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tithe rent-charge from landlords, some of them in very needy circumstarces, how intolerable would have been our position both as regards the obloquy and outrage we should have had to endure, and the cruel straits to which we should have been inevitably reduced! Now, however, the very disaster which seemed to threaten our downfall has been overruled for our good.
After ten years' experience and reflection, Lord Plunket said in 1892 :
When I count up the advantages which have followed Disestablishment; when I think of the renewed strength and vitality which our Church has derived from the admission of the laity to an active and responsible participation in her counsels, in the disposition of her patronage, and in the financial departments of her work ; when I observe the spirit of unity and mutual respect which has been engendered by the ordeal of our common adversity, and the increased loyalty and love wbich are being daily shown to their mother Church by those who have had to make some sacrifice on her behalf; when I remember, too, the freedom from agrarian complications which our disconnection from all questions of tithe and rent-charge has brought about, and the more favourable attitude as regards our influence upon the surrounding population which we occupy because of our severance from any State connection—when I remember all this counterpoise of advantage which we enjoy in our new and independent position, and when I try to hold the balance evenly and weigh the losses and the gains on the whole, I say boldly and without reserve that, in my opinion at least, the gain outweighs the loss.
This last autumn Dr. Alexander, Primate of All Ireland, spoke as follows at Templepatrick:
He could not stand in that hall and in their presence without being led to saying some words to them upon the circumstances of the great measure so well known to them as the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland. Ile remembered well very many years ago, when he was a very young bishop, walking out of the House of Lords one warm night in June in 1869, and he candidly confessed he felt in very low spirits. It seemed to be as if there were a sort of death wail for the departure of a great idea that of national Christianity in Ireland. However, as time went on they began to see there was a larger scope in things that seemed to them disastrous than they at first imagined, and he must say in striking the balance between loss and gain there was something to be said on both sides. There were, at all events, three or four circumstances of gain. Well, in the first place, an occasion like that reminded him that opportunities were much more frequent and more considerable for the interchange of ideas in our Churches between the bishops, clergy and laity, and our friends, also, of other denominations and schools of thought than there were in old times. He did not think there were many of our people, and he was sure not many of our friendly Presbyterian neighibours, who any longer look upon a bishop, or even that dreadful beivg, an archbishop, as a spiritual enemy. They knew very well he had got no unusual wealth and no unusual privileges, and so they looked upon him with patience and toleration at least. . . . Besides bringing together all the constituent parts of the Church, he thought there was another good brought about by Disestablishment. The life of ideas made the great part of the life of a Church, and the only way in which it could be discovered whether the ideas were really vital, whether they had real life in them or not, was to show how they worked and whether they could last when clothed in totally different surroundings and investiture of circumstances; and so was it with many of their Church's ideas. They all felt that they had an old Church, and they felt that that Church was able to act upon new lines.
The third thing about Disestablishment to which he would like to refer was that our present position gives our people scope for liberality, and he must say, after making all allowances, the liberality of Irish Churchmen has, on the whole, been very conspicuous. It is a very simple fact, about which there is no manner of doubt, that five millions of money has been raised in our parishes since the time of the Disestablishment in 1869, and when you take into account the building of churches the five millions become six millions. That, he thought, spoke well for liberality. There was a fourth point to which he would just refer. Another privilege which the disestablished Church enjoys is that it is free to legislate.
Such is the testimony of the free Churches; and, whatever be the upshot of present controversies, it will always seem to some of us that the great issue which lies before the Church of England is perfectly expressed in the words of Mr. Gladstone, written half a century ago: You have our decision; take your own : choose between the mess of pottage and the birthright of the Bride of Christ.'
GEORGE W. E. RUSSELL.
SOME PLAIN WORDS ABOUT THE TSAR'S
NEW GOSPEL OF PEACE
SOME time ago a clever American lady asked me what I thought was the chief distinction between Englishmen and Americans. I ventured to reply that, while Americans were very sensitive about having their country, their institutions, and their customs discussed by strangers, or even criticised by each other, we in England rather liked it than otherwise ; or, to put it in other words, that on this issue they were thin-skinned, while our skins on the contrary were perhaps too thick. She replied that it was so, and the reason was that we were so cocksure of ourselves.
This is probably true, and it is to be hoped that for a long time to come we shall tolerate and invite in this country the most free and open
criticism or ridicule of our insular ways; for there are no remedies so potent and so effective for the shams and quackeries and insincerities which
like mushrooms on the soil of modern communities, and nowhere more abundantly and more egregiously than in this dear old country of ours.
It is because of these mushroom-growths that we are set down so often by our neighbours as the most consummate Pharisees and pretenders ; but, so long as we can tolerate being made fun of by others or laughing at ourselves, whether it be because we are so cocksure of our position or for some less attractive reason, we shall have a good tonic available when more than usually ridiculous English men and women try to make the name and reputation of old England absurd.
One thing, it must be said, rather qualifies our hopefulness in this respect, and that is the tendency of our politicians and other anglers for votes and power and influence to pay increasing court to hysterical people and hysterical movements, to countenance different forms of effeminate agitation, and too often to surrender to gush and sentiment, in order to bask for a while in the delusive attractions of what is after all but October sunshine.
We are at this moment threatened with a new epidemic of this kind, in which the man-woman or the woman-man is very much to the front, and which is being generalled by certain well-known masters in the art of advertising pretentious forms of sham philanthropy, while their dupes consist in the main of estimable and amiable people who spend most of their lives in praying not for their own sins but for the sins of other people, and in weeping over a world so much worse in every way than that in which they themselves live. It is, perhaps, well that some cold water from somewhere should be poured upon this new form of sentimental absurdity before the temperature gets too hot for control. It will at least save us from ridicule at the hands of our neighbours presently.
The occasion of the new campaign or pantomime, whichever is thought the most appropriate term, is the recent invitation by the Russian Emperor to a general rubbing of noses and exchange of fine sentiments on the subject of peace and goodwill among men.
In itself no one can quarrel with the sentiment. We all hate bloodshed and rapine. We all shudder and shrink from the horrors of actual war, and those among us who have our own boys and our own relations immediately engaged in the very business feel its horrors most keenly. The most ruthless destroyers of the human race-men like Napoleon-have uttered fine generous sentiments on the subject, but we feel just as strongly that, until men's appetites and passions and tempers have been entirely changed, until the jealousies and hatreds and envies which separate communities as they separate individuals have been eradicated from the race--that is to say, until we have reached the millennium-war will remain with us as surely as famine and pestilence, as sickness and death, all of which are horrible too.
Hysterical meetings addressed by highly sensitive orators will not alter the inevitable doom of our race; but they may render nerveless and powerless the arm and the weapons which are necessary to guard and protect such communities as ours, which have some claim to be doing useful work in the world, from the assault of those who envy our fortune and despise the liberty and the culture we enjoy.
That the world should daily become more and more like a barrack Sard is deplorable enough, but it is an evil that no amount of screaming will cure; for the disease lies far lower down than the elementary diagnosis of these would-be doctors recognises.
Let us dissect some of the features of this new agitation, which remind a good many cold blooded cynics of an opéra bouffe on a grand scale. First in regard to the invitation. This has been issued by the greatest master of legions the world has ever seen. No Roman emperor, no Mongol chieftain, ever controlled such mighty forces as those of modern Russia ; and there is a really sublime attraction in the master of so many soldiers and the direct cause of so many doubts and fears inviting the nations to discuss the folly of soldiering, the evils of war, and the burdens of an armed peace, all with a view to some remedy. The first impulse of every critic who does not immediately gush when some fine phrase is used is to question the sincerity of the whole proceeding and to attribute it all to a deeply conceived plot and plan. A little closer view does not strengthen the notion that the plan, however sinister, is very deep-laid or full of cunning. The net is so very obviously planted in full view of the birds that we are rather struck by the simplicity and naïveté of the invitation than by the Oriental craft which is popularly supposed to underlie all Russian policy. It is almost obvious that we have to do here with no deep-laid scheme for mystifying the world and taking us all in, but with a genuine, if crude, impulse of a young and generous sovereign, whose sympathies have been moved by the perpetual nightmare which afflicts all serious politicians, and who has neither counted the cost nor realised the conditions of the remedy he suggests before he issued his invitation.
The young Russian Emperor is everywhere spoken of as a very attractive personage-sincere, humane and kind. His home and his tastes are those of a kind-hearted country gentleman, and he has married a princess who is very near akin to our own Royal Familynot merely in blood, but in disposition. He rules a community teeming with problems for the social reformer and the political prophet. A community increasing in numbers at a great rate, for the most part very poor, ignorant, tractable and gentle, living a life of sordid toil and hardness, which Tolstoi and others have photographed
This vast ocean of peasants, hardly broken or diversified by other classes, is periodically wasted by famine and disease. This is the material from which the Russian State is formed, and which the Tsar has continually before him. No wonder he should also feel grave distress and compunction when he thinks of the tremendous and ever-increasing load which the vast armaments of Russia impose upon these poor peasants and upon a country whose resources are only beginning to be exploited, and that he should perhaps, at the instance of more experienced and far-sighted men than himself, suddenly make a proposal to relieve the country of part, at all events, of its incubus. The motive was not an ignoble one, but the best motives in politics avail little against the prosaic opposition of stern facts, and the most obstinate fact of all is that the Emperor's views and yearnings are apparently not those of the public opinion which in Russia as elsewhere is the real master of the situation.
We are accustomed to think and speak of the Autocrat of All the Russias, the typical ruler who rules without a Parliament, and without officials responsible to any one but himself, as the absolute master of the Empire, and as holding the minutest interests of all his subjects in the palm of his hand. This no doubt he nominally is and does, but in reality he has in most matters a great deal less initiative