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debates, and received the king's consent, for admitting Roman Catholics into all the lay corporations in the kingdom, but reserved from the righ of interference with the ecclesiastical incorporations.*

The parliament which met at London, 8th May, 1661, enacted for the protection of the corporations, from the Roman Catholics and nonconformists becoming predominant in them, a law generally known as the corporation act. It is entitled " an act for the well governing and regulating corporations," and enacts,—

"that within the several cities, corporations, boroughs, cinque ports, and other port towns within the kingdom of England, dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick on Tweed, all mayors, aldermen, recorders, bailiffs, town clerks, common council men, and other persons bearing any office or offices of magistracy, or places of trust, or other employment, relating to or concerning the government of the said respective cities, corporations, and boroughs and cinque ports, and their members, and other port towns, shall take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and this oath following:

"I, A. B do declare and believe, that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the king; and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him.


They shall also subscribe the following declaration:

"I, A. B. do declare that there lies no obligation upon me from the solemn league and covenant; and that the same was an unlawful oath imposed on the subject against the laws and liberties of the kingdom.

"Provided also, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no person shall be hereafter elected or chosen into any of the offices or places aforesaid, that shall not have within one year next before such election or choice taken the sacrament of the lord's supper according to the rites of the church of England; and that every person so elected shall take the aforesaid oaths, and subscribe the said declaration, at the same time when the oath for the due execution of the said places and offices shall be respectively administered."

This act excluded the dissenters in England from filling public offices either under the government or in boroughs, unless they had, within the compass of a year, taken the sacrament according to the rites of the church of England. Of this the dissenters loudly complained. But they always complied with the act; and communicated at their parish churches previous to entering into office. This they continued to do for many years, but in consequence of the dislike which conscientious men would naturally feel at communicating with a church from which they had dissented because they had conceived that it was not a true church, the act was so often evaded altogether, that, in the liberal opinions of the age, an act of indemnity was annually passed to save those from the penalties of the act who had either neglected or refused to communicate at the parish church. So that in effect this act lay almost a dead letter, and no one had of late years been in any way incommoded by it. Many attempts, however, were made to procure its repeal, at different times, especially in 1787, when it was warmly agitated in the house of commons, and pamphlets and other

* 10 Geo. IV., c vii., sec. 14, 15; for Relief of his Majesty's Roman Catholic Subjects: 13th April, 1829. See p. 328.

publications issued in abundance from the press on both sides of the question. In this debate Lord North contended that the test acts were and ought to be carried into execution, though he observed, "there were instances in which persons had introduced themselves into corporations without taking the test, because they relied on the annual indemnity act, which saved them." This sort of mental fraud," continued his lordship,“ did not recommend these persons to the indulgence of the legislature: it was an evasion and an abuse of an act of parliament, which solemnly and substantially required that the test should be given fairly and truly.”

The first or corporation act, 13 Car. II., was passed, as we have said, in 1661, and its design was merely to prevent the adherents of Cromwell's government from getting possession of the corporations in the boroughs, and thereby to endanger the monarchy by their plotting to restore the republican commonwealth which had just then been subverted. Commissioners were appointed under the act to administer the oaths which it prescribes. The act of uniformity had not been at that time passed, and the dissenters made then little or no scruple of communicating either with each other or with the established church. It had been the custom among the earliest puritans to "communicate with the church in word and sacraments," during the first part of the grand rebellion, when the presbyterians gained an ephemeral establishment in England. The independents did not object to communicate occasionally with the presbyterians, and to receive their members to communicate in return; and it is very remarkable, that out of fifty-six presbyterian members in the house of commons when the bill was passed, only two of them made objections to receiving the sacrament according to the rites of the established church, when it was administered "to see whether they were all protestants." And even the Roman catholics communicated with the protestant episcopal church of England, in the earlier part of queen Elizabeth's reign, till they were commanded to abstain by a bull of pope Clement VIII.

The second of the statutes affecting protestant dissenters is the test act, by which they were excluded from places of civil and military trust and offices. This act was passed in 1672, and was the 25th of Charles II.; it was entitled "An act for preventing danger which may happen from popish recusants." It provided that any person admitted into office, or receiving pay from his majesty, or holding any command or place of trust under him, or in his household, shall, within three months (but three was afterwards extended to six months) receive the sacrament according to the usage of the church of England, and produce a certificate thereof, under the penalty of incapacity for the office, and avoidance of the appointment; and (in case of acting without compliance) of being subject on conviction, to disability for serving in any court of justice, from acting as a guardian,

executor, or administrator, or receiving a legacy or gift, or bearing any office in England or Wales; and also to the payment of a fine of £500, the whole of which went to the informer.

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It is obvious that this act was intended to operate against the Roman catholics, and had no reference to the protestant nonconformists; neither did it exclude them from seats in parliament. The statute, 30 Charles II., which was passed five years afterwards, in some degree furnishes a clue to the feeling which dictated the test act. It recites that the previous act "had not the desired effect, by reason of the free access which popish recusants have had to his majesty," and extends the exclusion to members of parliament, but in such a way as not to include the protestant dissenters in its operation. It entirely omitted the sacramental test, and prescribed a declaration against popery, to be signed as the qualification for filling a seat in parliament, and also for acting as a sworn servant of his majesty, which last provision was afterwards repealed, so that the act operated only to the exclusion of the Romanists from parliament. It may be farther added, that a bill for the express exemption of the protestant dissenters from the operation of the test laws, whom the act of uniformity, 14 of Charles II., had thrown into a separate body, passed the commons and was entertained by the peers in the same session in which the test act was passed; and a motion for incapacitating them to sit as members of parliament, was lost by a considerable majority. The house of commons have repeatedly in strong terms disavowed the application of these laws to them, as "grievous to the subject," and "dangerous to the peace of the kingdom." Occasional conformity for the sake of place and power, continued to be very usual, and a comprehension of all sects and parties under the wings of the church, was even contemplated by the nonconformists at one time. The question of the lawfulness or duty of such a conformity was much canvassed, and many arguments were advanced to avoid the sin of schism in all matters not deemed to be essential. At a meeting of the nonconformist ministers in 1666, after the act of uniformity was passed, it was agreed that communion with the established church of England, ras in itself lawful and good; and the practice of occasional conformity was so frequent, that in 1711, the spirit of the laws of Charles II. was enforced by an act requiring not merely the taking of the sacrament, but perfect and entire conformity to the establishment. This act was however repealed in 1718, and the practice was in effect regulated by a provision against any officers of corporations taking their insignia of office to nonconformist places of worship.

The corporation act, the test act, and the act of uniformity, were all passed for the protection and legal fences of the church of England, and were rendered necessary by the apprehensions on the score of popery,

which was at that time meeting with great encouragement at court; and also from the specimen of the moderation of the assembly of divines who met at Westminster, and who at first pretended only to moderate the episcopacy a little, to reform the liturgy, and give ease to tender consciences, but who ended their work by tearing the church of England up by the roots, banishing her prelates, and prohibiting the use of the liturgy entirely, under very heavy penalties: therefore these acts were passed soon after the Restoration as her legal fences. During the administration of the duke of Wellington, these legal fences were removed by an act* which passed both houses of parliament, and received the royal assent on the 9th May, 1828. This act repealed the test and corporation acts. After which it was not necessary for dissenters to receive the sacrament according to the rites of the church of England. They became eligible also to enter the corporations. This act will be found at page 308. It was a preparatory measure to enable the administration to repeal all the acts which affected the Roman catholics, and which took place the following year, on the 13th April, 1829.†


THE military state includes the whole of the soldiery; or such persons as are peculiarly appointed among the rest of the people, for the safeguard and defence of the realm.

"Whence come

Almost every page of history is polluted with blood. wars and fightings? Come they not hence, even of your lusts, that war in your members?" Pride, lust, and envy, have in all ages conspired against the peace of society, and disturbed the repose of mankind. These vicious passions have at all times been the cause of that "distress of nations," which is the necessary consequence of all wars and tumults. Self-preservation, however, being the first law of nature, those peaceable nations which are exposed to the rapacity of neighbouring powers of a more warlike or turbulent character, have found it necessary for their own safety to assume a warlike position.

It is extremely dangerous, in a land of liberty, to make the profession of arms a distinct order, because in free states, the profession of a soldier, taken singly and merely as such, is justly an object of jealousy. The laws and constitution of these kingdoms know no such state as that of a perpetual standing soldiery, bred up to no other profession than that of war.

* 9 Geo. IV. c. 17.

10 Geo. IV., c. 7.-Statutes at Large-Blackstone's Commentaries, with Professor Christian's Notes-Custance on the Constitution

It was not till the reign of Henry VII. that the kings of England had even so much as a guard about their persons; and it was not till after the Revolution in 1688, that a perpetual standing army was kept up, rendered necessary by the wars into which that event plunged England.

At his coronation, Henry VII. instituted, partly from pomp, but chiefly from personal vanity, a band of fifty archers, who were termed yeomen of the guard. Henry was quite conscious that his title was questionable. Aware that an appearance so novel, and to which Englishmen were so unaccustomed, might naturally impress his subjects with the idea that he entertained a jealousy of their loyalty, and lest they might imagine that this force was raised to intimidate them, he declared the institution to be perpetual; and accordingly they form a part of the "pomp and circumstance" of the court of St James to this day, and are still habited in the original uniform of the days of Henry VII. Our Scottish monarchs were not long in copying this piece of royal state and parade, and accordingly a body of yeomen were soon after embodied at Holyroodhouse by James V.

It seems universally agreed by all historians, that king Alfred first settled a national militia in England, and made all the subjects of his dominions soldiers, by a prudent discipline: but we are unfortunately left in the dark as to the particulars of this his so celebrated regulation. Under the Saxon monarchs of England, as appears from the laws of Edward the Confessor, the military array of England was under the command of dukes, that is leaders, or heretochs, who were constituted through every province and county in the kingdom; being elected from the principal nobility, and such as were remarkable for their wisdom, fidelity, and courage. Their power was almost unlimited, and their duties were, to lead and regulate the armies of England. On account of this great power and important trust, these leaders were generally elected by the Wittenagemot, or great council of the nation, agreeable to the ancient Saxon constitution, which was extremely jealous of intrusting power to those who might abuse it for the oppression of the people. This custom was common too among the Germans, from whom our Saxon ancestors sprang, who had their military leaders, as well as kings; the former possessing an independent power over the military, as the kings exercised an absolute authority over the civil state. The leaders, or dukes, were elective, the kings hereditary. In the succession of their kings the right of primogeniture was adhered to, but in choosing the commanders of armies, courage, experience, and warlike merits, were the criterions. This unlimited power conferred on the military leaders, though intended for the benefit of the people, was highly detrimental to the prerogatives of the crown, which we have already shown, is more beneficial to the subjects when strong, than when in any way diminished by the encroach

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