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when men will not stay to examine before they judge, words are things. A pluralist, in popular acceptation, is a gentleman rolling in superfluous wealth, enjoying, at the least, two ample benefices, one of which he never visits, except, perhaps, at his tithe-audit, but leaves to the care, or the neglect, of a starving curate, who is too poor to have the slightest influence amongst the more opulent farmers, or to dispense any charities amongst those of his parishioners, if any such there be, who are in a state of greater destitution than himself. Now, what is the fact? That, in the far greater number of instances, these calumniated pluralists are scarcely in possession of a bare competency; and that the curate, who unites the care of two small adjoining parishes, is a richer man than he would be, were he the incumbent of either of them, without any other cure annexed. It would be highly desirable that many of these small and thinly-peopled parishes should be consolidated; but there are great difficulties in the way. Meanwhile, the talk of doing away with the abominations of non-residence and pluralities, by such an augmentation of the smaller livings as may secure to every parish the benefit of a resident incumbent, must be listened to with very great caution. The majority of these small livings, which have neither an income adequate to the maintenance of a clergyman, nor a house fit for his residence, will be found in remote districts; sometimes with a population so thin and so scattered that they cannot be collected into one congregation; sometimes also so placed that the majority of the population find it more convenient to attend the service of an adjoining parish; and, were they not called parishes, it would never enter into the head of any man to maintain that they require severally the constant superintendence of a resident incumbent. Why, then, should they be more largely endowed ?—Cui bono? Who would be profited by their augmentation? Not the incum bents, who would be forced to vegetate as they might in these wildernesses: not the inhabitants of the two or three farms (sometimes only one) of which these parishes might consist; but solely the patrons, who would be enabled to take their property to a better market, and who have not as yet exactly proved that the public should be taxed for their private emolument.
When the state of private patronage is taken into the account, together with the condition, as to population and extent, of the majority of those parishes which are now without a resident. minister, we shall have to make very large deductions from the number of livings that require to be augmented at all, still larger from those which require to be augmented at the public cost. Pluralities, by which we always mean the holding, by one individual, of more than one living capable of maintaining a resi
dent incumbent, and requiring his presence, are, we have ever been forward to admit, a great evil, and oftentimes, in the parties chiefly concerned, a great sin. We have no desire to defend or to extenuate it; but as we have not yet altogether subjected our understandings to the deluding magic of words and phrases, we shall maintain that the holder of two livings is not necessarily an evil-doer, not necessarily a sinner against his own soul or against his flock, especially when he supplies his place in the parish in which he does not reside by an able and sufficient curate. It is mere random assertion to say, that a curate can never have the same influence in a parish as a rector or vicar. If the curate is not inferior to the incumbent in assiduity, in zeal, in talent, or even, as is very frequently the case, in the outward accessories of birth and fortune, it is not likely that his influence and usefulness in the parish will be less. To a young man, at his first entrance on the duties of an arduous ministry, it is of no small advantage to be placed under the control of one who is older and more experienced than himself; and this advantage would be wholly lost were it possible to carry into effect the rash and ruinous provisions of Lord Henley's plan. Is the church to be the only profession, or even trade, in which there is not to be a gradation from minor to greater duties-from probationary service performed under the eye of a superior, to trusts of responsibility and superintendence? What would be said even of a proposition to abolish junior counsel in the law, or subalterns in the army? And can we forget that in the sacred profession, above all others, a term of probation is requisite-or tamper, on light grounds, with that existing course of things which commonly ensures that such a probation shall be undergone before the care of souls is absolutely entrusted to one from whom nothing but the foulest delinquency can afterwards take it away? To come back to more secular considerations when we take into account the state of society, and of the other professions in the country, we really cannot see how a succession of efficient ministers could be secured to the church, if the class of curates were abolished, or even greatly diminished. And we do not see that Lord Henley provides any adequate means for this important purpose. The radical church-reformers, with their usual neglect of all practical details and their entire indifference about, or rather hostility to, the interests of religion, do not even allude to it.
In proceeding to consider the financial arrangements by which his new system could be made effective, Lord Henley most satisfactorily proves, that the plan-which has been frequently proposed-of making a new valuation of all benefices above the value of fifty pounds, and taxing every living with a real
payment of the tenth of its income, would not only be attended with great hardship, but would be an act of gross injustice. The reasons which Lord Harrowby adduced in opposition to this scheme, so long ago as the year 1810, ought, by Lord Henley's confession, to have set the agitation of it at rest for ever.' As to first fruits
'These,' says Lord Harrowby, even as they are now collected, are a heavy imposition. Upon the higher classes of the clergy they are, at this present moment, considerable. They fall to be paid at a time when the payment is particularly inconvenient. The acquisition of preferment is in itself expensive. A house to be furnished an establishment to be formed or enlarged-the removal of a family-are all sources of expense, which drain the purse of a man upon his first appointment. Debts are incurred, which press heavily upon him at the outset, and perhaps involve him in embarrassments equally hurtful to his credit and his comfort. The income is at best only for life, and does not afford the resources which arise from more permanent revenue. Death, if it follows soon after preferment, leaves a family destitute. If these evils are in any degree felt, as they certainly are, while the first-fruits are paid upon the present low scale of valuation, they would be utterly intolerable, if that valuation were made according to the real value of the benefice. A man would be left without any income for a whole twelvemonth; and that twelvemonth would be the very time when his expenses would be increased.'
Having thus, by Lord Harrowby's assistance, demolished the proposed scheme of augmenting the smaller benefices by any addition to the present payment of tenths, or first fruits, and having admitted that no addition can be obtained to the general property of the church, by any abstraction from the aggregate revenues of the bishops, Lord Henley proposes to create a fund for this purpose out of the property of deans and chapters, and collegiate churches. The gross amount of this property, he states, at the highest valuation, at about 300,000l. per annum; the whole of which sum, after providing for the service of the cathedral churches, and other payments, which he distinctly specifies, he would vest in a board of commissioners, and apply to the augmentation of small livings.
The plan,' he says, proposes, 1st, to apply somewhat above 50,000l. per annum to the stipends of the deans and their chaplains ; 2dly, the sum of 100,000l. per annum towards the endowment of such chapter benefices (i. e. poorly endowed livings in the gift of the chapter, within the city) or other similarly situated city parishes; and, 3dly, the residue, which will amount to about the annual sum of 150,000l. towards the augmentation of country livings, the building of residences, and the building and endowment of new churches and chapels in poor and populous districts.'
It must necessarily happen, as the noble author with great simplicity
simplicity remarks, that considerable objections will be made to a plan so extensive as that which is here submitted. The Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, Dr. Burton, has, accordingly, made one objection to it so considerable as to scatter the entire fabric to the winds. Let it be remembered, that for the augmentation of country livings, the building of residences, and the building and endowment of new churches and chapels, in poor and populous districts,' Lord Henley states that he has left himself the annual sum of 150,000l., or, to speak more correctly, 147,400l. But out of this sum he has specified several other payments which are to be made, 'before a single farthing of it can be applied by his projected board of commissioners' to any of these purposes. These other payments, according to Dr. Burton's calculation, are as follow:
If this calculation be correct, instead of a residue of 150,000l., as Lord Henley has assumed, the commissioners will have only 26,3157. for the augmentation of small livings. But the expenses in even Dr. Burton's estimate are, almost all of them, placed far too low; especially those relating to the repairs of cathedrals and churches, and ecclesiastical residences, with the allowance for bishops' visitations; and, as Lord Henley himself has subsequently admitted, that even Dr. Cove's calculation, which makes the aggregate of cathedral property amount to 275,000l. per annum, is believed to be greatly beyond the mark,' it is certain that his commissioners, instead of having 150,000l. per annum to expend in the augmentation of small livings, &c. would, at the end of the very first year, find themselves enormously in debt. The net income of deans and chapters probably does not amount to 200,000l. per
How, then, does he propose to supply the deficiency? Mark his expedients. In the first place he avails himself of Dr. Burton's
proposal for augmenting the payment of tenths, according to a graduated scale, by which a living of 200l. per annum should pay 17., and a living of 2000l. per annum should pay 1671. 10s., and this, though he had previously admitted, in the clearest manner, that the hardship and injustice of the scheme were so glaring that the question ought to have been set at rest for ever.' At the next step, because the sum to be raised, according to Dr. Burton's plan, from the taxation of livings, would not cover the deficiencies in his commissioners' accounts, Lord Henley sets himself about reducing the payments which he himself had originally provided for the service of the cathedrals. He strikes off the two chaplains, whom he had provided, in lieu of the present residentiaries, to assist the dean-and leaves a dean only in each cathedral; and then, as the leaven of puritanism works more strongly, he seriously proposes to get rid of deans, because the name is unscriptural, and to leave the service of the cathedral to be performed by the bishop himself, without any assistance! He recommends it, as a most efficacious, economical, and beneficial arrangement,' that in all cases, where residence and other circumstances would permit, the Bishop himself (they are his own italics) should be the principal officiating minister in his own cathedral.' Where this could be effected, the office of dean might be dispensed with; where it could not,' he says, 'the dean should be converted into a bishop (and so the office of dean be still dispensed with); and thus the salary saved by the suppression of a deanery in one place, might be applied to a higher rate of endowment for new bishops in another.' Thus, though the noble planner says, that the bishop should be the principal officiating minister in his own cathedral, he takes good care that he should be the only one; for the unscriptural dean, having first deprived him of his equally unscriptural chaplains, he everywhere suppresses; and the choir he would dismiss because he considers the abomination of chanting to be a 'relique of popery,'-in short, he would leave nothing, but, as a most economical and beneficial arrangement'would place the solitary prelate to officiate, as he might, in his deserted temple.
This is, truly, a well-considered 'Plan;' and what makes it still more admirable is, that while Lord Henley reduces the bishop to the condition of a simple parish priest, or, at least, gives him the onerous duties of that office to perform in his own cathedral, he enlarges, at the same time, the field, of those duties which are properly episcopal. After such a proposition, which is just as rational as that the commander-in-chief should be bound to mount guard every day at head-quarters; and much less so than that the lord-chancellor should himself perform those duties, for the doing or not doing of which-those legal deans-the masters in chancery receive