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the moment I am now writing, there never was a precedent of such a proceeding; much less was it to be feared, hoped, or apprehended, from such hands in any Christian country; and so it may pass for more than a phønix, because it has risen without any assistance from the ashes of its sire.

The appearance of so many dissenters at the hearing of this cause, is what, I am told, has not been charged to the account of their prudence or moderation; because that action has been censured as a mark of triumph and insult before the victory is complete : since neither of these bills has yet passed the house of commons, and some are pleased to think it not impossible that they may be rejected. Neither do I hear that there is an enacting clause in either of the bills to apply any part of the divided or subdivided tithes toward increasing the stipends of the sectaries. So that these gentlemen seem to be gratified like him who, after having been kicked down stairs, took comfort when he saw his friend kicked down after him.

I have heard many more objections against several particulars of both these bills; but they are of a high nature, and carry such dreadful innuendoes, that I dare not mention them; resolving to give no offence, because I well know how obnoxious I have long been (although I conceive without any fault of my own) to the zeal and principles of those who place all difference in opinion concerning public matters to the score of disaffection; whereof I am at least as innocent as the loudest of my detractors.




The clergy did little expect to have any cause of complaint against the present house of commons, who in the last session were pleased to throw out a bill? sent them from the lords, which that reverend body apprehended would be very injurious to them if it passed into a law; and who, in the present session, defeated the arts and endeavors of schismatics to repeal the sacramental test.

For though it has been allowed on all hands, that the former of those bills might, by its necessary consequences, be very displeasing

· For the bishops to divide livings.

to the lay gentlemen of the kingdom, for many reasons purely secular, and that this last attempt for repealing the test did much more affect at present the temporal interest than the spiritual; yet the whole body of the lower clergy have, upon both these occasions, expressed equal gratitude to that honorable house for their justice and steadiness, as if the clergy alone were to receive the benefit.

It must needs be therefore a great addition to the clergy's grief, that such an assembly as the present house of commons should now, with an expedition more than usual, agree to a bill for encouraging the linen manufacture, with a clause whereby the church is to lose two parts in three of the legal tithe in flax and hemp.

Some reasons why the clergy think such a law will be a great hardship upon them are, I conceive, those that follow. I shall venture to enumerate them, with all deference due to that honorable assembly :

First, the clergy suppose that they have not, by any fault or demerit, incurred the displeasure of the nation's representatives; neither can the declared loyalty of the present set, from the highest prelate to the lowest vicar, be in the least disputed; because there are hardly ten clergymen through the whole kingdom, for more than nineteen years past, who have not been either preferred entirely upon account of their declared affection to the Hanover line, or higher promoted as the due reward of the same merit.

There is not a landlord in the whole kingdom, residing some part of the year at his country-seat, who is not in his own conscience fully convinced that the tithes of his minister have gradually sunk for some years past one-third, or at least one-fourth of their former value, exclusive of all non-solvencies.

The payment of tithes in this kingdom is subject to so many frauds, brangles, and other difficulties, not only from Papists and Dissenters, but even from those who profess themselves Protestants, that, by the expense, the trouble, and vexation of collecting and bargaining for them, they are of all other rents the most precarious, uncertain, and ill paid.

The landlords in most parishes expect, as a compliment, that they shall pay

little than half the value of the tithes for the lands they hold in their own hands; which often consist of large domains; and it is the minister's interest to make them easy upon that article, when he considers what influence those gentlemen have upon their tenants.

The clergy cannot but think it extremely severe, that in a bill


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for encouraging the linen manufacture, they alone must be the sufferers who can least afford it. If, as I am told, there be a tax of 30001. a-year paid by the public for a further encouragement to the said manufacture, are not the clergy equal sharers in the charge with the rest of their fellow-subjects? What satisfactory reason can be therefore given why they alone should bear the whole additional weight, unless it will be alleged that their property is not upon an equal foot with the properties of other men? They acquire their own small pittance by at least as honest means as their neighbors, the landlords, possess their estates; and have been always supposed, except in rebellious or fanatical times, to have as good a title : for no families now in being can show a more ancient. Indeed, if it be true that some persons (I hope they were not many) were seen to laugh when the rights of the clergy were mentioned; in this case an opinion may possibly be soon advanced that they have no rights at all. And this is likely enough to gain ground in proportion as the contempt of all religion shall increase, which is already in a very forward way.

It is said there will be also added to this bill a clause for diminishing the tithe of hops, in order to cultivate that useful plant among us; and here likewise the load is to lie entirely on the shoulders of the clergy, while the landlords reap all the benefit. It will not be easy to foresce where such proceedings are likely to stop; or whether by the same authority, in civil times, a parliament may not as justly challenge the same power in reducing all things titheable not below the tenth part of the product (which is, and ever will be, the clergy's equitable right), but from a tenth part to a sixtieth or eightieth, and from thence to nothing.

I have heard it granted by skilful persons, that the practice of taxing the clergy by parliament, without their own consent, is a new thing, not much above the date of seventy years; before which period, in times of peace, they always taxed themselves. But things are extremely altered at present: it is not now sufficient to tax them in common with their fellow-subjects, without imposing an additional tax upon them, from which, or from anything equivalent, all their fellow-subjects are exempt: and this in a country professing Christianity.

The greatest part of the clergy throughout this kingdom have been stripped of their glebes by the confusion of times, by violence, fraud, oppression, and other unlawful means; all which glebes are now in the hands of the laity. So that they now are generally forced

to lie at the mercy of landlords, for a small piece of ground in their parishes, at a most exorbitant rent, and usually for a short term of years, whereon to build a house and enable them to reside. Yet, in spite of these disadvantages, I am a witness that they are generally more constant residents than their brethren in England; where the meanest vicar has a convenient dwelling, with a barn, a garden, and a field or two for his cattle; besides the certainty of his little income from honest farmers, able and willing, not only to pay him his dues, but likewise to make him presents, according to their ability, for his better support. In all which circumstances the clergy of Ireland meet with a treatment directly contrary.

Įt is hoped the honorable house will consider that it is impossible for the most ill-minded, avaricious, or cunning clergyman, to do the least injustice to the meanest cottager in his parish, in any bargain for tithes, or other ecclesiastical dues. He can at the utmost only demand to have his tithes fairly laid out; and does not once in an hundred times obtain his demand. But every tenant, from the poorest cottager to the most substantial farmer, can, and generally does, impose upon the minister, by fraud, by theft, by lies, by perjuries, by insolence, and sometimes by force: notwithstanding the utmost vigilance and skill of himself and his proctor; insomuch, that it is allowed that the clergy in general receive little more than one-half of their legal dues; not including the charges they are at in collecting or bargaining for them.

The land-rents of Ireland are computed at about 2,000,0001., whereof one-tenth amounts to 200,0001. The beneficed clergymen, excluding those of this city, are not reckoned to be above 500; by which computation they should each of them possess 2007. a-year, if those tithes were equally divided, although in well-cultivated corn countries it ought to be more; whereas they hardly receive one-half of that sum, with great defalcations, and in very bad payments. There are, indeed, a few glebes in the north pretty considerable; but if these, and all the rest, were in like manner equally divided, they would not add 51. a-year to every clergyman. Therefore, whether the condition of the clergy in general among us be justly liable to envy, or able to bear a heavy burden, which neither the nobility, nor gentry, nor tradesmen, nor farmers, will touch with one of their fingers; this, I say, is submitted to the honorable house.

One terrible circumstance in this bill is that of turning the tithe of flax and hemp into what the lawyers call a modus, or a certain sum in lieu of a tenth part of the product. And by this practice


of claiming a modus in many parishes by ancient custom, the clergy in both kingdoms have been almost incredible sufferers. Thus, in the present case, the tithe of a tolerable acre of flax, which by a medium is worth 12s., is by the present bill reduced to 4s. Neither is this the worst part in a modus; every determinate sum must in process of time sink from a-fourth to a four-and-twentieth part, or a great deal lower, by that necessary fall attending the value of money; which is now at least nine-tenths lower all over Europe than it was 400 years ago, by a gradual decline; and even a-third part at least, within our own memories, in purchasing almost everything required for the necessities or conveniences of life; as any gentleman can attest who has kept house for twenty years past. And this will equally affect poor countries as well as rich. For, although I look upon it as an impossibility that this kingdom should ever thrive under its present disadvantages, which, without a miracle, must still increase, yet when the whole cash of the nation shall sink to 50,0001., we must, in all our traffic abroad, either of import or export, go by the general rate at which money is valued in those countries that enjoy the common privileges of human-kind. For this reason no corporation (if the clergy may presume to call themselves one) should by any means grant away their properties in perpetuity, upon any consideration whatsoever, which is a rock that many corporations have split upon, to their great impoverishment, and sometimes to their utter undoing; because they are supposed to subsist for ever, and because no determination of money is of any certain perpetual intrinsic value. This is known enough in England, where estates let for ever, some hundred years ago, by several ancient noble families, do not at this present pay their posterity a twentieth part of what they are now worth at an easy rate.

A tax affecting one part of a nation which already bears its full share in all parliamentary impositions, cannot possibly be just, except it be inflicted as a punishment upon that body of men which is taxed for some great demerit or danger to the public apprehended from those upon whom it is laid ; thus the Papists and Nonjurors have been doubly taxed for refusing to give proper securities to the government, which cannot be objected against the clergy. And therefore, if this bill should pass, I think it ought to be with a preface, showing wherein they have offended, and for what disaffection or other crime they are punished.

If an additional excise upon ale, or a duty upon flesh and bread, were to be enacted, neither the victualler, butcher, nor baker would

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