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THE DEBATE ON THE SALE OF LIVINGS.

hung up in the lecture-room and the school-room, arranged in weekly order of merit. The chief punishments are cleaning out the rooms of their boarding-houses, and detention within college bounds on Sundays. The first seems to me to have all the objectionable character of corporal punishment, without any of its advantages; the second I look upon as a very good and effective means of discipline. I am, Sir, etc., W. D. Cox, A.C.P.,

Member of the Asiatic Society of Japan.




From The Spectator.

THE DEBATE ON THE SALE OF LIVINGS.

The House of Commons passed a resolution which may prove to be a mere "counsel of perfection," or a condemnation of an incurable evil, but may also prove to be the first serious blow at the existing system of patronage in the Church. It resolved, without a division and with the full consent of both parties, that measures must be adopted "to prevent simoniacal evasions of the law (intended) to check abuses in the sale of livings in private patronage," and the tone of the debate rendered the words a much more definite expression of legislators' opinion. It had been opened by Mr. Leatham, in a speech intended to denounce the sale of ecclesiastical patronage altogether, and throughout the practice was given up as indefensible, except upon grounds of practical expediency. Mr. Hardcastle, who moved the amendment which was carried, and which is quoted above, admitted the righteousness of Mr. Leatham's argument; and the home secretary, while he extenuated the sale of advowsons, denounced that of next presentations as almost infamous, "as a breach of a sacred trust," and as discreditable as the sale of a vote for the election of a member of Parliament. He unhesitatingly supported the amended resolution; not one single member in the most Conservative House of our time ventured to oppose it, and it was passed unanimously, amid expressions of regret, a very strong one in particular from Mr. Fawcett, that it was not quite broad enough. The direct sale of a presentation has in fact been pronounced by a Tory House of Commons an inexcusable, and indeed, shameful breach of trust.

Considering the excessive frequency of the practice, the enormous number of livings at present for sale, or exchange — the agents engaged in the traffic estimate the number at 1,676, and Mr. Leatham at two thousand — and the high character of many of those who buy and sell, this is a remarkable explosion of indignation, but it is not difficult to understand the unanimity of the House. An advowson is legally a property, and the right to sell it is, of course, defended by all those who are alarmed when any kind of property is attacked; while it is also protected by the extreme difficulty of discovering any other mode of transfer which should not destroy private patronage altogether, and so either place all benefices at the disposal of the State — a most dangerous course, in a country where governments must conciliate political opponents — or turn the Church into a self-appointing, self-renewing corporation of ecclesiastics. But the right to sell next presentations is not a property question. The sale never has been legal; the practice, even in the worst times of the Church, has always been discreditable; and it has never been defended by the official defenders of property, the great owners, who have regarded their claim to present as a source of power, not of pelf, and as a rule no more sell their livings than they sell their recommendations to the magistracy. The lawyers, who defend so many abuses, have always denounced this one, which is opposed to their instinct of obedience to definite law; and the Church, so often silent when profits are concerned — for instance, it is very doubtful if she would defend marriage fees from the religious side of her head — has no interest what ever in this practice, and has steadily discountenanced it. A bishop who sold his patronage, which is as much his as it is a layman's, and pocketed the proceeds, would be considered by every clergyman in England a mere scoundrel, wholly unworthy of the lowest as well as of the highest position in the Church. The whole body of the clergy, including those who have bought their livings, feel that the system is a scandal; while the laymen who side with them, and who are often more conservative than they are, are uneasily sensible that here is a weak place, a point upon which every Dissenting sect has an obvious advantage. The Nonconformist may, on occasion, appoint or dismiss a minister from motives which they would not care too frankly to avow; but at all events, they do not sell an office regarded as sacred for a price in tangible cash. They are not bribed to nominate this man or that man to the pastorate.