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huis Hutchinsusiderably illustrious n.
racters are truly and peculiarly English ; according to the standard of those times in which national characters were most distinguishable. Not exempt, certainly, from errors and defects, they yet seem to us to hold out a lofty example of substantial dignity and virtue ; and to possess most of those talents and principles by which public life is made honourable, and privacy delightful. Bigotry must at all times debase, and civil dissension embitter our existence; but, in the ordinary course of events, we may safely venture to assert, that a nation which produces many such wives and mothers as Mrs Lucy Hutchinson, must be both great and happy. ie i
For the Reverend Julius Hutchinson, the editor of these Memoirs, it is easy to see that he is considerably perplexed and dis. tracted, between a natural desire to extol these illustrious ancestors, and a fear of being himself mistaken for a republican. So he gives us alternate notes in laud of the English levellers, and in vituperation of the atheists and jacobins of France. From all this, our charity leads us to infer, that the said Reverend Julius Hutchinson has not yet obtained that preferment in the church which it would be convenient for him to possess ; and that, when he is promoted according to his merits, he will speak, more uniformly, in a manner becoming his descent. In the mean time, we are very much obliged to him for this book, and for the pains he has taken to satisfy us of its authenticity, and of the accuracy of the publication. We do not object to the old spelling, which occasions no perplexity ; but when the work comes to another edition, we would recommend it to him to add a few dates on the margin, to break his pages into more paragraphs, and to revise his punctuation. He would make the book infinitely more saleable, too, if, without making the slightest variation in what is retained, he would omit about 200 pages of the siege of Nottingham, ar:d other parish business ; especially as the whole is now put beyond the reach of loss or corruption by the present full publication.
ART, II. A Letter to the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval, on a
Subject connected with his Bill, now under Discussion in Parliament, for improving the Situation of Stipendiary Curates. 8vo. Hatchard, London, 1808. jis - . . ,
THE poverty of curates has long been a favourite theme with 1 novellists, sentimental tourists, and elegiac-poets. But, notwithstanding the known accuracy of this class of philosophers, we cannot help suspecting that there is a good deal of
misconception misconception in the popular estimate of the amount of the evil.
A very great proportion of all the curacies in England are filled with men to whom the emolument is a matter of subordiniate importance. They are filled by young gentlemen who have recently left college, who of course are able to subsist as they have subsisted for seven years before, and who are glad to have an opportunity, on any terms, of acquiring a practical familiarity with the duties of their profession. They :nove. away from them to higher situations as vacancies occur; and make way for a new race of ecclesiastical apprentices. To those men, the smallness of the appointment is a grievance of no very great magnitude ; nor is it fair, with relation to them, to represent the ecclesiastical order as degraded by the indigence to which some of its memó bers are condemned. With regard; again, to those who take curacies merely as a means of subsistence, and with the prospect of remaining permanently in that situation, it is certain that by far the greater part of them are persons born in a very humble rank in society, and accustomed to no greater opulence than that of an ordinary curate. There are scarcely any of those persons who have taken a degree in an university, and not very many who have resided there at all. Now, the son of a small Welsh farmer, who works hard every day for less than 407. a year, has no great reason to complain of degradation or disappointment, if he get from 501. to 1001. for a moderate portion of labour one day in seven. The situation, accordingly, is looked upon by these people as extremely eligible ; and there is a great competition for curacies, even as they are now provided. The amount of the evil, then, as to the curates themselves, cannot be consi. dered as very enormous, when there are so few who either actu. ally feel, or are entitled to feel, much discontent on the subject. The late regulations about residence, too, by diminishing the total number of curates, will obviously throw that office chiefly into
the hands of the well educated and comparatively independent - young men, who seek for the situation rather for practice than profit, and do not complain of the want of emolument. .
Still we admit it to be an evil, that the resident clergyman of a parish should not be enabled to hold a respectable rank in society from the regular emoluments of his office. But it is an evil which does not exist exclusively among curates ; and which, wherever it exists, we are afraid is irremediable, without the destruction of the Episcopal church, or the augmentation of its patrimony. More than one half of the livings in England are under 801. a year; and the whole income of the church, including that of the bishops, if thrown into a common fund, would
not afford above 1801. for each living. Unless Mr Perceval, therefore, will raise an additional million or two for the church, there must be poor curates ;--and poor rectors also ; and, unless he is to reduce the Episcopal hierarchy to the republican equality of our Presbyterian model, he must submit to very considerable inequalities in the distribution of this inadequate provision.
Instead of applying any of these remedies however, instead of proposing to increase the income of the church, or to raise a fund for its lowest servants, by a general assessment upon those who are more opulenty--instead of even trying indirectly to raise the pay of curates, by raising their qualification in respect of regular edu. cation, Mr Perceval has been able, after long and profound study, to find no better cure for the endemic poverty of curates, than to ordain all rectors of a certain income to pay them one fifth part of their emoluments, and to vest certain alarming powers in the Bishops, for the purpose of controuling their appointment. Now, this scheme, it appears to us, has all the faults which it is possible for such a scheme to have. It is unjust and partial in its principle, it is evidently altogether and utterly inefficient for the correction of the evil in question,-and it introduces other evils infinitely greater than that which it vainly proposes to abolish. .
To this project, however, for increasing the salary of curates, Mr Perceval has been so long and so obstinately partial, that he returned to the charge in the last session of Parliament, for the third time; and experienced, in spite of his present high situa.. tion, the same defeat which had baffled him in his previous at. tempts.
Though the subject is gone by once more for the present, we cannot abstain from bestowing a little gentle violence to aid its merited descent into the gulph of oblivion, and to extinguish, if possible, that resurgent principle which has so often disturbed the serious business of the country, and averted the attention of the public from the great scenes that are acting in the world--to search for some golden medium between the selfishness of the sacred principal, and the rapacity of the sacred deputy. If church property is to be preserved, that precedent is not without danger which disposes at once of a fifth of all the valuable livings in England. We do not advance this as an argument of any great importance against the bill, but only as an additional reason why its utility should be placed in the clearest point of view, before it can attain the assent of wellwishers to the English establishment.
Our first and greatest objection to such a measure, is the increase of power which it gives to the Bench of Bishops,-an evil which may produce the most serious effects, by placing the whole body of the clergy under the absolute controul of men who are
themselves so much under the influence of the Crown. This, indeed, has been pretty effectually accomplished, by the late re- ** sidence bill of Sir William Scott; and our objection to the present bill is, that it tends to augment that excessive power before conferred on the prelacy. .
If a clergyman lives in a situation which is destroying his con-... stitution,-he cannot exchange with a brother clergyman without the consent of the bishop; in whose hands, under such circumstan: ces, his life and death are actually placed. If he wishes to cultivate a little land for his amusement or better support,- he cannot do it without the license of the bishop. If he wishes to spend the last three or four months with a declining wife or child, at some; spot where better medical assistance can be procured, he cannot: do so without permission of the Bishop. If he is struck with palsy, or racked with stone, the Bishop can confine him in the most remote village of England. In short, the power which the bishops at present possess over their clergy, is so enormous, that none but a fool or a madinan would think of compromising his future happiness, by giving the most remote cause of offence to his diocesan. We ought to recollect, however, that the clergy constitute a body of 12 or 15,000 educated persons ; that the whole concern of education devolves upon them ; that some share of the talents and information which exist in the country inust naturally fall to their lot; and that the complete subjugarion of such a body of men cannot, in any point of view, be a inatter of indifference to a free country. ;.
It is in vain to talk of the good character of bishops. Bishops are men; not always the wisest of men; not always preferred for eminent virtues and talents, or for any good reason whatever, known to the public. They are almost always devoid of striking and indecorous vices; but a man may be very shallow, very are rogant, and very vindictive, though a bishops and pursue with unrelenting hatred a subordinate clergyman, whose principles he dislikes, and whose génius he fears. Bishops, besides, are subject to the infirmities of old age, like other men; and, in the decay of strength and understanding, will be governed as other men are, by daughters and wives, and whoever ministers to their daily comforts. We have 110 doubt that such cases sometimes occur ; and produce, whenever they do occur, a very capricious , administration of ecclesiastical affairs. As the power of enforce ing residence must be lodged somewhere, why not give the bishop a council, consisting of two thirds ecclesiastics, and one third laymen; and meeting at the same time as the sessions and deputy sessions ;-the bishops' license for non-residence to issue, of course, upon their recommendation ? Considering the vexatious
bustle of a new, and the laxity of an aged bishop, we cannot but think that a diocese would be much more steadily administered under this system, than by the present means.
Examine the constitutional effects of the power now granted to the bench : What hinders a bishop from becoming, in the hands of the court, a very important agent in all county elections ? what clergyman would dare to refuse him his vote? But it will be said that no bishop will ever condescend to such sort of intrigues :-a most miserable answer to a most serious objection. The temptation is admitted,- the absence of all restraint; the dangerous consequences are equally admitted ; and the only preservative is the personal character of the individual. If this style of reasoning were general, what would become of law, constitution, and every wholesome restraint which we have been accumulating for so many centuries? We have no intention to speak disrespectfully of constituted authorities; but when men can abuse power with impunity, and recommend themselves to their superiors by abus, ing it, it is but common sense to suppose that power will be abused : if it is, the country will hereafter be convulsed to its very entrails, in tearing away that power from the prelacy which has been so improvidently conferred upon them. It is useless to talk of the power they antiently possessed. They have never possessed it since England has been what it now is. Since we have enjoyed practically a free constitution, the bishops have, in point of fact, possessed little or no power over their clergy.
It must be remembered, however, that we are speaking only of probabilities : The fact may turn out to be quite the reverse: The power vested in the Bench may be exercised for spiritual pur-, poses only, and with the greatest moderation. We shall be extremely happy to find that this is the case ; and it will reflect great honour upon those who have corrected the improvidence of the legislature by their own sense of propriety.
It is contended by the friends of this law, that the respectability of the clergy depends in some measure on their wealth ; and that, as the rich bishop reflects a sort of worldly consequence upon the poor bishop, and the rich rector upon the poor rector;---so, a rich class of curates could not fail to confer a greater degree of importance upon that class of men in general. This is all very well, if you intend to raise up some new fund in order to enrich curates : But you say that the riches of some constitute the dignity of the whole ; and then you immediately take away from the rector, the superfluous wealth which, according to your own method of reasoning, is to decorate and dignify the order of men to whom he belongs ! The bishops constitute the first class in