Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter VIII.: BENEFIT OF CLERGY. - 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 VIII.: BENEFIT OF CLERGY. - 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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BENEFIT OF CLERGY.
Sir William Hood (who was travelling abroad) supposed, like everybody else, that the vicar was alone to blame for what had happened. Nobody but those on the spot,—none but the sufferers,—dreamed of finding fault with the system under which precisely the same grievances might recur. They saw but too well that the virtues of the clergyman must, under such a system, injure himself or them. If his virtues were like those of the late vicar, centring in zeal for the church, he would oppress the parish as the late vicar had done. If they consisted of disinterestedness and mercy, they must injure himself in his worldly interests. The same temptations must also again beset the parishioners;—temptation to withhold the extreme dues of a moderate pastor, and to defraud a strict one. The sufferers agreed, in short, with him who said of the tithe system, “It has made the clergyman’s income to fall with his virtues, and to rise with his bad qualities; just as it has made the parishioner to lose by being ingenuous, and to save by dishonesty.”—They mourned over their liability to a repetition of their grievances; and their only comfort was in the hope that Peterson would not be again appointed to rule over them.
In this hope they were not disappointed. It was thought fitting by the ordinary and impropriator, that the circumstances of the scene should be changed as much as possible, in order that future irritation might be avoided; and Peterson received notice that his services would not be required by the future incumbent. He quarrelled with the vicar’s executor, before going out of office, respecting the amount of rent due for tithes received up to the day of the owner’s death, which unfortunately left room for a dispute of this kind, from not having happened on a quarter-day. The vicar’s tithes were collected in kind by the churchwardens, for the benefit of the future incumbent, the services of the curate being meantime paid out of the fund. Sir William Hood appointed another agent to collect his tithes.
During Jerom’s residence at the vicarage,—that is, during the few weeks which Alice’s friends thought long enough for the assertion of that dignity on which her father had bestowed some of his last thoughts,—it occurred to many people that Jerom would like very much to be the future incumbent of this vicarage —Jerom did indeed wish it. The allotment of new land, in which he had invested his share of the bounty, did not answer. The tenant did not, he thought, cultivate it properly; and he had no influence over the tenant, whom he had allowed to build on the ground, and from whom he had no means of purchasing the new erections. He was almost as poor as before he obtained the bounty; and could not well have got through the year but for his brother’s legacy of the little crops that were in the vicarage-ground.—He must get on, however, on this little wealth, as well as he could; for the parishioners had no intention of allowing anybody connected with the late vicar to be their pastor. They gave Jerom to understand this very plainly.
That wealth of his was indeed but small. The season turned out even worse than was expected; and so generally, that its effects were felt by every class in society. Wages had been rising all the year, and this occasioned a further rise in the price of produce; and these things all together proved to such as had eyes to see, the essential vices of the tithe-tax. Never had there been a greater outlay with a smaller per centage of gain to the cultivator than this season: never had tithe been so expensive to him as this year, when he could least afford it: never had the labourers, whose increased wages would not suffice to buy them a sufficiency of bread, so enviously regarded the increase in the revenue of the church;—an increase which arose from the same cause as their privations. Many were now convinced who had not been convinced before, that the bread-eaters of Britain pay a capitation tax to the church. The average consumption of grain being commonly allowed to be equivalent to a quarter of wheat a head, wheat pays a shilling a bushel as tithe, when wheat sells at 80s.; so that, at that price, the church exacts a capitation-tax of 8s.; it being clear that 72s. would be a remunerating price to the grower, if he had no tithe to pay. Many now allowed, who had not been fond of the subject before, that it is unjust that the religion of little more than half the nation should absorb a larger portion of the national resources, in proportion as these resources fail. Many now hinted, that if the preachers of the gospel had no power to feed the hungry with loaves in the wilderness, they ought not to be entitled to exact larger tribute from their hearers, the more their hearers hungered.
There were many dreary days this autumn; but it was on one of the very dreariest that Joseph ran out of the farm-house to invite his landlord to shelter till the storm should be over. “Indeed,” he added, “we wish particularly to speak to thee on a matter of some importance.” Mr. Mackintosh was not so fond of a pouring rain as to be unwilling to let his horse be led to a stable, and himself to a crackling wood fire, from which orderly children moved away to make room for him.
“I hope you have not heard of another suspected murderer,” said he. “I am quite tired of receiving intimations on that head, convinced as I am that we shall never be any wiser.”
“We have nothing to say to thee of any new suspicion: but why shall we never be any wiser?”
“Because we all have a pretty clear notion that there are many who could tell if they would: and if they have not told yet, notwithstanding the fair opportunity that has been given them, and the high reward offered, it is scarcely likely that they will change their minds now. Every new information is meant to put us on a false scent, depend upon it. I hope the people will leave off playing such a farce. We have all our own guesses, I dare say, as to which was the fellow, and where he might have been found the next night, and why a stranger should have been the one to deal the blow. He considered himself perhaps, as others have done before him, as filling an office like the hangman’s,—putting the finish to a criminal.”
“I call this unprofitable talk,” observed the plain Mrs. Lambert. “Wilt thou hear the favour my sons have to ask of thee?”
Mr. Mackintosh was not fond of being asked favours; but he could not refuse to listen, in return for shelter, warmth, and good ale. The young men were very urgent to be released from their agreement about the Quarry Wood farm. Three years only of their lease had run; but their losses had been so great that they earnestly desired to give it up.
Mr. Mackintosh thought he had great reason to complain;—so much reason that he did not feel himself bound to consider the interests of the Lamberts in any such way as this. Was it not a subject of complaint that the land was ill-managed? Might not any one see at a glance how far inferior its condition was to that of the Abbey Farm?
“And whose fault was that?” Charles asked. “Did it not arise from the one being titheable, and the other, tithe-free?”
“Which was known to thee when thou gavest thy money for it, I suppose,” added the mother.
“I would really advise thee,” interposed Joseph, “to find another tenant who does not labour under our scruples regarding the tithe, and who has therefore a better chance of making the undertaking answer.”
“You seriously advise me. I really am much obliged to you, Mr. Joseph.”
“I seriously advise thee,—for this reason: that if we do contrive to pay thee rent, it can only be by cropping and exhausting the best land on the farm in a manner which will not please thee, but to which we shall be driven. Therefore, if thou canst find a capitalist who will diligently set himself to contend about the tithe in a way which we, for conscience sake, cannot do, it may be equally for thy interest and ours.”
“If you choose to find such an one, perhaps I may listen to what you have to say.—But I won’t promise.”
“Why? does it give thee pleasure to hold us to a bad bargain?”
“Or to have my sons for tenants, perhaps,” said Mrs. Lambert, who sometimes accused herself of being a partial mother.—Mr. Mackintosh nodded at her, and said he had so little to complain of with respect to the Abbey Farm, that he would offer this much;—to let the young men have the Quarry Wood Farm rent-free for the remainder of the lease, they bearing the charges on the land.
They were obliged by this offer of compromise, but as far from hopeful as ever. They had much rather give up the undertaking altogether: but Mr. Mackintosh would go no further. He had every reason to believe that the farm would not let rent-free, on condition of the tenant paying the taxes, civil and ecclesiastical.
The lease must run out before it changed hands, even at the risk of its being left in bad condition,—half neglected and half exhausted.
“Come, cheer up, sons!” said their mother. “Gloomy faces are not becoming in us who profess to be more free of the world than some others. You know I never encouraged high notions in you when we thought we were growing rich; and I will not praise you for being low-spirited while you are doing your best—”
“For these children, as well as yourselves,” observed Mr. Mackintosh.
“These children will grow up to take care of themselves, and help us in turn, if we want help. And before that time, let us hope, other Christians will find, as we do, that they can worship without taking the bread out of one another’s mouths. There will be more people willing to worship then, I fancy. My sons may live to see the gospel esteemed as able to support itself as when Christ preached it.”
“And you may live to see it, ma’am. It is an experiment which cannot be very long delayed in this country,—as I believe a large majority of thinkers agree in deciding, however they may differ as to what is superstition and what is not.”
“Thou wilt not find many who will agree with thee, friend, that there must be superstition in believing in things unseen;—no, not if thou shouldst live a thousand years. But thou art pretty secure of good company in declaring some things to be superstition which were so a thousand years ago,—such as asking in God’s name for gifts that are not gifts, and setting up a priesthood in Christ’s name, when, if Christ said one thing more plainly than another, it was that there should be no more priesthoods.”
“And to suppose that men will care for any matters of faith, be they what they may, when the bread of these men is taken to uphold that faith—it is folly!”
“Worse folly than any faith can be, I agree with thee in thinking. This is what we call shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men. It occurs to me, friend, that though thou hast a taste for being singular, thou art of the same mind with some who took these matters to heart very long ago. I ask thy pardon for observing (I know thou dost not like to agree with any thing in Scripture,)—that some one said before thy time and mine, that the Lord is not pleased with offerings, such as thousands of rams and calves of a year old. He had rather have justice and mercy. I wish the church could be persuaded to go back to this old Scripture.”
London: Printed by William Clowes, Duke-street, Lambeth.
CHARLES FOX, 67, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
Printed by William Clowes,
Duke Street, Lambeth.
CHARLES FOX, 67, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
THE JERSEYMEN MEETING.