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dentally associated, and, in a word, a progressive aggravation of the present conditions. We must contemplate stipends so precarious and reduced that more vacant livings will be hawked about in the public press, and more benefices disendowed because the income no longer suffices to pay the charges. We must contemplate a lowering of the class from which the ranks of the country clergy are recruited, and this lowering of the standard will be produced, not so much by insufficiency of stipend, as by the knowledge that the clerical profession has become inseparably connected with petty anxieties, harassing distractions, false relations, uncongenial occupations, which are, to say the least, incompatible with the adequate discharge of the engrossing duties of a sacred calling. Nor must it be forgotten that a large number of thoughtful laymen support the Establishment on social, rather than on religious, grounds. They see that the Church performs functions in rural districts which no other institution can at present discharge. If the connection of the clergy with the land transforms her moderating, tranquillising influence into a fertile source of local strife and agrarian discontent, their support will be withdrawn. Finally, if the maintenance of the existing system impedes the general revival of agriculture, a powerful argument against the Church is supplied to those who regard landlords as being, what to a certain extent they are, trustees of national property; the gospel of public plunder will assume the specious disguise of the gospel of parochial peace; and a formidable appeal will be made to that breeches pocket in which is often seated the conscience not only of an individual but of a nation.
But it may be contended that, IF the legislation now before Parliament is carried, it will remove the most serious objections to the existing system. Is this really the case?
The general principle of the proposed legislation is to render more easy the terms on which glebe lands and tithe-rentcharges may be either retained by the clergy or acquired by strangers. This is the twofold object of the bills dealing with glebes and tithes. If the question is rightly viewed, the Government could hardly do less in one direction and more in another. Not only the claims of the clergy, but the claims of the nation have to be considered.
The Government could hardly do less, because the clergy have a very substantial grievance and an imperative right to redress. It could hardly do more, because the peculiar nature of the property enjoyed by the clergy forbids any Ministers to whittle away, for the benefit of particular classes, an estate the reversion of which belongs to the nation as a whole. So long as religion is recognised as an active principle in the well-being of the State, and the clergy zealously perform the duties of their profession, glebe lands and tithes cannot be distinguished from other forms of landed property without shaking to their centre the foundations of society: all, or none, are
inviolable. But if the English people come to believe that religion is either obsolete or mischievous, or if the clergy grow faint and feeble in their efforts, the dissolution of the Church of England cannot be long deferred, and with that event expires the life interest which she enjoys in her endowments. It is therefore the duty of every Government to preserve unimpaired the corpus of an estate, of which, subject to the life interest of the Church of England, the nation claims the reversion. If this consideration stood alone, it would afford an answer to the demand for a revaluation of tithe-rentcharges upon a new principle which will reduce the annual payments and minimise the capitalised value.
Thus, as trustees for the life interest of the Church and for the reversion of the nation, no Government ought to offer such advantageous terms of sale or redemption as will afford any substantial inducement to strangers to purchase glebe lands or redeem tithes. The clergy may, and do, fairly ask to be released from their legal disabilities; but they cannot and do not demand to be relieved of their landed interests by a sale at an inadequate price of property of which the Church is only tenant for life. If they are to be so relieved, the process ought not to be effected piecemeal by greasing the palms of the wealthier landlords, but by a comprehensive scheme in which the advantages of a low price should be secured to the nation. If the sale or redemption clauses of the proposed legislation are largely taken advantage of by purchasers, it will be because they offer a good bargain to individuals at the immediate expense of the Church, and the ultimate loss of the nation. The dissolution of the monasteries affords no exact parallel because conventual and monastic property never belonged to the Church of England; but here individuals profited by many millions at the expense of a fund the reversion of which belonged to the nation. The effect of the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, combined with the rapid rise of rents, deprived the Church of two millions a year, and threw the money into the pockets of the landlords. If the true principle had been throughout recognised, if the reversionary rights of the nation had been respected, the State would now be the richer by several millions a year. It is the State alone which ought to be allowed to buy up the landed interests of the Church.
It follows from what has been said, that if the Government offers advantageous terms to landlords to redeem tithe rent-charges, Ministers have failed in their duties as trustees of the national reversion. If they do not propose a good bargain to purchasers, they have respected their trust, but the redemption clauses must necessarily prove inoperative. This latter course has been up to the present moment pursued. To landowners, who are not limited in their powers of investment, the Bill of 1887 affords little or no temptation; it might, and probably would, be used by corporate bodies and other persons
who cannot secure more than 3 per cent. upon their savings. If then the redemption clauses practically prove inoperative, the legislation now before Parliament may place, and indeed ought to place, glebeowners on equal terms with other owners or cultivators of the soil; it may transfer, and ought to transfer, the direct liability for tithe from temporary occupiers to permanent landowners. But it removes none of the friction which results from the relations of the clergy to their small debtors, whether they are tithepayers or tenants; it will not save the clergy from the hard alternative of sacrificing pecuniary claims or spiritual influence. If it takes off the unjust weights with which the clergy are at present penalised, it will not lighten the professional duties which necessarily throw them into the rear rank of agricultural progress; it will not touch one of the arguments that are legitimately urged against the pernicious influence upon farming which is exercised by limited ownership, or against the paralysing effects of permanent charges secured upon the land. As population grows, every one of these agricultural considerations must necessarily gather force, when every nerve must be strained to the utmost tension, and every rood of ground cultivated to the highest pitch of possible efficiency. Not only those who support the Established Church on social grounds, but many of those who are, from deeper motives, among its warmest adherents, will be forced from their allegiance by the inexorable logic of economic facts. So long as clerical incomes continue to be drawn from the land, legislation may postpone, but it cannot prevent, the shock of the inevitable collision between clerical and national interests, and between the material and spiritual interests of the Church itself.
There is but one mode in which clerical incomes can be, at the present moment, disengaged from the land without some violent change in existing laws of property which will be capable of indefinite and dangerous extension. That mode is a voluntary sacrifice on the part of the clergy. It is easy to throw out the taunt that there are Pharisees in England, as well as in Jewry, who lay heavy burdens upon others which they will not themselves touch with their little finger. But no one can pretend that the revenues of the Church of England are at present upon a satisfactory footing, or can afford to ignore the enormous distinction which exists between giving and giving up. If it is to the interest both of the Church and the nation to disengage clerical incomes from the land, the severance ought indisputably to be effected. What abatement will the Church make of her legal claims? What inducement will the clerical lifetenant offer to the national reversioner to buy up at once his intervening interest? Legislation is at present suspended. No better use could be made of the breathing space by the authorities of the Church than to consider what concessions they can afford to offer, what willing sacrifice they are prepared to make. The clergy may
be losers for the time; but the immediate pecuniary loss will not be without corresponding gain, in the revived allegiance of rural districts, the widening area of spiritual influence, and the increase of voluntary aid when the close-fisted parsimony of the present is no longer excused by the open-handed generosity of the past.
R. E. PROTHERO.
IF the reader examines a map of Lower (i.e. Northern) Alsace, formerly the French département du Bas Rhin,' he will see that to the south of the river Lauter, which for some distance has been, since 1815, the boundary between Alsace and the Rhenish Palatinate, four streams flow in a south-easterly direction through the passes of the Northern Vosges, and, crossing the Alsatian plains, ultimately discharge their waters into the Rhine. The most northerly is the Sauerbach, which rises in the higher mountains of the Palatinate Vosges (the Wasgau), and, after passing close to the magnificent ruin of Fleckenstein, and its two neighbours Hohenburg and Wegelnburg, flows through the battle-field of Woerth, and, turning to the east, traverses the great forest of Hagenau before reaching the Rhine to the south of Selz. But it is with the other three mountain rivers that I am chiefly concerned. They all have their origin in Lorraine, and cross into Alsace a few miles within the Vosges passes. The stream nearest to the Sauerbach is the Schwarzbach, forming during part of its course the beautiful Jaegerthal, soon after it has passed the ruins of the old (A.D. 1212) and new (A.D. 1335) Windstein castles. The second, to the south of the Schwarzbach, is the Falkensteinerbach, which rises not far from the fortress of Bitche, and after passing, at a mile's distance, the splendid ruin of Falkenstein, from which it takes its name, debouches from the Vosges into the plain, under the Wasenberg at Niederbronn, and three miles lower joins the Schwarzbach at Reichshofen. The third is the Zinzel, a few miles farther to the south-west, which after forming a pretty lake below Mutterhausen, runs through the magnificent Baerenthal (or Mühlthal) valley and forest, and having passed Zinsweiler, famous for its enamelled-iron factory, also joins the Schwarzbach a few miles below Reichshofen. To these three valleys, the Jaegerthal, the Falkensteinerthal, and the Baerenthal, Niederbronn owes its main attractions. Above and along the passes there are, within a good pedestrian's reach, several hundred miles of well-preserved road or mountain path, each with its special interest of view, ruin, stream or lakelet, for the most part in forest of oak, beech, and pine, the woods containing a fair amount of game, while some of the streams give tolerable sport to the angler. To the artist the varied country, the