Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

as I find it. It marks in the strongest manner his vigilant, firm, and persevering mind, and the unremitting assiduity with which he ever laboured to discharge the high and sacred duties of a Christian Bishop.

"The beginning of the winter of 1780," he observes, "was distinguished by the rise of a new species of dissipation and profaneness. A set of needy and profligate adventurers, finding every day and almost every hour, of the week occupied by some amusement or other, bethought themselves of trying what might be done on a Sunday. It was a novel and a bold attempt, but not the less likely to succeed in this country and in these times. They therefore opened and publicly advertised two different sorts of entertainment for the Sunday evening. One of these was at Carlisle House, and was called a ProF 4 menade. menade. The other was a meeting at public rooms hired for the purpose, and assumed the name of Christian Societies, Religious Societies, Theological Societies, Theological Academies, Sec. The professed design of the former was merely to walk about and converse, and take refreshments, the price of admission being three shillings: but the real consequence, and probably the real purpose of it, was to draw together dissolute people of both sexes, and to make the Promenade a place of assignation: and, in fact, it was a collection of the lowest and most profligate characters that could possibly be assembled together from every part of London. It gave offence, not only to every mmi of gravity and seriousness, but even to young men of gaiety and freedom, several of whom I have heard speak of il with abhorrence. Nay, even

foreigners

[graphic]

foreigners were shocked and scandalized at it, considering it a disgrace to any Christian country to tolerate so gross an insult on all decency and good order.

"The business, or, as it should be rather called, the amusement, proposed at the Sunday Debating Societies, was to discuss passages of Scripture, which were selected and given out for that purpose; when every one present, ladies as well as gentlemen, were to propose their doubts, receive explanations, and display their eloquence on the text proposed. It was to be, in short, a school for Metaphysics, Ethics, Pulpit Oratory, Church History, and Canon Law. It is easy to conceive what infinite mischief such debates as

«

these must do to the younger part of the community, who, being unemployed on this day, would flock to any assembly of this sort; would look upon every doubt

and and difficulty started there as an unanswerable argument against religion, and would go home absolute sceptics, if not confirmed unbelievers. Thus, as the Promenade tended to destroy every moral sentiment, the Theological Assemblies were calculated to extinguish every religious principle; and both together threatened the worst consequences to public morals.

"It was therefore highly necessary to put a speedy and effectual stop to such alarming evils. I mentioned it early in the winter to several persons of rank and authority, and waited a considerable time in the hope, that some one of more weight and influence than myself would have stood forth on this occasion. But the Session being now far advanced, and finding no one inclined to take the matter up, it became absolutely necessary to do

something;

[graphic]

something; and I therefore resolved to try, what my own exertions would do. I first consulted several eminent lawyers, as well as the principal acting magistrates in Westminster, in order to know, whether either the statute or the common law, as they now stood, was sufficient to check this evil. They all assured me that both were insufficient, and that nothing but an Act of Parliament, framed on purpose, could effectually suppress it. In consequence of this opinion, I applied to a legal friend, and with his assistance got a proper Bill sketched out, which I afterwards shewed to Lord Bathurst, President of the Council, and to Sir John Skinner, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer; and it was afterwards communicated to the Lord Chancellor Thurlow, and Lord Mansfield. After it had received their approbation, I applied to the Solii. .- citor

« FöregåendeFortsätt »