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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 en qually obvious --Many lay impropriators have votes in both Houses of Parliament; and the only class of inen this cowardly reformation attacks, is that which has no means of saying any thing in its own defence.
Even if the errichment of curates were the most imperious of all duties, it might very well be questioned, whether a more unequal and pernicious mode of fulfilling it could be devised 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 5ool. a year who are compelled by Mr Perceval to come down with a fifth to their deputy; and these form but a very small proportion of the whole non-resident rectors ; so that the great multitude of curates must remain as poor as formerly,--and probably a little more discontented. Suppose, 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 comparisoy, to a much worse state than before the operation of the billCan any person say that this is a wise and effectual mode of ameliorating the condition of the lower clergy? To us it almost appears to be invented for the express purpose of destroying those habits of economy and caution, which are so in. dispensably necessary to their situation. 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 some future day,—we admire the good sense of the man ; But what becomes of all the provisions of the bill ? what becomes of that opulence which is ço confer respectability 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 çonvex and rosy,--to give him a sort of pseudo-rectorial appearance, and to dazzle the parishioners at the rate of 250l. per annum. The poor man, actuated by those principles of common sense, which are so contrary to all the provisions of the bill, chooses to make a good thing of it, because he knows it will not last ; wears his old coat, rides his lean horse, and defrauds the class of curates of all the advantages which they yere to derive from the fleekness and fplendour of his appear. ance.
It is of some importance to the welfare of a parish, and the credit of the church, that the curate and his rector should live upon good terms together. Such a bill, however, throws ben
og to do it for and capable of Coaltogether ineffend, that
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, 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 201., 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. Řesidence 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 te mention. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has entirely ne. glected 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.