WE HAD not thought it possible that a serious writer would be allowed to speak, in an English newspaper of conspicuous ability, of “the British observer, who is not allowed by his religion to pray for the dead”. Yet the occasional correspondent of the Westminster Gazette who describes the keeping of All Souls’ Day in Paris commits himself to the statement. By the British observer may, it is true, be intended a Scot, in which case the ambiguity should have been resolved. If an Englishman is implied, and his religion that of the English Church, the writer is imperfectly acquainted with his subject. Elizabeth’s Latin Prayer Book had prayers for the dead, as also the forms used in the chapels of some of our universities. It has been a constant tradition of the pious, even in the darkest ages of the English Church; and a court of law, impartially reviewing the whole matter more than eighty years ago, laid down that by no canon or authority of the Church in these realms had the practice of praying for the dead been expressly prohibited. If the writer had been in London instead of Paris last Monday he would have found plenty of proof that what our religion allows is devoutly practised by vast multitudes.
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