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CLERGY'S RESIDING ON THEIR LIVINGS.
The two following Tracts relate to a scheme brought into the Irish Parliament, for compelling the clergy to reside upon their livings, and obliging them for that purpose to build houses there, with some small aid from the first-fruits, to defray a part of the expence. It was also proposed to subdivide the larger livings into as many portions as the bishops should think fit, only leaving the original church, in each instance, 300 l. clear income. These bills passed through the House of Lords, and were keenly opposed by Swift, whosė zeal for the church at large was not attended with peculiar respect for the existing bishops, and who conceived that the consequence of the proposed scheme would be, to impoverish and degrade the inferior clergy, besides laying them completely at the mercy of their spiritual superiors. The first of these tracts contains the substantial argument, which is more formally detailed in that which follows. There is in both, but especially in the latter, a tone of aigreur, intimating deep dissatisfaction with late ecclesiastical preferments, which may perhaps be traced as much to personal disappointment as to any better cause,
The bills were thrown out in the House of Commons.
THE CLERGY RESIDING ON THEIR LIVINGS.
Those gentlemen who have been promoted to bishoprics in this kingdom for several years past, are of two sorts: first, certain private clergymen from England, who, by the force of friends, industry, solicitation, or other means and merits to me unknown, have been raised to that character by the mero motu of the crown.
Of the other sort, are some clergymen born in this kingdom, who have most distinguished themselves by their warmth against popery,
their great indulgence to dissenters, and all true loyal protestants; by their zeal for the house of Hanover, abhorrence of the pretender, and an implicit readiness to fall into any measures that will make the government easy to those who represent his majesty's person.
Some of the former kind are such as are said to have enjoyed tolerable preferments in England; and it is therefore much to their commendation
that they have condescended to leave their native country, and come over hither to be bishops, merely to promote Christianity among us; and, therefore, in my opinion, both their lordships, and the many defenders they bring over, may justly claim the merit of missionaries sent to convert a nation from heresy and heathenism.
Before I proceed farther, it may be proper to relate some particulars wherein the circumstances of the English clergy differ from those of Ireland.
The districts of parishes, throughout England continue much the same as they were before the reformation; and most of the churches are of the gothic architecture, built some hundred years ago; but the tithes of great numbers of churches having been applied by the pope's pretended authority to several abbies, and even before the reformation bestowed by that sacrilegious tyrant Henry VIII., on his ravenous favourites, the maintenance of an incumbent in most parts of the kingdom is contemptibly small; and yet a vicar there of forty pounds a year, can live with more comfort than one of three times the nominal value with us. For his forty pounds are duly paid him, because there is not one farmer in a hundred, who is not worth five times the rent he pays to his landlord, and fifty times the sum demanded for the tithes; which, by the small compass of his parish, he can easily collect or compound for; and if his behaviour and understanding be supportable, he will probably receive presents now and then from his parishioners, and perhaps from the squire; who, although he may 'sometimes be apt to treat his parson a little superciliously, will probably be softened by a little humble demeanour. The vicar is likewise generally sure to find upon his admittance to his living, a convenient house
and barn in repair, with a garden, and a field or two to graze a few cows, and one horse for himself and his wife. He has probably a market very near him, perhaps in his own village. No entertainment is expected by his visitor beyond a pot of ale, and a piece of cheese. He has every Sunday the comfort of a full congregation, of plain, cleanly people of both sexes, well to pass, and who speak his own language. The scene about him is fully cultivated (I mean for the general), and well inhabited. He dreads no thieves for any thing but his apples, for the trade of universal stealing is not so epidemic there as with us. His wife is little better than goody, in her birth, education, or dress; and as to himself, we must let his parentage alone. If he be the son of a farmer it is very sufficient, and his sister may very decently be chambermaid to the squire's wife. He goes about on working days in a grazier's coat, and will not scruple to assist his workmen in harvest time. He is usually wary and thrifty, and often more able to provide for a numerous family than some of ours can do with a rectory called 300l. a year. His daughters shall go to service, or be sent apprentice to the sempstress of the next town; and his sons are put to honest trades. This is the usual course of an English country vicar, from twenty to sixty pounds a year.
As to the clergy of our own kingdom, their livings are generally larger. Not originally, or by the bounty of princes, parliaments, or charitable endowments, for the same degradations (and as to glebes, a much greater) have been made here, but, by the destruction and desolation in the long wars between the invaders and the natives ; during which time a great part of the bi