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to provide against losses and misfortunes, and at last exhausted their resources. The landholder now regrets the loss of his income, and if experience can make him wise, will let his land in small farms to industrious and frugal tenants, upon leases long enough to make it worth their while to lay out part of their savings in gradual but real improvements; and upon such terms as may enable them to live with comfort and provide for their families.
The fluctuations which have taken place in the price of grain, have been severely felt by the labourers in all classes, as it has made their usual wages inadequate to their support, and occasioned many troublesome differences between the farmer and his men: and often thrown the latter upon the parish for that support, which they could not obtain from their employers.
This evil might be in a great measure obviated or softened, if the labourer's wages, instead of money, were paid in corn. For instance, a labourer's wages might be settled at a bushel of flour per week, or the equivalent in money, at the last market's price. Every married labourer should as much as possible have also near the farm, a cottage, with a garden and orchard, sufficient to keep a cow, or at least a pig, and a goat, to supply him with milk, and enable him to breed a little poultry.
When the labourer has a family, the wages of his labour cannot be equal to their support. The farmer who employs him ought nct to be required to pay him a higher salary on account of his family, as that would make him endeavour to employ none but single men. The parish therefore, or the country at large, who are interested in the preservation of the population, ought in such cases to interfere: and an allowance granted at the discretion of the Magistrates by the parish officers, as the wants of the labourer may require it. The land ought to support the cultivator. The state may in the shape of taxes for public exigencies call for a part of the profits of the land owner or the farmer, but enough must be left to give the labourer a complete maintenance. If the farmer is so burdened with charges as not to be able to pay his rent, the property has in fact changed hands. The state is now really the Jandlord: but still the occupier and the labourer must be upheld; very resources of the state itself will fail.
The statute of Queen Elizabeth for the support of the poor,
though now perhaps unjustly censured, was enacted upon sound principles and just views, and has benefited the country during above two centuries; no bad test of its merit. The exigency: of the times, local circumstances which could not be foreseen when it was first established, have occasioned its operation of late years to be unequal and insufficient: but this evil is not without a remedy, consistent with the preservation of the system.
For instance, when the poor's rate of any parish exceeds four, shillings in the pound of the rents, let the surplus be raised by a county rate. If that county rate should be called upon for more than two shillings, let the deficiency be supplied by the receiver general of the land tax, and be defrayed by the money in his hands, or his drafts on the treasury.
Let a diligent enquiry be made of the causes of any such unequal pressure, and suitable provision be made to prevent its recur
When it is owing to the establishment of any new manufacture, let a share of the profits of the proprietor, whilst he is suc¬ cessful, secure a provision for future embarrassments; let a share of the wages of the workmen accumulate in saving banks, to relieve casual distress.
And by all means let the poor be relieved in their own homes, rather than confined in workhouses; unless profitable employment can be found for them in well regulated houses of industry, upon a large scale, where various degrees of strength and ability may be directed to suitable exertions.
The tithe of the produce of land is a most grievous burthen upon the farmer, and a serious check to agricultural improvements Yet the clergy are intitled to a certain maintenance: and an ecclesiastical establishment respectably supported, is an indispensable part of a well-regulated community. It was always so thought. From the earliest ages, in barbarous as well as in civilized countries, the altar has been placed next to the throne. It was meant as one of its principal supports, and has been fostered sometimes till it became its rival, and even supplanted its benefactors. Still mankind, eager to look into futurity, wished for guides to assist their pursuit, to point out a supreme power, on whose protection they could rely, to show them how to soften his anger, when they
thought they had offended him: to assist them in resisting the influence of evil spirits which they dreaded, to lead them through the toils and cares of a transitory world, to a future state of happiness in a better. Such important functions must always have given a degree of consequence to the ministers of religion, even when their mission was only founded upon craft and imposture.1 But when Melchisedec, priest of the most high God, and king of Salem, received the tithes of Abraham's spoils: when the Mosaical law gave to the ministers of religion the tenth of the produce of the land: the Christian princes thought it was incumbent on them' to follow such precedents established by the authority of a divine' revelation; and what was offered as a boon, the clergy accepted, and ever after claimed as a right, a sacred and indefeasible right.
These high doctrines, however, were exploded at the reformation. Ancient precedents of however high an authority, were not thought binding upon men who lived in different countries in successive ages, and in other circumstances. The Christian code was thought to entitle the ministers of the Gospel to nothing but a sufficient maintenance, to reward their labours, to be regulated by the laws and government of the respective countries where its doc trines were received. In England the present provision was established by the grants of kings and by the law of the land and like all other grants, laws, and establishments, it is liable to be altered, modified, and repealed, as the advantage of the nation, the exi gency of the times, and the safety of the government may require, and by the supreme legislative power of King, Lords, and Commons, in parliament assembled.
- Those, however, in whom tithes are vested, have no doubt at present a legal right to them, and are entitled to some equivalent or sufficient indemnity if they should be set aside, even to relieve the distress they bring upon the agricultural interest of the country.
*Such an indemnity might be given either by a rate of so much in the pound of the rents, as would be a fair equivalent for 'the' tithe now received, or by the purchase of lands in the several parishes, or of stock in the public funds, sufficient to produce an adequate amount of income.
The commutation in land would perhaps be more suitable to the clergy, the purchase of stock in the funds might be a more convenient mode of exchange for the tithe in lay lands.
The means of making such a purchase of the tithe, would be by appropriating a million a year, from the stock raised by annuities before-mentioned, for that purpose, so that the purchase might be made gradually, under the direction of respectable commissioners in every county. Such as the bishop of the diocese, his chancellor, and archdeacons; the lord lieutenant, high sheriff, members of both houses of parliament having estates in the county, together with the members of the grand jury, and the mayors and recorders of the different corporations in the same.
One hundred thousand pounds might be reserved out of the million thus appropriated, to be added to the funds already provided for the augmentation of small livings, till none are less than two hundred a year.
Some political writers have given great offence, and incurred the suspicion of disaffection and revolutionary principles, for speaking disrespectfully of the public meeting called to enquire into the causes of the distress of the country, and to relieve it by voluntary subscriptions. These writers, whatever may be their motive, are very much to blame. The inquiry was loudly called for by the exigency of the times, and though individual subscriptions might not operate a radical cure, they no doubt were both useful and necessary to relieve present distress. Such meetings ought to be called in every parish; the clergy of the Church of England, and dissenting ministers of every denomination, should be warmly requested by the authority of the government, to stimulate the charity and benevolence of their respective congregations in this work of mercy. I blame not those who called the meeting, they did their duty. They called on the men who repeatedly had made a tender of their lives and fortunes, in support of their king and country, to come forth with their advice and assistance in this time of urgent necessity. They came accordingly, they did their duty by attending, they acknowledged and proclaimed the distress. But did they come forward as they ought to relieve it according to their ability? There indeed there is room to blame. There indeed they forgot their situation, neglected their duty, and shut their eyes upon their own danger. Rich men in times of public distress,
stand between two fires, and can only be safe as far as by genero sity and kindness they conciliate the good will of the poor who hate and envy their superiority; and on the other hand, by their readiness to bear their share of public burthens, secure the protection of a government which looks to them for resources, and knows where to find them.
It is a poor excuse to say that the abuse and ridicule thrown upon the meeting froze the intended generosity of the subscribers. Had many of them subscribed ten times what they have given, they would have done no more than they ought, and yet they might have been laughed at for being perhaps as much influenced' by their fears, as by their liberality of sentiments. But is this the unavoidable consequence of wealth? it is the price which must be paid for its possession. Happy are those who can escape with a laugh from the depredation of a mob, or the grasp of a tyrant. It' is high time that those who have made large fortunes by the war, should make great sacrifices to relieve those whom either the war or the peace have brought to distress. To them the people look for the encouragement and support of their industry,' to them they look for the preservation of their liberties, in which the rich have the greatest interest, as an arbitrary government' would reward them for their assistance, by stripping them of their wealth, whenever the exigency of the times called for extraordinary supplies. For arbitrary governments have no moral principle, no idea of justice, no feeling of mercy. In countries where the inquisition was established, no faith, we have heard, was to be kept with heretics, and every man was liable to be suspected of heresy, who was possessed of wealth; there was no jury, no appeal. Look on the government of Turkey and other eastern kingdoms, look back upon the late government and anarchy of France, and hail the blessing of a constitutional monarchy in England: rally round its constitution, heal its wounds, repair its breaches, and keep it inviolate for ever; under the sacred guard of chartered rights, trial by jury, habeas corpus, and above all, the liberty of the press.