« AnteriorContinua »
minal distribution of these benefices amongst not more than nive hundred incumbents. The Ecclesiastical Register informs us that 135 benefices are held with others, by faculty, dispensation, or permission of the diocesan. This is exclusive of all the rich and populous livings attached to canonries, deaneries, prebends, &c. “ often,” says Lord Mountcashel,“ situated at a distance of fifty or sixty miles, and several much farther." His Lordship instances one, from his own acquaintance, “who is a dignitary in Munster, and who, at the same time, holds à large living in Connaught!" Mr. Foster mentions an atrocious case of a clergyman in the diocese of Cashel, who is under engagement to reside six months in rotation upon each of three livings. There is a son of the Bishop of Kildare, who, in addition to the dignity of archdeacon of that diocese, and the possession of one of the richest rectories in the city of Dublin, holds a benefice in the adjacent country, consisting of five or six parishes united, and producing a revenue large enough to remunerate the services of four resident and really efficient ministers. There is also a son of the Archbishop of Dublin, who has a stall in the cathedral of Christ's Church, an archdeaconry, a living in the metropolis, and another in the county of Wicklow, where, ever since his induction, the pastoral life of this venerable personage has been a continual and disgraceful squabble with his parishioners about his tithe. Looking over the Parliamentary Returns of 1824, we find, in the diocese of Clogher, six incumbents returned as having each two benefices; in Cloyne, four cases of rectors residing upon other preferments; in Derry, six similar instances; in Meath, ten incumbents marked "exempt,” all on account of holding other lucrative posts; in Ossory, two are returned as “resident on their benefices in Kilmore;" and thirteen as resident on other benefices in this and other dioceses."
It is astonishing that the Irish Protestants have so long tolerated this state of things. It is bad enough that the country should be pitilessly taxed to support the Establishment, but how infinitely more detestable that the religion of the Establishment should be thus trodden under foot, and the “salary for prayer” perverted from its holy use to swell the insolence and pamper the appetites of the priesthood. Lord Mountcashel states clearly the grounds upon which the Protestants should insist upon the total abolition of pluralities and large Unions—“ because the souls of men are of some importance, and neither a dignitary of the Church or beneficed clergyman, no more than any other man, can be in two places at the same time.”
To obtain an idea of the state of residence in the Church of Ireland, take the following extracts from the Diocesan returns of 1824. Some improvement may have taken place since, but certainly to no considerable amount. In the Dio
This is the T. P. Magee already mentioned. The Wicklow living is a union of six parishes. The report made by the Archbishop to the Irish Privy Council, justifying his conduct in not dividing this huge benefice, has been publicly contradicted as to all its principal statements, by twelve Protestant gentlemen of rank, and fortune, inhabitants of the Union. The Archbishop stated the Union to contain only 17,000 acres, to consist only of three parishes, to be worth only 9091. a-year, to possess only eight acres of glebe, and to be, for the most part, a barren and thinly-peopled district. The resident gentlemen declare, in their petition to the Lord Lieutenant, that, by the best pozsible map, the Union consists of 22,000 acres ; and they say farther, that this map was in the hands of the Archbishop when he stated the number to be only 17,000. The number of parishes they assert to be six ; and to prove it, they cite documents also in the hands of the Archbishop. In reply to the amount of tithe, they simply state, that T. P. Magee has refused to compound for less than 16001. a-year ! The glebe-lands, stated by the prelate to be only eight acres, they allege to amount to more than fifty ! As to the rest, they describe the district as unusually populous, and containing but a small proportion of the “ mountain and barren beath,” by which the Report of the Archbishop was pleased to characterize it. The petition which embodies these contradictions was called for by the rapacious behaviour of the new incumbent, the venerable T. P. Magee. The petitioners, all Protestants, of the first respectability, conclude by entreating his Excellency “ to inquire into a grievance which affects the best interests of religion, truth, and justice.”
cese of Tuam, at the period referred to, there were eighteen non-residencies. Seven unions, of from three to six parishes each, have opposite to the incumbents' names not resident in any of those parishes.” The Diocese of Clogher returned twelve non-residencies in the sense of total absence from duty. The non-residencies in Cork were, thirty-seven out of seventy-eight; in Down, sixteen out of fifty-six ; in Kildare, twenty-nine out of forty-seven; in Limerick, thirty-seven out of ninety-five; in Ossory, twenty-two out of fifty-six; in Waterford, twenty-three out of forty-five; but it is unnecessary to proceed further ; in the six last-mentioned dioceses, it appears that nearly half the incumbents were non-resident in 1824. The present state of residence for all Ireland, as nearly as it can be calculated, is about seven resident to five non-resident clergymen. The manner in which the diocesan returns have been made, renders it impossible to attain accuracy on this subject. It is usual to return an iucumbent as resident, if he spend but two or three months on his benefice. However, the number of total absentees is considerable, as the fashionable circles in London and Bath can testify, not to speak of the voluptuous cities of Italy and France. Lord Mountcashel instances the three following cases, all in the diocese of Cork. The rector of Inchigeelagh is a pluralist, holding also the living of St. Paul's in Cork, a most populous and important parish. He passes the greatest part of the year in Bath, where his family resides. The rector of the Union of Inniscarra, which produces, under the Composition Act, 1,1501. is a young man of fashion, who resides principally in England. The rector of the parish of Skull is Archdeacon of Connor, (the most distant part of Ireland) and has not for many years visited his southern benefice.
Such are a few, and far from the most flagrant, cases of a scandalous and wide-spread evil. · The plea usually set up in defence of non-residence is, the want of churches or glebe-houses. But why are churches and glebe-houses wanting? The answer is another charge against the Establishment. Because the Board of First Fruits, composed chiefly of the great dignitaries of the Church, was guilty of a most profligate departure from the object for which it was instituted. Clerical rapacity is the apology for clerical neglect. Were the real value of a benefice for the first year (as originally intended) to be paid in by instalments, instead of the limited sum fixed on in the reign of Henry VIII., the first fruits would form a fund, not only adequate to its legal designationthe building of new churches-the purchasing of glebes and glebe-houses the augmentation of small livings—and other ecclesiastical purposes, but there would probably be a surplus for the relief of the orphan and the widow: the Board, however, in the true ecclesiastical spirit, retained the ancient valuation; and, (the produce having dwindled into a merely nominal sum) they had the audacity to apply to Parliament for grants of the people's money to enable them to meet the very demands, to which the property of the Church was properly and justly liable. Parliaments, representing the Aristocracy, not the People, were easily prevailed on; and, for a long series of years, the public was plundered, to an incredible amount, in order to save the richest Church in the world from contributing honestly to her own necessities. Latterly, however, the Bishops have been left more to their own resources; and opportunity has been afforded them to decide the question, whether the religious concerns of the laity, or their own worldly interests are nearest to their hearts. The alternatives were before them, to repair the First Fruits' fund upon the principle of its constitution, or turn a deaf ear to the applications of numerous parishes throughout the country for churches and resident clergymen. That the Bishops preferred the latter course, we learn from no meaner authority than one of their own order.*
There is but one feasible excuse for the non-residence of the beneficed clergy
** The Bishop of Ferns, who, in one of his letters to Lord Mountcashel, rejects, as "any thing but reasonable,” the bare idea of returning to the original intention of the fundo in question, and, in another, admits that nine-tenths of the applications for churches, &c. could not be complied with " for want of funds."
-the general and often total deficiency of Protestant population ;* but here the enormity of the Establishment is admitted ; for, surely, if the incumbents in so great a host of instances as has been stated) have so little clerical duty to perform, as to warrant the entire, or nearly entire, dereliction of their benefices, the system, which endows their uselessness with splendid incomes, differs from ordinary robbery in nothing, but the large scale upon which it is committed.
Whatever advantage, therefore, the Church of Ireland can derive from pleading the total want of congregations for her Clergy, we freely concede her; but suffer us to observe that nothing short of such « total want” is any apology for non-residence. If a parson's congregation be small, his obligation to attend to it does not, on that account, cease. What has been the result in Ireland of neglecting a few Protestants ? Why; that they have become fewer, and fewer, until they have ultimately disappeared. Read the evidence of Lord Kingston and Sir John Newport, before the Committee of 1825, and the truth of this statement will be apparent. And what has become of these sheep without a shepherd ? They have taken refuge in the mud-built chapel, and ill-paid but zealous ministry of the Catholic priest. His doctrines are erroneous, but his life bears some similitude to the idea of a Christian pastor. He is no pluralist; he dwells in the bosom of his flock; his table is not delicate, nor his habitation proud ; if he cannot instruct, he can console; and what he wants in knowledge he makes up in charity. Thus, while the haughty clergy of the Establishment have been busied, afar off, with cares and occupations very little evangelic in their character, the indigent priesthood of the people have been replenishing their folds, and Protestantism-richly-endowed and state-supported Protestantism -has receded in the land. Let this fact be recollected; -—when the Church of Ireland remonstrates with the pruning-knife, and struggles against the reduction that'awaits her, let this fact be recollected; let all the Protestantism which her pluralists and non-residents have turned back to Popery be required at her hands; and let it be asked her, at what era, proceeding thus with the holy work, she proposes to complete the structure of the Reformation ?
In the glitter of mitres, the bustle and parade of dignities, and all the pomp and noise of a wealthy, proud,
turbulent, and idle priesthood, we have nearly overlooked that obscure class of Clergymen, who transact, for the stipend of 751. a year, and often a more miserable pittance, the whole, or nearly the whole, religious business of the Establishment. The Irish curate is at once an argument for ecclesiastical economy, and a glaring evidence of the selfishness and avarice which distinguish the great officers of the Church. Observe the tenor of his life-we cannot improve the language of Grattan—"he rises at six to morning-prayers, he leaves company at six for evening-prayer, he baptizes, he marries, he churches, he buries, he follows with pious offices his fellowereature from the cradle to the grave;—for what immense income?-what riches to reward these inestimable services ?-do not depend on the penury of the laity-let his own order value his deserts— 501. a year!— 507.! for praying, for christening, for churching, for burying, for following with Christian offices his fellow-creature from cradle to grave; so frugal a thing is devotion, so cheap religion, so easy the terms on which man may worship his Maker, and so small the income, in the opinion of ecclesiastics, sufficient for the duties of a clergyman, as far as he is connected at all with the Christian Religion.” The salary of a Curate has, since the time of Grattan, been raised, by law, to the sum before stated; but the enactment is so generally evaded by
* There are many parishes in Munster and Connaught without a single adherent of the Establishment. Even in Ulster, there are several instances of the same kind. From a paper delivered into the Select-Committee of the Lords, in 1825, it appears that in Munster there were twelve Catholics to one Protestant, and in Connaught twenty to one. This return was made by the clergy of the Establishment. His Grace of Cashel, in answer to the question, " Are there not some parishes in your diocese with few or no Protestant inhabitants ?” replied in the affirmative. Generally speaking, in the South and West of Ireland, Protestantism is extremely rare-almost as rare as Judaism in England.
the rectors--even by the pluralist, non-resident rectors that the average income of a curacy is, probably, still not above 501. The letters of Lord Mountcashel abound with cases which fill us alternately with commiseration for the hardworked and half-starved resident minister, and indignation at the lazy and bloated absentee.
We have not room for citations ; nor are they necessary; the general fact is enough—the fact in its mildest form—that the sum of 620,000l. is annually paid to the beneficed clergy in Ireland, for the performance of religious duties, and that far the greater part of these duties are discharged by a few hundred individuals at no higher salaries, each, than 751. “ Whenever,” we are told by Dr. Magee, “there is a beneficed clergyman, with cure of souls, non-resident, in the full sense of the word absentee, there is always a person, at least as competent, to discharge the duty, secured by the Bishop in his room.” Of what use then is the absentee ? If 75l. secures all the advantages of a resident minister, why is 1000l. paid to a non-resident? And if one parish can have all its pious wants supplied for 75l. why not all the parishes in the country? There is no
We do not defend the Curate's beggary. The butler of a pluralist is better paid. We would rescue the inferior clergy from the brutality of the superior; we would proportion reward to service; but where there is no service, we would introduce the principle, that there should be no reward. Economy, which is purity in Government, is religion in the Church. The 75l. a year is an abuse; the 1000l. a year is an abuse also; we would raise the former and lower the latter, until we reached the measure of duty discharged. The Establishment combines the peculiar evils of riches and poverty-the two extremes, of which a provision for a gospel minister ought to keep clear; for both are avocations from pastoral care—" poverty, which is a struggle how to live, and riches, which are an occupation how to spend.”
To arrive at the total income of the Establishment is a matter of difficulty. The salaries of the Bishops, at 6,0001. each, amount to 132,000l. a-year. The annual value of tithe we have calculated at 625,000l. The revenues of thirtythree corporations of Deans and Chapters are very moderately rated at 66,000l. The Black Book estimates them at 250,0001. Church fees will amount to 187,0001., supposing the number of Protestants to be 750,000, each paying the moderate sum of five shillings annually. The rectors of forty-eight parishes in Dublin and some other cities in Ireland are paid, not by tithe, but by an assessment termed “minister's money.” Allowing an average income of 500l., the aggregate income of these rectors is 24,0001. The property of the Dublin University, held by ecclesiastical tenure, and for ecclesiastical purposes, affords salaries of 2,000l. a-year to eight individuals, in addition to numerous smaller salaries. It is, therefore, moderately valued at 20,000l. annually. Collecting these several items into one sum the amount is 1,053,0001.—just the expenditure at which France, with a population of 30,000,000, provides for the religious wants, not of one sect only, but of all denominations of Christians in her empire! But the wealth of the Irish Church is not yet told. There remains to be added an immense sum, not yet alluded to, annually wrung from the people by the parochial vestries, to repair churches, to pay clerks and sextons, beadles and bell-ringers, and other like ecclesiastical purposes. The vestries, which vote the money for these objects, are composed exclusively of Protestants; and those, whose money is voted away, are of course with few exceptions Catholics. The very linen which covers the Protestant Communion table in Ireland is washed at Catholic expense; nay, the Catholic is taxed for the bread and wine with which the Protestant commemorates the passion of his Saviour! On these enormities comment were idle; suffice it to remark that they raise the annual charge of the establishment far above a million of money. A million and half is probably near the true amount.
A million and a half of money! Such is the cost at which Ireland maintains the Church we have seen that she does not maintain the religion-of scarce a tenth of her people. A million and half of money is yearly expended upon the ministers of a creed, not that of the people, by a country, not the richest and most flourishing of the earth, but the most indigent and distressed—a country drained of her capital by a systematic and remorseless absenteeism-where the wages of labour are often not above fourpence a-day-where famine (the occasional scourge of other nations) is, with its attendant pestilence, a periodical visitation—where hunger and disease return to the hut of the peasant with the regularity of the seasons where thousands, at this hour, are sinking silently under the ravages of the former; or only rescued from a miserable death, to drag out a more miserable life, upon a subsistence, which may properly be described as a lingering starvation. The Church of Ireland-it cannot be reiterated too often—has been endowed in lofty disdain of every just and humane principle. Neither the attenuated means of the country, nor the extreme paucity of its Protestant inhabitants, have been allowed for a moment to operate as limitations upon its extravagance. Had the cloud of adversity passed away from Ireland; had a new era dawned, and a smiling population sprung up in the room of the squalid beings that now scarcely vegetate in her waste fields ; had culture succeeded to barrenness, riches to poverty, food and raiment to hunger and nakedness; and, moreover, had there taken place a revolution of another kind; were all the chimeras that bewildered, some few years since, the fancies of the Rodens and Farnhams, realized, and every Catholic in the country brought into the folds of the state religion, who but a Magee or a Goulburn would have the front to recommend a grant of a single additional shilling to the clergy of the Establishment? Were Ireland as rich as she is destitute, as Prutestant as she is Catholic, a million and half of money managed discreetly-distributed on the principles of the New Testament, not those of the Bishop of Ferns—would not only provide her with an ample supply of holy and efficient ministers of religion, but leave a surplus for the relief of the poor-the“ peculiar people” of the gospel dispensation—the proper care of a Christian Church.
A provision must be made for the poor of Ireland. The superfluous riches, that make the establishment inefficient, cannot be better appropriated. The poor had originally the same title as the parson to feed on the pastures of the Church. Parliament should revive that title, and by one stroke of reform, relieve the bodily necessities of the Catholics, and redress the spiritual injuries of the Protestants. It is monstrous that famine of soul and body should be inflicted upon the people by a single Institution.
No feeling of acrimony towards the Irish Clergy has dictated any thing that has been said. Our animosity is to the system only. In calling for the amendment of that system we mean no evil to the persons who administer it: on the contrary, we intend their benefit; we intend the correction of their lives; we intend the elevation of their characters; we would remove them from the bad eminence of undeserved wealth to the true dignity of fairly requited services. We would take from them the superfluity of what they have, to give them what they have never yet had—the homage of the country and the affections of their focks. This is assuredly no malignant purpose. It is no proof of malevolence to churchmen to desire their exaltation into Christian pastors; to desire to adorn them with the Christian character-a lustre in which the mitre fades-a riches above all ecclesiastical endowments.
Tuey are come! they are come! they are all on the wing,
That light up the sky with the news of the morn,
And spread the glad tidings that April is born.