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vernment and the inhabitants, of which the Presbyterian minister and his flock had been in peaceable possession from the moment of its erection, down to the passing of the Church Act, and even to the present time. From some oceasional visits of Episcopalian ministers to this church (the only one in Bothwell) for the purpose of administering their - rites to the few English residents of the place, as well as from some early intentions of Colonel Arthur, the Anglican
archdeacon, in the course of the year 1837, laid claim to the . whole of the fabric as Episcopalian property. On their side, the Presbyterians insisted on their sole and undivided right to the church ; affirming that the visits of the Episcopalian clergymen had never been admitted by them as of a right, - but merely out of courtesy; and that, even if Colonel - Arthur's intentions could be in any case urged against themselves, that officer in his last minute of council had expressly and formally adopted intentions altogether opposite.* Å third party, the Economists, interpreted the voluminous
evidence of either claimant, to have established the joint title of both to the same fabric, per mie et per tout. The government again asserted its own right to it, on the ground that it was a case not within the Church Act at all. And lastly, the Scottish heir at law of a Mr. Alexander of Sydney, put in his claim to the soil on which the church had been
built, as having been originally granted to the deceased, and 1 afterwards by the error of the surveyors included in the
township of Both well. This was considered by all thinki ing men a proper case for an information suit in the
supreme t.court in equity. But the government had only asserted its
own claim, with a view of granting away its supposed rights
to the Church of England; and, as to the stranger in the 1: distant land, woe to the weak! The Presbytery was invited - to have recourse to law, as the secretary of state had directed
that either this question should be settled in that way, or else
in the event of both parties refusing to commence proceedozings, that the gocernor and his legislative council were to pass an - vAot, giving ocer the church to the Anglicans, with a lien upon s it in the Presbyterians' favour, for the amount subscribed by ooimembers of their body in 1830-1!!!ť It was in vain for the ci• moderator to remind the governor that the Presbytery being Io Ilona
*.“ Vindication of the Presbytery of Van Diemen's Land,” by James Thomson, Esq. A.M., pp. 161-2. | Evidence in the case of the Bothwell Church Bill, pp. 45-46.
in the undisturbed possession of this church, was in a condition to repel aggression indeed on the part of others, but could not itself take the initiative in proceedings either at law or in equity. The acting colonial secretary affected to see in this remonstrance, only an open disrespect towards his alter ego, the governor, and his idol, the secretary of state. The threatened interference by enactment, was accordingly resorted to. The archdeacon's own registrar and proctor prepared it; and the attorney-general, who had previously consented to take a retainer from the Presbytery, although fully aware of the intentions of the government, and had even gone so far as to advise them on the management of their case, suddenly informed them, that, in compliance with instructions just received, he must abandon their cause, and prepare himself to bring in the Spoliating Bill! In the face of every principle, in spite of the non-existence of any law, British or colonial, to warrant such a procedure, and in defiance of the earnest protest of the Presbytery,* this outrageous measure was proceeded with. So assured were its authors of success, that they rashly paraded, for the sake of a bastard popularity, the preliminary mockery of an investigation at the bar of a council, which had confessedly neither the power to commit two contumacious witnesses, nor to examine any one upon oath; and some wretched stuff out of the colonial secretary's letter-book, which they called “Evidence in support of the Preamble," was produced and printed. Nor was this the only farce. The solicitor-general, who had nothing whatever to do with the Bill, was ordered to appear at the bar of the council, and prove its preamble ;-a Bill, be it observed, which, whether it were proved or disproved, was to be carried through at any cost! That preamble consisted of five recitals. Of these, the second, third, and fourth, set forth the exclusive title of the English, and the recent usurpation of the Scottish Church. But the first and fifth recitals are so startlingly contrasted, that they merit a separate consideration. The first recited verbatim the third section, already quoted by us, of the Church Act; the law of the land, which not even this bill proposed to repeal! The fifth recital was as follows:
*"To his excellency Sir John Franklin, Knight, &c. &c., and to the honourable the Legislative Council, &c.
“We, the undersigned, hereby beg, in the name and on the behalf of the Presbytery of Van Diemen’s Land, respectfully to enter our protest against the interests of the said Presbytery being at all affected or committed by the bill now be- fore the honourable Council, relative to the church at Bothwell, and we farther protest and declare, that the said Presbytery is in no way a party, or to be considered a party, to the bill referred to. J. Lillie, Moderator; James Thomson, Procu. rator and Agent of Presbytery of Van Diemen's Land." (Protest to liis Excellency in Council; ordered to be printed, 24th September 1840.).17
“And whereas, his Excellency the lieutenant-governor of this colony, has recently received a dispatch from the Right Honourable Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial department in England, conveying Her Majesty's most gracious will and pleasure (!) that the said church should be holden solely for the uses, and be appropriated to the service, of the members of the United Church of England and Ireland (!) residing within Bothwell aforesaid, and that the members of the Church of Scotland should have, and were entitled to a lien or charge on the said Church, for the said sum of £. , being the amount of their original contribution towards the erection of the said Church ! !”
Then followed the two enacting clauses; brief echoes of the recitals. The Presbytery intrusted its cause to a Catholic barrister: the Presbyterian minister and congregation of Bothwell gave him also their brief. At the bar of the council, the solicitor-general and his antagonist, urged the cause of their respective clients in a conflict of more than a week's duration. The greatest interest appeared to be aroused on every side by the question of what was in fact the nature of the dispatch of the secretary of state !! At the close of it, a vote was taken on the first reading of the bill; when, contrary to all hope, the chief justice's constitutional and manly objections to a measure, which went far to turn the council into a Star Chamber, swelled so materially the forces of those members who trembled for their own possessions if such a precedent were adopted, that the lieutenant-governor found himself reduced to the unpleasant alternative of giving his casting-vote for or against the measure. A tertium quid, the withdrawal of the Bill, was whispered in his ear by the acting colonial secretary, its main promoter, The happy medium was embraced. It has since been intimated to the moderator, upon authority, that the matter has been again referred home to the secretary of state ; and that the lieutenant-governor's secretary is prepared to issue à grant-deed of the church in question, to the party or parties "so happy as to enjoy the approbation of his lordship.
When we hear and read of such doings as these, and turn
.* Draft, 4 Vic. No. . 2: “An aet declaratory of the rights of the members of the United Church of England and Ireland to the exclusive use of the church at Bothwell.”
our eyes to the 29th chapter of Magna Charts, or to the Star Chamber Abolition Act (14 Car. I, chap. 20,) we inore than ever bless the memory of ancestors, who left us an England to inhabit, and not a gaol-yard! We were informed the other day, by a barrister who had visited Van Diemen's Land, that in his whole library there were no books so useful to him there, professionally, as the black-letter reports and text writers of the Stuart and early Hanoverian times, when prerogative on one side, and its victims on the other, daily suggested new matter for forensic argument and judicial determination. If so, then, besides its other evils, Van Diemen's Land must be as little suited to the lover of rational and personal freedom, as England was in the days of pursuivants and high commission; and two centuries behind the mother-country in these important respects, as she undoubtedly is in others alread glanced at by us.
When to the means and appliances of the vulgar tyranny we have attempted to describe, our reader has added, within his own mind, their inevitable consequences,—the universal distrust, the shunned confidence of men, the lesson of duplicity imbibed alike and practised in all the details of intercourse and communion, he need not wonder when he hears that some have dared to render themselves obnoxious to the cmancipist organs of the government, by the public declaration that “ Van Diemen’s Land is no place for a gentleman to live in!"* We are well prepared to believe, at least, thus much. We have heard it said, that “private and confidential,” are words there which have not simply lost their European significance, but being understood to denote thic value and importance which the person communicating the secret, attached to it himself, -and so to signify “anthentic and accredited,”—are, in that regard, far inore calculated to promote than to prevent the ready circulation of the delicious scandal!
Of all presumptive evidence of the moral debasement engendered by the delations of the colonial administrators, that which perhaps is not the weakest, is that there is no reproach more commonly resorted to in that colony against an adversary upon either side of every question, than that same reproach of mendacity. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The hearts of many there have been crushed by tyranny, and they fester on in corruption and deceit. Let them be asked privily, touching their tyrants, and you will hear
* Hobarton Advertiser, 14th January, 1841.
them execrated; but change the sphere to the public assembly or the printing-room, and you will be amazed to find the curses changing to blessings, or descending upon the head of the plain speaker and the free; amazed, we say,-until you are made aware that you behold before you men endeavouring to escape the mark and ban of an all-powerful police, by the loudness of their acclamations, at the sacrifice of another yictim.*
These are thy fruits, transportation! How long shall they endure? Till transportation endures no longer! If there be a member in either house who values his parliamentary privileges as means, not as the end, we demand his attention to these statements. The documents which are to be found at the head of this article, disclose an iniquity too gross to last much longer. It is for parliamentary men and statesmen to determine the manner of the end. For, whether they interfere or not, the end cometh. And the first and foremost step to be taken, if enquiry and not rather instant action, be thought advisable, is the appointment of a parliamentary committee at home, and a commission in Van Diemen's Land, each armed with the fullest powers of investigation into the abuses and defects of our administration of the free and bond inhabitancies of Van Diemen's Land.
But enquiry, if enquiry there must be, should propose to itself no other end than the punishment of the guilty satraps, and the accumulation of such an amount of experiences of provincial administration in Van Diemen's Land, as will put us in possession of the means of guarding against the like tutelage of another infant colony so long as time shall last, Transportation must not wait for its abolition. It has already abided two prolix and systematic examinations, besides several desultory incursions of the curious. Let it not be thought that
any further good can come of such another. And that we may not content ourselves with simply laying this cm
* When Colonel Arthur was about to quit the island, he received a present of plate from the inhabitants. Never was antipodean governor more unpopular than he was at that time! The plate was required for service at Downing Street! All the government officers, of course, concurred in the subseription. All who had claims for land before the caveat board, or who had lodged caveats against such claims, were only too happy to do the same! Several bitter enemies of Colonel Arthur were among them! And that the sum raised might be as large as possible,--his nephew, who managed the thing, sent circulars to the police magistrates, recommending them to apply to convicts holding tickets of leare, and other indulgences, by Colonel Arthur's gift! But it was added, " no one convict is to be allowed to give more than five pounds!!!” Was it to that good service of plate that Colonel Arthur owed his Canadian appointment?