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truly is too mild an expression, may be attempted to be palliated. I would insist on the contrary, that instead of its being admitted in extenuation, it is really an aggravation of a flagrant instance of inattention, and shocking indifference. A man whose attainments at any rate as a spiritual guide may be deemed questionablema resident in an alms-house---is allowed five shillings, I say five shillings per annum, something less than five farthings per week, for reading once on a sunday (I really know not wbat) to the prisoners, under the charge of the right worshipful the mayor, who has associated with him, as corporate officers, or common council-men, no less than four gentlemen in holy orders !! Is not this really barbarous ?--its consequences so injurious, and so apparent, it would be an insult to any mind, cultivated in the smallest degree, to offer any further observation or remark.
I might indeed be permitted with propriety to apply a line, which we lately heard eloquently and elegantly made use of, in the bestowment of a well-merited compliment to the exertion of an individual about to retire from the important situation of master of Peter Blundell's Free Grammar School, established in our town,
“In patriam populumque fluxit.”
This very extraordinary indifference, as to the
supply of the bread of life, to those whose confinement renders it impossible for them to seek it where it might be found, 1 allude to places of divine worship, becomes more reprehensible, when I place the following facts before my fellow townsmen. I will first, however, request permission to refer to Mr. Dunsford's History of Tiverton, page 132. Under Richard Hill, alias Spurway, first mayor of Tiverton, we find, he was chiefly instrumental in procuring the first charter; and I suppose, as a compliment to his exertions in this respect, I observe Mr. Dunsford has placed the tolls of the two fairs against his name. I must again repeat, that the inhabitant householders are by charter incorporated under the name of mayor and burgesses ; and that the mayor, capital burgesses, and assistants, are the corporate officers, being a selection of persons from the mass of the inhabitants, who are to assist in, and perform various duties connected with the affairs of the corporation, and government of the town and parish ; which said capital burgesses and assistants, constitute the common council. Now it appears Mr. Dunsford, like too many of our day, really thought that the mayor, twelve capital burgesses, and twelve assistants, formed the whole of the corporation, and so actually assigns the benefits, arising from the fairs and other sources, for their sole use and benefit.
Let us now turn to the clause of the charter of James, restored by that of George, which grants to the mayor and burgesses, the name under which the inhabitants are incorporated, the privilege of holding these fairs. It so happens, that throughout the whole of this clause, there does not appear, even the mention of capital burgesses or assistants. It is a grant simply to the inhabitants, under their incorporated name ; and the purposes for which these fairs are granted, are clearly and distinctly expressed, namely, that they might be the better able to support and maintain the charges and expences of the said town and parish ; and also, for the better relief and sustenance of poor artificers, and other inhabitants of the same town and parish. Nothing, I think, can be more clear, than this grant being for the use and advantage of the inhabitants of Tiverton. Mr. Spurway is then said to give one hundred pounds, and the house of correction in St. Andrew's Street. The charter says, the incorporated inhabitants shall have a gaol ; well, Mr. Spurway liberally gave them one. we now to be told, this is the sole property of the officers of the incorporated body, and not of the incorporated inhabitants at large ? Surely if this be intended, nothing can be more monstrous !
In this prison, a mill was at some period set up. It is said when the Ryder family first
honored Tiverton with their protection, it was a present from that source, from whence so many good things have come. (n) Be this as it
may, the inill was set up, and the prisoners employed in grinding malt for the publicans. This, if voluntary on the part of the publicans, was certainly a judicious arrangement, (o) provided the proceeds of the labour of those employed, went in assistance, as the clause of the charter just quoted expresses it, namely, for the support of the expences of the parish, and for the maintenance of those distressed and needy. But has this been the case ? 1 fear no account has been rendered the parish of these advantages ! Mr. Dunsford says something about the mayor's income. What can this mean? Mr. Dunsford then tells us the mill is now destroyed, and that a miller in the town pays the mayor for the privilege of grinding the publican's malt! How far this is agreeable to the publicans, I shall very soon shew.
(n) I have some reason to think, there was a mill before this period. The borough of Tiverton has not been without a Ryder, since the year 1735.
“ Eques ipso melior Bellerophonte." (0) Hume observes, that one great check to industry in England, was the erecting corporations; an abuse which is not yet entirely corrected. A law was enacted, that cor. porations should not pass any bye-law, without the consent of three of the chief officers of state. (7 Heu. vii. e. 7.) They were prohibited to impose tolls on their gates. (19 Hen. vii. c.
8.) The cities of Gloucester and Worcester had even imposed tolls on the Severne, which were abolished. (19 Hen. vij. c. 18.)
There is really no mention of this right, or rather privilege, of taxing the inhabitants of Tiverton, by imposing this demand on the publicans, among any of the bye-laws that I have seen connected with the borough : indeed nothing but an act of the legislature could have effected this.
The terrors of the licence-day, however, has hitherto commanded compliance. Unless I am greatly deceived, this may be denominated, one of the grossest impositions ever practised upon any town or parish. But let us proceed: I feel, I confess, my powers too inadequate to pour upon this transaction the just reprobation it deserves. I will therefore only repeat the information which has been afforded me, by an inhabitant of Tiverton, on whose veracity and character I have ever placed the utmost reliance. The
farms out to a miller, of the name of Rossiter, the assumed right of insisting, that the publicans who brew their own beer, within the town and parish of Tiverton, shall have their nialt ground at a particular mill, or of exacting a sum of money, in lieu thereof; and that in consequence of his agreement with the mayor, he, the said Rossiter, does actually impose a charge of 2d. per bushel, on all malt consumed by thein in the course of their trade. He also stated, that though Rossiter ground not (wenty bushels in