Imágenes de páginas

common day-labourers,) shall yearly, at or before the Feast of Easter, pay for his personal tithes the tenth pant of his clear gains; bis charges and expences, according to tris estate, condition, or degree, to be therein abated, allowed and deducted."

His lordship then shews how disputes arose and were settled, as to the days on which payments were due; which of course determined the quantum of the annual amount. After various questions had been mooted at Various times, at length

“ 28. 9d. in the pound, according to the rents, was fixed as a composition for the oblations due to every incumbent of a living, in the city of London: and this continues to this day, to be the legal claim of every city clergyman, except any particular place can shew a custom of payment at a lower rate, or where another mode of payment has been established by later statutes."

Here the matter rested till the fire of London took place, when the act of parliament, commonly called the Fire-act, was passed, giving a fixed and unrateable stipend to the Clergy, whose livings lay within the limits of the conflagration; a stipend far short of what the Clergy had a right to, even in times long preceding the fire. His Lordship accounts for this apparent act of injustice, very satisfactorily:

"My lords, I do not believe, that the legislature at that time meant to deal illiberally by the clergy; or that the citizens of ihat time wished their clergy to be illiberally dealt by. It is true, the settled incomes fell tar short of what the amount of the legal demand would have been, just before the fire ; and I find, that they fall short, upon the whole, just in the same proportion, in which the actual receipt fell short a few years before the fire. I imagine, that the intention of the legislature was to secure to the clergy, what their actual receipt had been just before the fire: and perhaps it might have been unreasonable to lay upon the citizens, under the recent and heavy pressure of that calamity, a greater burthen than they had been for some years in the habit of sustaining. The provision might be competent for the clergy of that time; and what is more, I believe the clergy of that time were better off with the incomes the Fire-act gave them, than they would have been, had they been left in possession of their claim to 2s. and gd. in the pound. And for this reason.

Your Lordships will find a proviso at the end of the statute, 37th Ilenry VIII. ? that if any person, take a tenement for less than the accustomed rent, by reason of great ruin, or decay, brenning, op.such like occasions or mischiefs, that then


such persóns shall pay tithes only after the rate of the rent rea served in the lease, as long as the same lease shall endure.' And by a clause in the act, for the re-building of London, passed in the 20th year of Charles II. terrants in fee-tail were inpowered to grant the sites of their demolished houses, upon building or repairing leases, as we should now call thein, for 50 years. The consequence therefore would have been, that, where such leases were granted, the Clergy, left to their demand of 2s. and 9d. in the pound, for 50 years to come, would have received it only upon the Ground-Rents. The condition upon which the Fire-Act put them, was I believe inuch better for the Clergy of That time. But the evil was in making the annual income certain. For certain annual income is unimproveable income. If the income was only a competence then, it is very evident it must be downright beggary now. And in the same proportion, and at the same pace, at which their parishioners have been growing rich, the Clergy, with this unimproveable income, have been growing poor. If the Clergyman, by his income, was upon a level with the Merchant, at the time of the Restoration; he is now, with the same income, hardly upon a level with the junior Clerk in the Merchant's Compting House. If he is to be raised to his true level, his income must be enlarged."

On a point of order, 'his lordship, with that clearness peculiar to him; and with a spirit and vigour entirely his own, makes some admirable distinctions between this billi which was brought into the House of Commons by pe. tition, and an ordinary private bill. (p, 22. 23.)

On the supposed danger of establishing a precedent, he thus argues :

“I know it is apprehended, that the passing of this Bill will be a dangerous precedent, and open a door to many applications, which it would be very iinproper to grant, and yet difficult to refuse when once this is granted. Upon what ground; it is said, will you refuse, after this, a legislative relief to any clergyman, who can sheir that his provision is adequate ?' And God knows this is what many deserving clergymen can too easily demonstrate. One is reduced to a miserable pittance by a modus, which he is compelled to receive in satisfaction for the titles of many produetive acres, and the increase of numerous Aocks and herds, Another performs the laborious duty of a populous parist, for no better remuneration, in this worlit, than a scanty stipend paid by the impropriator. Therefore, says the noble and learned Eord' upon the Woolsack, the passing of this Bill will be a dangerous precedent; unless you can distinguish the case of the London Clergy, froin the case of any other clergyınan who is insufficiently provided. My Lords, I say that the case of

ir 2


the London Clergy IS distinguished. It is distinguished from every

other, by this very circumstance, that they are the London Clergy---the Clergy of the Metropolis. My Lords, this distinction is not of my invention. It is obtruded upon your Lordships notice, by the authority of the Statute Book. In which not a single statute, from the earliest times to the latest,

to be found, relating to tithes in general, in which * AN EXPRESS EXCEPTION IS NOT MADE OF THE CASE OF THE LON DON CLERGY. And for no other reason, than because they are London Clergy. They are Clergy of the Metropolis, and their competent maintenance is essential to the maintenance of the Religion of the Country.

He next adverts to impropriations, making some excellent and most conclusive remarks; as he does also respecting any hopes of augmentation of their livings, which may be formed by the incumbents of the fifty new churches,

His Lordship by no means passes over the consent of the City of London to the proposed Bill,

“ In the case of the presént Bill, has any individual discovered any apprehension of detriment to his property ? Have we had any petitions against the measure? My Lords, this thing has not been done in a corner, There has been no concealment, The introduction of the Bill into Parliament was a matter of the greatest public notoriety. The draft of the Bill was communicated to the Court of Common Council. The Court referred it to the consideration of a Committée, and that Committee to a Sub-comunittee; which, I am told, is the usual way, in which such business is conducted in the City. The principal Commit, tee report to the Court of Common Council, that the Sub-committee had reported to them, that having taken the said Bill into their consideration, and having held several conterences with the Committee of the Clergy thereon (who agreed to some alterations upon their suggestion] they, after duly considering, every circumstance in favour of the said Incumbents, as also of their respective Parishioners, were of opinion, that the said Bill, as it now stands, will not be an unreasonable charge on the Inhabitants of this City; and therefore may with propriety be ac. ceded to by the Corporation. And we (viz. the principal Committee] agreeing in opinion with the said Sub-committee, humbly submit the same,' &c;"

IIe then, lastly, notices the abortive attempt made at

* This is the case in the ed and 3d of Edward VI. cited above. Rev.


the instance of one Waithman, we believe, probably a Secretary, to stifle the Bill in its birth.

“ But, my Lords, this is not all. A public meeting of the inhabitants of the city of London was called, not by any authority, but by those who, delighting in public meetings, volunteered their services. One meeting at least was held, and came to some wise resolutions, in reference to this application of the Clergy to Parliament; which, by order of the meeting were to be communicated to the Lord Mayor, the Aldermen, Deputies, and Com.. mon Council of the several wards, and the Churchwardens of the several parishes; to be by thein communicated to the inhabitants at large; with the very evident, though not avowed, design of exciting an opposition to this Bill. But, my Lords, what did all this advertising, and meeting, and resolving, and communicating produce? Nothing at all, my Lords. It certainly tended to turn the attention of the inhabitants of the whole eity to the Bill. But no petition was produced---not a mouth was opened, till in the very last stage of the Bill, and when the present session of parliament was supposed to be within a few days, or rather a few hours of its close, a paper was presented, purporting to be a petition of the City of London against this Bill. My Lords, if a petition against any private Bill had come, in such a stage of the Bill, and at such a period of the session, before a committee above stairs; I know what the impression would have been upon the mind of a noble friend of mine opposite to me, who deserves highly of the country, for the vigilance with which he watches the iniquity of private Bills; I know, what the impression would have been upon my noble friend's mind, and upon my own. The mode of opposition would have prepossessed us strongly in favour of the Bill so opposed. We should have said, “ This smells too stroag of trick. A petition against a Bill that has been the whole session pending ! In this stage of the Bill ! And in these expiring moments of the session! The opponents feel they have nothing to say against the Bill, and they would kill it by stratagem.' My Lords, I ain too little acquainted with city-politics, to pretend to guess, in what way this same petition against the Bill before your Lordships might be procured ; after the Bill had received its second reading, after the report of the committee above stairs upon the Bill, when it was before a committee of the whole House, previous to its third reading. My Lords, when first I heard of this famous petition, I thought it might be a step taken only for the good of the Common Serjeant---that this Bill might not be carried through without his deriving some emolument. My Lords, I mean no disrespect to that learned gentleman; far from it. When he

appeared at your Lordships bar, he felt, I suppose, that he had


little to say in support of the petition, and he had the good sensie to say very

little.” Upon the whole, we never read a parliamentary speech which more completely satisfied us.

It is luminous in a supreme degree. Its brightness is not of the dazzling kind, but of that which casts a pure and steady light on the subjeet discussed. It carries conviction with it in every paragraph. We congratulate the Clergy-TIE LONDON CLERGY-on having so able an advocate, and we honour Parliament for listening to the voice of truth. The City of LONDON has had our praise in the preceding article; and we consign all its inhabitants, Clergy and Laity, to God's holy keeping *.

L. C.

Hints on the Policy of making a National Provision for

the Roman Catholie Clergy of Ireland ; as a necessary Means to the Amelioration of the State of the Peasantry. Addressed to John Bagwell, Esq. Knight of the Shire for the County of Tipperary. 8vo. pp. 48. If it be true, as we are led to believe from the assertion

of an acute and well-informed writer, that the plan Suggested in this painphlet of providing for the mainterance of the Romish bishops and priests in Ireland by government, be actually in contemplation, we cannot but be seriously apprehensive that instead of advancing the interests of Protestantism in the united kingdom, and in that part of it in particular, it will have the quite con

trary effect.

* We think it' as well to subjoin here in a note, the 8th and 9th clauses of the Od'and 3d of Edward VI.--" Provided always, and be it enacted, that in all such places where hundicraftsmen have used to pay their tithes within these forty years, the same custom of payment of tithes to be oba served and to continue, any thing to the contrary notwithstanding."

“ And be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that if any person refuse to pay his personal tithes in form aforesaid, that then it shall be lawful to the ordinary of the same diocese where the party that so ought to pay the said tithes is dwelling, to call the same party before him, and by his discretion to examine him by all lawtul and reasonable means, other than by the party's own corporal oath, concerning the true payment of the said personal tithes." The law of England completely recognizes the payment of personal tithes. By the way, it is much to be lamented that the sober spirit of our ancient laws has been so grievously violated in many recent instances, where, particularly in the Act levying a Tax on Properiy, justifying oaths are so freely tendered. This holds out a great temptation for perjury.


« AnteriorContinuar »