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speedily victorious, has sunk to that state of hopelessness that it is the object no longer of fear but of ridicule. Its supporters fulfil their pledges by giving it a bare vote. But they put no pressure upon their leaders; they show no anxiety for its success; they do not make its acceptance a condition of personal confidence or of support in critical party divisions.
The Roman Catholics are an instance upon the other side. They give to their religion not merely their vote but their support. They do not indeed subordinate to it every other question, or for its sake vote that black is white. Most of them express their opinions upon each particular measure with as much freedom and as little secondary motive as any other members. But a great number of them make it an indispensable condition of personal confidence or party adhesion. The abandonment by several of them of the offices they held und the Government of Lord Aberdeen, because Lord John Russell uttered opinions on behalf of the Government which they held to be injurious to their Church, may serve as an instance of the devotion with which they and the supporters whom they represent place the interests of their religion above every other object of political aspiration.
Now, the support which Mr. Gladstone gives to the Church of England is not of the latter type, but of the former. He supports her just as Mr. Milner Gibson supports the Ballot. He gives her an occasional vote, especially when an election is close at hand, or when any point is under discussion about which he thinks that his constituents are likely to take a lively interest or to display a tenacious memory; but he does not throw into her scale a single grain of the enormous political influence he possesses. If any one wishes to compare what Mr. Gladstone does for the Church with what he can do for objects for which he really cares, let him compare the history of the Paper-duties in 1861 with the history of the Oxford Tests Bill in 1864. The repeal of the Paper-duties was profoundly distasteful to several influential members of the Cabinet, among whom rumour, not ill authenticated, was at the time wont to put the Prime Minister and Sir George Lewis. It was still more obnoxious to a large proportion of the steadiest supporters of the Government. The late Mr. Ellice, who knew more, probably, of the actual feeling of the House of Commons than any man then alive, is known to have given his opinion, that if severe party pressure had not been used, the repeal of the Paper-duty would have been rejected by a majority of a hundred votes. Powerful organs in the Press were equally opposed to it, and the surplus which it absorbed was only procured by ignoring the claims of wider and more influential
interests. And, to complete the case, the same proposal had in the previous year procured for the Government a humiliating reverse in the House of Lords. But Mr. Gladstone was thoroughly in earnest. The measure not only fell in with his financial theories, but it promised to be subservient in the most important degree to the aims of his personal ambition. He hoped to secure by it the confidence of the extreme Liberal party, which has since that time been so abundantly accorded to him. Actuated by this motive he overbore all opposition, whether it came from his supporters or his colleagues; he staked his political position on the result; and with the threat of breaking up the Ministry, which could never have been pieced together again, the feeble convictions of Lord Palmerston were at last overborne. The question was made a Cabinet question. All the engines of party organization were brought into action to drive it down the throats of the unwilling Whigs. The whips worked with the desperate zeal of men fighting for official life; and in the end their labours were rewarded by a majority of fifteen. Such is Mr. Gladstone's power with his colleagues and his party, and such his energy when a question of finance is at issue. It is instructive to compare it with the conduct of the same Mr. Gladstone when a question of religion was at stake.
The resistance to the Oxford Tests Bill was destined to a far humbler history and far less decisive triumph than that which attended the crusade against the Paper-duty. Yet, in point of importance, it was not unworthy to compare with its more honoured predecessor. The preservation of the machinery by which
the most awful and momentous of all subjects is instilled into the minds of those who are to govern England, was a subject surely not quite unworthy of a statesman's care. It deserved to compete in Mr. Gladstone's solicitude even with a measure for enabling penny papers to be published at a greater profit. And as Mr. Gladstone was the member for Oxford, and was not the member for the Morning Star,' the preservation of religious teaching at Oxford might have been held to have had even a preferable claim on his affections and his efforts. This, however, was not Mr. Gladstone's estimate of the relative importance of the two questions. He did not think it necessary to stake his political position upon his view, or rather his constituents' view, of the question. He did not force it upon the Cabinet. He made no effort to press
the acceptance of his party. He did not procure that the machinery of party organization, of which on the Paper-duties he had had so absolute a command, should be used to protect the Church. Indeed, on the first occasion when it was brought before the House,
he did not even bestow upon it that limited and perfunctory measure of support which the unwilling friends of the Ballot give to it. On the second reading of the Bill, and on the motion for going into Committee, he did not give to the Church even the benefit of his bare vote. On both those occasions he swelled the majority against her. He did it, however, it is said, with the earnest desire of amending the Bill in Committee. If so he must have exercised a very severe self-denial: for when the Committee came he carefully abstained from moving anything at all. But then it is the third reading of the Bill upon which his friends rely. It was a close division: and the member for the University of Oxford did really give his vote in favour of the maintenance of religious teaching at the University he represented. It is true that he did give his vote: and by the enthusiasm with which the fact has been insisted on, it is evident that even that amount of exertion in the Church's behalf rather surprised those who knew him best. But it was a vote in the true Ballot style. It was prefaced by no speech : it was accompanied by no attempt to exert influence either over his colleagues or his followers. He would not even exert himself so far as to entreat of his colleagues that they should not exercise the full force of a Liberal party-whip against the Church to which he professes to be attached. It was indeed a close division. That it was so was no thanks to him. It was due to the exertion and the Parliamentary strength of that Conservative party which it is the business of his life to weaken, and, if he can, to discredit. That it was not a decisive victory for the Church was due to the efforts of that party which hails him as its future leader, to the example and the efforts of those colleagues whose official existence is due to his support, and above all to the official exertions of his own subordinate, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Government whipper-in. Could he not procure from his colleagues the favour of their inactivity ? Could he not induce them to allow the party-machinery to rest, and to leave the question to the unbiassed and unsolicited verdict of the members ? Is it credible that the Minister who could force his financial views upon a reluctant Government and a reluctant party, would be so im potent, if the interests of the Church were nearly as dear to him as the doctrines of Free-trade? And if they be not, if he merely gives to them a perfunctory and ostensible support in order to retain his hold over a Church constituency, is it credible that Churchmen will again commit the folly of trusting the interests of the Church into his hands?
This may serve as a specimen of the mode in which he has dealt with Church matters throughout the whole of the present
Parliament. It is a perplexing phenomenon, that for the sake of retaining such services as these, a certain number of persons who profess to place the Church above every human interest are inclined to break the connexion that has existed for so long between her and the Conservatives, and replace it by a Liberal alliance. Some of those who have appeared as advocates of such a course of proceeding are eminent enough. Some of them are men who gave the vigour of their life to fighting the battle of the Constitution with a stout heart, and have only begun to talk of compromises with Radicalism in their old age. The wisdom of such a policy is difficult to confute, because it is almost impossible to conceive the reasons on which it can be based. Unless the Liberal party is false to all its traditions, and forgetful of all the sources of its strength, an alliance between it and the Church must be an alliance all upon one side. The Liberals have changed in many things. They have been Reformers and antiReformers: they were the stoutest of Protectionists, and they are now the most vehement of Free-traders. But there is one point upon which they have never changed. Ever since the first formation of the Whig party, they have never swerved nor faltered in their hostility to the Church. From the Solemn League and Covenant to the suppression of Convocation, from the suppression of Convocation to the Appropriation Clause, every assault upon the Church has been headed by Republican or Whig leaders, and has been invariably supported by the so-called party of progress. Under Sir Robert Walpole, under Mr. Fox, under Lord John Russell, the tradition has been upheld with a staunch fidelity which no other of the principles of the party has enjoyed. Nor is there the slightest indication that any change has come or is coming over their policy. The struggle of the last fifteen years between the Church and her enemies has, within the walls of the House of Commons, taken simply the form of a struggle between Conservatives and Liberals. Everything that could injure the Church has been supported by the Liberals; and each attack has only been foiled by the compact front presented by the Conservatives. In every one of the Wednesday divisions' which have been the subject of so much just congratulation to Churchmen, the representative of the Government invariably gave his support to the Dissenters. The active canvass which is going on at this moment all over the country, offers unusual opportunities for studying the affinities of politicians. The addresses of the candidates speak as clearly as the votes of the House of Commons In every borough the Liberal candidate addresses himself naturally to the Dissenters; and in proportion to the number of Dissenters upon the register is the
likelihood of a Liberal triumph. All this support the Liberals must sacrifice the moment they venture to do justice to the Church. It would be sacrificing all the support the Liberals receive from men of the type of Mr. Bright, Mr. Hadfield, and Mr. Baines. It would be a direct reversal of policy upon the one subject upon which a great number of men still feel keenly. If a portion of the Liberal party attempted it, their forces would be hopelessly divided. That the whole should consent to it is a simple impossibility; for with the large majority of them it would involve the renunciation of every opinion upon ecclesiastical subjects which they have ever uttered.
The Churchmen who advocate an alliance with the Liberal party and propose to inaugurate that policy by their votes at the impending election at Oxford, do not appear to have formed any theory as to the mode in which this novel union is to be brought about. They only rely with a vague credulity upon Mr. Gladstone's persuasive eloquence. The time, however, has passed for forming indefinite expectations of its efficacy. He has held a prominent place in a Liberal Government too long to leave room for any doubt as to the precise influence he can exert in improving the ecclesiastical opinions of his followers. His persuasive eloquence may or may not have been heartily exercised
upon their stubborn hearts; but, whether it has been used with goodwill or not, it has certainly failed of its effect. They are not only no better than when he joined them in 1859, but rather worse. They have changed their mode of attack, and it has become all the more formidable for the change. They have ceased for the moment to assail the security of the Church's possessions, but they have learnt the more deadly strategy of sapping the integrity of her creed. The division, a few weeks ago, upon the Tests showed how slight an effect his oratory could exercise upon his followers, though his powers were stimulated by the consciousness that precious University votes might depend upon the vigour of his sentiments. The truth is, that even if the alternative lay before the Liberal party to abandon the Dissenters or to lose Mr. Gladstone, they could have no hesitation about the choice. It is possible to do without leaders, but it is not possible to do without votes. But so painful a decision is not really required of them. Experience has made them acquainted with Mr. Gladstone's tolerance to those who support him as a Minister and only resist him as a Churchman; and they know better than some of his Church friends seem to do how far his ecclesiastical opinions are likely to interfere with his political alliances. Mr. Gladstone will remain with them, whatever havoc they may make among the endowments or the