14 AUGUST 1880, Page 13


(To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.") S1R,—I cannot read the letter of my friend, Mr. Oakley, in this week's Spectator, without feeling that such a movement as that he desires to initiate at Bournemouth has issues far exceeding any which belong to one place and its parochial difficulties. An " agitation " against the rights of patrons has a Radical ring which commends it to an ago intolerant of monopolies. But there is another side to the matter, which is in danger of being forgotten under the stress of a temporary grievance. If the proclivities of parishioners are, somehow or other, to form the future basis of all appointments, you accentuate the internal divisions of the Church of England in a most formid- able manner. Hitherto, the hope of their abatement has been in the breadth of view of lay patrons : where these sought to appoint from a conviction of merit, apart from special opinions, it was possible that every congregation might, from time to time, have a change, healthy in the long- run, however trying at first, from a High-Church to a Low- Church regime, or vice versa. The people thus became aware not only of the theory, but the fact, that such distinctions are purely fictitious ; but the title of Anglican Orders, joined to personal worth, is enough still, as it has been in past times, to secure the allegiance of all the truest Churchmen. The system of building fancy fabrics for the encouragement of fancy rituals will always be in favour, and will always try to perpetuate itself by vesting appointments with " safe " trustees. " Church privileges" will continue to denote the prevalence of some form of sentiment. But to " agitate " for these exceptions setting the type for all patronage, to threaten every congregation with a one-sided tradition which provided them with no relief, short of a change of their own dominant fancies, is to invite one of our worst dangers,—the rule of narrow local opinion, iu place of the imperial rule of the Church of England.—I am, Sir, &c.,

B. H. ALFORD. St. Luke's Vicarage, Nutford Place, W., August 7th.