and sarcasm with a large portion of the press.
It has been equally obnoxious to Radical small shopkeepers
and “true blue” farmers and their squires.
It has been mobbed in churches and censured in Parliament.
Things have gone against it, almost uniformly, before
the tribunals. And unfortunately it cannot be
said that it has been without its full share of folly
and extravagance in some of its members. And
yet it is the party which has grown; which has drawn
some of its antagonists to itself, and has reacted
on the ideas and habits of others; its members have
gradually, as a matter of course, risen into important
post and power. And it is to be noticed that,
as a party, it has been the most tolerant. All
parties are in their nature intolerant; none more
so, where critical points arise, than Liberal ones.
But in spite of the Dean of Westminster’s surprise
at High Churchmen claiming to be tolerant, we still
think that, in the first place, they are really much
less inclined to meddle with their neighbours than
others of equally strong and deep convictions; and
further, that they have become so more and more; and
they have accepted the lessons of their experience;
they have thrown off, more than any strong religious
body, the intolerance which was natural to everybody
once, and have learned, better than they did at one
time, to bear with what they dislike and condemn.
If a party like this comes to feel itself dealt with
harshly and unfairly, sacrificed to popular clamour
or the animosity of inveterate and unscrupulous opponents,
it is certain that we shall be in great danger.
MR. GLADSTONE’S LETTER ON THE ENGLISH CHURCH
Guardian, 29th October 1884.
Mr. Gladstone’s Letter, read at the St. Asaph
Diocesan Conference, will not have surprised those
who have borne in mind his deep and unintermitted
interest in the fortunes and prospects of the Church,
and his habit of seeking relief from the pressure
of one set of thoughts and anxieties by giving full
play to his mental energies in another direction.
Its composition and appearance at this moment are quite
accounted for; it is a contribution to the business
of the conference of his own diocese, and it was promised
long before an autumn session on a great question
between the two Houses was in view. Still the
appearance of such a document from a person in Mr.
Gladstone’s position must, of course, invite
attention and speculation. He may put aside the
questions which the word “Disestablishment”—which
was in the thesis given him to write upon—is
likely to provoke—“Will it come? ought
it to come? must it come? Is it near, or somewhat
distant, or indefinitely remote?” On these questions
he has not a word to say. But, all the same,
people will naturally try to read between the lines,
and to find out what was in the writer’s thoughts
about these questions. We cannot, however, see
that there is anything to be gathered from the Letter
as to the political aspect of the matter; he simply
confines himself to the obvious lesson which passing
events sufficiently bring with them, that whatever
may come it is our business to be prepared.