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they either have, or think they have, had all the books that they care to read. If, then, the proprietor of the library can, at this point, exchange it for another, established in a neighbouring village, he can revive the declining appetite by offering his neighbours a feast of new intellectual viands. There will be, again, a run upon the book-shelves; and, again, pleasant and improving occupation will be in the reach of all who have their own time at their disposal, and who are often driven into evil courses, solely by the want of "something better to do."
A different description of institution, but one not less serviceable in a country village, is the savings club. This matter of the savings of the poor, is one with which legislatures have concerned themselves, but to which, nevertheless, individuals may well direct their attention. If any benevolent lady, on some stated day of every week, will receive the savings of the poor-no matter how small the weekly contribution-and return it to them at the end of the year, say on Christmas day, with, or even without interest, she will draw largely upon the gratitude of her humble neighbours. The club will not have been long in operation, before, on taking her place at the desk, with her accountbook before her, there will be a crowd of women and children at her door, and a perfect shower of pence ready to descend upon her table. It would be superfluous to discourse upon the good that is done by engendering habits of providence among the poor, or upon the delight with which the hoarded pence are welcomed back again, by old and young, at the end of the year, perhaps with some seasonable addition, from the purse of the disinterested banker. But we may remark, that not the least of the advantages resulting from such an institution, is the means of intercommunication that it affords the opportunity which it yields of improving our acquaintance with the habits and histories of our lowly neighbours.
But it is time now, that, having indicated some of the many means at the disposal of the laity, for the improvement of the condition of the poor in our country villages, we should say something about the especial duties of the clergy. There are many points, on which the two writers, whose works we have named at the head of this article, concur strikingly in opinion; and in nothing is this more apparent than in their estimate of the lukewarmness of the Anglican Ministry. What the one has thrown out incidentally in the pages of his brief fiction, the other has laid down in a more authoritative and didactic manner, but still with no want of genuine feeling. Here is a little outline, sketched by the former, of one type of the English clergyman, and not, we fear, a very uncommon one in the South :"Before the advent of the Arnolds the parish had been much ne
Remissness of the Clergy.
glected. The previous incumbent was a rich man, who might have done great things for the poor. But having the power he had not the will. He drove through the village sometimes in his high, doublebodied, well-horsed phaeton, from which his liveried servant pompously descended to deliver a message at the clerk's door; but the poor people said of him that he never entered their cottages even to ask if there was a bible on their shelves."—Gilbert Arnold.
Such a man marches, with a stately formality along the high road of clerical life, as though he had become a successor of the Apostles," only to preach a dull sermon once a-week, out of a wooden box; and, perhaps, to study church architecture. It is, indeed, as the author of Friends in Council says, "past melancholy, and verging on despair."
"Meanwhile it is past melancholy and verges on despair, to reflect what is going on amongst ministers of religion, who are often but too intent upon the fopperies of religion to have heart and time for the substantial work entrusted to them-immersed in heart-breaking trash from which no sect is free; for here are fopperies of discipline, there fopperies of doctrine, (still more dangerous as it seems to me.) And yet there are these words resounding in their ears, 'Pure religion and undefiled is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep one's-self unspotted from the world.' And the word 'world,' as Coleridge has well explained, is this order of things, the order of things you are in. Clerical niceness and over-sanctity for example, and making more and longer sermons than there is any occasion for, and insisting upon needless points of doctrine, and making Christianity a stumbling-block to many, that excellent clergymen, for there are numbers who deserve the name, that is your world, there lies your temptation to err."-Companions of my Solitude, p. 113.
These long and weary sermons are, we say, conceived by many English clergymen to constitute their weekly work; and yet, even in the pulpit, the Anglican Ministry are for the most part very cold and formal-much given to descant upon certain set themes, in a hard didactic manner, and never reaching the hearts of their congregations. We are told of Mr. Earle's model minister, that it had always been his wont, more or less, to adapt his public preaching to parochial circumstances; and in this lay the secret of the interest he awakened-the success he accomplished among his hearers. And more than one illustration of this practice, and its results, is given in the course of the story. It would be well if the practice were more general in actual life. It is, simply, to make the dry bones live-to clothe with leafy verdure the barren tree. Men sit out a sermon, carry off not a word of it, and then go home to read with interest long articles in their Sunday paper. They read
the articles, because there is a certain a-propos-ism about them, because they relate to subjects of passing interest, and could not by any possibility have been brought out, covered with dust, from an old drawer. It is the absence of all special application, which generally renders our pulpit discourses so dull and lifeless. It would often seem, as though the preacher had no other object than to acquit himself of certain obligations imposed upon him, as the condition of his being allowed to receive annually, certain hundreds of the parochial money. A fixed minimum of work is to be got through. It does not much matter how. The Sunday duties are supposed to be the duties of the week-the pulpit to be the limit of the sphere of ministerial action. Far other are the views of ministerial obligations, taken by the writers before us. Mr. Earle's model clergyman is one of a very different stamp :
“Mr. Arnold was one of those who believe, that only a small part of their ministerial work is to be done within the walls of the church; and he spent much of his time in the cottages of his poorer neighbours. It was a sore trial to him, therefore, when he found that he was little able to go abroad; for though he threw open the doors of the rectory, and invited all to enter them, who needed his assistance and advice, he felt that their occasional visits to his study were but a poor substitute for his visits to the cottage parlours of his lowly brethren. It is hard to say how much the aspect of those little parlours had improved since Mr. Arnold and his gentle daughter, with an abundant store always of kind looks and cheering words, and often with more substantial but scarcely more welcome blessings, had been wont to cast the sunshine of their presence across the threshold of those cottage-homes. None knew better than Mr. Arnold, the intimate connexion between household comfort and Christian morality-and none ever did more to encourage the growth of the former, by demonstrating his paternal interest in the welfare of the poor, and teaching them to have respect for themselves. Many a clean and orderly home, with its little plot of well-cultivated garden ground, and its little shelf of books in-doors, owed its existence, where once had been waste and disorder, to the neighbourly visits of the rector of Little Millbrook."
We have already spoken of the good effect of the visits of the laity to the cottages of the village poor. It is obvious that the visits of the minister must be operative for far greater good :—
"There should," says the author of Friends in Council, "be some better means of communication between rich and poor than there is at present. It seems as if the priests of all religions might perform that function, and that it should be considered one of the most important functions. It should be done, if possible, by some persons who come amongst the poor for other purposes than to relieve their poverty."-Companions of my Solitude, p. 109.
Influence of the Clergy.
Unquestionably it should; and equally true is the converse of this proposition. The great moral and religious truths which we are anxious to inculcate for the guidance and improvement of the poor ought to be impressed upon them by those who do not go among them only to teach. It is the union of the two offices of the earthly and the spiritual comforter-which works so mightily upon the natures of the ignorant and the suffering. Any person of education and of superior worldly station goes among the poor and the unenlightened as one having authority, and is listened to with respect. There is an instinctive looking upwards, which renders the work of instruction, if accompanied with consolation, comparatively an easy task. But it must be accompanied with consolation. The one must ever aid the other. Now, in the case of laymen, the work of instruction must be subordinate to that of consolation. We mean that the primal object of the visit to the poor cottage must be to inquire into, and as far as possible to relieve the physical wants of its inmates. It may be, indeed, a mere visit of inquiry, a casual dropping in, with no apparent or at least obtrusive object; and probably such visits are of all the most appreciated. Advice may often, in such cases, be insinuated with good effect; but there are a thousand things which a minister may ask and say, which would be regarded and perhaps resented as impertinences, if uttered by those who have not the ministerial privilege and authority. It is the clergyman's office to teach; and he goes among his poorer brethren, not merely with the authority of a person of superior rank and education, but with an official stamp upon him, which gives currency to everything that he utters. He may ask any question; he may tender any advice. The effect of his inquiries and his explanations may be increased or diminished by the amount of tact and good feeling apparent in his communications with his humbler neighbours; but he will always have an advantage over the layman. He will always be able to accomplish more than even the wealthiest of his parishioners. He may have the means of giving less at his disposal; he may have less wisdom, less experience, less kindliness, than his secular neighbour. But the ministerial office makes good every deficiency; it supplies what is wanting, and strengthens what is weak, and gives to the most insignificant of men an extrinsic importance, in the eyes of the poor, of which nothing can wholly divest him.
So strong, indeed, among the poor is the instinctive feeling that, in seasons of difficulty and perplexity, the minister is to be looked to for advice and assistance, that even those who seldom or never enter the Church and openly profess no personal respect for the incumbent, will at such times talk of betaking themselves to him in their trouble, and perhaps carry the resolution into
effect. And this will happen even in parishes where little encouragement is given to such confidences, and the minister is rarely, if at all, to be seen in the houses of the poor. Unless there be some open and notorious scandal in his way of lifeand such a state of things cannot exist for any length of time without bringing its remedy-the clergyman of the parish is generally regarded as a man wiser and holier than his neighbours. However lightly he may regard the obligations and responsibilities of the ministerial office, he cannot wholly destroy its prestige. It will cling to him in spite of himself.
It is an easy matter, therefore, for a clergyman to establish such an empire in the hearts of his parishioners, as will enable him almost to do with them whatsoever he will. Of course, such power is liable to abuse. We know that it has often been terribly abused by the priesthood of a religion that wages war against our own; but even from the practice of that priesthood some lessons may be learnt-fas est ab hoste doceri-and the essential difference of Romanism and Protestantism is such, that the ascendency of which we speak, though in the one instance it may take the shape of an intolerable tyranny, in the other is nothing more than a mild pastoral influence-the sovereignty not of fear but of love.
At all events, it is very dreadful to see the blank indifference of a considerable section of our Protestant clergy, and the heartbreaking results of the apathy we deplore. An English village with an apathetic minister is pretty sure to be a hot-bed of immorality. It is not to be wondered at. When the shepherd is asleep, the sheep will stray. The efforts of the laity, in such a case, may accomplish something; but when the minister discourages, or perhaps opposes them, it is up-hill work for private benevolence. It is a terrible thing to write, but we have known instances of English clergyman who have resented the charitable endeavours of their parishioners as impertinent intrusionsflagrant trespasses, as it were, on the ministerial domain in which they themselves never plant a foot. The village-priest, who himself is active in well-doing, delights in the co-operation of the laity. But it is not difficult to understand why the man who neglects his own duty should be chagrined by the foreign activity which renders his own neglect more revoltingly apparent.
In the end, then, it comes to this: There is so much to be done -and so easy and so pleasant is the doing of it-in our country villages, that when we learn that this or that "Little Millbrook❞— some charming little country nook, remote from towns, on which nature seems to smile at all seasons of the year-is lapped in anything but a state of Arcadian purity and simplicity, it were well that we should not declaim against the wickedness of the poor and