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plaint was ever made of this by any dissenter. But the high church party, not being content with this, at a meeting of the subscribers, the business of which was not advertised, the former rule was rescinded, and the children were then absolutely ordered to do what they ever had done, and always might have done, that is, attend the worship of the established church,and no other.
“The dissenters waited more than a year, to see whether the high church party would revert to their former more liberal maxims, and continued their subscriptions. But having waited so long to no purpose, they opened their own seperate Sunday schools, with advantages, I will venture to say, far superior to those of the establishment, but with liberty to every parent to order his child to attend whatever place of public worship he pleased.
“For a true representation of these facts, I appeal to the town at large. With what truth, then, can it be said, that my coming to Birmingham, and my conduct there, was the sole cause of the animosity between the church peo
ple and the dissenters of that place 2.
“Wishing to discover the cause of this excessive party spirit, and to apply, if I should be able, some remedy to it, I found the dissenters were in possession of all the civil power in the place, by having the nomination to all the offices, and though they constantly gave the principal office, viz. that of High Bailiff, to a member of the Church of England, they chose to retain the power of nominating, of which they had long been in possession. This power, I took much pains to persuade the dissenters to relinquish, and I gradually brought over to my opinion some of the principal of them.
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“I spake both to quakers, and to some of the more moderate of the Church of England on the subject; and though one of the latter told me that he knew the temper of the people of Birmingham better than I did, and that he believed no good would come to the measure, I persisted, as is well known, in my first opinion; and no objection was ever made of it by the dissenters, by any dislike of the measure itself, but only from the apprehension of the ungenerous use that might be made of it.
* Till the application to parliament for the repeal of the Test Act, I neither wrote nor preached any thing that had any particular relation to the principles of the dissenters, and I sent my sons to the public grammar school, which is conducted wholly by clergymen, and the head master* of which, a man of candour, as well as an excellent classical scholar, occasionally visited me.
“When Mr. Burn came to Birmingham, having met with him at a committee of the public library, I thought I perceived in him great marks of liberality, and on my invitation he paid me two visits. In Mr. Madan, whom I met at a committee for abolishing the slave trade, and who was particularly civil to me there, I flattered myself I had found a clergyman entirely to my mind, and one with whom I might form a pleasing acquaintance. This I mentioned to a particular friend, requesting that he would endeavour to bring it about. This, surely, did not savour of bigotry. The greatest difference of opinion never led me to keep aloof from any Illall..
“Before I left Birmingham I was happy to have begun some pleasing intercourse with Dr. Parr, who had lately come to reside near Warwick. We had visited each other, and I am confident that the continuance of the intercourse would have been a pleasing circumstance to us both, though our religious opinions are very different, and he was an avowed opposer of the repeal of the Test Act. When he dined with me he was purposely met by Mr. Berington, a catholic priest, and Mr. Galton a quaker. Mr. Porson was also of the party. I have a peculiar pleasure in the society of persons of different persuasions.
* Mr. Price.
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“The first difference that I had with any of the clergy in Birmingham, arose from four
of them withdrawing from our public library,
because my History of the Corruptions of Christianity' had been voted into it; a measure to which, it is well known, I gave no countenance, but had always opposed it, on the idea that it would be better to omit books of contro
“But the great increase of party spirit in the town, and what, to all appearance, contributed most to the fatal catastrophe, the cause of which we are now investigating, arose from the application of the dissenters for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, the nature and tendency of which were strangely mis-apprehended by the great body of the clergy, and other zealous members of the Church of Englaud: For had the repeal taken place, without their opposition, and with the concurrence of the Court, no difference whatever would have been perceived in our condition, and our interest, as a dissenting body, would probably have suffered by it, as indeed many of us were well aware.
“The number of dissenters had been evidently diminishing before the late application, and they are greatly increased since, both in Bir
mingham, and in many other parts of the kingdom.
“Also religion in general, with the peculiar tenets of it, having by this means been brought into notice, and more public discussion, the in