Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter III.: INTRUSION. - Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside)
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Chapter III.: INTRUSION. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) 
Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) (London: Charles Fox, 1834).
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Mr. Mackintosh came and took possession of the rectory at Midsummer. He was a single gentleman, everybody was surprised to find. Nothing was heard of either mother or sister who might make his home comfortable; and why such a handsome gentleman, rich enough, it was supposed, and certainly not past middle age, should be still single, was more than could be comprehended by the people of the parish. His housekeeper was questioned; but the housekeeper knew nothing of the how and the why. She could only tell that her master was sometimes low-spirited, and apt to find fault with people; and that he was so fond of his books and of business that he did not seem to have time for the society of ladies. She had never heard anything of his being engaged to be married; and, for her own part, she could not believe that it was so at present; for her master seemed to be as anxious about matters within his little domain as if he had nothing to look to beyond.
It was indeed true that he looked into his business with a keen eye;—with the keen eye of one who wants occupation, and therefore vehemently takes up whatever comes before him. He was the owner of the Abbey Farm, and of another in the neighbourhood, — the Quarry Wood farm, — which was now out of lease; and there were no bounds to the diligence with which he walked over both, from day to day, in order to investigate the condition of every part in every conceivable respect. Both the Lamberts were sure to tell, every day at their early dinner, that they had met their landlord in two opposite directions, while their mother had nearly as often to mention the variety of questions she had been requested to answer, and the odd kind of chat she had had with friend Mackintosh. He was incessantly visiting the cottage at Quarry Wood, to know if any one had called to view the vacant farm; and his housekeeper believed he knew almost every blade of grass in the rectory garden, and was sorry he did not rent the glebe as well as the dwelling, as it would have afforded him something more to do. He was no favourite with the neighbours; for his manners were haughty and careless. Byrne was the only person known to take heartily to him: but Byrne seemed on such friendly terms with him that there must certainly be something kindly in him; for Byrne was not apt to attach himself easily. He had actually left his work at the Abbey Farm, several times, in order to serve Mr. Mackintosh. When tried by the common and best test of kindliness, Mr. Mackintosh, however, was found wanting. He was not always kind to children; as Alice could testify.
She ran in, one day, at her nurse’s, in tears,—in a passion of mingled anger and woe. She had been watching, this fortnight, for the symptoms of an intention to cut the grass at the rectory. She had looked through the garden paling, every day, and had seen the grass growing longer and longer on the lawn, till the wind waved it as if it had been ripening corn. Papa had promised for a whole year, that she should make his haycock; and Susan had given her a hay-rake, just tall enough for her, on her last birth-day. Mrs. Byrne herself had told her on Tuesday, that the grass was to be cut this day, if the weather should be fine. Alice had jumped out of bed an hour before Susan called her, to see how bright the sun was shining; and now, after all, Mr. Mackintosh would not admit her to make hay because she was the vicar’s daughter.
“My dear, that cannot be the reason. There has been no time yet for Mr. Mackintosh to quarrel with your papa. I dare say he does not like to have little girls running about his grass plat; though I see no great harm that you could do him and his grass.”
“But he said himself that it was because I was the vicar’s daughter; and that he would have nobody belonging to a clergyman go near him.”
“Well, that does agree with his saying that he would not let the Quarry Farm to any religious people; superstitious people, as he calls them.”
“I don’t think I am very religious. He might as well let me go in and make hay,” murmured Alice, relapsing into tears.
“Come and look at my bees,” said Mrs. Byrne. “You should see how they have got on with the comb since you were here. Since we laid out the bed for the thyme—Take care, my dear; you will upset the milk. There! there goes your hat into it! Dear! dear! how came you not to see the milk pail?”
While she plunged the straw bonnet in water, to get rid of the milk in which it had already been dipped, Alice asked how the milk pail happened to stand there, full in the sun, where the milk would be sure to turn sour before night. How could she help stumbling over it?
And she was about to remove it into a better place; but Mrs. Byrne stopped her. Byrne would be angry if it was moved. She had promised that it should stand in that place and nowhere else. If Alice’s bonnet should be quite spoiled, Byrne and Mr. Peterson must settle it between them which should buy her another, for Mrs. Byrne could not take upon herself to say which was answerable for the milk standing there. It did seem a sin and a shame that the milk should be turning sour there, when the neighbours she usually supplied were doing without.
“Then why do not you let them have it?”
“It is tithe milk. As we do not make cheese, Mr. Peterson will have us set by every tenth milking for your papa’s tithe. There is a dispute between him and my husband as to which ought to carry the milk. Mr. Peterson says that my husband is bound to carry it, either to the vicarage or to the church porch; and I would have taken it myself to the church porch, to save quarrelling, but my husband stopped me. He is sure that he has the law on his side in making the tithe-taker send his own pails for the milk; and so here it stands spoiling. I make the less stir about it that Mr. Peterson now collects the tithes instead of the vicar himself.”
Alice was immediately bent on going to tell Mr. Peterson that he had better send for the milk; or, perhaps, authorize her to carry it. This was exactly such an enterprise as suited Alice. She seized every opportunity of following a swarm of bees, or of driving pigs, or of helping to push sheep into the water before shearing. She had never recovered the prohibition to go the bounds of the parish; and had a secret plan to do it by herself some day, to show that she could. Mrs. Beverley would let her through her house, she was sure; and Joseph Lambert was too good-tempered to quarrel with her for climbing his hedge. Meantime, it would be good entertainment, in a small way, to haul a full milk-pail half through the parish, without spilling a drop; and she could sit down in the church porch to grow cool when the task was done.
Mrs. Byrne would not allow this; that was the worst of it. Alice grew cross. Nobody would let her-do as she liked this day. She would not now look at the bees; nor gather herself a nosegay; nor try whether she could not find green peas enough ripe to make a little dish for her papa’s supper; nor dust Mrs. Byrne’s prized collection of shells and birds’ eggs. Nothing would she do but go down again to the rectory garden, and peep through the palings to watch the mowing, and the process of tedding the grass, the delicious process which she must not aid. Mrs. Byrne foresaw that the smell of the hay would be a provocative to melancholy, and sighed when she found all her blandishments in vain, and that the wilful girl would have her way.
She was still looking grave over the kneading of the dumpling for her husband’s dinner, when Alice came back, seeming much disposed to fly but for the care she was taking of something in her frock, which was turned up round her, and made the depôt of something very precious. The hay-making seemed all forgotten, with every other grief, and Alice was trembling with pleasure.
“The milk-pail! the milk-pail, my dear,” cried Mrs. Byrne. “Bless me! how nearly you were in again, you giddy thing! What can you have got in your lap? What a lot of eggs! Partridge’s eggs! What a number!”
“O, they will get cold, if you don’t make haste,” cried Alice. “I came as quick as ever I could without breaking them. Mr. Byrne says they will be hatched, if you put them near the fire before they have grown cold.”
“I did not think he would have ventured to take them from under the hen. I wonder what Mr. Mackintosh will say if he finds it out,” observed Mrs. Byrne, bustling about to seek a shallow basket, which, lined with a flannel petticoat, and placed near the fire, might serve as a warm nest for the fourteen eggs.
“The poor hen partridge is dead,” said Alice. “She was sitting on the eggs when Mr. Byrne cut off her head, poor thing, with his scythe. He saw me through the pales, and gave me the eggs, and bade me come to you with them; but before I left, the cock partridge came home; and there he is walking about, poor fellow, in the middle of the grass, just as if he was too unhappy to be afraid of any body. But when do you think these eggs will be hatched?”
Very soon, if at all, Mrs. Byrne thought. She advised Alice to stay here and watch, instead of going down to the rectory any more to-day. It was not likely that more partridges’ eggs would be found; and she had remembered since Alice left her—(she was sorry she had forgotten it before)—that she might make hay, after a manner, in this garden, though she did not pretend that it could compare with the rectory garden.
“You see, however, that it is very well I went,” said Alice, with a superior air. “Now I should like to stay and watch the eggs. Papa will not mind about my going home to dinner, just to-day.”
Mrs. Byrne forthwith made another dumpling, and Alice stood, growing hotter every moment, close by the fire, peeping in between the folds of the flannel, in the incessant expectation of seeing a tiny bird’s head pop up. Mrs. Byrne soon perceived that she would at this rate totally exhaust herself before anything could come to pass, and opened up again her proposition about hay-making in the garden. The grass borders were somewhat overgrown, and there was a little plat,—a very small one, to be sure,—behind the cottage, where Mrs. Byrne hung out the linen to dry. From this plat a good deal of grass might be cut with Byrne’s shears; if they could be found; and Alice could be called in the first moment that a bird was hatched. It would be a fine thing to show people that Alice could make hay in other places besides the rectory garden.
Alice looked at the borders, and thought it would be a prodigious condescension. The sight of the rusty shears, however, subdued her pride; and as soon as Mrs. Byrne’s coarsest blue apron could be tied over the young lady’s frock, she was down on her knees, clipping and hacking at the dry grass, and severing as much as a handful in a quarter of an hour. She actually forgot her new property of eggs till Byrne came home to dinner, and startled her with his gruff voice, while she was trying to clip a bunch which was too obstinate for her shears. She looked up, vexed at being interrupted, but sufficiently exhausted to be in need of her dinner; and no vexation could withstand the news that three little partridges were huddling together and tumbling over one another in the basket.
No vexation of hers could withstand this news. Byrne’s was too highly wrought to be conquered so easily. He came home in a most terrible temperindeed. His wife was aghast when she heard how he abused Peterson, the church, and even the vicar himself, before Alice. Peterson had come down to the rectory to demand tithe of the mown grass, which Mr. Mackintosh had contemptuously refused, on the ground of there being no claim. Mr. Mackintosh had said that while the church had taken care that every other party should pay to the church, it had also taken care of itself, and had decreed that the church should not pay to the church. The parson might not pay to the vicar, or the vicar to the parson. Much as he hated the church, therefore, he was now sheltered under its wings; and not a blade of rectory grass should the vicar touch.—Well; what answer did Peterson make? Why; it was the most provoking thing in the world; he had his law book in his pocket, (as he seemed always to have,) and he showed that in the case of a vicar being specially endowed, (as Mr. Hellyer was,) small tithes, and even hay, might be levied upon the impropriator’s ground, as well as other people’s. Mr. Mackintosh said some very sound, good things, Byrne thought, when he found he really was liable. He said he thought it would be no more than fair to leave people to choose whether they would have a religion or not; and that they might as well demand from him his meat and drink to maintain Punch in a puppet-show—
Mrs. Byrne stopped her husband by throwing a bit of partridge’s egg-shell at him to make him look up, just when Alice’s eyes began to open wide with expectation of what it was that was to be likened to Punch in a puppet-show. It was grief enough to Mrs. Byrne that her husband should snatch up Mr. Mackintosh’s revolting sayings about religion; she would not have this child exposed to the evil under her roof; and so she had told her husband. He went on muttering, while he tore his dumpling to pieces, that he did not believe Mr. Mackintosh would allow the grass to be carried away; and, for his part, he hoped he would not. It was time somebody was beginning to resist encroachment, or there was no saying what pass the parish would come to. He had seen, and so had his father, how the burden of tithes grew and grew; but it was not till he told the facts to Mr. Mackintosh, and Mr. Mackintosh explained them, that Byrne knew the reason why the burden must always go on to increase, unless the church should —
Here he was again stopped. His wife wondered whether Mr. Mackintosh could explain why tithes were only half the amount in the next parish. If the soil was really equally good in the two parishes, it was very odd that wheat land should yield twelve shillings per acre of tithe here, and only six shillings in the next parish.
“I have known a worse case than that; where fourteen shillings were paid for an acre on one side a hedge, and five and sixpence for an acre on the other side, of precisely the same quality of soil. But, bad as it is to have to depend on parsons’ tempers, and such accidents, it is not so bad as seeing the tithe go on growing and growing, and knowing that it will never stop, unless such men as Mr. Mackintosh put a short stop to it. Ah! you look frightened; but you had better look frightened at the tithes than at any thing that I say about Mr. Mackintosh. In my father’s time and mine, I’ll tell you what has happened. Rent is higher, as you know only too well from every farmer you meet. The rise of tithe helps rent to rise; and the tithes have trebled while rent has risen one-fourth. Rent has risen fast enough; but tithes have risen twelve times as much.”
Mrs. Byrne thought this must be a mistake; because if matters went on at this rate, there must come an end of tithe, and tillage, and all.
“And so there will, it tithe goes on. Tithes are higher than the rent now, in some spots hereabouts, where hops and other expensive articles are grown. And the reason why it must be so is so plain, that Mr. Mackintosh does not believe but that those who made tithe foresaw all that is coming to pass. The tithe is part of the crop, which cost a vast deal of toil and expense to raise; and as the toil and expense of raising a crop increase, the tithe must become a larger and larger share of the profit. Don’t you see?”
“To be sure, the more it costs to grow a bushel of corn, the dearer the corn will be, and the more value there will be in the tenth part. But if the tithe makes corn and other things dearer, and their being dearer raises the value of the tithe again, there can be nothing but ruin before us.”
“Except to the church, which is to fatten on our starvation, Mr. Mackintosh says.”
“But this makes a fine profit for the Lamberts, and those who pay no tithe, and yet sell their corn as dear as other people.”
“To be sure it is; for every farmer, in Wales or Scotland, or wherever else in the kingdom he may be, that holds tithe-free land. Where some are obliged to sell dear, as the tithe-payers are, those few that could sell cheaper are sure to follow, as long as there is too little instead of too much of what they have to sell; and the tithe-free thus profit at the expense of those who buy bread and hay. However, we should not talk of the farmers profiting, except as far as they can get their burden of tithes lightened during their lease. The Lamberts pay a fine rent for the Abbey Farm, in consideration of its being tithe-free; and if tithes were to be done away by the time their lease is out, their rent would be lowered to meet the fall of prices that would take place. So it is their landlord that gains from their land being tithe-free, except for the convenience of having no mischief made in their field, and for the price of corn rising as tithe rises while their lease runs. Their rent will be raised again, Mr. Mackintosh says, if tithing goes on at the present rate in the parish.”
“I always think no people look so like prosperous folks as the Lamberts.”
“Ah! the old man was a thrifty one; and ’tis said there are no better farmers in the county than his sons. Sir William will make no difficulty of letting them keep the Abbey Farm in the family as long as he and they have to do with lands, as long as they keep on this side Sticks, as Mr. Mackintosh says; but I don’t know what he means exactly.”
“I do,” said Alice; “Styx is the river where dead people get across in a boat.”
“Well; do you believe that, now? I would as soon believe what your father preaches —”
“O, no, nobody believes about Styx now,” said Alice. “Mr. Mackintosh only talks as some people used to talk, hundreds of years ago, because he does not choose to talk as people talk now.”
Byrne shook his head. His opinion of Mr. Mackintosh was lowered. It was a pity Mr. Mackintosh did not speak of something that he really believed, instead of something that had been already disbelieved hundreds of years ago.
“How neat Mrs. Lambert looks now! and how quick she always walks!” said Alice, quitting her dinner. “I will call her in to see my birds and the eggs.”
There was no occasion to make haste to call Mrs. Lambert. She was coming to Byrne’s cottage. She had a smile for Alice, though she was evidently in haste to say something.
“I wish, friend,” said she to Byrne, “that that thou wouldst make haste down to the rectory. They want thee there; and thy dinner will keep, I dare say.”
“What’s the matter?” cried Byrne, seizing his hat. “Is that scoundrel Peterson kicking up a row?”
“I scarcely know,—being a little dull of apprehension, compared with thee, as to who is the scoundrel when people fall out, and whether there must be one. However, I can tell thee this;—that there is a great empty waggon, with five horses in it, at the rectory gate, and Peterson is making a show of it; and George Mackintosh stands at his garden pales, trying how provoking he can look, as it seems to me. The people are gathering, and the quarrel runs high. If thou canst bring either to a soft answer, thou wilt do a good deed. But, Byrne,” (calling after him,) “I assure thee they are ready enough with the word scoundrel already. Do not thou help them.”
Alice flew after Byrne. Mrs. Byrne thought it necessary to follow Alice; and Mrs. Lambert had been on her way to Mr. Mackintosh on business, when the gathering of the crowd made her turn back. She therefore walked down the road once more, hoping that her landlord would soon be able to listen to what she had to say.
All was in uproar at the rectory. The garden gate was laid by itself on a bank in the road. The heavy waggon was making deep ruts in the grass plat, which the feet of the five cart-horses had already torn up. The tithe of grass was being thrown in, amidst the laughter of the spectators, any one of whom could have carried it home in a well-packed wheelbarrow. The housekeeper was crying at one window, and her master was standing at another, with his hand in his bosom, no word on his tongue, but awful threatenings of the law on his brow. Byrne was evidently in a fury, though a sign from Mr. Mackintosh positively forbade his offering any opposition to Peterson and his team. He struck his toe into the cut turf, as a bull would have struck his horns; and like a bull, threw up clods into the air.
Peterson coolly expounded the law, the whole time, though none seemed disposed to take note of it, unless it was the horses, who certainly strained their muscles more zealously, and struck their hoofs deeper, and jingled their harness more emphatically, when he cracked his whip in the pauses of his lecture.
“I have spared you some of the trouble I might have given, if I had enforced my right,” said he. “By common right, the tithe grass may be made into hay upon the spot, and I might have turned in labourers to work on the ground for a couple of days. And then, again, I have not suffered my horses to touch a blade of your grass, Mr. Mackintosh.”
Somebody observed that he would have had to answer for it in law if he had permitted his horses so to act.
“By no means,” replied Peterson. “What does the law say?” (Reading.) “ ‘And when he comes with his carts, teams, or other carriages, to carry away his tithes, he must not suffer his horses or oxen to eat and depasture the grass growing in the grounds where the tithes arise; much less the corn there growing or cut. But,’ ” (with emphasis,) “ ‘if his cattle do in their passage, against the will of the driver, here and there snatch some of the grass, this is excusable.’ ”
“Against the will of the driver,” repeated some. “No thanks to you, Peterson.”
“It seems to me that making little laws like this is quite fit work for the pharisees,” thought Mrs. Lambert. “The weighty matters of the law seem to find no room here, any more than among those that were so busy with their mint, and anise, and cummin.”
Peterson proceeded. “ ‘If any person do stop or let the parson, vicar, proprietor, owner, or other of their deputies, or farmers, to view, take, and carry away their tithes as above said; he shall forfeit double value, with costs; to be recovered in the ecclesiastical court.’ 2 and 3, Edward VI. c. 13. s. 2. ‘And if the owner of the soil, after he has duly set forth his tithes, —’ ”
“I wish the devil had taken me before I set out the tithe, let the law say what it will,” thought Mr. Mackintosh. “I wish I had bid defiance to the law and the fellow at the same time.”
“ ‘Will stop up the ways,’ ” proceeded Peterson, “ ‘and not suffer the parson to carry away his tithes, or to spread, dry, and stack them upon the land, this is no good setting forth of his tithes without fraud within the statutes; but the parson may have an action upon the said statute, and may recover the treble value; or may have an action upon the case for such disturbance; or he may, if he will, break open the gate or fence which hinders him, and carry away his tithes.’ Which is what I have been and am doing, Mr. Mackintosh.”
“So I perceive.”
“Well, sir. What do you say to what I have just read?”
“That you shall hear in court.”
“You cannot say that I have not, in the words of my authority, been ‘cautious that he commit no riot, nor break any gate, rails, lock, or hedges, more than necessarily he must for his passage.’ You cannot say so, sir.”
“I have nothing to say to you,” replied Mr. Mackintosh, stepping out upon his mangled lawn from the window. “Whatever I have to say relates to your principal and to his church.”
“Take care how you blame my principal, sir,” said Peterson; concealing, as desired by the vicar, the fact that these tithes had become his own property. “My principal, sir, asks no more than his right: and if he is guilty at all in the eye of the law, it is for requiring much less than his due.”
“Well, if your principal chooses to live by such a right, let him. If he chooses, for the sake of a mere life interest in such an institution, to pay his rent of servility and dependence to the oligarchy, I wish him joy of his contentment in his holy office. The church is the patrimony of the oligarchy,—that is, the emoluments of the church;—and these emoluments purchase support for the oligarchy. If your principal hopes for salvation while he is helping his employers to confirm their own corrupt dominion, for the oppression of the people, he is even a greater simpleton than I take him to be. And so you may tell him, if you happen to understand what I say.”
Everybody present understood that something was said about the vicar and being a simpleton; and a smile went round. Byrne had no doubt that, so much being true, all the rest must be very fine; and he was vehement in his applause. Peterson turned round to him, and declared that he had some business with him which he would not be long in disclosing. With an air of defiance, Byrne invited the lessee to come and hear his opinions on his own premises. Mrs. Byrne trembled for the consequences of the proposed visit; and earnestly hoped that it would not take place till the minds of both parties had cooled. She would do her utmost with her husband to convince him of the uselessness of contending with the law. If Mr. Mackintosh chose to go into court, that was no reason why a labouring man should incur such expense and vexation. It would be far better to pay tithe out of their garden, which was what Peterson was going to demand, she supposed, than to run any risk by refusal. The vicar had always paid her wages readily when she was a servant in his family, and she should be sorry to make any difficulty about paying his dues, now that it was her husband’s turn to recompense service.
The throng of gazers and mockers naturally followed the waggon. Byrne and another labourer began lifting the gate, in order to set it again upon its hinges; but Mr. Mackintosh desired that it might lie where it was, till a legal opinion should have been obtained as to whether more force had been used than the occasion required, and than the law could justify. Presently, no one was left but the gentleman and Mrs. Lambert, who was not disposed to leave her business to be propounded on another occasion, merely because Mr. Mackintosh had lately been in a passion, and was now out of humour.
“I thought thou hadst been wiser,” observed Mrs. Lambert, in her plain way, “than to cause thyself all this mischief. It seems to me a pity to spoil a pretty place in this manner, without doing any good that I see.”
“No good! It is doing good to resist paying tithe.”
“I agree with thee there. We Friends think it not lawful to pay tithes.”
“No; you let the parson come and seize them. This is a degree better than paying them; but what good has been done by such a resistance as that?”
“I might ask what good has been done by your resistance. Here is your little lawn spoiled; and ill-will confirmed between the vicar and his people. It will not affect thee so much as me, perhaps, that there has been a scandal to religion, too. Ah! I see thee smile; and I am far from thinking that there is religion in taking tithe: but the man who preaches religion in this parish has been held up to scorn; and I fear the contempt may spread to what he preaches. Thou wouldst not object to this? Well, now, if thou wilt let me say so, I do wonder that one who talks of liberty as thou dost, should be so unwilling to allow liberty of judgment to others.”
Mr. Mackintosh protested that the one thing he was always striving after was to emancipate people’s judgments from the monstrous superstitions, the incredible follies which they called faith and religion, and so on. He was for ever trying to set people’s judgments free.
“Rather, to make them think like thee, shouldst thou not say? There is a contempt in thy way of speaking of Christians, and others who differ from thee, which I should be apt to call oppression, dost thou know? No person hinders thee from saying what thy own opinions are, and where other people’s are wrong; and, therefore, what occasion is there for trying to persuade thy neighbours that their clergyman must be a bad man, if he be not a fool. I think thee wrong in doing this, and I say so when opportunity offers, though I have no better an opinion than thou of his clergyman’s gown, and of all the forms which he mixes up with his public worship.”
“Then you must let me declare you wrong.”
“That such is thy opinion. Certainly. But I wonder thou art easy in making thyself answerable for mixing up with Martha Lambert’s follies some things which are of graver importance;—things which, true or false, make or mar a great deal of happiness, and cannot, therefore, be whiffed away, like trifles, with a joke. Thou wert free, last Sunday, to go into the fields instead of the church, and to tell every one that passed why there should be, as thou thinkest, no church going: but I do not see that it was more proper for thee to point at thy neighbours of the church and the meeting, and say that they differed only in going to see Punch in a wig and Punch in a broad-brim, than it would be in the Lamberts to say that thou desirest the perdition of mankind because thou dost not worship as they do.”
“Whoever told you of that speech of mine should have added what I said besides;—that the Quakers are the only Christians I respect, on account of their—”
“That is all very well in its way: but I do not ask for compliments to the Friends, but for justice to everybody. I could wish to see thee go to law, (as thy conscience allows it,) rather than hold up the good vicar to scorn. Thou wilt allow the suggestion.”
“Ah! you have not that resource. The Friends do not go to law when they believe themselves wrongfully tithed.”
“Their reference is to the divine, not to human law. Their pleas against tithe are three, which would avail nothing in a court of law;—that the interference of civil governments with spiritual concerns is unauthorized and unholy—”
“That the tithe system is a return to the Levitical law, which can have no place under a profession of Christianity.”
Mr. Mackintosh smiled his utter contempt of both Judaism and Christianity.
“And that religion can never be lawfully made a trade; the rule of the case being the precept, ‘Freely ye have received; freely give.’ If thou dost not agree in this last, but thinkest, as the generality do, that the setting forth of spiritual things deserves hire in the same way as the teaching of the mathematics, and other things that belong to the mind, there is the less reason for thy pronouncing that the vicar must be a bad man or a simpleton for requiring the maintenance that the law allows him.”
“It is an infamous practice! The oppression is intolerable. The injustice is what nobody ought to endure. That we should have the church of Rome over again at this time of day! Your favourite vicar may be just such a simpleton of a priest as one might find in the old Popish days, in country villages: but what a poor wretch to set to teach the people!
“Suppose, then, we try to mend the law that displeases us both so much. If the law makes the vicar do and expect what thou thinkest folly, a wiser law might enable him to conduct himself more wisely in thy eyes. My sons will be happy to conduct thee to affix thy name to a petition of the Friends against tithes, which is lying for signature in the next town.”
Mr. Mackintosh would have a petition of his own, whenever he signed one for such a purpose. He would not mix himself up with Christians in any way. He should petition at once for the overthrow of all superstition in this country.
“And, of course, that thou shouldst be appointed judge of what is superstition, and what is not; for I fear thou art not else likely to be satisfied. Meantime, I fear thou wilt not let the Quarry Wood farm to superstitious people.”
“Not unless I were sure that their superstition did not make them cheats: as superstition generally does.”
“Have the Lamberts cheated thee in their management of the Abbey Farm?”
“No. I had rather let your sons have the Quarry Wood farm than any soft, sneaking tithe-payer. Every man that is a slave to the church is an enemy to me.”
“And all who pay tithes are slaves to the church. I am sorry for thee, George Mackintosh, for I think, at this rate, no man has ever had so many enemies. I presume that thou, as a scholar, hast as long a list of the tithe-payers of all the world from the beginning, as the vicar himself. He would make one believe that the Friends alone are, as thou sayst, not slaves to the church, and therefore thy allies.”
“I offered the Quarry Wood farm at a very low rent, if I could find a tenant that I approved,” said Mr. Mackintosh. “Your sons shall have it at that low rent, in consideration of—of—”
“Of their opinions on one point happening to suit thy own. This is the principle by which thou wouldst secure perfect liberty of thought and speech. However, I shall be glad if my sons can come to an agreement with thee in time to prevent any one from professing himself an infidel in order to obtain thy farm at a low rent. It is creditable to the public that thy advertisement to such persons has not already answered to thy satisfaction.”
Superstition was too strong and too popular yet for individuals, Mr. M. replied. Most men had not the courage to put themselves in a position of defiance, such as he had in this case offered.
“Thou wilt now withdraw thy advertisement,” urged Mrs. Lambert. “There is no fear of my sons being taken for any thing but what they are by those who know them: but I should be sorry they should be obliged to disclaim in the public papers any character that thou mightst seem to fix upon them.”
Not only was this promised, as a matter of course, and an arrangement made for an interview at the Quarry Wood farm, when all the terms might be discussed; but Mrs. Lambert obtained permission to call upon the crying housekeeper, and the gaping foot-boy, for aid towards securing the pretty garden from the intrusion of pigs and other trespassers. Before sunset, the gate swung once more on its hinges; and the grass was rolled and rolled again till half its disasters were repaired. It was as much a labour of love as teaching in a school, or cooking broth for a sick neighbour; and when Mrs. Lambert found she must go home, the foot-boy ran before her to open the gate; the housekeeper blessed her; and even Mr. M. sent a message after her to beg that she would not go till she had rested herself.