§ Mr. Wilberforce presented a Petition from the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge; setting forth,
§ "That the society was incorporated in the year 1709, by a charter from her majesty queen Anne, for the farther promoting of Christian knowledge and increase of piety and virtue within Scotland, especially in the Highlands, Islands, and remote conners thereof, and for propagating the same in Popish and infidel parts of the world; and that since that time, in consequence of the donations and bequests of pious and benevolent persons, the funds of the society have increased to a considerable amount, and have been faithfully applied to the purposes of the charter, agreeably to the will of the donors; and that the labours of the society, by means of their teachers, catechists, and missionaries, have, it is well known, been attended with great success in the education of youth, in furthering the interests of religion and virtue, and in diffusing, both in Scotland and America, the blessings of civilization and industry, subordination to lawful authority, and attachment to the constitution and government of the British empire; and that it appears to the petitioners, that the exertions of the society can no where be employed more agreeably to the object of the royal charter, or with greater prospect of success, than in those territories and provinces in India which now form a part of his Majesty's dominions; and that, while the natives of those countries have long been and still continue in a state of deplorable ignorance, and addicted to various idolatrous and superstitious usages of the most degrading and horrible description, many of our own countrymen, members of the church of Scotland, employed in the different civil and military departments in India, are 655 precluded from enjoying the ordinances of Christianity agreeably to the forms of the Church to which they are attached; and that, while the situation of India, destitute of the means of religious instruction, has long presented the most urgent claims to the humanity of Britons and of Christians, the restrictions to which the intercourse with those countries has hitherto been subjected, have prevented attempts for affording them the relief which the exigencies of their situation so imperiously required; and praying the House to take into consideration the facts which have been stated in this Petition, and to provide, in any Bill that may be passed for renewing the East India Company's charter, that it shall be lawful for the petitioners to impart the benefits of Christianity to the natives of India, and to afford the advantages of religious worship and instruction to our countrymen members of the church of Scotland, who may reside in that part of the British empire, subject always to such salutary regulations as parliament in its wisdom shall judge it necessary to establish."
§ Ordered to lie on the table.
§ Petitions against the Claims of the Roman Catholics were presented from the inhabitants of the county of Sligo, the archdeacon and clergy of Bedford, and from the bailiffs, burgesses and other inhabitants of Carnarvon. A Petition in favour of the Claims of the Roman Catholics was presented from the mayor, recorder and inhabitants of Wallingford.