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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 foresee 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 fellowsubjects 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.
It is hoped the honourable 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 to about 2,000,000l., whereof one-tenth amounts to 200,000. The beneficed clergymen, excluding those of this city, are not reckoned to be above 500; by which computation they should each of them possess 2001. a-year, if those tithes were equally divided, although in wellcultivated 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 57. 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 honourable 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 128., is by the present bill reduced to 48. Neither is this the worst part in a modus; every determinate sum must in process of time sink from a-fourth to a fourand-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 conveniencies 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 50,000l., 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 bear any more of the charge than for what themselves consumed, but it would be an equal general tax through the whole kingdom: whereas, by this bill, the clergy alone are avowedly condemned to be deprived of their ancient, inherent, undisputed rights, in order to encourage a manufacture, by which all the rest of the kingdom are supposed to be gainers.
This bill is directly against Magna Charta; whereof the first clause is, for confirming the inviolable rights of holy church; as well as contrary to the oath taken by all our kings at their coronation, where they swear to defend and protect the church in all its rights. A tax laid upon employments is a very different thing. The possessors of civil and military employments are no corporation; neither are they any part of our constitution; their salaries, pay, and perquisites are all changeable at the pleasure of the prince who bestows them, although the army be paid from funds raised and appropriated by the legislature. But the clergy, as they have little reason to expect, so they desire no more then their ancient legal dues, (only indeed with the removal of many grievous impediments in the collection of them,) which it is to be feared they must wait for until more favourable times. It is well known that they have already, of their own accord, shown great indulgence to their people upon this very article of flax, seldom taking above a-fourth part of their tithe for small parcels, and oftentimes nothing at all from new beginners, waiting with patience until the farmers were able, and until greater quantities of land were employed in that part of husbandry; never suspecting that their good intentions should be perverted in so singular a manner, to their detriment, by that very assembly which, during the time that convocations (which are an original part of our constitution ever since Christianity became national among us) are thought fit to be suspended, God knows for what reason or from what provocations: I say, from that very assembly who, during the intervals of convocations, should rather be supposed to be guardians of the rights and properties of the clergy, than to make the least attempt upon either.
I have not heard upon inquiry, that any of those gentlemen, who among us without doors are called the court party, discover the least zeal in this affair. If they had thoughts to interpose, it might be conceived they would show their displeasure against this bill, which must very much lessen the value of the king's patronage upon promotion to vacant sees, in the disposal of deaneries, and other considerable preferments in the church which are in the donation of the crown, whereby the viceroys will have fewer good preferments to bestow on their dependents, as well as upon the kindred of members, who may have a sufficient stock of that sort of merit, whatever it may be, which may in future times most prevail.
The dissenters, by not succeeding in their endeavours to procure a repeal of the test, have lost nothing, but continue in full enjoyment of their toleration, while the clergy, without giving the least offence, are by this bill deprived of a considerable branch of their ancient legal rights, whereby the schismatical party will have the pleasure of gratifying their revenge-hoc Grai voluere.
The farmer will find no relief by this modus, because when his present lease shall expire his landlord will infallibly raise the rent in an equal proportion, upon every part of land where flax is sown, and have so much a better security for payment at the expense of the clergy.
If we judge by things past, it little avails that this bill is to be limited to a certain time of ten, twenty, or thirty years. For no landlord will ever consent that a law shall expire by which he finds himself a gainer; and of this there are many examples, as well in England as in this kingdom.
The great end of this bill is, by proper encourage, ment, to extend the linen manufacture into those counties where it has hitherto been little cultivated: but this encouragement of lessening the tithe of flax and hemp is one of such a kind as, it is to be feared,
will have a directly contrary effect. Because, if I am rightly informed, no set of men has, for their number and fortunes, been more industrious and successful than the clergy, in introducing that manufacture into places which were unacquainted with it; by persuading their people to sow flax and hemp, by procuring seed for them, and by having them instructed in the management thereof; and this they did, not without reasonable hopes of increasing the value of their parishes after some time, as well as of promoting the benefit of the public. But if this modus should take place, the clergy will be so far from gaining, that they will become losers by their extraordinary care, by having their best arable lands turned to flax and hemp which are reckoned great impoverishers of land: they cannot therefore be blamed if they should show as much zeal to prevent its being introduced or improved in their parishes as they hitherto have shown in the introducing and improving of it. This, I am told, some of them have already declared; at least so far as to resolve not to give themselves any more trouble than other men about promoting a manufacture, by the success of which they only, of all men, are to be sufferers. Perhaps the giving even a further encouragement than the law does, as it now stands, to a set of men, who might on many accounts be so useful to this purpose, would be no bad method of having the great end of the bill more effectually answered; but this is what they are far from desiring: all they petition for is no more than to continue on the same footing with the rest of their fellow-subjects.
If this modus of paying by the acre be to pass into a law, it were to be wished that the same law would not only appoint one or more sworn surveyors in each parish to measure the lands on which flax and hemp are sown, but also settle the price of surveying and determine whether the incumbent or farmer is to pay for each annual survey. Without something of this kind there must constantly be disputes between them, and the neighbouring justices of peace must be teased as often as those disputes happen.
I had written thus far, when a paper was sent to me with several reasons against the bill, some whereof, although they have been already touched, are put in a better light, and the rest did not occur to me. I shall deliver them in the author's own words:
I. That tithes are the patrimony of the church; and, if not of divine original, yet at least of great antiquity.
II. That all purchases and leases of titheable lands, for many centuries past, have been made and taken, subject to the demand of tithes, and those lands sold and taken just so much the cheaper on that account.
III. That if any lands are exempted from tithes, or the legal demands of such tithes lessened by act of parliament, so much value is taken from the proprietor of the tithes, and vested in the proprietor of the lands, or his head tenants.
guished the clergy by exemptions, and not by additional loads; and the present clergy of the kingdom hope they have not deserved worse of the legislature than their predecessors.
VIII. That by the original constitution of these kingdoms the clergy had the sole right of taxing themselves, and were in possession of that right as low as the Restoration; and if that right be now devolved upon the commons by the cession of the clergy, the commons can be considered, in this case, in no other light than as the guardians of the clergy.
IX. That besides those tithes always in the possession of the clergy, there are some portions of tithes lately come into their possession by purchase; that if this clause should take place, they would not be allowed the benefit of these purchases, upon an equal footing of advantage with the rest of their fellowsubjects. And that some tithes, in the hands of impropriators, are under settlements and mortgages.
X. That the gentlemen of this house should consider that loading the clergy is loading their own younger brothers and children; with this additional grievance, that it is taking from the younger and poorer, to give to the elder and richer; and,
Lastly, That if it were at any time just and proper to do this, it would, however, be too severe to do it now, when all the tithes of the kingdom are known, for some years past, to have sunk above one-third part in their value.
Any income in the hands of the clergy is at least as useful to the public as the same income in the hands of the laity.
It were more reasonable to grant the clergy in three parts of the nation an additional support than to diminish their present subsistence.
Great employments are and will be in the hands of Englishmen; nothing left for the younger sous of Irishmen, but vicarages, tide-waiters' places, &c.; therefore no reason to make them worse.
The modus upon the flax in England affects only lands reclaimed since the year 1690, and is at the rate of 5s. the English acre, which is eqivalent to 88. 8d. Irish, and that to be paid before the farmer removes it from the field. Flax is a manufacture of little consequence in England, but is the staple in Ireland; and if it increases (as it probably will) must, in many places, jostle out corn, because it is more gainful.
The clergy of the established church have no interest, like those of the church of Rome, distinct from the true interest of their country; and therefore ought to suffer under no distinct impositions or taxes of any kind.
The bill for settling the modus of flax in England was brought in the first year of the reign of king George I., when the clergy lay very unjustly under the imputation of some disaffection; and to encourage the bringing in of some fens in Lincolnshire, which were not to be continued under flax; but it left all lands, where flax had been sown before that time, under the same condition of tithing in which they were before the passing of that bill; whereas this bill takes away what the clergy are actually possessed of.
That the woollen manufacture is the staple of England, as the linen is that of Ireland: yet no attempt was ever made in England to reduce the tithe of wool, for the encouragement of that manufacture. This manufacture has already been remarkably favoured by the clergy, who have hitherto been generally content with less than half, some with 6d. a garden, and some have taken nothing.
Employments, they say, have been taxed, the reasons for which taxation will not hold with regard to property, at least till employments become inheritances. The commons always have had so tender a regard to
property, that they never would suffer any law to pass whereby any particular persons might be aggrieved, without their own consent.
N. B. Some alterations have been made in the bill about the modus, since the above paper was written; but they are of little moment.
FROM A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN
In the "Miscellanies," published by Morphew, in 1711, the following advertisement, evidently dictated by Dr. Swift, is prefixed:
The following letter is supposed, by some judicious persons, to be of the same author, and if their conjectures be right, it will be of no disadvantage to him to have it revived, considering the time when it was writ, the persons then at the helm, and the designs in agitation, against which this paper so boldly appeared. I have been assured that the suspicion which the supposed author lay under for writing this letter absolutely ruined him with the late ministry. I have taken leave to omit about a page, which was purely personal, and of no use to the subject."
The pamphlet materially contributed to the loss of the bill for repeal of the Test Act, during the earl of Pembroke's viceroyalty.
Dublin, December 4, 1708.
I RECEIVED your letter, wherein you tell me of the strange representations made of us on your side of the water. The instance you are pleased to mention is that of the Presbyterian missionary, who, according to your phrase, has been lately persecuted at Drogheda for his religion; but it is easy to observe how mighty industrious some people have been, for three or four years past, to hand about stories of the hardships, the merits, the number, and the power of the Presbyterians in Ireland to raise formidable ideas of the dangers of Popery there, and to transmit all for England, improved by great additions, and with special care to have them inserted with comments, in those infamous weekly papers that infest your coffee-houses. So when the clause enacting a Sacramental Test was put in execution, it was given out in England, that half the justices of peace through this kingdom had laid down their commissions; whereas, upon examination, the whole number was found to amount only to a dozen or thirteen, and those generally of the lowest rate in fortune and understanding, and some of them superannuated. So when the earl of Pembroke was in Ireland, and the parliament sitting, a formal story was very gravely carried to his excellency by some zealous members, of a priest newly arrived from abroad to the north-west parts of Ireland, who had publicly preached to his people, to fall a murdering the Protestants; which, though invented to serve an end they were then upon, and are still driving at, was presently handed over, and printed with shrewd remarks by your worthy scribblers. In like manner the account of that person, who was lately expelled our university for reflecting on the memory of king William: what a dust it raised, and how foully it was related, is fresh enough in memory.a Neither would people be convinced, till the university was at the pains of publishing a Latin paper to justify themselves. And to mention no more, this story of the persecution at Drogheda, how it has been spread and aggravated, what consequences have been drawn from it, and what reproaches fixed on those who have least deserved them, we are already informed. Now, if the end of all this proceeding were a secret and mystery, I should not pretend to give it an interpretaa The provost and fellows of Trinity College expelled Edward Forbes for the cause mentioned.
of a cause.
tion; but sufficient care has been taken to explain it,
b This character of archbishop King is retained in the" Miscel lany" of 1727, edited by Pope,but erased in the Dublin edition. Dr. King was twice imprisoned in the castle of Dublin after the landing of king James in Ireland, in 1699, and narrowly escaped assassination,
cession in the Protestant liue, and for ever excluding the pretender; and though a firm friend to the church, yet with indulgence toward dissenters, as appears from his conduct at Derry, where he was settled for many years among the most virulent of the sect; yet, upon his removal to Dublin, they parted from him with tears in their eyes, and universal acknowledgments of his wisdom and goodness. For the rest it must be owned, he does not busy himself by entering deeply into any party, but rather spends his time in acts of hospitality and charity, in building of churches, repairing his palace, in introducing and preferring the worthiest persons he can find, without other regards: in short, in the practice of all virtues that can become a public or private life. This and more, if possible, is due to so excellent a person, who may be justly reckoned among the greatest and most learned prelates of this age, however his character may be defiled by such mean and dirty hands as those of the Observator, or such as employ him.
I now come to answer the other part of your letter, and shall give you my opinion freely about repealing the Sacramental Test; only, whereas you desire my thoughts as a friend, and not as I am a member of parliament, I must assure you they are exactly the same in both capacities.
I must begin by telling you we are generally surprised at your wonderful kindness to us on this occasion, it being so very industrious to teach us to see our interest in a point where we are so unable to see it ourselves. This has given us some suspicion; and though in my own particular I am hugely bent to believe that whenever you concern yourselves in our affairs it is certainly for our good, yet I have the misfortune to be something singular in this belief; and therefore I never attempt to justify it, but content myself to possess my own opinion in private, for fear of encountering men of more wit or words than I have to spare.
We at this distance, who see nothing of the spring of actions, are forced, by mere conjecture, to assign two reasons for your desiring us to repeal the Sacramental Test. One is, because you are said to imagine it will be a step toward the like good work in England; the other more immediate, that it will open a way for rewarding several persons who have well deserved upon a great occasion, but who are now unqualified through that impediment.
I do not frequently quote poets, especially English; but I remember there is in some of Mr. Cowley's love verses a strain that I thought extraordinary at fifteen, and have often since imagined it to be spoken by Ireland :
Forbid it, heaven, my life should be
In short, whatever advantage you propose to yourselves by repealing the Sacramental Test, speak it out plainly; it is the best argument you can use, for we value your interest much more than our own; if your little finger be sore, and you think a poultice made of our vitals will give it any ease, speak the word and it shall be done the interest of our whole kingdom is at any time ready to strike to that of your poorest fishing towns; it is hard you will not accept our services, unless we believe at the same time that you are only pub-consulting our profit and giving us marks of your love. If there be a fire at some distance, and I immediately blow up my house before there be occasion, because you are a man of quality and apprehend some danger to a corner of your stable, yet why should you require me to attend next morning at your levee with my humble thanks for the favour you have done me?
If we might be allowed to judge for ourselves, we had abundance of benefit by the Sacramental Test, and foresee a number of mischiefs would be the consequence
of repealing it; and we conceive the objections made against it by the dissenters are of no manner of force. They tell us of their merits in the late war in Ireland, and how cheerfully they engaged for the safety of the nation; that if they had thought they had been fighting only other people's quarrels, perhaps it might have cooled their zeal, and that for the future they shall sit down quietly and let us do our work ourselves; nay, that it is necessary they should do so, since they cannot take up arms under the penalty of high treason.
religion, and full of an undisturbed affection toward each other. Numbers of that noble nation, invited by the fertilities of the soil, are glad to exchange their barren hills of Loquabar, by a voyage of three hours, for our fruitful vales of Down and Antrim, so productive of that grain which, at little trouble and less expense, finds diet and lodging for themselves and their cattle. These people, by their extreme parsimony, wonderful dexterity in dealing, and firm adherence to one another, soon grow into wealth from the smallest beginnings, never are rooted out where they once fix, and increase daily by new supples: besides, when they are the superior number in any tract of ground, they are not over patient of mixture; but such, whom they cannot assimilate, soon find it their interest to remove. I have done all in my power on some land of my own to preserve two or three English fellows in their neighbourhood, but found it impossible, though one of them thought he had sufficiently made his court by turning Presbyterian. Add to all this, that they bring along with them from Scotland a most formidable notion of our church, which they look upon at least three degrees worse than Popery; and it is natural it should be so, since they come over full fraught with that spirit which taught them to abolish Episcopacy at home.
Now supposing them to have done their duty, as I believe they did, (and not to trouble them about the fly on the wheel,) I thought liberty, property, and religion had been the three subjects of the quarrel; and bave not all those been amply secured to them? had they not at that time a mental reservation for power and employments? and must these two articles be added henceforward in our national quarrels? It is grown a mighty conceit among some men to melt down the phrase of a church established by law into that of the religion of the magistrate; of which appellation it is easier to find the reason than the sense: if by the magistrate they mean the prince, the expression includes a falsehood; for when king James was prince, the esta blished church was the same as it is now. If by the same word they mean the legislature, we desire no more. Be that as it will, we of this kingdom believe the church of Ireland to be the national church, and the only one established by law, and are willing by the same law to give a toleration to Dissenters; but if once we repeal our Sacramental Test and grant a toleration, or suspend the execution of the penal laws, I do not see how we can be said to have any established church remaining; or rather, why there will not be as many established churches as there are sects of dissenters. No, say they, yours will still be the national church, because your bishops and clergy are maintained by the public; but that I suppose will be of no long duration, and it would be very unjust it should, because, to speak in Tindal's phrase, it is not reasonable that revenues should be annexed to one opinion more than another when all are equally lawful; and it is the same author's maxim, that no freeborn subject ought to pay for maintaining speculations he does not believe. But why should any man, upon account of opinions he cannot help, be deprived of the opportunity of serving his queen and country? Their zeal is commendable, and when employments go a-begging for want of hands, they shall be sure to have the refusal, only upon condition they will not pretend to them upon maxims which equally include atheists, Turks, Jews, infidels, and heretics; or, which is still more dangerous, even Papists themselves: the former you allow, the other you deny; because these last own a foreign power, and therefore must be shut out. But there is no great weight in this; for their religion can suit with free states, with limited or absolute monarchies, as well as a better; and the pope's power in France is but a shadow; so that, upon this foot, there need be no great danger to the constitution by admitting Papists to employments. I will help you to enough of them who shall be ready to allow the pope as little power here as you please: and the bare opinion of his being vicar of Christ is but a speculative point, for which no man it seems ought to be deprived of the capacity of serving his country.
But, if you please, I will tell you the great objection we have against repealing this same Sacramental Test. It is that we are verily persuaded the consequence will be an entire alteration of religion among us in no great compass of years. And pray observe how we reason here in Ireland upon this matter.
We observe the Scots, in our northern parts, to be a brave, industrious people, extremely devoted to their
Then we proceed further, and observe that the gentlemen of employments here make a very considerable number in the house of commons, and have no other merit but that of doing their duty in their several stations; therefore when the Test is repealed, it will be highly reasonable they should give place to those who have much greater services to plead. The commissions of the revenue are soon disposed of, and the collectors and other officers throughout this kingdom are generally appointed by the commissioners, which gives them a mighty influence in every county. As much may be said of the great offices in the law; and when this door is open to let dissenters into the commissions of the peace, to make them high-sheriffs, mayors of corporations, and officers of the army and militia, I do not see how it can be otherwise, considering their industry and our supineness, but that they may, in a very few years, grow to a majority in the house of commons, and consequently make themselves the national religion, and have a fair pretence to demand the revenues of the church for their teachers. I know it will be objected, that if all this should happen as I describe, yet the Presbyterian religion could never be made the national by act of parliament, because our bishops are so great a number in the house of lords, and without a majority there the church could not be abolished. But I have two very good expedients for that, which I shall leave you to guess, and I dare swear our speaker here has often thought on, especially having endeavoured at one of them so lately. To convince you that this design is not so foreign from some people's thoughts, I must let you know that an honest bellwether of our house (you have him now in England; I wish you could keep him there) had the impudence some years ago, in parliament time, to shake my lord bishop of Kilaloob by his lawn sleeve, and tell him, in a threatening manner, "that he hoped to live to see the day when there should not be one of his order in the kingdom."
These last lines perhaps you think a digression; therefore to return: I have told you the consequences we fully reckon upon from repealing the Sacramental Test, which, although the greatest number of such as are for doing it are actually in no manner of pain about it, and many of them care not 3d. whether there be any church or not, yet, because they pretend to argue from conscience, as well as policy and interest, I thought it proper to understand and answer them accordingly.
a Supposed to be Mr. Broderick.