Page images
PDF
EPUB

Manufactures and agriculture go hand in hand, and encourage each other; but foreign commerce and colonial possessions are certain drains on the mother country, for the benefit of comparatively few; as they must be supported by wars and taxes, beyond their relative worth."-Hear! Hear! LOCAL TAXES.-POOR RATE.-Assessing.In the sec tion," Size of Farms," Dr. Mavor elicits a novel and good idea (susceptible I conceive of improvement); namely, that of assessing the occupiers of lands, toward the maintenance of the poor,-not simplexly according to the rental value of the lands in occupancy, but jointly with the sizes of farms; as for instance, a farm of 50l. a year should be assessed at 6d. in the pound, rent; 100l. at 74d.; 150l. at 9d.; 2002. at 10 d.; 250l. at 18.; 300l. at ls. 1d.; 3507. at 1s. 3d. ; 400l. at 18. 6d. ; and so on in proportion." p. 79.

[ocr errors]

It appears to be evidently unjust that a working farmer, a man who cultivates his farm by the labor of his own family-by himself, his wife, and his children-should pay in equal proportion with one who cultivates his, by the means of hired servants and laborers; who and whose children may be liable to become burdensome.-A law to assess to the poor, in proportion to the number of workpeople employed, not in AGRICULTURE, only, but in MANUFACTURES and TRADE in general,-would, in my opinion, be founded in right reason. The working farmer, however, ought not to be wholely exempt; inasmuch as some part of his family might eventually become chargeable to the parish.

P. 101. "Moveable property, as far as I have obtained In Abinginformation on the subject, is seldom assessed. don, however, where the rates in St. Helen's parish now average about 68. 6d. on a three-fourths value, and in St. Nicholas' about 78. 6d., on a two-thirds value, stock is charged in a moderate proportion; and in towns where the poor is numerous, from the decline of manufactures or other causes, it seems not only just, but expedient, that the poor's rate should be assessed on moveable as well as immoveable property.

"Instead of this, I have to lament, that in some parishes, the proprietor of a cottage and a garden, who lives by his daily labour, and onght to be an object of respect and indulgence, because he keeps himself from being chargeable to the parish, is assessed in his full proportion; while a person who is making hundreds a year by trade or a profession, pays only to the poor for the premises he occupies."

Average of Poor Rate.-P. 101. "From a variety of calculations, and taking a number of averages from accurate data, I find that the poor's rate on the actual rents

F2

throughout

throughout the county, does not exceed 3s. 4d. in the pound."

P. 108. "The poor's rate, on the nominal, but not on the real rent, in most parishes which are not very populous, and where there is a considerable quantity of land, pretty much divided in occupation, averages about 4s. 6d. in the pound."

In a section entitled "Poor," in the chapter " Obstacles to Improvements," a series of well intentioned remarks appear. The following are worthy of transcription.

P. 475." The characters of men are influenced by circumstances, and are formed by habits; and the only effectual means, in my opinion, of ameliorating the condition of the lahouring poor, and of giving them honorable feelings and impressions, is to assist and direct their endeavours in the path of independence.

"The first step is to render their cottages comfortable, and to give them an interest, if possible, in this kind of property, which is dear to every mind not wholly lost to sensibility and reflection. In a former section I have delivered my sentiments on this subject, and I wish to enforce them here. Nothing would more tend to make men good labourers, good husbands, good fathers, and good subjects, than a property in their homes, or an assurance that they would not be dispossessed, except by their own misconduct, with such a portion of land for a garden, &c. as would employ their leisure hours, without drawing them off from their regular engagements."

P. 479. The number of public houses is unquestionably a nuisance; and that country is in a lamentable state where the Machiavelian principle of private vices being public benefits,' is acted on, however much it may be disguised. The poor, however, not only require, but are entitled to comforts and occasional relaxations; and if they cannot brew their own beer, it would be a humane and charitable action if the persons by whom they are employed, would allow them from time to time a certain quantity of table beer at prime cost, without being subject to any duty. To the gentleman or the farmer, the trouble of brewing a few bushels or quarters of malt extra, would be but trifling-to the poor the accommodation would be great."

"Connected with the amelioration of the condition of the poor, a virtuous education is also indispensably requisite. Their duty to God, to their neighbour, and themselves, they should have an opportunity of knowing, not by accident, but by systematic arrangements. Where the parent is unable, the parish officers should see that every child be taught by some competent person, to be paid by them, the principles of religion, and the practice of morals."-This is a

valuable

valuable suggestion,-well entitled to the consideration of legislators. For the close of those remarks, see Workpeople, ensuing.

TITHES. This subject is repeatedly brought forward, in the Report under review. We reach, however, nearly the close of the work, before we fully discover that the writer of it is personally interested in the subject.-P. 490. "Neither popular prejudice nor the esprit du corps have, I trust, biassed my sentiments."-This impels us to admire, the more, the candor with which he has treated it.

But waving the doctor's sentiments concerning the nature and tendency of tithes, I will here attend to their operation, in the County under Report.

P. 91. "The highest composition for vicarial tithes in this district being only 3s. per acre in dairying farms, and the highest rectorial no more than 7s. in the most productive and well cultivated parishes; while several vicars, to my knowledge, have only the very low composition of 9d. in the pound rent, and rectors 4s. so that, taking the average of vicarial compositions, they do not exceed is. 3d. in the pound, nor great tithes 5s. This must obviously be extremely reasonable; and I can add, from a very minute investigation of the fact, that not one rector in ten takes his tithes in kind; and I heard only of one or two vicars who did so, and who were probably driven to this measure, by the stubborn opposition of their parishioners*. Yet notwithstanding this indulgence, I will not disguise that complaints exist of the hardship of tithes from the farmer, and of the unpleasant situation in which the incumbent is sometimes placed, by trying to raise his humble benefice to twothirds, or even one-half of its real worth. Hence there must be something radically wrong in a system, which excites prejudices in the most liberal and enlightened minds, and which equally militates against the interests of religion and the interests of agriculture."

Under this liberal impression Dr. M. adverts to a COMMUTATION OF TITHES.-His thoughts on the subject are clearly expressed in the subjoined extract.-P. 94. “A corn-rent alone is found to be an inadequate mode of commutation; but taking the three great articles of life in every family, bread, meat, and malt, the clergyman would be se

cure

"I will candidly own, that except in extreme cases, it is seldom beneficial to the clergy to take up their tithes. The expence of servants and horses, and the charge of poor rates, to which they are thus rendered liable, must inevitably absorb all the profits which can accrue, over and above the terms of a fair composition, while the chance of being unpopular or unhappy, must be increased in a tenfold degree."

cure from injury, and the farmer paying only in proportion to the value of his produce, would have no reason to complain. It will be observed, however, that I wish the laws uniformly to act for the benefit and security of the parochial minister, without subjecting him to the necessity of coming forward in a personal and partial light. By these means, what he might lose in the influence of fear, would be amply compensated for on the principle of love; without which he can seldom be happy himself, or discharge the duties of his sacred office with effect and satisfaction.

"Where lands have been exonerated from tithes by an act of parliament, and an allotment made in land in lieu of them, even where an adequate value has been given, which in no instance that has fallen within my notice is really the case, it is throwing too much land into mortmain, it is subjecting the incumbent to all the cares and incumbrances of landed property, and driving him to the necessity of becoming a farmer, for which he is often ill qualified, or of letting his lands, according to the existing laws, on such conditions, that improvement must be checked, and industry languish."

Tithe of Wood.-P. 99. "Vicars are usually entitled to the tithe of woods. At Hurley, a composition, under a decree of chancery, which has been hitherto acquiesced in, though certainly not binding, is paid in lieu of nine loads of billet wood, at the rate of 12s. per load, though the fair value is from 36s. to 42s. per load. Even the nine loads of billet wood seem to have been a still more ancient composition, in lieu of the value of the tithes, on cutting the woods formerly belonging to Lord Lovelace."

Other ancient Customs, in Berkshire, relating to Tithes.P. 99. "The parishioners who pay tithes to my respected friend, the vicar of Cumner, formerly one of the largest parishes in the county, have a claim of being entertained at the vicarage, on the afternoon of Christmasday, with four bushels of malt brewed into ale and beer, two bushels of wheat made into bread, and cwt. of cheese. An allowance in money is now made in lieu of this singular entertainment.

"At Southmoreton, where there are four tithings, one of them belongs to the rector solely, and another jointly with a layman, in which the tithes are taken in kind, and their produce being divided into five parts, the rector has two of them. The other tithings are in lay hands."

INLAND NAVIGATION.-The Reporter appears to have paid particular attention to this important branch of political economy, in a populous Country. In the section, "Navigable Rivers and Canals," we find interesting accounts of

the

the navigations of the rivers Thames and Kennet; of the Kennet and Avon Canal, and of the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal.

The subjoined extracts convey an interesting account of the INLAND TRAFFIC of a rich and populous line of Country. P. 427. "Berks, though an inland county, has peculiar advantages in respect to its navigations. The river Thames, which forms its boundary on the north and north-eastern side; the river Kennet, and the Kennet and Avon canal, which pass through the most southern parishes for nearly three-fifths of its extent; and that part of the Wilts and Berks canal, nearly executed, within its limits, on the north-west, have precluded the necessity of projecting any future increase of navigations within the county. Upon inspection of the map, it will be perceived, that in the western division of it, no part of the area of the triangle formed by the Thames on the north-east, by the Kennet on the south, and by the Wilts and Berks canal on the west, is distant more then twelve miles from water carriage; and in the east and south-eastern parts, when we consider that the Basingstoke canal is carried in a line nearly parallel to, and only about eight miles distant from its southern boundary, we find in that division of the county no place more than twelve miles distant, either from that navigation, the Thames, or the Kennet.

"Of all these navigations, the first in importance is the river Thames, almost the whole of whose navigable stream, not within the jurisdiction of the corporation of the city of London, washes the borders of this county in a circuitous course of nearly 105 miles. For neither Lechdale, to the west, where it first becomes navigable, nor Staines, to the east, where the city jurisdiction commences, are far from the limits of Berkshire.

"The antiquity of the navigation of this river may be traced beyond any records of parliament, to the reigns of Henry II. and III., at which time it appears, that barges (naves) brought down wood for firing from the upper part of the Thames to London. For the passage of these barges, a custom or toll, called 'avalagium,' was paid, which having been farmed, appears to have been part of the royal revenue."

P. 431. "From Lechlade to Staines stone, the distance is 108 miles, the fall being 225 feet; and as the fall from Staines to the tide-way at Brentford is 45 feet, the total height of Lechdale above the sea appears to be about 270 feet."

P. 433. "The exports from the country adjacent to this river consist of corn, wool, timber, and woodland produce. Corn is conveyed principally in its manufactured state, as

F4

flour,

« PreviousContinue »