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the evidence upon which, in the event of disagreement, it is to be decided, should be restricted to the statement directed to be made in the instrument of commutation, and to the returus from the specified markets.
The instrument of commutation which we have referred to, might be a deed, (of which a form should be given in the Act, the simpler the better,) made between the incumbent, the patron, the ordinary, and the tithe-payers, and consisting, in substance, of some such parts as the following: first, the specification of the lands in the parish liable to tithe; secondly, the statement of the nature and amount of the commutation agreed upon; thirdly, where the commutation is money wholly, or in part, the statement of its value in corn, and of the markets from which the averages have been taken; fourthly, a declaration by the incumbent, patron, and ordinary, that all ecclesiastical tithes in the parish shall cease and be extinguished; and fifthly, the necessary clauses for charging each division of land with its share of the substituted rent, if that be the commutation, or if it be a capital sum of money, any unpaid contributory share upon the proper land. Several other clauses of a technical nature might be called for, which practice or circumstances would suggest; and in the case of a disputed commutation, a plan of the parish would probably be requisite. The deed should certainly be enrolled, and official copies made legal evidence, and, we think, should be exonerated from stamp duty.
The foregoing dispositions would mainly satisfy the first part of the proposed Act, namely the extinction and conversion of the tithe, were it not that we have hitherto assumed a complete harmony to reign throughout the transaction between the negotiating parties, which of course cannot be relied upon.
We have already indicated our opinion, that a commutation agreed upon by the parishioners should not be rejected by the incumbent, on the ground of its being unsuitable in its nature; but where the justness of its amount is disputed, that, of course, is a matter of fact that ought to be fairly settled between the parties; and for this purpose it will probably be found necessary, in case of disagreement, for either party to elect a commissioner, with an umpire to act between both, if necessary: and proper powers must, of course, be given to these commissioners to take all steps needful to establish the questioned facts, and finally to award the amount of commutation, accompanied with the usual requisite provisions for ensuring impartiality and despatch in the arbitration. An appeal will be further necessary from the commissioners to the Court of Exchequer, which our judgment suggests to us, on account of its being mostly conversant with this species of property. The proceedings might be made summary,
and as inexpensive as possible: and this appeal ought, we think, to be conclusive.
We may now go over to the consideration of the second main branch of the proposed Act, namely, the disposal of the endowment acquired in lieu of tithe. Vhere it is land, or so soon as it is converted into land, the question is simple: it may be rendered glebe, and be treated accordingly. Where also the commutation shall consist of rent charged on the land, there is not much to be said: the landlord or the tenant, as they may agree, may pay it henceforth to the clergyman, on some fixed days in the year, which should be specified. Of course, the usual legal remedies for recovering the rent would not be withheld; and possibly it would be an improvement to invest the churchwardens of every parish with authority for recovering it, on behalf of the incumbent, virtute officii.
It remains to be seen how a money fund in capital may be disposed of to best advantage for the clergy. We pretend not to speak with confidence on this point, but it strikes us a nearly feasible plan, to direct the money to be paid over to the treasurer of Queen Anne's Bounty, or some other responsible officer of that institution, to be invested by him in the public funds, in his name, but to the account of the church of the parish from which the money shall have proceeded. Whilst the fund remained with this officer, he would, of course, pay the dividends to the incumbent for the time; and whenever it should be found practical and expedient to convert the money into a landed endowment, the purchase money would thus be readily available at the shortest notice. The power we have just alluded to of turning a monied fund into land whenever a favorable opportunity shall offer, ought, we think, to be lodged in the incumbent, to be exercised, however, with the approbation of the patron and ordinary. And here Mr. Senior's plan should not be lost sight of.
Some regulations would be called for to meet cases (of which, doubtless, many will occur,) of disputed legal right to tithes, between the churchman and his parishioners: these ought to be encouraged, perhaps compelled, to an early and final settlement; and, with that view, it might possibly be found advantageous to vest in the commissioners ample authorities to collect the requisite evidence: but the law of the case must, of course, be adjudicated by a competent tribunal, and, we think, exclusively by the Court of Exchequer.
Many other clauses of a technical nature, and doubtless many provisions of essential importance, are wanting in our foregoing brief and imperfect sketch of a Commutation Act; but it is not as a working model that we pretend to offer it, but simply as an example, which, however roughly hewn, is meant to shew' that a
scheme might be framed, taking in all the substantial requisites of the measure of commutation, now acknowledged to have become indispensable, and at the same time carrying that measure into effect by usual and familiar means, and with reasonable despatch. And here we cannot refrain from again urging our clerical friends to bestir themselves in employing all their energies, and all their influence, to establish, without loss of time, a comprehensive plan of complete commutation. No compromises, no compositions, no half measures, will now avail; there must be a thorough conversion of the church's property in tithe, otherwise the characteristic of property will soon cease to belong to it. As yet there is, we trust, an interval of calm and considerate discussion, prevailing in the minds of the influential majority, which, in separating abuses from an institution, would not suffer the integrity of the latter to be intrenched on, so long as it performed its appointed services. But we beg to suggest to the clergy, that the time may come when many men, who have never hesitated on the policy of abolishing tithes, but have not wished to diminish the endowments of the Church as a whole, may have further to make up their minds on the wisest mode of appropriating that fund of property from which tithes spring, after the latter shall have been removed; and whilst in this state of hesitation, brought about by the perplexed circumstances of the times, is it not to be apprehended that they may, in very many circumstances, suffer their calculations of temporal expediency to get the better of their zeal for the Establishment? There is another class, who, though not fraught with any vehement devotion to the Established Church, would yet unwillingly stand by and see the landlord pocket all the tithes in the country as a bonus, without returning any equivalent for them, and would, therefore, be ready to cooperate in any measure to convert the tithes into a different species of property. The effective aid and countenance of these, and doubtless of many other members of the community, will be unquestionably lost to the clergy by too long a protracted delay; and since it is impossible to calculate safely its limit, we trust we may not have again to reiterate our exhortations, or we may possibly be constrained to mingle with them our regrets that the irrevocable time for action has gone by.
And now a word to connect more closely the subject with our native Principality. The besetting abuse in our spiritual administration is that inveterate system which, originating in party tactics, and continued partly from the transmitted operation of precedent, and partly, we fear, from the influence of less excusable causes, has excluded Welshmen from all our bishoprics, and he oicest of our benefices. From this abuse has sprung, as a natural consequence, an ignorance, on
the part of the pastors, of the language, the temperament, and the habits of their flocks; indeed, in very many instances, an absence from them altogether; producing alienated feelings on the part of the parishioners, and desertions by wholesale to the more active and popular camps of sectarianism. Care must be taken, in transacting any commutation to be set on foot in Wales, that no support be afforded to the abuse we have alluded to, until, by the application of more direct and powerful means, it shall be, we trust, reformed altogether. In particular, a money commutation should be strenuously avoided, unless cir. cumstances actually force it; for what chance of successful persuasion or remonstrance will the inhabitants of a remote valley in Wales possess for recalling to his duty an absentee clergyman, living, it may be, in the parish of Marylebone, and drawing his income from the three
cents.? And furthermore, if opportunities should chance to offer, of imposing wholesome conditions of residence, or acquisition of the language, or at least the appointment of an efficient curate, and it may be, in some cases,) the securing a desired minister in reversion, we see not why such opportunities should not be laid hold of in the course of negociation, and improved to the utmost. But these considerations open a wide field, and the present hints may pow suffice: at a future opportunity we may have more to say on the subject.
It will be seen that we have confined our remarks to ecclesiastical tithes: lay, or impropriate tithes, being private property, require no aid of the legislature to effect their disposal, and we are not inclined to think that compulsory commutation with regard to them would be either just or expedient. The public discouragement of this property, which will be greatly increased by the removal of church tithes, will afford sufficient inducement to their extinction, especially when the law is altered concerning their form of title, which we decidedly think ought to be speedily done: but whether such alterations should be embodied in the Church Tithe Commutation Act, we must be allowed to doubt. A separate measure for the purpose appears to us preferable.
ON THE DEATH OF AN EPICURE.
I've eat sufficient; I can drink no more;
O dalm vy nhras, ar ben y bywyd wledd,
LEGEND ON THE BRIDGE AT HOLT.
BY C. F. HENNINGSEN;
Author of “The Last of the Sophis.”
Far in a wild and rocky land,