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fortieth-on the estimated rent-roll of Ireland, would produce £500,000. a sum adequate to the payment of all the clergy, protestant, catholic, and dissenting.” (pp. 48, 49.]
To this mode of commuting tythes,--for to talk of abolishing a compulsory provision for the clergy of the established religion, until you could show that, under existing circumstances, the abolition of that establishment itself would be both practicable and desirable, would be worse than idle,we see nothing to object, and much in it to approve. We have never understood why the farmer should give the tenth of his produce to the church, whilst the merchant, the tradesman, the owner of houses, contribute scarce a shilling in a thousand to its support; and the holder of millions in the public funds, not the millionth part of a farthing, were a farthing capable of so minute a division. Unless then we can be satisfied that farmers have more need of religion and religious institutions than other men, we confess that the tythes, and oblations, and first-fruits of the Levitical law would have but little effect in reconciling us to the inconsistencies and injustice of the tything system, as practised under a different economy, and in circumstances of society differing as widely too. We agree, however, with Mr. Croker, that "tythes in Ireland must follow the fate of tythes in England;" yet we cannot but think, that the vast preponderation of Catholics there, numerically at least, and the consequent hardship of the existing laws for the maintenance of the established clergy, upon them, should induce the trial of a modification of the system in the former country first. It is nonsense to maintain, as some have done, and still do, that the Catholic peasant, and even the Catholic tenant of a farm, feels not the pressure of the tythe system, but in fancy. In money, or in kind-in meal, or in malt-as great tythes, or as small ones,-he pays from the entire produce of his patch of ground, or his farm, to the support of a church which he deems heretical, and the usurper of the rights of his own hierarchy and priesthood; and, as he reluctantly counts out his gold or his silver, or decimates his sheaves, his pigs, his poultry, his vegetables, and his fruit, he feels that his grievance is real; and that you insult, as well as oppress him, by telling him it is imaginary. You cannot prove to him, that it is in truth borne by his landlord; a point indeed, on which, when he considers the enormously high rental paid for Irish estates by those who actually cultivate the ground, an unprejudiced and impartial person will find it extremely difficult, if not impos
sible, to satisfy himself. The Catholics of Ireland are, it must be remembered, in addition to their tythes to the Protestant clergy, compelled to contribute largely to the maintenance of the ministers of their own church-who are not, as with other dissenters, the mere pastors of particular congregations, but members of a compact and regularly organized body, presenting a hierarchy and gradation of officers, even more complete than that of the establishment; inferior to it, indeed, in riches and secular aggrandisement, but laying infinitely higher claims to the implicit obedience, and exercising more resistless domination, over the consciences of the people. The Protestant defaulter in the payment of tithes may laugh at excommunications and anathemas, except that the proctors' bill gives somewhat of a sting to these harmless sentences of our ecclesiastical courts; but to a Catholic, who gives not what may be demanded of his substance to the church, they are any thing but a joke. Standing in a white sheet at eight o'clock in the morning, in an empty church, will not be the penance to which he is doomed, for the benefit of his soul; nor a laugh with the sexton and the bell-ringer, at the mummery, its only consequence. Whilst he continues to believe that the successor of St. Peter, and those to whom he may have delegated portions of his authority, hold the keys of heaven and hell, binding or unloosing there whomsoever they bind or unloose upon earth—the imprecations of the priest—the malediction of the prelate the bull of the pope--are fearful instruments of terror, as of wrath. To be cut off from the visible church on earth, is with him to be cut off from the assembly of the saints, and the hope of heaven. He may be restored to them, it is true ; but it must be on terms which, in the name of the church, the priest shall dictate, and which the offender's purse shall feel.
Are the Catholics, then, to be excused from paying tythes to the Protestant clergy of the established church? Üntil other dissenters are also excused---and that day, we are persuaded, is far distant; if it shall arrive before the millennial reign-we unhesitatingly answer, No. But, let these tythes be levied from him in the most unobjectionable and least oppressive way; and we know of no better, than the species of rent-charge suggested by Mr. Croker. This will partially relieve him; but more ought to be done to ease him of the burdens, to which his adherence to the faith of his fathers-once it must be remembered, the common and established faith of his countrymen,-necessarily exposes
him. A national provision should, we scruple not to say, be made for the priesthood of his church. We know, that at this proposition many of our readers will start---from it some of them, we fear, will revolt with horror, and think, that in making or supporting it, for it often has been proposed by others, we are beside ourselves, and that too much liberality may have made us mad. These things, however, move not us, provided we can assign satisfactory reasons for the measure we advocate.
The abstract question of the propriety of a provision for the clergy, save by the voluntary contributions of the people, is one, it must be remembered, which we do not touch. The making such provision, by other and more compulsory means, is a practice too long established in this country, and too interwoven with its very constitution, to leave us any expectation, that aught we could urge against it would be productive of benefit. Abandoning therefore, as hopeless in these times, the attempt to bring back the church to the practice of its earlier and better ages, we must take things as they are, and endeavour to make the best of them. Using then, for the purposes of the present argument, the principle of a provision for the ministers of the church by law established, by some mode or other of national taxation, as a conceded point, we have to discuss the justice and propriety of its extension to the ministers of other denominations, whose rights the same law protects; and primarily of the Catholics of Ireland. And for this we contend simply on the ground of the vast numerical preponderance of that body of Christians, in the country in question. Such a preponderance, though embracing, we believe, three-fourths of the population, neither is, we are aware, nor can be, any argument in favour of the truth of a system, nor of its right, as a religious system, to support. Bigoted, or rendered wilfully blind by his prejudices, must that man also be, who could attach to the legislature which should grant a national provision to the Catholic priests of Ireland, any such absurdly implied approval of the sentiments which they teach. Whilst reserving to the clergy of the Protestant establishment their rights entire, and compelling all to contribute to their support, the concession we propose would amount to no more at the furthest, than a recognition that the faith and mode of worship, to which the great majority of the people steadily adhere--erroneous as it is, and grossly superstitious in many of its doctrines and practices-de
serves some peculiar consideration, at the hand of a government, professing to leave to every one the right of worshiping God according to the dictates of his conscience. That consideration could not, we should think, be better shewn, than by giving to the people, who are forced to raise the greater portion of the regular support of a priesthood which they consider heretical, anti-christian, and usurping, a very moderate maintenance from the national treasury, which they so materially contribute to enrich.
Thus much for the justice of the measure. Many reasons might, we think, be urged in favour of its prudence, sufficiently cogent to outweigh the objections, derived from the seeming countenance that would be afforded, to what we, equally with the objectors, conceive to be an idolatrous, a superstitious, and in many respects an anti-christian faith. In the first place, the mischief, if there be any, has already been done; the priests of that faith have been, and are educated, in a great measure, at the national expense, in the college of Maynooth; and why thus educated, we would ask, but to prevent their being educated abroad, in principles destructive of their civil subjection, to which it is well known, that some expositions of the tenets of their faith, supported by high authorities in their church, peculiarly expose them. And if this measure has been
approved by some of the most zealous friends of our establishment, as it unquestionably has been, the same reasoning will equally apply to that now proposed, of rendering the Catholic hierarchy and priesthood dependent, rather upon the British government than the see of Rome. Better surely would it be for the interests of the country, always and anxiously jealous of their influence over the minds of the people, that their support should be derived from an act of our own legislature, than extorted, rather than collected by the authority of papal bulls and rescripts, and enforced by the terrors of anathemas and excommunications. As Protestants, we are also favourable to the measure upon another groundconviction, that, by weakening the intimate connection at present subsisting between the Irish Catholic clergy and the foreign head of their church, and by bringing them into closer contact and more intimate connection with the State, which they have hitherto but too naturally considered an enemy, those prejudices will be softened, which seem at present to interpose an insurmountable barrier to the conversion of any of the members of this powerful body to a purer faith, or to a co-operation with their Protestant fellow-subjects, in those extensive plans of benevolence now in full exertion, for in
VOL. IV.-NO 8.
structing the great mass of the population of their country, who have long been the victims of the grossest ignorance. Their hands, like Ishmael's, have, for ages, been against every man, and every man's against theirs; but a more liberal and enlightened policy should prevent this being longer the case.
There are circumstances, however, which render more than ordinary caution necessary, in effecting the object which we are disposed to recommend, and which seem to have escaped the notice of those who have elsewhere urged it, and amongst them of the writer whose arguments we have lately quoted. The Catholic prelates of Ireland retain, it must be recollected, the titles of the sees which their predecessors held. They call themselves, it is true, titular bishops only; but there can be no doubt, that if they do not consider themselves the true bishops of the dioceses, over which their jurisdiction extends, they are considered so by the uninformed, and consequently by the great majority of their people. The whole ecclesiastical establishment of the country, in its deaconries, archdeaconries, and parishes, has too, it must be remembered, its counter-part in the appointments of the Catholic priesthood; and as the sees of their prelates are not, as with us in England, in partibus infidelium, over the apocalyptic churches, or some such shadows of a shade, but in the heart of Ireland, and the very seats of her Protestant bishops, so are not their inferior clergy ministers of isolated chapels and congregations, as are the pastors of other bodies of dissenters, but with the exception of tythes, to all intents and purposes, parochial priests. With this manifest determination, therefore, to preserve the semblance, at least, of a national establishment, and to keep in constant view of the followers of their church the remembrance of its departed glory, we cannot but think, that every thing should carefully be avoided, which could give, even to the most sanguine, the remotest expectation of a revival of its power or its splendour. With this view, we should propose, that the salaries of the Catholic clergy should be paid, not from a sum raised by a rent-charge, or any other mode adopted for the commutation of tythes, but from the general funds of the nation; that so it may appear, what, in reality, it will be, a boon granted on principles of prudential economy, and for the relief of the Catholic laity; not as any recognition of the rights, or pretended rights, of the Catholic clergy, an interpretation which might not very unnaturally be put upon their sharing the provision expressly made for the clergy of the established church. It were