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'schools to be supported, poor relieved, local societies which • demand assistance. Surely something should be done, and • that immediately, to relieve us of these sore and oppressive • burdens.'
No. 7 enjoys what would be called a good living, the rentcharge of which last year amounted to 850l.; but poor-rates alone are 1521., highway-rates 671., land-tax 13l.; the compulsory taxes amounting to 2631. Beyond this, however, he paid last year 2001. for curates, 801. for schools, 21. 5s. for insurance. Henceforth he will be chargeable with 801. to the incumbent of a district church; his income-tax is now 481., and the expenses of collection 451. All these deductions leave him about 2001. for all general expenses.
No. 8 has a rent-charge worth last year 2341., which he has to collect from five hundred persons, living in eight townships. In his letter, he says:
* I should explain to you that the old commutation was 1801., a sum which was allowed to be ridiculously insufficient, the living having been robbed for many years, in consequence of the easiness of the circumstances, as of the disposition, of an old vicar whom I succeeded twelve years ago, on which occasion the new act was brought into force. The sum of 2561. was intended to cover every outgoing, and leave the living improved. Indeed, I heard the assistant-commissioner say to some of the landowners, who, dissatisfied with the semblance of a rise, threatened to appeal against his award, “ Take care what you do, gentlemen; you will burn your own fingers. I am not giving the vicar half as much as he would get if he were a hard man, and determined to have all that the law would give him." After all, the net rent-charge for this year will be actually below the old commutation.'
In this case we cannot understand how the commissioner reconciled his opinions, not to say his conscience, with his decision. Justice ought in his person to have rendered it unnecessary that a man should be hard in order to have his rights awarded him; but 'ex pede Herculem,' it is a fair specimen of the dealings of civilians with Church property; for laymen there is another meaning.
No. 9 has a glebe which, with fees, raises his rent-charge to an income of 4661.; but he pays 201. for land-tax, 631. for poorrates, 501. for mortgage to build his house, which, with a curate and smaller legal charges, reduce his income to 1981., whence to provide all parochial charities, and to live in decency.
No. 10 is an authority which we shall make use of under various heads. We will first quote our correspondent in proof of the very strong feeling which exists in the minds of moderate and sensible clergymen on the subject of our article. He is of mature years, a magistrate, and chairman of a Board of Guardians, and writes thus :
• I propose to put on paper a few thoughts that have occurred to me in
relation to the heavy, and, as I believe, unequal pressure of various assessments and charges on the beneficed Clergy of England,
• It is to be hoped that when the subject comes to be more carefully discussed and understood, effectuel steps will be taken not only to disabuse the public mind of the false impressions which have been made upon it, but to seek also, from the justice of Parliament and the country, that measure of relief which is so urgently called for by the circumstances.
I believe that if the unequal pressure of wbich we complain were of small amount, it would be submitted to without remonstrance. However unintelligible to many minds, it is still a truth which we need not from false delicacy be afraid to avow, that the Clergy have a strong feeling that their energies, directed to the higher objects of their calling, ought not to be tired out by much attention to secular interests. They have something like an instinctive dread lest their people should suppose that they allow temporal interests to interfere with the efficient exercise of their spiritual duties; and hence it has passed into a proverbial expression, that the Clergy are not men of business. These observations account for the forbearance with which many acts of injustice have been submitted to.'
We proceed now to consider, under separate heads, the many items which, when added together, make such very serious deductions from the income of an incumbent. To enable our readers to understand the amount of the hostile forces which carry on such unrelenting and successful warfare against the pockets of the English Clergy, we will enumerate them under three great divisions :- 1st, What in military language may be styled the cavalry of ecclesiastical charges, improperly so called, under the command of registrars and other Church officials. 2d, The great mass of infantry (for the most part heavy), in the shape of parochial charges, which make steady and unceasing havoc of the pastor's income; and 3d, the far-ranging artillery of civil taxes on income, house, and everything else, which the Clergy, of course, have to pay in common with their fellowcountrymen.
Besides, however, the loss occasioned by these external foes, there is the cost of maintaining spiritual auxiliaries for the pastor's proper work, scarcely less damaging in a pecuniary point of view; e. g. the cost of curates and of charities, most severely felt by the best men. Then come the wear and tear of material, which make some outlay constantly necessary on the chancel, on the school, for the purchase of books. Much also must be laid down to the score of unavoidable accidents, which are ever, on one plea or another, making unforeseen claims of a clergyman's resources. But beyond all these things, there are the constant demands of home and family, all the members of which must be educated and respectably settled in the world.
Here is a catalogue of forces and of difficulties not unworthy of an epic poem. May the doleful muse of grievance and complaint enable us to exhibit the devastating powers of the great enemy in tones sufficiently pathetic to invoke, with good
purpose, the sympathy and the help of those good and constant allies to any righteous and suffering cause, the justice, the common sense, and the religious feeling of the people of England !
First, then, under the head of compulsory payments, we take those which may be called ecclesiastical. These are ordination fees, of which above; those paid to registrars at Bishops' and Archdeacons' visitations for purposes wholly unknown, such as procuration, of which the name is the only explanation; synodals, to pay the expense of synods that are never held ; fees for the consecration of churches, demanded by well-to-do Bishops' officials, and wrung from resources already overdone by the cost of building; the petty annoyance of making clergymen, beneficed or not, pay two shillings on the occasion of a Bishop's first visitation, for the trouble given to the registrar in casting his official eyes on letters of orders; and, last but not least, the enormous charges on induction, with first-fruits and tenths.
On the subject of ordination fees, and the minor payments which every official act of the Bishop, even in countersigning testimonials, entails with it, we are very glad to see that Archdeacon Allen, whose kindness and consideration for the poorer and junior clergy are well known by all who have had any dealings with him, either as examining chaplain or otherwise, has represented them as special gravamina, in the lower house of Convocation. This item of gravamina the Archdeacon represents in the following form :
"That his Grace the Archbishop, and their Lordships the Bishops, be humbly requested to consider whether the demand made for a fee by some Bishops' secretaries for the Bishop's countersignature to letters testimonial, ought not to be put an end to; and whether a uniform and reasonable charge for fees paid to the Bishops' secretaries for ordinations, institutions, and all other official acts, may not be settled and published.
• That his Grace the Archbishop, and their Lordships the Bishops, be humbly requested to consider, in reference to the consecration of churches and graveyards, how far the required writings may be simplified and the expenses lessened.'
After some discussion his schedule was received, and we sincerely hope its purport will be acted upon without loss of time. The whole system of registrars' fees is one great abuse, derived from former days perhaps, but with this distinction, that once they were for certain definite and specific objects in which the clergy shared some benefit, whereas now the benefit is gone, while the payments alone remain. There was a time, for instance, when the Bishop or Archdeacon went round the diocese to visit the clergy, and small fees, originally in 'victuals' and use of horses, became then the custom to defray the expenses of his journey. Now, however, it is not they who visit the clergy, but the clergy who go to them for their stated visitation; and then when they have travelled often a long distance for this purpose at their own expense, and should rather have received hospitality from the Bishop, they are called upon to pay a fee to the registrar, under the name of procurations, for his Lordship's or the Archdeacon's imaginary journey to them. But do the Bishop or Archdeacon receive this fee? Custom has so long established the office of diocesan registrar, that this functionary has vested rights of his own, often of very great value, consisting among other things of these very fees. The income thus raised is often enjoyed by what is, in vulgar parlance, called a rider, that is, a sinecure gentleman who is nominated by the Bishop, and is represented by an official who sits at the receipt of custom, and does the publican's work, having a certain share in the profits, in order to stimulate his appetite, and keep up his zeal in this extraction of fees from the clergy. Surely the whole of this system ought at once to be abolished. This rider, as he is called, is a mere excrescence in the Church, whose existence is intolerable, though perhaps the clergy are no better off where the acting secretary is the principal. Registrars might surely be paid a regular salary by the Bishop, or from moderate fees, which should be made public, and undergo a thorough investigation by public opinion. Daylight, as Archdeacon Allen implies, is all that is wanted to make the abuses maintained by episcopal registrars melt away and disappear. The contemplated removal of all secular business from ecclesiastical courts will much facilitate a thorough reform in those departments which remain within their province; and we hope that no delay will impede its speedy accomplishment.
The fees charged on induction to a living, though less frequently received, are an offence on a larger scale, and often become a most inconvenient tax, for which there is no benefit whatever in return. A great mystery hangs over the details of these official demands, and no one seems to know anything about them, except that it is the custom to pay whatever fees the Bishop's Secretary or Registrar may state to be customary. They are not the same in different dioceses ; and the circumstances peculiar to every species of incumbency, or even to local custom, make them differ to a very great extent,-itself an argument that a thorough ventilation of the rights of the question is most necessary. In one case we are assured that 15l. was charged under the head of “ preacher's licence.” In another case, we are told that the presentation and induction fees to twe small livings, held together, and producing an income of 1331,
ch shtegular salathe principarsy are no bee existence is calle
amounted to no less than 751. In an important London parish, the fees on the last induction amounted to 801.
The following is an exact copy of one of these bills; the living to which it refers being of the value of about 6501. per innum :
£ s. d.
agents' charges, and about letters of orders, 2 2 0
NNNN EIN ONON
£42 2 6 In addition to this, 291. 118. 2d. had to be paid as first-fruits.
Again, on an income of about 500l. we have the following particulars :
£ $. d.
. 20 0 0
.. 3 3 0
£42 100 In this case 181. was charged as first-fruits, and the total outgoings, during the first three quarters of a year of the incumbency, amounted, with rates and taxes, and 541. to a curate, to the enormous sum of 221l., this having no connexion with any charge for dilapidations.
The subject of first-fruits and tenths is connected with the management of that large fund, called Queen Anne's Bounty. The history of these charges has already been alluded to. Levied originally by the Pope, they were taken possession of by the crown at the Reformation, and in the reign of Queen Anne transferred to certain governors, consisting of the principal official persons in Church and State, for the benefit of small livings. First-fruits are only charged on livings which, at the time of Queen Anne, were above the value of 501. Exemptions had also been made at earlier dates and under different circumstances; so that much uncertainty now exists as to the regulations under which they are paid, and the scale of charges is not at the present day by any means proportioned to the value of