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THE BISHOP'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
PAYING THE BISHOPS.
THERE is some safety in dignity. A church is n danger when it is degraded. It costs mankind much less to destroy it when an institution is associated with mean, and not with elevated ideas. I should like to see the subject in the hands of H. B. I would entitle the print:"The Bishop's Saturday Night; or, Lord John Russell at the Pay-Table."
The bishops should be standing before the pay-table, and receiving their weekly allowance; Lord John and Spring Rice counting, ringing, and biting the sovereigns, and the Bishop of Exeter insisting that the chancellor of the exchequer has given him one which was not weight. Viscount Melbourne, in high chuckle, should be standing, with his hat on, and his back to the fire, delighted with the contest; and the deans and canons should be in the background, waiting till their turn came, and the bishops were paid; and among them a canon, of large composition, urging them on not to give way too much to the bench. Perhaps I should add the President of the Board of Trade, recommending the truck principle to the bishops, and offering to pay them in hassocks, cassocks, aprons, shovel-hats, sermon-cases, and such like ecclesiastical
But the madness and folly of such a measure is in the revolutionary feeling which it excites. A government taking into its hands such an immense value of property! What a lesson of violence and change to the mass of mankind! Do you want to accustom Englishmen to lose all confidence in the permanence of their institutions—to inure them to great acts of plunder—and to draw forth all the latent villanies of human nature? The whig leaders are honest men, and cannot mean this; but these foolish and inconsistent measures are the horn-book and infantile lessons of revolution; and remember, it requires no great time to teach mankind to rob and murder on a great scale.
I AM astonished that these ministers neglect the common precaution of a foolometer,* with which no public man should be un
* Mr. Fox very often used to say, "I wonder what Lord B. will think of this." Lord B. happened to be a very stupid person, and the curiosity of
provided; I mean, the acquaintance and society if three or four regular British fools as a test of public opinion. Every cabinet-minister should judge of all his measures by his foolometer, as a navigator crowds or shortens sail by the barometer in his cabin. I have a very valuable instrument of that kind myself, which I have used for many years; and I would be bound to predict, with the utmost nicety, by the help of this machine, the precise effect which any measure would produce upon public opinion. Certainly, I never saw anything so decided as the effects produced upon my machine by the rate bill. No man who had been accustomed in the smallest degree to handle philosophical instruments could have doubted of the storm which was coming on, or of the thoroughly un-English scheme in which the ministry had so rashly engaged themselves.
INEQUALITIES OF THE CHURCH
I HAVE no manner of doubt, that the immediate effect of passing the dean and chapter bill will be, that a great number of fathers and uncles, judging, and properly judging, that the church is a very altered and deterioriated profession, will turn the industry and capital of their élèves into another channel. My friend, Robert Eden, says "this is of the earth earthy:" be it so; I cannot help it, I paint mankind as I find them, and am not answerable for their defects. When an argument, taken from real life, and the actual condition of the world, is brought among the shadowy discussions of ecclesiastics, it always occasion terror and dismay; it is like Æneas stepping into Charon's boat, which carried only ghosts and spirits. "Gemuit sub pondere cymba Sutilis."
The whole plan of the Bishop of London is a ptochogony—a generation of beggars. IIe purposes, out of the spoils of the cathedral, to create a thousand livings, and to give to the thouMr. Fox's friends was naturally excited to know why he attached such importance to the opinion of such an ordinary commonplace person. "His opinion," said Mr. Fox, "is of much more importance than you are aware of. He is an exact representative of all commonplace English prejudices, and what Lord B. thinks of any measure, the great majority of English people will think of it." It would be a good thing if every cat net of philosophers had » Lord B. among them.-Author's Note.
sand clergymen £130 per annum each; a Christian bishop proposing, in cold blood, to create a thousand livings of £130 per annum each; to call into existence a thousand of the most unhappy men on the face of the earth-the sons of the poor, without hope, without the assistance of private fortune, chained to the soil, ashamed to live with their inferiors, unfit for the society of the better classes, and dragging about the English curse of poverty, without the smallest hope that they can ever shake it off. At present, such livings are filled by young men who have better hopes- who have reason to expect good property-who look forward to a college or a family living-who are the sons of men of some substance, and hope so to pass on to something better-who exist under the delusion of being hereafter deans and prebendaries-who are paid once by money, and three times by hope. Will the Bishop of London promise to the progeny of any of these thousand victims of the holy innovation that, if they behave well, one of them shall have his butler's place? another take care of the cedars and hyssops of his garden? Will he take their daughters for his nurserymaids? and may some of the sons of these "labourers of the vineyard" hope one day to ride the leaders from St. James's to Fulham? Here is hope-here is room for ambitiona field for genius, and a ray of amelioration! If these beautiful feelings of compassion are throbbing under the cassock of the bishop, he ought, in common justice to himself, to make them known.
If it were a scheme for giving ease and independence to any large bodies of clergymen, it might be listened to; but the revenues of the English church are such as to render this wholly and entirely out of the question. If you place a man in a village in the country, require that he should be of good manners and well educated, that his habits and appearance should be above those of the farmers to whom he preaches, if he has nothing else to expect (as would be the case in a church of equal division); and if, upon his village income, he is to support a wife and educate a family, without any power of making himself known in a remote and solitary situation, such a person ought to receive £500 be furnished with a house. There are about 10,700 parishes in England and Wales, whose average income is £285 per annum. Now, to provide these incumbents with decent houses, to keep them in repair, and to raise the income of the incumbent to £500
per annum, and
per annum, would require (if all the incomes of the bishops, deans and chapters of separate dignitaries, of sinecure rectories, were confiscated, and if the excess of all the livings in England above £500 per annum were added to them) a sum of two millions and a half in addition to the present income of the whole church; and no power on earth could persuade the present Parliament of Great Britain to grant a single shilling for that purpose.
Now, is it possible to pay such a church upon any other principle than that of unequal division? The proposed pillage of the cathedral and college churches (omitting all consideration of the separate estate of dignitaries) would amount, divided among all the benefices of England to about £5 12s. 6d. per man: and this, which would not stop an hiatus in a cassock, and would drive out of the parochial church ten times as much as it brought into it, is the panacea for pauperism recommended by her majesty's commissioners.
But if this plan were to drive men of capital out of the church, and to pauperize the English clergy, where would the harm be? Could not all the duties of religion be performed as well by poor clergymen as by men of good substance? My great and serious apprehension is, that such would not be the case. There would be the greatest risk that your clergy would be fanatical, and ignorant; that their habits would be low and mean, and that they would be despised.
Then a picture is drawn of a clergyman with £130 per annum, who combines all moral, physical, and intellectual advantages; a learned man, dedicating himself intensely to the care of his parish -of charming manners and dignified deportment-six feet two inches high, beautifully proportioned, with a magnificent counteexpressive of all the cardinal virtues and the Ten Commandments—and it is asked, with an air of triumph, if such a man as this will fall into contempt on account of his poverty? But substitute for him an average, ordinary, uninteresting minister; obese, dumpy, neither ill-natured nor good-natured; neither learned nor ignorant, striding over the stiles to church, with a second-rate wife-dusty and deliquescent-and four parochial children, full of catechism and bread and butter; or let him be seen in one of those Shem-Ham-and-Japhet buggies, made on Mount Ararat soon after the subsidence of the waters, driving in the High Street of Edmonton ; all his pecuniary, saponaceous
oleaginous parishioners. Can any man of common sense say that all these outward circumstances of the ministers of religion have no bearing on religion itself? *
REPLY TO THE BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER.
You must have read an attack upon me by the Bishop of Gloucester,† in the course of which he says that I have not been appointed to my situation as canon of St. Paul's for my piety and learning, but because I am a scoffer and a jester. Is not this rather strong for a bishop, and does it not appear to you, Mr. Archdeacon, as rather too close an imitation of that language which is used in the apostolic occupation of trafficking in fish? Whether I have been appointed for my piety or not, must depend upon what this poor man means by piety. He means by that word, of course, a defence of all the tyrannical and oppressive abuses of the church which have been swept away within the last fifteen or twenty years of my life; the corporation and test acts; the penal laws against the Catholics; the compulsory marriages of dissenters, and all those disabling and disqualifying laws which were the disgrace of our church, and which he has always looked up to as the consummation of human wisdom. If piety consisted in the defence of these- -if it was impious to struggle for their abrogation, I have, indeed, led an ungodly life.
There is nothing pompous gentlemen are so much afraid of as a little humour. It is like the objection of certain cephalic animalculæ to the use of small-tooth combs- "Finger and thumb, precipitate powder, or anything else you please; but for Heaven's
* Compare Smith's picture of A Curate, in his article "Persecuting Bishops" (Ed. Rev. Nov. 1822):—
"A curate-there is something which excites compassion in the very name of a curate!!! How any man of purple, palaces, and preferment, can let himself loose against this poor workman of God, we are at a loss to conceive -a learned man in a hovel, with sermons and saucepans, lexicons and bacon, Hebrew books and ragged children-good and patient- a comforter and a preacher the first and purest pauper in the hamlet, and yet showing, that, in the midst of his worldly misery, he has the heart of a gentleman and the spirit of a Christian, and the kindness of a pastor."
↑ James Henry Monk, appointed Bishop of Gloucester in 1830. He has published various sermons and charges, an edition of the Alcestis of Euripides, and a life of Richard Bentley.