Imagens da página

“No greater sin can exist in the estimation of Churchmen than a refusal to pay tithes. Drunkenness does not come near it, nor even whoredom. We question whether murder would be regarded as a less heinous crime.”

The following extract is couched in the same spirit:

‘The history of the Church is a scandalous history. Her mother was a harlot and her father an adulterer. She grew up an ugly and imperious creature. She persecuted the Nonconformists, tortured the philanthropists, robbed her neighbours, hanged the innocent, and threw the heroes of freedom into prison. Her history is more disgraceful than that of any tribe in the South Sea Islands. Her chief articles of faith are robbery, tyranny, persecution, barbarism, and all ghastliness. If she had the power, she would compel all the subjects of Great Britain to lick the dust from her feet, to serve her in chains, and to be her slaves for their lives. The same arrogant and tyrannical spirit characterizes the daughter as it does the mother—the Great Babylon, the mother of the harlots of the earth. She has washed her feet in the blood of Nonconformity! What of her clergy? They are either in their parlours smoking, in the fields shooting hares, preparing for a dance, or in tap-rooms drinking hot spirits. What matters it to them that the poor should starve? Slaveholders have they been through the ages, and they possess the spirit of persecution as strongly now as ever.’”

It is no disgrace to Churchmen that they do not imitate the practices of their adversaries and poison the wells. We do not believe that the Nonconformists of England are proud of these specimens from the pens of their Welsh brethren, or that they regard their scurrility as a credit to their creed. No fairminded man, whatever his religion, can read such productions without contempt, or fail to deplore that in the creed and spirit of these writers the rising generation of Wales, if the Church be temporarily destroyed, is to be educated. It is, in fact, with disgust that the extravagance of the vernacular press is regarded by many moderate Nonconformists in Wales, whose religious earnestness has not been perverted by political passion. The contrasts between the weekly press of which Sir G. Osborne Morgan boasts and the tone of such a periodical as ‘Y Geninen’ reveal the widening gap between the spiritual and secular elements in Welsh Nonconformity—a gap which no religiousminded man, be he Churchman or Nonconformist, can view without misgiving. It is refreshing to turn to the generous testimony which is borne by the Welsh National Quarterly (July 1891) to the work of the Church in Wales. The article from which we quote was written by a Methodist minister and a Cambridge prizeman, the Rev. T. Lewis Jones:—

* Quoted by the “Cymru, March 12, 1891, and by the “Baner, March 18, 1891, from the ‘Seren, the organ of the Baptists.

from culate

“Every honest Nonconformist will acknowledge that a great reformation has taken place within the Established Church in Wales during recent years, and that the Church, especially in the towns, is gaining ground. The best class of Nonconformists were quite prepared to agree with all that Churchmen say touching the revival that exists among them. I say again it would be dishonest on our part as Nonconformists to attempt to deny the progress that goes on within the Church these days. A new generation of clergy are able to enter into the life of the nation better than their predecessors. They sympathize with the aspirations of Wales in many directions, and strive their best to drink of the spirit of young Wales.’

Let us sum up the results which have been so far attained in discussing the question, whether the Church is the “Church of the minority.” No official figures have been obtained which bear directly upon the question in 1894, and the Nonconformists strenuously refuse to submit to the only ordeal by which the relative numbers can be reliably ascertained. The Census of 1851 gives the proportion of Churchmen to Nonconformists as greater than that of 1 to 4; the election of 1885 gave that of 2 to 3; the election of 1892 gave that of more than 1 to 3. Official figures prove that by far the larger number of persons are married and buried according to the rites of the Church. Discontented with these results, Nonconformists put forward guesses, which vary in their estimates of the number of Churchmen between one-tenth and one-fourth of the total population, and produce amateur censuses which are ridiculously untrustworthy and inadequate.

But, it may be asked, are there no reliable figures by which the relative numbers of Churchmen and Nonconformists can be determined ? We do not think that there are. Statistics do, however, exist of the numbers officially claimed by the great Nonconforming bodies in Wales. They are obtained by the Bishop of St. Asaph from ‘The Congregational Year Book, “The Wesleyan Year Book, ‘The Baptist Official Year Book, “The Calvinistic Methodist Year Book.' It is to be noticed that “adherents’ or ‘hearers’ are defined as including ‘all the Chapel members and everybody who is a hearer, although all are not present at the same time, and all the children.’ The definition, therefore, includes every man, woman, child, or infant who can, by any stretch of imagination, be included as belonging to the denomination. The Wesleyans and Baptists only give the number of their “members’; but the “adherents’ ". t

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][graphic][graphic]

culated by the same ratio which members bear to adherents among the Congregationalists and Calvinistic Methodists. The total population of the Principality is 1,771,451. Out of this total the Nonconforming bodies claim as “adherents’ 832,357. The proportions are thus distributed between the four rival denominations: Congregationalists, 278,981; Wesleyans, 69,093; Baptists, 215,868; Calvinistic Methodists, 268,415. In other words, the Nonconformists, who include under the title of ‘adherents’ every man, woman, child, and infant, who can possibly be comprised in the denominations, claim 47 per cent of the total population. It is important that the effect of these figures should be clearly understood. Wales is not a homogeneous country in race, language, or religion. Parts of it are rapidly becoming Anglicised. The division between North and South is obsolete; that between East and West is the division of to-day. The seven Eastern counties of Wales, including Monmouthshire, contain twothirds of the total population. In these seven counties the proportion of adherents claimed by the four great Nonconforming bodies is 38 per cent. The six Western counties are Welsh Wales. Here the proportion of adherents claimed is 62 per cent. The significance of these figures is not easily exaggerated. In the most thinly populated districts of Western Wales Nonconformity is the religion of the country; in the populous districts of the East, it does not even claim to be so. In the interests of the West, the East is asked to destroy an institution which alone copes with the rapidly increasing bilingual difficulty, and without which 759,000 English-speaking people would be deprived of spiritual ministrations. This brings us to the very important results of the language census of 1891. That census established the solid fact that there are in Monmouthshire and Wales, in round numbers, 759,000 persons who only speak English, 508,000 who only speak Welsh, 402,000 who speak Welsh and English. If it is assumed that one-half the bilinguals prefer English to Welsh, it follows that 961,000 of the inhabitants of Monmouthshire and Wales worship in English. What provision does Welsh Nonconformity make for this mass of people which numbers more than half the total population? The Calvinistic Methodists, who have been most active in their efforts to start “English causes, and who are the most numerous of the Nonconformist bodies, state that the total number of their English adherents is 36,842. If, therefore, it is estimated that the English adherents of the four Dissenting bodies number 150,000, the estimate is a generous one. But this leaves 810,000 English-speaking

people, people, dwelling in Monmouthshire and Wales, for whom Nonconformists do not even claim to make any provision, and who are at any rate not members of any one of the Nonconforming denominations. A letter to the ‘Times' (May 17, 1894), bearing the signature “A,” stated that the lowest estimate of Welsh-speaking Churchmen was 100,000. These, added to the 810,000, make a total of 910,000, or more than half the total population, who, whatever else they may be, are certainly not Nonconformists. One other important fact may be mentioned in conclusion. Returns have been received from 916 of the parishes in the four Welsh Dioceses showing the numbers of resident Nonconformist ministers. The results are that only 470 parishes out of 916 enjoy the spiritual advantages of a resident minister, and that in 446 the people are entirely dependent for pastoral care upon the resident clergymen. We have endeavoured to show, and, we think, succeeded in showing, that the case of the advocates of Disestablishment rests, so far as England is concerned, almost exclusively on the allegation that the Church in Wales is “the Church of the minority.” Of this essential charge absolutely no proof is offered, and the religious census, by which alone it can be satisfactorily proved, is persistently and strenuously resisted by Nonconformists. Their attitude is only intelligible, if they know that the result of a census would be fatal to the case which they present to England. So long as Welsh Liberationists are able to prevent the real facts from being officially ascertained, they are able to conceal from English constituencies the real aims for which they are working. If once it were shown that the Church, though possibly the Church of a minority, yet numbers among its adherents two-fifths of the total population, enquiry would be directed to the source of such bitterness of attack. It would then be found that the true source of the present agitation, the true explanation of the peculiar features of the existing Bill, and the ulterior object for which the destruction of the Church is a preliminary, are that Separatist policy of which in Ireland we have seen the fruits.


ART. VII.-1. Reports from the Select Committee on Forestry.

Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 24th July, 1885, 6th September, 1886, and 3rd August, 1887. 2. Reports from the Select Committee on Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues of the Crown. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 26th July, 1889, and 30th July, 1890. 3. Manual of Forestry. By Wm. Schlich, Ph.D. Vol. I., 1887; Wol. II., 1891. London. 4. Forsten. Won Prof. Max Endres, Karlsruhe. Abdruck aus dem Handwijrterbuch der Staatswissenschaftem. Jena, 1893. 5. British Forest Trees, and their Sylvicultural Characteristics and Treatment. By John Nisbet, D.Oec. London, 1893. 6. The Protection of Woodlands. By Kauschinger and Fürst. Translated by John Nisbet, D.Oec. Edinburgh, 1893. 7. Forest Influences. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Forestry Division. Bulletin No. 7. Washington, 1893. 8. Studies in Forestry. By John Nisbet, D.Oec. Oxford, 1894. 9. The Forester. Originally prepared by the late James Brown, LL.D. Sixth edition, re-arranged, practically rewritten, and largely amplified by John Nisbet, D.Oec. Edinburgh, 1894.

ISTORY shows that, throughout the whole of the habitable portion of the globe, the original covering of the land consisted of forests. But before any given tracts could be made habitable, and the soil rendered productive, the clearance of the primeval woodlands was a work of necessity. From various causes this process of clearance of the original forests proceeded more rapidly, and to a much greater extent, throughout Britain than in any of the continental countries of Europe. During the reign of Henry VIII. plantations of trees began to be made for purposes of utility; but the records of the New Forest prove that the cultivation of trees and woods took place even as early as the reign of Edward IV., or about four hundred and fifty years ago. A decided impetus was given to the clearance of the still remaining natural woods during the reign of Charles I., who alienated large portions of the royal Ørests by grant; whilst the effects of the Civil War and of Cromwell's agricultural policy tended directly to their further destruction and disappearance. The Scottish woodlands were subjected to somewhat similar Teatment previous to the election of James VI. to the English throne; but, even at so early a date as the time of Edward I., their extent had already been considerably diminished by fire, Wol. 179.—No. 857. N a method

« AnteriorContinuar »