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The proceedings in the matter of the Rochdale election petition have thrown some unwelcome light on the corruption of the legislative and the electoral body. The whole of the dramatis persona in the principal scenes in this little episode appear to be pretty equally guilty-Sir Alexander Ramsay in confidential intercourse, \up the lane,' with Mills, the beershop-keeper, leading the highly respectable gang. Of the report of the special committee appointed to consider the charge of treating with the witness Rothwell, there appears to be but one opinion. It was a resolute hiding of the case, a fixed and intentional burking of the evidence. Sitting with closed doors, they occupied nearly two days, after hearing witnesses, in concocting a special pleader's report of just thirty lines, on which the House could take no action whatever. The composition of the election committee to consider the charge of bribery offers but little hope of a much different result from their labours. One of Mr. Disraeli's county bucolic members is chairman; there are three other Tories, and one Liberal. The counsel engaged for the petitioners also is far inferior to that for the defence. The evidence, however, so far as it has yet gone, is pretty conclusive; and unless the character of its chief witness can be damaged beyond repair, will be sufficient of itself, if the committee act with candour, to upset Sir A. Ramsay's election. Mr. Miall might probably have been allowed a chance of winning the battle so honourably lost by himself and the Liberals of Rochdale at the last election, but Mr. Bright, we believe, has stepped in to take his place,
Th Educational Conference opened, under the auspices of Prince Albert we mean the Prince Consort--on the 22nd of the month, was distinguished, to our own minds, by so glaring a bias in favour of State education, as to make it difficult for any Voluntary to take public part in its proceedings. While we recognise, with a gladness of feeling second to none, the interest now taken by public men of all parties in this question, and can scarcely express too highly our sense of the service they are bringing to the State by simply bringing the question before the people under the high prestige of their names and influence, we cannot help thinking that the Conference which has just closed will fail of any real advantage to sound, popular instruction. It is patent that the whole scheme was got up under the auspices of the Committee of Privy Council. Its chairman was the chairman of the last public meeting; the new Minister of Public Instruction' succeeding him. Every member of the committee, every Government Inspector of Schools, and every State Secretary, past and present, were placed on the executive, with whom, to represent the Dissenting interest, were simply Mr. Morley and Mr. Baines. The chairmen of the sections were in like manner chosen from the officers of the Privy Council Committee, and known clerical favourers of its schemes. After a pretty thorough discussion, the sections each made reports, the bases of which assumed a wide extension of the present irresponsible scheme. Mr. Baines was asked to second the adoption of one of these reports, wbich assumed the continuance of the minutes, and involved an approval of them. Mr. Morley seconded another, but aware apparently of his position, took advantage of the opportunity to speak a few vigorous sentences in behalf of the Voluntary system. If we do not mistake, the proceedings of this
Conference will be pleaded as an excuse for adding considerably to the annual vote to the Committee of Council.
All the world has been reading or writing of the Handel Festival. Aye! Music hath charms,' and even Pope himself, we hope, would have been moved to acknowledge them, had he been born to see this day. Yet bow many, beside those in the orchestra, went to the meetings in the Crystal Palace from a pure devotion to the divine art? It is a question you cannot help asking, yet one that you would rather not have answered. You would gladly believe that every one who heard the old Hundredth on the afternoon that Judas Maccabeus was performed, heard as those did whose hearts were involuntarily lifted up to their Maker, as the chorus poured forth its strains, who felt then an elevation of soul that is rarely felt on this side the grave, who could pray, 'Oh, that these were my daily feelingswould that I always had such a loathing of the gross and the sensual, such & realization of the higher capabilities of the spiritual faculties. As a mere spectacle, the Festival was such as has been rarely witnessed ; as a place and a means of spiritual exaltation, it will remain for ever unforgotten in the history of the soul.
Just reminding the reader that there has been a new French election, this time without the aid of barricades, and without the necessity of forged returns, although revealing an increasingly conscious weakness on the part of the higher power; and calling attention to the Pope's paternal visit to the distressed children of his dominions, of which a detailed and rather curious account will be found in the correspondence of the • Daily News;' we close with a word of sorrowful sympathy for the death of the greatest wit, and one of the best and most human of men. Douglas Jerrold is dead! As the wailing notes of the first part of the · Messiah' sounded through the vast transept of the Crystal Palace, the solemn service for the dead was being read over his grave. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and the spirit to Him who gave it! Here, that spirit was as a Damascus sword to all the whited sepulchres of humanity--flashing with polished wit in the face of every corruption. Does it seem incongruous to ask what service wit will perform in the world of spirits? Yet it, too, is a gift of the Father, and as it had its work here, has doubtless its reward and service hereafter,
John Paul Churchless ; or, the Christian at large.
We left the two friends, Churchless and Broadly, in free colloquy on the state of the churches generally, but the latter began to narrate, and as the former thought somewhat enthusiastically, the nature and results hitherto of a happy experiment that had been tried under the conduct of a Mr. Eyebright.
The experiment was, indeed, a novel one in some of its particulars ; for, instead of subscribing their thousands to erect a costly edifice, that should rival in architectural pretensions the neighbouring chapelof-ease, and quite outvie all the Dissenting places of worship, the few friends who had begun to associate together for the edification of themselves and their families, strangely enough, deemed that the spiritual element necessarily including therein the intellectual—was first in order as in importance, and that the grandest thing of all would be to secure the presence among them of a man able to be in all things their teacher, and quickener, and friend ; and, assured that Mr. Eyebright was such a one, had begun by providing a pleasant home for him, and openirg an account to his credit at the bank! A proceeding altogether without precedent, it was said, and one which occasioned a most extraordinary uplifting of more orthodox eyebrows -for was it not a suspicious innovation to care more for the pastor's freedom from anxiety than for a fine chapel, with curtained patrician pews, and plebeian free-seats? Thus a few friends, while as yet without a place for public worship, and with no .church' formed, had obtained a teacher who was already living among them! He visited their families, and lived in their midst, somewhat as the apostle had done in Ephesus or Corinth, observing little formality, but putting VOL VII.
forth the truth that was in him’ as opportunity allowed, or occasion called for. If it were too much to say that he was among them as Christ had been among his disciples, you may at least say that he was in
like Socrates in Athens, devoting his best powers, and still more, his very self, to the good of those he came into contact with. But the reader should know what'good' is, and, when used in reference to a man like Mr. E., must understand it in the broadest sense. Natural and easy as his proceedings were, those with whom he associated gradually became aware of regarding life and all things from a loftier point of view, and with nobler aims. They were, almost unconsciously at first, learning how to live. He became the friend, and even confidant of the young. The young men gathered round him with delight, and almost pride. They drank in strength from him, and took their places among their necessary associates in the world with manlier ease, not shrinking from the encounter of wit or railery, of argument, or scorn, or rudeness, by which so many of those who secretly wish and mean well are, in the early part of manhood, borne down, or gradually turned from the path they once determined to keep. If a sophism were employed which they could not expose, or an argument they could not answer, the evening saw them in counsel with their friend, from whom they returned refreshed in spirit and armed anew. Thus, without any such formal scheme as could be put down in black and white, or made into a telling paragraph in a report,' he was quietly training many to act in their various spheres as centres of healthful influence. Those of the other sex, too, who were growing up to womanhood, were, with like unconsciousness, being led by him, if not into an altogether new world, yet at least up to a higher level, and learning how noble a life it was in the power of everyone to live, and that however retired or humble the position.
The friends frequently met in various social groups at each other's houses, and generally on Sunday mornings they worshipped together; but with an absence of the formal, and yet such a sense of the real, as made social worship quite a new thing to them. On Sunday evenings Mr. Eyebright often lectured in a large public room, but without either worship in any form, or even the reading of the Scriptures; for, although his was by no means a scrupulous conscience, yet his ideas of the nature of worship prevented his needlessly engaging in it when the mass of those around him were unprepared to unite. As he knew that all truth was one, and the whole universe God's, and all nature but a manifestation of the divine, and history, and science, and art were from God, and, rightly viewed, might lead to God again, he felt himself perfectly free in his choice of topics, and mode of handling them, to consult the habits, and tastes, and preferences, of the classes he sought to help. And as he held it for one of his very foundation truths that the appellation of FATHER, assumed by God, was no idle word, but, even when most profoundly realized, altogether inadequate to convey more than the faintest idea of the yearning love with which He regards and seeks every man, so with him it was no mere form to
call and treat every man as a brother, every woman, whoever she might be, as a sister.
We have thus thrown into a single paragraph the substance of a long account rendered by Broadly to his friend, and often interrupted by questions and ejaculations of surprise on the part of the latter. Churchless could scarcely comprehend the strange nature of the proceedings, the absence of all the formal, and how a sufficient number of individuals could be brought to concur in a plan that seemed so planless; while that an evidently ample sum of money had been forthcoming, and that at the very beginning, and so altogether in faith in the wisdom and vital power of the invited teacher, and that they who had thus shown their own earnestness, by their readiness to prize the spiritual things they expected to gain above the carnal things' they were so prompt to contribute even beforehand, should have given the ministerial friend so completely a carte blanche, drew from him repeated expressions of wonder.
* But did you make no stipulations whatever? Did you not engage him to preach twice on the Sunday, and conduct prayer-meetings, and all the indispensable et cetera of a church ?' he asked.
No; we were not a “church” you know, technically speaking ; nor had we any public place of meeting. We only knew we stood greatly in need of a wise helper, and that Mr. E. was such a one as our very souls longed for; and that we might safely leave all arrangements to him, if we could only secure his presence in our midst. Perhaps, too, the church experience of many of us led us to lay somewhat less stress on the formal than we should once have done.'
• But how in the world did you manage the money question ?' inquired Churchless.
"Where could the difficulty be when there were a few families absolutely thirsting for wise and quickening teaching? Just think of the salaries which merchants and bankers and lawyers pay their clerks— which tradesmen pay their shop-assistants—which ladies give even to their cooks. And when we were really in earnest to secure the brain and heart of a spiritual teacher, is it to be wondered at that we saw at a glance the absurdity of rating his life and spirit lower than we should have done the mere fingers and figure-reckoning or pen-holding powers of a clerk ?:
‘But some of you must have been wealthy as well as liberal,' rejoined Churchless.
I tell you we were not. We merely borrowed a leaf from “ the children of this world.” Would not Rothschild secure at any cost the services of the man that would exactly answer his purpose ? Would not judicious parents seek the ablest instructors for their children at any price? Why, what does the “Times” newspaper give, think you, to each of the writers of its leaders? I tell you, that if the Church wants to take higher ground, it must just reverse its usual proceedings. A man is bound to be honest, and he ought to be able to provide in health for sickness and age, and to educate his family, and give them a fair start in life, and if able and culti