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from what pocket it may, so I declared my col lege, and satisfied his doubts: he then proceeded. “It is most painful, Sir, to any man who feels the due importance of the pastoral relation, to be involved in a controversy with a parishioner about the temporalities of the church; but we owe a duty to our successors, which is too frequently opposed to our natural inclination to yield, rather than assert by law, our most undoubted rights.” The sentiment was awfully impressive, and might possibly be sincere. I bowed, and hemmed acquiescence. “I need not remind you, Sir, that though in the present day, and for some centuries past, that revolution that occurred in our ecclesiastical polity in the days of the eighth Henry, completely secularized all property in tithes, and subjected them to the manifold incidents of a lay-fee, yet on the acknowledged principles of our common law, spiritual persons alone are entitled to receive them.” The Archdeacon now became awfully learned! I again bowed and hemmed, but with somewhat more of the hem critical, than the hem acquiescent: he advanced in his syllogism.
“I, Sir, am a spiritual person, as my card has doubtless assured you. I am the vicar of Dumbleton cum Quagland, in the county of Lincoln; and by virtue of the endowment, I claim, as of indisputable right, all the tithes of hay, wool, agistment, sheep, calves, poultry, and garden stuff, and all oblations, mortuaries, and dues thereto belonging, or in any way appurtenant to the same.” It admitted of no question; on my part it would have been downright folly to doubt it: my assent to the position was this time most cordial. “Easter offerings, Sir, are, as you of course well know, dues of common right.” He paused, as if for a professional confirmation of the dogma, but I knew nothing about it, though I was afraid to say so. My policy was to parry the thrust by a simple “Well, Sir?” “I may be wrong, Sir; I do not pretend to be an authority in such matters, but the slight research which my clerical duties have allowed me to make into them, has taught me to consider this as an axiom in law; for I find it so laid down by my Lord Coke, and also recognized in the learned book of Peere Williams, “for,” says the chief baron Gilbert, ‘Easter offerings are a compensation for personal tithes, or as other authorities maintain, for the tithe of personal labor; inasmuch as by the statute 2 and 3 of Edward VI, chap. xiii, sec. 7, it is enacted, that every person shall yearly, at or before Easter, pay, for his personal tithe, the tenth part of his clear gain, his charges and expenses being allowed according to his degree.” I began to gasp for breath, having long since been out of my depth, but my venerable visitor had not got to the beginning of his case ; and in spite of exchequer suits in view, I trembled at the prospect. Silence was obviously my cue, and I allowed him to go on without interruption. “It was determined in Newn versus Charnberlain, 1 Equity Cases Abridged, page 366, that the clear profit of a corn-mill must be reckoned after deducting the charge of erecting the mill; and this has been decided over and over again, for which see Ambler, Vernon, Brown, Lee, and many other old and
I was absolutely in consternation: examination before admission was nothing to it; I quaked horribly, and could only still reply: “Well, Sir?” “Well, Sir; Peter Tyler, the miller at Dumbleton cum Quagland, my wealthiest parishioner, sets me at defiance, and insists that the sails are an annual charge to be deducted from his clear profits before he will pay his personal tithe of labor, commonly called Easter dues!” I began to suspect a hoax, but it was not prudent to avow the suspicion. “I thought, Sir, at least I always understood, that two-pence or three-pence per head was universally recognized as the rate of Easter dues!” “I know not by what law or statute that limit can be prescribed, Sir, nor do I know any precedent that can overrule the act of Edward the Sixth. Will you favor me with a case, Sir?” I was convinced the man was hoaxing me, and I resolved to be even with him. “The case of Twitch and Tweakem is decisive on that point.”
“Twitch and Tweakem,” taking out his pocket-book and noting it down: “have the goodness to refer me to the report.” “You will find it,” I said, turning over a common place book with nothing in it, “at page 551 of Quotem's Reports, vol. 15.” But there was no joking in the matter: he returned to me the next day to tell me that he had been to the Temple and Lincoln's Inn libraries, and even to the British Museum, but could discover neither the case nor the book. “Very likely, Sir; it is extremely scarce, and not to be met with, except by sheer accident; but what do you wish me to do?” “I wish you to compel Peter Tyler, Sir, to render an account, a true and just account, of his clear annual profits; and in a case, Sir, like this, where the interests of the church (of which I am an unworthy minister) are at stake, I am willing to bear any reasonable expense, even if it should, by the tedious uncertainty of the law, (for which I blame no one) absorb twenty, or thirty, or peradventure
fifty pounds.” I could scarcely forbear a laugh at the mag