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let no favour be shewn; on them let nothing be bestowed. We should think it, indeed, desirable, by a Royal Message, to recommend residence, especially at the present period, to all Irish landholders, whom duty does not detain from their country and their homes. If it be dangerous to go, it is cowardice and treason to their country to stay away. Fear never was a characteristic of Irishmen; though we are reasonably apprehensive, that with many of them love of their country has rather been a boast than a reality. Should we be mistaken upon this point, as we should be happy to find we were, they have an opportunity of correcting us, not by their words, but their deeds. But there is no such danger. Let the absentee proprietor return to his estate, with a determination to do his duty there, and he has no real cause for fear.
“Let no one say," writes Mr. Steven, who is but recently from Ireland, “I would return, could I consider myself safe among my tenantry. Make the trial. Return with a determination to pay off, as speedily as possible, the long arrear, and be assured of your safety. Had I a large estate in that country, and time given me to mature my plans, for the personal and domestic comfort of my tenants, and for their moral elevation, I should not be afraid of sleeping without a bolt. Be but kind to them; let them be satisfied that you are their friend, and they will give you abundant proof of their attachment." (pp. 22–23.]
If measures of encouragement fail---and those who in the expressive language of one of the writers before us, read not words, but ideas, may readily follow out our principle into its details,--others of a more coercive nature should, we think, be tried. It is abhorrent, we admit, to English notions of independence to prescribe to any man, either the bounds or the place of his habitation; and whilst we rejoice that the time is passed by for ever, when our monarchs did this at their pleasure, emergencies may arise, in which it would be extremely desirable that, somehow or other, this should be effected. The quo modo is the chief difficulty in the case; and we are so little inclined to consider it a trifling one, as to satisfy ourselves with suggesting to wiser heads, and abler politicians, as a dernier resort, the idea of a taxation of absentees, who are so by free choice, for the education of the tenantry whom they neglect, and defraying the expenses of keeping them in order by military force, instead of the mild rule of the superior, to whom, if within their reach, they would naturally look for protection and advice.
Thus much for lay absentees; and if we have visited them with admonitions, the clerical ones may well expect to be visited by stripes; nor, little as we hope to make them feel, shall they be disappointed in their expectations. A faithful, zealous, laborious clergy, is one of the highest objects of our respect and veneration, nor the less so for its enjoying the advantages for usefulness, which an establishment can give: but for a lazy, wordly-minded, unprincipled pastor, intent but on the shearing of his flock, either in our established or our protected churches, we have no such feelings : for his vices we have no compassion; on his negligence we can have no mercy. How far the latter character will apply to a great proportion of the priesthood of our established church in Ireland, they perhaps would rather learn from a more courtly pen than ours; and the author of the “State of Ireland, Past and Present,” shall gratify their wish.
“ But to the established clergy,” he asks, “ what shall I urge? The times, momentous to all, are critical to them; their flocks turbulent, their revenues invaded, their very hierarchy assailed ;-these are not days for sloth. Ireland is divided into 2500 parishes, melted down into 1200 benefices, on which there are but 1000 churches; the 1200 beneficed clergy of these 2500 parishes, where are they? one-third of them are not resident-absentees from their duties—mortmainers upon the land! The catholic priest, the dissenting minister, the methodist preacher, are they supine or absent?--Are they without proselytes and converts, without interest or influence with the people? A friend to religion, I am enemy to salaried idleness. To 2500 parishes I would have 2500 parsons; no curates at fifty pounds a year; nor absentees at two thousand !--no starving zeal, no lazy affluence. The ecclesiastical establishment, which laymen invoked to defend, churchmen should support by their presence, dignify by their piety, and extend by their example.” (pp. 43, 44.)
Can the testimony of the honourable Secretary, himself an Irishman, need confirmation? We think not yet if any should be asked, we have it to our hands, in the following extract from the second pamphlet before us, the production of a gentleman, who relates but what he has seen within the last nine months.
“ The vast number of parishes which are without any resident clergy, is an obvious hinderance to the march of education, and cannot fail to involve the rulers of the church of Ireland in a solemn responsibility. It will scarcely be credited, that there is, at this very time, in one district, a space of one hundred square miles, and that not in a thinly inhabited or mountainous part, but in one of
the finest counties in Ireland, in which there has neither been a church nor resident clergyman in the memory of man. The union of many parishes in one, too, presents a serious impediment to the intellectual and moral improvement of the people. I will give one instance, out of many, in which eleven parishes are united. This parish has only one Protestant minister, although there priests and coadjutors in it, to the number of about twenty. This is, indeed, an alarming evil
. The circumstance of there being no resident clergyman, or, as in the latter case, of a great part of the parish being ten or twelve miles from the church, renders it necessary for the Protestant parishioner, being destitute of clerical service, to apply to the Catholic priest, (who, with his curates, invariably resides in the parish, there being no non-residents in that church,) for the baptism of his children ; so, also, when he is sick or dying, he is often so ignorant as to apply to the same quarter for absolution. In this way, there has been a great accession of nominal Protestants to the church of Rome; so that in districts, where, fifty or sixty years ago, there was a considerable body of Protestants, there is now scarcely one family left.” (pp. 25–27.]
The evil resulting from this shameful neglect of duty is obvious, and how is it to be excused? In some cases where a sufficient sense of propriety remains to dictate the necessity of an excuse, the want of a cure, or, in other words, of Protestant parishioners sufficiently numerous to require a resident pastor, affords one, such as it is.
“You have no cure!" rejoins Mr. Steven, in noticing this lame apology;" I ask, in the name of reason, of religion, and common honesty, why, under these circumstances, you exact your tithes, without an equivalent, from the poor who have another establishment to support ?" [p. 26.]
This question we leave the non-resident clergy of Ireland to answer, if they can, and if in the height of their orthodoxy they should occasionally indulge in violent philippics against the rapid growth of methodism, and other isnis of sectarian aspect, in their neglected parishes, we will honestly tell them, that they may, in a great measure, thank themselves for the evil of which they complain, and whose progress mere railing never will arrest. If they think that the enemies of their church, Protestants as well as Catholics, are increasing, in activity as in numbers, let them repair to their posts, and out-preach and out-live them there. This will be the best means of promoting the interests of the church of Ireland; this the most effectual check upon the dreaded inroads of dissent; inroads of which we have often noticed, that those ministers of the establishment are the most apprehensive, who take the least pains to prevent them.
If in Ireland, neither a sense of duty; the shame of Aleecing the flocks which they do not feed; nor zeal for the church to which they belong, willinduce the non-resident clergy to return to their charge, we, at least, are decidedly of opinion, that other measures must be adopted to compel them to the due performance of their clerical functions. This the interests of their country; this the prosperity of the established church re quires : and happily it may be as easily effected as it is obviously called for. An Act of Parliament should be passed, directing the residence of rectors, vicars, &c. on their Irish benefices for at least one half the year, under forfeiture (except where sufficient cause of absence shall be shown) of such portion of the revenue of their benefices as Parliament may fix upon,--and it should be an ample one,-to the minister who actually does the duty, over and above his regular stipend. Where no duty whatever is done, either by incumbent or curate, the whole revenue should be forfeited to the poor. These, or some such measures, would, we are satisfied, soon bring the non-resident clergy of Ireland to their cures, and compel her bishops to keep them there. The advantage of their presence need not be pointed out. They are the proper instructors of their flocks; the natural superintendants of any national scheme of education that may be resorted to; the men to whose unwearied exertions we have a right to look, for keeping in the faith such of their parishioners as hold it, and earnestly endeavouring, at the least, to bring over to it those who hold it not. What their parishioners, their country, their church, and their God, have a right to look for at their hands, they must speedily perform, or they will lose that respect in which they would deservedly be held by all whose respect is worth possessing, and by none more sincerely than by their present monitors, did they but shew by their conduct, that they respected themselves. We should not then have meetings of their parishioners, left as sheep without a shepherd, to petition their diocesans to drive them to their duty; or lay-peers publishing letters in the newspapers reflecting upon spiritual ones, for their nonattendance to so just and equitable a request. If these things are permitted, the cry of the Church is in danger!' will soon become something more than a bugbear, or the mere watchword of a party; but her danger will be from within, not from without=her worst enemies will be those of her own house. We learn, however, with great satisfaction, that she has many powerful and active friends, with not a small, if a scattered band, of faithful, zealous, and
laborious ministers, to protect her against any danger; and happy should we esteem ourselves if any suggestion of ours could, in the smallest degree, increase either their number or their usefulness.
Closely connected with the subjects which we have already discussed, is the tythe system; a topic at all times delicate to handle, and peculiarly so at the present moment, were it necessary to our purpose, either to examine its claims to divine appointments, as a standing provision for the priesthood; or the principles upon which its continuance in the church is generally supported. The first has long been more than doubted; the latter have been but little relied on by some of the warmest friends of the establishment; though we cannot pause to inquire how wisely they have been abandoned, or how well. In the following passage, from the State of Ireland, we give at once a proof of our assertion, and a suggestion for remedying the evil complained of, less frequently and vociferously, we are satisfied, by dissenters, than by farmers and land-owners, who slumber Sunday after Sunday in the pews of a church, whose prosperity they much more willingly toast over their wine, than provide for from their purses.
“I disregard-as an obstacle," says this orthodox writer, in proposing his plan of reform, “ the divine origin of tythes; and disallow the claims of the church to them, as the hereditary property of those, whose clerical character is not itself hereditary. In Levi's family it might be just that tythes should descend, because the priesthood did ; but here they are—as they should be the property of the state, that pays its ecclesiastical, as it does its civil, military, and fiscal officers, with equal powers of change, modification, and control. It has been proposed to replace them-by a commutation for glebe, impracticable, I fear, from its complication ;-by a corn rent, more oppressive and vexatious than the present evil;—by an acreable land-lax, less objectionable, but unsatisfactory and unequal, as computed on the unalterable measure, and not on the various and fluctuating values of land. I, with great hesitation, would propose for consideration, a system-not perfect, certainly, but less objectionable A poundage upon all rents ; not of a tenth, perhaps not a twentieth, probably of a thirtieth or fortieth. The clergy in great towns are now paid by a rate on the estimated value of each house. My proposition would extend this system over the whole country. In 1787, an intelligent prelate computed the average of each clergyman's annual income at £133. 6s. I will suppose it now to be £250—the benefices fewer than 1200--the ecclesiastical establishment less, therefore, than £300,000. But 6d. in the pound-one