"Familiar in their Mouths as HOUSEHOLD WORDS"—Shakespeare.
A WEEKLY JOURNAL.
CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS.
|No. 291.]||SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1855.||Price 2d.|
AN ENEMY'S CHARGE. A WELL-KNOWN ecclesiastical association, having for its members the Eev. W. H. Hale, Archdeacon of London ; the Eev. W. H. Hale, Canon Eesicientiary of St. Paul's ; the Eev. W. PI. Hale, Master of the Charter- house ; the Eev. W. H. Hale, Almoner of St. Paul's ; the Eev. W. H. Hale, Chaplain to the Bishop of London ; aiid the Eev. "W. H. Hale, Vicar of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, has lately been made the subject of virulent satire in a something purporting to be a charge addressed to the clergy of the archdeaconry of London, by W. H. Hale, M. A. The Archdeacon of London re- ceives about three hundred a-year ; the Canon of St. Paul's, six or seven hundred and a residence ; the Master of the Charter- house, eight hundred and a residence ; the Vicar of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, two thou- sand and a residence ; all which moneys flow into one pair of pockets, and all which resi- dences are the dwelling of a single priest. Now, taking hard advantage of the prejudice and scandal that arise from this fact, the enemy of the association save a man from himself ! depicts it in the shape of a great Pluralist dissatisfied with his pecuniary posi- tion, and addressing from the pulpit a large body of Christian ministers, who come to him for seasonable counsel, on the blessings of filth as a source of lucre. For this is, in fact, the substance of the charge to which we are referring. Death and burial are its solemn themes. The final aspirations of the Christian are connected with his thoughts of some departed souls ; but, to his spiritual pastors, the archdeacon is here represented as com- mending him chiefly in the form of one who is either a customer or dealer at another shop while living, and as resolving himself, when dead, into dust and gas, and money. Only in a land where there is L. S. D. instead of I. H. S. upon the pulpit- front, and a great ledger on the pulpit- cushion, could a charge like this have been delivered. When, in eighteen hundred and fifty, some attempt was made towards the shutting-up of over-crowded churchyards ; " in the month of December of that year returns were made," says the canon, " by the parishes and by the clergy to the Board of Health, of the amount of compensation which would be re- quired for the loss of their fees ; and I have it recorded in writing that the officers of the Board of Health, after receiving the returns from my own parish, intimated that the board would act with the greatest liberality towards individuals who should be affected by the act, such as the incumbent " (in- cluding the archdeacon, the canon, and the master of Charter -house), "the clerk and sexton. Thus far," it is said, " the legislature seemed inclined to adhere to the original pur- pose expressed in the appointment of the select committee in eighteen hundred and forty-two, respecting the rights of the clergy. But, though many of the clergy" (not in- cluding the archdeacon, the canon, and the master of Charter-house), "have been im- poverished, and all have encountered loss by the destruction of rights acknowledged by the legislature to exist, all thought of reme- dying the injury appears to be abandoned." This is set forth as the text of the arch- deacon's charge, and he is represented by his cruel satirist in the absence of all hope of compensation for the loss of intramural burial fees as striking out against those whom he is contemptuously made to call the patrons of the public health, and falling generally into a state of combativeness, very ludicrous to see. Thus he is even supposed to test the gravity of his reverend audience by maintain- ing that the abolition of intramural interment is injurious in the highest degree to religion and to morals, and that no proof has been as yet adduced, that English churches and churchyards, containing the bodies of the faithful of many by -gone generations, are in any way whatever sources of disease, or are dangerous to the public health. If it were possible to suppose this charge really offered by an archdeacon of London to the London clergy, it would be just as possible to receive it in the light of something in a much higher degree injurious to religion and morals than the shutting-up of over-crowded churchyards in the heart of a great city. It is true that there are ill-paid clergymen in London who have lost part of an almost necessary maintenance by the loss of churchyard fees. We heartily desire that they should have their rights. But the great VOL. XIL 291