« הקודםהמשך »
Commissioners do not state what has been done in this way.
The Commissioners express similar regret as to their being allowed only to apply a surplus which does not yet exist, to the augmentation of poor livings below two hundred a-year; but some of their arrangements having set free a part of Primate Boulter's fund, which is specially appropriated to the purpose of augmenting livings which are below one hundred pounds a-year, the Commissioners have been enabled to apply out of this fund the annual sum of seven hundred and thirty-two pounds (7321.) in raising thirty-six livings to the amount of one hundred pounds a-year.
Upwards of five hundred applications have been made by the lessees of ecclesiastical lands for the purchase of perpetual estates in them; and it has been already mentioned, that upwards of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds have been raised in this way. In their first report the Commissioners say, they “ are induced to hope that the “ terms of purchase ascertained by them, and resulting " from the principles they have adopted (which principles “ have been sanctioned by the approbation of the law“ officers of the crown,) will be found so moderate, that “ most of the lessees of ecclesiastical landlords will see " the great benefit of availing themselves of the provisions “ of the act to convert their insecure and uncertain tenures “ into permanent and indefeasible estates of inheritance ; “ by which their present actual value will be so much “ increased beyond the aggregate of their previous worth " and the purchase-money to be paid for the change, and “ by means of which such considerable encouragement is “ held out for improvement of the respective estates, and “ for the expenditure of capital, as to lead to the expecta“ tion that even in this respect the enactments of the “ statute may prove a great national advantage.” : Accounts of receipt and disbursements are annexed to these reports, from which it appears, that, putting out of the account loans which have been repaid or provided for, and items of interest which may be set off against each other, and the monies received from the Trustees of First-Fruits which were already under engagements, the Commissioners, at the date of the last report, had, in round numbers, received and disbursed about three hundred and thirty thousand pounds (330,0001.), upon which sum the expenses of the commission had been a charge of about ten per cent; that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were still indebted to the Commissioners of Public Works in the sum of one hundred thousand pounds, but that, on the other hand, they held upwards of one hundred and ten thousand three per cent stock, which had been purchased from the monies arising out of the sale of perpetuities, and which it was prudent to retain for the present, as a secure provision for the engagements entered into for the repairs of churches. The annual income from the temporalities of bishopricks which had become vested in the Commissioners, produced in 1836-7 about thirty two thousand five hundred pounds (32,5001.) This revenue will increase as the remaining five bishopricks fall in. Of the additional means which may be derived hereafter from the other two great sources provided by the act; namely, the further sale of perpetuities, and the tax on benefices, there is not sufficient information before the public to make it possible to form any estimate : but the reports of these Commissioners, even as they have been here stated, seem to afford ample matter for reflection to those who are ens gaged either in forwarding or in resisting the attempt to impel the Imperial Parliament to pronounce an intention as to a supposed surplus of the revenues in Ireland of the Established Church beyond what may be required for the spiritual care of its congregations there.
In the first place, it ought to be borne in mind, that the Legislature, by the act of the 3d and 4th W. IV. 37, at the same time that it abolished two main branches of ecclesiastical revenue in Ireland, sanctioned, and, out of the remaining revenues, undertook to provide for the following purposes, some of which it had been the primary use of the abolished revenues to fulfil; namely, throughout Ireland, wherever there were congregations of the Established Church, to provide all things requisite according to the rubrick for the decent celebration of Divine worship, and to discharge the salaries of all assistant-ministers and servants of the churches, which had formerly been provided for by the vestry cess; to provide for all churches and chapels perpetual repair, and to build new ones where necessary; to advance money to incumbents for the repair or building of glebe-houses, which loans were to be repaid out of the incomes of the benefices; and wherever there should be congregations, to augment all benefices below two hundred a-year to that amount. * Now, even if the total amount of ecclesiastical revenue in Ireland were known, it would seem to be desirable for a Legislature to know also what would be required for the purposes above enumerated, before it began to reckon on a surplus, or at any rate to provide for the distribution of it, and no one appears to have yet made this calculation. • But, secondly, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as one of their first tasks, are directed to make a valuation of all benefices throughout Ireland, and obviously, it ought to be a preliminary to any resolutions respecting a surplus, that the gross amount of the revenues from which the surplus is expected, should be ascertained; but the Commissioners cannot well make any valuation of benefices whilst the tithes, which are the chief constituents of
* From a return which, on the motion of Sir Robert Peel, on the 26th July, 1836, was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, and which is numbered 485 amongst the papers of that Session, it appears that the Commissioners had then received returns, from which it appeared that there were 187 benefices under 100l. per annum, and 176 benefices between 100l. and 200l. per annum. From 203 benefices no returus had been received.
the benefices, are in a state of transition and commutation, which must necessarily alter the amount of the proceeds from them. Yet it is in such circumstances, and when the settling and securing of the tithe seems to be a condition precedent, without which it is absolutely impossible to calculate whether there will be revenue enough even to fulfil the engagements which the Legislature has entered into, that the same Legislature is asked to refuse any settlement of the tithe, until the application of a surplus is provided for.
By such proceedings the settlement of tithe is suspended : and those, who have any estates in the lands out of which the tithe issues, are excited to a speculation and an attempt to bring about a result as to the tithe, similar to that which took place as to the vestry cess; and, on the other hand, until the tithes are paid, it is plainly impossible for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners either to tax or to value benefices.
Surely the hour has come when the equivalent for tithe should be fixed and secured ; after which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be required, within the next twelve months, to complete and publish their valuation. A fair question might then arise as to the proper application of a superfluity of revenue, if any should be found, but one principle would, probably, on all hands be conceded, namely, that it should be expended in Ireland.
Many persons who cannot approve, at present, of Mr. Ward's resolutions, would join, without reluctance, in an expression of opinion that, if it should at any time be ascertained that the revenues of the Established Church in Ireland are more than sufficient to support it on an equal footing with the Established Church in England, in relation to their respective congregations, it would become the duty of the Imperial Parliament to consider in what way such superfluous revenues might be best expended for the general welfare of the people in Ireland.
THE HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY.
The three most vast of the dependencies of the British Empire are, 1. The territories of the Hudson's Bay Company; 2. Australia; 3. India. If the two Canadas should be united, and brought into one system with the other North American Provinces, they would rank as the fourth : and each of these would exceed the United Kingdom in extent of territory. The West Indies, under an uniform government, would be a fifth* great dependent aggregation of territories; and Southern Africa is a sixth mass which will grow larger.
There are not many persons who know any thing about the Hudson's Bay Company. No other body politic has so successfully combined, through a long series of years, a plan of steady privacy and seclusion in the management of its affairs in the United Kingdom, with a determined, active, and pugnacious defence of its possessions and claims in the outlying territory. Very large profits have been made of its stock, which ought not to be the subject of grudge or envy with any one. It keeps to itself by far the most valuable fur trade in the world, and this is in an improving state. Within the last twenty years the Company, after a struggle in which blood was shed, has absorbed and amalgamated a rival Company, whose traders had penetrated and established themselves within its
* See No. II. page 56.