefore, seriously to reflect before they mit him to employ it for the purposes for sanctioned fancies which might be prowhich it was intended? Could such a ductive of great evils. He reminded the conduct be reconciled with any standard House also of the ground upon which of justice, or was any act entertaining their indulgence was claimed, not besuch principles worthy of being patronized cause of other religious opinions held by the legislature?' He submitted it, by the Quakers, not because they held therefore, to the wisdom of the House, it unlawful to

button whether, on account of such absurd their bats, or to use the second person fancies, if they were not something worse, plural, but because they deemed it imthey would venture to change the regu- proper to pay tithes. If the principle of lations of civil property? The preamble the indulgence was once admitted, others of the bill pretended that it was brought might claim the benefit of it, and the sect in for the relief of the Quakers from im- of anti-tithe christians would soon become prisonment. Here the learned gentleman the most numerous and flourishing in the desired that the 7th and 8th of William kingdom.--The learned gentleman next 3rd might be read. Which being done, adverted to the other ground on which he observed, that so far from its being Mr. Serjeant Adair had defended the the intention of this statute to relieve the principle of the bill, namely, that it would Quakers from the persecution of other facilitate the recovery of tithes. And men, as had been insinuated, it was meant here he could not but remark a striking to relieve other men from the persecution inconsistency in the defence ; for if the of the Quakers ; for if any man withheld Quakers really held it unlawful to pay from him what was his due, that man tithes, how came they to apply for a bili, was his persecutor; and though he did the object of which was to facilitate the it from religious motives, still his conduct recovery of them ? The argument stood was persecution. He asked, whether it thus : the Quakers considered themselves was proper to sanction a violation of the as unjustifiable in paying tithes, except rights of property upon the ground of they were compelled; the House was private opinion, on whatever foundation therefore desired to accommodate the that opinion might rest? He cautioned mode of compulsion to their wishes. He the House of stamping such a procedure then put the case either way-that they with their authority at a time when it did pay tithes at present without compulwas so fashionable to hold out wild and sion, or that they did not. If they did dangerous opinions respecting property. not, their refusal was a persecution of the Who knew but the next step might be a holder of tithes, and the remedy ought refusal to pay rent? There were some to be a prompt and efficacious one, other. texts of scripture which might be wrested wise the tithe-holder would be an owner, in favour of this opinion; nay, they might not of property but of suits. The fact, even go so far as to hold it irreligious to however, he believed to be notoriously pay their debts, because they owed no otherwise, and that the Quaker at present man any thing but love. He had seen a paid tithes, not from actual compulsion, number of pamphlets, in which all men of but under the apprehension of compulproperty were pelted with texts of scripsion. Since this was the case, why should ture, and represented as monopolizers, the remedy be placed at a greater dis. who ought to share what they possessed tance, and thus rendered less prompt and with those who had not had such a liberal less efficacious ? For what was the remedy share of the good things of fortune dealt that was proposed ?-To take the penalty out to them. Such opinions were justly off the person of the Quaker, and to put considered as worthy only of derision; it upon his property by sequestration. but that they admitted of as good a de- To this mode there were strong objections. There was no process of sequestration in | The effect of the measure would inevitably the eccleciastical courts, in which many tend to weaken the security of property of these causes were agitated. At any and the House ought maturely to consider rate, the process of sequestration was that attacks upon it were always begun accompanied with so many difficulties, where it was conceived to be most vul. that it would produce a diminution of the nerable, and in subjects where prejudices security of that species of property. Be against it prevailed. A memorable exam. sides, the very remedy itself implies com- ple of this occurred in another country. pulsion and his yielding to this compul- In France, first the tithes of the clergy sion shows that his scruple was a pre- were attacked; the property of the tended one, unless they were to suppose church was then all seized; the manor that he had a religious scruple to seques- rights of proprietors were next attacked ; tration still stronger than that he enter- tiiles and succession followed; property tained against paying tithes. Sir W. was the next object of plunder; till Scott next stated his objection to the scenes of injustice and disorder ensued, provisions of the bill respecting the pro- which struck at the repose and tranquillity cess being carried on before the justices; of Europe. He therefore must oppose first, upon the ground of the general the farther progress of the bill. obscurity of the subject, and the intricacy Mr. Serjeant Adair said, that with reof particular questions which frequently gard to the principle of his learned friend, occurred; and secondly, from the influ- that no respect ought to be shown to reence of local and personal prejudices, from ligious scruples where they went to affect which that useful class of men were not property, he could not agree with him to altogether exempted. He controverted the extent in which it had been stated. the statement of the severities exercised He thought that some respect ought to against the Quakers from documents col. be shown to religious scruples which lected from the registers of the different might be considered as absurd, though they courts. He had directed inquiries to be involved this consequence; and that they made of the prosecutions which had been might be the object of that good-nalured carried on against the Quakers for the toleration which his learned friend menlast twenty years, and he found that in tioned. His learned friend said, that to the diocese of Canterbury there had not such scruples the legislature ought not at been one; that in the diocese of Bristol all to yield. He admitted that the legis. one had been commenced, in consequence lature ought not so far to yield to them of which the tithes were immediately as to lessen the security of property ; but paid ; that there had been one in the alterations in the laws which tended to diocese of Litchfield and Coventry afford ease to the person who entertained against six Quakers, but that no imprison the scruple, without injuring the property ment had taken place; and that there which it regarded, he would contend, had only been one in the diocese of Wor- were wise, just, and humane. An excester, where the Quaker was imprisoned, pression in the act of king William, on but was liberated from an error in the which this measure was founded, had writ. There had been somc, but very i been quoted by his learned friend. The few, in the court of exchequer during conduct of the parliament, by which that that period. Hence he inferred, that act liad been passed, it would appear, was tithes were paid at present in an easy and more liberal than their language. The inoffensive manner, and that no new regu- scruples of the Quakers were called lations were necessary. The necessary 1“ pretended." He believed that those effect of the bill would be an increase of scruples were perfectly real. They led suits, and additional dilliculties to the to suffering and to difficulty. The hardproprietor in the exercise of his rights. ships they produced were a pledge of Things went on smoothly enough already, their sineerity. Were they of a kind and any regulations upon the subject were which the interest of the parties might not at present required. He well knew, suggest, they certainly ought not to be that his learned friend was actuated by encouraged. Such, however, was the lino unworthy or sinister motives. It was berality of feeling which actuated that known, however, that opinions hostile to parliament, that they yielded to scruples tithes were abroad, and it was not impos- which they called 'pretended. What, sible that something of this kind night then, should be their conduct when they be connected with the present application. believed the scruples to be real?

learned friend had supposed a great num- | present exist among the clergy with reber of pretended scruples. There was gard to the effect of this bill, he was conone which was designed to raise alarm in vinced it would be overcome by the the minds of the country gentlemen. It House; and that after a fair experiment was stated as a possible case, that farmers of its operation for a limited time, the might, from some pretended scruple, re- clergy themselves would join with the fuse to pay their rent. But for this the Quakers in their wishes for its renewal. law had already provided the very remedy His learned friend asked, if the Quakers which the bill meant to introduce. By petitioned for the relief contained in this this, those who should take such a scru- bill ? To this he answered, they did ple into their heads, would be treated just not: the Quakers had petitioned for relike those who refuse to pay their rent lief as to the imprisonment of their perwithout any scruple. The summary re- sons. In his situation, as a member of medy, by distress, the law already afford- parliament, he was to consider what was ed. His learned friend said, how was it wise and proper to be done; not what was possible to distinguish between pretended agreeable to the wishes of the petitioners. and real scruples? He would answer, by The Quakers were not answerable for inquiry whether the scruples were fa- what the bill contained ; he alone was vourable or hostile to the interest of the responsible for its contents. It was said, parties. It was stated that the Quaker that the remedy should be prompt and had an interest in the scruples he pro- efficacious. This was the very object of fessed. He could not conceive, however, the bill; for at present, if the Quaker was what interest could prompt a man to pro- obstinate, no court could enable the fess scruples which, if maintained, led to holder to recover his tithes, while under imprisonment for life, or to a suit for a this bill the claim might easily be made few shillings, which would raise the ex- good. He was sorry to hear that opipense to thirty times the original demand. nions hostile to tithes were abroad. For While such was the case, he would leave his own part, he thought the clergy ought it to his learned friend to explain the in- to be well provided for. If any opinions consistency, and to reconcile the interest hostile to tithes existed, were they not with the scruple. Notwithstanding what more likely to be removed by the display had been said, he was still of opinion that of mild, cheap, and expeditious modes of the measure would be for the benefit of levying, than by cruel, tedious and exthe tithe-holder. It was in fact balanc- pensive proceedings ? He thought the ing property against personal liberty. bill would be beneficial to all parties inThe iithe-holder would be enabled to re- terested. cover his claim, instead of merely obtain- The Solicitor General maintained, that ing the imprisonment of the Quaker for no grievances of the nature complained life. His learned friend seemed to infer, of existed, because there did not exist that the bill would give the holder a law- those scruples of conscience from which suit instead of his demand. What, how- those grievances were supposed to have ever, was the case at present? If the their origin. He defied the learned genQuaker is either conscientious or obsti- tleman to adduce such proofy as should nate, an expensive and tedious suit is the satisfy the House, that any oppression consequence. By the present bill no suit had been used against the Quakers. For would be necessary; the demand would the last twenty years there had been none be recovered in a mode similar to distress. imprisoned for conscience sake: for the Was it no benefit to the holder, that a York case did not fall within that descripgreat deal of time and expense was saved tion. If a bill could be framed, such as in the recovery of his claim? Was it no those would wish who had merely preadvantage that he got his property in- tended scruples of conscience, and whose stead of the person? Was it no benefit real object was to elude the payment of a to the Quaker that he escaped the cala- just and legal due, it would be such a bill mity of imprisonment for life, which as was now presented. In Quakers of might now be his fate? Instead of the respectability, he had never found any bodies of seven obstinate or conscientious of those rigid scruples. If a Quaker subinen, the tithe-holder would be able, in jected himself to perpetual imprisonment, iwo days, by a summary and cheap mode he brought himself into that situation, of proceeding, to recover his money. exactly in the same manner as a litigious Whatever prejudice and alarm might at man did, who obstinately maintained a suit, and overwhelmed himself with costs. as in no respect entitled to more priviThat such consequences should be pre- leges than any other class of the commuvented, if possible, he admitted; and he nity. wished a mode could be devised which Mr. Burton said, that in a former par. might extend to all persons in that situa- liament he had, from a tenderness which tion, The principle of the bill seemed he felt for every conscientious scruple, to be, that the person should be exone- and from a supposition that those of the rated and the property only liable; but Quakers were sincere, supported the bill. of all security for the payment of debts, He then thought the Quakers oppressed : that which


the power of taking hold he had now reason to believe they were of the person was the most efficacious. not. In the last 22 years, only three He objected to the bill, as it tended to suits against Quakers, and, since the shake the principle of all processes for time of queen Anne, only seven suits, the recovery of debts; but he did not had gone so far as a hearing, and then object to that part of it which went to generally there was a plea of a modus, render the affirmation of Quakers admis- which would still be brought into the sible in criminal as well as civil cases. ecclesiastical court, even if the bill should

Mr. Richards thought the bill unneces- pass. The persons imprisoned at York saryand inconvenient, because it went to were there for costs ; and even these alter the law of the land. How could any might have been released upon the insol. question of property be a subject of reli- vent act, if they had not chosen, perhaps gious scruple, which could exist only in for the purposes of this bill, and probably matters of faith? The same scruples of with sufficient recompence from their breconscience forbad Quakers to pay taxes ; thren, to remain there under the characyet these they were ordered to pay by ter of martyrs. As the bill would enable their elders. That man could not have the Quakers to oppress the tithe owners, much conscience or honesty, who with- he could not give it his support. held from another a debt which he knew

The question being put, that Mr. was by law his due. He did not think Speaker do now leave the chair, the there existed among them such scruples House divided : as had been stated.

Mr. Wilberforce said, that the gentle-
men who opposed the bill praised the sta-

S Mr. Serjeant Adair

33 tute of king William, which proceeded on

Wigley the same principle. If they thought so

Sir William Scott

33 highly of a system of terror, why did

Mr. they not act in conformity to their own And the numbers being equal, Mr. principle? Either they ought to move for Speaker said, that lie would not, by his the repeal of the provisions of the statute vote, prevent the House from then reof king William, or they ought to support solving itself into a committee, pursuant the present bill for the purpose of adopt- to their order, for the purpose of again ing them to their full extent. He ad. considering the bill in question, and thereverted to the illiberal language that had fore he declared himself with the yeas. been held with respect to Quakers, whom So it was resolved in the affirmative, and he believed to be actuated by scruples the the House resolved itself into the said most conscientious: they had fully evinced committee. their integrity by their conduct during the period of a hundred years, and had re- March 6. The order of the day being ceived proofs of the regard and protection read for going into a committee on the of the legislature at the best period of our bill, and the question being put, “ That history

the Speaker do now leave the chair," Mr. Fraser reprobated the bill, as tend- Mr. Pierrepont said, he had given the ing to throw odium upon the established bill his entire attention, and the result church. The Quakers were a body, who was, a conviction that it would be atevinced the utmost obstinacy and inve- tended with the most pernicious conseteracy in opposition to the laws. They quences. never went to law, but had a mode of Mr. Serjeant Adair trusted, that the. deciding their own disputes without any bill would be suffered to pass through application to courts of justice. They the present stage, before any serious opwere a body of men whom he considered position was offered to it.

Noes { Nir. Solicitor General

} }

YEAS {Mr. Hobhouse

The Solicitor General said, he would Chancellor, lord President, duke of oppose the bill in every stage, because it Portland, marquis Cornwallis, earl was calculated to pick the pockets of one Spencer, earl of Liverpool, lord set of men, in order to gratify the pre- Grenville, Mr. Chancellor of the Ex. tended scruples of another.

chequer. The Attorney General said, he at first entertained sentiments in favour of the

"Upon the representation of the chan. bill, but upon mature investigation, he the result of the information which he has

cellor of the exchequer; stating, That from was inclined to give it his negative.

received, and of the inquiries which it has The House divided :

been his duty to makerespecting the effectof Tellers.

the unusual demands for Specie, that have Mr. Serjeant Adair


been made upon the metropolis, in con

sequence of ill-founded, or exaggerated Noes Mr. Pierrepont

:} 28

alarms, in different parts of the country; Mr. Fraser

it appears, that unless some measure is Resolved, That the House will, upon immediately taken, there may be reason this day three months, resolve itself into to apprehend a want of a sufficient supply the said Committee.

of cash, to answer the exigencies of the

public service : it is the unanimous opiThe King's Message respecting the unu- nion of the board, That it is indispensasual Demand of Specie.] Feb. 27. Mr. bly necessary for the public service, that Pitt presented the following Message from the directors of the Bank of England his Majesty :

should forbear issuing any cash in pay" GEORGE R.

ment, until the sense of parliament can “ His Majesty thinks it proper to com- be taken on that subject, and the proper municate to the House of Commons, measures adopted thereupon, for mainwithout delay, the measure adopted to taining the means of circulation, and supobviate the effects which might be occa-porting the public and commercial credit sioned by the unusual demand of specie of the kingdom, at this important conlately made from different parts of the juncture. And it is ordered, That a country on the metropolis.

copy of this minute be transmitted to “ The peculiar nature and exigency of the directors of the Bank of England; the case appeared to require, in the first in- and they are hereby required on the stance, the measure contained in the grounds of the exigency of the case, to order of council, which his majesty has conform thereto, until the sense of pardirected to be laid before the House. liament can be taken as aforesaid. In recommending this important subject (Signed) " W. FAWKENER.” to the immediate and serious attention of the House of Commons, his majesty

Mr. Pitt said, it was his intention at

message relies, with the utmost confidence, on the present merely to move, that the experienced wisdom and firmness of his He took that opportunity, however, of

be taken into consideration to-morrow. parliament, for taking such measures as may be best calculated to meet any tem- dress which he meant to move, he should

giving notice, that in addition to the adporary pressure, and to call forth, in the most effectual manner, the extensive re- propose that a select committee be apsources of his kingdoms, in support of pointed to inquire into the outstanding their public and commercial credit, and engagements of the Bank, and of the in defence of their dearest interests. means they had of making good those G. R."

engagements. When he gave notice of

such a proposition, rendered necessary by Order of Council respecting the Stoppage ment, he had no difficulty in declaring it

the particular circumstances of the moof Cash Payments at the Bank.] Mr. Pitt also presented, by his Majesty's smallest suspicion could justly be enter

to be his firm opinion, that not the Command, the following

tained of the solidity of the Bank; on MIUTE OF COUNCIL.

the contrary, he believed that its resources “ At the Council Chamber, Whitehall, never were more abundant.

Another the 26th of February 1797 ; By the proposition which he meant to submit to lords of his Majesty's most honoura- the deliberation of parliament, to ble privy council; Present, Lord declare by law, that the engagements of

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