THE MIDDLESEX CANDIDATE AND HIS CATECHISER.
" THE Mayor of Bolton," says a country paper, "compels the Po- lice to seize and thrust into the churches all persons found in the streets during Divine service." The Mayor of Bolton is perfectly right : he only .gives full effect to the view of a party in this country which is large in numbers, and so far influential that no other party in the State has the courage to meet it with direct resistance.
It is a cant term to say that "conscience should be free" ; it is repeated all round by men in the very act of coercing con- science. " Conscience," cries each man, must be free' ; but only in his own direction. Conscience must be free, for instance, against the interference of the State with the General Assembly ; but it must not be free against the interference of the Free Kirk men with travellino- on railways. So Mr. James Hoare, who catechises Lord Robert Grosvenor on the subject of endowment for the Irish Catholic clergy, would no doubt insist, as a Protestant, on the right or private judgment ; but as a Protestant he denies the right to his Roman Catholic fellow subject. Mr. Hoare, vindicating freedom of conscience, might say to the Roman Catholic—" You may be as free as you please : but if you are a Protestant you should enjoy State pay for your clergy ; if a Catholic, you shall be deprived of that civil privilege ; and if any Member of Parliament would help to give it you, he shall be deprived of his seat." Mr. Hoare objects to such an endowment solely on religious grounds, not financial; and he would equally object if it could be shown that the Irish priests could be endowed out of Crown lands, or " any other purely Irish resources " : vindicating the faith of private judgment, he objects to the Irish people's being allowed to pay themselves in a regular and formal way, that is through the State, which maintains a Protestant Establishment in splendour. He objects to "teaching a system of dangerous and Anti-Scriptural error " ; and would, if he could, force that belief which his own conscience dictates, upon Lord Robert Grosvenor's conscience immediately, and ultimately upon the Irish at large.
One dogma which he advances, and which may be taken as a sample of what he requires Lord Robert Grosvenor and the Irish to believe, is, that because Sir Robert Peel's Government enlarged the Maynooth grant, Providence has been specially engaged in destroying the potatoes of the poor Irish. Peel made provision for educating the priests, and so Providence spoiled the provisions of the people : that is the Hoare view of the occurrences. It is an im- pious burlesque upon the story of the German postillion, who, be- cause his Jew passenger had been walloped by a rival postillion, retorted by walloping the rival's Jew. If vindictive conduct of that sort were imputed to Mr. Hoare himself, he would repu- diate it with indignation ; but he does not scruple either to im- pute it to Providence, or to force the set of opinions including that doctrine upon a legislator as a practical guide.
Lord Robert Grosvenor has a more generous faith, and courage enough to hold by his own opinions. At one time, such courage would have lost him his election ; but times have changed, and Mr. Hoare's moral coercion of the candidate is now reduced to the remote threat, that Lord Robert's connexion with Middlesex will not be "permanent." It is not often that men can do by and by that which they have not the strength to do at once.