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fhig the political tendency of dissent, it is as well to leave wholly out of view, the theological questions connected with Nonconformity. In noticing a work like the present, this is the only method by which we can do justice to the Author, consistently with our duty to the public.
The contents of this volume are, as appears from the title, sufficiently multifarious. The Sermon on the death of Dr. Toulmin, together with copious notes, extends to thirty-two pages. The rest of the contents are arranged, as 'Addenda,' under three heads. The first consists of a Memoir of Dr. John Cox, the intimate ' friend of Dr. Toulmin,1 which is despatched in four pages. The second is entitled, ' On the Dissenting 'Societies of England.' This is confined, however, to a specious sketch of the modern ' history of Socinianism.' The third, which occupies half the volume, and constitutes its only value, is 'On the Manufactories of Great Britain.'
The facts which Mr. Worsley has brought together, are highly interesting and important; and they claim the impartial attention of the Political Economist, and the Senator. He shews that all the principal manufactures, to which England is indebted for her commercial greatness, were originally introduced into our island by Presbyterians, and have been carried on under their management, and that the chief of the capital vested in them, has been the property of Dissenters; from which facts he draws the conclusion, that our national prosperity is, in a great degree, attributable 'to the free and bold exercise of religious 'liberty,' and that Dissenters have been the chief instruments of raising this country to its present high state of political greatness.
The English manufactures have been lately estimated at the annual value of sixty-six millions, of which sum the woollen is, stated to produce fifteen millions. Mr. Worsley gives a short history of this, which is the most ancient as well as the most important of our manufactures. The foundation of.the Woollen manufactory, was laid at Bristol, by John Kemp, a cloth-weaver of Flanders, who, with his family and servants, was induced to settle in England, under the patronage of Edward the Third, in order to instruct the inhabitants in bis art. 'With him came dyers, combers, .and fullers, with other artists; 'and about the same time, seventy Walloon families.' But up to the time of Elizabeth, the goods manufactured by the English, were of so coarse and indifferent a sort, as frequently to be exported to Holland and Flanders, in order to be dyed and finished, after which they were resold to their original makers. England is indebted to the dreadful persecution of the Protestants in the Netherlands, under the infamous Duke of Alva, in the middle of the sixteenth century, for a vast accession of intclligence and industry in the conducting of her woollen manufactories. Five thousand families fled from the Netherlands, mostly into England, re-peopling our decayed towns, and transporting into our islands, that which has 'become one of our * richest mines of wealth.'
* It was in the South-Western counties of England, and those of the South-East, that the cloth manufactories first became celebrated in England; and through the space of two hundred years, they remained almost wholly in the hands of Dissenters. From the oldest people now living in the West of England we learn, that the tradesmen in the woollen line, and likewise most of the mechanics, have been from time immemorial dissenters.'
'The silk manufactures unquestionably owe their progress "* and perfection in this country, to the French Refugees,' who fled from their country, on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1885. England afforded an asylum and a home to no fewer than fifty thousand of these persecuted Presbyterian Protestants. The most numerous body formed an entire colony in Spitalfields, ' then an open unoccupied spot in the vicinity of 'London,' and they are become for the most part incorporated, by intermarriages, with the English Dissenters. Coventry,' the '* mart of the most numerous and valuable silk goods,' 'has 'been famed from the earliest period of the Reformation, for the 1 number of its Dissenters, as much as for the prominent figure it '* has always made as a manufacturing town;' its Corporation being till within a few years composed of Dissenters, although it is' now filled up with nearly an equal number of Churchmen and Dissenters.
'In the reign of Queen Anne (1712),' adds Mr. Worsley, ' when the act passed for preventing occasional conformity, a considerable number of those who were in power, deeming it more honourable in them to lose their civil rank and civil rights, than to hold them at the expense of their religious principles^quitted their posts and retired into private life. The above remark respecting Coventry, will apply to many of the most considerable manufacturing towns, cities, and districts of England,'
'In Norwich,' Mr. W. affirms, ' all the principal men were 'once Dissenters, and a great proportion of them are still so. 'Of Nottingham the same is true: almost the entire Corporation * are Dissenters. . At Bridport, a place in which the flax, and 'hemp trade is carried on to an immense extent, the Corporation 'and the greater part of the population are Dissenters.' 'At 'Exeter, the Dissenters have always borne a considerable sway.' 'The great worsted works of Warwick, belong to Dissenters.' .The principal carpet trade of Kidderminster, together with many 'other large worsted concerns, belongs to them. The original patentee of the Axminster carpet manufacture, Mr. W. might have added, was an Independent Dissenter, and it is still in t^ie hands of his family. The first two manufacturers of ribands in England, were Presbyterian Dissenters.
The cotton manufactures of Lancashire owe their establishment to the Flemish Presbyterians and the English Dissenters, in whose hands are all the most important works. The cotton-stocking manufactories of Nottingham, Leicester, and Derby, are also chiefly in their hands. 'In the year 1758, 'a patent was obtained by Mr. Jedidiah Strutt and Mr. William 'Woollatt, both Dissenters, for making ribbed stockings.' Of the population of Ireland, where the manufacture of linen cloth is almost exclusively carried on, four-fifths are avowedly Roman Catholic, or Presbyterian Dissenters; but the larger portion of manufacturing industry and ingenuity has uniformly been », found in the hands of the Protestants. #y
The Staffordshire manufactories of earthenware and china, are chiefly in the hands of Dissenters. 'The well-known 'Wedgwood, whose name is borne upon his wares to all parts * of the world, and who had an entire town under his direction,'was a conscientious Dissenter, as are his present successors.' . The beautiful china of Worcester is manufactured by English Dissenters. Lastly, the large iron works of England and" Wales have belonged chiefly to Dissenters. In fact, as Protestantism has always appeared decidedly more favourable to the industry of a people than the profession of the Roman Catholic Faith, so that modification of Protestantism iu this country, generally denominated Dissent, appears to have always had an intimate connexion with the prosperity of our manufacturing interests; and ' where the population is almost exclusively of 'the established church, no valuable manufacturing institutions 'have been formed.'
These facts being admitted, and we are not aware that there is any room to doubt the accuracy of the Author's statements, it is not credible that the coincidence which they establish, should be of an accidental nature, how difficult soever some of our good Church-of-England men might find it to work the problem. Either, then, the exercise of manufacturing industry tends to make Dissenters, or the principles of Dissent tend to make men industrious. Perhaps both suppositions are founded on truth.
The fundamental principle of Protestant Dissent is, the right of private judgement in matters relating to the conscience, as founded upon the immediate personal responsibility of every moral agent to his Maker, the only basis of religion. In this cardinal article of Protestantism, all the English Dissenters, with the exception of the Roman Catholics, agree. The natural result ot this principle, is a sense of the importance of
civil and religious liberty, in order to the maintenance of their Jnost sacred rights. The love of freedom, and that manly independence of character which it generates, the strength of mind which is formed by the patient conscientious endurance of oppression, the influenceof freedom, thus endeared, on the intellectual powers and moral energies, the stimulus imparted to the mind by that knowledge which is brought home by inquiry, and the effect which the habitual exercising of the thoughts on one range of subjects has in fitting it for exploring every other: these constitute a sufficient explanation of that moral and intellectual superiority which the Dissenters of England, and the Presbyterians of Scotland, have manifested over other classes of the community.
The connexion between the love of liberty and the prosperity "of the arts and sciences, in which the Dissenters have had so considerable a share, is proved by the history of knowledge. Under the deadening principles of the Romish Church, neither art nor industry has ever flourished. The increase of our commerce, which contributed to throw the balance of property in this country into the hands of the Commons, and laid the foundation of the middle class, was one grand means, as Hume remarks, of consolidating our present constitutional liberty: 'the situation of affairs, and the dispositions of men thus be* came susceptible of a more regular plan of liberty.'* The tendency of commerce to liberalize the mind, and to enlarge the sphere of speculation and interest, may be assigned as one reason that the principles of religious liberty have always flourished most among the manufacturing and commercial classes, and religious knowledge and religious zeal have prevailed in the same proportion. To the old Puritans, as Hume allows, England is indebted for the civil freedom she now enjoys. In the beginning of the contest between the King and the Parliament, although many of the leaders among the Commons were unquestionably Episcopalians, and even a bishop took up arms for his country's liberty, the greater proportion of the Lords and the landed Gentry, who were for the Common Prayer, and the ' King's book' (of Sports) and bated the Puritans for their religious strictness, went over to the King.
'On the Parliament's side were (besides themselves) the 'smaller part, (as some thought) of the Gentry in most of the « counties, and the greatest part of the Tradesmen, and Free'holders, and middle sort of men; especially in those corpo* rations and counties which depend on cloathing and such 'manufactures. If you ask the reasons of this difference, 1 ask also, why in France it is not commonly the nobility, nor
* * See Eclectic Review, Vol. V. p. 213.
c the beggars, but the merchants and middle sort of men, * that were Protestants. The reasons which the party them4 selves gave was, Because (say they) the Tradesmen have a cor'respondency with London, and so are grown to be a far more 'intelligent sort of men than the ignorant peasants that are like 'bruits, who will follow any that they think, the strongest, or 4 look to get by: and the Freeholders, say they, were not en4 slaved to their landlords, as the tenants are: the Gentry (say 4 they) are wholly by their estates and ambition more dependent 4 on the King, than their tenants on them; and many of them 4 envied the honour of the Parliament, because they were not 4 chosen members themselves. The other side said, That the 4 reason was because the Gentry (who commanded their servants) 4 did better understand affairs of state than half-witted Trades4 men and Freeholders do.'*
The Dissenters had a prominent influence in accomplishing the glorious Revolution of 1688: and they were the steady friends of the Brunswick succession. John Shute, the first Lord Barrington, the ancestor of the present Bishop of Durham, was a Dissenter, and many of the Whig nobles were Dissenters also. His present Majesty has always manifested his sense of the hereditary tried loyalty of his Dissenting subjects, the principles of whose ancestors contributed so materially to the establishment of his Family on the throne of England: and there have been cases of ministerial aggression, in which the royal interference has been exerted to give effect to those principles of Toleration, which his Majesty declared his resolution to preserve inviolate.
These are historical facts of vast importance, whjch, if modern Dissenters are not utterly ashamed of their principles, th^y ought not themselves to forget, or suffer to be forgotten. Mr. Worsley has performed a very useful service, in bringing the subject thus distinctly and compendiously before the Public.
We lament that we cannot however dismiss the work, without adverting to the objectionable matter with which these political observations are strangely mixed up. As Reviewers, indeed, we have nothing to do with Mr. Worsley's religious sentiments, how much soever we may regret that they are those of Socinianism; and we do regret this the more particularly because the cause of religious liberty always" suffers, though very unreasonably, in the estimation of many good sort of people, by its being committed to the hands of a Socinian representative, or a Socinian advocate. It is imagined by some persons, that Socinians are the only class among the Dissenters, who are interested in the subject of civil and religious liberty, and the high assumptions!
v* * Baxter's Life and Times, Parti. Lib. i.