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weak and fallacious. Inasmuch as it is desirable to increase, rather than diminish the protestant numbers, what invitation more attractive could be offered, than through the change of a system that has unfortunately made protestantism so offensive to our Romanist brethren? If the exaction of tythes in England with increasing rigor, be marked by the diminished congregations of the church, and the proportionate increase of sectaries, and conventiclers, how can it reasonably be expected, that the existing mode of collecting tythes should prove less injurious in its effects in Ireland? The wide difference between the religious tenets of the two countries has not, it is to be feared, been weighed with sufficient liberality on this very essential point. If the fourth part of a population so sensibly feel its severity, who, as Protestants, are full partakers of the faith of the established church, what charitable allowance ought there not to be made for the other three parts, being Roman catholics, who hold no religious communication whatever with us as members of that establishment, for the maintenance of which their tythes are equally appropriated ?
The process of collecting tythes that are compounded for, in districts where the system is best regulated, and where no dispo sition is unnecessarily manifested to perplex on either side, is extremely embarrassing to both. After the proctor, or agent for the clergyman, has on view assessed the quantum of corn of every kind in each field, it is at the option of the farmer whether he will take the tythe-corn at these estimated quantities, or set out the tenth produce to be drawn away: if he object not to the estimate, he takes it away in common with the rest of his crop; and to this succeeds, at a subsequent period, a valuation per barrel of each kind of grain, which generally opens a wide door for discontent, and litigation. The most absurd of all modes is that generally resorted to: viz. by a comparative valuation of the price of corn at the preceding year's markets, without any reference to a fair average price of the year in which the corn is grown, that might be more correctly ascertained. For the amount of the value thus strangely calculated, the farmer issues his note, payable after a distant interval of some months. The operation of this gaming kind of speculation between the clergyman and his parishioner, may readily be conceived. From this moment the mind of the latter is
anxiously turned to the fluctuating result of a hazardous engagement, invariably tending to alienate that respect for his rector, which had probably continued if no such discreditable trafficking had been entered into between them. Though the farmer eventually profit in every article from this contract, he feels no sense of obligation to the clergyman on that score; but should he, in any one of them become a loser, it affords him a never-failing pretext for dissatisfaction. Various endeavours to resist the payment of his note too generally follow: and thence, under a natural propensity to litigation, arise those numerous processes and trials by what are termed civil bills before the assistant barrister at his sessions, to the great harassing, loss of time, and expence of all parties.
Where tythes are set to middlemen, a mode that prevails more frequently from necessity on the part of the clergy, through the refractory disposition of the farmers, than any other cause, the distresses of the poorer occupants are sure to be increased and when sub-let again, which is often the case, persecution seldom ceases, until the last tenth potatoe is drawn from the most indigent, to the disgrace of humanity. Whether these rapacious exactions are made by the lessees of Lay Impropriators, or those of the Clergy, they are all laid to the charge of the latter, and consequently the whole odium is theirs to sustain."
A respectable country gentleman at a late county meeting, [Tipperary] on the subject of tythes, went a great length (if his speech on that occasion has been correctly reported) in imputing all the calamities under which the small land-occupiers of Ireland labor, to the exaction of tythes. He might more justly have apportioned a full share of the general distress he lamented, and the unpopularity that naturally attends it, to the exorbitant requisitions of unfeeling landlords, or their lessees, whose demands of increased rent are become so enormous almost throughout Ireland, as to make even a moderate claim of tythes from their tenantry in addition, to turn the scale of misery heavily against them. How ever, it need not be discussed here with that gentleman, as a moot
The portion of tythes annexed to the church are estimated at twothirds; that in the hands of lay impropriators at one-third.
point which of the two oppressions bears hardest upon a suffering people, the unfeeling extortion of the land-proprietor, or the tormenting rapacity of a tythe exactor? The tythe-system, abounding in antiquated defects, needs no unmerited aggravation: and as the pressure of it has been an increasing complaint from past ages down to the present time, it cannot but be matter of deep regret, that, long before this, some salutary measure should not have been adopted for its relief. It ought to be recollected that this pressure is not of Roman catholic endurance alone, as Protestants feeling sore under it also, are not less solicitous for its removal.
When the civil and religious interests of a whole people have a blended claim so strong to the change of any system, it becomes the duty of every one who has thought dispassionately on the subject, to offer his sentiments in aid of a reform, that may "give us something more of that kind of conducting public worship, which, patiently seeking the degree of perfection alone attainable by man, and ordained only to be the slow result of long experience, and much meditation, puts the happiness of none to hazard, while it betters the condition of all."!
Were a just and reasonable commutation, or modification of tythes but once adopted, a measure by no means impracticable, the complicated distresses arising from the present mode might, with the appellation itself so discordant to the public ear, merge in a title of church-property, which in making its clergy more respectable, would render its establishment more secure. His Majesty's ministers gave an intimation in the last sessions of parliament, of their intention to make some inquiry into the present state of the Irish Church; it is probable, therefore, that the unpopular mode of collecting its revenues will soon fall under their serious deliberation. The late Bishop of Clyne [Dr. WOODWARD] in his most adverse humor has remarked, "that the difficulties of supporting and extending the Protestant interest, though great, are by no means insuperable, if the legislature should give to this great national subject, all that steady attention which it so well deserves; but the evils, political as well as religious, attending a despair and dereliction of it, are without number, and without remedy!"
Mr. Bur' e.
When government shall have dispassionately considered this momentous subject, and parliament are called upon still more se riously to legislate thereon, the simple question will be, what may now be asked:
By what mode can the grievance of COLLECTING Tythes, so generally felt, and acknowledged, be most equitably, and most effectually removed?
Some of our ablest writers on political œconomy have offered various plans: but besides their defect in having pointed out no radical redress, they are generally founded on the operation of tythes in England, and appear therefore inapplicable to the system in Ireland. The late archdeacon of Carlisle [Dr. PALEY] has strongly recommended a corn-rent as a commutation for tythes in general; but evidently without having considered, that by endless calculations upon the rise and fall of grain, such a mode would rather aggravate than lessen the causes of discontent, and by such a constant trafficking between the clergyman and his parishioners, perpetuate that hostility between them, which it is become so necessary to remove. Indeed this mode, as it would have regarded Ireland, was on its first appearance very fully refuted by Dr. WOODWARD.'
A corn-rent, recommended in general terms by the learned Archdeacon of Carlisle, is not sufficiently explained by him, to be fairly examined. If it means, what is generally understood here by that term, a rate for tythe of corn, payable like rent, it is not a commutation, but a modus. The opera tion of a modus is well known to the clergy by fatal experience: if it be perpetual, it is unequal to successive incumbents, as it does not vary with the value of money; and at all times it is unequal to the occupiers of land of different degrees of fertility; in different seasons, it is an unequal burden on the same farm, as it does not vary with the value of the crop. It bears hardest on the poorest lands, the tillage of which will be discouraged. The proprietor will of course suffer, by the diminution of rent; the public, by the loss of cultivation. It bears hardest on the poorest farmers, who have not the means of manuring highly; and in addition to the landlord's rent, would be insupportable to the lower tenantry. It bears hardest in bad sea sons, because it takes the same sum out of a crop of smaller value. In every view the burden lies heaviest on those, who are least able to bear it. This surely is calculated to grind the faces of the poor: and in point of equity, as well as charity, bears no competition with the old system. If by a corn-rent is meant a rate of each parish, varying with the price of grain,
Some have suggested the Scotch system by their court of Teinds, instituted in 1707; but this will scarcely be thought fit for adoption, when the power exercised by the judges of that court is at this moment seriously questioned at convened county-meetings, on a charge, that they are renewing the augmentation of livings throughout Scotland, by fresh assessments on the land proprietory, contrary to the statute under which their authority is derived. Others point out the French plan of septennial valuations by sworn jurors: but none of these appears competent to the exigency of the present case.
There seems to be but one simple, remedial mode, by which this great object of national solicitude can practically be obtained; viz. by a Commutation of TYTHES for Land. PROJECT.-Let the tythes of Ireland as well impropriate as clerical, be accurately valued by commissioners under parliamentary authority, (due consideration being previously taken of all unsettled moduses, and allowance made for the probable change of lands, from pasturage to tillage) so as to ascertain the existing annual value of the tythes of all lands, &c. in each parish or union, to be laid as a rent charge thereon.
Let these estimates of annual value be calculated into a saleable perpetuity, and be made redeemable by purchase within a time limited, by the respective land-proprietors; and in default thereof, such perpetuity of rent-charge to be disposed of by
as a rent of estates belonging to some colleges in the universities of England is adjusted; that could not be applied with equity to a grazing country, as the profit on cattle might be low, at a time when the price of corn was high. But further, what remedy can the clergyman have, in case of nonpayment of his corn-rent? At present, he has either his tenth, or a civil bill process for the composition, or for the value proved in case of subtraction. But how is he in future to recover his debt? Is it by distress? The prior demand of the landlord will in all doubtful debts defeat him. Is it by personal action? And is the clergyman to arrest his parishioner, and carry him to gaol? This doubtless would serve to endear him to his parish, and take off the obloquy, which he now suffers merely for processing him to the assizes! The impossibility of recovering would be a virtual release of all tythe-debts. The attempt to recover, if once made, would never be repeated; and the minister must sit down quiet (as is the case at present in several parishes through the violence of the white boys) under the loss of his whole income. This regulation tends to the extinction of the order.