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independent, — that she has an absolute right to elect her own bishops, to determine her own creed, to make her own definitions of orthodoxy and heresy. This is the high Oxford creed, and in all essential points it was Mr. Gladstone's first creed: but a curious series of instructive events proved that England at least would not adopt it; that the actual Church of England is not the church of which it speaks, that the actual English state is by no means the state of which it speaks. The additional endowment of the Maynooth College which Sir Robert Peel proposed * was an express relinquishment of the principle that the Church of England had an exclusive right to assistance from the state; it proved that the Conservative party — the special repository of constitutional traditions — was ready to aid a different and antagonistic communion. The removal of the Jewish disabilities struck a still deeper blow: it proved that persons who could not be said to participate in even the rudiments of Anglican doctrine might be Prime Ministers and rulers in England. The theory of the exclusive union of a visible church with a visible state vanished into the air; the real world would not endure it. We fear it must be said that the theory of the substantial independence of the English Church has vanished too.
The case of Dr. Hampden proved conclusively that the intervention of the English Church in the election of her bishops was an ineffectual ceremony; that it could not be galvanized into effective life; that it was one of those lingering relics of the past which the steady English people are so loth to disturb: undisputed practice shows that the Prime Minister, who is clearly secular prince, is the dispenser of ecclesiastical dignities.
* The college was organized in 1795, to make up for the destruction of the Catholic educational institutions in France by the Revolution, and granted £8,928 by annual vote; in 1846 Peel carried a permanent endowment of £25,000 a year, with £30,000 for immediate building purposes. — ED.
+ Made Bishop of Hereford by Lord John Russell in 1847, in face of bitter and organized opposition by many of the clergy, who charged him with “rationalism." - Ep.
And the judgment of her Majesty's Council in the Gorham case * went further yet; it touched on the finest and tenderest point of all: it decided that on the critical question, heresy or no heresy, the final appeal was not to an ecclesiastical court but to a lay court,- to a court not of saintly theologians but of tough old lawyers, to men of the world most worldly. The Oxford dream of an independent church, the Oxford dream of an exclusive church, are both in practice forgotten; their very terms are strange in our ears; they have no reference to real life. Mr. Gladstone has had to admit this: he has voted for the endowment of Maynooth; he has voted for the admission of Jews to the House of Commons; he has acquiesced in the Hampden case; he sees daily the highest patronage of the church distributed by Lord Palmerston, the very man who on any High Church theory ought not to dispense it, to the very men who on any High Church theory ought not to receive it. He wrote a pamphlet on the Gorham case, but he does not practically propose to alter the constitution of the judicial committee of the Privy Council; he has never proposed to bring in a bill for that purpose: he acquiesces in the supreme decision of the most secular court which can exist, over the most peculiarly ecclesiastical questions that can be thought of. These successive changes do credit to Mr. Gladstone's good sense; they show that he has a susceptible nature, that he will not live out of sympathy with his age : but what must be the effect of such changes upon any mind, especially on a delicate and high-toned mind? They tend and must tend to confuse the first principles of belief; to disturb the best landmarks of consistency; to leave the mind open to attacks of oratorical impulse; to foster the catching habit of advocacy; to weaken the guiding element in a disposition which was already defective in that element. The "movement of 1833," as Father Newman calls it, has wrecked many fine intellects, has broken many promising careers : it could
* See Vol. ii., page 368.
not do either for Mr. Gladstone, for his circumstances were favorable and his mental energy was far too strong; but it has done him harm, nevertheless, - it has left upon his intellect a weakening strain and a distorting mark.
Mr. Gladstone was a likely man to be enraptured with the first creed with which he was thrown, and to push it too far: he wants the warning instincts. Some one said of him formerly, “He may be a good Christian, but he is an atrocious pagan;" and the saying is true. He has not a trace of the protective morality of the old world, of the modus in rebus, the uéoov, the shrinking from an extreme, which are the prominent characteristics of the ethics of the old world; which are still the guiding creed of the large part of the world that is, scarcely altered after two thousand years. And this much we may concede to the secular moralists : unless a man have from nature a selective tact which shuns the unlimited, unless he have a detective instinct which unconsciously but sensitively shrinks from the extravagant, he will never enjoy a placid life, he will not pass through a simple and consistent career; the placid moderation which is necessary to coherent success cannot be acquired, it must be born.
Perhaps we may seem already to have more than accounted for the prominence of Mr. Gladstone's characteristic defects; we may seem to have alleged sufficient reasons for his being changeable and impulsive a vehement advocate and an audacious financier : but we had other causes to assign which have aggravated these faults. We shall not, indeed, after what we have said, venture to dwell on them at length, - we will bear in mind the precept, “If you wish to exhaust your readers, exhaust your subject ;” but we will very slightly allude to one of them.
A writer like Mr. Gladstone, fond of deriving illustration from the old theology, might speak of public life in England as an economy: it is a world of its own, far more than most Englishmen are aware of. It presents the characters of public men in a disguised form; and by requiring the seeming adoption of much which is not real, it tends to modify and to distort much which is real. An English statesman in the present day lives by following public opinion : he may profess to guide it a little, he may hope to modify it in detail, he may help to exaggerate and to develop it, but he hardly hopes for more; many seem not willing to venture on so much. And what does this mean except that such a statesman has to follow the varying currents of a varying world ; to adapt his public expressions, if not his private belief, to the tendencies of the hour; to be in no slight measure the slave — the petted and applauded slave, but still the slave - of the world which he seems to rule ? Nor is this all : a minister is not simply the servant of the public, he is likewise the advocate of his colleagues. No one supposes that a Cabinet can ever agree: when did fifteen able men — fifteen able men, more or less rivals — ever agree on anything? We are aware that differences of opinion, more or less radical, exist in every Cabinet; that the decisions of every Cabinet are in nearly every case modified by concession; that a minority of the Cabinet frequently dissents from them. Yet all this latent discrepancy of opinion is never hinted at, much less is it ever avowed : a Cabinet minister comes down to the House habitually to vote and occasionally to speak in favor of measures which he much dislikes, from which he has in vain attempted to dissuade his colleagues; the life of a great minister is the life of a great advocate. No life can be imagined which is worse for a mind like Mr. Gladstone's. He was naturally changeable, susceptible; prone to unlimited statements, to vehement arguments. He has followed a career in which it is necessary to follow a changing guide, and to obey — more or less, but always to some extent - a fluctuating opinion; to argue vehemently for tenets which you dislike; to defend boldly a given law today, to propose boldly that the same law should be repealed to-morrow. Accumulated experience shows that the public life of our parliamentary statesmen is singularly unsteadying, is painfully destructive of coherent principle; and we may easily conceive how dangerous it must be to a mind like Mr. Gladstone's, -- to a mind by its intrinsic nature impressible, impetuous, and unfixed.
What, then, is to be the future course of the remarkable statesman whose excellences and whose faults we have ventured to analyze at such length? No wise man would venture to predict, - a wise man does not predict much in this complicated world, least of all will he predict the exact course of a perplexing man in perplexing circumstances; but we will hazard three general remarks.
First, Mr. Gladstone is essentially a man who cannot impose his creed on his time, but must learn his creed of his time. Every parliamentary statesman must, as we have said, do so in some measure; but Mr. Gladstone must do so above all men. The vehe. ment orator, the impulsive advocate, the ingenious but somewhat unsettled thinker, is the last man from whom we should expect an original policy, a steady succession of mature and consistent designs. Mr. Gladstone may well be the expositor of his time, the advocate of its conclusions, the admired orator in whom it will take pride; but he cannot be more. Parliamentary life rarely admits the autocratic supremacy of an original intellect; the present moment is singularly unfavorable to it; Mr. Gladstone is the last man to obtain it.
Secondly, Mr. Gladstone will fail if he follow the seductive example of Sir Robert Peel. It is customary to talk of the unfavorable circumstances in which the latter was placed: but in one respect those circumstances were favorable, - he had very unusual means of learning the ideas of his time; they were