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The Anti-Papal Movement
by [?]

But now, reader, pause. Suppose that Lord John Russell, aware of some evil, some calamity or disease, impending over the established Church of England–sure of this evil, but absolutely unable to describe it by rational remarks or premonitory symptom, had cast about for a channel by which he might draw attention to the evil, and, by exposing, make an end of it. But who could have dreamed that he would have chosen the means he has chosen? What propriety was there in Lord John’s addressing himself upon such a subject to the Bishop of Durham? Who is that Bishop? And what are his pretensions to public authority? He is a respectable Greek scholar; and has re-edited the Prosodiacal Lexicon of Morell–a service to Greek literature not easily overestimated, and beyond a doubt not easily executed. But in relation to the Church he is not any official organ; nor was there either decorum or good sense in addressing a letter essentially official from the moment that it was published with consent of the writer, to a person clothed with no sort of official powers or official relation to the Church of England. If Lord John should have occasion to communicate with the Bank of England, what levity, and in the proper sense of the word what impertinence, it would be to invoke the attention–not of the Governor–but of some clerk in a special department of that establishment whom Lord John might happen to know. Which of us, that wishes to bring a grievance before the authorities of the Post-Office, would address himself to his private friend that might happen to hold a respectable situation in the Money Order or in the Dead Letter Office? Of mere necessity, that he might gain for his own application an official privilege, he would address it to the Postmaster-General through the Secretary. Not being so addressed, his communication would take rank as gossip; neither meriting nor obtaining any serviceable notice. Two points are still in suspense: whether the people of England as a nation have taken any interest in the uproar caused by Lord John’s letter; and secondly, whether the writer of that letter took much interest in it himself. Spite of all the noise and tumult kept up for three months by the Low-Church party, clerks and laymen, it is still a question with many vigilant lookers-on–whether the great neutral majority in the lower strata of society (five-sixths in short of what we mean by the nation) have taken any real interest in the agitation. Any real share in it, beyond all doubt, they have not taken: the movers in these meetings from first to last would not make fifteen thousand; and the inert subscribers of Petitions would not make seventy thousand. Secondly, in spite of the hysterical violence manifested by the letter of the Premier, and partly in consequence of that violence (so theatrical and foreign to Lord John’s temperament), many doubt whether he himself carried any sincerity with the movement. And this doubt is strengthened by the singular indecorum of his having addressed himself to Dr. Maltby.

Counterfeit zeal is likely enough to have recoiled from its own act in the very moment of its execution. The purpose of Lord John was sufficiently answered, if he succeeded in diverting public attention from quarters in which it might prove troublesome: and to that extent was sure of succeeding by an extra-official note addressed to any bishop whatever–whether zoological like the late Bishop of Norwich, or Prosodiacal like Dr. Maltby. A storm in a slop-basin was desirable for the moment. But had the desire been profoundly sincere, and had it soared to that height which real fears for religious interests are apt to attain, then beyond all doubt the Minister would not have addressed himself to a Provincial bishop, but to the two Metropolitan bishops of Canterbury and York. They, but not an inferior prelate, represent the Church of England.