I am quite in accord with the Bishop of Carlisle in trying to provide
a "living wage" for the clergy of this diocese, but I cannot quite see the
justice of calling upon the laity, in the first instance, to remedy the
inequalities which exist in church livings, and in this respect I know I am not
The first step should come from the church herself with respect to
equalisation of the benefices, as it seems nothing short of a scandal that one
incumbent should be drawing £1,000 a year for a small country parish, whilst
another has less than £100.
In this category I do not mean that there should not be prizes in the
Church. Were it not so, we should stifle ambition, and reduce the clergy to a
dead level. But the equalisation of benefices should be in accordance with the
work and population of a parish. In this respect sentimental ideas as to the
sacredness of bequests to the Church are allowed to stand too much in the
way. All the conditions may have undergone radical changes since the bequests
were made, and the probability is that the donor, if still in life, would have
altered the bequest in accordance with these changed conditions.
If the sum of £200 a year is taken as a "living wage" I do not for a
moment think it too much for a clergyman. Only it is fair to point out that
there are a much larger proportion of the laity, men of ability and education,
who are not receiving this wage, and who can scarcely be expected to get up much
enthusiasm or to dip deeply into their pockets to carry out a scheme to
enlarge the incomes of others; or, at all events, until the church has set her
house in order by equalising incomes.
Again, I take it that in small parishes where the incomes are under
£200, the full time of a clergyman cannot be taken up by his duties, and in
these days there are extraneous sources of income open to an educated man that
would prevent him spending his time in idleness, even, although, he may be a
clergyman, literature, teaching, horticulture, floriculture, botany, poultry, &c.,
and the pursuit of which would reflect no disgrace on his calling.
There are thousands of the laity who could not live, educate and bring
up their families, and place them in life where they depend solely upon what
they earn from their dependent profession, trade, or calling, so true it is
that providence helps those who try to help themselves. I trust the Advent
Sunday collections have come up to his Lordships anticipation's, whilst at the same
time conscious the response would have been greater had the Church prepared
the way for them. A slothful or indolent life can never be a useful life in
J. Roper ROBINSON.