« PreviousContinue »
title to all the tithes, first-fruits, oblations, heave. offerings, and wave-offerings ever claimed by the Levites; and that too in a much more ample and glorious way, because the Christian Priesthood has greater emoluments than that of the law; this is to give notice that the aforesaid Rabshakeh, in exercise of his spiritual heritage, has seized thirty black-faced sheep belonging to Obadiah Crabtree, Quaker, who being one of the sons of Korah will pay no tithes to the son of Aaron; and that the said black-faced sheep will be put up to auction next market-day, in the parish of Tuddington, to pay the aforesaid Vicar his tithe debt, amounting to thirteen pounds one shilling and twopence. At which sale all good Christians are required to attend, to show their love and respect to the new Aaronical Priesthood, which has the profit and pleasure of tithes without the inconveience of circumcision; and this respect must be shown by three cheers to Apostolical Church and Succession Priests*, “not for their own sakes, they are but earthen vessels, but for their work's sake, on which account the people are expressly and unconditionally commanded to obey them.'
“Given under the Fisherman's Seal,
in the Year of Succession
3325. 6 Tuddington."
* Vicar's Sermons; and letters of L. S. E., p. 63,
I must not close this letter without telling you that Mr. Prebendary Walford has called upon me to pay his respects to the brother of L. S. E., and to the author of the sermon on Jude viii. This gentleman is a very learned scholar and a deep thinker; but, to tell you the truth, he is beyond my depth; for when he favours me with his conversation about the Church (and he talks of little else), it is in such mystical language that I cannot guess at his meaning. He says much about “ the idea of the Church antecedent to its visible state," and then he descants about a served nationality,” and a “universal clerisy forming all the units of the state in their up-growing tendencies,” with a great deal more of this metaphysical mystery, of which I can make neither head nor tail. He is, however, quite contented if I listen to his harangues, and this I do with a show of attention which seems to win his heart. They say he is a mighty opium-eater, but sure I am he drinks a vast deal of brandy with as much composure as if it were water.–And now I must close this rambling epistle.
Your sincere brother,
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
This must be a long letter, but I will first dispatch the affair of Crabtree's tithe-debt. The hand-bill, of which I gave you a copy in my last, was posted in all the neighbouring villages, and drew an immense crowd to the market-place. It was really a serious business, and when I saw the preparations making by the mob I began to he much alarmed. Mr. Scrope doubted whether he should not send a messenger to Leeds for a detachment of military from the barracks; I strongly urged him to this precautionary measure, but Dr. Birch dissuaded it: he said we had better let them begin with violence-we had but to leave the rascals to their own machinations, and they would be sure to break the law-our policy must be forbearance for the present, by which we should be sure to get an advantage over the schismatics. The Dissenting teachers, however, with their characteristic cunning, had been very busy in persuading the people to keep quiet, and Mervyn had issued a hand-bill, signed with his name, beseech
ing all persons to keep the peace, and not to raise a little finger to violate the law. There were, nevertheless, some fiery spirits, who determined to make a great business of this sale, and for this purpose they held previous meetings to make a show of what they call “ popular indignation."
. When all was arranged and the constable brought the sheep out of my paddocks, there were ready standing at the gate not less than five hundred country-people, arm in arm together, in files of six, with tri-coloured ribbons in their hats or button-holes. Before them was a band of music and a large black flag, with these words painted in white letters, “ The wicked principles of Dissent have a tendency to destroy Christianity itself, and to abolish religion from the face of the earth, and the procession was closed with a lad carrying a board on a pole, bearing this inscription, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The thirty sheep came forth loudly bleating, and the rebels gave a dismal groan to greet them. As the procession advanced to the market-place, distant about halfa-mile, the crowd increased to a dense multitude, and when all was ready, Stubbs assured me it was a very imposing sight. The people made a great circle, and kept quiet till the sale began. The auctioneer wisely said very little; but having waited some time to see if any one would make a
* Letters of L. S. E., p. 33, and Vicar's Sermon,
bid, he begged somebody to name any price, for the sheep must be sold. After a little silence a country-fellow said, “There is not a man twenty miles round Tuddington big villain enough to offer a penny for the parson's comfort." This was received with a loud cheer from the multitude, the music struck up, hats were waved, and then all present began clapping their hands. At last Stubbs summoned courage to offer 10s. per
head for the sheep, and at that price they were knocked down to him. The mob groaned and hissed, and threatened to pump him; but Crabtree and Mervyn came forward, and making short speeches to the people, persuaded them to do no violence to any man for that day's work. The business ended with the procession following the sheep to Stubbs's field, the band all the while playing the Dead March in Saul.
Nothing further was done till night-time, when they all assembled again in the market-place to burn a bishop in effigy. They brought the figure into my court-yard with an escort of torches and a flaming tar-barrel. The effect was very curious ; for besides the effigy of the bishop, with silverpapered sleeves, which imitated the lawn very well, they had hoisted a young man on a shutter, who was dressed like a clergyman in full canonicals, a portly personage, wearing a shovel-hat, who gave out some doggerel verses at intervals, with a ludicrous air of swaggering importance.