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After much discussion, a committee was appointed to prepare such resolutions as they might deem proper to be submitted to another general meeting; and the subscribers being again called together on the 7th of June, it was agreed to form a society for promoting public worship, by giving assistance towards providing additional churchroom, more especially for the lower orders. A deputation was also appointed to wait upon Lord Liverpool, with the resolutions agreed to at this meeting, with authority, if they should find his Lordship not unfavourable to their views, to communicate on the subject with such other high characters in church and state, as they should judge proper. The answer of Lord Liverpool expressed not only his willingness to countenance the society, provided it should receive the sanction of the heads of the church, but his opinion, that if properly constituted, it would further the views of the government upon this subject, and prepare the way for the measures which they had at heart, but had been compelled to defer until the situation of the country would allow of their being carried into effect. By his Lordship’s recommendation, the deputation applied to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, each of whom expressed strongly his readiness to concur in aiding the proposed society; the former adding his opinion, that without something being effected on this important subject, much of what was doing by
the National Society would produce harm instead of good. The undertaking now went forward with rapid progress, being aided by the exertions of several other individuals, among whom Lord Kenyon, Sir James Langham, Sir Thomas Acland, Samuel Bosanquet, Esq., G. Gipps, Esq., Joshua Watson, Esq., and Wilson Cotton, Esq., were particularly prominent; nor must a debt of gratitude be omitted due to G. Bramwell, Esq., who, out of zeal for a good cause, and of strong personal regard for Mr. Bowdler, undertook the office of secretary, and has continued to act as honorary secretary to the society. In consequence of an application made by Mr. Bowdler to Sir Harry Calvert, the Duke of York accepted with much readiness the office of patron of the society; and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was very desirous to promote so good a work, consented to become the president. Some rules and regulations were, after mature deliberation, adopted, a short address to the public was drawn up, and all things being duly prepared, a general meeting was held at the Free Masons' Tavern, on the 6th of February, 1818, when the Archbishop took the chair, and the society, under proper officers, was in all due form instituted. Thus, by slow and steady steps, Mr. Bowdler and his friends proceeded to the attainment of the object which they had contemplated with such ardent desire, and laboured strenuously to accomplish. Full of expectation that their own
wishes would be seconded by many good men through the country, they solicited and obtained the approbation and assistance of a large number of highly respectable individuals, who contributed according to their means. It had been said, that it would be vain to embark in so vast an undertaking, unless they had secured a sum of at least 100,0001. The society began its labours with donations amounting to little more than half this sum, and annual subscriptions of only 3401. Some little time, however, as Mr. Bowdler used to remark, was sure to elapse before any payments would be required from the society; and in the mean time its funds would accumulate, and new subscriptions would be added. It is to be observed, also, that many persons whose contributions would, perhaps, have amounted to a considerable sum, were engaged in performing, in their several parishes or districts, the very work for which the society was instituted. Though its funds, therefore, were perhaps small, compared with the extent of what it had undertaken, its resources were in some respects great, and its powers very considerable; particularly in one very important instance, namely, that its proper business was, not merely to spend its own money in a pious and charitable work, but to stimulate the exertions of others, and by the promise of a contribution on its part, to render that easy, or at least practicable, which had, per
haps, been scarcely contemplated, or had been abandoned in despair. This Mr. Bowdler always considered as the proper business and true merit of the society, which in this respect differs froni most others, that it invariably requires those places which apply for assistance to contribute so much as shall appear to bear a due proportion to their means ; limiting its bounty, for the most part, to the advancing of a fourth part of the estimated expence. And in doing this, it is careful not only to show its piety in promoting the glory of God, but to make it also a work of charity. Mr. Bowd. ler's great object, whenever he turned his thoughts to this matter, was the providing of church-room for the poor; this was the end which he chiefly proposed to himself and his friends in the institution of this society; and in drawing up the rules and regulations *, he took care to pledge the society, “ that in the aid to be granted, preference should be given to such parishes and places as should propose to afford the greatest extent of free sittings, in proportion to the aid granted; such extent to be in no case less than half the additional area and accommodation.” There was yet another
* The rules and regulations of the society were originally drawn by Mr. Bowdler, but received various additions and alterations at the meetings at which they were discussed. It is to the praise of the care and foresight with which they were framed, that no subsequent alteration has been deemed necessary during six years that the society has been in existence.
advantage contemplated by Mr. Bowdler in the formation of this society, which, though of minor consideration, was not unimportant; — it was the forming of something like a standard and pattern in the style of church architecture. Mr. Bowdler used often to express his admiration of Christ Church in Bath; and his wish, that, as it had led the way in appropriating the whole area to the accommodation of the poor, it might also set an example in respect of the style of building, simple, chaste, free from all useless or expensive decoration; yet such, that no passer-by can mistake its character. The want of true taste, and particularly of simplicity, in many of our modern churches, he often lamented; and he looked to this society as likely to correct a vicious taste, and encourage and compel a plainer and less expensive method. He therefore took care to insert among its rules, “ That it shall be an object of the society to obtain and communicate information that may facilitate the enlarging and building of churches, particularly with respect to economy in building; and that it be a condition in every grant, that no expense shall be incurred for ornamental architecture, beyond what shall, by the committee, be deemed essential to give to the buildings to be erected and enlarged with the aid of this society, , the character of churches or chapels of the church of England.”
The interest which Mr. Bowdler felt in this so