LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
THE DEAN OF WINDSOR, THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN, AND THE RITUALISTS.
[To THE EDITOR OP THE " SPECTATOR."] Sin..—If I may judge from the correspondence on the subject, many thoughtful members of the Church of England have shared in the " surprise" which you express that the Dean of Windsor—whose tone has been usually " in eoclesiastical matters, that of the practical politician "—should have thought it right, in the midst of the anxious trial now pending at Lambeth, to write an elaborate letter to the Times, the result of which you justly describe as "holding up to general repre- hension " one of the parties affected by it, including the Bishop of Lincoln himself. The letter is not, indeed, a very consistent one, for while in one part it speaks of the earnestness, zeal, and self-devotion of the " advanced school of High Churchmen," it represents their " strifes," and the " mere technical points at issue," about which " sober citizens " care little, as the chief obstacles " to the promotion of the social, moral, and religious progress of the people of England." It has had, however, one excellent result : in calling forth the powerful reply of Lord Carnarvon, in which, while referring very briefly to the obiter dicta of the Dean against the High Church party, he exposes completely "the phantom of a new Spiritual Court," as fitted " rather for Utopia than for modern England," and " only leading us away from the real and vital point at issue,"—" the vital question, how we can bar the way to religious persecution, and maintain that comprehension which is essential to the very existence of the Church of England."
Leaving, then, aside the question of a final Court of Appeal, as sufficiently disposed of by your own remarks and those of Lord Carnarvon, I should be glad if you would allow me to ask what would be the result of the course to which the attack of the Dean of Windsor seems to be intended to drive the Ritualists, by urging their inability to submit to Courts which no one even professes to think satisfactory. The Dean, as I have just said, speaks of the "advanced High Church party" in the Church as simply thwarting the efforts of what he describes as the "great central body, both lay and clerical, of the Church, for moral, social, and religious improvement ;" and he identifies this " disaffected " body with the names of Lord Halifax, Canon Liddon, and others, to whom we must add that of the Bishop of Lincoln. Now, is this really just ? Has this happy via media, " the great central body," what- ever it may be, in whose name the Dean of Windsor proposes to speak as if it were " the Church of England," really been the moving body of the Church during the last twenty or thirty years, so that it can safely discard from its ranks the humbler but more active bodies of which he speaks so slightingly ? He will find near him a very powerful institution, the Sister- hood of Clewer, represented by Mr. Carter, who has just addressed to him a gentle but very striking remonstrance on his own letter. He will find similar bodies at Kilburn, and elsewhere ; in fact, the Sisterhoods of the Church of England, perhaps the most remarkable growth of the last thirty years, now constitute a very large body of ladies devoted to every kind of work, and in every part of the world; and it is certainly not too much to say that to the great majority of these bodies the practices which the Dean speaks of so contemptuously, are valued as means of a high religious life and worship. And this is but one point. Let the Dean enter several of the leading churches of the most educated classes in London, and 'he will find the same practices in full vigour : the emblem of the Lord on the Cross in one, altars decorated, and the Holy Communion celebrated in the manner which he thinks so objectionable in another. He will find, again, a vigorous Church Society, the English Church Union, devoted to the objects which " the great central body, lay and clerical," holds so cheap, numbering upwards of twenty-five thousand zealous members, " lay and clerical." And it is not, I submit, a question whether the practices of such bodies are, in the opinion of the Dean of Windsor, trivial or not. No doubt he thinks them so. But they are held, and held firmly, even upon his own showing,
by men and women of devotion, of high cultivation, and " even of occasional learning." With them, " ritual," in its true sense, means "holy worship." And I can assure him
that he is quite mistaken in his statement that "the strife, such as it is, turns less, after all, upon ritual than on authority," —at all events, on the kind of authority which he seems to desire.
Leaving, then, the question of a perfectly authoritative " Final Court " for the present in the Utopia where Lord Car- narvon has placed it, I would simply ask whether it is wise to " drive into a corner " men and women of the character I have described,—even though the "great central body" may
despise them as enthusiasts,—and to tell them that they have no locus Biondi within our borders. If I read history rightly, the want of such enthusiasm has hitherto been the great want of the Church of England. To expel it now would be, to say --
the least, to court Disestablishment with a vengeance. The whole idea of our Church has been, from the Reformation on- wards, that of a body framed upon the toleration of distinct lines of religious thought and action. And to tell the world that the one line which for the last fifty years has been so energetic as almost to give a new character to the Church, shall have no place among us, would be an act of suicide which I cannot believe that any rulers of ordinary discretion will