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medical men take very extensive rounds, and make but flying visits to the distant glen or hill-side hamlet. Everything, therefore, which can be done by the presence of an educated man, freely and constantly mixing with the lower and the toiling classes of society, is left to the clergyman. By his office he is bound to see much of the poor, and to gain influence over their minds during the most impressible moments of life; he gives a tone to parochial education by his visits to the school; and once or twice a-week he assumes the position of a public orator, addressing all his neighbours in the language and with the ideas of an educated man. Who can tell how much of the loyalty which marks the English people is due to the teaching and the moral influence of the Clergy? Apart, therefore, from the higher and more spiritual view of his character, he surely deserves well of the state and of his country, especially in these days of non-resident gentry. The amount of national refinement, which may reasonably be set down as the result of the general standing of the Clergy, and of the necessary contact between them and their parishioners, is no unimportant element in the formation of character among the poorer classes ; and, by consequence, in producing the mutual good-will and coherence of the various, and otherwise widely separated, orders of British society.
These remarks do not apply with equal force to the clergy of the metropolis or large towns. As a body, it is impossible for them to be brought so closely into contact with the poor as their rural brethren find practicable, the comparative fewness of whose parishioners do not outstrip the bounds of personal acquaintance. The case, however, is very different when human souls are numbered by thousands instead of hundreds. Town clergy, if viewed only in their social position, are the ornament of the middle classes, rather than the intimate friends and domestic advisers of the poor. Their spiritual character is, indeed, the same; but the secular position of the country parson has its especial advantages and uses, not enjoyed by the incumbent of a dense and varied population, among whom he possesses no recognised preeminence over many of his neighbours from educational attainment or social influence:
In the remarks we are about to make on the fiscal burdens of the Clergy, we shall devote our principal attention to those which bear on the old parish churches of the country; and, therefore, they will in great measure apply to the rural clergy as the more undisturbed representatives of the old parochial system. The incumbents of old parish churches, whether in town or country, are indeed liable to many heavy fiscal charges, of which we hope to show the injustice; but clerical income, in metropolitan or large town districts, is in most cases on so widely different a footing from that of rural districts—is the
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result of so many accidental circumstances,' and belongs to such a different aspect of the Church-that we propose to leave town incumbents as such to make known their own distinct and peculiar burdens, to fight their own separate and individual interests, while for the present we confine our detail of fiscal grievances to those which chiefly press on the incumbents of country parishes; or rather on incumbents generally, whose income is derived from what is or has been at some time a commutation for tithe.
Let it not be supposed, however, that in undertaking to expose many things which seem to be unjust burdens on the country clergy, we are entering upon any Quixotic or indiscriminate defence of the imagined temporal interests of this class. It is not our object to excite feelings of universal commiseration for the present rectors of England as individuals. There are unquestionably numerous members of that fraternity, and those, per: haps, the very men who, in the eyes of the public, are types of their class, who are, beyond all doubt, in the enjoyment of as much worldly comfort as falls to the average lot of mortals. What we are about to claim is fair treatment of the Church's property as such, in whatever hands it may be. The very comfort and the wealth of the exceptional cases of rich clergy, who are careless of the undue taxation from which their ecclesiastical income suffers, makes the lot of others harder than it would be: for those small imposts which are serious burdens to a poor priest, when presented to a small benefice after years of hard service, and which, if viewed only with reference to such cases, are manifest grievances and acts of gross injustice, assume another aspect, and are even prudently forgotten, in the case of those who, at the age of twenty-four, are inducted into the family living, or of those who have expended several thousand pounds in the purchase of preferment, taking these drawbacks into their money calculations. Thus, in temporal things as in spiritual, the interests of the Church are made to suffer from the secularizing effect on her property, which the present use of private patronage and the open sale of livings cannot fail to have. This system is the means of preventing many claims of justice, which ought to protect the general rights of the Clergy, from being as clearly recognised as they certainly would be, if the case of poorer benefices and poorer incumbencies stood by itself alone.
The abstract injustice remains, of course, the same under both circumstances; but the remedy, where most needed, is rendered the more inaccessible by the peculiar circumstances which
* For instance, the great depreciation of income from the recent burial enact ments.
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belong only to'a comparatively few cases. Every time that sympathy for the burdens of the Clergy is checked by the oft-. repeated story of the fat rector, we are confident that twenty lean incumbents are suffering actual hardships under an oppressing system of taxation, to one genuine case of plethoric opulence. And this calculation leaves out of view the large body of incumbents, whose private means alone enable them to meet the outgoings of their preferment.
But the cases even of comfortable or wealthy clergymen which have no claim on our individual sympathy, may yet contain a very strong ground of complaint on the part of the Church as an independent corporate body. Men who bring large private fortunes into the Church, and who live in splendour or luxury, especially when they have bought their livings, or possess them, as part of the family estates, cannot help exhibiting to the public eye a great mixture of, and confusion between, secular and ecclesiastical property. Nor is it necessary to add that the ecclesiastical ideal is too often made to yield, in the estimation especially of the British farmer, to the more tangible object of a well-todo gentleman living in a great house with a good income, who is therefore expected by him to do his duty like an Englishman, especially in the article of bearing every possible pecuniary burden that can be thrust upon him. The principle thus popularly established in these cases, extends to smaller and poorer benefices; and it follows that, while the large ones are secularized, the small ones are oppressed, to the great injury in both. cases of the genuine property of the Church.
Grievances of this kind are not, however, of recent origin; nor have country rectors and vicars to complain only of the taxation which the secular power of modern days has imposed upon them. Indeed, there never existed more unscrupulous. appropriators of rural tithes than the spiritual hierarchy, dominant in this land when the English Church was in connexion with Rome, during the ages before the Reformation.
The Pope made a very good income out of the first-fruits and tenths of the English Church; while the grants and immunities. that were frequently given to monastic institutions of the whole tithes of a parish, or of other fiscal privileges, thereby grievously impoverished the spiritual condition of many a rural district, substituting a beggared vicar for a rector well endowed, and equal to all the emergencies of an increasing flock. Unfortunately, when the period of reform arrived, this vile example of spoliation was but too naturally and rapaciously copied by the State. Great tithes, far from being restored to their parishes, on the dissolution of monasteries, were, with more injustice than before, appropriated by the crown itself, or given to enrich its favourites. Injustice, which had its beginning at the hands
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of ecclesiastics, was thus completed by the secular power, and a vast amount of Church property was in this manner irretrievably separated from religious uses, despite the warnings and remonstrances of the out-spoken Latimer. Not even first-fruits and tenths escaped the grasp of the royal spoiler, though he laid his hands on them with the gracious provision that a new incumbent should not be charged with the payment of tenths for his first year in addition to his first-fruits ; seeing that these last were indeed the whole amount of his living in the king's books, and that few birds bear plucking twice in one year. In the reign of the better-minded Anne, these appropriations would seem to have laid heavily on the royal conscience, and a worthy effort was made, not indeed to remit them, but under the name of Queen Anne's Bounty, to set them apart as a separate fund for the general good of the Church; a fund which, augmented from various sources, and held in trust with a large amount of modern Church endowment money, is administered at considerable cost by a body of influential governors; who, in their practical views of Church extension, shared in the general dormancy of the English until recent days, if even now they are fully awake to the opportunities they enjoy.
Having called the attention of our readers to the parochial clergy of England as being on the whole a deserving body, claiming from their countrymen, as the least they can ask, the benefit of common justice in the protection of their temporal rights; having also shown the unhappy precedents which exist for making them fair objects of plunder, to the great injury of the Church's available revenues, we now come to the practical object which we have in view, viz. to give a brief review, supported by facts and details, of the chief items of those many oppressive burdens which are the subject of our complaint, and which, by a gradual process of accumulation, have made such inroads into clerical income, that, in many cases, a benefice of considerable gross value in the eyes of the public is hardly worth the holding, except for the respectability of the position which it imparts. The life of a country clergyman, from first to last, is one of unceasing demands upon his purse, beyond all proportion with his receipts, if only his case is fairly compared with any other species of income. Let us trace a not uncommon specimen of this career from its very outset. A college education is in the first place necessary, which is a matter of great expense, and often leaves behind it very diminished resources with which to begin real life. If no fellowship is in prospect, and if no special interest or talents give the hope of brighter fortunes, a title for orders has to be sought for in the humbler fields of the clerical profession. A stipend of 501. a-year is thus obtained, out of which it often happens that 5 per
cent. has to be paid to a clerical agent,' unwarily employed to procure this splendid income. The candidate for orders then presents himself for ordination; and although it may have appeared to his innocent mind beforehand, that the Bishop had a sufficient income to pay his own secretary, and that the state might dispense with stamp-duty on his entering a vocation which promised for a time so little remuneration, and enjoyed so little protection, yet he is called on to contribute about 31., or 6 per cent. out of his first year's income, in the shape of fees to the diocesan functionaries, including the government stamp. Out of the residue of the 501. he is then supposed to live like a gentleman' for a whole year, till the same process recurs at his admission into priest's orders. On each occasion he has also to encounter considerable expense in travelling to the place of ordination, and in living at hotels for the greater part of the week. Some Bishops have even found it in their conscience to summon candidates for ordination to pass this most solemn period of their lives amid the excitement and costly living of the metropolis; but cases of this gross injustice are becoming daily rarer; and it must be recorded, to the credit of our own days, that several episcopal palaces are opened to all the candidates for ordination, who, throughout the Ember-weeks, receive lodging and such moderate and becoming hospitality as the season justifies from their episcopal hosts.
After two years we may hope that our typical curate obtains 1001. a-year, an income which must satisfy him for an indefinite length of time. As, however, we are not discussing the peculiar grievances of unbeneficed clergymen, we shall at once pass over to the period, when, by some chance, or in reward for peculiar merit, he is presented to a living, the income of which would seem to promise him a comfortable subsistence for life. The time has now arrived when he is about to fulfil the exquisitely poetical idea of the village pastor, or the country parson (call him which you will), with an easy though frugal competence, which will allow him also to devote his fair share of liberality to objects of charity and to other holy purposes.
What, however, is the first touch of real life that meets him, after he has uttered words of thanksgiving for the improved hopes and prospects of his family circle, and after he has received the congratulations of too credulous friends ? All is not gold that glitters. He finds the induction itself a rather expensive process, and has probably to raise 501. for this purpose alone; though what advantage either he or the Church are to derive from this payment is a point about which he is never able
1 We rejoice that the intervention of extortionate agents in all arrangements about titles and curacies is now wholly unnecessary, in consequence of the Registry lately opened for these purposes by the Additional Curates' Society.