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Whetbe r the p rfev i sion s made i n fa von rof Unitarians sufficiently accomplished that object ^ and the opinion , he was afraid , of very eminent lawyers was , that the recent law did no more than repeal the penal enactments , and that Unitarians were left to stand exactly as they did at common laic .
This opinion was fully avowed in the Wolverhampton Ca . se , which is still under discussion , and in which doctrines were attempted to be enforced , very alarming * certainly with reference to the rights and properties of Unitarians . It was there contended , that they are not within the
protection of the law , that no foundations , none at any rate , prior in time to the passing of the late Act cairbelong to Unitarians , but to Trinitarians , as the only species of Dissenters legally recognized . If this doctrine should be established , it need not be observed how mischievous and ruinous would
be the consequences 5 and if it should not ultimately , yet if individuals were left to protect themselves , they would be harassed by the innumerable evils arising from the expense and vexation of litigation through a long- period of distraction and
fear-It would be recollected that , in the discussion on the case alluded to , a very unfavourable opinion had been expressed by that great man whose loss had lately occasioned such a shock , he meant Sir S . Homilly . He declared this opinion in court ; but besides the expression of opinion there ,
which might have been attributed to the warmth of ah advocate , he had in private letters since expressed vt strong- feeling of the insecurity of the basis on which the civil rights of Unitarians rest . He ( Mr . A . ) had received a note from him , not many
months before his death , stating his deliberate opinion , that they were not protected at law , and that no other course was o pen to them than an application k > Parliament . He offered willingly to assist and support such an application , but observed that he
was not very sanguine rts to its success . There was , therefore , in the opinion of so great a man , a strong ground for action and exertion ; and it appeared highly important to associate , with a view both to
resist aggression , and to proceed , if necessary , to obtain security by legislative provisions . Nothing could be worse than uncertainty where liberty and property are concerned . It struck him that Unitarians
were in that state , and tliat therefore something should be done , that they might no longer fear the breaking up and destruction of their foundations by any internal division , and that they mig-ht be secure from
persecution , let whatever change of times happen ; and that such a change might take place ,, no one would say was impossible . The % iasie' of Mr . John Wright , of Liverpool , she wed the feeling 4 > f many of goeat weight
in the country to be hostile . He was indicted for- promulgating opinions closely connected , ! at any rate , with those of Unitarians ; and the opinion of some persons , well able to judge , was , that , though the doctrine taught had been held by men of learning and piety ; though defended t > y
dignitaries in the church , and even by Bishop Law ^ a jury might very possibly convict the person who maintained itof Blasphemy * This ease was withdrawn , but while it was pending great difficulty was experienced 5 there was no body of persons to step forward , within whose province it lay to
defend Mr . Wright : the Unitarian Eund was applied to , and did something 5 but they felt that they were going beyond their province , arid were not justified in -such an application of their funds : they could only pledge themselves as individuals . All would see that in cases of this sort nothing should
be left to accident ; no person harassed by the bigotry or ignorance of a country Baagistrate , for instance , ought % o be left to the chance of individual or friendly assistance . An Association like that now proposed ,
would gi ? e-confidence to the expression of opinion , and diminish the probability of persecution , by shewing those inclined to persecute , that there are men of equal weight and knowledge with themselves , ready to protect the objects of their malice .
If such a society were not necessary , Mr , A . allowed , it would be injuriotts , aji appearing to separate our case from that of other Dissenters ; but surely it was obvious that there was no society which would do
what had been and might again l > e necessary . In the case of Mr . Wright there was none . The Deputies were appealed to , and , unhappily for their reputation , the appeal was at that time made in vain . The
abstract question liad been since brought before them , and been decided in favour of liberality and freedom ; but it was loo much to expect that persons zealously entertaining the opinions 'which most of them did , should be very solicitous in the cause of persons whom their creed must lead them to consider as blas phemers .
There was , too , a class of cases which the Deputies could not take up ; he meant disputes between different portions of congregations ; and this was one which was becoming of considerable importance . In the Wolverharnpton Case , the minister , by setting himself in opposition to the whole
congregation , and putting * in the most absnrd claim , had succeeded , at any rate , for a time , so far as to drive out the whole body from their meeting-house and their endowments , great part of which had been raised by their own contributions , and to put them to what must he to a small congreg ( itte >« a very heavy expense . Whether the EteYmties can or cannot , by their consti-
Intelligence . ——Unitarian . Association * & 0
yojtJ xiv . 11 1 . ¦
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1819, page 49, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1768/page/49/