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out. And thus will it ever be, so long as any lines of the British Constitution stand. For of political Dissent we may safely predicate that which is told us of Alexander, that it will only then weep when its conflicts are all over; when no more defences remain to be thrown down; and when no hope of devastation or plunder survives, because the British Constitution has been laid in ruins.
It may be that such statements as have been dealt with, impose upon the ignorant and the unwary. That they are calculated to do so, is obvious. It is thus that Dissent acquires a reputation for fair play and ingenuous candour and holy boldness. Every artifice of cunning, or disguise, or fear, is represented as foreign to the very essence and nature of political Dissent. The estimation I have formed of modern Dissent is very different, and yet it is derived from the pages of its own organs and publications. Whatever may be said of its professions, the means to give them effect are and have been dark, sinister, crooked. Previous to 1830 its first principles and objects were carefully concealed; its ulterior objects were masked till a later period, and, I suspect, are not fully confessed even yet; and certainly the same policy of suppression is still acted upon in its mode of operations, and with respect to the particular means, by which those
objects are to be realised. In every case, however, of misconception or ignorance, the blame rested and still rests with the authorities of Dissent. It was and is a part of their policy to keep up, if not to propagate, misunderstandings. But when disguise and suppression have been tried and found out, then an affectation of frankness is assumed. The virtue of candour in turn becomes a cloak for cunning. Whilst, however, imputing to Dissent a propensity to secresy and suppression, the celerity and dexterity with which, on finding its devious, clandestine courses discovered, it tacks about and steers into the open sea of candour and confession, must be regarded as truly marvellous, if not admirable.
It only remains to bring our arguments on this subject to a conclusion. Whoever they were, and whether many or few, to whom the idea of separating Church and State had presented itself previous to 1830, and whether or no that idea was the controlling medium of Dissent in 1828 and 1829, this assertion may safely be hazarded, that no traces whatever exist of such an idea in the periodicals of Dissent. Viewed from the speculum of 1861, we may allow that such was possibly the intention of Dissent-that even before the repeal of the Test Acts, that train was laid which ultimately was “to
give the dust of the Established Church to the four winds of heaven;" but I deny altogether that such an intention was professed and acknowledged at the time. As, therefore, no such principles and objects as the separation of Church and State were proclaimed, I lean to the more charitable inference that they were not generally entertained. Neither dissenting organisations nor dissenting organs professing such principles or objects previous to 1830 or 1832, it is for the credit of Dissent to suppose either that they were kept strictly in abeyance, or had never existed, even in thought or intention. And that Radicalism, or the democratic principle in civil matters, was repudiated, is abundantly clear, not only from the Eclectic Review of 1831, 1832, and 1833, but from the columns of the Patriot for 1832 and 1833, if not of later years. In fact, that Dis. senters should ignore all designs of democratic encroachment either upon Church or State, prior to the passing of a Reform Bill, which they expected to confer upon them many and great privileges, was a course dictated by the most ordinary rules of sound policy. Of this, however, there can be no doubt, that soon after the events of 1828 and 1829, and particularly after the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832, the time was beginning to arrive when, after “having asked for toleration as a favour,
and then, when they became more numerous, having demanded it as a right, Dissenters rejected it as an insult;" when, that is,“ equality having been seen to be a right, toleration had become an offence." That time I have fixed at or about the close of 1831, and, accordingly, with that year the first act of the drama, I am chronicling, is concluded.
FROM 1832 to 1844.
DISSENT IDENTIFIED WITH, BUT NOT ALLIED TO, DEMOCRACY.
The former chapter brought us down to the year 1832, when, by the admission of Dissenters themselves, the enactments of 1828 and 1829 had completed the work of toleration. For a year or two after those events, Dissent remained comparatively quiescent, not agitating any ecclesiastical grievance, real or imaginary, but nevertheless not slack or dubious in its advocacy of the Reform Bill. With 1832, however, an epoch begins which, ending with 1844, I have marked as the period within which Dissent became identified with, if not actually allied to, democratic principles and democratic parties in Church and State. In this year, 1832, it is that we find the first record of Anti-StateChurch dogmas set forth by authority. The doctrine was broached at a meeting of the De