Sivut kuvina

ment prevails, the Bishop has no power to reject a man nominated by the 1773. patron, but for fome crime that might exclude him from the priesthood. Atat. 64. For the endowment of the church being the gift of the landlord, he was confequently at liberty to give it according to his choice, to any man capable of performing the holy offices. The people did not choose him, because the people did not pay him.

"We hear it fometimes urged, that this original right is paffed out of memory, and is obliterated and obfcured by many translations of property and changes of government; that scarce any church is now in the hands of the heirs of the builders; and that the prefent perfons have entered fubfequently upon the pretended rights by a thousand accidental and unknown caufes. Much of this, perhaps, is true. But how is the right of patronage extinguished? If the right followed the lands, it is poffeffed by the fame equity by which the lands are poffeffed. It is, in effect, part of the manor, and protected by the fame laws with every other privilege. Let us fuppofe an estate forfeited by treason, and granted by the Crown to a new family. With the lands were forfeited all the rights appendant to those lands; by the fame power that grants the lands, the rights alfo are granted. The right loft to the patron falls not to the people, but is either retained by the Crown, or, what to the people is the fame thing, is by the Crown given away. Let it change hands ever fo often, it is poffeffed by him that receives it with the fame right as it was conveyed. It may, indeed, like all our poffeffions, be forcibly feized or fraudulently obtained. But no injury is ftill done to the people; for what they never had, they have never loft. Caius may ufurp the right of Titius; but neither Caius nor Titius injure the people: and no man's confcience, however tender or however active, can prompt him to restore what may be proved to have been never taken away. Suppofing, what I think cannot be proved, that a popular election of minifters were to be defired, our defires are not the measure of equity. It were to be defired that power should be only in the hands of the merciful, and riches in the poffeffion of the generous; but the law must leave both riches and power where it finds them; and must often leave riches with the covetous, and power with the cruel. Convenience may be a rule in little things, where no other rule has been established. But as the great end of government is to give every man his own, no inconvenience is greater than that of making right uncertain. Nor is any man more an enemy to publick peace, than he who fills weak heads with imaginary claims, and breaks the series of civil fubordination, by inciting the lower claffes of mankind to encroach upon the higher,

[blocks in formation]

" Having


"Having thus fhewn that the right of patronage, being originally purchased, Etat. 64. may be legally transferred, and that it is now in the hands of lawful poffeffors, at least as certainly as any other right, we have left to the advocates of the people no other plea than that of convenience. Let us, therefore, now confider what the people would really gain by a general abolition of the right of patronage. What is most to be desired by such a change is, that the country fhould be fupplied with better minifters. But why should we fuppofe that the parish will make a wifer choice than the patron? If we fuppofe mankind actuated by intereft, the patron is more likely to choose with caution, because he will fuffer more by choofing wrong. By the deficiencies of his minifter, or by his vices, he is equally offended with the reft of the congregation; but he will have this reason more to lament them, that they will be imputed to his abfurdity or corruption. The qualifications of a minifter are well known to be learning and piety. Of his learning the patron is probably the only judge in the parish; and of his piety not lefs a judge than others; and is more likely to inquire minutely and diligently before he gives a prefentation, than one of the parochial rabble, who can give nothing but a vote. It may be urged, that though the parish might not choose better minifters, they would at least choose ministers whom they like better, and who would therefore officiate with greater efficacy. That ignorance and perverfenefs fhould always obtain what they like, was never confidered as the end of government; of which it is the great and ftanding benefit, that the wife fee for the fimple, and the regular act for the capricious. But that this argument fuppofes the people capable of judging, and resolute to act according to their best judgements, though this be fufficiently abfurd, is not all its abfurdity. It fuppofes not only wisdom, but unanimity in thofe, who upon no other occafions are unanimous or wife. If by fome strange concurrence all the voices of a parifh fhould unite in the choice of any single man, though I could not charge the patron with injustice for prefenting a minifter, I fhould cenfure him as unkind and injudicious. But, it is evident, that as in all other popular elections there will be contrariety of judgement and acrimony of paffion, a parish upon every vacancy. would break into factions, and the conteft for the choice of a minister wouldTM fet neighbours at variance and bring difcord into families. The minister would. be taught all the arts of a candidate, would flatter fome and bribe others; and the electors, as in all other cafes, would call for holidays and ale, and break the heads of each other during the jollity of the canvas. The time muft, however, come at laft, when one of the factions must prevail, and one of the minifters get poffeffion of the church. On what terms does he enter


upon his ministry but those of enmity with half his parish? By what prudence or what diligence can he hope to conciliate the affections of that party by whose defeat he has obtained his living? Every man who voted against him will enter the church with hanging head and downcaft eyes, afraid to encounter that neighbour by whofe vote and influence he has been overpowered. He will hate his neighbour for oppofing him, and his minifter for having profpered by the oppofition; and, as he will never fee him but with pain, he will never fee him but with hatred. Of a minifter presented by the patron, the parish has seldom any thing worse to say than that they do not know him. Of a minister chosen by a popular conteft, all thofe who do not favour him have nurfed up in their bofoms principles of hatred and reasons of rejection. Anger is excited principally by pride. The pride of a common man is very little exafperated by the fuppofed ufurpation of an acknowledged fuperiour. He bears only his little fhare of a general evil, and fuffers in common with the whole parish: but when the contest is between equals, the defeat has many aggravations; and he that is defeated by his next neighbour is feldom fatisfied without fome revenge: and it is hard to fay what bitterness of malignity would prevail in a parish where these elections should happen to be frequent, and the enmity of opposition should be re-kindled before it had cooled."

Though I prefent to my readers Dr. Johnson's masterly thoughts on this fubject, I think it proper to declare, that notwithstanding I am myself a laypatron, I do not entirely fubfcribe to his opinion.

On Friday, May 7, I breakfasted with him at Mr. Thrale's in the Borough.. While we were alone, I endeavoured as well as I could to apologise for a lady who had been divorced from her husband by act of parliament. I faid, that he had used her very ill, had behaved brutally to her, and that she could not continue to live with him without having her delicacy contaminated; that all affection for him was thus deftroyed; that the effence of conjugal union being gone, there remained only a cold form, a mere civil obligation; that she was in the prime of life, with qualities to produce happiness; that these ought not to be loft; and, that the gentleman on whofe account fhe was divorced had gained her heart while thus unhappily fituated.. Seduced, perhaps, by the charms of the lady in queftion, I thus attempted to palliate what I was fenfible could not be juftified; for, when I had finished my harangue, my-venerable friend gave me a proper check: "My dear Sir, never accustom your mind to mingle virtue and vice. The woman's a whore, and there's an end on't."


Ætat. 64.


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


He defcribed the father of one of his friends thus: "Sir, he was fo exuberant

talker at publick meetings, that the gentlemen of his county were afraid of him. No business could be done for his declamation."

He did not give me full credit when I mentioned that I had carried on a short converfation by signs with fome Efquimaux, who were then in London, particularly with one of them who was a priest. He thought I could not make them understand me. No man was more incredulous as to particular facts, which were at all extraordinary; and therefore no man was more scrupulously inquifitive, in order to discover the truth.

I dined with him this day at the house of my friends, Meffieurs Edward and Charles Dilly, bookfellers in the Poultry: there were prefent, their elder brother Mr. Dilly of Bedfordshire, Dr. Goldfmith, Mr. Langton, Mr. Claxton, Reverend Dr. Mayo a diffenting minister, the Reverend Mr. Toplady, my friend the Reverend Mr. Temple.


Hawkefworth's compilation of the voyages to the South Sea being mentioned; JOHNSON. "Sir, if you talk of it as a fubject of commerce, it will be gainful; if as a book that is to increase human knowledge, I believe there will not be much of that. Hawkefworth can tell only what the voyagers have told him, and they have found very little, only one new animal, I think.” BOSWELL." But many infects, Sir." JOHNSON. "Why, Sir, as to infects, Ray reckons of British infects twenty thousand fpecies. They might have have staid at home and discovered enough in that way."

Talking of birds, I mentioned Mr. Daines Barrington's ingenious Effay against the received notion of their migration. JOHNSON. "I think we have as good evidence for the migration of woodcocks as can be defired. We find they disappear at a certain time of the year, and appear again at a certain time of the year; and fome of them, when weary in their flight, have been known to alight on the rigging of fhips far out at fea." One of the company obferved, that there had been inftances of fome of them found in fummer in Effex. JOHNSON. "Sir, that strengthens our argument. Exceptio probat regulam. Some being found fhews, that, if all remained, many would be found. A few fick or lame ones may be found." GOLDSMITH. "There is a partial migration of the fwallows; the stronger ones migrate, the others do not."

BOSWELL. "I am well affured that the people of Otaheite who have the bread-tree, the fruit of which ferves them for bread, laughed heartily when they were informed of the tedious process neceffary with us to have bread;-plowing, fowing, harrowing, reaping, threshing, grinding, baking." JOHNSON. " Why, Sir, all ignorant favages will laugh when they are told of



the advantages of civilized life. Were you to tell men who live without houses, how we pile brick upon brick and rafter upon rafter, and that after a Etat. 64. house is raised to a certain height, a man tumbles off a scaffold and breaks his neck, he would laugh heartily at our folly in building; but it does not follow that men are better without houfes. No, Sir, (holding up a flice of a good loaf,) this is better than the bread-tree."

He repeated an argument, which is to be found in his "Rambler," against the notion that the brute creation is endowed with the faculty of reason: “birds build by instinct; they never improve: they build their first neft as well as any one that they ever build." GOLDSMITH. "Yet we see if you take away a bird's neft with the eggs in it, fhe will make a flighter neft and lay again." JOHNSON. "Sir, that is because at firft fhe has full time, and makes her nest deliberately. In the case you mention she is pressed, to lay, and must therefore make her neft quickly, and consequently it will be flight." GOLDSMITH. “The nidification of birds is what is least known in natural history, though. one of the most curious things in it."

I introduced the fubject of toleration. JOHNSON. "Every fociety has a right to preserve publick peace and order, and therefore has a good right to prohibit the propagation of opinions which have a dangerous tendency. To fay the magistrate has this right, is using an inadequate word: it is the fociety for which the magiftrate is agent. He may be morally or theologically wrong in restraining the propagation of opinions which he thinks dangerous, but he is politically right." MAYO. "I am of opinion, Sir, that every man is entitled to liberty of conscience in religion; and that the magistrate cannot restrain that right." JOHNSON. "Sir, I agree with you. Every man has a right to liberty of conscience, and with that the magiftrate cannot interfere. People confound liberty of thinking with liberty of talking; nay, with liberty of preaching. Every man has a physical right to think as he pleases; for it cannot be discovered how he thinks. He has not a moral right; for he ought to inform himself and think justly. But, Sir, no member of a society has a right to teach any doctrine contrary to what that fociety holds to be true. The magistrate, I fay, may be wrong in what he thinks; but, while he thinks himself right, he may, and ought to enforce what he thinks." MAYO. "Then, Sir, we are to remain always in errour, and truth never can prevail; and the magistrate was right in perfecuting the first Christians." JOHNSON. "Sir, the only method by which religious truth can be established is by martyrdom. The magistrate has a right to enforce what he thinks; and he who is conscious of the truth has a right to fuffer. I am afraid there is no other way of ascertaining the truth,

« EdellinenJatka »