The South Australian Register.
ADELAIDE: SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 1841. RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.—THE VOLUN- TARY PRINCIPLE.
AMONG the many charateristics which have distinguished the colonization of South Aus- tralia, there are none more peculiar or more prominent than the absence of a dominant
religious sect, or of a church which claims for itself the name and attributes of the "Es- tablished." The appointment of Colonial Chaplains of the Churches of England and Scotland, originally authorised by the South Australian Act, was intended merely to guard, in the infancy of the Colony, against religious [?], and by no means implied the re- cognition of these particular churches. The religious advancement, indeed, of the various denominations of Christians has been altogether voluntary—in none more marked than among the members of the Church of England, where our worthy and esteemed friend the Colonial Chaplain has long ago merged into the Incum- [?] of Trinity Church, and where the exertions of the Episcopalians, without State support at all, have produced results so creditable and so honorable. The harmony which this state of things has produced among persons of all religious persuasions is another point which
every sincere well-wisher of the province must rejoice over. In the neighbouring colonies, where the different sects receive State support, we hear of little else than controversial bicker- ings, jealousies, recriminations, and complaints. Here there are no Government loaves and fishes—no established rank or precedence—to scramble for ; and accordingly, we have our pastors and their congregations mingling to- gether in peace and charity, and, when good works are to be done, aiding each other freely and heartily. It is with pride that we point to the religious state of South Australia, and exult in these truly Christian feelings. But it is in the high degree of religious liberty which we enjoy that encourages us to anticipate the possession, at no distant period, of that amount of civil liberty which will protect the Citizens of South Australia against the ignorant crotchets or "unconscious follies'' of unfit and irresponsible rulers, as well as secure for them and for their children the continuance of bles- sings so invaluable.
Our readers may be assured that it is not lightly that we hold out this cheering prospect. Recent events have rendered abortive whatever intentions existed to entail upon this province the curse of a dominant church. It has es- caped from the gall and wormwood prepared for it, and, with a Representative Government, it may defy every future insidious attempt of the like nature. The publication of the fol- lowing important documents, with which we have been favored, will not only sufficiently explain and justify the remarks that have now been called forth, but will supersede, for the present, further comment : — No. 1. To His Excellency Colonel Gawler, Governor of South Australia. May IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY— Your memorialists, constituting the provisional com- mittee formed for the Preservation of Religious Freedom in the province of South Australia, and including members of the various Protestant churches, venture to crave your Excellency's at- tention to those points in the proposed Marriage Act in which they feel most interested, and upon which they are most agreed. Your memorialists beg to state respectfully that they would regard any marriage enactment to be objectionable which recognised in any of its provisions the existence, in South Australia, of a religous establishment which gave any denomi- nation of christians an ascendancy over the rest. and which made between members of different religious communities any distinction either of honor or privilege. Your memorialists would greatly prefer, as the simplest and safest basis of a marriage law, the recognition by the civil power of the civil con- tract only, leaving the religious rites to the vo- luntary action of the parties, and to the conven- tional arrangements of the various religious bodies, as the legitimate and surest mode of securing these important sanctions. Your memorialists are of the opinion that the re- ligious ceremonies would not be neglected although not provided for by the State, as the case in Scotland proves, where, without any interference of the civil law in the religious part, clandestine marriages are very unfrequent, where the Minister of the Gospel is invariably called in, and where the marriage tie is felt to be as binding as in any part of the world. Your memorialists are also of opinion that the necessary publicity of marriage might be secured by notification and other arrangements at the Registry Office, without the publication by banns ; and that it should not be made imperative to perform the religious ceremony in a place of worship, to both which objection is felt on the part of many. Your memorialists desire also to express their anxiety to enjoy, as soon as possible, the ad- vantage of a liberal legislative enactment on the subject—not as a grant or privilege, but rather with a view to remove any doubt or difficulty re- specting marraige as at present solemnised. Your Excellency's attention to these several points will be greatly acceptable to your Ex- cellency's memorialists. (Signed) Thomas Q. Stow A. H Davis Ralph Drummond John Brown Edward Stephens Charles Mann Edward Rowlands R. F. M'George E. W. Andrews Nath. Hailes James Frew James Sawle William Giles W. H. Burford David Sutherland James Niel Adelaide, March 10, 1841.
No. 2. Adelaide, 20th April, 1841. SIR—It would have given us pleasure to have received from his Excellency an answer to the me- morial we had the honor to present. We do not, however, under existing circumstances, press for this, but write to state, that in meeting our com- mittee on Thrusday next, we are anxious to present as fully as we can the result of our application— more especially, as the committee will probably deem it proper to publish for the information of the friends for whom they act. We remain, your most obedient Servants, (Signed) THOS. QUINTON STOW. RALPH DRUMMOND, WM. GILES. DAVID SUTHERLAND. Geo. Hall, Esq., Private Secretary to Col. Gawler. No. 3. Private Secretary's Office 21st April, 1841. GENTLEMEN— In reply to your letter, dated yesterday, I am directed by his Excellency the Governor to acquaint you, that pressed as his Excellency is by important business, he fears, as he stated to you verbally, on the presentation of your memorial, that it will not be in his Excel- lency's power under any circumstances to bring the proposed Marriage Bill under the considera- tion of the Legislative Council for some time to come; and it does not appear to his Excellency that any real advantage would be likely to result from a discussion of the several points adverted to in your memorial apart from the Marriage Bill, with which they are so intimately connected. I have the honor to be. Gentlemen, Your obedient Servant, (Signed) GEORGE HALL, Private Secretary. Rev. T. Q. Stow, Rev. R. Drummond William Giles, D. Sutherland,} Esqrs. No. 4. At a meeting of the provisional committee for the Protection of Religious Freedom, held on Thursday evening, April 22nd, 1841— Edward Stephens, Esq in the chair, The letter from Mr Hall to the delegates, dated 21st inst., was read, and it was resolved, that the correspondence with the Governor and the me- morial be published in the newspapers immedi- ately. (Signed) Edward Stephens, Chairman
THE "VILLE DE BORDEAUX" Facts connected with the detention of this French merchant vessel are daily coming to light, all tending to show the true character of that disgraceful transaction. The seizure of the vessel, in the first instance, turns out to have been by order of the Governor himself (!) as the following letters abundantly prove:— Government House, Adelaide, 14th Feb, 1841. SIR—The Collector of Customs having re- ported that the ship City of Bordeaux, under your command, is in the waters of this province under very suspicious circumstances, You are hereby required to deliver the ship into the charge of Captain Lipson, R.N. Harbour Master, or such other person as he may appoint, until the affair shall have been duly investigated. By command of his Excellency the Governor, GEORGE HALL. Private Secretary. The Officer in command of the ship City of Bordeaux. Government House. Adelaide, 15th Feb., 1841. SIR—The Collector of Customs having re- ported to his Excellency the Governor that the ship called the City of Bordeaux, under your com- mand, is in the waters of this province under very suspicious circumstances. You are hereby directed and required to give the vessel into the charge of Mr Quin, Deputy Harbour Master of Port Adelaide, utnil the affair shall have been duly investigated. By command of his Excellency the Governor. GEORGE HALL, Private Secretary. The Officer in command of the ship City of Bordeaux. "We are more puzzled than ever to reconcile these letters with the assertion made by the Government, that the Collector of Customs acted uncontrolled in the matter. Is it that the responsibility became sufficiently palpable just in time to throw the burden from the shoulders of the Governor upon those of a subordinate officer ? We are told that all this monstrous folly and injustice has been committed and continued by advice of the legal advisers of the Collector of Customs. If this be the fact, these same "legal advisers" must be even more incom- prehensible nincompoops than we had imagined —and that is saying not a little for them. Is it under their advice, may we ask, that gross acts of theft and piracy are being daily com- mitted on the property of the ship? By whose orders was it plundered a few days ago of nine casks of fresh water—under whose warrant are its rice, paddy, and provisions carried away— by what authority was the looked cabin of the agent for the owner opened, and the property it contained removed—and at whose command were the officers and crew of the ship detained for weeks prisoners on board? Some parties, we suspect, are running up a score they will it find difficult to pay. The steam boat excursion, including shingles, pipes, tobacco, and brandy, will cost the public £700!