Page images
PDF
EPUB

$ 3.-IV. For Increasing the Value of English Livings,

exacting from the Population of the Three Kingdoms the Annual Sum of 100,0001.

The history of the fund, to which this comes as an addition, presents some curious enough particulars.

Ever since the year 1703, being the third year of Queen Anne, that same original fund has been in existence. It is composed of the produce of a part of taxes first imposed on ecclesiastical benefices in general, originally by the Popes; and, by King Henry the Eighth and his Protestant successors, continued in quality of successors to these same Catholic rulers. The hold taken by the Popes had been unsteady and incomplete. Henry included within his grasp (26 H. VIII. c. 3.) all ecclesiastical benefices without distinction : First Fruits were the whole income of the first year; tenths, were a ten per cent. income-tax upon the income of each succeeding year. The amounts being of course, from the first, as low as individual self-defence on the spot, struggling against distant tyranny, could contrive to make them,--and for the decrease in the value of money no correspondent increase being ever made, thus it is, that, upon an average of twelve years, ending with the year 1814, the sum total annually received from the whole nuinber of benefices in England,—with the exception of those which, by the Act of Queen Anne, were exempted, in consideration of their not yielding more than 501. a year,-money of that time, amounted to no more than about 14,0001.: (14,0371. 175. 101d.)

Various topics of observation here suggest themselves : --1. Worthlessness of the original object;-2. Insufficiency of the means originally provided ;—3. Amplitude

of the means more properly applicable to the same object; -4. Wastefulness of the new addition, anno 1809.

1. First, as to the worthlessness of the original object. -What was that object ?--salvation of souls -increase in the value (quality and quantity taken together) of the official service ?-No such thing: for, from that time down to the present,—now upwards of a century,-not of, so much as a single step, taken towards the production of any such increase, are any traces to be found. 1. Appropriate qualification, on the part of the Incumbent. 2. Inerease or security given to the number of times in the year on which service shall be performed; 3. Residence of a Mi. nister within or near the Parish :-in relation to no one of these points, by authority of government, has any condition been ever established, or sought to be established. Statutes at Large-Burn’s Ecclesiastical Law-no trace of any such thing any where.

Among the papers printed by order and for the use of the House of Commons-in and for six successive years, from 1810 to 1815 inclusive, may be seen papers, having each of them for its title, “ An Account of the Steps taken by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, towards the sum of 100,0001. granted by Parliament "for the Relief of the Poor Clergy:"-in no one of them is any such trace to be found.

Among these same House of Commons documents for the year 1815, may be seen a folio of 139 pages, with this title :-“ Papers relating to Queen Anne's Bounty, and to Parliamentary Grants for the Augmentation of the maintenance of the Poor Clergy:" 1703—1815. Date of the order for printing, 27th February, 1815: No. 115.Throughout this whole volume, the same sacred silence. of the host of saints, by which that Honourable House is sanctified,—not one, at whose instance, information in relation to the attention shewn to any one object except the money, was obtainable.

· The number of souls saved will be as the aggregate amount of the money put into the pockets of the established Clergy:-such, once more, is the fundamental principle:-such has been the principle acted upon from the first-acted upon to the last—acted upon throughout the whole of the ecclesiastical department. To so many others that have been seen add this further proof, of the dominion exercised over practice by the maxims herein-above ascribed (App. No. IV. § 4) to Excellent Church.

Of any steps, in any one instance, taken by any person or persons, towards the forwarding of any one of the above-mentioned essential objects,—the only trace that has been found shall here be mentioned :-it consists in the following passage in one of those letters of the Diocesan Secretary so often mentioned, viz. Letter II. Morning Chronicle, 20th Nov. 1813:

« On a recent proposal, by the Governors of the Boun“ties of Queen Anne, to augment some livings, if the

duty was increased, one Incumbent proved satisfactorily, “ that, if he received the augmentation, and caused the “ duty to be performed once every Sunday, instead of once

a fortnight, he should receive two pounds per annum less 6 than he received without the augmentation ;-another, « where the duty is only once a month, not only declined " the augmentation, with an increase of duty to once a fortnight, but stated, as other Churches were near, he

thought it would be a good plan to dilapidate the Church “ entirely,—so that he wanted to get rid of the duty alto

gether,—but he did not say one word about giving up “ the living, although a small one.”

II. Insufficiency of the means originally provided. III. Amplitude of the means all along more properly

applicable to the same object.

From the days of Henry the Eighth, down to those of Queen Anne, not any the slightest symptoms of concern in relation to this matter : where, in the eyes of the retainers of the Monarch and their retainers, the pay, clogged as it was with the duty, was not worth their acceptance,souls and their salvation were not worth a thought. The throne being filled by a weak woman, up steps Excellent Church, and seats itself by her side. The produce of the above-mentioned antique assessment is now, by the piety of the Queen, bestowed in augmentation of the small benefices. Pompous is the language in which the grant is announced and established. What does it amount to? In round numbers, 14,0001. a year and no more.

Not to speak of Bishoprics and Archbishoprics-among the twenty-six nests of acknowledged idlers, styled Chapters, headed by Deans,-more than one might be mentioned, each of which would, by its suppression, or at any rate with the addition of one other, have furnished towards this same object a larger contribution.

By the suppression of no one of these seats and sources of corruption, would any tax on the public have been imposed. By that in question, as by every other manifestation of Royal bounty, a tax to the annual amount of it has been imposed : for, royal revenue being never sufficient for royal bounty, taxes are the means by which the everlasting deficiency is everlastingly supplied.

In regard to efficiency with reference to the ends in view, -whatever were these ends, the prospect afforded by such a contribution was altogether ludicrous. A calculation may be seen in Burn's Ecclesiastical Law, title, First Fruits and Tenths. At the time of making it-(the time not specified, nor is the omission any great loss)—226 was the number of years that would have elapsed, before the arrival of the day, on which,-on the supposition that livings, under the value of 501. a year, money of the then present time, were the only ones to which the augmentation was to be applied,—they would the whole number of them-have been raised up to that amount.

Here then came a dilemma.-Salvation of souls being the professed object,—the money thus bestowed, under the notion of its operating in the character of a means towards that most important end, would it, with reference to that end, be in any degree efficient ?--would it be altogether inefficient ?-On neither supposition is any such remotely operative arrangement a defensible one. Is it in any degree efficient ?-what is to become of souls before the instrument of salvation has been in readiness to operate ?--why are these to be left unsaved, any more than those, if any, who will have to come after them ?-Is it altogether inefficient ?- The money thus bestowed is then, the whole of it, with reference to the ends in question, bestowed in waste. And, at the end of the 226 years, what, in point of pecuniary sufficiency, is produced? Of no one of the several Reverend principals in question, does the pay as yet amount, to one-fourth part of that which, at present, in the declared opinion of Parliament, the deputy of every such principal would have, if his quantum of pay were sufficient.

IV. Wastefulness of the recent Addition, Anno 1809.

Paper money being plenty, political piety not less so, shame alone scarce, -May 20th, anno 1809, comes from the

« PreviousContinue »