JANUARY 21, 1861,
AND REVISED BY THE AUTHOR.
A. J. B. BERESFORD HOPE, ESQ.
JAMES RIDGWAY, 169, PICCADILLY, W.
As a member of the Committee of the Church Institution I have come to town to-day, and entered this room prepared to give my support to the report which has been prepared by the Executive Committee; and I still rise to carry out this resolve and to support the resolution that has been moved by my noble and honourable friends (Lord R. Montagu, M. P., and J. M. Clabon, Esq.), in spite, I am compelled to say, of the arguments which they have used in recommending it. I know we have met here not to impute motives, but as actuated by an honest and equal zeal for the interests of the Church. I shall not utter a word of criticism upon the speeches of my two friends, which goes beyond their strictures upon the Bill introduced by my intimate friend and our brother committee-man, Mr. Hubbard: and I, therefore, claim privilege of Parliament since Mr. Hubbard is not here this evening, nor yet a near relative of mine, himself also our colleague (Lord R. Cecil, M.P.), whose name is likewise on the back of the Bill, if I venture, as a third member of this Committee to rise up in their room and to defend their measure. I do not assume that Mr. Hubbard's Bill, or that of which Mr. J. E. Wilson is known to be the [3/4] author, has or has not a majority in the Committee. I contend that this is a Cabinet question which ought not to have been brought before the "House," by which I mean this Council. The Committee have purposely made a neutral report; I honour and thank them for it: but as they have done so, while my friends have a right to speak out their own reasons I have an equal right to speak out mine.
Do not think for one moment that I rise to do more than support the general principle of Mr. Hubbard's Bill. That is all I can do; it is all that any man can do. Till a measure is in committee of Parliament, no vote of any member can do more than affirm the general principle. A member of Parliament in voting for this Bill supports only the general principle--à fortiori, the public out of doors who back up the bill can only be pledged to the support of the general principle. Mr. Hubbard himself maintains only the general principle of his measure; for he, like all successful promoters of Bills, if he carries his Bill through a second reading, must and would be ready to receive in committee friendly suggestions from different quarters. So that I--a supporter of Mr. Hubbard's Bill--must be understood as supporting only its general principle, which is that the Church of England will best .consider its own dignity-- will best consult its own safety and its permanent existence as a National establishment by believing that it has distinctive doctrines of its own which may be repulsive to the [4/5] consciences of some British citizens; and that other communities may also have distinctive doctrines, which may, on the other hand, be repulsive to the members of the Church of England. It will be best to acknowledge that if any person dissenting from these distinctive doctrines as held by the Church of England shall decline to pay a variable and changeable rate for the support of the Church, they are not to be absolutely hunted from the top to the bottom of the town, and stigmatized as hypocrites who look only to their own pockets, but should be treated as men actuated by real and conscientious motives which deserve the respect of every honest and good member of the Church of England. I say that distinctly, and the more so in consequence of the speech from my Noble friend, the mover of this report, who did not hesitate to rest his cause upon the theory of that distinguished reformer who burnt Servetus, that "the State was not God's State unless the Church and the State were coextensive." The burning of Servetus was the logical sequence of that dictum.
My Noble friend went on, in substance to say, that a Dissenter must belong to the National Church because he is an Englishman. If that is the case, every man who lives in Holland must be a Calvinist, because he belongs to the National Church, which is Calvinistic. Every Jew who lives in Rome must belong to the Church of Rome because he is a Roman; and so the Pope was quite right in carrying off the young Mortara. [5/6] (No, no). I was quite prepared to hear these cries of No, no, but I defy any man to say that there is any distinction between the cases, except that the one case is our own affair, and the other is the affair of our neighbours,
"Quam temere in nosmet legem sancimus iniquam."
The logic of my Noble friend, which he has ably, honestly, and consistently advocated, would justify Calvin in burning Servetus--would justify the Calvinists of Holland in imprisoning Grotius--would justify the Pope in kidnapping young Mortara--would justify the Japanese in trampling on the cross of Christ. Because if the principle that the Church and the State are coexistent--if you lay down that as law, and if you say that it is a right and just law in the sight of God and man--there is no reason why you should not punish the flesh of a Dissenter as well as touch his pocket. Do not say that I am arguing against an Established Church. I thank God that England has an Established Church, to which I, an Englishman, can belong. I do not say that if I were a denizen of Holland, or of Italy, or of Turkey, that I should belong to the National Church; but as a denizen of England I do thank God that there is an Established Church to which I can belong. But I support the National Church with my eyes open to the consideration of what might be my lot or your lot if we belonged to a country which has a Church that [6/7] teaches for doctrines what we believe to be the commandments of men. I do not enter into any questions beyond the limits of England, it is enough to say that our possession of the Established Church which we enjoy is a happy--a blessed--accident. I am, therefore, rejoiced that as an Englishman I can support the National Church of England, while feeling that there are others who conscientiously dissent from its doctrines; but, on the other hand, I do not support it upon the principles of my Noble friend. I do not believe indeed that he would burn Mr. Toulmin Smith, or that he would imprison Mr. Binney, or that he would kidnap Mr. Spurgeon's child; but the principles which he has laid down to-night would logically carry him to that result.
The principles upon which the Church of England exists as an establishment were, in fact, defined by the events of 1688, at the time of the expulsion of the Popish King, when the Toleration Act was passed. Granted that that Act did not exempt Dissenters from Church Rates--no doubt it did not. Granted that it did not open the doors of Parliament to all subjects of the Sovereign, yet it contradicted the assertion that Dissenters belong to the Church of England because they are Englishmen. If you say that a man belongs to the Church because he is an Englishman, that is equivalent to saying that not to be a Churchman is to be opposed to that which is the bond of citizenship--the law of the land. But the Toleration Act expressly declares that to be a Dissenter is not to be opposed to the law of the land. That principle was [7/8] opposed to the laws of Edward I., of Edward III., of Elizabeth, of the Stuarts; it perfected the Revolution; it made a greater change in England than the mere substitution of William of Orange for James Stuart. We must realize this principle now, whether we like it or not; if we attempt to take our stand on any other Act it will crumble away under our feet. We must deal with the Established Church as it was left in 1688, still more we must deal with the Church as it was left in 1828 when the Test and Corporation Acts were repealed; and as it was left in 1829 when Roman Catholic emancipation was carried; and still more as it was left in 1858 when the Government of Lord Derby emancipated the Jews. We have to deal with the Established Church at all these successive epochs, as men of common sense who have to deal with things not as we might imagine them, or as we might wish them, but such as they really are. Our present Established Church, which I pray may long be established in this land, is one established with great civil privileges, possessed of enormous social, moral, and intellectual influence, and with a vast amount of property. I feel it is our duty--we ought to be ready to sacrifice our life blood--to maintain this Established Church, from a profound conviction that it conduces to the glory of God and to the happiness of the people among whom it is established. I see before me a great future for this Church, and in connection with it a broad path of usefulness for this Institution. But then I ask how [8/9] this is to be attained, and I reply, by its members coming forward to support the Church, not from any personal dislike or ill will to the members of other bodies, and still less from political predilection, but from conviction and principle from their realizing its advantage, as it is, to the commonweal. We know that some years ago the Church establishment appeared to be on its last legs: it is now flourishing. There are many reasons for that change. What I believe to be one of the greatest is, that we no longer live in an age when "Church and King" is the cry of one political party, while "civil and religious liberty" is that of another. The 'Purples' in one county shouted "Church and King;" the 'Blues' shouted "civil and religious liberty." In other counties it was the 'Greens' and the 'Reds:' every county had its distinctive colour; but these two cries were the passwords of the Whigs and Tories, or, as they are now called, Liberals and Conservatives. In the course of events, by means of the Reform Bill, and of other circumstances which I cannot now go into, and which it is not desirable that I should, this old state of things has been broken up, and the Church, which ought to be the purifier and regenerator of the people at large, is no longer mixed up with a predominant political faction. So the Church of England has grown to her present strength. In the mean time, however, Dissent has also grown the to its present antagonistic strength. We, members of the Church Institution, filling this room [9/10] in the Freemasons' Tavern, are tempted not to look beyond these four walls, or to realize that elsewhere different sentiments may be heard--that there may, be other rooms, either in London or in other towns, filled as numerously and addressed as heartily by those who believe it is their mission to pull down the Established Church. In fact, while the Church is still, I am thankful to say, the religion of the vast majority, Dissent has certainly (in spite of its strange misgivings about the religious census) acquired a political influence which some may look upon as right and just, and others as a great misfortune; but which all must recognise as a fact. There are Dissenters in both Houses of Parliament--Dissenters have sat in the Cabinet--in short, Dissent in many respects stands on an equal political platform with the Church. The union with Scotland tended to help Dissent; for the Established Church of Scotland, viewed ecclesiastically, is Dissent in England--('No, no'). Viewed ecclesiastically, I say. Dr. Cumming in England is a Dissenter, and I, if I were in Scotland, should be a Dissenter, for I should worship at the Episcopal Church. I am not arguing whether that is right or wrong, for it is no part of this discussion to investigate the influence of a non-Prelatical Church. upon a Prelatical one: that is a question of theology. I am merely stating the facts which account for Dissent being placed on a different basis now from that which it occupied in the time of the Stuarts, So, also, the Irish Union has had [10/11] a similar effect with regard to a very different form of Christianity. Dissent, especially in the manufacturing districts, has grown up rapidly. There are there many persons, lords of multitudes of workmen, buying up the estates of the old gentry, building princely mansions, and exercising in them a splendid and noble liberality, who are Nonconformists, and who help Nonconformity by purse and by influence--who make it, in fact, the established religion of their own properties. Nonconformist literature, in journals and magazines as well as books, is everywhere rife. Nonconformity has already an organisation, such as we wish to establish in this Institution. Philosophical latitudinarianism and unphilosophical philanthropism may equally find their advantage in an alliance with Dissent. The large influx of Irish into the great towns aids the same movement; for the Church of Rome is of course, politically speaking, Dissent. In every respect, from year to year, Nonconformity has in its measure grown in influence and strength in face of the real growth and the real progress of the Church. But, for a considerable time, and up to this year, there has been one remarkable feature in the case in favour of the Church. The Nonconformists have hardly succeeded in shaking off their ancient political aspects; and the old party associations to which the Nonconformists used to be identified, still cling to them, while the Church with a nobler and higher spirit had shaken herself free from the associations which formerly so trammelled her. But if we are [11/12] now to take up the cry of "no surrender" in regard not to doctrine and discipline, nor yet to appreciable property, but to a contingent right of taxation, I will tell you what will happen. All the Dissenting wealth, organisation, and zeal--all the influence which Dissent can muster--will be combined into and with a political phalanx which it will require us to look well how to meet.
If I am now treading on doubtful ground, I hope my friends will not scruple to correct me; but I must speak out. Supposing that it should be proved that among the circumstances which have hitherto tended so much to the credit and advantage of the Church, and so much to the discredit of Dissent, should be the one that Dissent is political, while the Church is nonpolitical. Supposing again, that at the time when the battle was set in array, the defenders of the Church should be marching side by side, in two regiments; one, the a no surrender" regiment; the other, that of the moderate and cautious men, and that at such a time a chief should come forward and offer to lead the two bodies, but only on condition that both should blend under the a no surrender') banner. Supposing, in the last place, that this chief should be the speculative leader of a great political party in one of the Houses of Parliament, a gentleman who was generally admitted to be able and versatile, but one who was never supposed to have burnt the midnight oil in theological or ecclesiastical studies. Supposing all this--might there not be a risk, aye, a great risk, that all the good which had [12/13] arisen from the Church having shaken herself free from political servitude and torn up the livery of faction, might be undone, and that the old bitterness of former generations should return in a tenfold degree, while our opponents marshalled under their ensigns, and with all their powerful organisation, would become, whether they wanted it or not, identified with the opposite political party, and that their alliance would upset not merely Church-rates and tithes, but the Established Church altogether. I put to you that question for consideration. Feelings of propriety, which every one will appreciate, prevent me from naming names, but the allusions I have made without trenching on the rules of this meeting, must be obvious to every one as to the consequences of such conduct. I have said that the agitation might result in the pulling down the Established Church altogether. This is a contingency which none of us can look upon without horror and dismay. But is it impossible? Is the Church of England, or any established Church, a thing that is an absolutely necessary correlative to the Anglo-Saxon race, or to those forms of government which have been moulded on the British constitution--that is to say, containing two Houses of the Legislature, with a superior Executive? In our own generation we have created great nations in Australia and America, and in none of them is our Established Church to be found. In some of them it was at the outset more or less planted, but we have allowed the very idea to be gradually effaced; and yet we are in [13/14] the habit of throwing up our hats and holloaing for the material prosperity of Melbourne and Sydney, and Toronto. The great English-speaking republic in America has repudiated any Established Church, yet the columns of the Times this very morning shew how marvellous has been its growth in material prosperity, telling of the increase in ten years of one city from 29,000 to 109,000 inhabitants. Thus in the great communities of the United States, of Canada and of Australia, we have lessons that are full of warning to ourselves in more than one aspect. The deterioration, the vulgarisation of public morality, compared with the old country, which we observe in them alongside of all this material prosperity may, I believe, in great measure be attributed to the absence of the ancestral Established Church. But, on the other hand, this absence has no way checked the progress of material wealth and prosperity, of comfort and luxury, of all the arts of elegant life and of vigorous literature. This spectacle is open before the eyes of men in whom the fear of God is not the prominent idea, so that if the battle were fairly set in array with this example before them; if the question were asked of them--will you not get rid of this nuisance of an Established Church and receive in exchange the advantages of material prosperity which are now enjoyed by Chicago and Melbourne?--were that cry once raised, and the Liberation Society is raising it--then we shall have a harder struggle before us than this Institution is yet able to foresee. There might be [14/15] another result of the contest on which I do not at present insist, but which would be equally fatal in another way--the preservation of the name of the Established Church of England at the expense of the thing, by the sacrifice of all that it contained distinctive in doctrine and in discipline, in order to comprehend the really victorious hosts of nonconformity.
I am fortified in the view which I take of the evil effects of this a "no surrender" policy, when I recollect what has been the inevitable fate of every question where that cry has been raised. We have had this cry of "no surrender" often raised before in our own time. It was raised against the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts and against Roman Catholic Emancipation; in later years it sounded against the admission of Jews to Parliament. In short, the cry has been evoked upon almost every question in which the politics of religious liberty have been involved. Where are all those cries at this minute? Where is every one of those questions for which freemen were brought to the poll in boroughs, and freeholders in counties, to the cry of "No surrender?" On the other hand, when the Church had been timely wise, as in the case of the Tithe Commutation, what had been the consequence? A measure of peace was passed which, while conciliating her opponents, added strength to the Church herself, and which, unless the present "no surrender" policy interposes and spoils the game will, I hope and would fain believe, long continue, while a similar measure of [15/16] happiness would follow from a like settlement of the Church-rate question. I quite admit that the tithe question was not so much mixed up with matters of conscience as that of Church-rates and Dissenters, but yet there is enough of similarity to warrant my inference. I should be the last person to deny that there is a wide margin of deference due from all classes--religious bodies included--to the Civil Estate. Those which have neglected or defied this have never prospered. The sect of the Anabaptists was long since quenched in the bloodshed which they themselves provoked. The Quakers, on the other hand, have departed from their anarchical fervour, and have in proportion miserably deteriorated from their first principles amidst the contempt of all logical men. There is a point we are all agreed on, which is, the State must compel the allegiance of all its subjects. But it is a deadly and God-denying idea to presume that the State is to be all in all--to claim allegiance wholly to itself, and to allow nothing to conscience. Yet, if you allow anything to conscience; you have then to consider how you will deal with your concession--you will have to decide under what circumstances, and in what degree it is to be made. I am aware that persons of great weight consider that Church-rates come within the limitation which I have just sketched out, and are a charge which it is the part of good citizenship not to dream of meddling with, because it is assumed that their estimated average amount is an element in the marketable value of [16/17] land. But I can hardly think that this argument would hold good, at all events since the Braintree decision, while it certainly must break down in parishes where the refusal of Church-rates has become chronic. On the other hand it does apply to tithes, and particularly since the Tithe Commutation Act, a measure which ought to be regarded as the conclusive settlement of the tithe controversy, just as the future measure regulating Church-rates may, I trust, be the conclusive settlement of that controversy. In truth, those who endeavour to prop up Church-rates by the analogy of tithes are gravely imperilling both institutions. They are both of them sources of parochial revenue, but one of them is in the nature of a property and the other of a tax. They are parallel to those two sources of national income, the hereditary estates of the Crown and the annual taxation of the country. Englishmen are generally observant enough of the rights of property, while they like to pick holes in taxation, and so it will require a much stronger impulsion to lead them to attack tithes than it would to provoke a Church-rate struggle. Most gravely, therefore, do I warn and implore the supporters of our Established Church not to provoke the enlargement of the Church-rate struggle to tithes, by the mistaken policy of attempting to prove that the rate stands on the same footing as the tithe. This assertion will be likely enough admitted, but the inference will be drawn that the fixed amount of the perpetual rentcharge may be easily cut down or refused, like that [17/18] of the annually voted Church-rate. The true policy is to look to a Church-rate settlement and then to appeal to that in conjunction with the Tithe Commutation as the lasting concordat between the establishment and the nation. Well, then, what is to be the basis of this concordat so far as concerns Church-rates? What about the exemption of Dissenters? I heard a short time since of a Churchwarden who thought it his duty to exempt from Church-rates certain houses of an improper character. This gentleman acted upon the dictates of his conscience; but if he was right, what the difference is between the landlord or the landlady of such a house and a God-fearing Nonconformist except what is altogether in favour of the Nonconformist, it would be difficult to ascertain. Here the exemption proceeded from a person who himself paid Church-rates. That, of course, would not be the case in respect of that which I must take leave to term the bugbear of so-called "self-exemption." It really appears that in the minds of certain gentlemen exemption may be a bad thing, but self-exemption is flat blasphemy. That is absolutely what the argument on the opposite side amounts to. Let us then take it to pieces and see what it is composed of. Strictly speaking, in law there can be no self-exemption, because the claim of exemption must be ratified and recorded by some tribunal or other. That tribunal may be the vestry, or it may be a Judge in the Queen's Bench, or it may be an a priori enactment of the Parliament of the land. [18/19] The claim in Mr. Hubbard's Bill runs in the following terms:--
"I (A. B.) of __ who am rateable to a Church Rate in respect of property situate in the parish of ___ claim the exemption allowed under the ___ of Victoria, chapter ___, to persons not conforming to the Worship of the Church of England."
This you may call self-exemption; but it is more correctly a self-claim for exemption. The notice as it stands is a mere claim. The act of exemption is only inchoate after the document has been executed; it would not be worth the ink in which it is written till it had been sanctioned by the vestry. The exemption takes place only when the papers are taken cognizance of by the Chairman of the vestry. It is true there is no option in the vestry to reject the claim of the applicant. The vestry is, in fact, in the condition of a Dean and Chapter of a cathedral when they receive from Her Majesty a congé d'élire for the election of a Bishop, coupled with the inseparable recommendation. But still till the claim is taken cognizance of by the vestry it has no legal force, and thus the constitutional difficulty of a man being supposed to shuffle off his own taxation is removed. Dissent may or not be a reasonable ground of exemption, but the exemption is in the vestry which makes the rate in face of these claims. I argued this point the other day at a meeting of clergy and lay [19/20] consultees at Maidstone, belonging to a deanery in which both our excellent friend and treasurer, Mr. Hoare, and myself are resident, and at which we were both present. Mr. Hoare expressed himself as not unwilling to consider the question of exemption if it was not to be self-exemption. I followed him in the debate, and I used there the same arguments which I have now been employing. Mr. Hoare frankly acknowledged there were many people from whom it would be " cruel "--his own word--to force the payment of Church Rates, owing to their conscientious objection; and he expressed himself willing to exempt the honest Nonconformist from the operation of the law. I was delighted to hear these sentiments fall from him; and I said there what I say here, that the vestry must be made cognizant of the facts of the claim for exemption in some way or other; that they could not know from Divine inspiration that a ratepayer is a Nonconformist, and wished to be disrated, and that they must get the information from the applicant himself in some formal way, as they could not obtain it from any ethereal source. Now Mr. Hubbard's bill puts that information before them in plain Saxon English, and I do not know that Mr. Hoare would object to that bill, if the vestry had the right to say to any claimant--No, we will not exempt you. But I assert that when the question narrows itself to this issue--whether the vestry shall have the: right or not to reject the claim of any applicant, I cannot consider it so much a question of principle [20/21] as one of expediency. Suppose we agree to admit the possibility of a vestry recognising and enforcing Nonconformist claims of exemption as a principle, is it wise to allow the entrance of petty parochial jealousies, in dealing with each successive individual requisition? If so, we should be introducing a worse sort of parochial feud than that which we are now subjected to. Generally speaking the moderation and good sense of the parish would at once allow every claim of exemption, and thus we should in a round-about way get at that which is the object of Mr. Hubbard's bill. Individually; as I have stated in print, with my name to it, I should much prefer a virtual to a legislative exemption of Dissenters, provided that exemption was also virtually placed above the reach of petty interference. But still those evils of the actual Church rate system, the difficulty of recovery, and the grievance of the district churches would have to be legislated for. But legislation on these points would be infinitely more easy, if the running sore of the Dissenters' exemption had been previously healed up. It would be a million-fold more difficult--aye, impossible, if it were to be coupled with a formal refusal to entertain that exemption. Do not suppose that Mr. Hubbard and his supporters, are such blind idolaters of this particular measure, that they will only agree to this one way of exempting Dissenters--we shall be satisfied with any bill by which Dissenters may be exempted. Mr. Hubbard's bill in my judgment [21/22] makes a very business-like proposition in an inoffensive and harmless form of words, which involves the minimum of alteration in the present state of things consistent with legislation at all. The measure in its first shape was drawn with the assistance of very high authority both legal and ecclesiastical. But if any better form can be proposed, which will equally take care that the Dissenters cry be estoppel, I, for one, shall be willing to acquiesce in it. I, for one, am not a Hubbardite qua Hubbardite, but I am a Hubbardite because Mr. Hubbard makes a distinct provision for the exemption of Dissenters in his bill, while at the same time he retains the liabilities of Church-rates upon Churchmen. If the principles laid down at Maidstone, in the debate to which I have referred, were to be generally adopted, it might come to a common understanding; but I earnestly contend that the strong views of my noble friend, and of the seconder of his motion must be considerably mitigated and explained away before any concordat can be arrived at. [Mr. Roundell Palmer in his masterly speech during the discussion at Freemasons' Hall, showed how really revolutionary (though not in the sense of exempting Dissenters) were the suggestions of that bill--excellent as far as they went--to which the persons who came most strongly forward on the cry of "no surrender" had pledged their adherence. The abolition of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the assimilation of the Church to the poor-rate, and the enfranchisement of district Churches are all innovations as revolutionary as they may be expedient in the old constitutional theory of Church-rates. The same may of course be said of Mr. Disraeli's suggested policy.] This concordat [22/23] might be productive of practical good in more ways than one, as I have already hinted. If Dissenters are to have exemption, and in the letter which I wrote to the Guardian I proposed that Dissenters might be exempted even without legislation; then Dissenters and Churchmen might come to an understanding on some of those palpable evils which now hamper the temporal position of the Church without benefiting the honest Nonconformist. In addressing the Churchman I hope that I shall not be required to explain that which I have all along taken for granted, that the exempted Dissenter must give his quid pro quo in being relieved from attendance at the Church vestry. My only surprise is, that there should be Churchmen who do not appreciate the value of this quid pro quo. It might also be provided that the district Churches should levy their own rates, while other questions would also receive attention, which, I am sorry to say, in the present blaze of indignation, are likely to be forgotten. I mean that such an alteration might be made in the law of mortmain as would allow landlords greater liberty to charge or settle their estates, and capitalists to give or leave moneys towards providing endowment and sustentation of our churches. This proposal is at present a little discredited, because it formed a feature of Mr. Walpole's bill, which, like another bill of the same government, brought in about the same time, was "too clever by half." In that bill the proposal was [23/24] unluckily accompanied by machinery that was somewhat unworkable for the formal extinction of Churchrates in parishes which had received such endowments. Men got hold of this objection and pushed it to the uttermost. But if Parliament were simply to pass an enabling act, and then leave the extinction of the rate in parishes which had an assured income elsewhere, to the natural working of cause and effect, the measure would be as simple as it would be beneficial.
I have trespassed on your time at great length, but I have only one or two observations more. It is true that a man may attempt to escape the rate by calling himself a Dissenter, but he may not find it all gain. He will probably find that the claim made upon him for the support of the conventicle is quite as heavy as the rate for the Church. As soon as the minister knows that a man has written himself down a Dissenter, he will go to him and say, "Sir, I know you are a man, and an Englishman; you do not want to cheat God, and that 5s 7d which you very properly refused for washing the parson's surplice, you will no doubt give me for preaching the pure gospel." Besides this, in many cases, it will be felt to be the ungentlemanly, unhandsome thing, to claim exemption. Why does our nobility stand higher in influence than the noblesse in any other country in the world? Why is it unshaken in general respect, while that of almost every continental country is overlooked or [24/25] hated? It is because they have thrown away privilege and rest upon influence. So will the power of the Church increase when the payment of the rates rests on influence and not on enactments of the law. The change would undoubtedly work very differently in different parishes, but so does the Church-rate now. It would be lost in many parishes; but I firmly believe it would be restored in many others--parishes or districts--where bona fide Churchmen would know that they were rating themselves for the bona fide expenses of that church at which they themselves bona fide worshipped. As to the assertion which is often made that Dissenters would refuse the compromise, I answer--try it first. It never has been fairly tried since the division on the third reading of Sir John Trelawny's bill last session changed the face of matters. In any case the Church can never lose by being moderate and just in its pretensions.
I entreat this meeting, let us not go to our graves with the despairing reflexion that we had caused the ruin of the Church, because having had a temporary flash of prosperity in 1860, we attempted to drive a hard bargain, and to enforce it with stringency, instead of acting like honest and moderate Englishmen, and endeavouring to bring about a state of things that might have issued in a lasting peace--a peace that would endure to all generations.