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Fragments on Church Subjects,
On Parochial Matters. .
The gale still continues, though moderated. As the gusts and squalls during the night were less fitful, I am inclined to think it will lull by sunset. In St. Matthew, xiv. 32, our version has " the wind ceased,” but the Greek to me has always appeared very expressive-εκόπασεν ο άνεμος.
And so it has to me, notwithstanding the remark of that archcritic, Longinus, who, referring to a passage in Herodotus, calls the use of it άσεμνον και ιδιωτικόν'. In the New Testament the usage
of the term is borrowed from the LXX. It occurs, for instance, in the prophet Jonah, i. 11, 12; but the most striking example is in the Book of Numbers, xvi. 48: Kaì łKÓTAGEv ň Opañois, “ And the plague was stayed.”
Where, I observe, the metaphor is in like manner expressed by a plain English word.
Just so. And I confess I am quite contented with our Version as it is. The language is clear and intelligible—the sense almost always given in the plainest terms—no single doctrine compromised from the first chapter in Genesis to the last in the Revelation. Critical readers will individually be impressed with the deeper import of the original, as, for example, in the case we have just referred to, but the plain unlearned man, who reads to edifying, will have his heart equally enlarged. There is food for every palate there, and the spiritual manna is suited to each one's taste.
1 See Herod. lib. vii. c. 191, and Longin. 7. 'Y¥. xliii. 1.
EUBULUS. The plain and racy English of our Bible Translation is, I conceive, the standard of our language. It is to us, what Luther's translation is to the Germans; and the sooner the better they quit their present inverted modes of speech, and return to it.
ALETHES. We too should be more intelligible, and perhaps more intelligent, if we looked to the words, as well as the spirit of our own version. But, whether we do or no, God grant the doctrine be taken heed to, and our practice fashioned accordingly!
EUBULUS. Never did mortal man join more sincerely in that prayer than I do now! The time is come when God's Word should have free course in this land, and if it have not, terror and astonishment will eat up the inhabiters of it. If God's Spirit and God's Word do not animate the mass of ungodliness now weltering and festering in the sight of the sun, ruin must betide us. If the leaven of iniquity be not leavened with good, corruption and moral putrefaction must ensue.
No human effort must be spared, but we must, one and all, labour in the Lord, if we hope to avert that dreadful catastrophe which will be sure to be the result of a people“ destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (See Hos. iv. 6.)
ALETHES. On a future occasion I wish much to discuss the subject of education. Much is doing, and much remains to be done. Meanwhile, at all events, “ Occurrendum augescentibus vitiis, et medendum est ?.” We can all do something, however little, and that must be done.
2 Plin. Epist. ix. 37.
Would that all were impressed with this truth!
Let that pass for the present. To-day, Eubulus, I wish to revert to the conversation of yesterday. You studiously avoided saying any thing of the learned Selden, save and except when any immediate reference to his “ History of Tythes ” required it. I should much like to know your opinion of that great man--for such he was—and to hear if any thing traditional remains of him in the parish where he was born. But first of all say who was that old man whose voice I heard in the hall; I should know it well, methinks !
You know him well too, Alethes. He is one of a race almost extinct--an honest man with infirmities-old James Long, the Parish Clerk. Seventy and five years, man and boy, he has heard these Church bells call to prayer ; forty and five years he has officiated as clerk and sexton. When his turn to depart comes, I question if his place will be better filled. Obstinate, at times, as a quadruped I need not name, he is shrewd and intelligent, plain-spoken and trustworthy. A chronicler of bygone days he is familiar with every one's history, and his local knowledge is extensive. He takes heed to no changes, and is one of the most independent of the creation; respectful withal, and devotedly attached to his successive masters, as he familiarly calls the clergy. He is a keen observer, and has great knowledge of character. Otherwhiles,--to use a Sussex phrase,-his occupation is that of a gardener, and he has kept a diary for forty years and
The first thing he does, when his day's work is over, is to jot down his casual observations, more particularly as regards the weather. Some time ago he was offered a considerable sum of money for this document, but he declined to take it; and he was right. It is his familiar! He and his old wife—(you recollect that excellent woman)—are travelling fast down the vale
Whichever goes first, the other will not be long behind. The benizon of heaven rest on them both! I am fond of the old people, you know; and to him, perhaps, I may have done a good turn in my ministerial capacity. Her heart was set
on righteousness before. It would go hard with me to read the Funeral Service over their graves, Alethes ! I should not dare to trust myself. If that day arrives whilst I am here, I must join the mourners ! Perhaps the old man cannot say,—
“ In my youth I never did apply
Hot and rebellious liquors to my blood ;" but, nevertheless, his “age is as a lusty winter, frosty, but kindly :."
Well do I know the honest pair. I shall not leave you without seeing them. But tell me, Eubulus, what was he so earnest about?
EUBULUS. He came to speak of a Mortuary which he thought was his master's due. Mortuaries are still paid in this parish, according to the regulations of the statute 21 Hen. VIII. c. 6. The rates there are,-half a noble, a noble, and an angel, i.e. 38. 4d., 68. 8d., and 108. The latter is the highest sum specified ; in fact, the only Mortuary collected here. Any person who dies possessed of 401. and over is liable, by custom, to this payment. It is curious, I think, that the mark, i.e. 138. 4d., was not made the ne plus ultra, as most other dues in this parish are so regulated, and indeed were so calculated throughout the nation.
ALETHES, Curious enough, Eubulus, I was about to ask you yesterday as to the payment of Mortuaries, but we had so much other interesting matter before us, that it slipped my memory.
As it is a custom not altogether separate from tithes, I wish, before we turn to Selden, you would refer to your notes.
Willingly; but I have nothing more to tell you than what you may read in Blackstone. It was only the other day that I had occasion to examine what was said in Bracton, Lyndwood,
3 Shakspeare, departed !
you Like it,” Act II.
Since this was written the both are
and in Du Cange (in v. Mortuarium), and I may as well read to you the passage from Blackstone, as it contains the pith and substance of what others have written.
“ Mortuaries are a sort of ecclesiastical heriots, being a customary gift claimed by and due to the minister in very many parishes on the death of his parishioners. They seem originally to have been, like lay heriots, only a voluntary bequest to the Church; being intended, as Lyndewood informs us from a constitution of Archbishop Langham, as a kind of expiation and amends to the clergy for the personal tithes, and other ecclesiastical duties, which the laity in their lifetime might have neglected or forgotten to pay. For this purpose, after the lord's heriot or best good was taken out, the second best chattel was reserved to the Church as a mortuary: 'si decedens tria vel plura cujuscunque generis in bonis suis habuerit animalia, optimo cui de jure fuerit debitum reservato, Ecclesiæ suæ à quá Sacramenta recepit, dum viveret, sine dolo, fraude, seu contradictione qualibet, pro recompensatione subtractionis Decimarum personalium, necnon et oblationum, secundum melius animal reservetur, post obitum, pro salute animæ suæ *.' “And therefore, in the laws of King Canute, this mortuary is called the soul-scot (i.e. sapliceat) or symbolum animæ.' It was anciently usual in this kingdom to bring the mortuary to the Church along with the corpse when it came to be buried; and thence it is sometimes called a corse-present ; a term which bespeaks it once to have been a voluntary donation. However, in Bracton's time, so early as Henry III., we find it riveted into an established custom ; insomuch that the bequests of heriots and mortuaries were held to be necessary ingredients in every testament of chattels. 'Imprimis autem debet quilibet, qui testamentum fecerit, dominum suum de meliori re quam habuerit recognoscere ; et postea Ecclesiam de aliá meliori ;' the lord must have the best good left him as a heriot, and the Church the second best as a mortuary. And yet this custom was different in different places ; in quibusdam locis habet Ecclesia melius animal de consuetudine ; in quibusdam se
4 As the words are not given exactly by Blackstone, quote them direct from Lyndwood, lib. i. tit. iii. p. 19. Ed. 1679. See Blackstone, b. ii. c. xxviii.-iv. vol. ii. p. 424. Ed. Chitty.