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larity between this legal provision and lish lawyers, that if the rate-payers the Church-rates of England. It has should refuse a rate, it may be fixed been argued with regard to the latter, and authorized otherwise, and levied that they are not, like the tithes, a pro- by legal execution; nor is it denied perty of the Church, but merely a tax that cases of this description bave imposed by the rate-payers themselves occurred in practice. And just so for the purposes of the Church ; if, it is with our Scotch assessment. however, there is any ground for such If the proprietors of a parish shall voa distinction, it is one which exists luntarily assess themselves for the purequally in both these cases. But it is pose for which a contribution may be manifest that there is no ground for required, the law will not interpose in such a distinction; the obligation in the matter ; but if they shall fail to do both cases is inherent in the property; so, then the presbytery, either ex proand although our Scotch assessment, prio motu, or on the application of any having once been imposed and become one interested, may call on them to do due, is a burden not on the property, so, and on their refusal, our Supreme but only on the proprietor and his Court will compel the requisite conrepresentatives, and therefore does not tribution. pass with the property, it is known to In truth, the more closely we apevery lawyer that this is the case proach this subject, the more we shall with tithe likewise. This assessment be convinced that the two cases run is further made, as in England, by the parallel with each other throughout votes of the contributors; and it may nearly their whole course. It would be noticed, as a striking circum- appear, no doubt, that in England it stance of coincidence between the two is sometimes sought to evade the rate, systems; that the majority is deter- either by voting an inadequate or elumined, not by reference to the amount sory contribution, or by an adjournof property (which might afford some ment of the vestry when convened for countenance to the argument that the the purpose of assessment. This, howtwo imposts are founded on different ever, is plainly nothing else than a fraud principles), but solely by reference to on the law; and we believe it is the prenumbers.
valent opinion that, as such, it is not We are sometimes told that in Eng. beyond the reach of the courts comland the tax in question is voluntary-a petent to such questions. But, at all singular enough kind of tax surely; and events, it is not beyond the reach of a most comfortable and convenient one. the Legislature, and it really seems It turns out, however, on examination, monstrous to say, that because a tax that, like other taxes, it is voluntary may be fraudulently evaded, it is thereonly until the payment of it is refused. fore, in any legislative discussion of the For it seems to be agreed by all Eng subject, to be spoken of as illegal.
* We have already said that we abstain from entering on any of the legal discussions involved in this question, as hardly suited to our pages; but we cannot omit merely to notice here the pamphlet recently published by the Attorney-General, in the form of a letter to Lord Stanley, in vindication of that unfortunate speech which, as our readers may remember, was dealt with by his Lordship “ in his best manner." With all respect for so eminent a lawyer, we must say that this performance seems to us to be one of the most unsuccessful pleadings we ever met with just such a pleading, we think, as the author might desire to meet with from a legal adversary. Sir John here admits the legality of Church-rates when imposed by the vestry, and the power of enforcing payment of them; and he further admits that, if the vestry shall be called on to assemble for the purpose of making a rate, and shall refuse to do so, it may be fixed by the churchwardens. But then he maintains that, if the vestry shall meet and refuse a rate, there is no remedy. He allows that (in conformity with what we have ventured to state on this point), if the refusal of a rate were incompetent, the attempt to evade it by adjournment would be regarded by the law as “ a shallow device," to which no countenance could be given ; but he asserts, that when refused by the parishioners, there are no means of obtaining it. And how does he support a position so suspiciously inconsistent with the second of the admissions to which we have just referred? Why, by stating a variety of methods, such as application to a court of law, application to a court of equity, and immediate application to the ecclesiastical courts, which, he assures us, are not effectual in order to make a rate in such circumstances! After thus most needlessly disposing, with a great parade of learning, of the negative side of the It thus appears that the burden of clergy, are at present constructed and building and repairing a Scotch church maintained on the lowest scale which and parsonage, as distinguished from is consistent with the respectability, or the payment of stipend, is, at least in perhaps the existence, of even our simple its general nature and principles, in all Establishment; but if the legal prorespects similar to the burden of vision for their support were thus Church-rates as distinguished from withdrawn, they must speedily fall tithe. If, therefore, the Church-rates into such a state of dilapidation and are to be pronounced a grievance ruin as to reduce our national religion which ought to be abolished, how are to a mere name; and, probably, to we to escape the same conclusion render it better, that our people should with regard to what are virtually be abandoned at once to the irregular nothing else than the Church-rates and perilous elements of " the volunof our own country ? Surely they tary system." will not be said to be less a grievance In this observation as to the mean because, as we believe, they are com- ness of our parish churches and parparatively greater in amount, and sonages, we would not be thought to of more extensive application in the overlook the manifest improvement in maintenance of our National Church? this matter which, to the credit of our If they are an evil, this of course is landed proprietors, has taken place, only an aggravation of it; and the even within our own memory. But bardship which they impose on every to what is that improvement to be proprietor in Scotland should, on the ascribed ? Evidently to the system principles of the abolitionists, be re- whereby the maintenance of these dressed without delay. Yet every edifices is made to depend on local Scotchman knows-and none know contribution. It has often been obbetter than most of the petitioners to served that, even supposing we had a whom we have referred - that any national fund appropriated to this measure for the redress of this “ griev- purpose, its application would be in ance" would be the death-blow of the many ways more difficult, more exChurch of Scotland: and for this simple pensive, and more unthrifty, than that and unanswerable reason, that there is of a local fund, and that in these no other fund from which, directly or points, therefore, there are manifest indirectly, the purposes of which we advantages in the latter. But, abovo have spoken could be supplied. Our all, the local support of our ecclesias. parish churches, and the houses of our tical edifices seems to us to be recom
question, he comes at length, however, to the only point at issue-whether, if the Vestry thus refuse a rate, the church wardens can make it of their own authority, and have it enforced by application to the competent courts. Sir John maintains that they cannot do this : but how does he support his opinion ? Not by citation of legal authorities to that effect : for he admits that these are all the other way, and he expressly mentions the opinions of three legal writers of high name, and two reported cases, in which the right of the church wardens thus to fix and enforce a rate is recognised in the most express terms. He tells us, to be sure, that these opinions and judgments are erroneous; but for this he gives us no dulhority but his own : and as for his argument on this point, it seems to have no bearing whatever on the subject. If we understand it rightly, it amounts to this, that the church wardens cannot impose a rate in such circumstances, because it has been held that, not being liable for church repairs, unless in so far as they have funds in their hands for that purpose, they cannot impose a retrospective rate—that is to say, a rate for the payment of repairs which have already been made by them : than which it has never been our fortune, in speech or pamphlet, to meet with a more perfect non sequitur. · We have always understood that, in legal questions, arguments or analogies, even if well-founded, were of but small value when opposed to authorities : but here there is neither argument nor analogy-nay, not even mystification.
Sir John's pamphlet, therefore, seems only to afford additional evidence of the soundness of those legal opinions on this subject to which we have more than once referred in the course of these observations. We may add, that it will be found strongly to confirm the views which we have stated as to the bearings of this question on our Scotch Church Establishment: for there is not a single sentence of it as to the distinction between Church-rates and tithes, and the history of the former as compared with the latter, which does not strike at the legal provision for the maintenance of our Scotch Churches,
mended by the interest and the pride in comprehend how it can be just that them which it gives to our landed burdens which thus correspond so proprietors, and the opportunity which nearly with them should be suffered it affords of consulting their liberal to remain here. We do not say that views, their refined tastes, and their the English Church-rates, and the lepious feelings in the form of them. It gal provisions of the same description is clearly from this cause that, in the of which we have spoken with refemore wealthy parts of Scotland, our rence to our own country, are, in all parishes now begin to vie with each respects, identical. There are, no other in the architectural character of doubt, some matters of mere form, or our churches, and in some instances of mere detail, in which they differ ; of our parsonages also ; and that the but we affirm, without the smallest meagre, rectangular, barn-like struc- fear of contradiction, that they are tures in which the glory of God was not distinguishable in any circum. evidently the last thing in the build. stance which would afford even a ers' thoughts are gradually giving pretext for refusing to apply the same way to edifices in which we are pre- principle of reform-if such it must be sented as with the fairest feature of an called-to both of them. If, then, English landscape. This is a view we are to be told that there is no reaof the subject which seems to us to son to apprehend that this principle extend in many ways far beyond the of reform will, in the present instance, regions of mere taste and refinement: extend beyond England, we can only Nor do we think that there is any answer that we have not been able subject connected with this question on to discover, either in the nature of which, in its various aspects, the eye the case, or in our recent political of true devotion will dwell with high- history, or in the temper of the preer interest.
sent times, any good ground of assuNeither must we omit to mention rance on this point; and that, for that, as a necessary consequence of the our own part, we should just as soon abolition principle, the system which believe that any other pestilence, has so long been the peculiar pride moral, political, or physical, would and boast of Scotland we mean our be bounded by the ideal line which system of parochial education must separates the two kingdoms. fall likewise ; for we are not aware But this is not all ; for it can hardof a single circumstance with regardly fail to be observed by any one who to the mode in which a parish school. has attended to this subject, that if house is supported, which should ex. there is really a grievance in the pay. empt it from any objection which can ment of Church-rates, or any burthen be urged with respect to the mainte- which may correspond to them, it is a nance of the Church and parsonage. grievance which presses with far Our school-houses may, in truth, be greater weight, or, at least, which regarded—to a certain extent at least exists to a far greater extent in this -as a part of our ecclesiastical esta- country than in England. We have blishment; and if it be a grievance no accurate information as to the that a Dissenter should be bound to number of English rate-payers who contribute to the support of a Presby- dissent from the Established Church ; terian Church, we should like to know but we believe it bears but a small the grounds on which it can be argued proportion to the number of those that the obligation to maintain a Pres- who belong to it. But how is it byterian school-house can be imposed in Scotland ? We are sure that we on him without injustice.
are within bounds when we say that It may possibly be thought by some one-half of the property which conthat these views as to the operation of tributes to the maintenance of our the Church-rate abolition-principle in parish churches is in the hands of Scotland are rather speculative and Episcopalians. It may no doubt be overstrained; but we confess that they said with perfect truth, and it surely appear to us to be not only the natural, never can be said but to their honour, but the necessary result of that “equal that this class of proprietors have justice" to both countries, which is the not yet discovered that they are favourite theme of our opponents. If subjected to any hardship in thus supit be just that the Church-rates should porting the established religion of the be abolished in England, we cannot country; and though no doubt Dis. senters, they will be admitted on all There may be those who will treat the hands to have ever been the most apprehensions indicated in such quesstrenuous opponents of that voluntary tions as idle and chimerical: and we principle which lies at the root of the would hope that they are rigbt in dopresent question. But if the Dissent. ing so. But if they are, it can only ters of England are really aggrieved be from the forbearance of those who, in this matter, here is obviously a on this side of the Border, possess an grievance of far greater magnitude; interest in the present question; and and it is for our adversaries to explain we have no scruple in saying that, if why it has not hitherto been brought the demand of the English Dissenters into view,and--if their arguments have shall be conceded, on this forbearance any foundation-on what principle it the legislature at least has no right to can continue unredressed.
calculate. Neither, we think, ought From this plain statement of this they to calculate on it; for assuredly question, as it bears on our own no man ever did or can calculate the Church Establishment, two considera consequences of legislating, not with a tions, seem to arise, which, in our hum- view to the removal of specific evils, ble judgment, cannot be pressed too but in furtherance of an attempt to strongly, the first of them, on the no- extort the acknowledgment of abstract tice of our legislators, and the second political principles. on the attention of certain would-be In the second place, we would put legislators for the English Church, in it to such of our countrymen as may this part of the kingdom.
have joined, whether by petition or In the first place, then, we would otherwise, in the present clamour ask our legislators whether, in sanc- against the English Church-rates, in tioning this measure for the relief of the honest conviction that the law on the English Dissenters, they have this subject imposes a hardship on the duly weighed its effect on the Church English Dissenters, which is unknown Establishment of Scotland? We can- in our part of the island, whether this not, in the face of all experience on view of the close similarity between this point, flatter ourselves that our the Church-rates, and our own legal Scottish interests occupy a very large provisions for the maintenance of paspace in the august mind of Parlia- rish-churches, ought not powerfully to ment: We have not yet, like our influence their judgment with respect Irish friends, learned the secret of our to this measure? We believe there own importance; but still we per- are many of these persons who have suade ourselves that the maintenance never considered the burdens, which or subversion of our National Church we have shown to correspond to the is not a matter of absolute indifference Church-rates of England, as the subto any branch of the legislature. If, ject of the slightest complaint or objectherefore, it can be proved_and we tion; indeed, we are certain that the think the proof on this subject is com- justice and propriety of them are fully plete_that the measure for the aboli. acquiesced in by all who do not openly tion of the English Church-rates advocate the voluntary system, or, in involves, in principle at least, the ruin other words, the total abolition of our of our Church Establishment, are we National Church. By no other class not entitled to ask the authors and the of persons has the abolition of these supporters of that measure how they burdens, for the relief of our Scotch reconcile this with their professions of Dissenters, ever been contemplated as friendship-or at any rate, their dis- within the range of possibility ; for clamations of hostility—to the national every Scotchman knows and feels that religion? Have they ever considered the existence of the Church Establishwhether the blow which is thus aimed ment depends as essentially on them at the Church of England would reach as on the stipends of the clergy; and us at all? And if not, is it unworthy that, if they should be removed, there of them to enquire what, in that event, is no source from which the want could might be its consequences, and whether, be supplied. This is so manifest—the from its destruction of the humbler destruction of the Establishment is fabric of Presbyterianism, it might here so plainly involved, that we are not recoil with tenfold force on the not aware that even the voluntaries more stately and imposing structure themselves have ever hinted at the at which it was originally directed ? abolition of these provisions as a measure distinct and separate from that no immediate interest in the matter, ulterior design to which the abolition should yet take part in it, without that of the Church-rates has been artfully more remote interest in it which chosen as the preparative. This, then, seems to us to be the key to all the brings the present question, so far as difficulties of this question. But it is this country is concerned, within a absolutely incredible that any consinarrow compass. Those among us who derable number of persons in this have advocated the abolition of the country, without such immediate inChurch-rates as a peculiar grievance of terest, should concern themselves with the English Dissenters, have done so such a subject on any other viewin error as to the true nature of the unless, indeed, they should do so question, and its bearing on our own merely in order to bolster up a Church ; and with respect to all others Ministry, who, in introducing this who have taken part in this matter, measure in order to propitiate the we are irresistibly led to the conclu- enemies of the Church, have added sion that they have made common another to their many claims to that cause with the English abolitionists contempt which is the sure portion of for the destruction of all Church folly and meanness. Establishments.
We have sometimes heard it asked. This last view of the matter is per- what advantage that class of our haps even more conclusively establish- Scotch Dissenters, who, without coned by that other circumstance with tributing in any form to the mainteregard to our Scottish agitators on nance of our Establishment, thus conthis question, to which we alluded as cern themselves in this question, can a separate subject of consideration in contemplate as likely to accrue to the commencement of these remarks them from the downfal of the Eng
we mean the total absence, on their lish Church, and the consequent part, of any other interest in this mea- downfal of our own ? They can sure. We have said that one-half of scarcely hope in that event (it is said) the property liable to the burden of for any new distribution of ecclesias. maintaining our parish churches be- tical revenues, in which they should longs to persons who are not mem- be included : nay, they can scarcely bers of our Church Establishment, hope to retain those gratuities which but of the Church of England ; but at present they are in some instances that no complaint on this subject has content to receive, not perhaps in the ever yet been heard from them. We most perfect consistency with their may truly add, that, with exceptions own professed tenets. Those who too trivial to be even named, these argue thus, manifest a strange ignoare the only class of Dissenters who rance of the true sources of the volunpossess such property. Is it, then, tary principle. Our dissenting clergy for their sake that our Scotch peti. who maintain this principle, have tioners have busied themselves with evidently just the same interest in the this question ? Credulous indeed demolition of the Church Establishmust he be, within the precincts of ment which actuates any other dewhose belief such a notion has ever scription of levellers in the furtherance found a dwelling. Is it in sympathy of their work of destruction. They with their Dissenting brethren of imagine (whether justly or not is of England that they have done so ? - little import) that the field of their This is their own account of the mat. ambition, and the sources of their ter; and in one sense it is unquestion profit, would be thus enlarged, so as to ably the true one. But their sympathy be bounded only by their own talents (except perhaps in those few cases of and enterprise : their views are in error to which we lately referred) fact precisely the views of free trade, is not with the pretended grievance and they contend as against the obof their English brethren, but with structions of a great monopoly. We their real grievance—the intolerable are afraid, likewise, that there are grievance of a Church Establishment. not awanting among them various unWe believe that of the English aboli- equivocal symptoms of feelings of tionists themselves, there are but an even a more questionable character: inconsiderable proportion who are --feelings of enmity, which, deeprate-payers; and it is difficult enough rooted as they would seem to be, have to believe that such persons, having yet apparently no better cause than