Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/200

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authorized him to preach. His lordship proposed that, in order to entitle any person to a qualification as a preacher, he should have the recommendation of at least six respectable householders of the congregation to which he belonged. Lord Holland, in opposing the bill, observed that he held it to be the inalienable right of every man who thought himself able to instruct others to do so, provided his doctrines were not incompatible with the peace of society.

When the nature and provisions of the proposed measure were made known to the public, an alarm was excited among all those whom it was likely to affect. The Nonconformists generally regarded it as intended, not so much to add to the respectability of the dissenting ministers, as to contract the limits of toleration, and subject the licensing of preachers to the control of the magistracy. When therefore, on the 21st of May, the bill was to be read a second time, such a deluge of petitions was poured in against it, that the mover was left totally unsupported. The Archbishop of Canterbury said with truth, that the Dissenters were the best judges of their own concerns; and as it appeared from the great number of petitions against it, that they were hostile to the bill, he thought it unwise to press the measure against their manifest wishes. Under these circumstances the bill was, we need not say, thrown out.

This would appear to be the subject which produced George Cruikshank's graphic satire of the Interior View of the House of God, in the first volume of "The Scourge." The pulpit is occupied by two fanatics, one of whom rants, while the other snuffs the candles; the devil, in the gallery above, ridicules the proceedings by rasping, à la fiddle, the bars of a gridiron with a poker; among the numerous congregation present we notice some attentive and interested listeners, whilst others evidently attend from mere motives of curiosity. Above the composition appears the quotation, "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." The satire, The Examination of a Young Surgeon, which