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seizing of all the Methodist and other persons and their families into the liv. dissenting chapels of this day, and sel- ings, reserving the appointment of the ling the ground on which they stand, parsons to themselves, and dividing and seizing upon all the endowments of amongst them all the estates belonging such meeting-houses and chapels. to the convents, and also a large part of
Well, then, if the King and the Par- the great tithes. Thus, therefore, they liament could do this, and that too, in say that they have these things by lar. those rude and unpolished times, when Who denies it? We know that they the schoolmaster had not yet been have them by law, and that it is our abroad, surely a King and Parliament duty to obey the law; but, has the law can now take the same property where by which they hold them set aside ever it is to be found ; surely it can Magna Charta, and all the laws of Eng. take all the same churchi-property; land of a thousand years' standing? whether in the hands of clergy or lay- Surely we may pass another law to set men, and dispose of it as it pleases. aside this, their law, which is not yet of Indeed, the Parliament has always bad three hundred years' standing. a control over it ever since the church With regard to the right, therefore, and the Parliament co-existed ; for the that the Parliament has to pass the law Parliament interfered to prevent the which I propose, not one single syllable impropriators, when they were ecclesi- more need be said. But, in order to astical corporations, from withdrawing show that the Parliament do still posfrom the parishes so much as not to lcave sess the clear right of doing this, the a sufficiency for the relief of the poor. clear right of abolishing the tithes, and The tithes were, according to the taking away the other revenues of the rules on which the Christian Church of church for public purposes, let us see England was founded, to be divided thus: what the Parliament has done in this one third part of the amount of them respect, even in Protestant times; let
to be distributed amongst the us see what it has done, even with this necessitous by the priests, who were church as by law established. I beg to enjoined to make the distribution with observe here, that this is not necessary. their own hands,“ in charity, niercy, I beg to observe, that I have already and humility.” They do little of this proved enough; for the parsons must now, certainly; and they plead the either allow that the Parliament had exemption given them by law. They the right to do what it did with regard say that theirs is a church different to the seizure and transfer of the profrom the chureh that so distributed the perty, or they must confess that the act tithes; and, God knows, very different was an act of violence and tyranny; and it is. When the change took place, and it would not be convenient for them to this law church was established, those allow that their church was built on who had seized hold of the property violence and tyranny. However, by which was before the patrimony of the way of surplus proof, let us see what poor, very soon ceased to afford the the Parliament has done with regard to poor any relief at all. : The short and this church, since it has been “ by law true history of the thing is this : a full established.” The Parlian:ent has three third part of all the real property in times altered even the service of the England was held in trust by the church ; and at every alteration it was priests, and by the ableys, priories, and set forth that the persons making it other conventical establishments, for were instructed so to do by the Holy the benefit of the poor ; and there never Spirit. Let that pass, however, and let was, and never could be, except in ex- us come to the temporalities. In the tremely extraordinary instances, any- first place, by three or four separate thing like misery in England. At the acts of Parliament, passed at differ: reformation, the King and the aristo- ent times, they made a cracy, agreeing togeiher, seized upon parishes, putting two, and sometimes the whole of this property, pat monied ihree or more livings into one, and give
ing the people one vicar or rector, in-! by those who pretend that the Parliastead of two, three, or more; and in ment has no right to meddle with this ill-treated Ireland they have, in some in- property? If it could thus abolish part stances, moulded ten livings into one, of the tithes, for the purpose of carrying letting nine-tenths of the churches fall on a war, surely it can abolish the rest, down ; but, in all instances, taking care in order to enable the nation to pay off to keep up the full demand for tithes, the debt contracted for the carrying on in all the parishes. Next, the Parlia- of that war ! ment has, in several instances, and par Not only, however, with the ownerticularly during the ministry of the ship of this property has the Parliament heaven-born Pitt, actually taken away been constantly meddling, but it has a part of the real property of the church. meddied also as constantly with the reThis was done no longer ago than in venues of the property, and particularly the year 1799, by an act of Parliament, with the revenue, arising from tithes. which was called an act for the redemp- In 1713, and again in 1913, acts of tion of the landrax. This act first im- Parliament were passed to compel the posed a perpetual land-tax, and then it owners of livings to give their curates, provided, that any land-owner might, if when they had curates, certain specified he chose, redeem his land-tax; in other sums, in proportion to the worth of the : words, pay the whole sum, pay the living and the extent of the population whole of the fee-siinple of the land-tax of the parish. These acts fixed the down at once ; and thus free his land sums which the incumbents were to be from the land-tax; in other words, this compelled to give. They provided also act took away part of every man's that ihe curate should occupy the pare landed estate : for if you did not redeem sonage-house and the glebe lands, in your land-tax, the government might certain specified cases and on certain sell it to your neighbour; and thus give specified terms. Now, if a living had him a perpetual rent-charge on your been private property, what acts of tyestate ; in other words, this was taking ranny were these! What should we say away a part of every estate in the king-to the Parliament if it were to compel doni, and selling it, to raise money to inanufacturers to give certain specified be paid into the Exchequer. This act, wages to their overseers and their workwhich violated wills, which cut off en- people; to compel merchants to pay tails, which annulled marriage settle- their clerks certain specified salaries; to ments, and all other settlements on real compel gentlemen to pay their stewards estates, as far as these were necessary and butlers and other servants at a certo effect its purposes, did not spare the tain specified rate of wages? Why we church, “ as by law established; and should call such a Parliament a band of it contained a provision, authorising the hare-brained tyrants, who had come bishops, deans, and chapters, colleges, freeling down from Bellamy's drunk, and other persons holding church pro. hiccuping drunk, when they passed such perty, to sell part of it ; and commis- a law. But viewing the tithes, as well sioners were appointed to see that the as all the other revenues of the church, proceeds were paid into the Exchequer. as public property, and as being comThe bishops, deans, and chapters, col-pletely under the control of the repreleges, and others, sold, in some cases, sentatives of the people and the peers, the tithes which they were er:titled to we see the legality of these acts of Parreceive; and thus niade lands tithe-free liament; and, as far as they go, acwhich were not tithe-free before. llere, knowledge their justice. The tithes then, the Parliament meddled to some being held in trust for the benefit of the tune; it forcibly took away a part of the people, and the rectors and vicars, church property, and alienated it from generally pluralists and non-resident, the church for ever, putting the money having given to their curates so miserainto the Exchequer, for the purpose of ble a stipend as hardly to enable them to carrying on the war. What is meant then exist with their families; the Parliament
seeing the establishment disgraced, and priate tithes, may, indeed, have been in the people alienated from it by this cause, private possession beyond the length of acted wisely and justly, as far as it went, time within which the law would restore in compelling the incumbents to make a private estate to the right owner ; but better provision for their curates; but the maxim of the law is, that no length with all these acts, meddling with, and of time weakens the claim of the church; disposing of, the real property and the and as these impropriators have never tithes, whether in the fee or in the re- failed to resort to that maxim in mainvenue, at its sole pleasure, there cannot taining their pretended rights in the exremain in the mind of any sane man action of tithes to the utmost extent, the smallest doubt that this is a mass they cannot complain if the nation act of property, the remains of which, in upon the same maxim in reclaiming the whatever hands found, is now lawfully property. Besides, coming to the equity at the disposal of the Parliament. And of the thing, the title to such tithes has would I touch the impropriators too ? always carried down with it the vice of That is to say, not the incumbents of the original grant; the property has livings, but those who own the great always been tainted with the violence tithes, and in some cases the small tithes with which the impropriation was made: also, without being bound at all to pro- it was so much taken from the public vide any one to perform the services of and the poor unjustly, by sheer violence, the church. I can see no reason for and notoriously against the will of the exemption here. No title can be shown people, and it is well known that this to these in propriations higher than that species of property is always deemed of of an act of Parliament. If an impro- less value than other property of a sipriator demand lithes of me, and I re- milar amount of rent. When a freehold sist the payment, he has nothing to show farm which will let for a hundred pounds as title but an act of Parliament, which a year, is worth three thousand pounds, took the tithes away from the public and will require purchase money to that and the poor ; and as one act of Parlia- amount, impropriate tithes that will ment can always be repealed by another, bring one hundred pounds a year, will not this reduces itself to a question of expe- sell for two thousand pounds. In short, diency and of policy, both of which the parties in possession know that the will, I think, decide in favour of the tenure is more frail. In the very nature, repeal.
of the transaction of transfer, an ac-' We are to consider here what is due knowledgment of risk on the part of the to the nation as a whole; and not what purchaser is evident. He makes his may affect particular individuals or bargain with that risk in contemplation ; classes of men. The bishops, deans, and he bargains for higher interest on acchapters, colleges, and other corporate count of the risk ; and shall he then now bodies, some ecclesiastical, and some lay, turn round, and say that his title is as are great owners of impropriated tithes. clear from all taint, and his tenure as These, of course, would come under the firm as those of a freehold estate? general description of church-property. They rest on an act of Parliament, The private lay-impropriators are of two and on nothing else. The Duke of Dedescriptions. Some who have to rest vonshire, for instance, is the owner of their claim upon grants direct to them- the great tithes of twenty parishes in selves or their predecessors; others who Ireland. These tithes, as well as all are become lay-impropriators by pur- others, were granted for the purposes of chase. But even these last do not seem the three-fold division above-mentinn. to have any very valid plea of exe tion ed; but the law now gives them all to from the general rule. If I have pur- his Grace, and leaves the wretched peochased an estate which, in fact, is yours, ple of those parishes to get relief how my long occupation, and my having paid they can. If I occupied a farm in one money for it
, does not prevent me from of his parishes, and were to refuse to being ousted. These owners of iinpro- give him tithes, alleging that he had no
claim to them, he being no priest of the ging to save themselves from perishing. parish, he would first show me the grant All this I found to be strictly true from the wife-killing Henry VIII.; and, however; and I found that the aristoupon not being satisfied with that, al- cracy, having taken the patrimony of leging that the grant was of no avail, the poor to themselves, and finding without being authorised by law, themselves, at last, in danger from the "Ho," would exclaim his Grace, " is violences to be apprehended from the that all you want?" and down he miseries of the poor, passed, at the end would take the statute-book, and show of fifty years of strife with them, a law, me the act of Parliament in a moment : not to compel themselves to relieve the whereupon I should feel joy inexpressi- poor out of the estates which they had ble, knowing well, that, if an act of taken from the church; bul to compel all Parlianient could give the tithes of the people to submit to a tax for the relief twenty parishes to a layman, it never of the poor, and for the maintenance could be sacrilege to make another act of the churches. Here we have the of Parliament to take those tithes away, origin of the poor-rates and the churchfrom him.
rates, which now press so heavily upon Thus, then, that the law is on our side us. If, instead of these poor-taxes, is as clear as day-light. Still, as I said and church-taxes, a law had been before, that all which the law can do passed to cornpel those who had got and does, is not always strictly just; let the church-property into their hands," us now inquire into the justice of my to relieve the poor and maintain the proposition. In the first place, this di- churches, there would have been version of the tithes and other revenues some show of justice in the thing; of the church, has done enormous wrong but as those who had divided the to the nation at large, by making it church-property amongst them, were necessary to provide for the wants also the makers of the laws, they took of the indigent by a general and care to keep the property to themselves, compulsory tax, called the poor-rates : and to throw upon the people at and also to provide for the maintenance large, all the duties which the possesof the buildings by church-rates, assess-sion of the property enjoined. To reed and collected in the same forcible store things to their former and just manner. I can remember the time state, is now become impossible. To when I thought that these taxes had provide for the relief of the poor, and always been in England : I knew that the repair of the churches in the anthere always must have been indigent cient fashion, cannot now be accompersons, and always must have been plished: the poor-laws must remain ; religion; and, the impression upon my and the nation must be remunerated by mind
was, that these taxes made part of a total ab of the tithes, and a the country; that, at any rate, they sale of the other p:irts of the property must have been nearly as ancient as the of the church. Remunerated for the rivers and the hills. Little did I ima- past, indeed it never can be ; but it gine that the poor had once a great way thus be protected against the patrimony; that the third part of the continuance of this grievous and crying whole island had been theirs, held in wrong. trust by the churcb, and distributed And now what injustice, what wrong amongst them as their wants might shall we in fict on the clergy themrequire. Little did I imagine that the selves? Damage we may inflict on aristocracy and the King had taken them ; but we do damage to a traitor away this patrimony, and divided when we punish him for his treason it anongst themselves; that they had There may be many families that will stripped the poor of all means of relief, suffer from the adoption of the meaand that they had passed laws to put sures which I propose, if they be care iron collars round their neeks, and make ried into execution ; but that mere cirthem slaves, even if they went a-beg- cumstance is not to prevent the mea
sures; and we are to consider, at the that at last they may be able to present same time, the millions of families that their flock spotless at the Throne of are suffering for the wunt of these Grace ; if the rectors and vicars acted measures. Amongst the sufferers would in accordance with these vows, and did not be the working clergy of the not get four or five flocks instead of Church of England, for their lot would one; if they did not, in numerous cases, be bettered; and perhaps the sufferings go and take possession of the fold, then on the part of the swollen rectors and iurn their backs on it, and never inquire vicars and bishops, might, and doubt-after it again, except as to the shearing less would, receive more than a com- lof the sheep ; if they did not, casting pensation in the world to come. It far away from them all recollection of would be the parable of Dives and their vows, go galloping all over the LAZARUS verified in this world, which world in search of pleasure, supporting is a vast deal better for their rich reve- the indulgences by the means of those rences than the verification of it in the tithes which ought in great part to be next. This too is the feeling by which distributed to the poor of their parishes
actuated with regard to the with their own hands, in humility and church herself. Who that has a mo- mercy; if this were not the case, and the ther in danger of being suffocated former were the case, a proposition like from her indulgences of the table, does that which I have submitted to you not do his best to restrain her; io in- would be so manifestly unjust as to drive duce her to be abstinent, and use all me from your presence : every one the means of prolonging her life. He, would exclaim, " This must be an who in such a case does not do this, is “enemy of religion, seeing that he an unnatural son ; and I in proposing “ wants to root out those by whom it is these measures with regard to the sustained.” The contrary being, howchurch, am evincing my attachment to ever, notorious, every just man must her, and not my hostility.
wish for some great change; and as At any rate, we are not to look at the the change which I propose damnge done to the clergy, the patrons, both great and effectual, we have but or the lay-iinpropriators ; we are to little more to do to show that it would look solely at the justice and the expe- be just. diency of the measure. If the bishops
The very name of parson makes him constantly resided in their dioceses ; if, inseparable from his church. The vow according to the description of St. Paul, that he makes at his ordination, and the they were patterns of diligence and legal conditions of his induction, imply humility; if they showed no greediness constant residence with his flock. First
, of gain,, but sought all occasions of then, the eleven thousand, and nearly ministering comfort to the disciples; if, twelve thousand livings in England like Timothy, they watched carefully to and Wales, are divided or distributed see that the deacons provided plentifully amongst about five thousand parsons ; the tables at which the poor were fed; so that here are more than two livings if the parsons resided constantly with to one parson, rendering it completely their flocks, in accordance with the impossible that, in one half of the insolemn vow which they make at their stances, they can reside with their ordination, when they, on their knees, Aocks. In the next place, it is notoriand with their hands clasped together, ous, that there are not more than about call God to witness that they verily four thousand of these who reside on believe themselves ca'led by the Holy their livings at all, their place being Ghost to take upon them the care of supplied by miserable curates. It is souls, and when they solemnly promise equally well known that they have viothat they will tend their flocks like lated the law, openly and scandalously faithful shepherds, that they will be violated it, with regard to this matter of watchful in season and out of seasou, residence. In the year 1799, a transto keep the tempter out of the fold, so action took place, which, if you will