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I have a thousand Things to say to your
Lordship, on this copious Head, which I shall reserve for some future Occasion, and for the Sake of Method, confine myself at present (though I hate Con. finement of every Kind) to a particular Branch of our scanty Revenue, commonly known by the Name of LECTURESHIPS,
Your Lordship being much better acquainted with ecclesiastical History than myself, could probably acquaint me with the Origin and Rise of these PAUPERTATIS SUBSIDIA: as I am not, however, very ambitious of tracing the Source of this muddy Spring, I shall defer the Search to another Opportunity, and content myself with observing. (a Truth which I am every Day more and more convinced of) that the Establishment of Lectureships, in and about London, has been extremely prejudicial to the inferior Clergy of this Kingdom, and contributed, in a great Measure, to bring upon the whole Body that Poverty and Contempt into which they are now fallen; that the Methods by which they are obtained are highly unbecoming our Character, and the Means made Use of to support them inadequate to the Duty performed ; that they are acquired, in short, with Difficulty, lost with Ease, and very few of them worth the keeping : which I will endeavour to prove to your Lordship in as few Words as poffible.
It may not, perhaps, be improper, when I talk of SERMONISERS, to follow the usual SERMON Method, and divide my Subject into three or four general Heads; and though I would not, as Lord Shaftsbury says, · Bring my Two's and Three's be• fore a fashionable Congregation,' yet, as I am talking only to your Lordship, and what passes may never go much further than ourselves, I may as well adopt the TexTUAL Manner ; (there, my Lord, is a new Word for Johnson's Dictionary).
I shall I shall proceed therefore,
To consider how LECTURESHIPS are carvafled for.
What is expected from them,. And
How they are paid, and what Emoluments usually arise to the Poffeffors of them.
First therefore, my Lord, with Regard to the canvassing for Lectureships, as usually practised amongst us, I will venture to affert, it is an Ena ployment utterly inconsistent with the Character, and unbecoming the Dignity of a Clergyman, an Office greatly beneath the Attention of Genius and Learning, and highly unsuitable to all the Notions of Life imbibed in the Course of a genteel and liberal Education.
The Choice of a LECTURER in this Metropolis is generally vested in the whole Body of the Parish, consisting, for the most Part, of ordinary Trades men, sometimes very low Mechanics, Persons not always of the most refined Manners, or delicate Sensations. Your Lordship, I am sure, must remember, how cavalierly, when we were at Cambridge, (for which by the bye, we deserved to be horse-whipped) we used to treat the CANAILLE; if an honest Tradesman came dunning to our Room of a Morning before Lecture, we tipped the NON DOMI upon him; or if by Chance he gained Admittance, and grew importunate in his Solicitations, without further Ceremony fhewed him the nearest Way down Stairs. Little did some of us
think what a different Behaviour we should one Day be obliged to affume towards some of their illustrious Brethren in this Metropolis.
The common People, my Lord, in this Kingdom of Liberty, are of so combustible a Nature, that the least Point of Dispute blows them up into a Flame: a Contest about Church-Wardens, the Choice of a select Vestry-Man, or a paltry Lectureship, shall set as many sober Ciyizens together by. the Ears as a County Election. To say the Truth, there is now-a-days almost as much dirty Work practised in the canvafling for one as for the other. The Parson, as well as the Candidate, must play over, if he hopes for Success, all the little low Tricks of bribing the Indigent, flattering the Proud, cajoling the Rich, abusing and calumniating his Antagonist, buying, making, splitting, hiding Votes ; the whole Catalogue, in short, of ministerial Artifices must be practised in the Veftry with as little Conscience as on the Huftings ; and a Candidate for St. A-'s Church has almost as much Mire to wade through, as a Candidate for St. S-'s Chapel.
But, as I have heard say in Westminster-Hall, there is nothing like a CASE IN Point; I will. therefore treat your Lordship with one, to illustrate the Subject under Confideration, and that Cafe, to prevent any Mistakes, shall be MY OWN.
Your Lordship I believe may remember the Time when my poor Uncle died, which obliged me to quit the University and seek my Fortune in Town, where I had not been above three weeks before I ftrolled on Sunday Afternoon into a Church in the City, and, after Service, heard the Clerk, by Order of the Veftry, declare the Lectureship of the Parish vacant, and invite the Clergy, however dignified or distinguished, to be Candidates for it, and to give in their Names by the ensuing Sunday. No
fooner: sooner did I hear this CHUCH SER JEANT thus beating up for Recruits, than I immediately resolved to enlift ; and accordingly, the next Day, waited on the Worshipful Stentor abovementioned, who took down my Name and Place of Abode: on my desiring him at the same Time to acquaint me with the best Method of proceeding, which I was an utter Stranger to, he advised me as a Friend, to apply as speedily as possible, to Mr. --, a Cheesemonger in
Lane, who was then first Churchwarden, a leading Man in the Vestry, and a Person, he assured me, on whom the Election would in a great Measure depend. I took honest Amen's Advice, and by nine the next Morning, not I must own without some Reluctance, dreffed myself as well as I could, and waited on Mr. Church-warden. As fuon as he saw me enter the Shop in
Canonicals, (for I had hired an excellent new Gown and Cassock' behind St. Clement's on the Occasion) he made me a very low Bow, gave me the Title of Doctor, and imagining no Doubt, that I was come to bespeak Cheeses for the Country, begged to known my Honour's Commands; to which I replied in an humble Tone, and looking extremely disconcerted, that I came to wait on him on Account of the Lectureship of the Parish, and begged the Fa.. vour of his Vote and Interest, &c. Your Lordship I am sure would have smiled to see the sudden Alteration of his Features and Behaviour : he dropped all the Tradesman's Obfequiousness, and in a Moment affumed the magisterial Air and Dignity of a Church-warden ; turned aside to a Woman who was just then asking for a Pound of Cheshire, and without addressing himself to me, cried out, This ' is the fourth Parson I have had with me To-day on the same Errand ;' then, staring me full in the Face ; • Well, young Man,' says he, you s intend to be a Candidate for this same Lecture :
you are all to mount the Noftrum, I suppose, and • Merit will carry it: For my Part, I promise nobody'; but remember I tell you before-hand, I
am for Voice and Action ; fo mind your Hits.' When he had said this, he immediately turned upon his Heel, and went into the Counting-house. I took my
Leave in an awkward Manner, as you may suppose, being not a little chagrin'd at his Insolence and, as I went out of the Shop, overheard his Lady observing, from behind the Counter, that I was a pretty Sprig of Divinity, but looked a little sheepish, and had not half the Courage of the Gentleman that had been recommended to her Husband by Mr, Squintum.
The Instant I quitted the Sign of the CheshireCheese, I laid aside all thoughts of further Solicitation, and resolved to return to College, and live on making Fellow-Commoners Exercises, rather than subject myself any more to such mortifying Indigni. ties. Good God! thought I to myself, is this the Fruit of my Studies : this the Reward of all my Toil and Labour in the University ; to have the important Point, whether I shall eat or starye, at last determined by a Cheesemonger, who declares for Voice and Action ?
In spite notwithstanding of this Resolution (for Refolutions, your Lordship knows, are much ealier made than kept) I was obliged in less than fix Months, having during that Time taken it into my Head to fall in Love and marry, to repair once more to the great City, and put into the ecclesiastical Lottery; where, by the bye, as in most other Lotteries, you buy so dear, meet with so few Prizes, and run so much Hazard, that none but Desperadoes ought to venture in them : There, my Lord, I renewed my Solicitations, and experienced all the Miseries and Misfortunes, all the Insults and Indigniies, which the Pride and Infolence of the Rich,