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very helplessness should have excited sympathy, and procured for them protection. But, Hume and O'Connell are only so much the more eneouraged to manifest all their truculence, when the object upon which they would wreak their malice is feeble, unresisting, and defenceless. If the church is to be maintained, it must, unquestionably, have other defenders than those who at present espouse its cause in parliament.
NEVEROUT- And what other can it have.
POPLAR-Unquestionably, if the good of the country requires it ; as, I verily believe, it does. It never was intended that our clergy should be wholly divested of a political character, even as it never was intended that politics should be wholly divested of a religious character, or, pursued without reference to the great end, which should be held in view by nations as well as individuals, in all those things which concern the moral and the social well-being of the community. “Vanæ leges sine moribus ;” and, if laws be divorced from morality in their origin, they can scarcely be conducive to it in their operation. Now, is it possible to designate, by any less strong epithet, the positive exclusion of the authorised teachers of morality, from the house of commons? In that assembly, questions are perpetually occurring which relate, not only to the interests of the chureh, but, vitally affect the morality of the people ; and the only individuals who are prohibited, by legislative enactment, from taking any part in the discussion of such questions, are those who, from the nature of their property, are peculiarly interested in the questions at issue, and from their professional knowledge, most capable of bringing learning and ability to bear upon them with advantage. What would be thought, if any of the other professions were thus treated ?-If lawyers were excluded, by reason of their profession, when questions relating to the law or to the army were discussed before parliament? But, when Hume attacks the army, he has to encounter Sir Henry Hardinge ; and, if he ventured to attack the law, he would presently find that he only brought a nest of Hornets about his ears. But the poor, proscribed, defenceless church, may be persecuted and pillaged with all impunity. Why? Simply because she has no professional defenders. She has no one who may meet her enemies in the gate.
NEVEROUT - What you say is very true ; there are few, in parliament, who venture to stand up for the church ; and, amongst them, there is a lack both of the requisite zeal and ability. Still I am not reconciled to a measure which would identify the clergy, as a body, with the heat and exasperation of party politics. They ought to stand aloof from the political discussions of the day; or, only appear as mediators, by whom conflicting differences might be reconciled, and peace and good will promoted. But, you well know how difficult it would be for them to sustain that character, if they were eligible to seats in parliament.
POPLAR- The clergy in America are eligible to seats in Congress ; and I have never heard that they lost professional weight, by gaining political importance. I do not propose that the church, as such, should be represented ; only, that the people should be permitted to choose a clergyman, if they should prefer him to any other, for the purpose of representing them. I have examined the question calmly and closely, and have not been able to discover a single good reason why churchmen should be exempted from the duty of serving their country in parliament. They constitute the class, who, from their leisure and education, may be supposed to possess the most ample knowledge of the abstract principles of legislation ; and there never was a time when their presence and their influence might have had a more beneficial influence upon our parliamentary debates, than it would have at present ; and that, not merely upon professional questions, but upon every question requiring the exercise of contemplative sagacity, and a philosophical acquaintance with the nature of man.
NEVEROUT– I have not hitherto regarded the clergy in the light in which you have now presented them. I have always respected them for their professional knowledge, and the general purity of their lives, but any thing further, I
have not given them credit for. If your statement be correct, I have certainly done them injustice.
POPLAR-I will only ask of you to take up that first report of the British Association for the advancement of science, and see the proportion which the clergy who are engaged in philosophical pursuits, bear to the other members. Sir, the clergy are almost as exclusively the depositaries and the pioneers of learning at the present day, as they were in the darker ages ; and, 1 demand, is the legislature the only place into which ability such as they exhibit, shall not obtain admission ? May all other professional men, who are so loaded by business as to be incapable of devoting any portion of their time to the advancement of any science, yet be invited to take a full share in all parliamentary proceedings, and shall the body, whose members contribute to the promotion of every science, be forbidden to interfere in the making of our laws? Do our legislators so abound in wisdom and knowledge, that they can afford to dispense with the services of that class, amongst whom wisdom and knowledge are chiefly to be found ? Or, are they desirous of exemplifying the famous saying of the profligate Pope, by shewing “quam parva sapientia regatur mundus pa Alas! alas!. Let the reform bill answer these questions.
NEVEROUT—It is, I allow, somewhat anomalous that the clergy should be excluded from the House of Commons; and I never could advocate such exclusion, except from a persuasion that their professional character would suffer more from their connection with politics, than the country could gain by their presence in Parliament. Only think of a clergyman engaged in all the dirty work of a contested election.
Poplar—You well know that the dirty work of a contested election is never done by the principals. They, generally, keep aloof from the turmoil and bustle, and suffer others to promote the violence, or to practice the cajolery, necessary or useful for securing their return. Now, there is nothing which at present prevents the clergy from engaging in agencies of this kind, except that sense of professional decorum, which is, generally speaking, found sufficient to keep them out of such scenes, and which would not, assuredly, be less effectual were they to engage as principals in an election contest. For then, any indecorous intermeddling would be decidedly injurious to them. They must know, that they would defeat their own ends by any compromise of their professional character ;-so that, instead of being exposed to an additional incentive to a departure from the strictest propriety, they would be guarded, by an additional sanction, against any such laxity of conduct, or latitude of behaviour, as might, hy possibility, give an advantage to watchful and active enemics.
NEVEROUT—But if they should be returned, what is to become of their spiritual charge ?
POPLAR— That is a matter for the consideration of the bishop. No elergyman should be suffered to hold a benefice, and, at the same time, to possess & seat in the House of Commons, without the most ample provision having been made that the parish did not suffer by his absence. This could be very easily done. There are many sinecures which might be held by those who became responsible for parliamentary duties, and for which they might easily exchange their preferments. But, what I chiefly rely upon is this, that a class of persons would be trained and educated with a peculiar reference to their legissative duties ; that a kind of division of offices would take place amongst the clergy, and that the very emergency itself would create the means by which it was to be supplied, without subtracting a single useful labourer from the vineyard of the Lord. Thus, you see, it is easy to answer honest objections.
NEVEROUT--I am quite ready to admit the force of much of what you have said. There is nothing in the mere profession of a clergyman which should disqualify him from being a legislator. If there were, the bishops should not be permitted to sit in the House of Lords. What you have said, also, respecting the extent of their scientific knowledge, and the degree in which it is appropriable to every purpose, but the service of the state, has, I confess, made a strong impression upon me; and it does, I acknowledge, seem monstrous, that the clergy may be mathematicians, metaphysicians, astronomers, geologists--that their minds may be given to every thing, in short, except alone that which con
cerns the political well-being of the empire. It would be idle to contend that they might not contribute to that, quite as much as they have contributed to the advancement of learning, and the cultivation of philosophy. But I have another objection, which, I trust, you will judge to be an honest one, and which is not, I think, so easily answered. Is there not a certain degree of sympathy excited, and protection procured for the clergy, as being, so far, defenceless, as long as they are excluded from the House of Commons, which would cease, as soon as they might be present to defend themselves ? And would not one intemperate and injudicious advocate, if a churchman, do them more mischief, than any ten judicious ones could do them good ? That consideration it was, which reconciled me to the practical extinction of the convocation. These are not times in which the pretensions of high churchmen, as they are called, would be endured ; and, if the clergy were brought together in a political character, there is too much reason to fear, that such pretensious would be absurdly and offensively put forward. Now, if this should be the case, I think you will allow, that the experiment which you suggest could not be made without exposing them to serious injury ;-and, it is for you to judge, whether, upon the whole, more might not be lost by the destruction of the church, than could be gained by engaging churchmen in the service of their country in Parliament.
POPLAR-Your objection is well put ; and is, in point of fact, the strongest tbat could be alleged against my proposal. I have often revolved it in my mind with all the attention that its importance deserves; and the result has been, not that it possesses no weight, but, that it is not sufficient to justify the positive exclusion of the clergy from the house of commons. In the first place their helplessness no longer ensures them protection. The age of chivalry has gone by; and, not that merely but common honesty seems scarcely to be respected. What Burke thought impossible, is now about to come to pass ; parliament are about to assert, not an authority for regulation and controul, but, for use and dominion, over the fixed estates of the clergy. Their property is thus openly, daringly, and powerfully assailed, while it is feebly, timidly, and inefficiently defended : and, all this, BECAUSE they are not adequately and professionally represented. No, I can never believe that the absence of those, by whom the sophists might be exposed, and the spoliators rebuked, can benefit the church in these times: or that the tender mercies of Hume and O'Connell are more than an equivalent for that competent and principled advocacy, by which the stupid malignity of the one might be chastised, and the reckless violence of the other resisted.
NEVEROUT-Recollect that I do not object to competent and well princpled advocacy ; such I consider most desirable ; but only to such advocacy as might do harm rather than good; and such, I fear, might be the advocacy of some churchmen.
POPLAR-But I do not think the probability is in favour of the selection of persous of that description. Besides, the question is not, now, as between high church men and low church men. It may be truly said, “de toto corpore Ecclesiæ certatur!" It is not whether the church of England is to enjoy or to relinquish this or that privilege ; but, simply whether it is to stand or fall.” And, in such a case, is it or is it not to have competent defenders ? Believe me, it is a case which requires what Lord Bacon calls a whole man. A lawyer or a soldier, men whose time and thoughts are very fully engrossed by other concerns, can never undertake its cause either with the spirit, the energy, the knowledge, or the perseverance, which might be expected from those who are trained aud educated for its service: and, nothing short of all the devotion and all the ability which may thus be brought to its aid, can save it from the fierce hostility of ruthless, unscrupulous, and implacable enemies. A feeble defence, in such a case, is worse than no defence at all. It is that, and not intemperate advocacy, by which the church is, at present, endangered. Shall we, therefore, proscribe the only class of men from amongst whom advocates might be selected, upon wbose knowledge and ability a reliance might be placed, simply because that class contains those also whose zeal may possibly exceed their discretion ? That would be, to abandon a cause to certain destruction, from the fear of an error of judgment in the choice of those by whom it might be maintained. It would be something like the cowardice of the soldier, who shot himself before a battle,
for fear of being killed. But, I do not fear the error of which you are apprehensive. If the clergy were eligible to seats in the house of commons, I have no doubt that men of moderation and wisdom would find their way into that assembly, who would be, upon all vital constitutional questions, were arračios addwy, and make up, in worth and weight, what they wanted in numbers. The church is, truly, in hard case. Intemperance could not make its condition worse ; and, one intrepid and well appointed champion might yet give it a chance of victory.
NEVEROUT-But, you forget that the Bishops have seats in the House of Lords.
Poplar-And what is the House of Lords at present ? It has passed under the yoke; and although I am far from condemning the prudence which preferred disgrace to destruction, yet, for all Conservative purposes, that assembly has become almost as complete a non-entity as the two houses of Convocation. No. It is in the commons the battle must be fought; and there, if anywhere, a stand must be made in defence of the establishment. I wish not to undervalue the assistance which the Bishops may give, if seconded in the lower house, by men of their own order. But, without such support, in that assembly, which is now predominant in the legislature, they will be either intimidated into a compliance with the measures of the spoliators, or, provoked into a feeble and ineffective resistance, which will only precipitate their doom, by exposing their weakness and decrepitude.
NEVEROUT—But, softly, good Sir. Would not the Roman Catholic Priests get into parliament if your proposal was adopted?
POPLAR-I very much fear they would not.
POPLAR-By no means. They could, by possibility, be no where, where they could do less harm. A popish priest, in a British House of Commons, preaching sedition! Why it might produce a salutary effect even upon Joseph Hume, and make him ashamed of his vocation. No, no. If you want to blind an owl, be sure to bring him into day-light. But are you not aware that dissenting ministers are, at present, eligible ?
NEVEROUT-No. I am not.
POPLAR- They are, however. All who pass under the denomination of any description of dissenters, not being in communion with the Church of Scotland, and whose orders are not recognised by the united Churches of England and Ireland, may, as things stand at present, be returned to serve in the Imperial Parliament? Is it, then, unreasonable to expect that our clergy should possess a similar indulgence ?
NEVEROUT- No, certainly ; especially as the convocation has been so long practically extinct. I was not at all aware that the dissenting clergy could be elected. Have you any thing else to propose, by which the progress of revolution might be arrested ?
Poplar—Much: but I have not time, just now, to detail it. Something must be done respecting the press : I will not say to shackle, but to purify. At some future time I will explain myself more at large.
NEVEROUT—But if you should fail to convince the government of the expediency, nay the necessity of the measure which you have proposed—if the Conservative party should still continue supine, or, waste their energies in defending a false position ; if they should be divided amongst themselves, and waste those powers in contending against each other, which ought to be united against the common enemy ; in that case POPLAR—In that case, I will have done my duty. Revolution must take its
It will be some consolation, not to have aided or abetted the pernicious and profligate mispolicy which was big with the ruin of England. And I can only say, that, when all my efforts to serve the country shall have failed, Ulysses did not more eagerly avail himself of an opportunity to escape from the hospitalities of Polyphemus, than I shall to get beyond the reach of “ the tender mercies” of a reformed parliament.
A few short hours will quickly close
The old and hoary year;
Dissolvd in many a tear.
Must soon for ever flee;
It never more must see ;
Sad winter's gloom dispel;
Recal the summer fled,
In tears to memory shed.
away; The ancient year in rapture lost,
Smiles out its last short day.
The tale that nature told ;
And its effect unfold !
S. T. Q.
There is no lip to greet thee,