« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
to underrate neither and a great incalculable mischief will be reduced to nought. After saying that all the power that this Parliament possesses will not avail seriously to arrest it, Lord Salisbury added, "The power of averting it lies with the organisation over which the right reverend prelates preside. It is for these to teach their flocks and they cannot do it too earnestly or too often the evils that may attend habitual and systematic secret confession.”
There is a little ambiguity of language here, no doubt; and but for the nature of the case it might be possible to contend that this exhortation is addressed to the ordinary Protestant Church clergyman, and not at all to the bishops themselves. But besides that the words bear against that contention, it is otherwise incredible. How likely is it that the Catholic Anglican priest, weaving the glamour of the confessional about his flock, will desist at the voice of the mere Protestant minister preaching in the next parish? Lord Salisbury is far too wise a man to found his hopes on such a probability as that. No. His admonition was addressed to the bishops, and with reason good indeed.
Silent while for years an evil change has been working in the Church, the bishops have now been compelled to open their eyes upon it, and to acknowledge that it is evil. Not, of course, all that is complained of, but some things, such as this that Lord Salisbury con
demned. The doers of the evil are priests over whom the bishops have authority. But the people whom these priests mislead are also the charge of the bishops. The priests hold that they have as good a right to judge of what is sound and expedient in matters of doctrine and ceremonial as the bishops themselves. Speaking generally, the people are of a different opinion, but interpret the bishop's silence as betokening agreement or at least consent. His silence, therefore, convenient as it may be between himself and his Romanising clergy, is infidelity to the people. Surely that is a reproach which the bishops (who are all in it) must desire to clear away, now that its consequences appear. Discovery of the fault, and the good sense of the Prime Minister, invite them to repair damages; and, fortunately, this they can do over the heads of their Romanising priests, and without putting themselves to the pain of naming any one of them. Why should not the bishops begin by taking this course-the shortest, the easiest, and perhaps the most effective at their command, and blest, too, with the happy advantage that it neither prosecutes nor persecutes, and cannot make martyrs? Why should they not address themselves to the laity direct, not merely announcing the true doctrine of the Church in such matters as transubstantiation and confession, but expounding them, defending them, and more particularly making known why
they differ from similar doctrine in the Church of Rome? When the bishops of the Reformed Church of England speak of the "evils" that swarm from the confessional, they know precisely what they mean. Men of reading and men of thought, it is not to them a word of vague generality, expressive (as it often is in other applications) of small mischiefs and annoyances. They cannot utter the word in this connection without raising before their eyes evils that are evils indeed: evils that enter with sap and mine into every relation of life, every function of citizenship, finally reaching to the foundations of national character. These are the evils which the bishops declare themselves so sensible of, and it is of them that Lord Salisbury speaks when he says that, in the present state of the Church, its prelates cannot warn the people against them too earnestly or too often. Questions of swinging censers and lighting candles and praying to saints may most properly employ the princes of the Church-that is not denied; but the main of their duty at the present time is this. It was never much less, and they have doubled its obligations by neglecting them. But if now they would only apply themselves to their duty with the learning and the authority they possess, and with the heart and fervour they might borrow from the great divines of old, the "crisis in the
Church" might be turned to happy account after all.
That, however, they will not do. It would seem to them contentious, a prolongation of disquietude, offensive to Roman Catholics. In all that they say
on the matter their cure for the evils that spot the Church is plainly seen it is to fold them in, and cover them down, and think of them no more. If left unnoticed, they will presently disappear. Similar disorders have been safely treated in that way, no doubt; but with this one it is different. We are in presence of a turn to the Church of Rome from causes so natural that it was expected. One of these causes is the revolt from agnosticism-terror at the outlook from Mount Science. Others are the softenings of luxury, the growth of a craving emotionalism, a fashionable twist to Rome, an æsthetical twist in the same direction. These causes of which the ightest may be more lasting than they seem - have been turned to full account by the sacerdotalists in the Church; and they have a long field before them yet. In these circumstances, minor questions of ritual need not concern us much. Shelter should be denied, of course, to Romanising priests in the English Church; and, that determined, the prelacy should follow Lord Salisbury's counsel with all the eloquence they are possessed of and all the ardour of which they are capable.
A YEAR'S DIPLOMACY
THE new China blue-book is handsome offering of the fruits meet for repentance. The Government has answered to the spur, and overcome its indisposition to take action regarding our interests in the Far East. Slowly indeed, and not without great reluctance, it has learned the lesson which the pressure of events has been for some years forcing on it, and apparently made up its mind to deal henceforth with facts and not with phantoms. We need not dwell on the deplorable consequences of previous neglect. We have indeed given away the vantage-ground which we held fifteen months ago; but all has not been lost, and though we have now to fight an uphill battle, it is something to have the nerve to fight it.
We think the record now submitted to the public will be received with satisfaction. It is a great point gained that at last the policy of the Government is pointing in the right direction: what remains is for the country to apply the impetus from below and from behind, to make sure of continuous progress on the course which is now being set. We are pleased also to be able to congratulate the Government on the achievements of their Minister in Peking. It was a hazardous experiment sending a man of his official record to such a critical post, and the first half of his time of office in China did not afford much evidence of
the fitness of the choice. We now understand that in those days he had the dead-weight of his Government paralysing all his efforts. The events of last year, however, the sharp experiences, and the humiliating rebuffs which this country had to put up with in the earlier part of 1898, have happily changed all that; and now we have the cheering spectacle of an active and energetic Minister backed by a Government that is beginning to know its own mind and intends to have its own way.
In its selection of correspondence for publication Government has implicitly, if not explicitly, acknowledged its indebtedness to the press, and we have rarely known an instance of the leading organs of public opinion rendering such persistent services to the country as they have done in connection with the Chinese crisis. But for their diligence in supplying the best information and the best reasoned comments thereon, our interests in the Far East would indeed have been in a parlous state. Where all have done their duty it may seem invidious to make distinctions; but the 'Times' newspaper may well be excused a little self-congratulation on the part it has played in the enlightenment of the public. Its correspondent in Peking has no doubt been favoured by circumstances and opportunities; but his industry in collecting and
"salting down" his information from diverse sources, and in a few terse words giving the gist of the most important negotiations, prove him to be a man of capacity who has risen to the occasion. Whatever value we may attach to the services of our accredited Minister, those of the 'Times correspondent will always claim at least an equal share of appreciation, and we have little doubt that the things which have not been given to the public would be found quite as interesting as those that have been printed. But for further enlightenment from that source on the maze of Eastern diplomacy and the by ways of intrigue, we shall probably have to wait a little while.
It is no new lesson which the Government and their Minister have learned; it is but the old lesson frequently learned, and as often forgotten, the one lesson which stands out in bold relief throughout our whole intercourse with China. It is the same which Lord Elgin had to learn by his own experience forty years ago, and which he put so tersely into the epigram, that "China yields nothing to reason but everything to fear." This sentence might be put as a motto at the head of every despatch of Sir Claude Macdonald's; but while this has always been the leading characteristic of Chinese diplomacy, the proposition has in these latter days to be considerably extended in its application. While China was an entity, with a will and a purpose and a certain power to give
effect to them, it was true that fear and not reason guided her deliberations; but we are now learning the further lesson which was impressed on close observers four years ago, that "there is no longer a China to negotiate with." This takes some time to realise; but every line in the new despatches makes it clearer that the Chinese rulers are getting into the condition of a person in the last stage of sea-sickness, when even the influence of fear ceases to operate. What is there left for them to fear? Their country is potentially in the possession of foreigners, they themselves are under the protection. of foreigners; the more practical of them have considered the situation, and have made their selection of what they deem the strongest protector: which may be the explanation of what Sir Claude Macdonald found to be the anti- British policy of Li Hung-chang. That the influence of fear has not entirely ceased to act upon the Government is probably true enough. The effect generally survives the cause, and even scientific convictions do not entirely dislodge inherited superstitions. But it is evidently a disappearing phantom so far as the collective Government is concerned. The old forms may be kept up, and the foreign Powers continue to go through the pantomime of negotiation, but under such desperate conditions that it must more and more become with the Chinese a question of Sauve qui peut! This no doubt is what Russia has understood
long ago and acted upon with such striking effect.
The transactions recorded in the blue-book1 began on the morrow of the Russian acquisition of Port Arthur. It was then for the first time that her Majesty's Government saw the necessity of action in China in order to safeguard British interests. The whole position was changed by the establishment of Russia in a Chinese fortress, actually in the inner waters, not on the Pacific at all, except in the sense that the Gulf of Finland is on the Atlantic. As a counterpoise, Great Britain claimed the naval harbour which faces Port Arthur on the southern coast of the Gulf, and after certain peremptory negotiations, the lease of Wei-haiwei was extorted from the Tsungli-Yamên. Without venturing on any estimate of the value of that position, we may at least claim for its seizure that, as a definitively aggressive action on the part of her Majesty's Government, taken avowedly to preserve the balance of power in the Gulf of Pechili between Russia and Great Britain, this stroke was the herald of the new policy on which the British Government has launched.
from Peking to Hankow, on behalf of the Russian and French Governments. This concession, running right into the heart of the Yangtse Valley, which had been assumed as a British sphere of influence, was a bold but insidious attack on this country. Consequently Sir Claude Macdonald made the strongest remonstrance with the Tsungli-Yamên against the ratification of the contract. The Ministers of the Yamên appeared to be quite ignorant of the nature of the concession and of the consequences involved in it. Only one man, we are told, understood it, and that was Li Hung-chang, who was credited with rushing through the ratification under strong pressure on the part of Russia, France, and Belgium. On his failure to bar the conclusion of this contract, Sir Claude Macdonald makes the pertinent and obvious remark that, "if heavy payment is not exacted from the Chinese Government for their bad faith, Li will persuade his colleagues that it is easier to slight England than any other Power," and he formulates a set of demands which ought to be made on the Chinese Government as a punishment for their bad faith, which, however, he adds, "it would be impossible to obtain without bringing great pressure to bear." This is the recurring note throughout the whole three hundred and sixty pages: it is not right nor wrong, good faith or bad faith, injury or benefit, but pressure, that is
The other matters attempted and done, treated of in the correspondence, are chiefly connected with the progress of railway concessions on the part of the various countries. The most interesting of these is no doubt the concession granted to a Belgian syndicate for a line
1 China, No. I., 1899.