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recognized in the learned book of Peere Wil. liams, ‘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 Charberlain, 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 valuable reports.”
I was absolutely in consternation: examination before admission was nothing to it; I quaked horribly, and could only still reply:
“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 de cisive 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 shecr 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
nificence of his proffered martyrdom to the general interests of the church; or at the naivete with which he thought to disguise, under such a flimsy veil, a splenetic and vindictive feeling against the poor miller of Dumbleton cum Quagland: on ny assuring him that he must reckon on costs upon a ten-fold scale, he applicd his snow-white cambric to his olfactory organ, replaced his shovel-hat upon his brows, and with most dignified courtesy bade me good-morning. I never heard what became of Peter Tyler and his inill, nor whether my estimate of costs, or my joke, had settled the point, but I did hear, that shortly afterwards the venerable archdeacon was a trustee defendant in an important cause in which I was retained by–nobody!
“Lucent genialibus altis
I was still musing on my misfortunes, for lack of other more interesting topics of professional meditation, when about ten days after this mortifying discovery, a ticket-porter came bustling up to my office door, bearing an antiquated box well protected by iron clamps, corded and locked, and duly directed to Gregory Sharpe, Esq., Attorney at Law, &c., “ to be kept dry, this side uppermost," and all the rest of it. The man demanded fifteen shillings for the carriage, and two more for the porterage; but where it came from, except from that Maelstorm of parcels and passengers, the Golden Cross, or what it contained, he knew no more than the dead. I again suspected a hoax of