« EdellinenJatka »
of confidence and affection; the consequence is, that when they do meet on ordinary occasions, they either shrink involuntarily from each other, or are occupied with matters calculated to repel rather than conciliate ; and thus estimable men, well entitled to each other's regards, come together only to separate, without any advancement of Christian fellowship, and without any commerce of gifts and graces with each other; and the Church suffers in the want of confidence and cooperation which follows. Now there is strong reason to believe that the councils recommended in our plan would have a tendency the reverse of all this : the matter for discussion would be provided beforehand, and entirely calculated for edification and peace ; matter too of so high a nature, and involving such deep Christian interests, as must make all petty griefs and differences shrink into nothing, and yet so practicable, and so limited, and so well defined, as to give little occasion for speculation or debate, and none for the engendering of strife; the only contest amongst the members would be, which should stand foremost in further. ing the great interests on which all would be intent; they would enter upon their counsels, each in his best frame of mind, and their hearts having been raised by prayer and praise offered up in unison to God, and then warmed towards each other by the consciousness that they had been labouring together in His service ;-they would separate with sentiments of mutual good will, and would depart each to his own place, impressed with a deeper sense of his obligation towards the Church as. a body, and better prepared for the duties and services of his own charge. May God grant that this spirit of concord,—the precious ointment which ran down from the head of our Great High Priest to the skirts of his garment, -be one fruit of your counsels, and then I am certain you would need no further recommendation, nor any higher reward.
Under this hope, my reverend brethren, I willingly leave this posal to your care, commending you heartily to the grace of God, which alone can give you patience and perseverance for the work, and crown all our labours with success : for though I am convinced that this measure, or one of like tendency and effect, is requisite for the Church at the present day, in order that it may pass in safety through the difficulties which surround it, as well as profit worthily by the high station which it holds and the great advantages it enjoys, I am not sanguine enough to believe that in any case the scheme will produce at once all the good of which it is capable, or that in all cases it will advance with the same steadiness and equal steps: I know too well the obstacles to which all must be liable, and how differently you must be circumstanced in your several districts with respect to the means you possess, and to the aids you may hope to find : sufficient for me will be the assurance that the scheme will have a fair and faithful trial with you all, and then I may confidently hope that the successful example of a few, and even the disappointments and delays of others, will finally smooth the way to a salutary establishment of it by the rest. Meanwhile, it is a consolation to know that we may all repose with confidence upon the enlightened support of the lay members of our Association, of which we have already the surest pledge ; for it would be strange indeed if they who have so liberally contributed to the foundation of our several institutions, and who continue to uphold them now, should be reluctant
to assist a scheme which, apart from other blessings, is intended to give permanency and efficacy to them all.
Before I close this address, I avail myself gladly of the opportunity it affords me of offering to you all my cordial thanks for the readiness with which you attended my summons : for the kindness with which you accepted the few words of explanation which I was then enabled to submit to you: and generally for the pains and accuracy with which you have answered my inquiries. To many of you, indeed, my special gratitude is due, for information and advice of great advantage in critical matters connected with the discipline of the Church; services they were, grateful to me in their season, but they are still more pleasing to me in the remembrance, inasmuch as they afford a pledge of your cordial cooperation in these more important concerns which are now submitted to you. With great confidence, therefore, I leave them in your hands : and in furtherance of the same views, and to give every facility in my power to your exertions, I have addressed a circular to the clergy in your districts, recommending them severally to conform to these regulations, and to unite with you in the support of a plan in which the efficiency of the Ordinary, the interests of their several flocks, the welfare of the Church, and the honour of God, are all concerned.
I am, my Reverend Brethren,
Your faithful friend,
Suzgestions submitted to the Rural Deans, for the revival of their Chapters,
in the Diocese of Chichester. 1. That every Rural Dean, with the consent of the Archdeacon, and under the au:!ority of the Bisliop, shall call a meeting of the clergy within his deanery, once at least every quarter, on some day not less than a fortnight and not more than twinty days before the quarterly meeting of the Diocesan Association, and at any other time when special circumstances may render such a meeting necessary or important.
2. That the Archdeacon shall preside at the meetings, if he be present; otherwise, the Rural Dean, or in his absence or illness, the senior incumbent in the deanery.
3. That at every quarterly meeting, the Rural Dean shall request information from the clergy upon the following points :— 1st, the state of their several parishes with respect to their churches, church services, and schools, especially so far as these may be connected with the purposes of the Association; 2dly, the means employed within their parishes for promoting the interests of the church societies, diocesan or central, and the funds collected for general or local purposes of charity; and 3dly, all important matters relating to the ministerial or pastoral care.
4. That a register shall be kept by every Rural Dean, in which shall be recorded the resolutions passed at every meeting; and that a brief report of these resolutions, and of any other circumstances which it may be thought important to communicate, shall be made to the Bishop through the Archdeacon, before each quarterly meeting of the Diocesan Association.
5. That every Rural Dean may appoint a secretary, who shall be one of the incumbents of his district.
6. That, for the more effectual support of the great Church interests above recited, for the maintenance of Christian fellowship and union amongst the members of the ministry, and especially for a testimony before all men of our reliance upon Almighty God for aid and success in all our endeavours, a general meeting of the clergy in each archdeaconry be held once every year, in the month of October, at one of the towns hereafter mentionerl, and in the following order : that the meeting shall be preceded by divine service and a sermon in the church ; after which a collection shall be made in support of the schools within the archdeaconry, and a report shall be read publicly upon the state of all the charities recommended by the Bishop and superintended by the decanal chapters.*
7. That, with the consent of the Archbishop, which has been already obtained, the clergy of his peculiars shall be requested to conform to the regulations of the rural deaneries of Chichester, in which they are situated, in the same manner as if they belonged to the diocese, and shall be summoned by the Rural Dean to attend the meetings accordingly.
8. That the clergy of the city of Chichester, being under peculiar jurisdiction, and the clergy of Brighton, being considerable in number, and conveniently situated for consultation with each other and with the Vicar, shall for these purposes be severally placed under the Dean of Chichester and the Vicar of Brighton, who have been requested to act with respect to their clergy as Rural Deans in their deaneries, and to make their reports accordingly.
9. Every meeting of the Rural Deans shall be opened with prayer and closed with a blessing. The prayers recommended are those used by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
On referring to the resolutions passed at the last meeting at Brighton, you will perceive that the task of inquiring and repérting respecting the state of schools in each rural deanery is entrusted to the committee of the Association, laity and clergy resident therein, who are to meet from time to time, when suinmoned according to certain prescribed rules ; and it is possible that some doubts may arise whether such meetings are intended to be identical with those of the rural chapters recommended in the present letter. To obviate, therefore, all misunderstanding upon this sub. ject, I beg leave to state that the rural chapters are totally distinct from these committees; that the former are purely pastoral and ecclesiastical, their members all clerical, their duties various, and their meetings fixed and periodical ; whereas the members of the Association Committee are partly lay and partly clerical, and their meetings only occasional and as circumstances may require. But as the state of the schools will always occupy some portion of the attention of the rural chapters, it would be right and wise that the two committees, which will have many members common to both, should sometimes communicate with each other for the benefit of their common object.
DEFECTS OF THE NEW POOR LAW AND THEIR REMEDIES.
SIR, --May I request a little space in an early number of your Magazine, for a few remarks on the operation of the New Poor Law? Of course there must be some enactment on the subject during the present session ; and among the wise and good, of all parties, there can exist only one common desire to have it made as perfect as possible. My object in the present communication will be, to suggest to my brother-Clergymen (those of them, I mean, who have examined and cousidered the subject for themselves, without prejudice and without favour), that they may render good service to their country, if they will point out such practical evils in the working of the system, as have struck them in their respective parishes and neighbourhoods.
We have opportunities which many of our legislators have not, of seeing into the houses of the poor, of acquainting ourselves with their every-day troubles, of learning from themselves what they feel to be either oppressive or vexatious in the laws by which they are affected ; and it is our business, I think, strictly within the line and scope of our pro
This regulation is submitted entirely to the consideration of the clergy, as well respecting the time and manner of carrying it into effect, as to its practicability. It is not necessary to the plan, though imporiant, if practicable, to its full development. fessional duties, to carry on to our rulers whatever seems to us to require examination or redress. In right of office, the Clergyman claims to be THE POOR MAN'S FRIEND, and while, as a wise and christian friend, he will do all he can to encourage contentment and industry; as a sincere and honest one he ought, where he thinks injustice is done, to avail himself of his position in society, and his access to influential quarters, to do what he can for the protection of the humbler classes. The arrangement is a beautiful one, in a social and economical point of view, which places such a body of men between the rich, who make our laws, and the poor, who are so apt to misunderstand them. By their duties, they are brought into immediate contact with the one party ; through their friends and connexions, they can communicate freely with the other ; and if their opportunities in both quarters be properly improved, they may render most important help to the cause of sound and useful legislation.
Upon the general principle of the New Law, I am not going just now to dilate. There is no doubt that, in its distinguishing features, it must remain nearly as it is. There is too general a concurrence in their favour amongst members of all sides, and in both houses of parliament; too complete an unanimity, I may say, among our leading statesmen, to make any essential change in its provisions possible at present. There must be the Central Commissioners, the workhouse test for the able-bodied, the transfer of jurisdiction from individual overseers to a representative Board ; and so long as these are preserved, the Bill will admit of many modifications, without losing its distinctive character. But I cannot help thinking there are many points of detail to which attention ought to be directed. Some have occurred to me in the course of my own experience; and as others may have been observed elsewhere, it is important that they should be canvassed at once, before the time for applying an efficient remedy has gone by.
I. One great evil arising out of the change has been the ignorance of the poor respecting the law as it is. Under the old system, though the mode of administering relief was bad enough, at any rate there was nothing complicated about it. Every poor man knew who the overseer or guardian was; and, if he wanted relief, straightway went and asked for it. Many a time the man got it who ought to have been sent away empty-handed ; and, as a set-off against this profuse expenditure, too often the most helpless class had but a slender pittance. But still there was nothing of mystery in the matter. The case could not arise of one who ought to have assistance from the parish, and yet knew not how or when to apply for it. Under the new law the duties formerly imposed upon the overseer are divided between the relieving officer and the board of guardians. The relieving officer is, so to speak, the eye and the hand of the board, collecting facts before they decide, and dispensing their alms afterwards. It is a standing rule that the board, at their weekly meetings, will inquire into no case which has not been reported to them by the officer. Anybody may apply to him, and all applications to him he is bound to communicate to the board at their next meeting. The object of this arrangement is, plain enough, to check the applicant's statement of his own case by any knowledge which the relieving officer may have of his circumstances, or any inforVOL. XXII. NO. IV.
mation which he may be able to collect. Now the course to be pursued by the poor man, I allow, is simple enough. When he has once learnt it he will remember it all his days. And yet I venture to say there are thousands and tens of thousands who have not mastered it yet. One will come to the board, and then learn to his surprise that his case cannot be heard, because it does not appear in the books of the relieving officer. Another will make application to the relieving officer; and then, if he speaks discouragingly as to the probability of relief being afforded, will suppose the case is disposed of, and will never think of pressing his suit any farther. In the one case, the poor man feels harassed because his time and labour have been spent in vain; in the other, he is positively injured, because his case has never been heard by the party who alone has the right to determine it.
Now the remedy is so simple, that it is perfectly surprising to me that every board of guardians in England has not adopted it. It is just to have a simple set of directions drawn up, which might be contained in half a dozen sentences, telling the poor man what he is to do, and whither he is to go, if he wants relief. He knew this very well six years ago. The law steps in and tells him the old mode will not do. The law then is bound to go on, and inform him at the same time very explicitly what the new mode is. It signifies nothing to him that this is plainly set down in a certain chapter and section of the Statute Book, or prescribed by a certain order of the “ Poor Law Commissioners for England and Wales." What to him are acts of parliament or commissioners' orders? He knows no more about them than he does of the last imperial decree that was issued by the court of Pekin.
He must have plain English brought to his own door and spoken to him. self. "Mind, if you want relief, this is the way to get it :-You must first apply to the relieving officer when he comes
to your parish, which he will do once every week on a fixed day. Tell him your circumstances, and those of your family. He will take down what you say, and report it to the board. You must ask him when the board meets; and if you can spare the time, it may be well for you to go over and see the gentlemen yourself. That however is not necessary; whether you are there or not, your case will be considered, and, if relief is ordered for you, the relieving officer will supply it. Remember he has nothing to do with granting your request or denying it; that rests entirely with the guardians."
I am satisfied that a few pounds (or shillings I might almost say) spent in printing a short circular like this, to be signed by the chairman, and distributed actively through the district, would have saved a prodigious deal of annoyance and vexation. The poor find it very hard to get authentic information. They are credulous to a marvel. What a neighbour tells them is implicitly believed, though they are sure he has no means of knowledge beyond their own. Upon this subject their fears have been so excited, that any evil report respecting it is greedily swallowed, and any thing yood is believed with difficulty. They are entitled to know the facts of the case, and to know them from authority. Their present uncertainty is painful in itself, and strengthens their previous conviction, that the new law is designed to repel not only the unworthy applicant, but all applicants alike, and that the way to the party administering relief is no longer so open as it used to be.