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for potatoe ground, and an additional 10s. or 12s. for tithe! *
The evil must have increased since; and it is rendered more grievous and intolerable, from the prevailing custom of taking a promissory note from the cotters in lieu of the tithe. When this promissory note becomes due, the poor cotter is generally unable to pay it; and his cow, as the readiest article, is laid hold of and exposed to public auction. Judge,' says Mr Wakefield, ' what must be the feelings of the half-famished cotter, surrounded by a wretched family clamorous for food, when he sees the tenth part of the produce of his potatoe garden exposed to public cant; or, if he has given a promissory note for a certain sum of money, to compensate for such tithe, when it becomes due, to hear the heart-rending cries of his offspring clinging round him, and lament. ing for the milk of which they are deprived, by the cow's being sold to discharge the debt. Such accounts are not the creation of fancy, the facts do exist, and are but too common in Ireland.-1,' continues Mr Wakefield, · have seen the cow, the favourite cow, driven away, accompanied by the sighs, the tears, and the imprecations of a whole family, who were paddling after, through wet and dirt, to take their last affectionate farewell of this their only friend and benefactor at the pound-gate. I have heard with emotions, which I can scarcely describe, deep curses repeated from village to village as the cavalcade proceeded. I have witnessed the group pass the domain walls of the opulent grazier, whose numerous herds were cropping the most luxuriant pastures, whilst he was secure from any demand for the tithe of their produce, looking on with the most unfeeling indifference. But let us reverse the picture, and behold the effects which are produced by oppression so insufferable as to extinguish every sentiment in the breast, but a desire of revenge. I have beheld, at night, houses in
flames, and for a moment supposed myself in a country exposed to · the ravages of war, and suffering from the incursions of an enemy. On the following morning, the most alarming accounts of Thrashers and White-boys have met my ear; of men who had assembled with weapons of destruction, for the purpose of compelling people to swear not to submit to the payment of their tithes. I have been informed of these oppressed people, in the ebullition of their rage, having murdered tithe-proctors and collectors, wreaking their vengeance with every mark of the most savage barbarity. Cases of this kind are not rare in Ireland; THEY TAKE PLACE DAILY; And were a history of such tragical events collected, they would form a work which could not be read without horror, and which would be the best comment upon the system.'t.
If any additional evidence were wanting of the pernicious and destructive effects which have resulted from the manner in
* Grattan's Speeches, Vol. I. p. 148.
which tithes are levied in Ireland, it might be found in the examinations of the leaders of the rebellion in the Houses of Lords and Commons. On Lord Clare's asking Mr Thomas Emmet, whether he thought Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform any objects with the common people, he answered, • As to Catholic Emancipation, I don't think it matters a fea
ther, or that the poor think of it; as to Parliamentary Re• form, I don't think the common people ever thought of it un6 til it was inculcated to them, that a reform in Parliament ( would cause a removal of those grievances which they actually
do feel.' When Mr Emmet was questioned by Mr Foster, in the House of Commons, whether the Catholics peculiarly objected to tithes; he answered, “They certainly have the best
right to complain; but I rather think they object more as teo nants than as Catholics-and in common with the rest of the • tenantry in the kingdom; and if any other way of paying even
a Protestant Establishment, which did not bear so sensibly 6 upon their industry, were to take place, I believe it would go
a great way to content them.' On Dr M‘Nevin's being asked whether Mr Grattan's motion relative to tithes was not a short cut towards putting down the Established Church ? he replied, “If the stability of the Established Church depends on
the payment of tithes, the Church stands on a weaker founda• tion than in civility I would have said of it; but of this I am sure--that, if tithes had been commuted according to Mr Grat-,
tan's plan, å very powerful engine would have been taken out of 6 our hands.'
Surely it is now high time to endeavour to devise some less partial and less oppressive means of providing for the support of the Establishment. For upwards of sixty years—from the era of the Whiteboys down to that of the Ribbonmen-Ireland has constantly, or with a few short intervals only excepted, been a prey to excesses arising from this cause. The gibbet, that ready and perpetual resource of weak and vindictive legislators, has groaned under the weight of criminals; and the country has been outraged and disgraced by the incessant recurrence of bloody and barbarous executions. But tranquillity has not been, and could not be restored, by such means. "If we expect to free Ireland from these sanguinary atrocities, we must attack the evil in its sources, and not content ourselves with lopping off the limbs it has vitiated. " The true principle with respect to your
peasantry is exoneration; and if I could not take the burden ç entirely off their back, I would make it as light as possible, ! -I would exempt the peasant's corn and garden from tithes ; $ if I could not make him rich, I would do the next thing in my
< power; I would consider his poverty as sacred, and protect « against an extortioner, the hallowed circle of his little boun• dary.'-Mr Grattan's Speech, 14th July, 1788.
As might have been expected, a variety of plans have been suggested for putting a stop to the gross and flagrant abuses of the tithe system, by raising an equivalent income for the clergy in lieu of tithe. To effect this most desirable object, it has been proposed to assess the landlords of the different counties in such a sum as would be sufficient to buy estates yielding a rent equal to the present value of the tithes, which should be exclusively applied for the support of the clergy. It would, however, be manifestly unjust to burden one class of society with the cost of a measure which would be so greatly beneficial to every other class. It is true, the increased facilities it would give to future improvements, would render the abolition of the tithe particularly advantageous to owners of estates; but the public in general would be equal gainers by the fall which it would occasion in the price of raw produce. Although, therefore, the landlords should be made to contribute a larger proportion than the others, the estates for the clergy ought certainly to be purchased by a tax levied from the country in general. But, besides the difficulty of raising so very large a sum as would be required for these purposes, this measure is liable to other objections. It would have the effect of adding prodigiously to the landed property in mortmain, and it would have a strong tendency to sink the character of the clergyman in that of the farmer. The clergyman ought not to be set a-bargaining and higgling with squires, farmers, and labourers. The less he comes into contact with them, in this way, so much the better. It is extremely difficult to reconcile the two characters of a good farmer and a zealous and attentive clergyman.
However, if there were no other method of getting rid of this odious and oppressive burden, the objections against commuting tithes for landed property, would certainly be entitled to very little weight. But we incline to think, that the proposal for a commutation by means of a poundage on rents, would, on the whole, be more eligible. Were this plan adopted, some such machinery as that by which the Income tax was collected, would suffice to levy the rate at a very small expense; and while the clergy would be secured in all their just rights, an end would be put to all disputes between the incumbent and his parishioners.
The same objection may perhaps be made to this plan that we urged against the former, that instead of distributing the burden of providing for the Church equally over the commu
nity, it would throw it entirely on the proprietors of lands and houses. But a poundage on rent would not really have this effect. Rent, in its common acceptation, it must be recollected, includes not merely the sum paid to the landlord for the use of the natural and inherent powers of the soil, but also the sum paid him for the use of the necessary buildings and fences, and for the other improvements which may have been made on its surface. This portion of rent consists really of the profits of the capital vested in these buildings and improvements, and consequently would not be affected by a poundage or tax on rent. Neither a landlord nor a farmer would erect a steading, or lay out any capital, either in the bringing in of new, or the amelioration of old land, unless the price of raw produce were such as, exclusive of all expenses, would yield the common rate of profit. But as this profit would be denominated rent, and would, by the proposed plan, be subjected to a poundage, it is obvious that no such expenditure of capital would take place until prices had been proportionably advanced. It is not possible to say what portion of the rental of the kingdom is made up of interest of capital, and what of a compensation for the use of the powers of the soil. Unquestionably, however, the former amounts to a very large proportion of the rent derived from good soils, and to almost the whole of that derived from those of an inferior quality. Now, it is plain, that a poudage on this portion of rent would neither fall on the landlords nor the tenants, but on the consumers of raw produce, or, which is the same thing, on the coantry in general. Thus far, therefore, a poundage on rents would be an equal tax; and the additional portion, which would fall exclusively on the landlord, would not be more than a reasonable equivalent for the peculiar advantagès he would derive from the abolition of tithes.
Should this plan be adopted, it would be proper to levy the poundage equally from rents of every description. It is alike inconsistent with justice and with common sense, that, because an estate happened, some three hundred and fifty years ago, to belong to a monastery, it should now be exempted from all charge on account of the Establishment. But, as the law now stands, it is more than exempted-it is, as we have shown, actually enriched by the burdens imposed on others! This monstrous anomaly should be tolerated no longer. If any exemptions were made, it ought to be in favour of occupancies below 101. or 201. a year in value. It would be well to relieve the cotters of Ireland entirely of this tax; but, whether that were done or not, the grass lands of that kingdom, and the tithe-free lands of England, ought unquestionably to be made to contribute equally with the rest to the support of the Church,
Were a poundage on rents substituted for tithes, that part of the income of the Church derived from rents, properly so termed, would still increase with every increase in the difficulty of production; but that part which was derived from the profits of capital, and which had to be defrayed by the public, instead of increasing, as at present, proportionably to the gross produce of the soil, would only increase proportionably to the net profit of the stock employed in its cultivation. This would be a very great advantage. It would give the clergy every fair benefit to which they are entitled; and would save the public from the scourge of a system of taxation which must necessarily increase in a greater ratio than the means of paying it.
That there would be many and serious difficulties in the way of such a commutation as is here proposed, cannot be doubted. But they are not insurmountable; and ought not to be allowed to weigh one grain in the balance when set against the advantages that would result from carrying it into effect. Such a measure would occasion a very considerable fall in the price of the necessaries of life; it would relieve the country from the worst of all taxes--a tax increasing with its gross, and payable out of its net income; it would restore that harmony and good understanding between the clergyman and his parishioners, so essential to the best interests of society; and it would do more to secure the peace, tranquillity, and improvement of Ireland, than any measure which has ever received the sanction of the Legislature.
Art. IV. Memoirs of the Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds ; with
some Obscrvations on his Talents and Character. By JOSEPH FARINGTON, R. A. London, Cadell & Davies. 1819.
This, with regard to its main object, must certainly be re
1 garded as a superfluous publication. Forty years after the death of Sir Joshua, Mr Farington has found himself called upon to put forth a thin octavo volume, to revive the recollection of the dispute between their late President and the Academy, and to correct an error into which Mr Malone had fallen, in supposing that Sir Joshua was not entirely to blame in that business. This is a remarkable instance of the tenaciousness of corporate bodies with respect to the immaculate purity of their conduct. It was at first suggested that printed notes might be sufficient, with references to the pages of Mr Malone's account: but it was finally judged best to give it as a connected