Abbildungen der Seite



on introducing the Jews' Bill was unquestionably an able performance. Calm, lucid, not too dry, like Lord John Russell's speeches, with historical details, nor too pointed to be offensive to tender consciences on the opposite side, but as clear in outline as it was liberal in sentiment, it carried the House, and left little room for reply. It had the rare merit of being a new speech on an old question, and the bill which it prefaced the rarer merit still of real adaptation and thorough completeness. If an oath must be taken at all, the one now proposed will be about the least objectionable that could be offered.

The Ministers' Money Bill also makes a clean sweep of the question that it touches; but the amount of revenue involved being almost nil, it was clear good policy to make a 'virtue of necessity.' But the thing was done with grace, and appears to have a fair prospect of success. It is noticeable that the High Church and Tory press denounce it, as it denounced Mr. Miall's motion, as nothing short of a revolutionary measure; but the liberal papers, that care little usually for any bill affecting ecclesiastical matters, have pronounced entirely in its favour. Thus, the · Examiner of the 23rd ult. says : Surely the true lovers of the Protestant Church in Ireland ought to exult in the prospect of settling a question like this in any satisfactory manner. They ought to regard a reformer like Mr. Fagan as their best friend. The only danger to the Church is its un popularity. Everything that diminishes the amount of national discontent with the institution must of necessity strengthen it. We, who think the Establishment itself objectionable in principle, might consistently oppose a measure tending to dimi. nish its odium, and so far increase its stability ; but not so its ardent friends and admirers, who might reasonably be expected to concur with alacrity in every proposal to make it less offensive to popular feeling. The majority of 139 are much better friends of the Church in Ireland than Messrs. Napier and Whiteside ; and good service to it also was done by the majority on Thursday night that knocked Mr. Spooner's resolution in the head, after, providentially and almost miraculously, surviving a speech, which only two of his own supporters had the fortitude to endure.'

The Divorce Bill has been re-introduced by the Lord Chancellor, shorn of nearly all its objectionable features. If carried in its present form, it will be one of the measures most honourable to a government that could have been passed. It is a well-intentioned homage to public decency and justice; and though imperfect and inconsistent in some of its details, is better than could have been expected. We cannot pass from it without adding a word expressive of the high admiration which everyone must have felt in reading Lord Lyndhurst's speech on the night on which the bill passed a second reading in the House of Lords. Whether for the classical purity of its composition, for the noble sentiments to which the speaker gave utterance, or for the circumstance of its being the easy production of a statesman now past eighty years of age, it will rank as one of the greatest speeches of the Lords. There is, we suppose, only one man in that House, or, perhaps, out of it, who could have spoken such sentences as these :-Laws,' said the noble and learned lord, “if they are incorporated in the people, ought to be precise, defined, exact, and extended to all classes, embracing rich and poor alike—for all are equal in the eye of

the law-yet everyone knows that the present system is confined to the wealthy alone, that no person with a moderate fortune can have

any chance of succsss in resorting to it, and, therefore, that so far as the largest class of the community is concerned, there is no law whatever on the subject. Upon these grounds I cannot see that it is possible to make any objection to the principle of the alterations proposed by my noble and learned friend. If it be right that marriage should be dissolved in the case of adultery, surely such dissolution should not take place by occasional measures, but through the intervention of a public tribunal, open to all—to the poor as well as to the rich.'

The Testamentary Jurisdiction Bill, which abolishes a great part of the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts, and proposes to give that without which Government is scarcely worth the name or the acceptance-viz., entire security for property and cheap means of obtaining it, minus the present necessity of fattening of ghouls of an Established Church-is a tardy enough deference to the demands of public opinion. It has been so long waited for, as now to be received with that sullen indifference that always characterises a sickened expectation.

With that impudent assumption of irresponsibility which is sometimes characteristic of the Premier, the Princess's Dowry was, on the 21st, brought before a House, that went to its work as ignorant of what it had to do as a first day apprentice. The only independent party out of the Cabinet who appears to have got an inkling of the nature of the proposition that was about to be submitted, was the London correspondent of the Edinburgh 'Scotsman,' who wrote on Wednesday morning what was to be the exact proposal. Mr. Roebuck, the opposition solo, having started on a false scent, and taken a lamentably indefinite position, was, although with difficulty, prevailed upon to withdraw, and the Royal young lady will accordingly go to her husband with an ostensibly ungrudged dowry, the contribution of a nation that, in a royal manner, thus testifies to her mother's worth and its own unfailing generosity.

There remains for the House, besides the untrodden stages of the bills we have mentioned, four resolutions—viz., Sir John Pakington's, on Education, which will probably be defeated; Mr. Berkeley's, on the Ballot, which, unfortunately, is likely to share the same fate ; Mr. Locke King's, on the County Franchise, which will probably be carried ; and Sir J. Trelawny's, Church-rates, which may be carried if properly taken in hand. These, with the other matters, and the passing through. Ways and Means,' are likely to occupy the remaining time of the House till the grouse-shooting days. If Lord Palmerston had the sagacity of a great statesman, and not merely the cleverness of a witty office-lover and diplomatist, these measures, with the greater that · loom’in the distance of 1858, would afford him the opportunity coveted by hundreds, but that falls to the lot of few, of placing his name at the head of the British statesmen of the nineteenth century. No man that has lived for fifty years past, scarcely even excepting Sir Robert Peel, has had placed in his hands such various materials wherewith a statesman might renew the constitution of his country. He might be the most deservedly popular minister that this



[ocr errors]




country ever had, but we shall be wonderfully surprised if he be a minister at all in a twelvemonths' time.

Of the topics left to us we have remaining, first, the meeting of the Religious Liberation Society. The Council meeting was the first real Couucil meeting we have attended, and the only one, so far as our experience testifies, that has ever been worth attending. It was neither dreary nor lifeless, but characterised by fair and spirited discussion, and we should judge, by a highly favourable temper towards the association. We would suggest, still further to improve the character and reality of these meetings, that the Annual Report and balance sheet of the society be sent to the members of the Council at least a week before the day of meeting. The result of such a course would probably be, in the first place, a larger attendance, and in the second, a more thorough discussion of the points raised in the Report. The public meeting of the society at St. Martin's Hall in the evening was, in point of numbers, a failure. The change of place very evidently affected the attendance. In other and more important respects-viz., the character of the meeting and of the speakers -it was one of the most gratifying demonstrations that we ever witnessed. Mr. Fox's speech was, perhaps, the finest oration that has ever been given on an Anti-state-church platform. We shall be glad to hear that the society has laid down a good programme for the current year. Mr. Miall spoke of preparing for the Parliamentary Committee on the Irish Church, but we had imagined that this was already done. If not, as it ought to have been done long ago, no time should be lost in undertaking the work.

June promises to be an exciting month. According to the Press ' newspaper, the people will then begin to digest Mr. Disraeli's speech to the farmers of Newport Pagnell. The farmers themselves will not need to take it into their digestive organs, as Mr. Disraeli appealed solely to their imaginative powers. Only imagine the possibility of a predominant bucolic interest, and of a bucolic ministry !

Then there is the Royal Academy, at which people will look at Mr Millais' and Mr. Maclise's pictures, all that Mr. Ruskin can advise to the contrary notwithstanding. The domestic character of this year's exhibition--complained of by the Saturday Review' and other papers-is to us its greatest charm. The Academy was never so popular as when Gainsborough and Wilkie-the best painters of English domestic picturesoccupied the places of honour on its walls.

In June, too, England in the south is to flock to the Crystal Palace, to be present at the Handel festival ; and England in the north, with cheap tickets to the Manchester galaxy of borrowed paintings. It is to be hoped that before the month has expired it will be distinguished by the settling of the Rochdale and other election petitions, and by the issue of a new national programme of Reform. But if the comet is to come on the 13th, what is the use of anticipating such things? Household Words' says that, on the Continent, thousands are refusing to work, in anticipation of the end of all things on that day. We wonder Dr. Cumming does not at once interpose his authoritative statement that the world will not end till 1860. Come when it may, oh! for the world's salvation before that day!





JULY, 1857.

John Paul Churchless ; or, the Christian at large.


We have, in a previous chapter, heard John Paul soliloquizing, and have thence discovered that he is somewhat ill at ease as one of the unattached. He declared himself “tired of nursing his own individuality,' and circumstances which need not be reported, generating new experiences, made him more than ever yearn for true religious fellowship. He had never indeed been able wholly to banish the idea of a church, and now he absolutely longed for Christian brotherhood. It was 'a want of his inmost soul, that amounted to a hungering and thirsting after it,' and he persuaded himself that it was a true Christian instinct. But what could he do? Whither turn? He believed that the obstacle to Christian union did not exist in himself. He had repeatedly examined himself, and his consciousness testified that what he insisted on retaining in himself and on finding in a church he was more than entitled to demand, he was bound to require.

In this mood he welcomed an old friend of the name of Broadly, who was entitled to press, as far as another may, into the inner sanctuary of thought and feeling, and to whom he had been repeating observations of the kind we have just noted. His friend, after listening for some time thoughtfully and kindly, asked him,

• What is it that you want ?'

'I want,' he replied, “a true Christian home, where, without being obliged to sacrifice either my own individuality, or judgment, or selfrespect, or freedom and catholicity, I may be able to unite cordially with true fellow-Christians in work and worship, and where I can love and be loved.'

• But surely,' answered his friend, 'in Christian England you have no difficulty in finding such a home as you seek!'



among them.

* Have not I ?' said Churchless; 'if you were to hear the tale of my experiences you would think differently.' And he ran rapidly over a few of the more prominent of them, in reporting which, however, we must take the liberty of considerably abridging his sketch, although we will allow him still to be the speaker.

'In my youth, as you are aware, I regularly attended the parish church, and, indeed, was on terms of acquaintance with the clergyman, who, among his associates, went by the name of "lying Smith,” but they might just as well have used the word “swearing." That, however, was many years ago, and probably there is not in all England now a clergyman like him, but at that time I knew many of the same stamp. Indeed, though intimate with many of the cloth, and many of the collegians, I scarcely knew one serious, earnest-minded man

Too many belonged to the same class as Harry Timms, though they scarcely ventured the same lengths, for I have many a time heard him boast of hindering people from going into the church where he would have had to do duty, if there bad been the requisite number, by jostling them in the porch, and saying, “No service this morning," and so off to a “spree.” Several years after I happened to be in St. Mary's too that day that a bridal party came according to appointment, and Mr. Newman, finding the bride to be a daughter of Baptist parents, and unbaptized, refused to perform the ceremony, and sent the young couple away unmarried. And, in fact, I was personally aware of hundreds of funny freaks on the part of individual clergymen long before I read my New Testament seriously, and more weighty considerations rendered it impossible for me to belong to the Church as by law established. Ah! I knew Oxford well, and to say that of five and thirty years ago is saying something full of significance, for if there were a hell on earth I think you might have found it in the “nursery of the Church.” No wonder that, with my initiation, when I took to seriously inquiring after the will of the Lord, I soon found insurmountable obstacles in the way of submitting to the Church of England.

Well, I subsequently resided at Hopton, a large county town, and there I found the deadest of all dead formalism in the parish church ; and among the Independents a formalism of a different kind, a sort of dead-alive formalism, which was not by any means attractive. The only place of worship I could attend with any pleasure was the Baptist, the minister of which was for that day a very respectable preacher ; but many of the people were narrow-minded, and sourspirited, and as full of conceit as an egg is of meat, although they had been, to some extent, purged by two or three “splits” that had taken place, and which, of course, originated as many new “causes.”

causes.” However, I applied for membership, and here began my unrest. Ecclesiastically, I was a nondescript, for I had never been baptized in any way. The minister was willing to accept me, but his church, by a formal vote, refused to admit me unless I would be dipped. It was in vain I alleged my perfect willingness to be immersed if I deemed it to be the will of the Master; but no, they were inexorable, and so

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »