Page images
PDF
EPUB

hostile either to the stability of the Church, or the general character and conduct of its Ministers.

*

Gentlemen, you have to-day a great task committed to your hands. This is not the age, the spirit of the times is not such, as to make it safe either for the country, or for the Government, or for the Church itself, to veil its mysteries in secrecy; to plant in the porch of the temple a prosecutor brandishing his flaming sword, the process of the law, to prevent the prying eyes of mankind from wandering over the structure. These are times when men will enquire; and the day most fatal to the Established Church, the blackest that ever dawned upon its Ministers, will be that which consigns this Defendant, , for these remarks, to the horrors of a gaol, which its false friends, the chosen objects of such lavish favour, have far more richly deserved. I agree with my Learned Friend, that the Church of England has nothing to dread from external violence. Built upon a rock, and lifting its head towards another world, it aspires to an imperishable existence, and defies any force that may rage from without. But let it beware of the corruption engendered within and beneath its massive walls; and let all its well

H н

wishers, all who, whether for religious or political interests, desire its lasting stability, beware how they give encouragement, by giving shelter, to the vermin bred in that corruption, who stink and stingagainst the hand that would brush the rottenness away. My Learned Friend has sympathised with the Priesthood, and innocently enough lamented that they possess not the power of defending themselves through the public press. Let him be consoled; they are not so very defenceless; they are not so entirely destitute of the aid of the press as through him they have represented themselves to be. They have largely used that press (I wish I could say

as not abusing it,”) and against some persons very near me; I mean especially against the Defendant, whom they have scurrilously and foully libelled through that great vehicle of public instruction, over which, for the first time, among the other novelties of the day, I now hear they have no controul, Not that they wound deeply or injure much; but that is no fault of theirs; without hurting, they give trouble and discomfort. The insect brought into life by corruption, and nestled in filth-I mean the dirt-fly—though its flight be lowly and its sting puny, can swarm and buz, and irritate the skin and offend the nostril, and altogether give nearly as much annoyance as the wasp, whose

nobler nature it aspires to emulate. These reverend slanderers — these pious back-biters -devoid of force to wield the sword, snatch the dagger; and destitute of wit to point or to barb it, and make it rankle in the wound, steep it in venom, to make it fester in the scratch. The much venerated personages, whose harmless and unprotected state is now deplored, have been the wholesale dealers in calumny, as well as the largest consumers of the base article,-the especial promoters of that vile traffic of late the disgrace of the country-both furnishing a constant demand for the slanders by which the press is polluted, and prostituting themselves to pander for the appetites of others : and now they come to demand protection from retaliation, and shelter from just exposure; and to screen themselves, would have you prohibit all scrutiny of the abuses by which they exist, and the mal-practices by which they disgrace their calling. After abusing and well-nigh dismantling for their own despicable purposes the great engine of instruction, they would have you annihilate all that they have left of it, to secure their escape. They have the incredible assurance to expect that an English Jury will conspire with them in this wicked design. They expect in vain! If all existing institutions and all public functionaries must henceforth be

sacred from question among the people ; if, at length, the free press of this country, and, with it, the freedom itself, is to be destroyed, at least let not the heavy blow fall from your hands. Leave it to some profligate tyrant; leave it to a mercenary and effeminate Parliament; a hireling army, degraded by the lash, and the readier instrument for enslaving its country; leave it to a pampered House of Lords; a venal House of Commons; some vulgar minion, servant of all work to an insolent Court; some unprincipled soldier, unknown, thank God! in our times, combining the talents of a usurper with the fame of a captain; leave to such desperate hands, and such fit tools, so horrid a work! But you, an English Jury, parent of the press, yet supported by it, and doomed to perish the instant its health and strength are gone-lift not you against it an unnatural hand. Prove to us that our rights are safe in your keeping; but maintain, above all things, the stability of our institutions, by well guarding their corner-stone. Defend the Church from her worst enemies, who, to hide their own misdeeds, would veil her solid foundations in darkness; and proclaim to them, by your verdict of acquittal, that henceforward, as heretofore, all the recesses of the sanctuary must be visited by the continual light of day, and by that light all its abuses be explored !

EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH

IN THE

HOUSE OF COMMONS,

ON MOVING

AN ADDRESS TO THE CROWN,

RESPECTING

THE TRIAL AND CONDEMNATION

OF MR. SMITH,

A MISSIONARY AT DEMERARA,

JUNE 1st, 1824.

The frame of West Indian Society, that monstrous birth of the accursed Slave Trade, is so feeble in itself, and, at the same time, surrounded with such perils from without, that barely to support it demands the most temperate judgment, the steadiest and the most skilful hand; and with all our discretion, and firmness, and dexterity, its continued existence seems little less than a miracle. The necessary hazards, to which, by its very constitution, it is hourly exposed, are sufficient, one should think, to satiate the most greedy appetite for difficulties, to quench the most chivalrous passion

« PreviousContinue »