« ElőzőTovább »
would open strange revelations of the strangest social condition ever made known in the whole existence of civilized humanity. In those auctions, the most wretched articles of the most wretchedly indigent were exposed to sale ; — the only cow or donkey ; the half-starved pig ; poultry; the solitary plot or platter; the winter's stock of potatoes; the bed-covering and wearing-apparel, down to the petticoat and the apron of Widow Gallaher. Lest this should be thought the exaggeration of burlesque, we extract from the book before us a literal copy of one of these advertisements.
“ TO. BE SOALED BY PUBLICK Cant in the town of Ballymore on the 15th Inst one Cowe, the property of Jas Scully one new bed & one gown the property of John Quinn seven hanks of yarn the property of Widow Scott one petty Coate & one apron the property of Widow Gallaher seized under & by virtue of a leasing warrant for tithe due the Rev John Ugher.” — Vol. I. pp. 310, 311.
“ If,” says a statesman,“ an established church is valuable because it provides for the religious wants of the poor, the Church of Ireland does the reverse of this; it provides for the rich only, and compels the poor to pay.” Now if tithes in their essential principle were so hateful to Irish Catholics that no amount of forbearance or prudence in collecting them could have rendered them tolerable, it is not easy to conceive the fearfulness of their grievance, when connected as they were with every possible abuse of administration. With the intervention of avaricious tithe-proctors, of unscrupulous appraisers, of lawyers, and of constables, the poor man often paid the fifth, instead of tenth, of his hard-earned property.
But it may be said that the clergy spent their incomes among the people. Not always. Sometimes the parson hardly ever visited the parish which paid him hundreds of pounds in yearly revenue. The present Archbishop of Cashel had been one of the most zealous of proselytizing orators. Besides other large benefices, he owned the richest parish in Cork, from which, it was estimated, he derived an income of two thousand pounds a year. The church at one time needed repairs, and the members of the congregation decided to tax themselves, and forego the legal claim for church-rates. The
officers of the parish wrote to the rector for a subscription. He sent them five pounds. The officers sent the pittance back to him. This godly and evangelical divine never came near the parish, unless it happened to be within the range of an itinerating tour. Dr. Doyle mentions the case of the rector of a rich living in the county of Kildare, who had never been there but once in all his life. Such a man was not singular, but representative of a class. Many of the clergy were magistrates, and many to their ecclesiastical office added that of land-agents. Tithes formed but one item of the Church wealth in Ireland. Besides these, there were bishop-lands, glebe-lands, and church-rates. The income of five hundred thousand acres of bishop-lands were estimated at one million dollars a year. A bishop's lease was but for twenty-one years, and the bishop accordingly could impose a heavy fine on the renewal of it. One see alone, as it appeared from Parliamentary returns, possessed fifty-one thousand eight hundred and eighty acres; and it was shown that one bishop received fifty thousand pounds for the renewal of a single lease.* Add to all this, that the bishops have extensive patronage in the Church, and that they very generally use it for the benefit of their families and kindred. Many bishops die enormously wealthy, and this could not happen without the means of rapid accumulation, since a man seldom reaches the episcopacy until life has sobered into the gravity of years. Dr. Beresford, the late Archbishop of Armagh, was reputed to have left more than a million sterling. This was decent saving, although it was the gathering of forty thrifty years. Another Beresford went from a rich see to this vacant one, which was still richer. The clergy, in congratulating him on his promotion, spoke feelingly on the apostolic simplicity of his millionnaire predecessor. In all that was secularly or sacredly gainful, the Beresfords were a most prosperous family ; they had a mighty hunger for pelf and power, and good digestion waited upon ample appetite.
But the time came at last when the old tithe system must be no more. The decree had gone forth. The exhausted patience of the people could no further go. An individual here
* Edinburgh Review, November, 1825. VOL. LXXIV. -5TH S. VOL. XII. NO. II.
and there hesitated to pay; another challenged the legal claim. At last the spirit of resistance spread until it became universal. No active opposition was offered. The Catholics imitated the Quakers. They folded their arms; they moved no weapon; they used no word of threatening or sedition. They simply, by their manner, said, “You want to tax our goods to pay your Church; then come and take our goods to the amount of your tax.” But that which was easy with an inconsiderable sect became terrific with a multitudinous nation. All liberals sustained the movement, but O'Connell and Dr. Doyle were the soul and spirit of it. The mountain-sides were covered with people who came to listen to orators who denounced the tithe system. Yet there was no violence. Property was seized, but there was no resistance. The property could not be sold in the localities wherein it was seized ; so it was carried into adjacent cities, but in these also it could not be sold. Some property in this way was carried into Carlow, but twenty thousand men went in along with it. No person was bold enough to bid, and the property was returned to the owners. Some few cattle were seized in the county of Cork; but the authorities, despairing of finding a sale for them in the neighborhood, had them driven into the city. The largest open space was there appointed for the sale. On the morning destined for the auction there marched into the city some thirty thousand men from all sides of the county. They were young, healthy, strong, goodlooking, and well dressed. They were unarmed; they had not even a kippeen; they were as sober as judges, and wore the gravest of faces. They came to look on at the auction, but there were none that dared to bid. Except the voice of the auctioneer, all was dumb show. These lookers-on, who came into the city in the most orderly manner, marshalled into divisions, brigades, regiments, and companies, keeping form and step with perfect regularity, left the city in the same admirable regularity. And what was most astonishing in those vast gatherings was the absence of intemperance and of disorder. This was really the most fearful element in them to the clergy of the Established Church. No tithes were to be paid ; that was a decree which no Catholic disobeyed. No action for tithes could be enforced; the power of government seemed unequal
to such enforcement. The government which could hold a discontented kingdom, could not compel the payment of a shilling to the parish rector.
The climax of the struggle came in an impressive accident. A parson bolder than his brethren ventured, with military aid, to enforce a claim for tithe in a place called Rathcormac, in the vicinity of Cork. There was some resistance, and the soldiers fired. A young lad, who was the only son of a widow, and had no share in the riot, was killed. It is not possible now to give the least idea of the anger, and the sorrow, and the determined purpose which this event kindled in the souls of Irish Catholics. Nor was this feeling confined only to Irish or to Catholics : it excited the pathetic wonder of Christendom. The Rev. George Harris, an Englishman, then a Unitarian minister in Glasgow, heard of the event late of a Saturday, and on the Sunday afternoon preached a most impassioned and powerful sermon on the topic, in which he contrasted the conduct of Christ to the son of the widow of Nain with that of the parson to the son of the widow of Rathcormac. The sermon made such impression that he was invited over to Cork, and had there, during his visit, the most enthusiastic reception from liberal people of all creeds and classes. But there was in this, as in all revolutions, much of great and undeserved suffering. Good men were reduced from prosperity to pauperism. “Vicars of Wakefield,” whose parsonages had been refuges to the poor and mansions of hospitality to all classes, became households of sad and painful indigence. There were some generous Roman Catholics who, though they would not pay the legal tithes, yet exceeded them in voluntary gratuities. The government at length relieved the clergy by advancing a million sterling, and Parliament converted the tithe system into a rent-charge. This did not settle the controversy as to the principle of tithes, but it took from it its rudest conflicts, its coarseness, and its fury.
We had desired to make some remarks on the vital and recuperative energy of the Irish race, which enables the people of that race to recover rapidly from the most disastrous circumstances, and to vindicate at home, and all the world over, their living power of mind and body. We can, however, add
nothing to this long article, but the expression of our heartfelt hope that the destinies of the Irish people may be brighter in the future than they have been in the past; more worthy of their merits as an intellectual, brave, generous, faithful race, — a race that have always shown that they possess some of the best elements of genius and humanity, — who are ever giving the world assurance that they have within them a worth and wealth of nature which time does not exhaust, and which misfortunes have not injured, but improved.
ART. II. — PROFESSOR WILSON.
“ Christopher North.” A Memoir of John Wilson, late Professor of
Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. Compiled from Family Papers and other Sources, by his Daughter, Mrs. GORDON. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglass, 1962. 2 yols. Small &vo. pp. xii. and 335, 399./!
The relations of piysical vigor and intellectual character 'are strikingly illustrated in the life of Professor Wilson. Firm health, exuberant spirits, and keen sensuous enjoyment combined to give to his character the warmth, brilliancy, and audacity which have made the man, as well as his writings, so attractive. Endowed by nature with a large but supple frame, adapted to feats of agility and strength, he was equally fortunate in an education which encouraged the full development of his powers. The life of such a man affords an interesting subject for the biographer. In the case of Professor Wilson, this office has been undertaken by his daughter, with great honesty of purpose and a diffidence which invites friendly criticism, but with little discrimination in the choice of materials.
With the common tendency of biographers to find in the childhood of a man of genius some hints of his future development, Mrs. Gordon gives a few anecdotes of Wilson's early years. These are pleasant, but probably not more notice