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secure in the perpetual enjoyment of their much abused property. Events, however, were constantly occurring which tended to exasperate the public mind of England, and to foment still more the flame of indignation which was now spreading over the whole realm. Mr. Canning gave to the cause his ministerial sanction, Lord Brougham enlisted in its prosecution his intense argumentation and his burning invective, while Buxton, William Allen, Joseph and Samuel Gurney, and their associates, brought to bear upon it those philanthropic energies and those stupendous masses of information, which they had been accumulating through years of protracted delay and ceaseless effort. The government was soon forced to move still further in the matter, and in 1833, Mr. Stanley, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, introduced the famous measure of West India Emancipation, which provided for the immediate liberation of all slaves under six years of age, subjected house servants to an apprenticeship of four years to their former masters, and field servants to one of six years, and authorized the payment of £20,000,000 to the planters as an indemnification for the losses they might sustain from the abolition of slavery in the Islands. nl
The bill was opposed by many of the friends of emancipation, and when it passed it was received with a deep feeling of its inadequacy to the accomplishment of the object proposed. The evils attending the apprenticeship were found to be very great, and the system proved unsatisfactory to all parties, though it gave rise to none of the enormities which the imagination of the planters had depicted as sure to result from the slightest relaxation of their hold upon the slaves. It soon became evident that the English public would not wait for the slow lapse of the term fixed for the apprenticeship, and on the earnest recommendation of the government, made necessary by the agitations which were going on in England, the Legislatures of the several islands put an end to the system of their own accord, and declared the whole black population free on the first day of August, 1838, five years after the passage of the bill by Parliament. We will not stop to consider the social or economical results of the measure, or to estimate the wisdom with which its details were arranged. It is enough to say of it, that it well deserves to be ranked among the greatest of the public reforms which have been accomplished in the British empire since the beginning of the present century. It was a measure which, fortunately for England, Parliament had the power to carry into effect, and this power was at length put in exercise by the indefatigable exertions of men whose names
-the friends of humanity will delight to hold in everlasting re'membrance. The brief sketches which Mr. Stanton gives of their characters constitute one of the most agreeable chapters in the volume before us. We have room only for the following notice of one of the most conspicuous among them, whose interesting biography has lately been given to the public, and we are happy to know has been widely circulated both in England and America :
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was the Abolition leader in the House of Commons during the Antislavery conflicts of 1832 and 1833. His life is a beautiful illustration of Solomon's saying, “ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” At six years of age, Thomas lost his father, but there was left to him that most valuable of blessings, a vigorous-minded, well-educated, virtuous mother, who watched his young days with pains-taking solicitude. He was naturally of a sportive, roving disposition, and, when at school or college, made rather greater proficiency in the practice of hunting and fishing than in the study of mathematics and the languages. Though his juvenile tastes led him to scatter large quantities of that erratic grain called “wild oats," the teachings of his mother inclined his maturer years to the cultivation of the more profitable fields of Humanity and Philanthropy. The training of the child was shown in the actions of the man. Mr. Buxton's public life was devoted to meliorating the condition of the unfortunate classes of society. Especially was he the friend of prisoners, criminals and slaves. While a young man, he took a lively interest in Prison Discipline-published a work on that subject in 1816, being the result of observations in the prisons of France and Belgium-and having taken his seat in the Commons in 1819, joined Mackintosh in his efforts to limit the death-penalty, and soften other severe features of the criminal code.
Surrounded by a strong Quaker influence from his youth, his mother being a Friend, which was subsequently increased by his marriage with a sister of the Gurneys and Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, (he had been accompanied by J. J. Gurney and Mrs. F. in his continental tour,) Mr. Buxton's mind was early turned toward the state of slavery in the Colonies. In 1821, (I think,) immediately after he had delivered an able speech in the House on Prison Discipline, Mr. Wilberforce wrote him an earnest letter, alluding to his own services in abolishing the slave-trade, and requesting Buxton to join him in " a truly holy alliance” for meliorating the condition of the negro slaves, and ultimately advancing them to the rank of a free peasantry; and, in view of his advancing years, solicited Buxton to become his successor in the blessed service," when increasing infirmities should compel him to relinquish the lead to younger hands. Mr. Buxton at once threw his mind and heart into the work, and his subsequent ability and devotion to it justified the compliment of Mr. Wilberforce, a few years afterward, when he called him his “Parliamentary Executor."
The resolutions of 1823, which have already been mentioned, were moved by Mr. Canning, as an amendment to a more radical proposition introduced by Mr. Buxton. To him, therefore, humanity is indebted for the first important ministerial step towards Abolition, which was the precursor of all that followed till the end was attained. It is with reference to the debate on this occasion, I believe, that the anecdote is told of “ Brougham helping Buxton, and Buxton helping Brougham." Buxton was to move the proposition, and Brougham was to second him. Due
notice had been given, and the West India interest was in commotion. Buxton anticipated that an attempt would be made to cough and scrape him down—not an unusual practice in this “ assembly of the first gentlemen in the world." Just as Buxton was rising, Brougham whispered to him, "I will cheer you with all my might, and then you must cheer me." "Agreed!” responded the agitated brewer, who, in the suppressed mutterings and growlings, saw a storm was brewing. But he went on, Brougham crying “Hear, hear, hear!” so vigorously, and stamping and cheering so lustily, that the West Indians were dumb with wonder, and permitted Buxton to finish his speech without much interruption. Mr. Canning replied in his adroit and elegant style, moved his amendment, and resumed his seat under cheers from all sides. Brougham sprang to his feet, full of excitement with the great theme. Members cried Divide ! divide !" in deafening tones. But Harry stood firm, lifted his voice above the tempest, and began to roll out long sentences crowded with big thoughts, while Buxton's shouts of “Hear! hear! hear!" finally silenced the clamor, when, his cheers of the matchless eloquence of his colleague becoming contagious, Brougham wound up a great speech amid “thunders of applause." (Pp. 213–215.)
always ready for its practichave been trof her people
Mr. Stanton's notices of those reforms which have aided in the progress of religious freedom are less full and detailed than we could have wished. The subject is one of great interest, and of the highest importance to the English people. It is a reproach to a nation which claims to be at the head of civilization, that any portion of its citizens, at this late period of the world's history, should suffer civil disabilities on account of their religious belief. We understand fully the argument which has been set up in favor of the Established Church, and we are free to confess that our respect for it becomes less as we hear it repeated the oftener. It is from beginning to end in conflict with the principles of human nature and the dearest rights of the human soul, and we are always ready to say God-speed to any righteous effort that may be made for its practical refutation. As we call to mind the shameless wrongs that have been endured, even in England, by some of the purest and holiest of her people, in consequence of this union of the Church with the State; as we think of the blighting influence it is now exerting upon clergy and parishioners,—how it is sustaining a bloated and corrupted priesthood to minister with unholy hands at the altars of God, and binding the free consciences of a people to a creed which they do not believe but are obliged to profess-we hail with delight every omen of its fall, and gaze with eagerness on every sign that heralds the approach of true soul-liberty to the heroic Nonconformists of Great Britain.
The sketches which Mr. Stanton gives us upon this branch of his subject relate principally to the questions of Catholic Emancipation, and the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, both of which were subjects of incessant agitation in England during the early part of this century. To the latter of these questions alone have we now space to allude, and even this we can do far less fully than our inclination prompts. Both the Corporation and the Test Acts were passed soon after the restoration of Charles II., at a period when the people of Great Britain had just gone through a violent reaction, and in the wild intoxication of their loyalty had welcomed to the throne another prince of the Stuart race, who, without any of the virtues of his ancestors, had inherited all their tyranny and all their folly. According to Sir William Blackstone, the great eulogist of the British Constitution, these laws were enacted “ in order the better to secure the Established Church against perils from Nonconformists of all denominations, Infidels, Turks, Jews, Heretics, Papists and Sectaries.” The “ Corporation Act" provided that no person should be suffered to exercise any office relating to the government of any city or corporation, unless, within a twelvemonth before, he had received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the Church of England. The « Test Act” directed that all officers, civil and military, should take the oaths and make the declaration against transubstantiation, within six months after their appointment, and also within three months receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the usage of the Church of England, in some public church immediately after divine service and sermon, and should deliver into court a certificate thereof, signed by the minister and churchwardens, and also prove the same by two credible witnesses, upon forfeiture of £500 and disability to hold the same office. One would suppose that acts like these would of themselves be sufficient to guard the Established Church, and secure its perpetual supremacy. But by subsequent legislation any person who was found holding office without having submitted to these requirements, was for ever incapacitated from prosecuting an action in a court of law or equity, from inheriting a legacy, from being the executor of the will or administering upon the estate of a deceased person ; and these disabilities were also extended far beyond the classes of officers mentioned in the original acts, and made to apply to dissenting ministers, practising lawyers, teachers, pupils in schools, and students in the Universities who had attained the age of eighteen. . For upwards of a century these laws crushed to the earth the Dissenters of England, and that during a period in which some of the noblest and most gifted of her Christian theo
logians were numbered in the ranks of Dissent. While these requirements brought to the communion table of the Church scores of the unprincipled, the dissolute, and the profane, who came to “qualify for office, either at home or abroad, they excluded from the service of the nation, from the privileges of the Universities, and from all the higher social trusts and posts of honor and emolument, every man, however gifted or wise or virtuous, who would not bow the knee at the shrine of iniquitous power, and barter his faith for the hope of place and preferment. So oppressive was the operation of the system that, according to Mr. Stanton, " in the single year 1736, £20,700 were raised from fines imposed on Dissenters who conscientiously refused to serve in the office of sheriff; and for a long time it was the custom of municipal corporations to elect Dissenters to office, and then enrich their coffers from fines levied upon them for refusing to receive the qualifying tests.” These intolerable grievances, however, were slowly working out their own redress. All classes of Dissenters became united by their deep sense of common wrongs, and though many of the odious laws at length ceased to be enforced, and the punishments which they prescribed were often remitted by acts of Parliament, yet they remained upon the statute book of England till the year 1828, when they were finally repealed in circumstances which made the result a popular triumph of the most glorious and encouraging character. This triumph, however, great as it was, is still incomplete. The work of the reformer is but imperfectly accomplished, as all must be ready to admit, who are in any manner acquainted with the manifold evils and wrongs which spring from the unhallowed union of the Church with the State ; evils and wrongs which have recently been explained in Mr. Noel's most impressive and convincing narrative, with a fullness and vividness that leave us only in amazement that a Christian people can endure them.
We are obliged to pass by the reforms which have been recently attempted in Great Britain, and the great questions which are now agitating its people. They all indicate the progress which the national mind has been making in liberal sentiments, and in just views of the rights of man; and they all point to the coming of a period which now cannot be distant, when monopolies and restrictions shall be done away, when social castes and orders shall no longer be sustained by the government, and when every British subject shall enjoy without molestation all the freedom that is compatible with the well-being of society. The changes to which we have