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the wise system of our more zealous ancestors has been hitherto very imperfectly acted upon. The long discontinuance of this practice has certainly accumulated difficulties to impede and embarrass its resumption.
« But the general outline being drawn, and sanctioned by the Legislature, the details, in particular instances, might be accommodated to the varying circumstances of individual cases.
.“ Even great and acknowledged difficulties are not permitted to deter the comprehensive mind of the judicious and energetic statesman from undertaking plans of radical and evident utility.
“ If the powers vested in the commissioners appointed to carry into effect such an Act be sufficiently ample and decisive, many difficulties arising from mistaken prejudices, or perverse opposition, may be easily overcome; and on the discretion and ability with which the commissioners discharge the important duties to be entrusted to them, it would, doubtless, depend to remove many minor and unexpected obstacles. Some of the more general and important would of course be anticipated and provided for by the aid of past experience or pru. dent foresight.” (P. 126-130.)
It was not to be expected that Mr. Yates would, in a treatise consisting of little more than 200 pages, enter minutely into the manner of accomplishing this great object. It would have been inconsistent with his excellent sense so to have done. The multiplicity of such a detail, involving consequences certainly very wide in extent, affecting in some degree our poor laws, the rights of property, and the patronage and jurisdiction of the Church, would only have tended to fritter away the consideration of the grand indispensable object which he has placed before the eye of the Legislature; and which, unless it is felt as equal in magnitude to any of the great constituents of our civil polity, will have but small chance of success. Little men, or men with little views, will be sure to make much of little difficulties; and every petty argument of inconvenience will be stretched to its utmost dimensions, in opposition to a measure which proposes an untangible good, and which menaces the sanctuary of the pocket. The Government has enemies, the Church more, real spiritual Christianity most: all these will be in array against a measure far more conducive than any that, in this time of peril, can be devised to secure the high and palmy state to which this nation has arrived, from “all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion; from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of God's word and commandment.”
Mr. Yates has adverted slightly to some of the topics which are necessarily involved in the consideration of the measure. And as, in his manner of treating this part of his subject, he appears to us to have shown great sobriety and discernment, we will again present him to our readers.
“ The present established administration of the poor's rate is thought by many to present an obstacle of considerable magnitude to the plan for dividing the larger into smaller parishes, each with distinct and independent authority in itself. This difficulty hath grown up with the danger to the Church, which now requires a remedy. The alteration which, since the period of the Reformation, hath taken place in the manner of assisting the temporal wants of the poor, renders it now less easy to supply their spiritual necessities by such a division of these extensive districts into smaller parishes, as the purposes of religious instruction absolutely require. But if this difficulty could, by a temperate and discriminating perseverance, be surmounted, the result, by placing the poor under a more direct and personal superintendence of their parish minister and parish officers, giving them more of a Christian character, and of consequence more industry, economy, and temperance, might produce a reduction in the present enormous tax now levied for their relief; and thus offer to the wealthier class of the community advantages not particularly contemplated in the view now intended to be taken of the subject.
“ Most essential and important benefits must accrue to the State, when the parochial divisions of the population are of such a moderate numerical extent, as to enable the parish minister and parish officers to exercise that sort of preventive police which is necessarily dependant upon, and derived from, a personal knowledge and inspection of all the poor and labouring classes. This preventive and corrective police, as it may be termed, is not only far more consonant to the principles of humanity and religion, but is also by far the best means of safety to the rich, and much more conducive to the stability of the state than the vindictive police of punishment.
“ This being one of the most conspicuous advantages to the community resulting from parochial instruction and the residence of the clergy upon their cures, it not only enforces the necessity of legislative interference to provide for and secure such a division of the population as is requisite to the effective administration of this part of our constitutional government; but it also points to the true wisdom, and most bea neficial course of legislation upon the subject of clerical duties and clerical residence. The first object of the law must be to give the greatest degree of attention to the greatest extent of population, and to proportion to the natural and usual powers of an individual the division of that population allotted to the charge of an individual minister. Upon the apportioning of resident clergy, according to the number of inhabitants, and not according to the pecuniary produce, or the superficial surface of parishes, depends all the advantages of an established church in regard to religious instruction and good government. If the people be provided with a resident minister equal to their instruction, it is not very essential to them whether he be rector or curate. But legislative acts that place resident clergy in villages, and operate not upon the immense masses of town population, contribute very little to the safety and protection either of church or state. For, in fact, the most dangerous haunts of vice, that spread their destructive contagion far beyond their own limits, are to be found in those overgrown and uncon
troulable accumulations of uninstructed human beings, where the letter of the residence acts is complied with, but where one resident curate and one set of parish officers have the nominal charge of duties, which, to perform, is a natural impossibility, and which, in other parts of the country, are intrusted to forty or fifty resident ministers, and as many. sets of parish officers.
“ The necessary regulations and enactments of such a law must be expected to interfere with some of the real or supposed interests of individuals. In those instances, just and legal compensations will, of course, be awarded. That some difficulties may occur in the arrangement of boundaries, the purchasing of sites, the valuation of exemptions and privileges, and other minutiæ of detail, can be an objection of no greater weight to a plan conducive and even necessary to the public welfare, than it is to Acts of inclosure: Acts for paving, lighting, and cleansing : Acts for building party-walls : and similar local and district, as well as more general enactments. In all these, certain compulsatory measures are employed, and the owners, landholders, and tenants, the proprietors and occupiers of lands and houses, are placed under a legal necessity of contributing to the public safety and the public convenience.
“ Surely, therefore, similar means may be, and ought to be, resorted to for objects of infinitely higher importance, the moral habits of the people, and consequently the most vital interests, not only of the lower classes, but also of all the superior orders of society.
“ In addition to the prominent difficulty already noticed, another of considerable magnitude may be expected to arise, in regard to a just and respectable maintenance of the ministers to be appointed; and a legal compensation to the present incumbents of those large parishes that it may be necessary to divide, and who, by such division, must be deprived of a great part of their income. This difficulty is the greater, because, in most of the cases, the present ecclesiastical payments are in no sufficient degree proportionate to the numbers of people, or the aggregate worth of the property receiving the protection of the state ; and therefore bound in wisdom and justice to contribute to its preservation. Perhaps the least objectionable, and certainly the most efficient maintenance for the parochial ministers may be found to be the enactment of a small rent-charge in each parochial division, in addition to the established parochial payments and fees, and the rents to be received for a part of the pews in every parish church. Under such an arrangement, the present incumbents might each retain their present church, encircled with a proportionate district, according to its capacity of receiving a congregation; and as this law, if enacted, must be gradual in its operation, the defalcation of income might, under a recommendation from the Honourable House of Commons, be compensated to each of them by one of the cathedral dignities, as vacancies occur, compatible with the parochial duties, and giving a life interest, similar to the present possession.
“ One of the first points requiring attention under the proposed Act, would be, to purchase and convert into parish churches, with districts or bounds of parishes assigned to them, such of the present existing
chapels as may appear to the commissioners suited to that purpose. The proper remuneration to the present proprietors would of course be estimated and awarded according to the legal and usual methods in similar cases. The church duties, and the pastoral care of the allotted district, being assigned to a resident minister appointed under the authority of the Act, parochial communion and connection would be established between the minister and the congregation; and thus would be removed one of the greatest injuries of the present chapel system, the total and absolute separation that now exists between the preacher and his hearers.” (P. 130–137).
We must now, for the present at least, take leave of this awfully interesting subject, oppressed by its magnitude, and exhausted by the solicitude which has accompanied us through the course of our hasty composition. It is most probable that we shall feel ourselves called upon to resume it. In the mean time we indulge the expectation, that Mr. Yates's production will appear to have made the general impression which it is so well calculated to produce. Since the commencement of the British Review, a pamphlet of greater intelligence and importance has not attracted its attention. Now that he has put his hand to the plough, we entreat him not to withdraw it. The subject is, in a great measure, his own. The fervent effectual labours of a pious man will avail much. It is by single efforts that the great deciding impulse has been given to all undertakings of eminent utility and goodness. It is thus that the abolition of the slave trade has been accomplished. One man stood between the living and the dead, and so that plague was stayed. Let Mr. Yates persevere; his prudence will secure him from excess, his sincerity will support his zeal, his intelligence will arm his wishes. While others are cumbered about much serving with respect to the Church, he will be busy about that which is essentially neodful. The city of God with its rising glories will in part own him for its founder : and if any shall hereafter among its new-born structures inquire for his monument, the proper answer will be, CIRCUMSPICE.
ART. XIII.-Roderick, the last of the Goths. By Robert Southey,
Esq. Poet Laureate, and Member of the Royal Spanish Academy. In 2 vols. 12mo. Third Edition. London. Longman and Co. 1815. W e live, and let us feel it a privilege that we do so, in times - that are signalized by the correction of abuses, and the renewal of a vigorous system of activity in many departments, in which a sleepy torpor seemed established by precedent. The office of Poet-laureat ranked proverbially high in this list, and we must confess, that the first effort of Mr. Southey's muse, after he had accepted it, rather damped the hopes of practical reform which such an appointment had encouraged, and led us to fear that the mantle of his predecessors must have descended to him, as an heir-loom most unfortunately attached to his office. We therefore hail with peculiar satisfaction the appearance of a Poem well calculated to dispel this alarm, and to convince us that though “ the cloud-compelling queen” succeeded for a moment in a struggle to maintain her “ old empire,” her dethronement and 'expuision have at length been fully accomplished.
Mr. Southey began his poetical career with rather an ominous disregard of the rule which Horace, knowing probably the extreme to which his brethren are most addicted, has certainly laid down rather broadly; and we suspect that in several other instances, besides that of the noted six-week's epic, the fruits of his genius have wanted that rich flavour which ensures universal applause, in great measure because they have not been allowed time to ripen. If we add to those volumes which bear his name all the works in which his free and masterly hand may be traced, it will be found that his pen is both versatile and active in the extreme; and the marvel will be, that one, who has written so much, should have written so well. Still, in tenderness to his fame, which must ultimately depend, not on the quantity, but the quality of his literary productions, we have often wished to trace in his works some increasing symptoms of elaboration, and are happy to say that our wish has at length been gratified. Indeed he has, in this instance, so far deviated from his usual practice, as to have kept the public for some time in expectation; the poem of which we are about to give some account being, no doubt, the same which was more than once announced as forthcoming in his publishers' prospective list, under the title of “ Pelayo, the Restorer of Spain.” Rapidly, however, as Mr. Southey may have written in former instances, his productions have uniformly borne strong and decided marks of a rich and vigorous imagination, an ear nicely tuned to the harmony of eloquence, and an elevated tone of moral sentiment. These, and other praiseworthy qualities, have been counterbalanced in different instances by a puerile affectation of simplicity, a boldness amounting to temerity in the assumption of metrical licence, and a wild extravagance of fiction which has divested his leading characters of that power of exciting the interest of sympathy, which the magic wand of Nature has confined within the circle of human possibilities. If we may be allowed rather to exceed the bounds of our peculiar province, at the impulse of a feeling too pleasurable to be resisted, we would cordially congratulate Mr. Southey on the eminent proofs afforded by his last poem, of