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from one to two millions of quarters, but, owing to the increased la. bour necessary to produce the second million, the relative value of raw produce is so advanced, that the 200,000 may be, though only twice in quantity, yet in value three or four times that of the 100,000 quarters which were paid before.
If an equal value were raised for the Church by any other means, increasing in the same manner as tithes increase, proportionably with the difficulty of cultivation, the effect would be the same. The Church would be constantly obtaining an increased portion of the net produce of the land and labour of the country. In an improving state of society, the net produce of the land is always diminishing in proportion to its gross produce ; but it is from the net income of a country that all taxes are ultimately paid, either in a progressive or in a stationary country. A tax increasing with the gross income, and falling on the net income, must necessarily be a very burdensome, and a very intolerable tax. Tithes are a tenth of the gross, and not of the net produce of the land ; and, therefore, as society improves in wealth, they must, though the same proportion of the gross produce, become a larger and larger portion of the net produce. ' *
The increased oppressiveness of tithes, from the increased difficulty of raising raw produce, has been fully admitted by those who consider them as falling entirely on the rent of the landlord, and as affording the best means of providing for the support of the Church. The Reverend Mr Howlett, Vicar of Dunmow, in Essex, and advantageously known by his pamphlets on Population and the Poor-laws, published, in 1801,
An Essay on the Influence of Tithes on Agriculture,' in which we meet with the following distinct recognition of this principle.
' Tithes, as legally and constitutionally settled in this kingdom, and as far as respects many of the fruits of the earth, are the tenth of the produce, subject to none of the expenses of cultivation, nor of severance from the ground; liable, however, to the land-tax, and parochial rates of every denomination; as also to the charges of col. lecting, and preparing them for, and carrying them to, market. Hence it is apparent that the real value of all such tithes increases faster than the value of the titheable lands, in the exact proportion of the increasing expense of cultivation, and of severance : and as these expenses have been rapidly advancing for many years past, the disproportion between the increasing value of tithes and of titheable lands, has been growing every day greater and greater.--Accordingly, when I look round this neighbourhood, I find that, in the course of the last fifty years, while the rents of farms have been advancing, upon an average, about ONE FOURTH, the real value of the tithes has been nearly TRIPLED; consequently they have been increasing about twelve times as fast as the rents of the lands from which they were pro
* Prineiples of Political Economy and Taxation, 1st edit. p. 228.
duced ; and hence it is also manifest that, in time, the tithes may be equal to, or greater than, the rent. This, indeed, is already the case with regard to some articles of expensive culture. It not unfrequently happens that the tithe of an acre of hops is nearly worth 3l. or 4l., after the deduction of drying and duty-while, perhaps, the annual rent of the ground is only 40s. or 50s.; and I have known the tithe of an acre of carrot-seed worth seven or eight guineas, upon land let for less than a pound.'-p. 3,
It is not possible to form any precise estimate of the value of the tithes paid to the clergy and the lay-impropriators. In Mr Cove's Essay on the Revenues of the Church of England, published in 1796, the tithes belonging to the clergy are estimated at 1,562,000l., and those belonging to the laity at 192,0001., amounting together to 1,754,000l. There cannot, however, be a doubt that this estimate was a great deal too low; as it was a principal object with Mr Cove to represent tithes as a trifling burden; and his computations are throughout extremely loose and unsatisfactory. The Reverend Doctor Beeke, in his valua.. ble pamphlet on the Income-tax, published in 1799, has bestow. ed a good deal of attention on this subject; and the result of his investigation gives the entire value of the tithes then collected. in England and Wales at 2,800,000. But, the average price of corn for the last ten years has been considerably more than double its average price for the ten years ending with 1799; and when the increased extent of cultivation is also taken into account, we shall certainly be warranted in concluding, that the value of the tithes must now be at least double their value at the former epoch: And hence, supposing Dr Beeke's estimate to be nearly accurate, they must now amount to 5,600,000l.,-& sum which, great as it is, is yet, we believe, considerably underrated.
For we should form a very erroneous conclusion indeed, if we supposed that the value of the tithes received by the clergy and the lay-impropriators, is equivalent to the whole extent of the burden they occasion to the community. Exclusive of the lands formerly belonging to the greater abbeys, the rent of which is now supposed to exceed two and a half millions, and which are entirely exempted from tithe, a considerable extent of other lands, in virtue of claims of prescription, of payments of ancient moduses and compositions, or by special Act of Par, liament, is nearly in the same situation. But, as we have already shown, the produce raised on these lands is notwithstanding sold at the same price as the produce raised on the lands which are fully tithed. `In these cases, the landlords are in fact the proprietors of the tithes; and it is they, and not the public, who are
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benefited by the exemption. An example will set this princi. ple in a clearer point of view.-Suppose that an annual supply of one million of hats is required to meet the demand,--that they cannot be produced for less than 10s. each, and that the Government imposes a tax of 1s., or a tithe, on 100,000 of these hats ;-it is obvious that in these circumstances the price of the whole hats would immediately rise to 11s.; for, if they did not, no person would buy the taxed hats; and their producers not being able to obtain the ordinary rate of profit, would invest their stock in some other employment. In this case, therefore, the Government, by levying a tithe on 100,000 hats would only acquire a revenue of 50001.; but the total extent of the burden thus imposed on the public would really be equal to 50,0001., of which 45,0001. would go into the pockets of the manufacturers of those hats which were exempted from this charge. Now, this is precisely the case with the tithes paid to the clergy and the laity. They increase the price of the produce raised on those lands which are relieved from them, to a par with its price on those from which they are exacted to the utmost extent.
It is easy from this to perceive, that it will not do to consider the additional burden thus entailed on the community, as limited to the increased rents obtained by the owners of tithefree farms in England. The landlords of Scotland must gain equally by being exempted from this charge. The produce of this division of the United Kingdom, is freely admitted into those markets which are chiefly supplied by the produce raised on the tithed lands in the other divisions; and its value must, in consequence, be proportionably advanced. If tithes are really an advantageous tax, they ought undoubtedly to press equally on all qualities of land. As now levied, a very large proportion, perhaps not less than one half of their total amount, is not received by the clergy, for whose use they were originally intended, or by the lay-impropriator, but by the landlords of Scotland, and the owners of tithe-free lands in England.
It is true, that if an equal revenue were raised for the support of the Church by any other tax, which should vary pro, portionably to the expenses of cultivation, its effect, when considered only with reference to the sum taken from the pockets of the public, would be the same. But, as tithes are now levied, they amount, as we have just seen, to a much larger sum than is received by the clergy ;-and, what is still worse, they are a perpetual source of divisions and contentions between the pastor and his flock. The clergy cannot certainly be blamed for exacting payment of that portion of the produce of the soil which the law has set apart for their support; nor is there any
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set of men more deserving of a liberal provision, or whose labours conduce more to the public advantage. It is the manner in which they are provided for, that is vicious and objectionable. Perhaps the circumstance of the provision for the maintenance of the clergy, being chiefly derived from a heavy tax on the most indispensable of all necessaries, is the least revolting part of the system. It will not be denied, that the influence and usefulness of a clergyman must mainly depend on his possessing the esteem and affection of his parishioners. But, so long as stipends are paid by tithes, this esteem and affection, in most cases, if not in all, cannot be acquired, except by a sacrifice, on the part of the incumbent, of a portion of his income. • The rate of tithe is a tolerable barometer of the love or dislike of parishioners; where they are higher than ordinary, you may be certain of finding a turbulent divine, who will have his rights, regardless whether he is liked or disliked. If, on the contrary, they are moderately exacted, the love and respect of his neighbours follows of course.'* It would be of no use to tell a farmer, that the greater the rigour with which tithe is exacted, the higher must be the price of corn. He only sees the immediate sacrifice he is called on to make; and he does not give himself the least trouble about the ultimate effects which may result from it. Besides, prices would be equally high if the tithe was exacted from the worst lands only; and the farmers of the richer lands have, in truth, a real as well as an apparent interest to reduce the tithe to the lowest possible amount. It is undeniable, that this system holds out a bounty to extortion and rapacity, on the one hand, and to fraud and chicanery, on the other. It has often set the duty and the interest of the clergy in opposition to each other; and has done more to paralyze their exertions, and to deprive them of the esteem of their parishioners, than all the efforts of all the infidels and sectaries that ever existed. In the emphatic language of Mr Grattan, 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.' No better plan could have been devised to disseminate the worst vices, and to make the ministers of the Gospel of Peace the unwilling instruments of endless litigation and implacable animosities.
To the credit of the Church of England it ought to be mentioned, that the clergy seldom carry their claim for tithes to its full extent; and that they are, in general, much less rigorous in their demands than the lay-impropriators. But, in despite of this moderation, tithes constitute an extremely heavy burden.
* Survey of the County of Clare, p. 186.
Mr Stevenson, the well-informed author of the Agricultural Survey of the County of Surrey, published in 1809, states (p. 92.), that, although tithes are not more rigorously exacted there than in most other counties in England, it is the common opinion, that a farm tithe-free, is better worth 20s. an acre than , a tithed farm, equally favoured in soil and situation, is worth 13s.
This may, at first sight, appear a disproportioned difference ; but a little reflection will satisfy us why it should be so great. Considerably more than the mere value of the tithe must be taken into account. The tithe is a variable tax. It increases not only according to the gradual increase of cultivation in general, but it increases proportionably to the greater expenditure of capital and labour on each particular farm. No doubt, in this, as in every other case, the farmer is completely indemnified for the tithe; for otherwise he would not expend this additional capital. But he does not think so. He pays his rent willingly to the landlord; but he considers the tithe-proprietor as an interloper who, without having contributed to raise the crop, claims a share of the produce. The fear of being subjected to this demand, unquestionably contributes to check the progress of improvement, and to cramp the exertions of the farmer. The occupier of a farm subject to this charge, can never be brought to consider himself as realizing the same profit from the capital he employs, as his neighbours in the tithe-free farms; and hence a considerably greater increase of prices is necessary to induce him to lay out additional capital, than would be necessary were he relieved from this tax. In this way tithes contribute indirectly, as well as directly, to raise prices-directly, by the positive addition which they make to the expenses of the cultivators of bad land—and indirectly, by generating an indisposition to apply fresh capital to the improvement of the soil. Of all institutions,' says Dr Paley, who cannot surely be reckoned unfriendly to the real interests of the Church, 6 adverse to cultivation and improvement, none is so noxious as that of tithes. A claimant here enters into the produce, who contributed no assistance whatever to the production. When years, perhaps, of care and toil have matured an improvementwhen the husbandman sees new crops ripening to his skill and industry—the moment he is ready to put his sickle to the grain, he finds himself compelled to divide the harvest with a stranger.
Tithes are a tax, not only upon industry, but upon that industry which feeds mankind, upon that species of exertion which it is the aim of all wise laws to cherish and promote.'
But it is to Ireland, and not to England, that we must direct our attention, if we wish to see the tithe system in its