THE NEW PHASE OF THE BELL COX CASE.
AT last we know what Mr. Hakes has been aiming at in his long controversy with Mr. Bell Cox. At times it has looked as though his object had been to elucidate certain obscure points in constitutional juris- prudence, and that his highest aspirations had been satisfied when he had given occasion for so many elaborate judgments upon the law of Habeas Corpus. At times we have been inclined to attribute his persistence to a passionate local patriotism. Other Aurches might have what ritual they liked ; but, come one, come all, St. Margaret's, Prince's Road, Liverpool, should stand forth as the chosen home of an undeffied Protestantism. There were objections to both explanations, and we are now able to pronounce, on the authority of Mr. Hakes himself, that both are wrong. His own account of the matter is far more interesting. In the correspondence with Mr. Bell Cox which was printed on Wednesday, Mr. Hakes appears in the character of a prophet, and a prophet who has been wise enough to keep his predictions to himself until they have been fulfilled. The real object of the many suits he has instituted against Mr. Bell Cox has been to prevent the Archbishop of Canterbury from being unduly puffed up by the success of his decision in the Lincoln case. Mr. Hakes's letter of March 81st, 1891, is a memento mori dragged across the path of a triumphant Ecclesiastical Judge. In that forgotten time when no one dreamed that a Bishop could be brought to trial for eccle- siastical offences, Mr. Hakes knew better. In the yet un- disclosed future he read that an Archbishop of Canterbury would hold a Court for the soul's health of one of his Suffragans, and that to him was reserved the yet prouder part of interfering to promote the soul's health of the Archbishop himself. " Euphemia's praise adorns my measure, But Chloe is my real flame." He seemed to be prosecuting Mr. Bell Cox, but in fact he was pre- venting the Archbishop of Canterbury from thinking of himself more highly than he ought to think.
On the 23rd of last month, Mr. Bell Cox, thinking, not unnaturally, that a good many things had happened since the suit against him was begun, and more particularly that a suit covering a large part of the same ground had re- cently been brought to an issue against a person of more importance than himself, addressed a conciliatory letter to Mr. Hakes. Let me, be said, suggest a compromise. Since judgment was originally given against me, a decision has been given in matters of ritual which "carries with it at least the weight which attaches to the opinion of the Primate of all England and five of his Suffragans, among whom are certainly not the least distinguished members of the English Episcopate. I am ready to conform the ritual of St. Margaret's to the rulings of that decision in any point where it may contravene it, and you, on the other hand, shall abstain from any fresh pro- ceedings against me and my people." If Mr. Hakes had had only Mr. Bell Cox in his mind, he could hardly have done other than assent to this most reasonable proposal. It is impossible to contend that Mr. Bell Con's case has the same importance now that it had when it was first instituted. Whatever be the ultimate result of the Lincoln case, whatever be the action of the Judicial Committee, or of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or of the Bishop of Lincoln, or of the Ritualist party, it is plain that each and all will be governed by wholly different considerations from any dreamed of when Mr. Hakes first descended into the ecclesiastical arena. Since then the Church Association has flown at higher game than the in- cumbent of a parish, and however gratifying Mr. Bell Cox's imprisonment may be to Mr, Hakes as a personal triumph, he cannot flatter himself that it will settle anything what- ever that is not presumably in a fair way to be settled by other means.
Mr. Hakes's letter of March 31st discloses that deeper reason for his conduct which we have already described. Mr. Bell Cox has only put himself more in the wrong by his well-meant offer of submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury's judgment. Instead, of conciliating Mr. Hakes, it has only made his wrath greater. "I much regret," he writes, "your decision to yield only to the recent judgment of the Archbishop of Canterbury." And he goes on to say a variety of things about that judgment. It "is under appeal," which to most men would have seemed rather a reason for delay than for going on. It." may be altogether reversed within a mouth or two "- which Mr. Hakes apparently considers as tantamount to not having even a provisional or interlocutory force, so long as it is not reversed. It is." asserted without con- tradiction "—that is, in a pamphlet which no one has thought worth answering—" and by competent authority" —that is, by one Mr. Tomlinson or Tomkinson—" to be characterised by a flagrant misrepresentation of facts, by misquotation of documents, and by a resolute disregard for all evidence which might conflict with the design of the draughtsman." When we have got our breath again after this douche of epithets, we begin to wonder what Mr. Hakes's conception of respect for authority really amounts to. Later on in the letter, he talks of acting "in accordance with our Catechism's teaching to submit ourselves to our spiritual pastors." He explains this to mean abiding by the decision of the Bishop of Liverpool. This suggests an interesting speculation. Why, if it is in accordance with our Catechism's teaching "to submit himself to the Bishop of Liverpool," is it not equally, or even a little more in accordance with our Catechism's teaching, to submit himself to the Archbishop of Canter- bury ? Is he not equally a spiritual pastor ? It cannot be that Mr. Hakes is a stickler for the in. dependence of the Northern Province, for in a sub- sequent letter he declines to submit himself to the Archbishop of York. Nor can it, we think, be that he draws a nice distinction between Bishops and Arch- bishops, and holds that Bishops, who are mentioned in the New Testament, are superior to Archbishops, the name of whose office does not occur there. To attribute this view to Mr. Hakes would be to imply that he thinks Episcopacy to be of divine institution, and this we are quite sure he would reject as a Popish figment. We are reduced, therefore, to the explanation that, though "the unworthi- ness of the minister hinders not the effect of the Word or sacraments "—Mr. Hakes probably, accepts this in theory because it occurs in the Thirty-nine Articles—it does hinder the effect of a judgment. How can he submit himself to the decision of the Archbishop of Canterbury, when he (1) misrepresents facts, (2) misquotes documents, (3) disregards evidence ? If he were a lay Judge, these grave offences would justify an address from both Houses for his removal. As he is an ecclesiastical Judge, Mr. Hakes can only comfort himself by the recollection that he is only behaving after the manner of his kind, and feel more than ever thankful that he is not the man "to sanction the idea that priestly should be above sovereign authority," or "to set up an Anglican in the place of a deposed Roman Pope."
The outcome of all this is, thit Lord Penzance is to be induced, by hook or by crook, to send Mr. Bell Cox to prison a second time. We should not be surprised if Mr. Hakes found the Judge he adores harder to persuade than he thinks ; but upon this point we will hazard no conjectures. We will rather call attention, before parting from Mr. Hakes, to his theory of what constitutes an ecclesiastical law. The one essential thing seems to be that the Church should be no party to it. An ecclesias- tical law is a law which the Legislature does not ask the Church to accept, but requires the Church to obey. This does not mean, Mr. Hakes is careful to add, that the Church may not offer an opinion on a law before it is made. On the contrary, the Legislature is always willing to receive representations from any quarter, including Bishops, Priests, and Convocation, while considering what laws ought to be made. But when once made, the business of the Church is not to criticise or to c)nsider whether it shall accept them, but simply to obey. Thus, if a Bill abolishing the Fourth Commandment should be introduced into Parliament, Bishops, Priests, and Con- vocation would be permitted to make representations in favour of a weekly holiday, and of fixing that holiday on the first day of the seven. But from the moment these representations had been ignored, and the Bill repealing the commandment had been passed, it would be a breach of ecclesiastical law to abstain from work on Sunday, or to read the Fourth Commandment in the service. Individuals, we infer from another passage in this same letter, would be free to leave the Church if they felt inclined, and so, being free from the obligation to obey the ecclesiastical laws, might still observe the Sunday if they liked. But the Church would be bound to take no notice of the day, since to do so would be to "sanction the idea that priestly is above sovereign authority." The only way in which this can be avoided is by training the clergy of the Church of England to regard themselves as so many Vicars of Bray.