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conscious of any such tendency, he was drawn to-
wards the very symbolisms of the Catholic Church.
Pascal's early and unexplained mastery of mathe-
matical problems which no one had taught him, is
not more suggestive in its way than those early draw-
ings of Catholic symbols and devices which, done in
his childhood, Newman says, surprised and were in-
explicable to him when he came on them in years
long after. No place could be better fitted to en-
courage and develop this tendency to mysticism in
a thoughtful mind, than Oxford with all its noble
memories of scholars and of priests ; with its pictu-
resque and poetic surroundings, and its never-fading
mediaevalism. Newman lived in the past. His spirit
was with medioeval England. His thoughts were of



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1841. STATE AND CHURCH, 213

a time when one Church took charge of the souls of a
whole united devout people, and stood as the guide
and authority appointed for them by Heaven. He
thought of such a time until first he believed in it as
a thing of the past, and next came to have faith in
the possibility of its restoration as a thing of the pre-
sent and the fiiture. When once he had come to this
point the rest followed, ^as by lot God wot.' No
creature could for a moment suppose that that ideal
Church was to be found in the English Establishment,
submitted as it was to State-made doctrine, and
to the decision of the Lord Chancellor, who might
be an infidel or a fi^ee-liver. The question which
Cardinal Manning tells us he asked himself years
after at the time of the Gorham case, must often have
presented itself to the mind of Newman. Suppose
all the Bishops of the Church of England should de-
cide unanimously on any question of doctrine, would
anyone receive the decision as infallible ? Of course
not. Such is not the genius or the principle of the
English Church. The Church of England has no
pretension to be considered the infallible guide of the
people in matters even of doctrine. Were she seri-
ously to put forward any such pretension, it would be
rejected with contempt by the common mind of the
nation. We are not discussing questions of dogma,
or the rival claims of churches here ; we are merely
pointing out that to a man with Newman's idea
of a church, the Church of England could not long
afford a home. That very logical tendency, which in
the mind of Newman as of that of Pascal contended



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214 A HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMES. ch. x.

for supremacy with the tendency to devotion and
mysticism, only impelled him more rigorously on his
way. He could not put up with compromises, and
convince himself that he ought to be convinced. He
dragged every compromise and every doctrine into
the light, and insisted on knowing exactly what it
amounted to and what it meant to say. The doc-
trines and compromises of his own Church did not
satisfy him. There are minds which in this condi-
tion of bewilderment might have been content to find
' no footing so solid as doubt.' Newman had not a
mind of that class. He could not believe in a world
without a church, or a church without what he held
to be inspiration; and accordingly he threw his
whole soul, energy, genius and fame into the cause
of the Church of Rome.

This, however, did not come all at once. We are
anticipating by a few years the passing over of Dr.
Newman, Cardinal Manning and others to the an-
cient Church. It is clear that Newman was not him-
self conscious for a long time of the maimer in which
he was being drawn, surely although not quickly, in
the direction of Rome. He used to be accused at
one time of having remained a conscious Roman
Catholic in the English Church, labouring to make
new converts. Apart fi'om his own calm assurances,
and fi^'om the singularly pure and candid nature of
the man, there are reasons enough to render such a
charge absurd. Indeed, that simple and childish con-
ception of human nature which assumes that a man
must always see the logical consequences of certaia



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1841. THE MOVEMENT IN SCOTLAND. 215

admisaions or inquiries befor^and, because all mea
caa see them a&erwarda, is rather cojifu^iog aad out
of place when: we are considering such a crisis of
thought and feeling as that which tpok place i^
Oxford, and such men as those who were principally
concerned in it. For the present it is enough to say-
that the object of that movement was to raise the
Church of England from apathy, firom dull^ easy-
going acquiescence, from the perfunctory discharge
of formal duties, and to quicken her again with the
spirit of a priesthood, to arouse her to the living
work, spiritual and physical, of an ecclesiastical sove-
reignty. The impulse overshot itself in some cases
and was misdirected in others. It proved a &ilure
on the whole as to its definite aims ; and it some-
times left behind it only the ashes of a barren sym-
bolism. But in its source it was generous, beneficent
and noble, and it is hard to believe that th^re has
not been throughout the Church of England on
the whole, a higher spirit at work since the famous
Oxford movement began.

Still greater was the practical importance, at least
in defined results, of the movement which went on
in Scotland about .the same time. A fortnight before
the decision of the heads of houses at Oxford on Dr»
Newman's tract, Lord Aberdeen announced in the
House of Lords that he did not see his way to do
anythiog iu particular with regard to the dissensions
ia the Church of Scotland. He had tried a measurey
he- said5: the year before, and half the Church of
Scotiami liked it^.and the othe|- half denounced it^



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216 A HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMES. CH, X.

and the Government opposed it ; and he, therefore^
had nothing further to suggest in the matter.
The perplexity of Lord Aberdeen only faintly
typified the perplexity of the Ministry. Lord Mel-
bourne was about the last man in the world likely
to have any sympathy with the spirit which ani-
mated the Scottish Reformers, or any notion of
how to get out of the difficulty which the whole
question presented. Diflfering as they did in so
many other points, there was one central resemblance
between the movement in the Kirk of Scotland and
that which was going on in the Church of England.
In both cases alike the eflFbrt of the reforming party-
was to emancipate the Church fi'om the control of
the State in matters involving religious doctrine and
duty. In Scotland was soon to be presented the
spectacle of a great secession fi'om an Established
Church, not because the seceders objected to the
principle of a Church, but because they held that the
Establishment was not faithful enough to its mission
as a Church. One of the seceders pithily explained
the position of the controversy when he said that he
and his fellows were leaving the Kirk of Scotland,
not because she was too ' churchy,' but because she
was not 'churchy' enough.

The case was briefly this. During the reign of
Queen Anne an Act was passed which took fi^om the
Church courts in Scotland the fii-ee choice as to the
appointment of pastors by subjecting the power of
the presbytery to the control and interference of the
law courts. Harley, BoUngbroke and Swift, not one



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1841. LAY PATRONS. 2X7

of whom cared a rush about the supposed sanctity of
an ecclesiastical appointment, were the authors of
this compromise, which was exactly of the kind that
sensible men of the world everywhere might be
supposed likely to accept and approve. In an im»
mense number of Scotch parishes the minister was
nominated by a lay patron ; and if the presbytery
found nothing to condemn in him as to ' life, literature
and doctrine,' they were compelled to appoint him,
however unwelcome he might be to the parishioners.
Now it is obvious that a man might have a blameless
character, sound religious views, and an excellent
education, and nevertheless be totally unfitted to
undertake the charge of a Scottish parish. The
Southwark congregation who appreciate and delight
in the ministrations of Mr. Spurgeon might very well
be excused if they objected to having a perfectly
moral Charles Honeyman, even though his religious
opinions were identical with those of their favourite,
forced upon them at the will of some aristocratic
lay patron. The eflfect of the power conferred on
the law courts and the patron was simply in a great
number of cases to send families away from the
Church of Scotland and into voluntaryism. The
Scotch people are above all others impatient of any
attempt to force on them the services of unacceptable
ministers. Men clung to the National Church as
long as it was national — that is, as long as it repre-
sented and protected the sacred claims of a deeply
religious people. Dissent, or rather voluntaryism,
b^an to make a progress in Scotland that alarmed



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218 A HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMES. cil x^

thoughtfol ohnrchmen. To get over the difficulty?
the Gesieral Assembly, the highest ecdeBiastieal court-
in Scotland, and likewise a sort of Church Parliament,
declared that a veto on the nomination of the pastor
should be exercised by the congr^ation, in accord^
ance with a fundamental law of the Church that no
pastor should be intruded on any congregation con*
trary to the will of the people. The Veto Act, as
this declaration was called, worked well enough for
a short time, and the highest legal authorities de*
clared it not incompatible with the Act of Queen
Anne. But it diminished far too seriously the power
of the lay patron to be accepted without a struggle.
In the celebrated Auchterarder case the patron won
a victory over the Church in the courts of law, for
having presented a minister whose appointment was
vetoed by the congregation; he obtained an order from
the civil courts deciding that the presbytery must
take him on trial, in obedience with .the Act of Queen
Anne, as he was qualified by life, literature and
doctrine. This question, however,. was easily settled
by the General Assembly of the Church, They left
to the patron's nominee his stipend and his house,
and took no further notice of him. They did not
recognise him as one of their pastors, but he might
have, if he would, the manse and the money which
the civil courts had declared to be his. They
merdy appealed to the Legislature to do. something
which might make the civil law in harmony with
the principles of. the Church. A more serious quesi
tion, however, presently arose. This, was the famous



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1839-41. THE STRATHBOGIE CASE. 210

Strathbogie case, whidi brought the authority of the
Church and that of the State into irreconoilaUe
conflict. A miniBter had been nominated in the
parish of Mamoch who was 80 unacceptable to the
congregation that 261 out of 300 heads of families
objected to his appointment. The Greneral Assembly
directed the presbytery of Strathbogie, in which
the parish lay, to reject the minister, Mr. Edwards.
The presb3rtery had long been noted for its leaning
towards the claims- of the civil power, and it very
reluctantly obeyed the command of the highest
authority and ruling body of the Church. Another
minister was appointed to the parish. Mr. Edwards
fought the question out in the civil court and ob-
tained an interdict against . the new appointment, and
a decision that the presbytery were bound to take
himself on trial. Seven members constituting the
majority of the presbytery determined, without con^
suiting the General Assembly, to obey the civil
power, and they admitted Mr. Edwards on trial.
The seven were brought before the bar of the General
Assembly, and by an overwhelming majority were
condemned to be deposed from their places in the
ministry. Their parishes were declared vacant. A
more complete antagonism between Church and State
is not possible to imagine. The Church expelled-
firom its ministry seven men for having obeyed the
command of the dvil laws.

It was on the motion of Dr. Chalmers that the
seven ministers were deposed. Dr. Chalmers became,
the leader of the movement which was destined:



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220 A HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMES.



ca. z»



within two years fix)m the time we are now survey-
ing to cause the disruption of the ancient Kirk of
Scotland. No man could be better fitted for the
task of leadership in such a movement. He was
beyond comparison the foremost man in the Scottish
Church. He was the greatest pulpit orator in Scot-
land, or, indeed, in Great Britain. As a scientific
writer, both on astronomy and on poUtical economy,
he had made a great mark. From having been in
his earlier days the minister of an obscure Scottish
village congregation, he had suddenly sprung into
fame. He was the lion of any city which he hap-
pened to visit. If he preached in London, the church
was crowded with the leaders of politics, science and
fashion, eager to hear him. The eflFect he produced
in England is all the more surprising seeing that he
spoke in the broadest Scottish accent conceivable,
and, as one admirer admits, mispronounced almost
every word. We have already quoted what Mr,
Gladstone said about the style of Dr. Newman ; let
us cite also what he says about Dr. Chalmers. * I
have heard,' said Mr. Gladstone, *Dr. Chalmers
preach and lecture. Being a man of Scotch blood,
I am very much attached to Scotland, and like
even the Scotch accent ; but not the Scotch accent
of Dr. Chalmers. Undoubtedly the accent of Dr.
Chalmers in preaching and delivery was a consider-
able impediment to his success ; but notwithstanding
all that, it was overborne by the power of the man
in preaching— overborne by his power, which melted
into harmony with all the adjuncts and incidents of



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1839-41. DH. CHALMERS. 221

the man as a whole, so much so, that although I
would have said that the accent of Dr. Chalmers was
distasteful, yet in Dr. Chalmers himself I would not
have had it altered in the smallest degree.' Chahners
spoke with a massive eloquence in keeping with his
powerfol frame and his broad brow and his com-
manding presence. His speeches were a strenuous
blending of argument and emotion. They appealed
at once to the strong common sense and to the deep
religious convictions of his Scottish audiences. His
whole soul was in his work as a leader of religious
movements. He cared little or nothing for any
popularity or fame that he might have won. Some
strong and characteristic words of his own have told
us what he thought of passing renown. He called
it ' a popularity which rifles home of its sweets ; and
by elevating a man above his fellows places him in
a region of desolation, where he stands a conspicuous
mark for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction;
a popularity which, with its head among storms and
its feet on the treacherous quicksands, has nothing
to lull the agonies of its tottering existence but the
Hosannahs of a drivelling generation.' There is no
reason to doubt that these were Chalmers's genuine
sentiments ; and scarcely any man of his time had
come into so sudden and great an endowment of
popularity. The reader of to-day must not look for
adequate illustration of the genius and the influence
of Chalmers in his published Works. These do in-
deed show him to have been a strong reasoner and
a man of original mind. But they do not show the



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222 A mgrroRY of our own times. ch. x.

Chalmers of Scottish controversy. That Chalmers
must be studied through the traces, lying all around,
of his influence upon the mind and the histoiy of
the Scottish people. The Free Church of Scotland
is his monument. He did not make that Church.
It was not the work of one man, or, strictly speaking,
of one generation. It grew naturally out of the
inevitable struggle between Church and State. But
Chalmers did more tiian any other man to decide the
moment and the manner of its coming into existence,
and its success is his best momunent.

For we may anticipate a little, in this instance as
in that of the Oxford movement, and mention at once
the fact that on May 18, 1843, some five hundred
ministers of the Church of Scotland, under the
leadership of Dr. Chalmers, seceded fi^om the old
Kirk and set about to form the Free Church. The
Government of Sir Robert Peel had made a weak
effort at compromise by legialative enactment, but
had declined to introduce any legislation which
should free the Kirk of Scotland firom the control
of the civil courts, and there was no course for those
who held the views of Dr. Chalmers but to with-
draw fi'om the Church which admitted that claim
of State control. Opinions may differ as to the
necessity, the propriety of the secession — ^as to its
effects upon the history and the character of the
Scottish people sbice that time ; but there can be no
difference of opinion as to the spirit of self-sacrifice
in which the step was taken. Five hundred ministers
on that memorable day went deliberately forth fix)m



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1643. THE SECESSION. 223

their positions of comfort and honour, from home
and competence, to meet an uncertain and a perilous
future, with perhaps poverty and failure to be the
final result of their enterprise, and with misconstruc-
tion and misrepresentation to make the bitter bread
of poverty more bitter still. In these pages we have
nothing to do with the merits of religious contro-
versies ; and it is no part of our concern to consider
even the social and political effects produced upon
Scotland by this great secession. But we need not
withhold our admiration from the men who risked
and si^dSTered so much in the cause of what they
believed to be their Church's true rights ; and we
are bound to give this admiration as cordially to the
poor and nameless ministers, the men of the rank and
file, about whose doings history so little concerns
herself, as to the leaders like Chalmers, who, whether
they sought it or not, found fame shining on their
path of self-sacrifice. The history of Scotland is
illustrated by many great national deeds. No deed
it tells of surpasses in dignity and in moral grandeur
that secession— ^to cite the words of the protest —
* from an Establishment which we loved and prized,
through interference with conscience, the dishonour
done to Christ's crown, and the rejection of his sole
and supreme authority as King in his Church.'



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224 A HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIBIES. ch. n.



CHAPTER XL

THE DISASTERS OF CABUL.

The earliest days of the Peel Ministry fell upon
trouble, not indeed at home, but abroad. At home
the prospect still seemed bright. The birth of the
Queen's eldest son was an event welcomed by national
congratulation. There was stiQ great distress in the
agricultural districts ; but there was a general confi-
dence that the financial genius of Peel would quickly
find some way to make burdens light, and that the
condition of things all over the country would begin to
mend. It was a region far removed fi:x)m the know-
ledge and the thoughts of most Englishmen that
supplied the news now beginning to come into Eng-
land day after day, and to thrill the country with the
tale of one of the greatest disasters to English policy
and English arms to be found in all the record of oui*
dealings with the East. There are many still living
who can recall with an impression as keen as though
it belonged to yesterday the first accounts that
reached this country of the surrender at Cabul, and
the gradual extinction of the army that tried to make
its retreat through the terrible Pass.

This grim chapter of history had been for some
time in preparation. It may be said to open with the



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1837, 'BOKHABA BUENES; 225

reign itself. News travelled slowly then ; and it was
quite in the ordinary course of things that some part
of the empire might be torn with convulsion for
months before London knew that the even and ordi-
nary condition of things had been disturbed. In this
instance, the rejoicings at the accession of the young
Queen were still going on, when a series of events
had begun in Central Asia destined to excite the
profoundest emotion in England, and to exercise the
most powerful influence upon our foreign policy
down to the present hour. On September 20, 1837,
Captain Alexander Bumes arrived at Cabul, the capi-
tal of the state of Cabul, in the north of A%hanistan,
and the ancient capital of the Emperor Baber, whose
tomb is on a hill outside the city. Bumes was a
famous orientalist and traveller, the Burton or Bur-
naby of his day ; he had conducted an expedition
into Central Asia ; had published his travels in Bok-
hara, and had been sent on a mission by the Indian
Government, in whose service he was to study the
navigation of the Indus. He was, it may be re-
marked, a member of the family of Robert Bums, the
poet himself having changed the original spelling of
the name which all the other members of the family
retained. The object of the journey of Captain
Bumes to Cabul in 1837 was in the first instance to
enter into commercial relations with Dost Mahomed,
then ruler of Cabul, and with other chiefia of the
western regions. But events soon changed his busi-
ness firom a commercial into a political and diplomatic
mission ; and his tragic fate would make his journey
VOL. I. Q



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226 A mSTOBT OF OUR OWN TIMES. ck. xx.

memorable to Englishmen for ever, even if other
events had not grown out of it which give it a place
of more than personal importance in history.

The great region of Afghanistan, with its historical
boundaries as varying and difficult to fix at certain
times as those of the old Dukedom of Burgundy, has
been called the land of transition between Eastern and
Western Asia. All the great ways that lead fi-om
Persia to India pass through that region. There is
a proverb which declares that no one can be king
of Hindostan without first becoming lord of Cabul.
The A%hans are the ruling nation, but among them
had long been settled Hindoos, Arabs, Armenians^
Abyssinians, and men of other races and religions.
The A%hans are Mahometans of the Shunite sect,
but they allowed Hindoos, Christians, and even the
Persians, who are of the hated dissenting sect of the
Shiites, to live among them and even to rise to high
position and influence. The founder of the Afghan
empire, Ahmed Shah, died in 1773. He had made an
empire which stretched fi-om Herat on the west to
Sirhind on the east, and from the Oxus and Cash-
mere on the north, to the Arabian Sea and the
mouths of the Indus on the south. The death of his
^on, Timur Shah, delivered the kingdom up to the
liostile factions, intrigues, and quarrels of his sons ;
the leaders of a powerful tribe, the Barukzyes, took
advantage of the events that arose out of this condi-
tion of things to dethrone the descendants of Ahmed
Shah. When Captain Bumes visited A%hanistan in
1832, the only part of all their great inheritance



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1887. DOST MAHOMED. 227

which yet remaiiied with the descendants of Ahmed
Shah was the principality of Herat. The remain-
der of A%hanistan was parcelled out between Dost
Mahomed and his brothers. Dost Mahomed was a
man of extraordinary ability and energy. He would
probably have made a name as a soldier and a states-
man anywhere. He had led a stormy youth, but had
put away with maturity and responsibility the vices
and follies of his earlier years. There seems no rea-
son to doubt that although he was a usurper he was
-a sincere lover of his country, and on the whole a
wise and just ruler. When Captain Bumes visited
Dost Mahomed, he was received with every mark
of friendship and favour. Dost Mahomed professed
to be, and no doubt at one time was, a sincere friend
of the English Government and people. There was,
however, at that time a quarrel going on between the
Shah of Persia and the Prince of Herat, the last en-
throned representative, as has been already said, of the
great family on whose fall Dost Mahomed and his
brothers had moimted into power. So far as can now
be judged, there does seem to have been serious and
genuine ground of complaint on the part of Persia
against the ruler of Herat. But it is probable too
that the Persian Shah had been seeking for, and in
any case would have found, a pretext for making war ;
and the strong impression at the time in England,
and among the authorities in India, was that Persia
herself was but a puppet in the hands of Russia. A



Online LibraryJustin McCarthyA history of our own times, from the accession of Queen Victoria to the ... → online text (page 15 of 29)