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because I think it of importance, not merely as it respects the convenience, but the morals of the higher and middle classes of society.
I consider thieving as a very bad thing; and so far I am sure that you, and most of your readers, will agree with me. For cheating and swindling I have the same disrespect; smuggling I cannot approve; in short, I am inclined to think that it is a real sin to break the laws of the land, whether good or bad. Perhaps I am not quite singular in these views, and some readers may think them quite commonplace* and not worth stating; and yet I find people in general acting as if they had never heard or thought of any thing of the kind. I find many persons—even those who might dine at one's house a hundred times, and never steal a spoon—nay, even those who would not smuggle a pocket-handkerchief-who will, and who do constantly, and to the utmost extent of their power, and without remorse or concealment, cheat the Post-Office. I suppose that a man does as truly and as sinfully break the laws in sending a letter by a stage coach, or (except under the prescribed limitations) by a private hand, as by smuggling a ship's cargo of brandy and tobacco. The matter, it may be said, is trifling-in other words, the sin, being committed by small instalments, ceases to be sin : but not only was I taught in my youth that “ it is a sin to steal a pin,” but since I grew up, I have been inclined to think that the principles of the educated classes are more injured by familiarity with this sneaking, petty-larceny kind of sin than they would be by now and then breaking out into assault and battery, or even an occasional highway-robbery.
The only excuse that I know of, if it is any excuse, is the extreme absurdity of the law. One is tempted to say, “ of course the government do not expect it to be kept ; they know that it is broken with impunity ten thousand times every day; but the law is suffered to remain, in order that if the abuse should get to any enormous height it may be checked; and, indeed, with the same view, it is every now and then enforced.” This, however, is a most abominable and absurd mode of legislation, by which the conscientious part of society are the only sufferers, and those who are unprincipled or thoughtless are encouraged to break the law; and all, as far as I know, for no good purpose whatever.
Let me ask you how far it is rational to expect that such a law should be kept ? and, with a view to illustrate the matter, let me state one or two cases. Take, for instance, the following :-A, B, and C, are three out of the six ports of England which, judging from the amount of customs, do the most business. A merchant in A receives a letter from C, which would arrive in A, I think, by six o'clock in the morning, and we will suppose on Monday. I do not know exactly how soon it would be delivered, but I suppose as early as it is convenient for business to begin. Its contents are such as to make him wish to write to a merchant at B. Coach after coach starts for B, and performs the journey in less than four hours ; backwards and forwards, all day long, are they rattling and smoking.
The use of this word is a pledge that " Iota” is not a rash writer. -Ed.
Aye !” says his Majesty's postmaster, “ I guess what you are thinking of; but you must use no such unhallowed means of conveyance, on pain of being prosecuted as a thief. I shall have a nice lawful mail at seven o'clock this evening, and I'll take your letter to B.” “Much obliged,” replies the merchant, “ but that is the same mail which would take my answer to C, and I hope to use it for that purpose this evening, only I want to send to B in the meantime. You brought my letter this morning from C, and you are pleased to take an interval of thirteen hours and a quarter before you will set out with my reply; and may I not, in the meantime, send to B, (to do so and get a reply will take but seven or eight hours,) that I may know better what to write to my correspondent at C?" " Pardon me,'' rejoins the postmaster, “ I must insist on having the pleasure of conveying your letter to B. I will, as I told you, set it off at seven this evening; it will get to ® between ten and eleven; my agent will take great care of it till morning, and if he does not deliver it very early, it will make no great difference, for your correspondent at B will have the whole of Tuesday before him, as his answer to you cannot leave B until the next (that is, Wednesday,) morning, and you will get it at the same time as you did that from C this morning.”
Now here it will be observed that a letter and answer thus passing between two great commercial stations (A and B), and actually travelling less than seventy miles, will have delayed the letter from A to C just forty-eight hours ; of which time, it will only have been about seven hours actually travelling, the other forty-one hours being entirely lost time. To put it in another light, the postmaster says to the merchants of A,“ I know that you can send a letter to B in four hours, at almost any time of the day; but you cannot be permitted to send, or to receive, more than once, in the twenty-four hours; and it so happens that it is convenient for me to take your letters at so late an hour in the day that they cannot be delivered that night, and to take up the answers to them at B so very early in the morning that they must be written the preceding day: if you do not like this, you may have a post-office express, whenever you please, or you may send an express of your own.”
Now, Sir, I had actually written the foregoing, and had some more cases in my mind which I was about to state, when I took up the newspaper (St. James' Chronicle, for Nov. 5), and read a paragraph which has given quite a new turn to my ideas. To say the truth, I am quite puzzled, and do not know what to make of it. Except that I omit the name of the party and of places, it is verbatim as follows:
“ CAUTION TO PERSONS SENDING LETTERS BY COMMON CARRIERS. -A short time since, Mr. -, of —, having occasion to write to a person at -, in view to recover a debt, forwarded a letter to him by the van. Instead of replying to the communication as he ought to have done, he gave notice to the post-office that he had not received it by the ordinary means. The post-office immediately required a sufficient reason from Mr. for having deviated from the Act of Parliament, and that reason being insufficient, he has since been fined in the full penalty of 5l., with other costs, amounting to at least 21. more."- Kentish Chronicle.
This, as I have said, really puzzles me. I have not the act at hand, but does it contain any provision that I may,
for " sufficient reason, or what appears so to“ the post-office," “ deviate” from it? Surely, if the matter is on such a footing as it appears to be from this story, the post-office should publish what are and are not“ sufficient” reasons, and a list of indulgences or penalties in consideration of which it will permit us to break the law, or, to use the milder term, to deviate from the act. If they will do this, I shall be extremely happy to
my reason «
pay for permission to do what seems to be sometimes almost inevitable, but what at present cannot be done without breaking the law; and what, indeed, I should not like to do, even if I was sure that the post-office would be so kind as to consider
sufficient,” and not to fine me in the penalty of 51., put me to 21. expense for costs, and shew me up for a cheat in the newspapers. Again I say that this puzzles me; and before I proceed to what I was about to offer to the attention of your readers, I do beg, that any of them who may be able will inform me and others how the matter stands—not as to morality, that is clear enough, but as to fact and practice. In the meantime, I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
ST. MARTIN OF TOURS.
SIR,_Your correspondent “ H.” will, I hope, not be offended if I beg him to consider, that nothing is gained, in any case, to truth or charity, by bringing railing accusations against the deceased servants of God, even when the truth of such accusations is undeniable, unless the occasion makes it compulsory to bring it. But when such vituperation is brought against one whose memory the church of Christ has seen fit to honour, and that as well since the Reformation as before, it is not charity only, but decency, that is offended. The terms “most notorious and detestable personage,” in which “H.” has spoken of Bishop Martin of Tours, whose name the church of England has twice recorded in her calendar, and in whose memory many of our churches are named, was surely most wanton and gratuitous. (See the last number, p. 657.) I have not much knowledge of the history of that prelate, but “H.” must not be offended if I say, that his own acts of piety and benevolence must be great, indeed, if they will bear comparison with those which are generally ascribed to St. Martin. And even if there be ground for condemnation in the former part of his life, yet the words of the Son of Sirach are not to be forgotten—" Reproach not a man that turneth from sin, but remember that we are all worthy of punishment."
A RECTOR OF ST. MARTIN'S.
To how many
DESTITUTION OF THE CLERGY IN NORTH AMERICA. SIR,— The publications of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts have recently reached me. and how painful feelings do they give rise! In those periods which we are accustomed to denominate the dark ages--periods unquestionably of much ignorance and corruption of doctrine—a district in a Christian country without a church was a thing inconceivable to our rude forefathers. Yet, with our boasted light and purer creed, with our ample means and accumulated mercies, what is the state of British North America ? I quote from the 6th page of the correspondence published by the Society. The Bishop of Nova Scotia writes:-“I have allowed Mr. Elias Scovil to remain at present at
Kingston, but have encouraged him to expect no more than the Society's limited allowance of 501. a-year. Mr. Gilpin is so much in want of help at Annopolis, where he has now four churches and five regular congregations under his charge, and so anxious to obtain assistance, that I left Mr. Townshend for a few weeks with him.
My only difficulty is to determine to which of the numerous calls
I shall first give attention.” See again (p. 80) a letter written by Rev. T. Wood to the bishop, in which he states that for nine months of the year he has only been able to draw 151. 12s. 6d.; that he has denied himself and his family many common comforts to which they have been always accustomed ; that their food, for a long time, has been that of a humble fisherman ; yet, with all this, he finds himself 601. in debt-his dwelling a wretched dilapidated cottage, which has been abandoned by a distressed planter; and he requests permission to return to England. How much of a similar character might be extracted a very cursory examination of the correspondence would shew.
Now, let me ask, if the labourer, notwithstanding the Lord hath declared him worthy, be left without his hire—if the opportunities for God's worship, and for Christian ministrations and instructions, be not provided for hungering and thirsting" souls* in these extensive regions_shall not our forefathers, in the ignorance and corruptions of the eighth and nine centuries, rise up against us in the day of judgment and condemn many ?
But, alas! it is to be feared that these considerations are likely to prevail little with those whom it were most to be desired that they might reach. Cannot some means, then, be provided for relieving more effectually the necessities of our fellow Christians, and the laborious clergy of those territories ?
One thing has suggested itself to me:- Might not some sort of tabular statement, exhibiting the number of churches served by each clergyman, and the number of miles travelled in serving them, together with the salary obtained for performing these duties-and again, the number of places without churches and without clergymen, together with the population of such places, where it could be learnt-might not, I say, a statement of this kind be effectual in making known more widely the wants of our Christian brethren, and of their laborious and necessitous clergy ? Could any of your correspondents be induced to undertake a statement of this kind? I do hope there are many in this yet Christian country who would respond to it.
It is a miserable thought, that with a revenue of so many millions yearly, and with all the luxury which abounds in the country, there cannot be found the comparatively small sum requisite for enabling our fellow-subjects to worship the God of their fathers, and to obtain the benefits of stated and regular ministrations.
I fear I have scarcely written with the calmness which, on such a subject, were desirable ; but who can think on the destitute congrega
See Correspondence, p. 36, 90, &c. &c.
tions and necessitous* clergy of North America ; who can think of the measures attempted with respect to our Church in Ireland, and the present state of her clergy, and not experience something almost too painful for tranquil and subdued feeling ? Still, my trust, I hope, is in Him who is beyond all human help; and my unfeigned prayer is for the pardon and repentance of those who have done His Church this wrong.-I am, Sir, your obedient November 23rd, 1835.
ON THE DAYS OF CREATION. Sir,– In order to attain unto a correct understanding of the first and second chapters of Genesis, the Rev. W. B. Clarke, in a courteous spirit of investigation, has canvassed my opinions on that portion of Scripture in your December Number, p. 672. The following remarks are in answer to the difficulties which he has suggested against my interpretation.
With respect to my applying the vegetation of the third day to the coal measures, I would observe, that my interpretation does not at all require that the climate in which they grew should be “ tropical and insular,—which is merely a geological inference,—but only that the climate was very different from what it now is, or from what it was at the creation of the plants and herbs of the field in the time of Adam. It is remarkable, that the vegetation of the third day is said to have existed before the appearance of the sun (on the fourth day), and it therefore must have been such as would grow in a clouded atmosphere : that the atmosphere was humid, also, I infer from the circumstance that these plants flourished “when the Lord God rained not on the earth, but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” The purely scriptural inferences are, that the climate in which they were native was clouded and humid; the other geological additions must stand upon their own intrinsic merits. Whatever plants may possibly have disappeared from the coal measures, through long maceration in water, (and the experiments of Professor Lindley on this point are very interesting,) it is certain that tree ferns are abundantly found in those strata ; and Humboldt (as quoted by Mr. Lyell, book i., chap. 7.) observes, “ that it is in the mountainous, temperate, humid and shady parts of the equatorial regions, that the family of ferns produces the greatest number of species.” The coal plants brought from arctic regions present a difficulty to the geologist; for even supposing those countries to have possessed at that time a high temperature, and consequent humidity, could plants of tropical forms have flourished without the bright light of equatorial regions, and have lived through an arctic night of several months' duration ? Mr. Lyell has fully considered this point, and
To avoid all appearance of disingenuousness, I would mention, that I am aware of the partial relief subsequently granted to the present clergy of North America.
VOL. IX.-Jan: 1836.