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ON

THE BILL

FOR

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

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

majesty's person.

13

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 him. self 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 bishops' lands, and almost all the glebes, were lost in the confusion The first invaders had almost the whole kingdom divided among them. New invaders succeeded, and drove out their predecessors as native Irish. These were expelled by others who came after, and upon the same pretensions. Thus it went on for several hundred years, and in some degree even to our own memories. And thus it will probably go on, although not in a martial way, to the end of the world. For not only the purchasers of debentures forfeited in 1641, were all of English birth, but those after the restoration, and many who came hither even since the revolution, are looked upon as perfect Irish; directly contrary to the practice of all wise nations, and particularly of the Greeks and Romans, in establishing their colonies, by which name Ireland is very absurdly called.

Under these distractions the conquerors always seized what lands they could with little ceremony, whether they belonged to the church or not: thus the glebes were almost universally exposed to the first seizers, and could never be recovered, although the grants, with the particular denominations, are manifest, and still in being. The whole lands of the see of Waterford were wholly taken by one family; the like is reported of other bishoprics.

King James the First, who deserves more of the church of Ireland than all other princes put together, having the forfeitures of vast tracts of land in the northern parts (I think commonly called the escheated counties), having granted some hundred thousand acres of these lands to certain Scotch and English favourites, was prevailed on by some great prelates, to grant to some sees in the north, and to many parishes there, certain parcels of land for the augmentation of poor bishoprics, did likewise endow many parishes with glebes for the incumbents, whereof a good number escaped the depredations of 1641 and 1688. These lands, when they were granted by king James, consisted mostly of woody ground, wherewith those parts of this island were then overrun. This is well known, universally allowed, and by some in part remembered; the rest being, in some places, not stubbed out to this day. And the value of the lands was consequently very inconsiderable, till Scotch colonies came over in swarms upon great encouragement, to make them habitable; at least for such a pace of strong-bodied people, who came hither from their own bleak barren highlands, as it were into a paradise; who soon were able to get straw for their bedding, instead of a bundle of heath spread on the ground, and sprinkled with water. Here, by degrees, they acquired some degree of politeness and civility, from such neighbouring Irish as were still left after Tyrone's last rebellion, and are since grown almost entire possessors of the north. Thus, at length, the woods being rooted up, the land was brought in, and tilled, and the glebes, which could not before yield two-pence an acre, are equal to the best, sometimes affording the minister a good demesne, and some land to let.

These wars and desolations in their natural consequences, were likewise the cause of another effect, I mean that of uniting several parishes under one incumbent. For, as the lands were of little value by the want of inhabitants to cultivate them, and many of the churches levelled to the ground, particularly by the fanatic zeal of those rebellious saints who murdered their king, destroyed the church, and overthrew monarchy (for

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