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Christianity became National among us) are thought fit to be suspended, God knoweth for what Reason, or from what Provocations; I say, from that very Assembly, who, during the Intervals of Convocations, should rather be supposed to be Guardians of the Rights and Properties of the Clergy, than to make the least Attempt upon either,
I have not heard, upon Enquiry, that any of those Gentlemen, who, among us without Doors, are called the Court Party, discover the least Zeal in this Affair : If they had Thoughts to interpose, it might be conceived, they would shew their Displeasure against this Bill, which must very much lessen the Value of the King's Patronage upon Promotion to vacant Sees; in the Disposal of Deanries, and other considerable Preferments in the Church, which are in the Donation of the Crown; whereby the Viceroys will have fewer good Preferments to bestow on their Dependents, as well as upon the Kindred of Members, who may have a fufficient Stock of that Sort of Merit, whatever it may be, which may in future Times most prevail.
The Dissenters, by not fucceeding in their Endeavours to procure a Repeal of the Test, have lost nothing, but continue in a full Enjoyment of their Toleration ; while the Clergy, without giving the least Offence, are, by this Bill, deprived of a considerable Branch of their ancient legal Rights, whereby the Schismatical
Party will have the Pleafure of gratifying their
The Farmer will find no Relief by this Modus, because, when his present Lease shall expire, his Landlord will infallibly raise the Rent, in an equal Proportion, upon 'every Part of Land where Flax is sown, and have so much a better Security for Payment, at the Expence of the Clergy.
If we judge by Things past, it little avails, that this Bill is to be limited to a certain Time of ten, twenty, or thirty Years; for no Landlord will ever consent, that a Law shall expire, by which he findeth himself a Gainer; and of this there are many Examples, as well in England as in this Kingdom.
The great End of this Bill is, by proper Encouragement, to extend the Linen Manufacture into those Counties where it hath hitherto been little cultivated; but this Encouragement, of lessening the Tytbe of Flax and Hemp, is one of such a Kind, as, it is to be feared, will have a directly contrary Effect. Because, if I am rightly informed, no Set of Men hath, for their Number and Fortunes, been more industrious and successful than the Clergy, in introducing that Manufacture into Places which were unacquainted with it ; by persuading their People to low Flax and Hemp; by procuring Seed for them; and by having them instructed in the Management thereof; and this they did not without reasonable Hopes
of increasing the Value of their Parishes, after some Time, as well as of promoting the Benefit of the Publick. But, if this Modus should take Place, the Clergy will be so far from gaining, that they will become Losers by any extraordinary Care, by having their best arable Lands turned to Flax and Hemp, which are reckoned great Impoverishers of Land ; they cannot therefore be blamed, if they should shew as much Zeal to prevent its being introduced, or improved, in their Parishes, as they hitherto have shewed in the introducing and improving it. This, I am told, some of them have already declared, at least so far as to resolve not to give themselves any more Trouble than other Men, about promoting a Manufacture, by the Success of which, they only, of all Men, are to be Sufferers. Perhaps, the giving them even a further Encouragement, than the Law doth, as it now standeth, to a Set of Men, who might, on many Accounts, be so useful to this purpose, would be no bad Method of having the great End of the Bill more effectually answered: But this is what they are far from defiring; all they petition for is no more than to continue on the same Footing with the rest of their Fellow Subjects.
If this Modus, of paying by the Acre, be to pass into a Law, it were to be wished, that the fame Law would appoint one or more sworn Surveyors in each Parish, to measure the Lands on which Flax and Hemp are sown; as it also would settle the Price of surveying, and determine whether the Incumbent or Farmer is to pay for each annual Survey. Without something of this Kind, there must constantly be Disputes between them; and the neighbouring Justices of Peace must be teized as often as those Disputes happen.
I had written thus far, when a Paper was sent to me, with several Reasons against the Bill, some whereof, although they have been already touched, are put in a better Light, and the rest did not occur to me. I shall deliver them in the Author's own Words.
N. B. Some Alterations have been made in
the Bill about the Modus, fince the above Paper was wrote ; but they are of little Moment.
Some FURTHER REASONS against the
BILL for settling the Tythe of HEMP,
1. HAT Tythes are the Patrimony of the
Church: And if not of Divine Original, yet at least of great Antiquity.
II. That all Purchases and Leases of tytheable Lands, for many Centuries past, have been made and taken, subject to the Demand
of Tythes ; and those Lands sold and taken just so much the cheaper on that Account.
III. That if any Lands are exempted from Tythes, or the legal Demands of fuch Tythes leffened by Act of Parliament, so much Value is taken from the Proprietor of the Tythes, and vested in the Proprietor of the Lands, or his head Tenants.
IV. That no innocent unoffending Person can be so deprived of his Property, without the greatest Violation of common Justice.
V. That to do this upon a Prospect of encouraging the Linen, or any other Manufacture, is acting upon a very mistaken and unjust Supposition ; inasmuch, as the Price of the Lands so occupied will be no way lessened to the Farmer by such a Law.
VI. That the Clergy are content chearfully to bear (as they now do) any Burthen, in common, with their Fellow Subjects, either for the Support of his Majesty's Government, or the Encouragement of the Trade of the Nation ; but think it very hard, that they should be singled out to pay heavier Taxes than others, at a Time when, by the Decrease of the Value of their Parishes, they are less able to bear them.
VII. That the Legislature hath heretofore distinguished the Clergy by Exemptions, and not by additional Loads; and the present Clergy of the Kingdom hope, they have not deserved worse of the Legislature than their Predecessors,