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public sale, in like manner as the Land-tax of England has recently been alienated from the crown.
In any case where the purchase-money may not reach the full amount of the estimated value in perpetuity, the same to be made good out of any surplusage arising from other sales of tythes, in which the produce may exceed the commissioners' valuation; or be nationally provided for by the Irish treasury. The amount of all such sales in perpetuity to be appropriated to the purchase of freehold lands, or lands to become freehold glebe-property, and to be annexed to the church for ever. Wherever sufficient lands cannot conveniently be obtained within the parish or union, other lands to be purchased in any district, or barony, most contiguous thereto.
The rent-charge in lieu of tythes to remain upon the lands, and to be levied upon the proprietor, until the commutation for the whole parish, or union is completed.
Here it will probably occur to your Grace, that a commutation of TYTHES for LAND, was moved in the English House of Lords, in the year 1780, or 1781, by the Lord Chancellor BATHURST, and was rejected. But it should also be recollected, that the measure failed at that time, not from any objection to the principle, but only from the apparent impossibility of effecting this desirable object, on account of the great number, and value of church livings, and also from the difficulty of procuring the quantities of land requisite, in a country so highly cultivated, and where landed property is so much subdivided as in England; but fortunately this impediment will not be found in the way of the commutation now proposed for Ireland.
The plain, obvious reasons to be offered for the adoption of this plan, are these:
I. BECAUSE it goes the necessary length of setting this perplexing question of tythes at rest for ever.
II. BECAUSE, unlike the practical operation of other modes, it leaves no opening for pecuniary litigation, the most baneful of all disputes between the clergy and their parishioners.
III. BECAUSE it would be found a measure of facility in Ireland, though not in England; the former country having extensive
tracts of land at all times applicable to such commutation: and because such an appropriation would afford further national advantage, by opening a new and extensive source of industry, and agricultural improvement.
IV. BECAUSE it would render the clergy of the established church, and their parishioners, respectably independent of each other; enabling the one to enjoy their revenues without deterioration, and relieving the other from the merciless visitations of middlemen, and their dependents
It would afford to the suggester of this slight project, and to all who wish the prosperity of Ireland, very sincere satisfaction to see a more effectual, and practical mode pointed out, and speedily adopted. Doubts have been started whether, under any modifica tion, the humble occupier of the soil would not soon be deprived of any advantage resulting from it, by a more than proportionate rise of his rent. But no such speculations will influence the minds of those who rightly feel it, either as a moral obligation to aid in the relief of a distressed country, or as a religious duty to exonerate the church from the charge of a people's oppression. The late bishop of Cloyne although the stern opposer of any commutation of tythes, admits, under all his zeal for their inviolability, that "the salus populi must be the suprema lex; neither," says he, "do I question the right of the legislature to make alterations; but until an alteration shall have been made by the supreme authority, neither the Crown, nor one of the Houses of Parliament, much less any fellow subject can deprive the clergyman of his right which is a freehold." No one would be unreasonable enough to assert, or suppose, that any other short of a complete legislative power could constitutionally effect such an alteration. It is to this high and competent authority alone that the inhabitants of Ireland are now about to sue for some interposition, that may equitably modify the present system of tythes; and every liberal mind will join in the general solicitude. for success to the prayer of their petition. Whatever the enemies of their country may advance for the purposes of delusion,
relief from the harassing system of tythes, and the increasing pres
Alluding to the manner in which the church was deprived of agistment tythes.
sure of exorbitant rents, is the real emancipation on which the hearts of the Irish people are principally fixed.
If the legislature in its wisdom should now resolve, that a reform in the tythe system of Ireland is become indispensable, the Church will not be wanting in its tribute of benevolence to the anxious wishes of a people. Your Grace, it may safely be predicted, will assume your high station with becoming dignity on this occasion. The prelates of our order will naturally emulate the illustrious example; and as a considerable part of the episcopal revenues is derived from tythes, it will afford their Lordships an opportunity of manifesting a disinterested, and patriotic zeal for the public welfare. As to the respectable body of your beneficed clergy, we may rest assured that they will cheerfully join in this great work of Christian charity; convinced, that by this boon of deliverance to the oppressed, they will, more widely, and gracefully extend the pale of that church, in which they are appointed to minister.
It was hardly possible to have entered upon any serious enquiry into the present state of tythes, without some relative consideration of the state of the Irish church also, to ascertain, whether that makes a gradual progress in improvement corresponding with the evident increase of its revenues? It might be improper here to go into a full discussion of this subject; still, however, it ought not to be passed over altogether in silence.
It is a prevalent opinion, that the discipline of the Church of Ireland, (particularly in some of its cathedrals) is capable of much beneficial amendment. Indeed, it cannot be denied, that a defect does exist, as a natural consequence of the ceremonials of its service being sometimes too lightly dispensed with. Its Prelacy may fairly boast of possessing at this time, many amiable and learned men, who afford an exemplary display of personal virtues. These endowments would highly dignify a parochial station; but the
functions require something more than mere abstract ex
It cannot therefore but be regretted, that such superior talents are not more frequently called forth, and combined in the necessary investigation, and discussion of ecclesiastical affairs. Where bodies should derive their energies, and power from the wisdom of united councils, advantage will always be taken of any scattered authorities, by those who lie in wait to profit from their disorder. In this view, it may be observed as a misfortune, that the constant residence of your Grace so far distant from the capital, should admit of no central point of communication; so that the bishops, far remote from their metropolitan head, becoming insulated within their respective dioceses, unavoidably fall into recluse habits which unfit them in some degree, for a more liberal and extensive discharge of their pastoral duties.
The writer of these remarks relies upon the acknowledged candor of the venerable Archbishop, when he presumes to question the propriety of his palace, so sacredly annexed to the cathedral of St. Patrick, having been converted into a barrack for the søldiery, without any other metropolitan residence being previously, or even to this day provided, although the public money voted for that purpose is said to have been issued some years? This was an innovation which the Church might laudably have resisted.
The numerous ruins of temples of worship throughout this island, exhibit too many proofs of the dilapidated, and declining state of the Protestant establishment. On the Reformation it appears, that there were 2,436 parishes in Ireland with cure of souls, and nearly 3,000 clergy appertaining thereto. These are now reduced to 1,100 benefices, having but 1,001 churches, and requiring only the cure of 1,300 clergy. Much of this falling off may be imputed to the combination of several parishes into what is called an union,' a measure that has unfortunately led to the dissolution of all other churches therein, except one.
1 These unions are of two kinds: the one Episcopal, that is, constituted by the Bishop of the Diocese, which may be dissolved on the removal of the incumbent: the others are decreed by an act of council, and are indissoluble by any existing authority. In the union possessed by the writer, as attached to his stall in the cathedral of Ferns, there are the remains of six parish churches in so many distinct parishes, (besides that of Kilscoran) on an ex
It is understood, however, to be the intention of government, tò propose a bill in Parliament without loss of time, for dissolving the most extensive of those council unions, on the demise, or promotion of their present incumbents. Under this desirable restoration of the churches, glebe houses, now so much wanted throughout Ireland for the residence of the clergy, would also increase, and the erection of them be greatly facilitated by the application of the parliamentary grant of 40,0001. out of the first fruits, which sum has unaccountably lain for many years unappropriated to this urgent service.
Even from this slight review, it will appear to your Grace, that our attention may be more beneficially directed to the improvement. of the Protestant establishment, than to any reprehension of errors in our Catholic brethren. We cannot too often remind ourselves, that as opinion submits not to force, so no human power can command belief: this would naturally lead to a more liberal allowance in favor of those, who constitute so considerable a portion of the Irish people, and contribute so largely to the revenues of a Church, contrary, as they are too frequently taught, not only to their temporal, but their spiritual welfare.
The cursory remarks thus submitted with great deference and respect to your Grace, as the head of the Irish Church, cannot be better closed, than with a corresponding one from an elegant writer,' whose liberal opinions will long remain an ornament to our profession. "In religion, as in all other subjects, truth if left to itself, will almost always obtain the ascendancy. If different religions be professed in the same country, and the minds of men remain unfettered, and unawed by intimidations of law, that religion which is founded in maxims of reason, and credibility, will
tent of about 7,000 acres of well populated and highly cultivated land. The churchyard continues the burying place for the dead of each parish; but the temples for the reception of the living are almost rased to the ground. If the most laudable exertions on the part of a single prelate could have remedied this lamentable evil, it had not continued in a diocese, where so considerable an increase of respectable glebe houses, and so exter.sive a promotion of resident curates, have distinguished the active benevolence of its present bishop.