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On the Condition of Poor Curates..
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
Ou reading the Gentleman's Magazine for December last, I was much gratified by the perusal of the following Letter; which, as it forcibly de scribes the distressing and pitiable situation of many a poor, though must worthy member of the Church, I trust that an insertion of it in your next piumber will not be unacceptable to your numerous readers, and may, perhaps, attract the notice of some one, who will exert his interest m behalf of this numerous and injured body of the clergy. :* .. Feb. 21, 1805.
A Kentisu CURATE..
.. NovemBER 27.'
"T VERY true friend of his country will rejoice to learn, · that our brave defenders are immediately to be rewarded by an augmentation of their pay: Ensigns are to Teceive 78. a day; Lieutenants Is.; Captains 12s.; and Field-Officers in proportion. Government has also wisely advanced the salary of all their inferior officers employed in collecting the revenue, postmasters, excise officers, &c.” from a conviction of the insufficiency of the former allowances to answer the exigences of the present period. At a time, when such proper and necessary methods have been adopted to alleviate the distresses, and add to the comforts of the above, I humbly submit to the consideration of all unprejudiced persons, whether (during such a general commiseration) prudence or justice would die tate such a total disregard to (what I shall, notwithstanding, denominate) a deserving although an unfortunate class of the community; I mean our Poor CURATES, whilst their employers have had the opportunity and also em-, braced it, of more than doubling their incomes by the advances made in their liyings within the last few years. Are these unfortunate men excluded from any claiin to the protection of their country under the pressure of these hard times? Does their past conduet entitle them to no consideration. I believe the preinises will warrant no such conclusions; but that it will appear that, when French principles were industriously propagated amongst
the mass of the people, they have zealously and perseveringly watched their progress, and boldly and success fully attacked and exposed their baneful effects, by contrasting them with the superior blessings enjoyed by Britons, under their envied and admired constitution. For such patient perseverance in their duty at least, if no higher degree of virtue be due to it, how have they been rewarded? Alas, I blush to reply. They have, not only experienced the most indifferent neglect, but also the most poignant insults. Their expectations were raised by the late Curate's Act; and dismal have been the consequences. Soon, too soon it may be said, did human nature shew its tendency, by being buoyed up by a false hope, so as to aim at the laudable ambition of establishing the appearance of the clerical character as respectable and useful as its rank in society seemed to require ; consequently, they ventured to assume more decent apparel, to add something to their scanty fare, and perhaps to bestow an additional mite in charity, vainly expecting, that the proposed augmentation of their stipends, held out to them by the interference of the LegisJature, would enable them to do so; but they had scarcely tried those ideal wings in the sunshine of imaginary prosperity, before the fate of Icarus became theirs. Having incurred a debt, which an amelioration of their circum'stances flattered them with the power to discharge, they
were afterwards abandoned, at least to the rigorous, if .not extravagant exactions of creditors, who never knew how to feel for the distressed, if not to the scorn aud contempt of all their acquaintance. It would be idle to say, that here and there a solitary instance occurs of the benefits of the said act, and ihat one or two of our reverend prelates have availed themselves of the authority given them to relieve the necessities of their poor brethren ; but as it happens so seidom, it is entirely lost in the great mass of general distress. They have now in this world only one ray of hope to keep them from desponden.cy, and their eyes are lifted towards the Lord High Chan.cellor, who mentioned their case in the last session; and as i he has neyer been known to abandon a cause, wherein the . interest of so many of his fellow-creatures is concerned, they still hope and earnestly pray, that he will exert his eminent abilities in their behalf as early as possible. Policy and religion will second the efforts. The warm sentiments of veneration which the inferior as well as
superior order of the Clergy have always entertained of the goodness, as well as wisdom of the legislature, has hitherto prevented their importuning it with a petition in their behalf; and they pray that such a measure will never be resorted to on account of their grievances being anticipated by an amelioration, if not a total removal. 1
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE. MR. EDITOR, T BEG leave to request: the sentiments of some of your I Correspondents better versed in Ecclesiastical matters than I am, on two points. As to the first,-since the living of St. James's Clerkenwell has been in a state of sequestration, the churchwardens have circulated through, out the parish, certain resolutions of the trustees of the Church, for letting the pews at an annual or quarterly rent, and offering to such persons who had purchased their pews, and were desirous of relinquishing them, a return of the purchase money originally given for such pews. The 10th resolution is as follows,“ should any pew or seat remain unlet for the space of six calendar months, the churchwarden for the time being, may let the same to any person who shall be desirous to take seats, although they do not reside in the parish.” Now Sir, according to my humble judgment it is extremely unjust, and unwarrantable, to furnish accommodation at our Church for strangers, that is, persons who are extraparochial, on paying for such accommodation, in preference to those who are parishioners, but may not be able to pay for seats, and who I conceive have, as inhabitants, a clear and indisputable right to be accommodated in those seats which may not be appropriated to the use of other parishioners. I take this to be too evident to ad. mit of an argument: every parish Church having been built for the use of the parishioners. But what I am.de sirous to know is, whether it is not. utterly, inconsistent. with our Ecclesiastical system to let any of the seats of our
Church to those who do not reside in the parish, more particularly for our church officers to hold out a formal and public invitation to such persons to apply for that purpose, and to make an express provision for their accommodation. This is at least to me quite a novel proceeding, though I am not ignorant that our Gospel Ministers as they arrogantly call themselves, think nothing of drawing away the inhabitants of other parishes from the congregations to which they properly belong, both far and near to hear them “ preach the word of truth;" thus, interfering with the spiritual office, and duties of the neighbouring clergy, and breaking down those fences of order and regularity, which our Church hath wisely erected.--I very well know, that your self-called Evangelical Ministers, think we cannot do better than to forsake our parish Churches, to run after them, and become their followers. To have itching ears is with them a merit instead of a fault, and a sign of being in the right kay. But to return, is not the conduct of our churchwardens in the case I have described, a palpable vidlation of Ecclesiastical discipline? It is certainly contrary to the canons of the Church which expressly direct the churchwardons to mark if strangers come often from other · perishes to their church, and to forbid them, and remit
them home to their own parish church. Now, our Church. Wardens so far from forbidding those who live out of the parish, to frequent our church, publicly invite them to do so, and even declaredly give them a preference over parishioners! Some of your learned correspondents will, I hope, think it worth their while to throw some more particalar light on this subject, at a period when innovation is making such deep inroads upon the order and government of our excellent Church.
I now proceed to state the other point on which I den sire to have the opinion of some one of your intelligent Teaders, who may be informed on such a subject. For several months since the living of St. James's Clerken#ell, became vacant by the decease of uie later incum bent, Mr. Foster has served the church on the Sunday morning. He is, as I date say you know, one of the Evangelical order, and in addition to the regular parish congregation, a swarm of followers never fails to attend
381120 Deu os no *Vide SIRES's First Dialogue between a Minister of the Church and His Parislüoner, concerning the Christian's liberty of chasmghis-Peacher. him;. from various and different parts of the metropolis and its environs. These people used at first, to make no ceremony of, letting themselves into pews, even while those who belonged to them were seated in them. To prevent such improper intrusions, several respectable inhabitants have put. locks on their pews, so as to prevent persons from introducing themselves therein, in the way
after the owners enter their pews and lock them, the beadle goes round and opens them, and lets in whom he chuses. : I have known some of the regular and rightful oceupants of pews, so crowded and hemmed in by these forward visitors, whó generally speaking, are not of the most decent and cleanly appearance, as to be put to ex
20 Febi Jouane
the beadles, or rather the churchwardens (for the beadles; act ander their authority) have any right to fill my pew without my permission, and against my known desire, with whom they please, while I or any of my family are in possession? A few Sundays ago, I saw a pew.which never could have been intended to hold more than six persons, with eleven in it, several were obliged to stand, and those who did sit, were-squeezed up together as close as possible !
EUSEBIUS, 26 Feb: 1805
P.S. There is another evil of which our parish cona gregation have to complain, among many other evils with which the new order of things in Clerkenwell Church is accompanied. Mr. Foster is particularly fond of preaching, or I should rather say haranguing, about 1 56 the lusts of the flesh.” This is unquestionably a fit subject for the pulpit: but it should be treated of in a decorous manner, so as not to offend delicacy, which is frequently done by the preacher, I have just mentioned, who never expatiates on the above topic, without indulg. ing himself in a grossness of expression, which would, I conceive be improper to appear in the pages of your Magazine, and which could not be inserted without disgusting your readers. I am not conscious Mr. Editor, of being squeamish, and I can truly say, that I dislike squeamishness wherever I find it, and whether I am so, in the epithet, I have just applied to the language of Mr. Foster, I leave to the female part of his congregation 9. Vol. VIII. Churchm. Mag. April 1805. Kk to