Page images

These verses were a parody of parts of my sermon. Having amused themselves in this

way for half an hour with much laughter and merriment, they gave

“three groans for the Vicar,” and went their way to the market-place; there they kindled a fire of straw, and with grotesque ceremony consigned the effigy to the flames, amidst a discharge of squibs and crackers and a volley of sky-rockets. Thus ended this day, and thankful I am that all has ended so quietly. They will be tired of this work ere long, and I shall for the future get my tithes without


trouble. Strange, however, it is to me, when I reflect on these things, to see the sad contempt into which our order is now. fallen. Who could ever have believed that, in the lapse of so few years, we, who were standing on the pinnacle of dominion, and had the people beneath .our feet, should be compelled to hear and see the things now said and done against both the Bishops and Clergy? Who could have believed, ten years ago, that it would be so soon not only a question whether the Prelates should keep their place in Parliament, but whether the Church itself should be any longer supported by the State? What shall we have next in this æra of changes ?

On the Monday following this affair was the clerical dinner at Scarborough's Hotel, in Leeds. I received intimation beforehand that this meeting was in fact to honor me, though no parti


cular purpose was named in the invitation. We met about fifty in number, the party was tirely clerical, and, but for the folly of one man and the malice of another, it might have been a day of great things to the Church; as it turned out, it was only a source of vexation and bitter disappointment. Dr. Birch was in the chair ; the dinner and wines were excellent, the conversation was sprightly and interesting, and when the cloth was drawn we drank some jovial healths to the King--the Queen—the Duke of Cumberland and “the Duke of Wellington, the great defender of Christianity."

Mr. Scrope then proposed my health in a very flattering speech, and paid some high compliments also to the author of the Letters signed L. S. E. My speech I will not trouble you with, for you know my sentiments sufficiently to make a speech for me.

Prebendary Walford rose next to propose the health of the Archdeacon, but, without the slightest allusion to that which ought to have been his theme, he began all at once with his mysticism. He lectured us about “the Church and the State in the idea of each.” He said, “ that in the spiritual

purpose of the word, and as understood by reference to a future state, and to the abiding essential interest of the individual as a person, and not as a citizen, neighbour, or subject, religion may be an indispensable ally, but is not the essential constitutive end of that national institute which is properly a Church in the idea of Church." "The national clergy, or clerisy of the nation, in its primary acceptation, comprehended the learned of all denominations, the sages and professors of the law and jurisprudence, of medicine and physiology, of music, of military and civil architecture, of the physical sciences, with the mathematical, as the common organ of the preceding; in short, all the liberal arts and sciences, as well as the theological. Under the name theology, or divinity, were contained the interpretation of languages, the tradition of past events, logic and ethics, and lastly, philosophy, or the doctrine and discipline of ideas." “ This,” he said, was the Church in the idea of Church, and the idea,” he said,

was the most real of all realities, and of all operative powers the most actual.”

Here the learned gentleman seemed to mount into the clouds, and continued some time a strain beyond my powers of recording; at last he came to this passage :-

During the dark times when the incubus of superstition lay heavy across the breast of the living and the dying, and when all the familiar tricksy spirits in behalf of an antinational priesthood were at work in all forms and in all directions to aggrandize and enrich a kings dom of this world, large masses were alienated from the heritable proprieties of the realm under





the name of Church property. Had every rood, every peppercorn, every stone, brick, and beam been re-transformed and made heritable at the Reformation, no right would have been invaded, no principle of justice violated. What the state by law can do or suffer to be done, that the state by law can undo or inhibit,&c.*

Here the murmur, which had been audible for some time, burst forth into a vehement expression of anger. Half a dozen clergymen rose at the same time, and at last Mr. Scrope made himself heard by raising his voice louder than the rest : he jumped on the table, and protested against the doctrine that the State could touch Church property; "they had not met together for such a mischievous harangue as this, and if the reverend gentleman thought that his mysticism should be allowed to poison the sincere milk of the word he was grossly mistaken ; all the clergy were now unanimous in their opinion that Church property was coëval with the creation, and that tithes great and small, oblations, and Easter offerings stood on an unrecorded revelation of God to Adam ;t it was madness in these days to take a lower ground; if once it should be conceded that Church property was a human institution, then it would follow that what man had established man might destroy ;

* See “On the Constitution of the Church and State in the Idea of Each,” by S. T. Coleridge, Esq. 1830.

† See Dr. Cove on Tithes, a very sound and orthodox volume.-Editor.


the law had nothing whatever to do with Church property, which was divine, holy, inalienable, unalterable it was the property of Heaven and not of earth, and Parliament had no more power to touch tithes or cathedral endowments than they had power to touch the crystal firmament.”

This speech was loudly applauded. Dr. Birch, our chairman, here interposed with his good humour, and restored order. He said that, Mr. Prebendary Walford had a learned and subtile way of thinking, which was not understood by the ordinary breed of parsons; he himself was free to confess that he never could comprehend any idea of a Church, antecedent to chaos itself, consisting of a universal clerisy, and the most real of all realities. These universal teachers of mathematics, music, divinity, dancing, logic, singing, arithmetic, history, and fencing, might some time have existed, perhaps in Plato's great island of the West, or in extreme Taprabone; but never had he (Dr. Birch) seen or heard of such a clerisy. “The clerisy, gentlemen, that I have seen is a company of goodnatured priests, with a very ample creed from high Calvinism down to the lowest Socinianism, and enjoying themselves in all possible ways, from fox-hunting down to reading lithographed sermons. If the Dissenters would let us alone, pay tithes and Church rates, and not stir up the nation against us, by telling people that we are the spawn of Babylon, I have

« PreviousContinue »