« AnteriorContinuar »
press at the point of the bayonet, was an “injured monarch," and the people a "rebellious mob." The despotism of Austria is an "admirable government”—with Russia it is “insolence” to interfere in behalf of Poland. Miguel himself, blackened by such crimes as the worst period of the Roman empire cannot equal, is eulogized as “ the illustrious victim of foreign swords.” Not the worst excesses that belong to despotism, from the bonds of the negro to the blood of a people, have been beneath the praise of your present government-not the most moderate resistance that belongs to liberty has escaped their stigma. This is no exaggeration; chapter and verse, their very speeches are before us, and out of their own mouths do we condemn them. Can we then be insensible, little as we may regard our more subtle relations with foreign statescan we be insensible to the links which bind us with our fellow créatures ; no matter in what region of the globe ? Can we feel slightly the universal magnitude of the interests now resting on our resolves? Believe me, wherever the insolence of power is brooding on new restraints, wherever-some men, “in the chamber of dark thought,” are forging fetters for other countries or their own—there is indeed a thrill of delight at the accession of the Duke of Wellington ! But wherever liberty struggles successfully, or suffers in vain-wherever opinion has raised its voice—wherever enlightenment is at war with darkness, and patience rising against abuse--there will be but one feeling of terror at these changes, and one feeling of anxious hope for the resolution which you, through whose votes speaks the voice of England, may form at this awful crisis. Shall that decision be unworthy of you?' pp. 65-68.
Art. VI.-1. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of London,
at the Visitation in July, MDCCCXXXIV. By Charles James,
Lord Bishop of London. 8vo. pp. 67. London, 1834. 2. A Remonstrance addressed to the Lord Bishop of London, on the
Sanction given in his late Charge to the Clergy of that Diocese, to the Calumnies against the Dissenters, contained in certain Letters signed L. S. E. Second Edition. By Charles Lushington, Esq.
8vo. pp. 51. London, 1834. WHEN, in our October Number, we laid before our readers
some specimens of the vulgar and malignant ribaldry of L. S. E., and expressed our willingness to believe that so infamous a production could find acceptance with no class of readers, little did we imagine that it had even then received the recommendation, ex cathedrá, of a prelate of the Established Church, and that prelate no other than Bishop Blomfield. “A publication, says his Lordship, in a note to his late charge, which I recommend, as containing a great deal of useful information and sound reasoning, set forth with a little too much sharpness of invective
against the Dissenters.' This note had escaped our observation, when our attention was called to it by a provincial journal
VOL. XII.N. S.
(the Bradford Observer)*, in an article which first made us acquainted with the real name of the reverend vituperator. Not only has his book obtained the seal of episcopal approbation, but we learn from the Observer, that a considerable number of the clergy in the neighbourhood of Bradford, with Prebendary Roberson at their head, toasted the health of L. S. E. at a public dinner, with thanks to him for his book !! These circumstances have given to the work a notoriety and importance to which it has no intrinsic pretensions, as indicating the state of feeling in certain quarters, and as a sign of the times. It would have been, indeed, an uncandid conclusion, even had no protest been put forth on the part of the more liberal members of the Established Church, that the foul invectives and calumnies of this vulgar renegade, and his episcopal and clerical abettors, could be approved of by the majority of those who bear the name of churchmen. The“ Remonstrance” addressed to the Lord Bishop of London by a Member of the Church of England,” shews that the more discreet and enlightened friends of the Church, are deeply mortified by the discreditable conduct of the Bishop of London, which has so unhappily committed the episcopal character. We are spared the pain of commenting upon his Lordship’s gross offence against charity and gentle manly feeling, by the respectful yet forcible language of remonstrance employed by an able and generous auxiliary.
• The public have before them a book teeming with erroneous statements, on matters of the most grave and solemn interest, and with vituperation of a large body of the nation,
the most unqualified, the most ill-founded, and the most flagitious. They naturally inquire, on such a production, what are the suffrages of the learned, the religious, and the dignified part of the community; they anticipate their instant and unmitigated condemnation of a work, calculated to excite animosity throughout the whole kingdom, and to exacerbate every sentiment of difference into a passion of hatred and hostility. But they have predicted wrongly. The impure and malevolent volume is hailed with delighted acclamation by a body of clerical admirers, and the Bishop of London scarcely awards to the most objectionable passages of it, the hesitation of his dispraise :-“A publication which I recommend as containing a great deal of useful information, and sound reasoning, set forth with a little too much sharpness of invective against the Dissenters."
We are taught in the Scriptures, in which your Lordship is so well versed, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice ; and be ye kind to one another;"-and, “ above all things have fervent charity among youselves." And, if I mistake not, there is a whole chapter, in one of the Epistles, devoted to the inculcation of brotherly love. How do those precepts comport with the Rev. Author's denunciations against his brethren, the Dissenters, that they are hypocrites and demons, and belong not to the pale of Christianity? How, my Lord, would I ask, does the enforcement of these blessed commands coincide with your gentle and reluctant censure of such frightful malice? A junior priest would never have ventured thus to commit the character of his order, had he not previously been satisfied that the act would not be unacceptable to some of his superiors, with whose inveteracy against Dissenters he was acquainted, though they did not absolutely suggest the attack. But the circumstance alone of your not having branded the shameless book with immediate reprobation, involves the suspicion that you indulged a smile of complacency, while you thus negatively sanctioned such cruel insults - such indiscriminate execration. “A little too much sharpness of invective.”
* See Bradford Observer, Oct. 9. Patriot, Oct. 15.
ego nunquam Mandavi, dices olim, nec talia suasi.
Mentis causa malæ tamen est, et origo penes te.' pp. 18, 19. We are inuch mistaken if, by this time, his Lordship of London is not ready to bite his fingers with vexation for having so grossly committed himself. Henceforward, however, the names of Gatherwal and Blomfield, the patron and the protegè, will be indissolubly associated.
The letter to the Bishop is, substantially, a modest but manly and biting apology for not thinking ill of the Dissenters,—for not bowing to the authority of the Diocesan in his estimate of the merits of L. S. E.'s letters, and for not yielding assent to the
reasonings,” or credence to the scurrilities which they contain. The first impression bore the signature of A Member of the Church of England; but the second edition discloses the name of the author ; a gentleman who, for many years, occupied with honour a situation of trust and high responsibility, in the administration of our Indian Government, and who, since his return to this country, has been more heard of in the retired walks of philanthropy, than in the arena of polemical or political strife. Having become acquainted with the Dissenters of this country, chiefly by means of their missions in India, and the printed reports of their religious institutions, and their exertions in the cause of education and general philanthropy, he appears to have been perfectly unprepared for the scurrilous and virulent attack made upon them by a man sustaining the office of a clergyman; and still less disposed to acquiesce, as a gentleman and a Christian, in the sanction given to such a pestilent production by the Bishop of his Diocese. The pamphlet breathes throughout an amiable spirit, and does great honour to the writer's sense of justice and independence of feeling. The testimony it bears to the claims of the Dissenters, is the more valuable, as coming from one who has only looked on from a distance, totally unconnected with any denomination of Dissenters, except as officially cognizant of some of
their missionary operation in India, or as brought into contact with individual Dissenters in the British and Foreign School Society, and other philanthropic committees, on which Mr. Charles Lushington's name appears as a member. What his Lordship of London may think of this Remonstrance we cannot pretend to say ; but the public will not fail to appreciate the force of this protest against clerical illiberality and episcopal petulance. In the name of the Protestant Dissenters of England, we return our warmest thanks to this liberal and generous member of the Church of England, for his vindication of their collective character from unmerited obloquy' Towards the close of the pamphlet, the impolicy of prosecuting such a mode of party warfare as the Bishop of London has sanctioned, is very forcibly argued; and the alternative presented to the advocates of the Establishment is placed in a very clear and striking light.
• Admitting, however, for the sake of argument, that the Dissenters are as unprincipled as L. S. E. asserts, and as contemptible as your Lordship’s indifference implies, there is a numerous and influential body, still more formidable to the enemies of improvement than these despised seceders. I allude to the large and predominating number of members of the Church of England, both in and out of Parliament, who are determined that justice shall be done to their Dissenting brethren, and who are indignant that their section of the Church of Christ is yet disgraced by intolerance, and tainted by abuses. This catholic spirit is rife and strong, my Lord; and unless your party conciliate it by prudent concession and timely sacrifices, you will have to yield to arguments which I am too cautious or too courteous to specify. Surely I need not, in confirmation of my assumptions, remind your Lordship of the recent votes of the House of Commons, for removing the disabilities of the Dissenters; nor should it be necessary for me to draw
your attention to the sentiments of the immense body of constituents who delegated the components of those overwhelming majorities. Fiat justitia ruat cælum, is a quotation which every school-boy is apt to make; but it should not be forgotten, that there are plenty of liberal and enlightened men ready and willing to apply and act upon it. It can scar
arcely be supposed that the people will be satisfied with the conversation of the last session, and, in the next, allow the public time to be frittered away in talk about abuses, instead of its being devoted to their abolition. No; reform, both in Church and State, must pursue an onward course towards completeness. What the reforms in the former should be, it hardly falls within the scope of my purpose to touch upon; and if it were, I have no room for the discussion. The matter, however, must be seen through a different medium since the abolition of the Test Act, which went so far to dissever the union between Church and State, and the passing of the Reform Bill ; more especially when reference is made to the constantly increasing multitude, for whose spiritual wants it is indispensable to provide, and to which the present establishment of clergy, giving thein credit for the best activity and the most fervent zeal, is confessedly unequal. If, then, these religious wants are to be adequately supplied, it must be by one of three plans;
1. Either by the Establishment and other sects, as at present ; • 2. Or by the Establishment alone, all other sects being merged, comprehended, or put down ;
3. Or by the Episcopal Church and other denominations, without an Establishment.
· Do any parties deem the second alternative practicable! Could our Establishment, in the present aspect of political affairs, be extended, on the basis of taxation, so as to meet the wants of the population ? Could the sects, now become so powerful be put down? Is any scheme of comprehension feasible? If not, we may dismiss the second. Do we accept the first, then confessedly sects are necessary; their cooperation, as auxiliaries, being indispensable. If so, the part of wisdom would be to acknowledge them as such, to conciliate them, to concede their reasonable claims. If this be not done, I do not perceive how we can escape from the conclusion, that the third wi!l be the inevitable result. The Establishment, evidently insufficient of itself, and by itself, yet hostile to other sects, and disdaining their aid ; incapable of adequate extension by taxation, yet rejecting and opposing the expansive principle of voluntary support ; outnumbered now in the large towns by the sects; must, I fear, become more and more unpopular, and no way of saving the Church will remain, but reducing it to the level and dimensions of an Episcopal, but Non-established Church, like the Episcopal Church in Scotland or in America. If the friends of our Establishment really wish to avert this consummation, they must strenuously unite to cement and foster that combination of effort which is involved in the first alternative, and hold out the hand of fellowship to their dissenting brethren with cordiality and faithfulness. They, I should hope, would still be willing to grasp it, when replaced on the footing of equality, to which they will never abandon their pretensions. A contrary course on the part of ourselves will defeat every attempt to prop up our tottering edifice. To join in, or even to countenance, by an exhibition of cold neutrality, the vulgar abuse in which some misguided zealots are wont to indulge against the Non-conformists, partakes of fatuity; for, be it remembered, such imprudence not only commits the dignity of our profession, but, while it aggravates the bitterness of the Dissenters, it arms against the Establishment those of its members who are vacillating in their allegiance to it, or who are determined, at all hazards, to uphold the cause of Christian moderation. It is a fatal error to shut our eyes upon the fact, that the passing of the Reform Bill transferred the preponderance in the State, from the aristocracy to the middle classes. The adoption of that great measure was a revolution, though a peaceable one; and at this moment we are in a revolution, though one unlike other national changes of the kind; for we have experienced no convulsion, and the advantages exceed the inconveniencies, which are but temporary. It would be madness, therefore, for the weaker to persist in opposing the reasonable demands of the stronger. Those demands are, equal privileges and the free exercise of the rights of conscience, and will never be relinquished.