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education of a gentleman to be content to disclass his own children. This is what the sentimental preference for a poor clergy really comes to when put into words; and there is no person, whether simple or gentle, who would not shrink from it as a base piece of selfishness so soon as it is put into words for him.
But, again, I have heard it said-it was said by a clergyman of my acquaintance who has considerable private means, and the thought may be in the minds of others-There seems a natural fitness that the clergy should suffer with their parishioners. The landowners and farmers are become, at least comparatively, poor men, and the clergy by operation of the same causes have become poor also. This will promote sympathy, and no doubt help rather than hinder their ministrations.' There is a certain element of truth in this reflection. People are drawn together by common misfortunes. But the circumstances are not really alike in the different cases. The landlord and the farmer trade in the produce of the land and must expect to be subject to the ordinary rules of trade, among which are to be reckoned fluctuations of the market; but it is really an accident that the stipends of the clergy should depend upon agriculture. The clergy, it is true, reaped the advantage when prices were high, and so, it may be said, have no right to grumble now that prices are low. Nor do they grumble. But to say they have already experienced both advantages and disadvantages from their dependence upon land is not to justify that dependence. And there is a very practical difference between their position and that of the squires and farmers. These others can turn their hand to whatever at the time is a more profitable branch of their employment. Perhaps it is stock that for the moment commands a high price, perhaps dairy produce or fruit, but none of these things affect tithe rent-charge, which is calculated only upon cereals. If things come to the worst, the farmer can go into another trade, turn bailiff or even butcher; the squire can let his house or his shooting, and indeed it is not probable that all his eggs are in one basket; above all he has leisure and skill to manage his affairs. The parson, on the other hand, is not by training a man of business; and when, through causes for which he is not responsible, he finds his income dwindling year after year, he has no resource. If he endeavours, as he sometimes does, to speculate in stocks, for all the joint-stock companies send him their prospectuses, he very promptly comes to grief. Everyone cannot take pupils or sell lithographed sermons or review for the Guardian,' and the bishops are rightly chary of giving
leave to let the glebe-house; there are, in short, no ways by which the man who is a parson and nothing more can make up for this collapse in his income. And when laymen reflect that no life reequires so much devotion of time and interest, so much quiet thought, so much freedom from personal cares as the clerical life, they at least cannot regret that there should be this disability. But then it follows that the parson, not being a business man, must not be treated as such, and be left to rise and fall with the market; he should be set free from such outside anxieties to pursue his proper work unhindered.
Are things, then, it will be asked, getting very bad? The answer is, they are already very bad indeed. Anyone who opens a Clergy List will find the income of each living given in two forms, gross and net, with a considerable difference between them. Let me illustrate from my own living, which is a good one. Its gross value is put down as 3951. in tithe rent-charge (i.e. the sum fixed by the commissioners in 1836 to be paid by the landowners in lieu of tithes in kind), together with the rent of fifty-six acres of glebe. Tithe rent-charge was arranged to vary each year with the average price of certain cereals for the seven previous years. In 1883 it was exactly at par, and my predecessor in that year received the whole sum of 395l.; when I came to the living at the end of 1884, the rent-charge was at 981. 68. 2d. per cent. ; this year (1897) I shall receive for each 1001. only 691. 188., and the whole tithe rent-charge will be 2761. 28. instead of 3951. The glebe rents, as to arable land, have fallen from twenty-five shillings to twenty shillings in some cases, in others to fifteen shillings an acre; and I should not get this were it not that the meadow land is particularly good, and the tenant takes the one with the other. In parishes where the income is derived not from tithe rent-charge but altogether from the rent of glebes, the fall in value has been much greater, and where the farms will not let it has reached vanishing point.
But when the gross income of the living has been thus reduced to present value, this does not at once give the sum at the parson's disposal for housekeeping expenses. Like his lay brethren he has to pay rates and taxes, and there are besides a number of charges to be met, varying with each diocese and parish, that considerably reduce the residue. I am allowed to submit two or three balancesheets drawn from different parts of the country, for the statements in which I have authority, in order that the reader may have some insight into the actual state of clerical finances. But,
first, as I have given one side of my own professional balancesheet, I will add the other. It is for last year.
It thus becomes evident that a living whose gross value approaches 500l. actually offers to-day for the expenses of housekeeping somewhat more than half that sum only. It offers, in fact, the amount that kind-hearted people are accustomed, when they discuss this question, to fix upon as a reasonable minimum stipend. Most people would agree that 250l. is a sum upon which a clergyman with a small family might be expected to be able with economy to live in the country. But then it must be well understood that by this is meant 250l. net. Housekeepers may find it interesting to divide up this sum among the various necessary heads of expense; such as butcher, grocer, dairy, garden seeds, coals and wood, clothes and boots, washing, servants (?), odd man or boy (?), pony (?), newspaper, stamps, books (?), schooling, holidays, doctor and drugs, wine for
We clergy get no relief from the Agricultural Rates Act. On the contrary, my demand note for the first half of the current year is for 221., i.e. half as much again as last year!
2 In Board districts the school rate will be double or treble this, and the voluntary subscriptions will have to be paid in addition.
3 This is a fund to augment poor benefices, instituted by Queen Anne, who surrendered to it her right, once the Pope's, to first-fruits and tenths. From this fund grants are made equal to the amount raised locally. In 1895 a capital sum was granted of 35,8001. in augmentation of 138 benefices, i.e. the incomes of these livings were raised about 77. each.
The rector is liable for the repair, insurance, &c., of the chancel. * This sum and the following together constitute a small rent,
the influenzic, life insurance, subscriptions (coal club, treats, flower show, &c.), charities. But to proceed with the balance-sheets :
In this case a sum of 136l. 138. 4d. is the available income of the clergyman of the place. He has six children of an age to require education. There are happily schools partially endowed, in order to help the poorer clergy in this matter, but even in them the expense does not fall below 15l., and may be 20l. If four of the six children are at school at one time, this would leave a balance of 761., i.e. thirty shillings a week, for food and clothing.
'The expenses of tithe collection are of course lighter or heavier according as the payers are few or many. In some parts of the country a dinner is expected. 'This life insurance policy seems out of proportion to the income, but it must be observed the income has sunk more than 1007. since the policy was taken out. In this case nothing is entered for fire insurance, which is a dangerous omission; nor for house and glebe repairs. These last, if neglected till the living is vacant, would become a charge upon the life insurance.
* These first-fruits and tenths are the payments to Queen Anne's Bounty Fund, the former, as its name implies, being paid the first year only of enjoying a benefice.
The Clergy Pension Fund has been lately established to pay an annuity of 15. 158. on reaching the age of sixty-five on every annual payment of two guineas begun at the age of twenty-four.
* The poor rates are small in proportion to the income, because as most of this
In this case there are eight children whose ages run from four to sixteen years. I will exhibit one more balance-sheet because i contains a few new features:
The interest of this last case is that, while the apparent ne income is only a few pounds short of 300l., this is reduced more than 100%. further by losses in rent and by necessary charges, s that when the life insurance is paid there remains for household expenses only a sum of 1377. 16s. Id., or less than the wage a head gardener. The clergyman whose balance-sheet this i has six children.
But it will perhaps be urged, these are exceptional cases, with which existing charities, if properly supported, should be compe tent to deal. Alas! it is not so. Charities such as the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy and the Poor Clergy Relief Corporation have done and are doing excellent work, as their several report show, but the present distress is far beyond their means to cop with. Two of the cases I have adduced are average cases, and one is even above the average, and they are quoted for that reason I have said nothing of benefices whose annual net value is below 100%. Of these there are 1,341 in England and Wales, and taking al the dioceses together the average net value of them is said to b 65l.; in the diocese of Peterborough, where there are sixty-on livings below 100l., it is only 45l. These, we must hope, would is from glebe rents, the rates will be paid by the occupier. The fire insurance here too, seems to have been dropped.