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sistence to an amount, to which the mere wages of the cottager, having a family of children, have been utterly inadequate. At the same time, a moment's consideration will shew, that it would have been not merely hazardous, but absolutely impracticable, to have raised the wages of labour to an amount proportionate to the enhanced price of corn. It would have appeared that the manufacturer could not have proceeded to employ his -men, nor the agriculturist to have tilled the ground for wheat, at such an enormous price of labour : and the consequence must have been, that the poor man, prohibited by law from taking that price for his labour which his employer could afford to give, must have resorted as a pauper to his parish; the manufactures of this island must have been stopped; and the cultivation of wheat have been checked in every part of this kingdom. What, however, could have been done, has been effected, -by internal economy of food,-by external supply of rice, Indian meal, salted fish, and many other articles thrown, in large quantities, into general use and circulation : subscriptions to a large amount have been raised throughout the kingdom; and great exertions have been made by the rich, and (I observe it with the sincerest pleasure) excellent dispositions manifested by our poor necessitous brethren.
With the blessing of Gon, we may hope that the pressure of the scarcity will soon be diminished; and that we shall have been made wiser, better, and more affectionate to one another, by what has passed. But there is one circumstance, which, at the present, I am anxious to press upon the consideration of yourselves and the overseers; viz. that as, after two seasons of deficient, crops, it cannot be supposed that one single harvest, however abundant, can have the effect of restoring plenty to the granaries of this country; so, with regard to the cottager, it must not be expected that, after the scarcity of these two seasons, and a consequent depression in his circuinstances, and after the habit has been acquired of resorting by necessity to parish relief, he should be able to resume at once his former situation, without inuch judicious aid and encouragement from the other classes of society, to supply him with renewed strength and spirit. Attentions of this kind are peculiarly required at the present moment, to enable the cottager to get forward again in the world, and to raise him above the call
of parochial relief, after he has been embarrassed in his little system of finance, and depressed in spirit and selfestimation, as well as in circumstances. There is nothing so dangerous or fatal to this kingdom (the progress of vice and INFIDELITY only excepted) as the increase of the list of paupers. I am, therefore, most anxious to impress on your minds, and on the minds of the overseers, that in every instance in which, either by act or omission, you habituate or impel the cottager to resort to his parish as a pauper for relief, you add to the parochial burthens, you diminish the number of useful poor, and you do irretrievable injury to your parish ; that, on the contrary, whenever, by assistance in sickness, or under the pressure of temporary calamity, by aid in the education and placing out of their children, by the provision of healthful and equable employment, by addition to their domestic resources and means of life, and by the supply of potatoe-grounds, cow-pastures, and other objects of occupation and attention for their vacant hours, you inspirit the labouring poor to depend on their own industry, and not on their parish, for the maintenance of themselves and their children, you promote the interest of your respective parishes, the welfare of
your country, and the general happiness of mankind. The duty of the overseer is confined to the temporal comfort and welfare of his fellow subjects; in addition to that necessary concern, your office takes a more elevated sphere of action, and directs you in aid of the sacred order, to contribute to the prevalence of religion, virtue, morality, and decency within your parish. It is peculiarly fortunate that those functions are accompanied with the power and obligation of promoting also the temporal benefit of the poor. Without religious improvement all animal gratification is vain and unsatisfactory; and those who are regardless of the personal and domestic comforts of the poor, can have but little prospect of possessing an influence over the heart. Pressed down by indigence and necessity, the soul is not always able to look up with hope, and address itself with
energy, to the consolation of religion.
In despotic empires, the care of public morals, and of public safety, is vested exclusively in the governing power. But in this free kingdom, it is the duty of every inhabitant of the British isles, to endeavour in his station of life, to be the BEN FF.Actor of his country; and by his
his own example, and by the execution of those functions (whether public or private, whether elevated or subordinate) with which he may be entrusted, to endeavour, to the extent of his power, to promote industry, prudence, morality, and religion, in that favoured country, to which he has the happiness to belong. As a churchwarden, exclusively of those functions which you exercise jointly with the parochial overseers, your duty is twofold; first, that which relates to the care of the church and church-yard, and to the providing and preserving those things of the church, the property whereof the law hath vested in you in your corporate capacity; and secondly, that duty which respects the guardianship of morals within the precincts of your parish; in some few instances to correct, and in others to present to the bishop, to the archdeacon, or his official, such notorious immorality or offence, as is deserving of public notice and punishment. With regard to the first of these duties, the care and reparation of the church, I beg to impress upon your minds, that so far as your power extends, you should keep the house of God in such a state, that every individual within Jour parochial limits may have the means and inducement to attend public worship in the church, and through the meditation of our RE DEEMER, to offer up prayer and praise to our CREATor. Before the period of the Reformation, every part of the parish church was open and free to all parishioners, of whatever rank and condition. Local circumstances, and the unimpeached prescription of above two centuries, may have given exclusive claim to certain seats in favour of particular persons. But no lapse of time would produce an exclusion of the parishioner from his own parish church, to which he is liable to be rated for its repairs and support; or would exempt the guardian of his spiritual and temporal rights (the dignified station in which you stand) from exerting all the power with which the law has entrusted him, to provide proper accommodation in the parish church for every individual within your parish ; and to hoid out every inducement that your public or private situation affords, to encourage their attendance. This, gentlemen, is your first duty, for it is implicated with the prevalence of general and operative Christianity in this country. Connected with it is the repair and conservation of the fabric; in which it behoves yon 110 L not to omit any act of reparation, which the preserving of the building, or the services of the church, demand; nor to propose or direct any unnecessary or superfluous works for the decoration of your church, from motives of a partial or private nature. The church-yard should also be an object of your care, that the inclosure and bounds thereof be duly preserved; and in those instances, where the proprietors of adjoining lands are liable to any ascertained proportion of the expense of inclosure, that they may be required and compelled to bear or contribute such proportion. You will also have respect to its sacred and appropriate use, and not permit feasts, games, or any profane or worldly occupation, to be held or followed within its precincts. Though the freehold of the church and church-yard is by law placed in the rector or vicar, the property and possession of the things appertaining to the church are vested exclusively in you. It is your duty to provide and preserve those goods and ornaments, which the decent character of our reformed religion hath deemed expedient for the rites of religious worship; and to see that they are, at all times, in suitable order and condition. In those parishes where the churchwardens have long been in the habit of making provision for religious offices within their church, it will be unnecessary for me to enumerate the several articles which our ecclesiastical canons have directed shall be provided for the duties thereof. The reading desk, Jo, desk, the surplices, the bible and prayer-book, the pulpit, the font, the register books for marriages, baptisms, and burials; the bier, the church bell, the altar, the chalice, bason, and other articles proper for the ministration of the holy communion, though formerly the objects of special ecclesiastical injunction, are now so regularly provided, as to render the detailed naming of them superfluous; and it may be sufficient in me to say, that it is your duty to see that every particular is provided and kept, which is requisite for the performance of divine service in your church, and for the public religious duties of the parishioners. It may be useful, however, to notice that, by the canons of our church, it is provided, not only that the ten commandments, but that “chosen sentences shall, at the charge of the parish, be written on
venient.” I would recommend it therefore to you to consider, how far certain passages of Scripture, selected by the minister, and proposed to the public eye, may have a beneficial effect on the spectator; and, in case the benefit of that effect is prevented by the omisSion of that which is enjoined you, whether you are not responsible for the consequences of that omission. For the repairs of the church, and of the churchyard, and for providing and keeping in neat condition, the goods appertaining to the church, so that all things may be done decently and in order, you are authorized, together with the majority of the parishioners, assembled upon public notice given in the church (or, if none assemble on such notice, then of your own authority) to levy an equal rate upon the occupiers of land and houses in the parish (the rectorial and vicarial estate only excepted, in respect of their contribution to the repairs of the chancel) such sum or sums of money as shall be wanted; this rate being to be recovered, and its payment enforced, in the ecclesiastical courts, and not elsewhere; except under such peculiar circumstances as require a trial by common law. With respect to the alms for the poor, which shall be received by you, while sentences of the offertory are reading in the communion service, I would suggest to your consideration, and to that of the minister, whether it be strictly right to apply, them in aid and as part of the parochial rate; and whether the conscientious application of them (not to refer in this instance to any prudential motives) will not be more attendcd to, in distributing them to poor and religious cottagers and housekeepers, who are not chargeable to the parish; and who by such judicious assistance and encouragement, may be induced to persevere, without recurring to the parish; rather than by a different mode of distribution, to throw them into the general mass of the parochiai funds, or to apply them for the benefit of the immediate objects of parochial relief. Your appointment, strictly speaking, is only for the year; but it will continue in force until your successors are elected. To them will then devolve any right of action theretofore vested in you in your corporate capa$ity; and not exercised during your continuance in office. In their name any remedy for the recovery of the proPerty of the church, or for the enforcing of the point; O