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money. Maryland gave an incumbent forty pounds of tobacco for every tithe-payer in the Parish, whether Churchman or Dissenter, white or coloured ; and the terms were handsome enough to secure the pick of the clerical market. In Virginia the stipends represented a fixed and unvarying quantity, by weight, of the manufactured leaf; and those stipends, for long periods together, were wretched pittances. In a bad year even the “sweet-scented parishes,” where the minister's salary was calculated on a high-priced and exceptionally fragrant tobacco, yielded only about a hundred pounds sterling; and the parishioners sometimes refused to induct a clergyman unless he would consent to take one salary for serving two parishes. In 1758, when the price of the staple had greatly risen, and a church-living had become a reasonable maintenance for an incumbent and his family, the House of Burgesses passed a law fixing the cash equivalent of debts payable in tobacco at one-third of their true and honest commercial value. This piece of legislation, while it did not injuriously affect a single lay creditor, struck two-thirds from the emoluments of every clergyman in the province; and that was the sole object with which it had been devised. The law was invalid, for the King in Council withheld his sanction; but the Virginian vestries at once proceeded to act upon it as though it were a part of the Constitution. The controversy was brought into Court; and a test case was tried, involving a claim on the part of a Rector for many hundred pounds of unpaid salary. The point of law was given in his favour; for no tribunal in the universe could have decided otherwise. A jury was summoned to arbitrate on the amount that was due to the plaintiff; and Patrick Henry appeared on behalf of the vestrymen. He rose to his feet an obscure country lawyer, and sat down after a speech which made him
1 One Maryland parish was said to be worth a thousand pounds sterling a year. In 1757 Edmund Burke praised the clergy of the colony as " the most decent, and the best, in North America.”
PT. 11.-VOL. II.
the most celebrated of American orators. Amid a tornado of popular effervescence and exhilaration the jury assessed the damages at one penny; and the clergy had no choice but to accept that outrageous verdict as the death-blow to their cause.
It was a shabby policy, and a shuffling step in the direction of religious equality, unworthy of the reputation for chivalry and generosity which had attached itself to the Old Dominion. None the less was that scene in Hanover Court House a striking and significant contrast to some former chapters in the ecclesiastical history of Virginia. The first set of emigrants, in 1606, made careful provision for the dignity and comfort of those Episcopalian ministers who accompanied them from home. In imitation of the example, and in obedience to the specific behests, of Archbishop Laud, the authorities of the colony harried and persecuted the Puritans, and, — with perverted but indomitable courage, - continued to persecute them long after Naseby and Marston Moor had made Puritanism triumphant and all-powerful in the mother-country. Under the Commonwealth those English gentry and clergy, who had suffered for Church and King, found a hospitable asylum in Virginia; and, after the Restoration, the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg vied with the Cavalier Parliament at Westminster in the severities which it inflicted upon sectaries and recusants. The Tobacco Act of 1758,- as compared with the penal statutes framed in defence of Anglicanism by the Virginian Assembly in 1661 and 1662,-affords an accurate measure of the sweeping change wrought by a century's experience of a State establishment in the feelings and inclinations of a community which once was the most Church-loving of all our colonies.
The Episcopalian clergy in the Northern provinces, and more especially in Connecticut, were sincerely
1 Instances of the signal power and popularity enjoyed in Virginia by the Church of England, during the first three-quarters of the seventeenth century, are given in the Fourth Appendix at the end of this volume.
religious, unimpeachable in character, and of high intellectual quality. Their material circumstances were prosperous; and their social position ranked as among the very best in the land.
As far back as the year 1727 both of the great colonies in which Congregationalism was the State religion, — holding out an example of equity, and right feeling, to all other established and endowed churches, — had allotted to the Episcopalian minister that portion of the tithe which was contributed by members of his own flock. The Statute went by a name unmelodious to the ears of a susceptible Anglican; for it was called “An Act for the Ease of such as soberly Dissent;” but everything about it, except the title, was much to the taste, and exceedingly to the profit, of the Episcopalian Church, which included among its adherents many of the largest tithe-payers. To the Church of England, (wrote Judge Jones,) belonged the Governor, the LieutenantGovernor, a majority of His Majesty's Council, many members of the General Assembly, and all the officers of Government, with a numerous train of rich and affluent merchants and land-owners. That was the condition of things in New York; nor was it otherwise in New England. The Episcopalian clergy of Massachusetts had lived as youths in close comradeship with those, who later on in life became their leading parishioners, in the refined and rather aristocratic atmosphere of Harvard College; where, before the Revolution, the place of a student in the class was determined, not by his own proficiency in learning, but by the rank of his father, and the importance of his family. The clergy of Connecticut were mostly educated at Yale; and in both colonies the candidates for Anglican orders had used their academical opportunities with profit. Sound divines, fair scholars, and thoughtful preachers, they became conspicuous for propriety of behaviour among a society where people were in the habit of judging themselves and their neighbours by a very strict and precise standard. Such ministers as Doctor Edward
Bass, afterwards the first Bishop of Massachusetts, or John Tyler and Roger Viets of Connecticut, would have done honour to any Church in the world during the best period of its corporate existence.
While the Episcopalian clergy of Virginia were discredited and disliked, those in the Northern colonies were respected, but feared; for the attitude of English Churchmen, towards all Americans who did not belong to their body, was in a marked degree ominous and menacing. Jurisdiction over the Colonial Church rested with the Bishop of London for the time being; and the charge was a disagreeable and embarrassing supplement to his home duties. "Sure I am," wrote one holder of that lofty function, " that the care is improperly lodged. For a Bishop to live at one end of the world, and his Church at the other, must make the office very uncomfortable to the Bishop, and in a great measure useless to the people.”? The majority of that people, however, would have derived small comfort or assistance from the presence of a Father of the Church within the borders of their colony. In 1771 a Bishop of London told a Secretary of State, plainly and roundly, that he could not think of accepting a position as trustee of a local institution in America if his colleagues in that office were what he was pleased to style “ Dissenters.' Those Dissenters numbered considerably over ninety per cent. of the population resident in the province. Among them were the Congregationalists, who belonged to a Church that had been established by law, which in Massachusetts the Church of England was not; but the bench of bishops arbitrarily assumed, and openly
1 Judge Jones speaks of Yale College as remarkable for its republican principles, its intolerance in religion, and its utter aversion to Bishops and Kings. Nevertheless Mr. Tyler, and Mr. Viets, had taken degrees there, as well as others among the Loyalist clergy of Connecticut. The Church of England in that colony was practically founded in 1722 by six Congregationalists who all became Episcopalians together; and one of their number was the President of Yale himself.
2 The Bishop of London to Doctor Doddridge, in the year 1751. 8 Ric. London to Lord Dartmouth ; Fulham, July 9, 1771.
maintained, that any State Church, besides their own, was an imposture and a nullity, and that the levying of tithes by such a Church was a flagrant act of spoliation. A famous prelate complained bitterly from the pulpit that Episcopalians in New England were rated for the support of what the Independents, — who were, (so he frankly admitted,) the greater part of that people,
called, though without any right, the Established Church. In the year 1725 the Congregational clergy had asked leave to hold a Synod in order to consult about measures for confirming and quickening the faith of the Gospel in the province of Massachusetts Bay. When the expression of their desire reached London, the Cabinet, indoctrinated by London's bishop, angrily rejected the proposal on the ground that it would form "a bad precedent for Dissenters." At that time the capital of Massachusetts contained a solitary English church, which was as much a Nonconformist place of worship as Doctor Doddridge's chapel at Northampton, or Doctor Lardner's lecture-hall in the Old Jewry. "In the English view," (it has been aptly said, "the allowance of one Episcopal church in Boston turned the Established Church of Massachusetts into a congregation of Dissenters." 2
The Episcopal Church, at home and abroad, owed much to a man whose inspiriting influence, and rare practical talent, have earned him a place among the
1 Sermon preached by Bishop Secker before the Propagation Society in the Parish Church of St. Mary-le-Bow, February 27, 1740–1.
2 History of Religious Liberty; chapter v., section ii. A powerful letter, written by John Adams in 1815, gives an interesting account of the state of religion throughout America anterior to 1775, and explains its intimate relation to the events of the Revolution. With regard to Massachusetts be notices “the spirit, the temper, the views, designs, intrigues, and arbitrary exertions of power displayed by the Church of England at that time towards the Dissenters, as they were contemptuously called, though in reality the Churchmen were the real Dissenters. :.. The truth is that the Congregationalists, the Presbyterians, the Anabaptists, the Methodists, or even the Quakers or Moravians, were each of them as numerous as the Churchmen ; several of them immensely more numerous; and all of them together more than fifteen to one."