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the Irish Clergy. London: Rivingtons; Hatchards ; Seeleys; Nisbet and Co.; Roake and Varty ; Parker. 8vo. 1836. Pp. 19.
The distresses of the Irish Clergy are not only among the most extraordinary incidents of the present extraordinary times, but they are, so far as we know, wholly unexampled in any civilized country. A body of men eminently loyal and peaceable, and certainly, on the very lowest view, deserving the protection of the state as much as any class, are kept out of their property by forcible combination, their lives placed in such imminent jeopardy that no insurance office will guarantee a support to their widows and orphans, and themselves compelled to subsist upon the bounty of those whose possessions, as yet, are spared to them. There are sceptics who doubt the fact ; and truly, when we consider that all this is said to be taking place in a country under British government, forming indeed an integral part of the British commonwealth, and only a few hours' passage distant from the British shores, there would seem at first some excuse for scepticism. But, strange as it may justly appear, there is no more ground to raise “ historic doubts” on the matter than on the existence of such a personage as Napoleon Buonaparte. It is not only true, but notorious. Every newspaper for months past has been in a great measure a record of subscriptions to the holy cause of rescuing from starvation the christian ministers of a large and important portion of the British empire. And the documents to which we now call the attention of our readers, afford the appalling details of the horrible fact.
Yet all these things take place under a Government not only civilized, but nominally christian. These things are suffered to proceed without even being once adverted to by the Government. The King's Speech contains not one distant allusion to the subject. The whole kingdom is in wonder, alarm, compassion, disgust—but the matter is not once adverted to. Nay, the minister, with effrontery almost inconceivable, talks of "the tranquillity of Ireland." “The tranquillity of Ireland !" Yes,-the persecuted Clergy, like their persecuted Master, have not reviled again, and have not threatened, but have committed themselves to Him that judgeth righteously. They have borne their pangs in meekness and silence.* And because they have submitted in this spirit to the outrage, therefore Ireland, forsooth, is “ tranquil !” No legislative measure is submitted for their
• A remarkable circumstance, which occurred at the outbreak of the persecution, will illustrate this observation. An Irish Prelate, who was sojourning for a short time at Clifton, assured a benevolent friend of Ireland that he must be mistaken in representing the distress of the Clergy in his diocese so great, as not one single application had been made to him. The gentleman thus addressed, however, had the means of convincing his Lordship, that, although no application had been made for relief, numbers of his Clergy were even then PERISHING OF DESTITUTION.
relief; nor will the Government consent to take their cause in hand, without exacting ignominious and iniquitous conditions, which a Christian would rather die than accept. Above all, the terrors of the law are fairly laid to sleep; and if the King's Courts attempt to vindicate insulted justice, they are only exposed to the insolence of power ; * and, as far as the Government are concerned, the Scripture rule is reversed, and the magistrate beareth the sword in vain.
We do not ask Who are the Irish Clergy? We only ask, Are they citizens of the British empire ? If they are outlaws, let the Government act a manly part, and proclaim them such-proclaim, too, their crime. But if they are not, let Ministers grant them the protection the law allows to every citizen. We know they will tell us that a remedy was offered and refused. The answer is beside the question. The question is, What is the law ? Are not tithes as much the property of the Clergy by law, as Lord Melbourne's rents are his ? Should Lord Melbourne's tenants refuse his dues, to what law would he apply for relief, save that which guarantees the rights of the Irish Clergy? Are we then to be told by the Premier that he will not vindicate the laws of the land unless the Legislature will alter them to suit his caprices? Is this the excuse ?-You would not have my new laws, and therefore I will not administer your old ? If you will not give me all I ask, I will take it by the brand of the incendiary, and the pistol of the assassin ? Or will Lord 'Melbourne confess at once, that his Government is too weak to vindicate the laws ?—then, in honesty, he ought to resign.
But look at the whole conduct of the Whigs on the tithe question. By the Reform Bill, the elective franchise required that all rents and rates should be paid ; but tithes were omitted. By the Irish Coercion Bill, summary justice could be inflicted in all injuries on property, save only tithes. One Magistrate appeared at “antitithe" meetings, and was uncensured, when another was cashiered because his lady ventured to exercise her own discretion in the colour of her bonnetribbands! The military were absolutely forbidden to interfere for the protection of tithes, UNTIL BLOOD SHOULD BE SHED! The magistrates were forbidden to execute the writs of the Court of Exchequer for the recovery of tithes.
The Report of the Committee for receiving Subscriptions for the Relief of the Irish Clergy is already before our readers, having been appended to a former Number. The same is the case in regard to the proceedings at Freemasons' Hall. It will not therefore be necessary to quote largely from either : we shall only take so much from both
* It is, however, gratifying to know that the firm stand made by the Court of Exchequer las gained its point against the tyranny of the Castle.
as may best serve to show the system at work, and excite Churchmen to meet it: not simply by relieving the present wants of the destitute Pastors of Ireland, but by striking at the root of the evil - by petitioning as one man for Convocation, and obtaining it, as they will; and thus giving the Church the power of protecting herself, and not leaving to Friend Pease to discuss the proper adaptation of the revenues of Durham, nor to Lord John Russell to determine that an University created by a Prelate of the English Church out of the property of the Church, for educating the Clergy of the Church, shall be open ground for dissenters, who never paid a penny to its foundation : for with such things has the public been disgusted in the last week.*
We proceed to our extracts. We shall not retrace the proceedings of the Committee further than the last year—the season of "tranquillity."
The following is from the Archbishop of Tuain- date July 28, 1835.
It is only necessary to know the fact that the tithe property of the Clergy is in most part withheld from them, and their wants can easily be conceived. And I cannot but remind your Grace of their great patience and forbearance under their painful privations. When all are great sufferers, it is not easy to make a selection of cases standing in need of relief; but I have a Clergyman so reduced, that his son has been obliged to plant his potatoes, the almost exclusive and invariable food of his family-a family of eleven in number:Another Clergyman informs me that he cannot well describe the sufferings of his family, a wife and five children, for the last two years. On account of his tithe property being withheld, he has not had more than two quarters of mutton used in his house during that time, and the only food for his family has been occasionally bacon, herrings, and such like. The rain penetrates several parts of his house; and he cannot procure straw to thatch it. His children could not attend church regularly the whole of last winter, for want of shoes. Much more does this gentleman say, but it is needless to trouble your Grace further upon his case. I have many unpaid Curates (of course in great want) from total inability in their Rectors to pay them; and many others have received notice from their employers that they must not look to them for remuneration for the future, for they have neither private nor professional means with which to pay them. I have Clergymen who have insured their lives in order to create provision for their families; in the payment of the annual premium (except for very extraordinary effort of friends) they must have failed. In short, I scarcely know a Clergyman in my four dioceses that is not reduced to much distress ; no doubt, comparatively, some are less so than others. Should your Grace think it necessary, I can easily furnish a detailed statement of the bitter crials endured by every Clergyman in my diocese.— Report of Committee,
pp. 11, 12.
What follows is from the same Prelate to the Primate of Irelanddate, November 7, 1835.
I know not how your Grace's English correspondents can want information as to the dire distress of the Irish Clergy, almost universally, when they must be aware that, with little exception, there is now due to every Clergyman in Ireland two years' tithe coinposition rent. I believe there is inconceivable distress in all classes of our body, and it matters little whether a man bas 150l. per annum, or 1000l., if almost the whole is taken from him.-Ibid. p. 16.
The next is still later.
and highly respected. The Bishop of the Diocese, in consequence, gave bim a living two years ago, of which he has never received one shilling. He has nine children, and his wife is daily expecting her confinement; every portable article of furniture has been sold to purchase food : and they are without the means of providing clothing for the inclement season.
n.- Report of Committee, p. 16. A correspondent of the Bishop of London saysThere is so shrinking a delicacy, so strong a reluctance to own the extent of privations actually submitted to, that although our good friends and the public have been made acquainted with numerous striking instances, I am fully persuaded that the whole truth is not, and will not be ever, known. Men of every station, and rank, and age, are suffering, are wasting away with anxiety and trouble; yet they do not repine, nor complain; their greatest solicitude seems to be, to keep their misery secret. I myself know two dignitaries nominally possessing ample revenues, but really reduced to the greatest distress. I know two brothers of noblemen, one of whom has his benefice at this moment under sequestration for debt, and the other, at an advanced age, has given up, one by one, alınost every mfort of life, and has the sorrow of beholding his children's progress and prospects interrupted. I know a rector, whose only cow, affording to his large family their chief support, was lately put into pound by the Collector of County Rates, and detained there a considerable time, until released; though, at the same time, that Collector owed him more than the amount of his debt; but as it was for Tithes, he would not allow him one farthing of it! I know another, who has recently been sued for a debt, due for a high reut, by a gentleman, who at the very time owed him more than three times the amount for tithes, but refused to pay him one shilling! I know another instance precisely similar.
Two days ago a gentleman wrote thus to me:- I beg gratefully to acknowledge the very seasonable and much-wanted assistance (i. e. received through his Grace the Primate). I have been thirty-three years a humble Minister in God's Church; constantly resident: I have been obliged to sell my furniture and stock, to pay debts, and obtain a temporary supply of the necessaries of life; reserving merely that portion required for a bed-room and sitting-room. I have been obliged to permit my wife, who became so alarmed at the state of the country and threatening dangers, that she was losing her health, to leave Ireland. I have found it necessary to send out six of my seven children, one being too young, as tutors and governesses, thankful to find board and lodging for them. I have been necessitated to take my son's name off the College books, being unable to pay his bills. I am burthened with debt, and unable to pay my creditors ; debt incurred for the necessaries of life, and due before total inability to pay became apparent. When called froin home, or to visit, or to catechize in my parish, I feel it quite vecessary for my personal safety to carry arms. My glebe-bouse is closed up, as if in a state of siege. At night it is necessary to have bolts, bars, and bullet-proof planks to the windows and doors! Here is discomfort and suffering! I may write, that I bave suffered the loss of all things. My life, through the sparing mercy of God, remains; though that life has been several times threatened, and previously to our last persecution was attempted to be taken; a bullet having been fired at me on my glebe-land. My difficulties have been a good deal increased by great exertion made to prepare my children for active," useful life, educating them so that they might earn their bread, and serve their fellow-creatures.'- Report of Meeting, pp. 12, 13.
We add the eloquent comment of the Rev. H. Melvill.
If I could call up to your view martyrs and confessors—if I could crowd this building with the forms of those, who, in by.gone days, made a rampart with their bodies against the encroachments of Popery with what awe and
veneration would you gaze on the noble company! How would you gather, from beholding Cranmer, and Ridley, and Latimer, fresh ardour, in withstanding a religion which gave to the Aames so illustrious a group! I know that the memory
of martyrs wakes the pulse of a boly indignation, and that the breathing of their naines, like the trumpet-peal of a righteous war, sends the throb of a high resolve throughout this assembly. If ye could now be spectators of martyrdom, would ye not, hand to band, and foot to foot, and shoulder to shoulder, rush against the fainiliars of an Inquisition, and snatch from the scaffold, or rescue from the stake, the victims of intolerance? But call ye nothing martyrdom but the being dragged on a hurdle and wrapped in flames ? I call it martyrdom that a man should be forced to behold the wife of his bosom-a tender, perhaps, and fragile thing—faint with hunger; unable to procure for her the scanty morsel, which, if procured, she would strive, with loving violence, to force back upon himself. I call it martyrdom that a Minister of Christ should be compelled, for the sake of his religion, to behold in his children the hollow cheek and sunken eye, which tell too eloquently the tale of want; and that day by day they should come round him for bread, and he have nothing to give them but his tears and his prayers. I call this martyrdom. Oh, it were easier, God helping, to nerve one's self for the stake, than for a famishing and outcast household. And if you would be stirred by the spectacle of martyrdom; if you would spring forward to break down the scaffold and extinguish the fire and snatch away its victims; prove this day, by your sympathy and your zeal in endeavouring to extricate the present martyrs from their difficulties, that the spirit of Protestantism, if it have long lain dormant, has not been extinguished ; but that there are yet staunch and true men in England, who, in the hour of her Church's peril, will count their religion dearer than their substance; and who, having received from their fathers a charter of faith, stained with the blood of the holiest and the best, would rather dye it afresh in the tide of their own veins, than send it down torn and mutilated to their children.— Report of Meeting, pp. 23, 24. Such is the state of our brethren in Ireland.
How long it may continue, it is impossible to say—but it need not continue a week, if the Government did its duty, and executed the laws. This, however, is not to be expected. The Examiner said a short time since of the Church of England, “its crime is its being." The Cabinet seems to take the same view. The Church must be destroyed in some way or other; and nothing appears more effective than the machinery now in operation in Ireland. It is quite obvious that the Protestant religion is fully as much the intended victim of the present conspiracy, as the Protestant Clergy. Yet, with these facts before their eyes, there are Protestants weak enough to believe all the absurd declamation with which our ears have been stunned for some years past, about the altered and charitable character of Popery! although a Protestant Clergyman, for no other reason than that he is such, is obliged to have “ bullet-proof planks” to his windows and doors, and is robbed of the means of subsistence!
On the character of these defamed and persecuted men, let us hear the Archbishop of Canterbury :
I was a member of a Committee of the House of Lords, four years ago, in which witnesses of different religions, and of every variety of political feeling, were examined; and it was with great satisfaction I heard their concurrent testimony to the general conduct of the Irish Clergy; to their moderation in