Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter IV.: HERESY. - 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 IV.: HERESY. - 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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Peterson was not long in performing his promise or threat of visiting B.’s cottage. Indeed, he had so much to do now that it was necessary to fulfil his engagements as they arose, if he meant to discharge them all. He was not only the lessee of the vicar’s tithes, which cost him no small trouble to gather in. He was also the collector of Sir William Hood’s; and the time approached for making the usual valuation of the crops before harvest. Some of the land was, as has been said, tithe-free. A small portion besides, which seemed to lie within the verge of the parish, caused him no trouble. It had never been included, with certainty, within the bounds of any parish; and the tithe thereof, being extra-parochial, was the prerogative of the king, with whom Peterson had nothing to do. A composition had been agreed upon for the tithes of other lands, for a certain number of years; but there still remained a large extent of ground on which the great tithes had either to be compounded for on a valuation, from year to year, or where the contribution to the parson was to be levied in kind. His own property by lease, the small tithes and hay which he rented from the vicar, he determined to levy in kind: and his first step was to study the precise extent to which they were due, and to levy them to the utmost. Of the prædial tithes,—those which arise merely and immediately from the ground, the grain and wood had to be valued in order to a composition. The hay, being the vicar’s by special endowment, had to be levied in kind with the other prædial tithes which came under the denomination of small tithes; viz.: fruit, vegetables, and herbs. He had not only been the round of the hayfields, but was looking into all the gardens, and casting a calculating glance over the orchards, in anticipation of a tenth of their produce. Then the mixed tithes gave him much trouble; tithes of produce which arises not immediately from the ground, but from things immediately nourished by the ground, and which, according to the murmuring parishioners, paid tithe twice or three times over. When they had paid tithe of grass, they contended, it was hard to have it to pay again in the shape of a calf, and again in that of milk. In like manner, the grain on which their poultry fed paid tithe; and then the poultry; and also eggs. In like manner, the sheep pasture paid tithe; and then the tenth lamb must be given; and lastly, the wool. Endless disputes arose out of the lessee’s claims, and he was perpetually sent to his tithe gospel, as he called his law-book. There he found a provision by which he might annoy Byrne, and every parishioner in Byrne’s rank of life. There was another kind of tithe, besides the prædial and the mixed;—the personal tithe, which might be made, if possible, more offensive than the mixed. He knew that by a claim for this kind of tithe, at least, he could punish Byrne for his partisanship with Mr. Mackintosh in the morning.
When he arrived at Byrne’s, both the labourer and his wife were occupied in helping Alice to feed her little birds, the twelve young partridges which bore testimony to the efficacy of flannel and fire in June. Byrne did not trouble himself to look up when his foe entered; but observed, while guiding an infant beak to the mess which was prepared, that Peterson need not flatter himself that he would be permitted to carry away any of Miss Alice’s birds. The little girl’s own father should not rob her of her pleasures. Peterson thought it a pity such a defiance should be wasted; but he really never thought of such a thing as tithing wild birds. Pheasants and partridges are decided by law to be feræ naturæ, and therefore not titheable. Though their wings be clipped, they would still fly away if they could; and if they should breed, their young, though imprisoned, are still wild, and therefore not bound to support the clergyman. Alice’s pleasures were safe.
“O, I am so glad!” cried Alice; “and now we need not be afraid about the bees either, I suppose.”
“Ay; your bees, Mrs. Byrne,” observed Peterson, smiling. “You need not twitch the young lady’s sleeve, Byrne; I thought of the bees before; and, in fact, they made part of my errand. I see you have a fine range of beehives at the south end of your garden; and that spreading jessamine, and the thyme bed, and the tall honeysuckle must yield plenty of wax and honey. You must keep my share for me, remember.”
“If partridges are wild, so are bees, I should think, Mr. Peterson.”
“So the law says: and I am of opinion the law is therein defective: since, though bees can fly away individually, they are stationary, as a swarm, when once fixed in a hive. I should recommend that every tenth swarm should be set apart for tithe: but the law does not so ordain. The wax and honey, however, do not fly away, and it is of them that I spoke when I said you must remember the vicar’s share.”
“The vicar would have been sure enough of his share,” said Mrs. Byrne, somewhat heated, “if you had let me alone to offer it. Miss Alice will tell you that every year she has had much more than a tenth of my honey; and so she would still, without your interfering to make that a debt which was much more precious as a grace.”
“Mr. Peterson shall not bring me my honey,” protested Alice. “I won’t take it, unless you let me carry it home myself, Jane.”
Peterson wondered what would become of religion, if it was to be left to be supported by free will, instead of by dues.
How little was he aware what was included in this question! How little was he aware with whom he identified himself while asking it! This has been the faithless question of all the perverters of the quenchless religious principle in man, from the beginning of time,—of all the priests of all the trinities that the world has known. This is the question asked by the wise man of the Egyptian temple, when he unveiled the hawk-headed Osiris, and the swaddled Orus, and the crocodile-shaped Typhon, and told the prostrate people what to pay for housing the triad of creators that they came to adore.—This is the question asked by the ancient Hindoo priest, when he finished his evening meal of rice in the echoing recesses of the rocky temple, and waited only for the departure of the last impoverished worshipper, to go and see how much wealth was deposited for Brahma, and how much for Vishnu, and how much for Siva, and how many bribes were offered for admission into each of the seven paradises of the seven seas. This is the question asked before the Greek altars, when goats and horses and black bulls were sacrificed there, to the gods of the earth, and the sea, and the infernal regions, and tithe was demanded to be yielded to the one on his ivory seat, and another in his car of sea-shell, and the third on his throne of sulphur. This is the question asked by the skin-clothed ministers of the Gothic deities, Odin, Vile, and Ve, when they called upon their barbarian brethren to offer the hides of wolves, and the flesh of boars, in homage to the three sons of the mysterious cow. This is the question asked by the Mexican priests of old, when they forbade the feathered and jewelled warrior companies to come empty-handed to the sanctuary of the father-sun, the brother-sun, and the son-sun; the trinity of unpronounceable names. This is the question asked by the monastic orders of the Catholic church, when they ordained, as penance, that the children’s inheritance should be made over to the church, to the glory of the Gnostic triad which they enthroned on the Seven Hills, and to which they dared to invite adoration in the name of Christ. This is the question now asked by our Episcopal preachers of the three-fold deity, the Avenger, the Propitiator, and the Sanctifier; and enforced for the support of their tri-partite form of religion, compounded of Heathenism, Judaism, and Christianity.—This is not the question asked by Jesus, when he sent forth the Seventy, bidding them have faith that they should be supported by free-will offerings better than by dues; or when he cleansed the temple from the defilements which but too soon returned to harbour there; or when he sat on the well in Samaria, and declared who it was that the Father sought to worship him; or when he strayed in the wilderness, despising the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and asking instead, the heart of man; or when he sat on the mountain-side, gazing on the temple towers which were bathed in the evening light, and telling of the time when the young pigeons should try their first flight from the summit of Moriah, instead of fluttering in death on the altar of sacrifice; and when the husbandman should plough up the foundations of the sanctuary, finding, through the gospel, that his own heart was a holier place.—What is included in this question,—whether religion can be supported by free will, and not by dues? To ask it is to doubt whether God has vivified the human heart with a principle of faith, and whether man be not really made to grovel with the beasts which perish, or, as the only alternative, to pursue shadows till the grave swallows him up like a pitfall in his path. It is to suppose that by mere accident alone has the northern barbarian been found watching for signs in the driving clouds; and the western Indian looking abroad over the blue Pacific; and the Persian hailing the sunrise from the mountain-top; and the Greek lawgiver waiting upon the voice of the oracle; and the Christian child praying at the knee of its parent. It is to question whether there be more in a sunrise than yellow light, or in a pestilence than so many dead, or in a political revolution than a change of actors in an isolated dramatic scene, or in the advent of a gospel than the issuing of a new and fugitive fiction. It is to deny that every man needs sympathy in his joys, and consolation for his sorrows; that he ever questions whence he came and whither he must go; that he ever feels the weight of his own being too vast to be sustained without reposing on Him who called it forth. It is to question whether there be faith on the earth, except within the pale of two or three churches; whether, for the rest of the world, the sea does not raise its everlasting voice, and the starry host hold on their untiring march in vain. It is to question whether the decrepid can truly worship in the aisles of our churches; or the lordly care for the things of the Spirit, unless those things are joined with worldly pomp. It is to pronounce the apostles profane in their fishing and tent-making, and foolish in their fully-justified reliance on the faith and charity of their disciples. It is to declare Jesus wrong in saying that to the poor the gospel is preached, and that his kingdom was not of the old world,—belonging to the formal Judaical dispensation. It is to put his gospel for correction into the hands of the prelates who legislate for its security, and who predict its permanence, if it be sustained by the means they prescribe,—by gifts and offerings wrung from the reluctant; by endowments, by bounties of first-fruits and tenths, by tithes and oblations. To question whether religion can be supported by free-will instead of by prescribed dues is to libel man, to doubt the gospel, and to stand with a sceptical spirit amidst the temple of God’s works.
Would that the vicar had had sufficient faith in the gospel he preached to believe that it might be supported without exactions which it does not sanction! Would that he had been wiser than his tithe-gatherer, and had foreseen the consequences, as well as been aware of the guilt, of alienating the spirits which it was his express office to win! He looked very grave at his little daughter, when she loudly complained that Peterson wanted to take away some of Jane’s honey for him, when she knew he had much rather that Jane should give it him herself. He told her that she must not speak of matters that she did not understand:—a rebuke which astonished Alice more than all the rest, as she thought she had never heard of anything more easy to be understood.
There was little show of respect to the vicar, this evening. When he entered Byrne’s cottage, Peterson was traversing the garden, making notes of potatoes, turnips, and cabbages, of onions, parsley, and sage. He counted the currant bushes, and looked up into the cherry-tree. Mrs. Byrne attended, in terror lest there should be a quarrel. She tried to persuade her husband to go and make his bow to the vicar; but Byrne would do no such thing. He dogged the tithe-gatherer’s heels, disputing where he could, and threatening where he could not dispute. He did not mean to pay tithe these seven years, for the new bit of garden which he had just taken in. He would contest it to the death. He hoped the turnips would prove tough enough to choke the tithe-gatherer. He would not gather his cherries at all, if he must pay tithe of them. They should be left for the birds, and for any village children who might come to take them.
“That is all very fine talk,” replied Peterson: “but I can tell you this. If your fruit is taken by the birds, or other downright thieves, I must bear the loss with you: but if it be taken with your knowledge and consent, whether by school-children or anybody else, you must pay me the tithe of what was taken: and if left to drop from the tree, I must have the tenth of what so falls. Pray, are these peas and beans for sale, or for domestic use?”
Byrne could not tell till they were gathered; and his wife did not pretend to have made up her mind, any more than he.
“Well; if you won’t tell me, I must be on the watch to see whether your hog touches any of them, and how many find their way to other people’s tables. And then, you will have no right to call me prying, remember. I asked you the fair question, which you would not answer.”
Byrne thought he might as well live under Bonaparte, or any other tyrant, at once, as be liable to sow and tend and reap for another, in this way; and to be watched by a spy, as if this was not the free country it prided itself on being.
“What would you say if you were a farmer?” cried Peterson, with a smile. “Here you have only to pay a little honey, and a few vegetables, and a little fruit, and—one thing more, for which I find the vicar has strangely omitted to charge you hitherto. See here,” producing his lawbook. “By a constitution of Archbishop Winchelsea, and the statute, 2 and 3 Edward VI., c. 13., tithes are payable for profits arising from personal labour or merchandise. They are payable, you see, where the party hears divine service, and receives the sacraments; but only the tenth part of the clear gain, after all the charges are deducted. Now I find your wages are per week—”
“Do you dare to want to strip my husband of his wages?” cried Mrs. Byrne. “I will call the vicar to put an end to this.”
Peterson’s triumph was complete. The vicar was full of concern that anybody suffered pain or inconvenience about the matter: but it was not for him or his parishioners to alter the constitution of the church. His duty to his church and to his successor required that the ecclesiastical law should be obeyed in all its provisions. Two or three zealous clergymen had lately revived this claim, after it had lain dormant for very many years, throwing into gaol the labourers who opposed themselves; and he would support them through evil report and good report.
“Then you may throw me into gaol,” cried Byrne. “As for attending your services, neither I nor mine will ever do it more, Mr. Hellyer: and I never wish to see you within my gate again, sir.”
“O, John!” cried the terrified wife.
“I am not going to be angry,” said the vicar to her, with his usual air of quiet complacency. “I have long feared that the infidel who has come among us would corrupt your husband, and I see he has done so completely. Nay: do not cry so, Jane. All our hearts are in the hand of God: and you should trust, as I do, that he will sustain his church under the attacks of the unbelieving.”
“Not if such as you have the management of it,” cried Byrne. “You talk of Mr. Mackintosh: but I tell you that nothing that I ever heard him say turned my heart from you and your religion as you yourself have done to-day; and I rather think that Mr. Mackintosh owes to you much of such power as he has. We shall soon see that. Send the labourers of this parish to gaol for their tithe of wages, break gates, and pry into gardens, and you will see what a congregation Mr. Mackintosh will have on his lawn, to hear what he has to say about a religion that teaches such oppression.—Be pleased to hold your tongue, sir, and walk out of my garden.—Hush, Jane!” he cried to his weeping wife. “There is nothing in their tithe-law that prevents my saying that.—Go, go, and milk the cow.” And he turned over the pail, which still stood with milk in it, as in the morning. He declared that he knew something of tithe-law as well as Peterson, and therefore claimed the liberty of spilling the milk which had not been removed, after due notice, so as to restore the pail in time for the afternoon milking. Peterson could not deny the correctness of Byrne’s law.
“Well; but, why not come to church?” mildly inquired the vicar.
“To hear you thank God that you are no extortioner, I suppose. I am sick enough of that.”
“But, John,—do listen, John!—He can’t help it: it is no fault of his: he only asks what the law gives him.”
“Then let the law leave off making a man contradict in the pulpit on Sunday all he has been doing during the week. ’Tis a hypocrisy that I am sick of, and I’ll never enter the church door till there is an end of it. You see the gate, sir. You are welcome to go away as soon as you choose.”
There was nothing for the vicar to do but to walk away, however Mrs. Byrne wished to detain him till her husband had cooled. Peterson had found his way over the fence, rather than cross the path of the angry man. Byrne saw this, and shouted after the vicar, loud enough for Peterson to hear,
“You are mightily afraid of a deist, Mr. Hellyer: but if you care for your church, look to your tithe-gatherer.”
“Run after your papa, my dear,” said Mrs. Byrne to Alice, who was contemplating the spilled milk: “never mind your birds; I will put them under a coop till you come again.”
“Papa looks so odd!”
“The more reason you should go. Run after him, and talk about every thing you can think of.”
Alice hopped and skipped down the road, while Jane wept as if her heart would break. Her grief could scarcely have been greater if she had known the truth that time revealed,—that from this hour, her husband hated the vicar with an intense hatred.