29 APRIL 1899, Page 13

Parish Priests and their People in the Middle Ages. By

the Rev, Edward L. Cutts, D.D. (S.P.C.K. 7s. 6d.)—Dr. Cutts has done what he could for his subject. Unhappily, that is but little. We know something about the practices of cathedrals, but very little, indeed, about parish churches. Chaucer's "poor parson of a town" is an almost solitary portrait. Now and then we get a glimpse of the secular priest as he was, but it is only a glimpse. Probably no part of English life has left so little record of itself. The wills tell us a little ; the proceedings in, the ecclesiastical Courts a little more. The attempt to enforce 'celibacy gives occasion for some views of clerical life, not always edifying. In 1398, for instance, the Pope dispensed the bar of illegitimacy in fifty cases for one diocese, ten of them being de patribus presbyteris geniti. The records of visitations tell us something about the way in which benefices were served. Dr. Cutts, we see, in esti- mating] the number of parish churches in medieval times, does not see "why Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk should have had a larger proportion of churches to population at that time than the other counties." But surely it is a fact that East Anglia was the most prosperous part of England.