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is plenty of room for you and yours. You may never have so good an opportunity of passing to America, if it is your intention. Think of it, and take your resolution; believing me ever your affectionate friend,
P. S. Love to the dear children. If Mr. Williams is returned to London, he will inform you of the particulars. If not, you may inquire of Wallace, Johnson, and Muir, merchants, London, to be heard of at the Pennsylvania Coffee-House, Birchin Lane. The ship is to be at Cowes the 1st of August.
TO CLAUDIUS CRIGAN, BISHOP OF SODOR AND MAN.
Practicability and Expediency of establishing a Bishop
Passy, 5 July, 1785. · MY LORD,
I received the too complaisant letter your Lordship did me the honor of writing to me by the Reverend Mr. Christian, who has also communicated some of your views for the benefit of religion in the United States of America, requesting my opinion, which I have given him, but will repeat in this letter, lest I should not in every particular have been rightly apprehended.
It is proper to be understood, that those States consist of thirteen distinct and separate sovereignties, each governed by its own laws, in which no one religious sect is established as predominant, but there is a general toleration of all; and, should any thing be enacted by one of them in favor of a particular sect, it would have no operation in the others. The Congress, though formed by delegates from each State chosen annually, has powers extending only to those general affairs of political government, that relate to the whole, but no authority whatever is given to them in ecclesiastical matters. And I therefore think, they will do nothing, either to encourage or discourage the introduction of a bishop in America. For myself, I can only say as a private person, that I think such an officer may be of use to the Episcopalians, not only for the better government of their clergy, but for preventing the expense and risk that attend the sending of their young men to England for ordination. He should, however, have power to consecrate other bishops, so as to prevent for ever the necessity of sending to England for successors in that station, otherwise he will hardly be so well received.
The great difficulty will be to make proper provision for his support. I doubt whether any of the governments will establish such support, and I have not much confidence, that any thing considerable may be obtained by private contributions. My reasons are, that the Episcopalians in most of the States are very small in number, compared with the inhabitants of other persuasions; and, where they are a majority, they do not generally see the necessity or utility of a resident bishop, and they apprehend some inconvenience in it. Of this there was a strong instance in Virginia, some years before the late Revolution. The inhabitants of that Province were almost wholly of the Church of England, and their House of Commons of course the same. Yet that House unanimously censured, in strong terms, the proposition of some of their own clergy for introducing a bishop, and thanked others who opposed and defeated the project, as may be seen in the following extract from their Journal.
* Friday, July 12th, 1772. Resolved, nemine contradicente, that the thanks of this House be given to the Reverend Mr. Henley, the Reverend Mr. Gwatkin, the Reverend Mr. Hewit, and the Reverend Mr. Bland, for the wise and well-timed opposition they have made to the pernicious project of a few mistaken clergymen for introducing an American bishop; a measure by which much disturbance, great anxiety and apprehension, would certainly take place among his Majesty's faithful American subjects, and that Mr. Richard Henry Lee and Mr. Bland do acquaint them therewith."
The apprehension mentioned in the Resolve, I imagine must have been an apprehension of expense to maintain a bishop suitable to his dignity, and of attempts to oblige the laity to defray such expense by taxes or tythes, or at least of their being solicited for voluntary contributions, there being at present no fund appointed for such purpose, nor anything hitherto given but a farm, by legacy, in Rhode Island. If, however, the laity should have changed their minds, and wish now to have a bishop, whom they would engage to support by voluntary contributions, in that case, I imagine, none of the governments would forbid it, but the support would probably be too small and too precarious to be a sufficient encouragement.
Mr. Christian asked my opinion, whether your making a tour incognito through that country might not be a prudent measure? Whatever prospect or hope there may be of your greater usefulness to religion in our extensive country than in the little Isle of Man, yet, as you have a family, I certainly cannot advise your making any hasty application to your government for your removal, or taking any step that may hazard the loss of a present sure support against a contingent future and precarious. Therefore, to enable yourself to form a better judgment, it might be well to see with your own eyes the state of things, and sound the disposition of the people; but I am nevertheless inclined to think, that, in making the tour, you will hardly be encouraged to attempt the change, unless the Society for Propagating the Gospel, or the British government, would fix a sufficient income to be paid you from England. Such a journey may, however, contribute to establish health, as well as pleasingly gratify the curiosity of seeing the progress, which the arts, agriculture, science, and industry are making in a new country. With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO GRANVILLE SHARP.
Law of Gavelkind. — Election of Bishops. — Abridged
Passy, 5 July, 1785. DEAR SIR, I received the books you were so kind as to send me by Mr. Drown. Please to accept my hearty thanks. Your writings, which always have some public good for their object, I always read with pleasure. I am perfectly of your opinion, with respect to the salutary law of gavelkind, and hope it may in time be established throughout America. In six of the States, already, the lands of intestates are divided equally among the children, if all girls ; but there is a double share given to the eldest son, for which I see no more reason, than giving such share to the eldest daughter ; and I think there should be no distinction. Since my being last in France, I have seen several of our eldest sons, spending idly their fortunes by residing in Europe and neglecting their own country; these are from
the southern States. The northern young men stay at home, and are industrious, useful citizens; the more equal division of their fathers' fortunes not enabling them to ramble and spend their shares abroad, which is so much the better for their country.
I like your piece on the election of bishops. There is a fact in Holinshed's Chronicles, the latter part relating to Scotland, which shows, if my memory does not deceive me, that the first bishop in that country was elected by the clergy. I mentioned it some time past in a letter to two young men,* who asked my advice about obtaining ordination, which had been denied them by the bishops in England, unless they would take the oath of allegiance to the King; and I said, I imagine, that, unless a bishop is soon sent over with power to consecrate others, so that we may have no future occasion for applying to England for ordination, we may think it right, after reading your piece, to elect also.
The Liturgy you mention was an abridgment of that ' made by a noble Lord of my acquaintance, who re
quested me to assist him by taking the rest of the book, viz. the Catechism and the reading and singing Psalms. These I abridged by retaining of the Catechism only the two questions, What is your duty to God? What is your duty to your neighbour ? with answers. The Psalms were much contracted by leaving out the repetitions (of which I found more than I could have imagined), and the imprecations, which appeared not to suit well the Christian doctrine of forgiveness of injuries, and doing good to enemies. The book was printed for Wilkie, in St. Paul's Church Yard, but never much noticed. Some were given away, very few sold, and I suppose the bulk became waste paper.
* See the Letter to Messrs. Weems and Gant, July 18th, 1784