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right, that such a man under such circumstances, should be permitted any longer to retain a valuable benefice in that very Church which he had in such gross opprobrious terms vilified and insulted."
Notwithstanding the Bishop's increasing debility, which rendered him very unequal to any great exertion, he yet determined to make a last effort in the course of the summer to carry through Parliament a Bill, which he had long had much at heart, for encouraging the residence of Stipendiary Curates. I have already mentioned the disappointment which he experienced in the rejection of, this measure upon a former occasion; and, though he was well aware that a strong opposition would again be made to it, yet he would not have satisfied his own mind, if he had abandoned a R 2 question,
question, as it seemed to him, of the very last importance, whilst there remained a hope of success. The objects, which he had in view, were briefly these: in the first place, to provide, that whereever the Incumbent of any benefice did not reside himself, there should be a resident curate;—in the second, where the annual value of the benefice exceeded £. 400. to empower the bishop to assign to the curate one-fifth of that yearly income, by which means his stipend would increase proportionably to the value of the living. A Bill of this description he thought absolutely essential to the welfare of the church, and sanctioned by every principle of justice and expediency; and in these sentiments he had the entire concurrence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Perceval, who had some time before published a
most able pamphlet on the subject, and by whose,energy and eloquence it was carried triumphantly through the House of Commons. It was not therefore without a sanguine expectation of success, that he introduced the Bill into the House of Lords. At its second reading, though little equal to such an effort, he delivered his sentiments fully and clearly on the whole measure, and gave, as he conceived, satisfactory and conclusive answers to the objections which had been urged against it. But it very soon appeared, that the opposition formerly made had in no respect subsided, and that even on the Bench there was a great difference of opinion. Indeed one right reverend Prelate did not scruple to declare, that in his judgment it was a measure pregnant with mischief; and that it would produce nothing but jealousy and discord it 3 in
in the Church, through every part of the kingdom. This unambiguous and peremptory language, added to the unfavourable view taken of the subject by the Lord Chancellor, decided the House; and the consequence was, that on the third reading, to the Bishop's infinite mortification and regret, the Bill was rejected.
The following note, subjoined to his Speech on this occasion, which he afterwards printed, is a strong proof of the liberality and candour of his mind, and places in a striking point of view the objects which he proposed to himself, and the motives upon which he acted;— objects and motives, which those, who dissented from him, will at least do him the justice to say, were most honourable to his character.
"It was matter," he observes, " of extreme concern to me, that in the
discussion discussion of this Bill I found myself under the necessity of differing from many noble Lords and learned Prelates (some of them in the highest stations, and of the most distinguished character) for whom I entertain the greatest respect and esteem. But I beg to have it understood, that if any strong expressions escaped me in the warmth of debate, I did not mean to cast the slightest reflection on those who opposed the Bill, and who, I well know, opposed it upon principle, and from a conscientious conviction that it would not answer the end proposed. I give them the fullest credit for the purity of their motives, and the rectitude of their intentions; and all I have to ask in return, is, the same candid interpretation of the part which I have taken, and of the motives by which I have been actuated.