Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

two and twenty bishops, and so many
deans, dignitaries, prebendaries, &c., for
the purpose of superintending only 1,289
benefices-the number in Ireland, ac
cording to the return of 1819? Whether
they looked to England, or to any other
country, they would not find any thing
like the same proportion. The House
were bound in duty to consider whether
or not the establishment was great; and
if they found that it was too great, they
were bound in duty to reduce it. Why
had they reduced the army? Because it
was more numerous than was requisite,
and required more money to keep up
than the country could afford to bestow.
Why keep up so many bishops and deans
and other dignitaries? If it were neces-
sary to have so many cathedrals, (and
that was a point upon which he did not
pretend to be informed,) why would not
one clergyman, with his curate, be suffi
cient for each of them? Why maintain
five hundred useless individuals, living in
idleness, and living on the public? These
were no times for drones. We wanted
an active community. Every man, of
whatever station and condition, ought to
exert himself for the benefit of the coun-
try. Under those circumstances, was it
fitting that the public property should be
wasted in the support of a useless Church
Establishment? He had no hesitation in
declaring, on the maturest consideration
of all the duties performed by these deans
and chapters in Ireland, that their ser-
vices might be immediately and entirely
dispensed with. With regard to the
exact amount of Church property in Ire-
land, it was a subject on which it was im-
possible to speak with perfect accuracy.
On the whole he thought he could shew
pretty nearly how the fact stood. If the
whole surface of Ireland were estimated
at fourteen millions of Irish, or eighteen
millions of English acres, there was rea-
son to believe that the bishops, deans,
and chapters possessed a proportion equal
to nearly two-elevenths of the whole, cul-
tivated and wild. If the whole rental of
Ireland were taken at the amount at
which it had been estimated by Mr. Wake-
field, averaging the rental of one county
with the rental of another; an estimate
which several Irishmen to whom he had
submitted it had declared to be in their
opinion as fair as it was possible to make
without a particular survey-it would
appear to be about 14,000,0001, Two-
elevenths of that sum would be equal to
about 2,500,000%. If the tithes of the
1289 benefices were valued at only 5007.
each, (although in some cases they a-
mounted to 10007, 20007. 30007. and even
40007. and in none less than 5007.) that

Officers of the Consistorial
Courts

175

Could it possibly be necessary to have would give an additional sum of about

2 B

VOL. XVIII.

guished persons, that the remuneration was insufficient in some cases, and excessive in others. Bishop Watson was decidedly of that opinion, and his argument on the subject had remained unanswered. It was Bishop Watson's proposal, that to increase the incomes of the poor clergy, so that no individual should have less than 1001. per annum, a third of the value of all prebends should be appropriated as they fell vacant; and he expressed his conviction, that the end would be much sooner accomplished by that means than by any operation of Queen Anne's Bounty. To that proposal no answer had ever been made. But he (Mr. Hume) believed, that two prebends which had fallen vacant had been appropriated to the repairs of a cathedral, and it was undoubted that there had been other instances of interference with Church property for similar purposes. There were no fewer than five and twenty Acts in the Statute Book, the principal object of which was to prevent the clergy from robbing the Church. He had found in Selden, that in his time it was by no means uncommon for clergymen to sell tithes and other Church property to laymen for ever. In what state did the Church establishment of Ireland appear to be at present placed? It was the opinion of various persons who had travelled over Ireland, and who had inquired very closely into this subject, that if the whole of the population of Ireland, which, according to the last census, amounted to 6,800,000, were divided into fourteenths, the members of the Established Protestant Church would be found to be only about one fourteenth, or 490,000. The Protes tant Presbyterian Dissenters amounted to nearly one-fourth of the remainder; and there were about 5,900,000 who were Catholics. Now let the House consider the amount of the money paid to the Protestant Establishment in Ireland, and the condition of the Establishment itself. As far as he had been able to ascertain the present establishment of the Irish Church, it was as follows:

Archbishops and Bishops
Deans - :

Dignitaries

Prebendaries

Rural Deans

Vicars Choral
Choristers

Canons and Stipendiaries

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

22
33

108

178

107

52 20

14

534

700,000. The two sums together made about 2,200,000%. or 2,300,000., which was the annual revenue in the hands of the Protestant Church Establishment of Ireland. Now he would ask the House, whether it was consistent, that individuals who had so little to do should be allowed to enjoy so large a share of the public property? Were those three millions divided among the labourers in the vineyard? Were they made a fund of remuneration for the pious and assiduous teachers of moral and religious instruction? No such thing; and he believed he would be able to bring this, matter home to the feeling of gentlemen, by laying on the table, whenever the House allowed him, a return of the names and numbers of the curates in Ireland, with the amount of years they served, and the portion of salary allotted to them. He could shew that it was a rare occurrence, indeed, that curates were promoted. It was certain that the apportionment of this money was most unequally made, but there was a difficulty in ascertaining the real value. For instance, the Primate, who was Archbishop of Armagh, was stated to derive between 15 and 20,000%. a-year from his see; but there was besides a great deal of land leased out to individuals, and thus many persous were largely enjoying the property of the church. It was very much the practice with the bishops to re-let land, on the small and antiquated rent, to their immediate connexions and friends. Some, indeed, he was aware, by running their lives against the holders, had got possession of vast tracts of land. As to the practice of the bishops in providing for their connexions and friends, at the expense of the church, he did not blame them, for that they had the right, it appeared, to do. It was the system that was to be blamed; no man should be placed in a situation so tempting, and a system that did so, was the worst plan of legislation that could be. But it was not to be expected that bishops would neglect the opportunity while they had the power. But beyond this, there was another and a most serious mischief which ought to be corrected. Such was the effect of licenses and certain Acts of Parliament, together with the very indulgent feeling shewn towards the clergy on all occasions by the government, that a considerable portion of them had alienated themselves from their benefices, and left the duty to be performed by resident curates at a mere pittance, while they who enjoyed the vast salaries were to be found every where but where duty was to be done. It might be satisfactory to the House to know the number of residents, compared with the whole number.

The Honourable Member then read a Parliamentary Return of 1819, from which it appeared that the total number of incumbents in 1817 was 1309; and in 1819 they were 1289; of those there were resident 758, and non-resident as follows:-By exemption, 81; by dispensation, 243; without statement of cause, 157; for various reasons, 50; making altogether 531 non-residents out of 1289. In Dublin there were thirty dignitaries and prebends besides the above without places of residence. The Ministers of the Crown were in the habit of talking much about their anxiety to support religion; he gave them credit for their expressions as sincere; but if they were so, how could they reconcile their professions with their practice, when they took no step to remove such an abuse as that he had pointed out? He would point out an example of the effect of a pious and resident clergy in the moral condition of Scotland. He would ask gentlemen to look to the moral state of that country 100 years ago. They would find that the present condition of Ireland was not worse than that of Scotland had been before the establishment of schools and a resident clergy. With this painful and afflicting example of Ireland so long before their eyes, it was really unpardouable in ministers to allow such an abuse to continue to exist. No country, indeed, of Europe was in a condition so truly barbarous, unless, perhaps, Poland, and he doubted if even Poland made an exception. That country was thus debased and degraded by the neglect of Government; the state of the country was greatly attributable to the condition of the Church Establishment. He now called upon the House to take such steps as would compel the residence of the clergy, and, in the next place, they should make an arrangement, that instead of clergymen having 10001. or 20007. or 30007. a year, and living wherever they pleased, while others had but a miserable pittance that scarcely supported existence; where the real duties were performed, there should be none whose income was below 150/. a year, as in the Church of Scotland, and that none should have above 5007. or 6007. a year. The Church in Ireland was to be considered a lottery in which benefices and bishoprics were prizes, and some families were fortunate enough to draw a great number of such prizes. He understood that the Bishop of Clogher, he did not mean the late Bishop of Clogher, had gone to Ireland without a shilling, and in the course of his apostolic mission, had amassed about 300,000 or 400,000. The amount was very large, but it was no less notorious. It might not be superfluous

no duty to perform, they should be allowed to die off. He knew a difficulty presented itself with respect to the equalization of the benefices in Ireland. But that difficulty was not so great as it at first appeared. The patronage was no doubt by many considered as a vested right, but perhaps a better understanding of the subject might cause the difficulty to be considerably diminished. The Honourable Member then read a statement of the patronage of the parishes in Ireland as follows:

to state as an instance of the disproportionate payment of churchmen in Ireland, that the landed property of the Archbishopric of Armagh, if let out on the principle that other laws could provide, would amount to 150,0007. a year. This was in fact a principality, and many German principalities had no such revenue. He would now state further, why he wished to move for a committee. In the year 1806, the Duke of Bedford required returns by the bishops of the value of livings, &c.; a very large volume was returned, but so imperfect, that little use could be made of it as to church or state. Several years afterwards the government called for similar returns; they were laid on the table in 1821; questions were put as to the number and state of the parishes, their contiguity, &c.; but the inquiry stopped at the most important point, for the bishops were not asked the amount of their revenues; of the 1200 or 1300 returns required, only 400 were complied with. He would not say whether a commission ought to have been then appointed, but it was clear that he could not now rely upon the returns of the clergy, and therefore the greatest advantage might be derived from the appointment of a committee at present. He then referred to a letter from the Archbishop of Armagh in the year 1820, in which that prelate stated the lamentable decay of churches in ruins, the destruction of glebes, or the appropriation of them in the hands of individuals, from whom they could not now be recovered. Such a state of circumstances, he contended, was a sufficient ground for the appointment of a committee, and that was the more necessary on account of the inaccuracy of the returns of 1819, when of 1289 benefices required, only 400 made returns. He now came to a very important point of what he had to propose. He would submit that no sees which became vacant should be filled up until they were reduced to one archbishopric and four bishoprics. In this he was guided by the Articles of the Union, which allowed only that number of Irish Spiritual Peers in the House of Lords, and therefore he thought he was safe in taking that number as a fair criterion. He was certain that number of bishops would be sufficient to take the charge of between 400,000 and 500,000 people; and that proportion of prelates to the population of the same faith was greater than in any other country, except perhaps recently in Spain. One bishop was quite enough to take charge of about 100,000 souls, with the aid of his inferior clergy. He now came to a very important point of the change which he contemplated, and it was, that as the deans and chapters had

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Total in the Crown and Bishops 1,684 In the University In lay hands

367 21

Inappropriate and vacant,

and without Churches or Incumbents . 95 Total number of parishes in Ireland 2,248 Total number of Benefices in 1818 1,289 By this statement it appeared that the Crown had the patronage of 1684 parishes. He contended that the case was virtually so, for if the Crown did not appoint the bishops, the bishops could not make the nomination, and if the bishops did not make the nomination, the Crown would of course appoint, so that the patronage was really vested in the Crown, which materially lessened the difficulty as to the equalization of benefices by Parliament. There was one subject remaining, and that was with regard to tithes. In his view of a commutation of tithes, he did not think that an individual who had no duty to perform, should be in the receipt of 10007., 2000. or 30007. a year, but what he wished was, that the profits of the superfluous bishoprics and of the deans and chapters should form a fund at the direction of Parliament for the proportionate remuneration of the clergy. Also that the holders should commute their tithes at twelve or fourteen years' purchase, instead of twenty-five, which would be giving a fund to the landholders, while there were ample funds for the sup port of the Establishment. As to the lay impropriators, of whom there were several hundreds, their interests should be as good as if they were sold in public market or by private contract. If no actual interest were infringed upon, what injustice could be done? If an ample property could be realized to the Church to defray the expenses of its establishment, why should there be any severe pressure upon the landed interest? He wished here to allude to an observation which had been often set forth, and which had even been urged by some of

the clergy themselves, namely, that they were determined to resist any interference with Church property. Indeed, he understood that the Archbishop of Tuam and some other church dignitaries had held meetings, in which they expressed themselves decidedly hostile to any such interference. Now he contended, that those Right Reverend personages had no right whatever to concern themselves about such matters; they were entirely for the consideration of the State. But then the clergy and their supporters-it would be degrading, it would destroy the independence of the Church to change a territorial recompence for a money payment. He confessed that he could hardly refrain from smiling when he heard of such an argument-the independence of the clergy! Why, he would ask, whether for the last two hundred years there had ever been in this or any other country, a body of men more subservient to Government than the clergy of the Established Church of that country; and for them to have the assurance to talk of indepeudence, and of resisting any interference with Church property, was astonishing. But while he was anxious to do away with large church livings, he wished to continue an efficient clergy, who would perform the sacred functions of their office with respectability to themselves, with benefit to the community, in short, in a manner to promote religion, morality and Christian knowledge. He did not wish to see them princes of the land, and acting and looked up to as a body independent of the State. He contended that the Church formed a part of the State, and ought to be in every instance subject to such regulations and improve ments as should from time to time be deemed necessary. From what he had already stated, it appeared to him, that the best mode of proceeding would be by appointing a select Committee of that House to inquire into the subject. The Honourable Member then moved the following Resolutions :

*

ployed, and the incomes they receive, and if so, whether a reduction of the same should not take place with due regard to all existing interests.

"That the peace and best interests of Ireland would be promoted by a commutation of all tithes on such principles as should be considered just and equitable towards the present possessors, whether lay or clerical.

"Resolved, That the property of the Church of Ireland at present in possession of the Bishops, the Deans and Chapters of Ireland, is public property; under the controul, and at the disposal of the Legislature, for the support of religion and for such other purposes as Parliament in its wisdom may deem beneficial to the community; due attention being paid to the rights of every person now enjoying any part of that property.

"That it is expedient to inquire whe ther the present Church Establishment of Ireland be not more than commensurate to the services to be performed, both as regards the number of persons em

"That a Select Committee be appointed to consider in what manner the objects stated in these Resolutions can best be carried into effect." (To be continued.)

MARCH 18.
Royal Library.

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ROBINSON) called the attention of the House to the magnificent gift of the late King's Library, which his present Majesty had caused it to be signified to Parliament that he presented to the nation. He made some observations upon the intimate connexion between the literature and the morals of a country, and between the love of literature and the love of freedom. He stated that the library now presented to the public was collected by the late King during the whole course of his long reign, which was the more honourable to him, as circumstances in his early life prevented his applying himself to literary subjects. His (Mr. Robinson's) opinion was, that Parliament could not do better than entrust the library to the British Museum. But it was due to his Majesty's father, and to his Majesty himself, that the collection should be kept separate and distinct from all other books. The library itself was the most valuable ever collected by an individual; and if it be placed in the British Museum, which already possesses an excellent library, and which will soon receive the accession of the library of the late Sir Joseph Banks, the three together will beyond all question form the finest library under one roof in the world; and will, therefore, be an object of which the country may well be proud. In order to form regulations as to its proper custody, and above all, as to the free admission of the public to the benefits to be derived from it, he moved that the subject be referred to a Select Committee.-Sir C. LONG seconded the motion, and said that the donation was of the greatest value to the country, because for its extent it was the most complete library that ever was collected. As had been stated by his right honourable friend, it was accumu lated by his late Majesty during the whole course of his reign, and without any regard to expense. It had been collected

[ocr errors]

under the direction of Dr. Johnson, who had laid down the plan for its formation, which plan was subsequently followed as closely as possible. He was perfectly sure that the union of this library with that of the British Museum, and the library of the late Sir Joseph Banks, which although small, was perfect in one branch of literature, would constitute as fine a library as existed in Europe. He had the gratification also to say, that it was his Majesty's intention to add to the donation of the library that of a most interesting and valuable collection of medals, formed under the superintendance of his late Majesty. The motion was agreed to, and a Select Committee appointed.

Profane Swearing.

Dr.PHILLIMORE moved for and obtained leave to bring in a Bill to repeal that part of the Act against Profane Swearing, which made it imperative ou the clergy to read the Act four times a year, under a penalty of 51. The reading this Act of Parliament during divine service was extremely inconvenient and improper, and had fallen deservedly into disrepute. He was himself acquainted with several instances in which clergymen had been compelled to pay the penalty by parish

:

Matins and Vespers with Hymns and Occasional Devotional Pieces. By John Bowring, F. L. S., and Honorary Mem ber of several Foreign Societies. 12mo. 65.

Specimens of the Bussian Poets, with Introductory Remarks. Part the Second. By the Same. 12mo. 8s.

NEW PUBLICATIONS IN THEOLOGY AND
GENERAL LITERATURE.

Hora Romana, a New Translation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Romans. By Clericus. Small 8vo. 48.

ioners, who had taken this step from malicious motives.

German Popular Stories. Second Edition. With Twelve Plates, by G. Cruikshank. Foolscap 8vo. 78.

Clavis Philologica Novi Testamenti, Auctori M. Christ. Abraham Wahl, verb. Div. apud Schneebergenses, Ministro Primo. 2 Vols. 8vo.

The Holy Bible of the Old and New Testament; being a Revision of the Authorized Version, designed to facilitate the Social Reading of the Sacred Scriptures, with Notes, Historical, Geographical, &c. By William Alexander. Part

MARCH 19.
Abolition of Slavery.

Mr. WILBERFORCE presented a petition from the Society of Friends for the abolition of Slavery in our West India colonies; making at the same time an excellent speech upon the inhumanity and impolicy of the slave-system. He represented the abolition of Slavery as the premeditated consequence of the abolition of the Slave Trade. After the petition had been read, Mr. F. BUXTON gave notice of a motion, on the 22d of April, relative to the abolition of Slavery.

Prosecutions for Blasphemy.

Mr. HUME made a motion, which was carried, for an "Account of the number of individuals prosecuted in England, Scotland and Wales, either by indictment, ex officio information or otherwise, for either public Libel, Blasphemy or Sedition." He stated that soon after the returns were made, he should submit a motion on the subject.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinua »