Statesmanship was defeated in the eighties, and those who defeated it, those who exalted prejudice and racialism and intolerance above rationality and foresight, are now among those whom the world salutes as immortal statesmen. In truth, they have bowed the knee to violence.
By the same power, and not by reason, the Government extended the franchise to women. Statesmanship held firmly on the contrary course till the winds of violence rose and the rain of anarchy threatened to descend in a flood of moral devastation.
Look closely into the great achievements of the Washington Conference and you will find that the nations are not voluntarily seeking the rational ideal of peace, but are being driven by urgent necessity into the course of reason. Statesmanship would have disarmed the world before 1914. It was only after 1918 that the spectre of Universal Bankruptcy drove the poor trembling immortals who pass for statesmen to embrace each other as heroes in search of an ideal. Humanity has achieved nothing noble or glorious in the last thirty years; it has been driven by the winds of God into every haven which has saved it from shipwreck.
With a clear understanding of the meaning of the word statesmanship, one may ask with some hope of arriving at an intelligent answer whether Randall Davidson is a great statesman.
Under his rule a divided and distracted Church has held together; but religion has gone out of favour. During his reign at Lambeth there has been a sensible movement towards reunion; but the nation is uninterested. If the Romanists have been less rebellious, the Evangelicals have lost almost all their zeal. If the Church still witnesses to the truth of Christianity, it is with all her ancient inequalities thick upon her, turning her idealism to ridicule, and in the midst of a nation which has become steadily more and more indifferent to the Church, more and more cynical towards religion.
If there is peace in the Church, there is little of that moral earnestness in the life of the nation which in past times laid the foundations both of English character and of English greatness. We are becoming swiftly, I think, a light and flippant people, the only seriousness in our midst the economic seriousness of our depressed classes. It is not to any other class in the community that the zealot can address himself with an evangel of any kind. Only where a sense of bitterness exists, a sense of anger and rebellion, can the idealist in these dangerous times hope for attention.
The Bishop of Manchester preached some few weeks ago a sermon to the unemployed of that city. He was asked at the end of his sermon if the workers could get justice without the use of force. He replied, “It all depends what you mean by force.” And at that the congregation shouted, “Murder.” They were to have concluded the service with the hymn, “When wilt Thou save Thy people?” Instead, it concluded with the singing of “The Red Flag.”