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the church; thé beneficed clergy the second; the curates the last. Why are you to take from the second, to give to the last? Why not as well from the first to give to the second, if you really mean to contend that the first and second are already too rich ?
It is not true, however, that the class of rectors is generally either too rich, or even rich enough. There are 6000 livings below 801. per annum, which is not much above the average very allowance of a curate. If every rector, however, who has more than 500%. is obliged to give a fifth part to a curate, there seems to be no reason why every bishop who has more than 1000, should not give a fifth part among the poor rectors in his diocese, It is in vain to say that this assessment upon rectors is reasonable and right, because they may reside and do duty themselves, and then they will not need a curate;-that their non-residence, in short, is a kind of delinquency for which they compound by this fine to the parish. If more than a half of the rectories in England are under 80%. a year, and some thousands of them under 40., pluralities are absolutely necessary; and clergymen, who have not the gift of ubiquity, must be non-resident at some of them, Curates, therefore, are not the deputies of negligent rectors ;they are an order of priests absolutely necessary in the present form of the church of England: and a rector incurs no shadow of delinquency by employing one, more than the King does by appointing a Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or a Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, instead of doing the duty of these offices in person. If the Legislature, there fore, is to interfere to raise the natural, i. . the actual wages this order of men, at the expense of the more opulent ministers of the gospel, there seems to be no sort of reason for exempting the bishops from their share in this pious contribution, or for refusing to make a similar one for the benefit of all rectors whọ have less than 100%. per annum.
The true reason, however, for exempting my Lords the Bishops from this imposition, is, that they have the privilege of voting upon all bills brought in by Mr Perceval, and of materially afs fecting his comfort and security by their parliamentary controul and influence. This, however, is to cure what you believe to be unjust, by means which you must know to be unjust; to fly out against abuses which may be remedied without peril, and to connive at them when the attempt at a remedy is attended with political danger; to be mute and obsequious towards men who enjoy church property to the amount of 18 or 19,000l. per annum; and to be so scandalized at those who possess as many hundreds, that you must melt their revenues down into curacies, and sayę to the eye of political economy the spectacle of such flagrant ins equality!
In the same style of reasoning, it may be asked, why the lay impropriators are not compelled to advance the salary of their perpetual curacies, up to a fifth of their estates? The answer too is equally obvious, Many lay impropriators have votes in both Houses of Parliament; and the only class of men this cowardly reformation attacks, is that which has no means of saying any thing in its own defence.
Even if the enrichment of curates were the most imperious of all duties, it might very well be queftioned, whether a more unequal and pernicious mode of fulfilling it could be devifed than that enjoined by this bill. Curacies are not granted for the life of the curate; but for the life or incumbency or good-liking of the rector, It is only rectors worth 500l. a year who are compelled by Mr Perceval to come down with a fifth to their deputy; and thefe form but a very small proportion of the whole non-refident rectors; so that the great multitude of curates must remain as poor as formerly, and probably a little more difcontented. Suppofe, however, that one has actually entered on the enjoyment of 250l. per annum. His wants, and his habits of expense are enlarged by this increase of income. In a year or two his rector dies, or exchanges his living; and the poor man is reduced, by the effects of comparison, to a much worse state than before the operation of the bill. Can any perfon fay that this is a wife and effectual mode of ameliorating the condition of the lower clergy? To us it almoft appears to be invented for the exprefs purpose of destroying thofe habits of economy and caution, which are fo ine difpenfably neceflary to their fituation. If it is urged that the curate, knowing his wealth only to be temporary, will make use of it as a means of laying up a fund for fome future day,—we admire the good fenfe of the man: But what becomes of all the provifions of the bill? what becomes of that opulence which is to confer refpectability upon all around it, and to radiate even upon the curates of Wales? The money was expressly given to blacken his coat,-to render him convex and rofy,-to give him a fort of pfeudo-rectorial appearance, and to dazzle the parishion ers at the rate of 250l. per annum. The poor man, actuated by thofe principles of common fenfe, which are fo contrary to all the provifions of the bill, chooses to make a good thing of it, because he knows it will not laft; wears his old coat, rides his lean horfe, and defrauds the clafs of curates of all the advantages which they were to derive from the fleekness and fplendour of his appear
It is of fome importance to the welfare of a parish, and the credit of the church, that the curate and his rector fhould live upon good terms together. Such a bill, however, throws be
tween them elements of miftruft and hatred, which muft render their agreement highly improbable. The curate would be perpetually prying into every little advance which the rector made upon his tithes, and claiming his proportionate increase. No refpectable man could brook fuch inquifition;-fome, we fear, would en deavour to prevent its effects by clandeftine means. The church would be a perpetual fcene of difgraceful animofities; and the ears of the bishop never free from the clamours of rapacity and irritation.
It is fome flight defect in fuch a bill, that it does not proportion reward to the labour done, but to the wealth of him for whom it is done. The curate of a parish containing 400 perfons, may be paid as much as another person who has the care of 10,000; for, in England, there is very little proportion between the value of a living, and the quantity of duty to be performed by its clergyman.
The bill does not attain its object in the best way. Let the bifhop refufe to allow of any curate upon a living above 5ool. per annum, who is not a master of arts of one of the universities. Such curates will then be obtained at a price which will render it worth the while of fuch men to take curacies; and fuch a degree and fituation in fociety will fecure good curates, much more effectually than the complicated provifions of this bill: for, prima facia, it appears to us much more probable, that a curate fhould be refpectable who is a mafter of arts in fome English university, than if all that we knew about him was that he had a fifth of the profits of the living. The object is, to fix a good clergyman in a parish. The law will not truft the non-refident rector to fix both the price and the perfon; but fixes the price, and then leaves him the choice of the perfon. Our plan is, to fix upon the description of perfon, and then to leave the price to find its level; for the good price by no means implies a good perfon, but the good perfon will be fure to get a good price.
Where the living will admit of it, we have commonly obferv. ed, that the English clergy are defirous of putting in a proper fubftitute. If this is fo, the bill is unneceffary; for it proceeds on the very contrary fuppofition, that the great mafs of opulent clergy confult nothing but economy in the choice of their curates.
It is very galling and irkfome to any clafs of men to be compelled to disclose their private circumftances; a provifion contained in and abfolutely neceffary to this bill, under which the diocefan can always compel the minifter to difclofe the full value of his living.
After all, however, the main and conclusive objection to the bill is, that its provisions are drawn from such erroneous principles,
ciples, and betray such gross ignorance of human nature, that though it would infallibly produce a thousand mischiefs foreseen and not foreseen, it would evidently have no effect whatsoever in raising the salaries of curates. We do not put this as a case of common buyer and seller; we allow that the parish is a third party, having an interest; we fully admit the right of the Legislature to interfere for their relief. We only contend, that such interference would be necessarily altogether ineffectual, so long as men can be found capable of doing the duty of curates, and willing to do it for less than the statutory minimum.
If there is a competition of rectors for curates, it is quite unnecessary and absurd to make laws in favour of curates. The demand for them will do their business more effectually than the law. If, on the contrary (as the fact plainly is), there is a competition of curates for employment, is it possible to prevent this order of men from labouring under the regulation price? Is it possible to prevent a curate from pledging himself to his rector, that he will accept only half the legal salary, if he is so fortunate as to be preferred among an host of rivals, who are willing to engage on the same terms? You may make these contracts illegal: What then? Men laugh at such prohibitions; and they always become a dead letter. In nine instances out of ten, the contract would be honourably adhered to; and then, what is the use of Mr Perceval's law? Where the contract was not adhered to, whom would the law benefit?-A man utterly devoid of every particle of honour and good faith. And this is the new species of curate, who is to reflect dignity and importance upon his poorer brethren? The law encourages breach of faith between gambler and gambler; it arms broker against broker :-but it cannot arm clergyman against clergyman. Did any human being, before, ever think of disseminating such a principle among the teachers of Christianity? Did any ecclesiastical law, before this, ever depend for its success upon the mutual treachery of men who ought to be examples to their fellow-creatures of every thing that is just and upright?
We have said enough already upon the absurdity of punishing all rich rectors for nonresidence, as for a presumptive delinquency. A law is already passed, fixing what shall be legal and sufficient causes for nonresidence. Nothing can be more unjust, C
VOL. XIII. No. 25.
* We remember Horace's description of the misery of a parish. where there is no resident clergyman.
then, than to punish that absence which you admit to be legal. If the causes of absence are too numerous, lessen them; but do not punish him who has availed himself of their existence. We deny, however, that they are too numerous. There are 6000
livings out of 11,000 in the English church under 801. per annum; many of these 20%., many 301. per annum. The whole task of education at the university, public schools, private families, and in foreign travel, devolves upon the clergy. A great part of the literature of their country is in their hands. Residence is a very proper and necessary measure; but, considering all these circumstances, it requires a great deal of moderation and temper to carry it into effect, without doing more mischief than good. At present, however, the torrent sets the other way. Every lay plunderer, and every fanatical coxcomb, is forging fresh chains for the English clergy; and we should not be surprised, in a very little time, to see them absenting themselves from their benefices by a kind of day-rule, like prisoners in the King's Bench. The first bill, which was brought in by Sir William Scott, always saving and excepting the power granted to the Bishops,-is full of useful provisions, and characterized throughout by great practical wisdom. We have no doubt but that it has, upon the whole, improved the condition of the English church. Without caution, mildness, or information, however, it was peculiarly unfortunate to follow such a leader. We are extremely happy the bill was rejected. We have seldom witnessed more of ignorance and error stuffed and crammed into so very narrow a compass. Its origin, we are confident, is from the Tabernacle; and its consequences would have been, to have sown the seeds of discord and treachery in an ecclesiastical constitution, which, under the care of prudent and honest men, may always be rendered a source of public happiness.
One glaring omission in this bill we had almost forgotten to mention. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has entirely neglected to make any provision for that very meritorious class of men, the lay curates, who do all the business of those offices, of which lazy and nonresident placemen receive the emoluments. So much delicacy and conscience, however, are here displayed on the subject of pocketing unearned emoluments, that we have no doubt the moral irritability of this servant of the Crown will speedily urge him to a species of reform, of which he may be the object as well as the mover.