« ПретходнаНастави »
Ixxxvi Mr. Pitt's Birth-day.-Tribute of respect, 8c. a number of persons insulting a nation bending under an increasingly vexatious, and oppressive taxation, the fatal consequences of his measures, by advertising a festive meeting to commemorate a day, which should for ever “ stand accursed in the calendar,” the birthday of that scourge of his country and of Europe.
The advertisement of Mr. Pitt's adolaters, is we observe, placed very properly, between one advertisement of the supporters of a society for the relief of the blind, and another of the supporters of an hospital for the reception of lunatics! Whoever surveys the present situation of Europe, the result of the Pitt system, will agree with us in recommending its admirers, who, Nero like, are • fiddling while Europe is in flames," to the notice of one or the other of these charitable institutions.
Tribute of respect to Mr. Plumer.-Whilst some of our countrymen are displaying their infatuation, we are happy to find others displaying their good sense, virtue and patriotisın. The freeholders of HERTFORDSHIRE, who have indeed sufficient reason to regret the retirement from parliament of their old, uniform, virtuous, independent representative Mr. PLUMER, assembled on Friday last at his seat at Gilston park, to present to him a magnificent silver vase, adorned with appropriate devices and inscriptions, the expence of which about 600l. was defrayed in sums not exceeding two guineas each; uo larger subscription being permitted, in order that every class of freeholders might have an opportunity of testifying their respect. A platform was erected in the park, for the accommodation of the spectators. About 12 o'clock the freeholders on horseback, distinguished by orange cockades, and accompanied by a band of music, entered the park. The vase was carried in a barouche, which headed the cavalcade, in which were four gentlemen including the chairman of the committee, Byde Esq. of Ware park, who on presenting the vase made an appropriate speech on the occasion, which was answered by Mr. PLUMER, who after a brief recapitulation of his parliamentary conduct, and warm expressions of gratitude for the honour conferred on bim, observed, that he then addressed them no longer as a representative, but as a freeholder in common with a man wbo possessed but 40 shillings a year in the county. He earnestly exhorted them to maintain their own independence, as it was only by such a line of conduct they could hope to send independent men to parliament. The names of the subscribers written on vellum, and elegantly bound in morrocco, was presented with the vase. The assemblage of persons of both sexes on this occasion was as respectable as numerous, and the manner in which they were entertained at the mansion of the retired patriot, proved, what was before well known in the neighbourhood, that his hospitality is equat to his patriotism. Harlow. May 30.
. B. F.
PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS. Stipendiary Curates Bill. The non-residence of the clergy of the established church of England, and the inequality subsisting between their different services and emoluments, have long been matter of just complaint to every thoughtful person who derives his ideas of christianity from the New Testament. Bishop Burnet terms non-residence " the peculiar scandal of the church of England;" and the sad consequences of it he laments in the following animated terms." It is with regret, I have observed the clergy in all the “ places through which I have travelled, papists, lutherans, cal“ vivists and dissenters; but of them all, our clergy are much the “ most remiss in their labours in private, and the least severe in “ their lives ..... I must own, that the main body of our clergy “ has always appeared dead and lifeless to me, and instead of “ animating one another, they seem to lay one another asleep."* The “ scandal” complained of, has, since the period when the good bishop wrote his history, instead of decreasing, copsiderably in- .. creased, so that at length our rulers, civil and ecclesiastical, perceive the absolute necessity (of applying a remedy. This has been attempted by various methods. A set of men, who have rendered themselves odious to their countrymen in general, known by the name of Informers, alhired by the love of gain, endeavoured to pursue the same kind of traffic in the church as they had frequently practised in the state. The penalties for non-residence in certain cases being somewhat heavy, numberless informations were laid against our clerical defaulters. To protect them from the consequences of their long and reapeated violation of the laws, an act of parliament two or three years since, was procured in their favour,
by which the different actions were stopped in their progress, at the - same time, several clauses were inserted enjoining the duty of resi
dence, and additional powers were given to the bishops, to enforce obedience to the act. The evil, however, of non-residence does
* Burnet's History of his own Times, Vol. IV. p. 183. 12mo. Ed.
not appear to have been checked by these means, at least to any considerable degree. His Majesty's privy Council, therefore, thought proper during the past year, to write circular letters to the bishops, requesting their opinions as to the necessity of some farther legislative provisions on this subject. The right reverend bench, however, do not appear to have been very active in enforcing the late act, and some of them seem to deprecate all farther legislative interference. This in particular appears to have been the case with a late learned and venerable prelate, Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, who in his reply to the circular letter sent him on the occasion, observed as follows ;-.“ Upon the whole, it seems to me (if I “ may have leave to give my own private opinion in this matter,). " that residence cannot be inforced more strictly' than it is at pre“sent, under a favourable construction of the late act, without “ throwing numbers of the clergy into such a state of uneasiness and “ dis-comfort, as must injure and not serve, the cause of true “ practical religion: and it is on this ground that I have not " thought it necessary or proper to send out those citations or “ monitions which the act permits me to do."
“Residence,” in the opinion of Bishop Hurd, “ camnot be en“ forced more strictly than it is at present,” consistently with the ease and comfort of the ministers of the establishment; but it is necessary to inquire-how is this duty, “ enforced, at present ?" To which we have an answer at hand from official authority. The number of parishes in England is about 11,000. By a paper laid on the table of the house of Commons, a few days since, it appears that the puniber of non-resident clergy amounted in 1805, to 4,506, and in 1807, to 6,145 !—The disgraceful and' melancholy fact is thus proclaimed to the world. The opulent part of the clergy are suffered to remain inattentive to the duties of their stations, and the inferior part are working hard, and performing much spiritual drudgery for a scanty pittance. The reports of the frustees of Mr. Stock's charity for the relief of the indigent clergy, prove most forcibly the miserable state of numbers who are doing the duty of several parishes, and who with their large families are subsisting, or rather starving on incomes of fifty, forty, and even thirty pounds per annum, and this at a time wlien pluralists and dignitaries are living in luxury, and indolence.
To remedy some of these shameful, long standing, and crying eoclesiastical abuses, so far as they relate to incumbents and curates, the STIPENDIARY CURATÈS BILL has been introduced, and after much discussion and debate, has passed the house of Commons: by the time these remarks meet the eye of the reader, it is probable the bill will have received the sanction of the house of Lords. By this bill it is enacted that in cases of non-residence, the bishop of the diocese
may appoint a curate, and assign that curate, a stipend ; not to exceed a due proportion of the annual salary, and in no case to exceed 250l. a-year. Various additional powers are likewise lodged in the hands of the bishops'to be exercised at their discretion, with liberty of appeal to the archbishop, both from the curate, and the incumbent. From the extreme caution with which the bishops have exercised their powers under the act passed a few years since, and from the opinion of one of the bishops already quoted, it is not difficult to foresee that the remedy proposed will prove but very partial, and that the ecclesiastical grievances, not more loudly than justly complained of for centuries past, will for the most part remain, to the continued disgrace of the established church. The right reverend bench are indeed placed by the bill in rather an aukward predicament; it will be hardly possible for them to give content to incumbents and curates : the very exercise of their new powers must imply a censure on the incumbent. Sir FRANCIS BURDETT, whb “ thought the bill did not go at all to remedy the “ evils pointed out,” very properly asked " Why should not “ bishops reside in their respective sees?" Reflections on the nature of their own situation, the various preferments which many of them hold in addition to their bishoprics, and on the manner in which they discharge the duties of their office, will doubtless render them wary how they exact what may be deemed severe duty by others. The bishop of LLANDAFP for instance, whose see being one of the most inferior in point of revenue, has endeavoured almost ever since he possessed it, to exchange for a better, fawning on different administrations, but despised by all, holds a valuable professorship in the University of Cambridge, the duties of which are performed by deputy for a fifth part of the salary, together with the rich living of Somersham, the duties of which are performed by a curate. His lordship’s favourite, and almost constant residence, except when the business of the state calls him to the house of Lords, is--not in his diocese of Llandaff, but at his seat in Cumberland, hundreds of miles distant. Will his lordship's conscience permit bin to encroach on the “ ease and comfort” of a non-resident clergyman, or insist on his allowing a curate an income proportionate to his labours ? The plain. Truth must be told :--Till the people theinselves, like the primitive christians, choose their own pastors, pay them, and watch over their conduct, the church will be ma condition similar to the state, and substantial reform will be looked for in vain, equally in the one department as in the other.
It is melancholy to observe the deplorable ignorance which too generally prevails on the subject of ecclesiastical property, not only amongst the people at large, but even amongst their superiors
in the two branches of the legislature. In almost every debate on ecclesiastical affairs, the public are sure to be insulted with the pompous nonsense about the peculiarly sacred nature of church property. Happy would it have been for mankind if the sacred order had discovered a little of what although it does not bear a dignified term, is really of some consequence to the welfare of mankind, we mean COMMON HONESTY. Do we inquire into the origin of tithes ? Every one acquainted with the subject will answer---They were originally given, voluntarily, for the use of christian assemblies in general, and for the use of their poor in particular; that it was not for many centuries after the promulgation of christianity, nor till christianity was grossly corrupted, that the people were compelled by law to the payment of tithes, and that the major part were seized by the priesthood. It is likewise an indisputable fact, that the greater part of the property now : in possession of the church was originally designed, and was for many centuries enjoyed, by another church--the church of Rome. Whatright therefore have the bishops and clergy of the church of England to their revenues, but on the principle that the sovereigu legislature of a state, have at all times the right to make what alterations they may deem necessary or expedient for the regulation, or the reformation of the church. Ecclesiastical property is at all times public property, of which the sovereign legislative authority are the guardians and directors, which they have a right to dispose of, , or resume as may be deemed best for the public welfare : our bishops and clergy by enjoying that property which was originally intended for the support of the church of Rome give their full practical assent to the sentiments here maintained.
It is readily ackuowledged, that part of the property originally devoted to the service of the church, by being transferred into lay hands, and other parts being bought and sold, agreeably to the law of the land, are sacred, so far as to secure to the proprietors an equal right to such property, with that of any other description of persons. Most certainly where property has been legally purchased, it cannot be legally resumed without a proper compensation. Where persons have engaged in that ecclesiastical SLAVE TRADE, the purchase of a cure of souls, they certainly have a legal right to the due advantages of their spiritual traffic, because, however repugnant it may be to the christianity of the New Testament, it is sanctioned by law; it must, however, be understood that the same law requires certain services to be performed; and that it is the duty of the guardians of the national church, the supreme legislature, to see that the people are duly served, when they pay so dearly; and if this be not the case, or should the legislature ever act the wise and christian part, of leaving the people