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CHAPTER 6 - William Edward Hartpole Lecky, Democracy and Liberty, vol. 1 
Democracy and Liberty, edited and with an Introduction by William Murchison, 2 vols. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981). Vol. 1.
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Democracy and Religious Liberty
There are few subjects upon which mankind in different ages and countries have differed more widely than in their conceptions of liberty, and in the kinds of liberty which they principally value and desire. Even in our own day, and among civilised nations, these differences are enormously great. There are vast countries where the forms of liberty to which the English race are most passionately attached, and which they have attained by the most heroic and persistent efforts, would appear either worthless or positively evil. There are nations who would recoil with horror from the unlimited liberty of religious discussion and propagandism which has become the very life-breath of modern Englishmen; who care little or nothing for the unrestricted right of public meeting and political writing; who deem complete commercial liberty, with its corollary of unrestricted competition, an evil rather than a good; who regard the modern relaxations of the restrictions of creed or sex in employments and appointments as subversive of the best moral elements in the community, and in whose eyes an Englishmen's absolute right to bequeath his property as he wills is the source of enormous injustice. In some Western, and in nearly all Eastern nations, good administration is far more valued than representation, and provided men can obtain a reasonable amount of order, peace, security, and prosperity at a moderate charge, provided their habits and religions are undisturbed, they care very little by whom or in what way their rulers are appointed, and gladly dismiss the whole subject of politics from their thoughts.
On the other hand, numerous restraints, prohibitions, and punishments exist in England, and are strongly supported by English opinion, which would in other zones of thought be bitterly resented. It would seem, in many countries, a monstrous tyranny that poor parents should be compelled to send their children to school, and should be fined by a magistrate if they kept them at home in times when they most needed their services. The English Sunday wears to many continental minds at least as repulsive an aspect as the Star Chamber would wear to a modern Englishman. That a man who wished to work on that day should not be allowed to do so; that a struggling shopkeeper should be forbidden, if he desired it, to open his shop; that a farmer should be prevented from reaping his own harvest when every fine day is of vital consequence to his interests; that poor men should be excluded by law on their one holiday from their place of meeting and refreshment; that nearly all forms of amusement, and even most of the public picture galleries, museums, and libraries should be closed on the day on which they could give the widest pleasure, would seem to many quite as serious an infringement of liberty as those acts against which Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights were directed.
A severity of censorship is maintained in England, with the full sanction of public opinion, over theatres and music-halls, and over most forms of gambling, which in some parts of the Continent would excite at least as much discontent as a censorship of the Press. To a man of Spanish blood, a legal prohibition of bull-fights would probably appear quite as oppressive as a restriction of his electoral rights, and a very similar sentiment has of late years grown up in a great part of the South of France. If this example may be thought an extreme one, it is at least certain that on the whole subject of the treatment of animals English opinion and practice differ enormously from the general continental standard in the number and the severity of their restrictions. In no other country are scientific experiments on living animals restrained by law, and in most countries public opinion would be wholly against such legislation. A special Act of Parliament makes it in England a criminal offence to yoke a dog to a cart,1 which in Holland, Belgium, and many other very civilized countries is done every day, without exciting the smallest disapprobation. The manufacture of ‘pâté de foie gras,’ which is accomplished by artificially producing a disease, is an important industry in France and Germany; it would probably be suppressed in England by law, and what in other countries is considered the very ordinary process of dishorning cattle has been pronounced, though with some conflict of judicial opinion, to be illegal.
Laws against wanton cruelty to animals exist in most countries, but in their scope, their stringency, and above all in their administration, there is an immense difference between England and the Continent. An amount of overdriving, overworking, and other ill-treatment of animals2 which in most countries—certainly in most Southern countries—does not excite any reprobation or attention is in England punishable by law. In France there is the well-known Grammont law, which was enacted in 1850, for the protection of animals. But it is confined to domestic animals which are ‘publicly and abusively’ treated: it is clearly laid down by French lawyers that it gives no inquisitorial power of interfering with what is done in a private house, or court, or garden; it can only be put in force by public functionaries, and its penalties range from a fine of 5 to 15 francs, or a maximum sentence of five days of prison.3 In England the corresponding penalty is two months’ imprisonment; there is no exception of acts done in private houses, and private persons may put the law in force. Few societies are more warmly supported in England than one which annually prosecutes about 6,000 persons, chiefly very poor men, for offences against animals, the immense majority of which would be on the Continent unpunished, and probably even unblamed. At the same time, there are few countries in the civilized world in which the killing of animals enters so largely as in England into the amusements of the upper and middle classes of society, and lines of distinction are drawn which, though fully recognised by English opinion, would in many countries be resented. The magistrate who sends a poor man to prison for taking part in a cock-fight or a dog-fight, for baiting a badger or worrying a cat, very probably protects his own game by setting steel traps for vermin and strychnine for stray dogs, and takes part without reproach in a coursing match, a stag hunt, or a battue.
A similar contrast may be found in other fields. In the English marriage law there is at least one restriction on the contraction of marriages, and there are many restrictions on the dissolution of unhappy marriages which nearly all other Protestant countries have abolished. The licensing laws, the factory laws, the laws on sanitation, bristle with restrictions and penal clauses that in many other countries are unknown, and there are great communities in which the law which treats attempted suicide as a crime would be deemed a violation of natural freedom. Political freedom and social freedom do not necessarily go together, and it will often be found that restraints and prohibitions are being multiplied in one department while they are being relaxed or abolished in another. It is probable that the lives of men were more variously and severely restricted under the censorship of the Roman republic than under the tyranny of the Cæsars; under the rule of the Puritans during the Commonwealth, or in Scotland and New England, than in many of the despotisms of the Continent.
These few examples may illustrate the variety and the difficulty of the subject, and it may not be a useless thing to take stock of our present conceptions of liberty, to observe the changes that are passing over them, and to ascertain in what directions modern legislation and opinion are realising, enlarging, or abridging them.
One most important form of liberty, which in our generation has been almost completely achieved, both in England and in most foreign countries, has been religious liberty. In England, at least, complete liberty of worship and of opinion had been practically attained in 1813, when Unitarians at last received the legal recognition which had long been granted to other Dissenters. It is true that, if we looked only on the letter of the law, this statement would not be absolutely true. A number of wholly obsolete laws directed against Roman Catholics, or against those who abstained from the Anglican service, were only repealed in 1844 and 1846.4 Unrepealed clauses in the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 even now make it an offense punishable by banishment for life for Jesuits, or members of other male religious communities, to come into the kingdom, and for any person in England to join such bodies, or to introduce others into them;5 and an Act of William III. is still on the Statute Book, according to which, in the opinion of very competent lawyers, the gravest and most solid works impugning the Christian religion and the Divine authority of the Old and New Testaments might be made subjects to prosecution.6 These laws, however, have become entirely absolete, and it is not too much to say that every form of religious worship which does not directly offend morality, and every form of religious opinion which is expressed in serious and decent language, are, in England, perfectly unrestricted.
The practice of the law is in this respect fully supported by public opinion. No change in English life during the latter half of the nineteenth century is more conspicuous than the great enlargement of the range of permissible opinions on religious subjects. Opinions and arguments which not many years ago were confined to small circles and would have drawn down grave social penalties, have become the commonplaces of the drawing-room and of the boudoir. The first very marked change in this respect followed, I think, the publication in 1860 of the ‘Essays and Reviews,’ and the effect of this book in making the religious questions which it discussed familiar to the great body of educated men was probably by far the most important of its consequences. The power and popularity of the works of Buckle and Renan; the long controversies that followed Bishop Colenso's criticism on the Pentateuch; the writings of Darwin, and their manifest bearing on the received theologies; the gradual infiltration into England of the results that had been arrived at by the Biblical critics of Germany and Holland, have all had a powerful influence, and the tendency has been greatly accelerated by the fashion, which sprang up in England in 1865, of publishing magazines consisting of signed articles by men of most various and opposing opinions. The old type of magazine represented a single definite school of thought, and it was read chiefly by those who belonged to that school. The new type appeals to a much larger and more varied circle, and its editors soon discovered that few things were more acceptable to their readers than a full discussion by eminent men of the great problems of natural and revealed religion. Opinions the most conservative and the most negative appeared side by side, were read together, and are now habitually found in the drawing-rooms of men of the most different opinions.
Custom so soon establishes its empire over men that we seldom realise the greatness and the significance of this change. Every Church—even the most intolerant one—seems to have accepted it in England. On hardly any subject has the Church of Rome been more imperative than in her efforts to prevent her members from coming in contact with any form of heterodox opinion. Many of my readers will probably remember how, to the very end of the temporal power of the Pope, English newspapers and magazines at Rome were subject to a stringent censorship, and continually arrived with whole passages carefully excised, lest anything inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church should penetrate into Rome, even in a foreign tongue and to a stranger community. In French Canada, where the old spirit of Catholicism probably retains a stronger hold over the people than in any other country, a stringent censorship of the Press is still maintained. In 1869 there was a case, which excited much attention in England, of a Canadian who was excommunicated and denied Christian burial because he had been a member of a Canadian institute which had refused to exclude from its library books and journals disapproved of by the Church. A pamphlet published by a leading member of that institute in defence of its policy was condemned in such terms that every Catholic who, after being properly warned, retained it in his house could only be absolved by the bishop or his vicars-general. As recently as 1892 a sentence was read in all the Canadian Catholic churches forbidding, under penalty of refusal of the Sacraments, any Catholic to print, sell, distribute, read, or possess two Catholic journals which had offended the bishop. Their offence appears to have been that they had published and commented on a gross instance of clerical immorality which had been clearly proved, and that one of them had proposed to publish ‘Les Trois Mousquetaires’ of Alexandre Dumas.7 In England, there are probably few houses of the Catholic gentry where periodicals may not be found in which men like Herbert Spencer and Huxley expound their views with perfect frankness. Among the contributors to these magazines there have been at least two cardinals and many other Catholic divines.
Men will differ much about the good and evil resulting from this fact; but it at least indicates a great change of public feeling in the direction of religious liberty, and it is in the highest degree improbable that in England, and in most of the leading countries of the world, theological opinions could be again repressed on the ground of their theological error. It is possible, however, for religious expression and worship to be unfettered, but at the same time for its professors to be gravely injured by disqualifications and disabilities. In the full concession of political rights to Nonconforming bodies, England has been much behind some other nations. The United States led the way, and one of the articles of its Constitution declared in clear, noble, and comprehensive language, that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’ In the words of Judge Story, ‘The Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils without any inquisition into their faith or mode of worship.’8 In France, though gross religious intolerance accompanied and followed the Revolution, the general principle of severing political privileges from theological beliefs was at least clearly laid down. In 1789 the National Assembly threw open all civil and military posts and privileges to Protestants, and in 1791 to Jews; and, in spite of the many vicissitudes which French government afterwards experienced, these privileges were never seriously infringed. It was a significant fact that the Jew Crémieux was a member of the Provisional Government of 1848. The Belgian Constitution of 1831 followed the example of the United States, and gave Belgians of all creeds absolute religious freedom and full constitutional privileges. Prussia was and is a very conservative country, but in the Constitution of 1850 it was expressly provided that civil and political rights were independent of religious beliefs.
In England, it is somewhat humiliating to observe how slowly this constitutional equality was attained. By an Irish Act of 1793, and by English Acts of 1813 and 1817, all ranks of the army and navy were gradually opened to Catholics and Dissenters; while the abolition of Test and Corporation Acts in 1828 placed Protestant Dissenters on an equality with the members of the Established Church in corporate and civil offices. Then followed the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, and in 1833 and 1838 Acts were carried permitting Quakers, Moravians, and some other persons who had conscientious objections to swearing, to substitute in all cases an affirmation for an oath. The conflict about the emancipation of the Jews raged long and fiercely; but in 1839 they were permitted to take oaths in the form that was binding on their consciences, in 1845 they were admitted into corporate offices, in 1858 they made their way into the House of Commons, and at a much later period a distinguished living Jew has been raised to the peerage and made Lord Lieutenant of his county. The admission, after a long struggle, to the House of Commons of an avowed atheist, in the person of Mr. Bradlaugh, completed the work of abolishing religious disqualifications in England.
I do not include in the struggle for religious liberty such measures as the abolition of compulsory Church rates, the disestablishment and disendowment of the Irish Church, the alterations that have been effected in the law of tithes. These seem to me to belong to a different category, and must be regarded as episodes in the conflict between the supporters and opponents of an established Church. Among the great achievements of religious liberty, however, may undoubtedly be counted the important measure carried by Lord John Russell in 1836, enabling Dissenters to celebrate their marriages in their own chapels and by their own rites, and establishing a system of civil marriage for those who desired it, and also a comprehensive and secular system for the registration of births, deaths, and marriages. To the same class belongs the Act of 1870 permitting scrupulous unbelievers, who rejected all forms of oath, to give evidence in the law courts on affirmation, the penalty of perjury being still retained as a protection against false witness. The measure of 1880, also, which, following a precedent that had long been established in Ireland, permitted Nonconformist burial services and burials without religious services in parish churchyards, was partly, but not wholly, inspired by hostility to the Established Church. In many instances a deeper and holier feeling made Nonconformists wish to be laid at rest with parents or ancestors of the established faith, and in country districts, where no other burial-places existed, it was a real grievance that Nonconformist burials could only be effected with an Anglican service.
The most important, however, of all modern conquests of religious liberty have been those which placed at the disposal of men of all creeds the best education the nation could afford. The great work of the establishment of undenominational primary education in England will be hereafter considered. Its accomplishment had been preceded by that long and arduous struggle for the admission of Nonconformists to the studies, degrees, and emoluments of the English universities which forms one of the noblest pages in the history of the Liberal party, when English Liberalism was at its best. The rise of the High Church party in 1833 greatly retarded it, and to the last that party strained every effort to close the doors of higher education against all who refused to accept the Anglican creed. The same spirit that led ecclesiastics in the eighteenth century, in the interests of their monopoly, to defend the law which degraded the sacrament into an office test, still prevailed, and the scandalously profane system of compelling boys fresh from school to purchase their admission into Oxford by signing the Thirty-nine Articles, which not one in a hundred had seriously studied, was strenuously supported. Dublin University has the honourable distinction of having long preceded the English universities in the path of true Liberalism, for even before 1793 Catholics and Nonconformists were admitted among its students, and after 1793 they were admitted to its degrees, though not to its scholarships and fellowships. In the Scotch Universities, also, there was no religious test against Dissenters. In Cambridge, Nonconformists might become students, but no one could obtain a degree without subscribing the Thirty-nine Articles. At Oxford, Nonconformists were repelled on the very threshold, for the subscription was exacted at matriculation. English Dissenters were not only excluded from the inestimable advantage of higher education, and from the many great prizes connected with the universities—they were also seriously impeded, by the want of a university degree, in their subsequent professional careers.
This last grievance was removed by the foundation of the London University in 1836. Being a mere examining body, it could not offer the teaching advantages, nor did it possess the splendid prizes, of the older universities; but it at least conferred degrees which were highly valued, and which were encumbered by no theological test. Measures for opening Oxford and Cambridge to the Dissenters were again and again introduced by Liberal ministers, again and again carried in the Commons, again and again rejected in the Lords. In 1854, Nonconformists were allowed to obtain the B. A. degree in the old English universities, but they could not obtain higher degrees, and although they might compete at examinations for the great university prizes, they could not enjoy them. At last, in 1871, a great measure of enfranchisement, which was originally placed in the hands of Mr. Coleridge, and had failed five times in the Lords, became law, opening nearly all offices and degrees in the universities without theological restriction. Seven years later the few remaining distinctions, with the very proper exception of degrees and professorships of divinity, were abolished by a Conservative Government. In Dublin University, the grievance of the restriction of fellowships and scholarships to members of the Established Church was mitigated in 1854 by the institution of non-foundation scholarships open to all creeds, and the whole body of the remaining restrictions was swept away by the Act of 1873. There is still, it is true, a Divinity School in Trinity College for the benefit of candidates for orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church. It corresponds to Maynooth, which is exclusively devoted to the education of priests, and which was set up and established by a large expenditure of public money. But, with the exception of the divinity professorships connected with this school, every post in the great Irish university, from the highest to the lowest, is now open to the members of all religious creeds.
The long delay in opening the English universities to Dissenters has been a great misfortune. It shut out whole generations from one of the best boons that a nation could offer to her children. It added something to the acerbity and much to the narrowness of the Nonconformist spirit, and the unworthy and reactionary attitude of the House of Lords on this and on kindred religious questions contributed perhaps more than any other cause to alienate from that House the Liberal sentiment of England. The evils resulting from that alienation are very great, though there are clear recent signs that it has been diminishing. The battle of religious disqualification is now substantially won. The balance of power has shifted. Other questions have arisen, and the dangers to be feared and to be guarded against lie in other directions. But the bias that was formed, the passions that were generated by bygone contests, are not wholly extinct, and they make it more difficult to save the State from the dangers of an unbridled democracy.
In the universities, the evils that were predicted from the abolition tests have never taken place. Many and various opinions are openly avowed, and truth has gained much by the avowal; but the religious sentiment has not decayed, and it is certainly not less genuine because it is no longer fortified by privilege, or connected with interested and hypocritical assents. While the foundation by private munificence of denominational colleges within an unsectarian university has preserved the best features of the old system, the juxtaposition of opposing creeds has produced no disorder, and university sentiment speedily accepted the changed situation. It was once my privilege to receive an honorary degree from the University of Oxford in company with a great and venerable writer, who had long been the most illustrious figure in English Unitarianism, as well as one of the chief defenders of a spiritualist philosophy. I can well remember the touching language in which Dr. Martineau then described the dark shadow which his exclusion on account of his faith from English university life had thrown over this youth, and the strange feeling with which he found himself entering, at the age of eighty, an honoured and invited member, where fifty or sixty years before he and all other Dissenters had been so rigidly proscribed.
The force and steadiness of the current which has, during the last half-century, been moving in the direction of the establishment of religious liberty and of the abolition of religious disqualifications cannot be mistaken. It has been accompanied by a corresponding movement in favour of an enlargement of the lines of the Established Church. I do not think that the hold of this Church upon the affections of the English people has, in the present generation, been really weakened, although some of the forces opposed to it have acquired additional strength, and although the growth within its borders of a ritualistic party may very possibly one day lead both to disruption and disestablishment. But the lines of defence and of attack have been somewhat changed. Both the doctrine that a State establishment of religion is an essentially anti-Christian thing, and the doctrine that every nation is bound in its corporate capacity to profess a religion, and that the maintenance of an established Church is therefore the first of national duties have, I think, lost much of their old power. The belief that the Church, as a continuous organisation, has the same indefeasible right to its tithes and glebes as a private individual to the property which he has earned or inherited, and the belief that the diversion of property from religious to secular purposes is an act of sacrilege, have certainly not passed away, but they are no longer governing forces in English politics.
The main defence of the Church of England as an establishment now rests upon its utility. It is, it is said, a great corporation, which is indissolubly bound up with the best elements in the national life and history, which has shown itself in these latter days as far as possible from dormant and effete, and which is exercising over a vast area and in multifarious ways a beneficent, moralising, and spiritualising influence. If its revenues in the aggregate seem large, no other revenues are so little abused, are so constantly associated with moral and useful lives, are so largely and so steadily employed for the benefit of the community. Its parochial system places in the poorest and most unattractive parish an educated and cultivated resident gentleman, who is not dependent on his parishioners, and whose whole life is spent in constant intercourse with the poor, in constant efforts to improve their condition, to raise their morals, to console them in their troubles. Like the dew of heaven, the silent continuous action of this system falls over great tracts of human life and suffering which the remedies of the politician can never reach. There are no more beautiful or more useful lives than those which may be often found in some backward and deserted district, where the parish clergyman and his family are spreading around them a little oasis of cultivation and refinement, and, by modest, simple, unobtrusive and disinterested work, continually alleviating suffering and raising the moral level of those among whom they labour. What a contrast do they often present to the noisy demagogue, to the epicurean party gambler, who is seeking for votes or power by denouncing them! It is impossible to doubt that the whole of the system would be greatly impaired if the Church were broken into fragments, and if its ministers degenerated into mere narrow sectarians, representing a lower plane of education and refinement, and depending for their subsistence on the good pleasure of their parishioners.
And the parochial system is but one of the many benefits that may be traced to the Establishment. The maintenance of a learned clergy, who play a great part in the fields of literature and scholarship; the cathedral system, which adds so largely to the splendour and beauty of English life; the existence, both at home and abroad, of an order of men to whom British subjects of all creeds and classes have a right in time of trouble to appeal; the wider latitude of opinion which an established Church seldom fails to give; the importance of a State connection, both in restraining the excesses of sacerdotal tyranny and in diminishing the temptations to clerical demagogism, are all advantages which may be truly alleged and largely amplified. Many of them extend far beyond the limits of convinced Anglicans, and affect most beneficially the whole national life. Is it the part of a true statesman to destroy or weaken a machine which is doing so much good in so many ways? Is it probable that its revenues would be more wisely or more usefully employed if they were flung into the political arena, to be struggled for by contending parties?
But in order to strengthen these lines of defence two things are necessary. The one is, that the disadvantages attending the existence of an established Church should be reduced to the smallest possible limits; the other is, that the benefits of the establishment should be as largely as possible extended. The first object has been attained by the complete abolition of religious disqualifications and disabilities. These were once defended as inseparable from an establishment, and the best fortifications for its defence. They are now more justly looked upon as the most serious arguments against it, for they were restrictions and injuries imposed on different classes of the community in order that it might subsist. As we have seen, it has been one of the great works of the nineteenth century to sweep these disqualifications away.
The other object is to comprehend the largest possible portion of the English people in the Established Church. In this respect reformers are following faithfully the root idea of the Church, which was intended to be a national, or, in other words, a representative, Church, representing and including the two great sections of the community that were separated from the See of Rome. One of these sections, though repudiating the pretensions of the Papacy, leant strongly towards the theology of Rome; the other frankly adopted the principles of the Reformation on the Continent. The composite and representative character of the Church is clearly exhibited in the Prayer Book, which, if it does not contain positive contradictions of definite doctrine, at least includes very evident contradictions of tendency.
The attempt of the Tudor statesmen to include the whole body of the English people in the National Church failed, and the attempt of the statesmen of the Revolution to bring back the great Puritan body by an Act of Comprehension was equally unsuccessful. The amalgamation of the different Protestant organisations is now plainly impossible, and if it were possible it would be of very doubtful benefit. It is true, indeed, that the original grounds of dissension have in a great measure disappeared. The rigidities and the distinctions of Calvinistic theology, which were once deemed so transcendently important, have lost their old hold on the minds of men, and an amount of ornament and ritual and music has crept into Puritan worship which would have aroused the horror of the early Puritans. The Ritualistic party in the Anglican Church is very widely separated from Protestant Nonconformity, but there is no real difference of principle between the Evangelical section of the Church of England and the great body of the Protestant Dissenters. With many the separation is a mere matter of taste, some persons preferring the written liturgy, and some the extemporaneous prayers. Others object to the Church of England, not because their own type of theology has not a fully recognised place within its borders, but because it also admits doctrines or practices which they condemn. With others, again, the separation depends wholly on the accident of birth and education. Through habit, or interest, or affection, men prefer to remain in the ecclesiastical organisation in which they have been brought up, and with which they are not dissatisfied, rather than go over to another to which they have no objection. The case of Scotland shows how it is possible for three Churches to exist in separation which are identical in their form of worship, identical in their ecclesiastical organisation, and all but identical in their doctrine.
The decay of the doctrinal basis of English Nonconformity, though it is not likely to lead to any amalgamation of Churches, is having one very mischievous consequence. It is giving Nonconformity a far more political character than in the past, and a political character which is sometimes singularly unworthy and unscrupulous. Envy becomes the guiding motive, a desire to break down and diminish the Established Church the chief ground of political action. A characteristic though an extreme example of this spirit was exhibited by certain representatives of Welsh Nonconformity, who actually opposed a Bill to enable the bishops more easily to suppress immorality among their clergy, lest it should tend to increase the efficiency of the Establishment.9 In some periods of past history England owed much to the political action of Nonconformists, and they raised very appreciably the moral level of English politics. Those who have studied their conduct and their alliances in the present generation will scarcely attribute to them such an influence.
But although it is not possible, and probably not desirable, that the Established Church should absorb rival organisations, the steady tendency of the present generation has been to expand the circle of permissible opinions. An Act of 1865 modified materially the form of subscription to the Articles. Instead of being obliged to subscribe to ‘all and everything’ in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Prayer Book, the clergyman is now bound only to a belief in the doctrines of the Church as a whole. The gross tyranny which, under the name of the indelibility of orders, made it illegal for a clergyman who had found it impossible conscientiously to continue in the Church to adopt any other profession, was abolished in 1870, in spite of the strenuous opposition of Bishop Wilberforce, and successive judicial decisions by the Privy Council have established the legal right of each of the three parties in the Church to hold their distinctive doctrines. No feature of the modern Anglican Church is more conspicuous than the great variety of opinions that have now a fully recognised place within its limits.
This movement has been much more a lay movement than a clerical one, and it is mainly due to the influence which establishment gives to the lay element in the government of the Church. It forms a remarkable contrast to the growing ascendency of ultramontanism in the Church of Rome, but it is in full accordance with the spirit that is prevailing in the legislation and the public opinion of nearly all countries. The tendency to multiply restrictions, which is so clearly seen in many departments of modern legislation, does not appear in the sphere of religion. The belief both in the certainty and in the importance of dogma has declined; nearly everywhere great fields of human action are being withdrawn from the empire of the Churches, and the right of men to believe and profess various religious doctrines without suffering molestation or losing civil privileges is now very generally recognised. In some countries and districts the law is certainly in advance of public opinion. In some cases, where the overwhelming majority of the nation belong to one creed, there are restraints upon proselytism; and dissenters from the established creed, or from a limited number of recognised creeds, are forbidden to set up churches, though they may meet in private houses; but with the single exception of Russia, all the countries which in the first decades of the century were most intolerant in their legislation have been touched by the new spirit.
In Sweden, not many years ago, every administrative and judicial function was strictly limited to the professors of the Lutheran creed. Even the practice of medicine and the right of teaching were confined to them. All attempts to induce a Lutheran to change his creed were penal offences, severely punished, and every Swede who abandoned the religion of his country was liable to banishment for life. It was not until 1860 that the existence of dissenting bodies was, under severely specified conditions, recognised; but in 1862, 1870, and 1873 laws were passed permitting Swedish Lutherans to join other religions, and opening nearly all public posts and employments, as well as the seats in the Legislature, to men of all religions.10
Austria, again, not long since was a great centre of religious and political reaction, but it is now one of the best-governed countries in Europe, and there are very few modern legislations which will better repay study than that of Austria since 1860. The Concordat of 1855, which secured the Catholic Church a monopoly, has been annulled, and the Austrian Constitution makes all civil and political rights independent of creed, and guarantees to all subjects perfect liberty of conscience and worship. A distinction, it is true, is drawn between recognised and unrecognised religions. The former, by the organic law of 1867, comprised, in addition to Catholicism, the Protestant religions of the Confession of Augsburg and of the Helvetic Confession, the Greek Church, and the Jewish Synagogue; but a law of 1874 greatly enlarged the circle, by providing that all other creeds might obtain a full legal recognition if they satisfied the Minister of Public Worship that there was nothing in their teaching, worship, or organisation contrary to law or morals, and that they were sufficiently numerous to support a Church. These recognised religions may constitute themselves as corporations, regulating their own affairs, founding establishments, and exercising publicly their religious worship. The adherents of religions that are not legally recognised have, however, a full right to celebrate their worship in private houses, provided there is nothing in that worship contrary to law or morals. In the State schools, religious instruction must be given separately to the scholars of different denominations by their own priests or pastors, or by lay teachers appointed by the different religious bodies. A valuable and most significant portion of the law of 1874 provides that the ecclesiastical power must never be used, except against the members of the Church to which it belongs, and that it must never be used with the object of interfering with the observance of the law, or the acts of the civil power, or the free exercise of any civil right.11
Spain and Portugal are the last examples that need be given of countries in which, though scepticism and indifference are very rife, the whole population, with infinitesimal exceptions, is of one nominal belief, and in which the steady teaching of the Church and many generations of intolerant legislation have made the establishment of religious liberty peculiarly difficult. According to the judgment of those who are best acquainted with these countries, there exists in both countries, but especially in Spain, a strong determination to secularise the government, to limit Church property, and to restrain ecclesiastical power, accompanied by much indisposition to encourage any multiplication or competition of religions.12 Few countries have witnessed, in the present century, more confiscations of Church property than Spain, and the political influence of its priesthood is very small, though it is not impossible that the establishment of universal suffrage in 189013 may tend to its revival. The Catholic religion is recognised as the religion of the State, but it is provided that no one on Spanish soil may be molested for his religious opinions and for his worship as long as he respects Christian morality, though ‘the public manifestations and ceremonies of the State religion’ alone are authorised. Small congregations of Spaniards who dissent from the Established Church worship freely and publicly in the chief towns.
In Portugal the law is very similar. The Catholic religion is recognised as the religion of the kingdom; all others are permitted to strangers, and they may have edifices destined for their worship, but they must not have externally the appearance of churches. ‘No one may be molested for his religion, provided he respects that of the State and does not offend public morality.’ At the same time, a Portuguese who publicly apostatises from the Catholic Church is punished by twenty years’ suspension of political rights.14 The priests have also in Portugal a recognised place as registering agents at elections for the Chamber of Deputies and these elections conclude with a religious ceremony.15
It will be evident, I think, to those who have taken an extended survey of the subject, that the line of religious liberty which ought to be drawn in any country, like most other political lines, is not an inflexible or invariable one, but one which largely depends on many fluctuating considerations. The religious legislation of a country where there are grave differences of opinion will naturally be somewhat different from the legislation of a country where there is a practical unanimity, and where opposing creeds can only be introduced by immigration or by proselytism from without, and considerations of public order may most legitimately modify and limit religious legislation. Religious processions, demonstrations, or controversies in the streets, which would probably produce obstruction or riot, or which are intended to injure some class or person, or which would irritate public opinion, may be most properly forbidden, while those which are practically harmless are allowed.
There is a broad and intelligible distinction between the right of freely expressing religious or political opinions in churches or meetings to which no one is obliged to come, in books or papers which no one is obliged to read, and the right of expressing them in the public streets, which all men are forced to use, and which are the common property of all. The first and most essential form of liberty is the liberty of performing lawful business without molestation and annoyance, and this liberty is most imperfectly attained when it is impossible for men, women, or children to pass through the streets without having attacks upon their religious belief thrust forcibly upon their attention. In most countries such street controversies are rigidly suppressed. Where they are permitted, they ought surely to be deemed a matter of tolerance, and not of right; to be regulated in each case according to special circumstances. Some years ago it was the habit of a Protestant missionary society to placard the walls throughout the Catholic provinces of Ireland with questions and arguments subversive of the Catholic faith, and missionaries might be seen driving along the roads throwing controversial leaflets to every peasant and into every turf-basket as they passed. In my own judgment, such a method of propagandism ought not to have been permitted, and it is probable that most of those who disagree with me would admit the principle for which I am contending, if the arguments that were disseminated had been directed not against Catholicism, but against Christianity. In France, where a stringent law forbids meetings in the streets, it has been, under the Republic, a common thing to see profane and often obscene caricatures of the most sacred persons and incidents in the Evangelical narratives publicly exposed. The prohibition of such placards in the streets would surely not be a violation, but a vindication, of liberty.
In India, questions of religious liberty of great delicacy and difficulty have arisen. For a long period it was the steady policy of the British Government not only itself to maintain an attitude of strict religious neutrality, but also to discourage proselytism as a grave danger to public order. ‘The English,’ Lord Macartney declared, ‘never attempt to disturb or dispute the worship or tenets of others; … they have no priests or chaplains with them, as have other European nations.’ In 1793, when the charter of the East India Company was renewed, Wilberforce endeavoured to procure the insertion of clauses to the effect that it was the duty of the English to take measures for the religious and moral improvement of the natives in India, and that the Court of Directors should for that purpose send out and maintain missionaries and schoolmasters, as well as chaplains and ministers for those of their own creed. Owing to the strenuous resistance of the East India directors and proprietors, these clauses were struck out of the Bill at the third reading; the Company for many years refused to grant licenses to missionaries, and they more than once exercised against missionaries the power they possessed of expelling unlicensed Europeans from India. It was not until 1813 that Parliament broke down the barrier, and threw open the doors of India to missionary efforts. It did so in spite of a great preponderance of Anglo-Indian opinion, and of the evidence of Warren Hastings, and this measure marks most conspicuously the increasing power which the Evangelical party was exercising in British politics.16
But although India was from this time thrown open to numerous missionary enterprises, the law forbade and forbids, in terms much stricter than would be employed in British legislation, any word or act which could wound religious feelings,17 and the State endeavours to maintain its own religious neutrality, and to abstain as far as possible from any act that could conflict with the religious feelings, observances, and customs of the subject races. It has not, however, always been able to do so. It seems an easy thing to guarantee the free exercise of different forms of worship, but grave difficulties arise when these religions bring with them a code of ethics essentially different from that of the ruling power. Probably the first instance in which the British Government undertook to prohibit a religious observance in India was in 1802, when Lord Wellesley suppressed under severe penalties the sacrifice of children by drowning, which took place annually at the great religious festival at Saugor. The slaughter of female infants, though it does not appear to have grown out of religious ideas, was fully recognised by Hindu morals, and it was practised on such a scale that within the memory of living men there were great districts in which not a single girl could be found in many villages.18 English law has made this act a crime, and some legislation which is as recent as 1870 has done much to suppress it. The human sacrifices that were once constantly performed before the images of Kali, and were not unfrequent at other shrines, have been abolished, and in 1829 Lord William Bentinck took the bold and most beneficent step of abolishing the suttee, or the practice of immolating Hindu widows on the funeral piles of their husbands.
The horrible fact that several hundreds of women were annually burnt alive within the British dominions, and in the immediate neighborhood of Calcutta, had long occupied the thoughts of British governors, but the practice was so essentially a religious rite that for a long time they did not venture to forbid it. Lord Cornwallis directed public servants to withhold their consent from the ceremony, if it was asked for, but he prohibited them from taking any official step to prevent it. Lord Wellesley consulted the judges about the possibility of suppressing it, but in their opinion such a step would be extremely dangerous. In 1813, Lord Minto, while disclaiming all intention of forbidding it, or of interfering with the tenets of the native religions, undertook at least to introduce some limitations and regulations with the object of diminishing its barbarity. According to the new regulations, it could only be practised after communication with the magistrates and principal officers of police, and in the presence of the police, and they were directed to ascertain that the widow's act was purely voluntary, that no stupefying or intoxicating drugs were employed, that there was up to the very last no violence or intimidation, that the victim was not under the age of sixteen and not pregnant. There does not, however, appear to have been much diminution of the practice, and in 1828, the year preceding its suppression, it was officially reported that 463 widows had been burnt, 287 of them being in the Calcutta division alone.19 In the ten previous years the annual number of immolations is said to have averaged not less than 600.
The measure of Lord William Bentinck excited many fears and much opposition. It was argued that the practice of suttee had existed for countless centuries in India; that it was in the eyes of the Hindus ‘a religious act of the highest possible merit,’ a ‘sacred duty’ and a ‘high privilege;’ that to prohibit it was a direct and grave interference with the religion of the Hindus, a manifest violation of the principle of complete religious liberty which the British Government had hitherto maintained and guaranteed. Great fears were entertained that the sepoy army in Bengal might resent the suppression; and it was remembered that the religious element was believed to have contributed largely to the formidable sepoy mutiny which had taken place in 1806 at Vellore, in Madras. Lord William Bentinck, however, wisely took the officers of the Bengal Army into his confidence, and he was convinced by their answers that there was no real danger of revolt. He was encouraged by the fact that the custom chiefly prevailed among the effeminate and timid inhabitants of Bengal; that it was almost or altogether unknown in great districts of India; that the Mohammedans in bygone days had successfully interfered with Hindu rites to a far greater extent than he proposed. The judges were now of opinion that the suttee might be safely abolished, and the determined policy of Lord W. Bentinck completely triumphed. Suttee was forbidden in Bengal in 1829, in the Madras and Bombay provinces in the following year. There were a few successful and unsuccessful attempts to evade the new law. There was one somewhat serious riot. There was a strong remonstrance, drawn up by leading Hindus. There was an appeal to the Privy Council in England; but when the impotence of all resistance was established, the natives speedily, though reluctantly, acquiesced. In a few years suttee became a mere tradition of the past, and under English influence even native princes made laws for its suppression.20
At the same time the Government took the utmost pains to impress upon the natives that they entertained no desire of disturbing their faith. Formal declarations had been repeatedly made that the laws of the Shastra and of the Koran would be maintained, and that Hindu and Mohammedan would be as fully protected in the free exercise of their religions under a Hindu or a Mohammedan Government. The law specially recognised and protected the system of caste,21 and the rites of idolatrous worship were to a large extent endowed. A tax was levied on pilgrimages, and chiefly expended in defraying the expenses of the temple worship. The worship of Juggernaut and many less important shrines was susbsidised, and the Government exercised a superintending care over the management of the temples and over the vast endowments which had been from time immemorial connected with them; prevented the misappropriation of their revenues; sent soldiers and police to protect or dignify idolatrous processions, and contributed very largely by wise and honest administration to the prosperity of the great religious establishments.
The Evangelical party in England agitated fiercely against these measures, and their influence gradually prevailed. In 1833 the Home Government was induced to order the abolition of the pilgrim tax and the discontinuance of all connection between the Government and idolatrous ceremonies. For five years this order seems to have been little more than a dead-letter, but in 1838 more efficacious measures were taken. The management of the whole system of idolatrous worship, and of the revenues connected with it, passed exclusively into the hands of the believers, and all superintending and supporting connection on the part of the Government was withdrawn.
Another difficult and dangerous question, in which considerations of humanity and justice were on one side, and old-established religious custom was on the other, was the question of inheritance. By the Mohammedan and the Hindu laws of inheritance apostasy was equivalent to civil death, and the convert lost all rights of heritage. This law had, in the eyes of the believers, a religious character; and the Hindu law of inheritance had an especially close connection with the Hindu religion, as property descended conditionally on the performance of religious rites, which were believed to be of transcendent importance for the benefit of the dead. Lord William Bentinck, who had already immortalised himself by the suppression of the suttee, resolved, if possible, to abolish the penalty which the native laws imposed on conversion, and in 1832 he introduced a regulation to that effect into Bengal. After long discussion and much opposition this policy at last triumphed, and an Act of Parliament of 1850 abolished through the whole of India every law and usage inflicting forfeiture of property on account of apostasy or exclusion from any faith. Another measure conceived in the same spirit, and directed against some peculiar Hindu superstitions, punished with imprisonment any one who tried to intimidate another by threatening to make him the object of divine displeasure. The marriage of Hindu widows also was legalised. Native converts to Christianity were enabled to obtain a divorce from husbands or wives who had deserted them on account of their conversion. The rights of succession and the power of bequest of natives who did not belong to any native religious community were fully recognised.22
These facts show sufficiently that, while the general principle of protecting the worship, revenues, and usages of native religions is fully recognised, there has been an increasing tendency in Indian legislation to allow considerations of humanity, justice, and individual liberty to override religious considerations. The great sepoy mutiny of 1857, which was mainly due to religious fanaticism, sufficiently disclosed the extreme dangers of the subject. After the suppression of the mutiny, also, there was a moment of great peril. A powerful party, supported by the high authority of Colonel Herbert Edwardes, one of the most distinguished of Indian soldiers, attributed the mutiny to the British Government having neglected their duty of bringing home Christian truths to the native population, and Colonel Edwardes issued a memorandum urging that the true policy to be pursued was ‘the elimination of all unchristian principles from the government of India.’ To carry out this policy he desired that the Bible should be compulsorily taught in all Government schools; that all endowments of native religions from public money, and all legal recognition of caste, should cease; that the English should cease to administer Hindu and Mohammedan law, and to countenance Hindu and Mohammedan processions. This memorandum received a considerable amount of partial or unqualified support, but wiser counsels ultimately prevailed. In the Queen's proclamation of October 1858 there is a remarkable paragraph, which is said to have been due to the direct action of the Queen herself, and which did very much to establish permanent quiet in India. ‘We do strictly charge and enjoin,’ it said, ‘on all those who may be in authority under us, that they abstain from all interference with the religious beliefs and worship of any of our subjects, on pain of our highest displeasure.’23
The policy indicated in these words has been, on the whole, carried out with signal sagacity and success, and the large introduction of natives into high offices under the Crown has had a reassuring influence on the native mind. Before the mutiny there were no natives on the bench of any supreme court of India, or in the Legislative Council, or in the higher branches of the Civil Service. Since the mutiny all these great departments have been thrown open to them. British law protects carefully the moral and social types that grow out of the native religions, and especially the Hindu conception of the family, which is widely different from that of Christian nations; and it is mainly through respect for native ideas that the Indian penal code treats adultery as a criminal offence, and punishes it with imprisonment that may extend to five years.24 At the same time, the prohibition of the suttee and of infanticide has introduced grave changes even into this sphere. The law already violates Hindu notions by permitting the remarriage of widows and modifying the rules of succession, and it is not likely that many years will pass before the pressure of philanthropic European opinion leads to a prohibition of the horrible custom of child marriage, under which girls of ten or twelve years are assigned as wives to old, worn-out, and perhaps dying men. In the protected native States the British Government has repeatedly intervened for the purpose of putting down infanticide, suttee, slavery, the punishment of alleged witches, and punishment by torture or mutilation.25
The educational policy of the Government also, which was chiefly adopted at the instigation of Sir Charles Wood in 1854, and which has since then been energetically and successfully pursued, cannot fail to have a real, though indirect and unintended, influence on religious belief. The first principle, it is true, of that policy is that ‘the ruling power is bound to hold itself aloof from all questions of religion.’ The universities, in which the educational system culminates, are purely secular examining bodies, modelled after the London University; and while grants in aid are accorded to all private educational establishments which impart a good secular education, are under competent management, and are open to inspection by Government officers, the State proclaims and steadily acts upon the principle of rigidly abstaining from all interference with the religious teaching of these establishments. But many of the schools and colleges that have earned grants in aid are missionary establishments. Pure secular education, which the Government especially encourages, is as repugnant to Mohammedan as to Catholic ideas; the mixture of classes and creeds, which the new system fosters, breaks down social divisions that are closely connected with religious beliefs; and the mere spread of scientific conceptions of the universe, of European habits of thought and standards of proof, must do much to shatter the fantastic cosmogonies of the Hindu creeds, and produce a moral and intellectual type profoundly different from that of the old believers. Education as yet touches only a small fraction of the great Indian people; but in this, as in other ways, contrary to its own wishes, the influence of the Government is opposed to the religion of the natives. It is not probable that it is preparing the way for Christian theology, but it is tending to undermine or attenuate old beliefs and to introduce Western types of thought and morals. ‘Few attentive observers of Indian history,’ writes Sir Henry Maine, ‘can fail to see that the morality of modern indigenous literature tends to become Christian morality, which has penetrated further than Christian belief.’26
Another case in which the principles of religious liberty have come into collision with principles of morality and public expediency may be found in Mormonism in America. Polygamy was not an original doctrine of the Mormon faith: it was not until 1843, thirteen years after the publication of the Book of Mormon, that Joseph Smith professed to have a revelation authorising it, and it was not until 1852 that it was openly acknowledged to the Gentile world. Long before this period, however, the Mormons had experienced a large amount of severe and illegal mob persecution. The rise and rapid progress of a new religion combining to an extraordinary degree the element of fraud with the elements of fanaticism soon aroused a fierce resistance, which was entirely unrestrained by the provisions of the Constitution giving unrestricted right of religious belief and profession.
In its first form Mormonism was simply a society of men believing in the divine mission and revelations of Joseph Smith, baptised for the dead in a Church which he founded and ruled, placing their property at his disposal, holding some very materialistic views about the nature of the Divinity, and also a strange notion that Christ had preached in America, after His crucifixion, to Children of Israel who already peopled that continent.27 However eccentric might be these opinions, Mormonism in its general aspect was a sect not wholly differing from many others, and it could move freely within the wide limits which the American Constitution accorded to religious developments. The Mormons were first concentrated in considerable numbers in the town of Kirtland, in Ohio, but they soon migrated to the thinly populated district called Jackson County, in Missouri, where about 1,200 were established. In obedience to a revelation of Joseph Smith, they purchased a large tract of land, and streams of fanatics poured in, boasting loudly that the land was to be given to them as an inheritance.
The old settlers, however, resented bitterly the intrusion of this sinister element, and after a long series of acts of violence and several vicissitudes, the Saints, now numbering about 12,000, were compelled to cross the Mississippi into Illinois, where they built the town of Nauvoo. They soon organised a powerful militia, established a regular government, and displayed to an extraordinary degree those industrial qualities for which they have always been remarkable. For a few years their progress was uninterrupted. A vast temple consecrated to their worship was erected, and they grew every month in numbers, power, and wealth; but the same causes that aroused hostility in Missouri made them unpopular in Illinois, and it was strengthened by a well-founded belief that the sect was moving in the direction of sexual license. Internal dissension also appeared; riots broke out, and the State authorities intervened. Joseph Smith and his brother surrendered to stand their trial on the charge of having instigated an attack on the office of a hostile newspaper, and were placed in prison. Then followed one of those tragedies which have always been peculiarly common in America: the prison was stormed and captured by a hostile mob, and Joseph Smith was shot dead. This last event took place in June 1844.
But the new Church survived its founder, and the election of Brigham Young placed at is head a man of very superior powers, who exercised an almost undisputed authority till his death in 1877. It was surrounded by numerous and bitter enemies, who were utterly unrestrained by any considerations of law, and after many months of trouble and violence, after the loss of many lives and the endurance of terrible sufferings, the Mormons who had not already fled from Nauvoo were driven forcibly across the Mississippi. They had, however, before this time taken measures for a migration which is one of the most remarkable incidents in modern history. Inspired by a passionate fanaticism that seems strangely out of place in the nineteenth century and in an intensely industrial society, they resolved to cross the Rocky Mountains, to traverse a space of no less than 1,000 miles, and to establish their Church far beyond the limits of the United States, in a wild and desert country, inhabited only by roving bands of savage Indians. This daring scheme was executed with extraordinary skill, resolution, and perseverance, and in 1847 and 1848 several thousands of fugitives planted the nucleus of a great State on the borders of the Salt Lake.
There is no other instance in history in which a religious fanaticism was so closely blended with an intense industrial spirit, and the speed with which the new colonists transformed a barren waste, built and organised a great city, and planted in this far-off land all the elements of civilisation is one of the wonders of American history. Immigrants poured in by thousands, and it seemed as if the new Church would at last be suffered to develop its own type of life and belief undisturbed. But the ill-fortune that had hitherto pursued it continued. The discovery of Californian gold drew the stream of white emigration across the territory of the Salt Lake, the Treaty of 1848 with Mexico placed the Mormon home within the jurisdiction of the United States, and Arizona and New Mexico grew up on its southern borders.
The Mormons desired to form themselves into a separate State under the name of Deseret, or ‘The Land of the Honey-Bee,’ and if they had been able to do so they would have obtained almost absolute power of self-legislation; but Congress refused to recognise them, and in 1850 the Mormon district was organised into the Territory of Utah. The position of a Territory is very different from that of a State, for the chief executive officers in it are appointed by the President to the United States, and, although a local legislative body exists, Congress retains great powers of legislation and control.
Brigham Young was appointed the first governor, though he was, a few years after, removed on account of his resistance to the Federal authorities. For a long time the Mormon priesthood were omnipotent in Utah. As might have been expected, their main object was to baffle all interference on the part of the Federal Government and to protect themselves from Gentile intrusion; while their missionaries preached their doctrines far and wide, and many thousands of immigrants from England and Wales, from the Scandinavian countries in Europe, and from other portions of the United States, traversed the vast expanse of desert, and brought to the new colony their strong arms, their burning enthusiasm, and their complete surrender of all individual will and judgment to the orders of the Mormon chief. The Federal officers who were sent to Utah found themselves practically powerless in the face of a unanimous public feeling. All the subordinate functionaries and all the jurymen were Mormons.
The tide, however, of Gentile emigration had set in for the West, and emigrants who were not Mormons began to come to a territory where all the first difficulties of settlement had been overcome. They were naturally far from welcome; in 1857 a large party were massacred at a place called Mountain Meadows, and although Indians were the chief agents in the crime, it was at last clearly traced to a Mormon source. It was not, however, till nearly twenty years after it took place that the chief Mormon culprit was brought to justice.28 Many minor acts of violence appear to have been committed, and as long as the juries consisted of Mormons it was found impossible to punish them. But the completion of the Union Pacific Railway, and the discovery of some rich silver and lead mines, strengthened the Gentile immigration, and it was vaguely computed, about 1890, that there were some 50,000 Gentiles in Utah and about 110,000 Mormons.29
But before this time the existence and the rapid increase of a polygamous community in America greatly occupied American opinion, and different religious bodies were urging the duty of suppressing it. There was, however, grave difference of opinion on the subject. Deplorable as was the appearance of a polygamist sect in the midst of a Christian land, there were those who contended that polygamy among the Mormons ought to be tolerated, as Christian Governments had always tolerated it among Hindus and Mohammedans. It was clearly the offshoot of a religious system resting on a religious doctrine, and it was a fundamental principle of the United States to give all religions the most ample scope for their development. Polygamy, these reasoners observed, prevails over a vast proportion of the human race. It is supported by clear and incontestable Old Testament authority, and it is not very clearly condemned in the New Testament. When it is the acknowledged doctrine of a well-defined Church it is undoubtedly an evil, but it is much less dangerous than when it is irregularly practised in a generally monogamous society. It does not produce the same confusion of properties and families, the same deception, or the same social stigma and oppression. Much was said of the duty of the Federal Government to intervene on behalf of the oppressed women, who were degraded by polygamy to an inferior and servile condition. It is impossible, however, to overlook the curious and significant fact that the Mormons were the first, or almost the first, people to give the political suffrage to women; that female suffrage existed among them for many years; and that it proved so favourable to polygamy that its abolition by the Congress was one of the measures for suppressing that custom. In the words of one of the latest American writers on this subject, ‘woman suffrage existed in Utah for seventeen years, and proved to be one of the strongest bulwarks of polygamy.’ ‘For more than a quarter of a century the Mormon Church fought, with every weapon that it could command, the laws directed against its favourite insitution. One by one new and more vigorous penalties were enacted by Congress against polygamy. Finding women the most ardent champions of the vicious practice (owing to their stronger religious convictions), Congress in 1887 took away their right of suffrage.’30
In the face of such facts it was very difficult to contend that polygamy was generally unpopular among the Mormon women. It was certain that women bore their full proportion among the Mormon converts and the Mormon devotees, and there was strong evidence to support the conclusion that they were in general contented with their lot. Marriage usually took place very early. The wives were persuaded that their state in a future world depended on the happiness they procured their husbands in this; and it was part of a Mormon's religious duty to live equally with his wives, and abstain from favouritism. If they did not observe this duty, they were publicly reprimanded.31 The Mormons, it was said, only asked to be left alone. They had gone forth, at the cost of terrible hardships, into a distant and lonely wilderness to practise their religion in peace, and whatever civilisation existed in Utah was wholly their work. Nor was that civilisation, even from a moral point of view, a contemptible one. Whatever else might be said of polygamy, it could not be denied that it had extinguished in Utah forms of vice that were the canker of all other American cities. Prostitution, adultery, illegitimate births, abandoned children, were unknown among the Mormons, and the statistics of crime showed that, judged by this test, they were far superior to the Gentiles around them. In intelligent, well-organised, and successful industry they had never been surpassed. Work was taught as the first of duties. Large families, which in old countries indicate a low industrial civilisation, had a different character in a new country, where the cost of labour was enormously great. Each member worked in his own department for the whole family, and each family became almost wholly self-subsisting.32
Had a community of this kind, it was asked, no claim on the forbearance of the Government? Ought it to be treated as a mere seed-plot of vice? Was it in accordance with the religious liberty which was so solemnly guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States; was it becoming in a great and free democracy to enter into a persecuting crusade against a Church, however erroneous, against a practice, however deplorable, which was inseparably connected with a religious doctrine? And was such a crusade likely to have any other consequence than to make martyrs, and to kindle this strange fanaticism into a fiercer flame?
As early as 1862 there had been a law against polygamy, and attempts had sometimes been made to enforce it, but they proved almost absolutely abortive. All the juries were Mormons, and in the space of eighteen years there had not been more than two convictions for polygamy. After the termination of the great Civil War public opinion was more strongly directed to the subject, and more than one stringent law against polygamy was made. The Mormons asserted that polygamy was a tenet of their faith, and therefore entitled to the protection which the Constitution accorded to all forms of religious belief; but the Supreme Court decided that no such article of faith could claim protection under the Constitution.33 In 1879 the Government of the United States attempted to enlist the services of other countries in the crusade, and a circular letter was sent to the American ministers in Europe, calling the attention of the European Governments to the American enactments against polygamy, and asking them to prevent the preaching of Mormonism and the emigration of professed Mormons to the United States; but the Governments of the countries where Mormon missionaries had been most successful replied that they could not undertake to inquire into the religious belief of emigrants. The laws of 1871 and of 1874 proved almost as inoperative as that of 1862. Federal judges were sent down to try cases, but they could try them only with juries that were mainly or exclusively Mormon, and it was almost impossible to induce such a jury to convict in a case of polygamy.
Religious opinion, however, in the United States urged on the Government, and in 1882 they began a life-and-death struggle for the purpose of stamping out polygamy. The Edmunds law, which was carried after long discussion in that year, is a striking illustration of the extreme energy which democratic communities can throw into repressive legislation. Utah had been steadily denied the privileges of a State constitution, and its internal affairs were therefore under the full control of Congress. The Edmunds law provided that in all the ‘Territories’ of the United States bigamy and polygamy should be punished with a fine of not more than 500 dollars and imprisonment up to five years. In order to overcome the difficulty of obtaining proof of marriage, it provided that any one cohabiting with more than one woman shall be punishable by imprisonment up to six months, or by a fine not exceeding 300 dollars, or by both punishments, at the discretion of the court; and that on trials for bigamy, polygamy, or unlawful cohabitation, any juryman might be challenged who had been living in the practice of any of these acts, or who, without being himself a polygamist, ‘believes it right for a man to have more than one living and undivorced wife at the same time, or to live in the practice of cohabiting with more than one woman.’ Every man as he entered the jury-box might be questioned on oath as to his belief and practice in these matters. Polygamists and their wives were at the same time deprived of all power of voting at elections, and were incapacitated from holding any public place of trust or emolument. All registration and election offices in the Territory of Utah were declared vacant, and a commission of five persons, appointed by the President of the Republic, was sent down to supersede all Mormon functionaries in matters of election and to appoint new ones.34
Under the influence of this most Draconic law polygamy was for the first time severely punished. All who practised and all who sympathised with it being removed from the juries, many convictions were obtained. In the year ending in September 1891 there were no less than 109 convictions.35 In general the Mormons appear to have welcomed their long sentences of imprisonment in the spirit of martyrs, declaring that they must obey God rather than men, and women constantly refused to give evidence that could convict their husbands. Under the disenfranchising clauses of the Edmunds law about 12,000 men and women were deprived of their votes.36
As, however, the actual practice of polygamy was by this law required for disfranchisement, power still remained with the Mormons, and Mormons who believed in polygamy, though they were not known to be themselves polygamists, were almost always elected. But a long series of other measures were taken to break down their political power. By the Federal law which I have already mentioned female suffrage in Utah was abolished, on the ground that it contributed to strengthen Mormonism. It was decided that, the Mormon Church being ‘utterly subversive of good morals and the well-being of society,’ no alien who is a Mormon could be naturalised, and the funds of the Mormon society for encouraging immigration were confiscated. A local test oath was imposed as a qualification for the suffrage, obliging every voter to swear that he is not a bigamist or polygamist, or a member of any order which encourages and practices plural marriage; and the Supreme Court, in 1890, determined that this test was not contrary to the Constitution. The criminal law against polygamy was steadily enforced, and it was strengthened by new and stringent provisions directed against unwilling witnesses, compelling a full registration of all marriages, depriving illegitimate children of rights of inhertiance, and treating, in the spirit of the old Puritan legislation, both adultery and simple fornication as criminal offences.37 These last measures, of course, both were and were intended to be purely partial in their operation. No one would have dreamed of applying them to Chicago or New York. But by such means the Mormon ascendency in Utah was broken, and in the election of 1890 the Gentile element, for the first time, obtained control of its municipal government.38 The Mormon Church was itself pronounced to be an illegal corporation, its property was forfeited or escheated; and the forfeiture appears to have been severely enforced. As one of the latest American writers on the subject says, ‘Officials sent from the Eastern States to official positions in the Territory as a reward for party services, found indiscriminate denunciation of the Mormons an excellent method of perpetuating political power. It is notorious that not a few who came to Utah poor men enriched themselves at the expense of the Mormon Church. The shrinkage of the Church property escheated by the Government would itself unfold a tale of official rapacity,’ and there were ‘ugly hints of corruption’ extending even to the judicial bench.39
It would require an amount of local knowledge to which I can make no pretence, and which only an American writer is likely to possess, to estimate with any confidence the present and future effects of this crushing legislation. The accounts are somewhat conflicting, and for some time after the enactment of the Edmunds law very competent American writers were exceedingly desponding about the results. They complained that polygamy had never been more defiantly preached and more fearlessly practised; that it seemed rather to increase than diminish; that the whole body of the Mormons acted with a perfect discipline in obedience to the commands of their chief, voting together, controlling their schools, and electing their chief officers. Having been refused the right of state independence for more than twenty years after their population and wealth were sufficient to entitle them to it, they made it an object to secure a predominance in the State of Nevada, and soon acquired there an important influence. They were said to hold the balance of power in Idaho and Arizona, and to be rapidly increasing in the Territories of Washington, Montana, and Wyoming, as well as in Colorado and New Mexico. Rumours of another distant migration were sometimes heard among them. They were accused of an implacable hatred to the Federal Government, and the opinion was openly expressed by many of their enemies that even if Mormonism cleared itself from all suspicion of polygamy, it should be exterminated at any cost; that it was leading rapidly to civil war in Utah; that if it were not effectually suppressed the Mormon leaders would, in a few years, rule every State to the west of the Mississippi.40
Whether these statements were exaggerated when they were originally made I am not able to say. There is, however, evidently another side to the question, and during the last few years, and especially since 1891, the aspect of the Mormon question in America has considerably changed. Many powerful influences have been favouring the policy of the Government. It was noticed that among the more wealthy Mormons there was a growing disposition to secede. Such men naturally desired to escape the strict exaction of tithes for the benefit of the Mormon Church, and they felt more keenly than poor men both the legal penalties and the social stigma attaching to their creed. Polygamy had proved, from an economical point of view, possible, and even successful, as long as the family remained fully self-supporting and all its members were engaged in different industries, but it became far too expensive a luxury to subsist long, under the conditions of American life, in an idle, leisured class. More frequent and more intimate contact with the Gentile world, and the rise of a new generation who had but little of the fierce fanaticism of the early converts, had their influence, and many of the younger Mormons were manifestly indisposed to an institution which brought with it severe social and legal penalties, and obstructed and hampered them at every step of their career. While such a feeling was growing, a formidable schism broke out in the Church. A party called Josephites, or ‘Latter-day Saints of the Reorganised Church of Jesus Christ,’ appeared, and is said soon to have enlisted 20,000 followers. It was led by Joseph Smith, a son of the founder of Mormonism, and it denounced polygamy as a departure from the original faith.41
All these things were preparing a great change in the Mormon Church; and the laws against polygamy appear to have found considerable, though for the most part silent, support among the Mormons themselves. After some hesitation their leaders recognised the fact. The abstract lawfulness of this institution is still a part of the Mormon creed, but its practice under present circumstances has not only been suspended, but been forbidden in the Mormon Church. In September 1890 the head of that Church publicly announced a revelation warning Latter-day Saints against contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land. Whether this abandonment is final and quite sincere it is difficult to say, but Mr. Glen Miller, whom I have already quoted as a late authority on the subject, firmly believes in its reality. ‘The institution of polygamy’ he says, ‘would have gone down eventually of its own weight under the rush of Gentile immigration. The action of the Church only hastened the inevitable. In the days of its strongest hold less than 10 per cent. of the adult males of the Territory lived in polygamy. No “plural” marriages in any form are now taking place in Utah. It is a sin within the Mormon Church, as within any other, to live with more than one woman. The young man who should attempt it would find himself and his mistress (for such any “plural” wife would be regarded) subject to the same social ostracism from the Mormons as from society at large.’ At the same time, this writer observes, ‘there has been a complete cessation of persecution for polygamy, and numbers of old-time offenders have resumed relations with their “plural” wives with practical immunity from punishment. But the prop of polygamy—its social respectability and exaltation as a religious virtue—has been taken away. These old polygamists visit their younger wives precisely as a married man in an Eastern community might consort with a mistress—quietly and stealthily, not openly or boastfully, as formerly.’
The sharp division between the Mormons and the Gentiles, which a few years ago was general, is fast disappearing. Intermarriages are not unfrequent. They mingle largely in the public schools. They are united in all forms and institutions of business; and what is perhaps even more important, the Mormons have ceased to act politically as a purely isolated body, and have thrown themselves cordially into the great party contests of the United States.42 They are said to be exhibiting to a full measure that flexibility of adaptation which is so remarkable in the American people, and which enables them with a rapidity scarcely known in Europe to accommodate themselves to new conditions.
The authorities in the Federal Government have shown themselves very ready to accept the submission. In the September of 1894, President Cleveland issued a proclamation declaring that he was satisfied that the members of the Mormon Church were now living in obedience to the law, and granting a full amnesty and pardon to those who had been convicted of polygamy and deprived of their civil rights;43 and in the same year Congress passed a measure under which Utah, in the beginning of 1896, attained its long-sought object, and was admitted as a separate State in the American Union. One of the conditions of the enabling Act is that the new Constitution prohibits polygamy.
The party which was created for the special purpose of opposing Mormonism was formally disbanded at the close of 1893, and both of the great parties in the State are now competing for the Mormon vote. The charge which has recently brought, with most effect, against the Mormons has not been their polygamy, but their susceptibility to Church interference in political life. At the same time the non-Mormon politicians have shown themselves very ready to nominate as candidates officials of the Mormon Church, believing that such candidates are likely to secure the largest number of Mormon votes. A gentleman holding the high position of ‘Apostle’ in the Church was put forward by the Democratic party as their nominee for the Senate of the United States.44 So complete to all appearance is the reconciliation between the American Government and the Mormon Church, that it is said to be a Mormon tenet that the American Constitution is an inspired document.45
A future historian must tell the final results of the conflict which I have described between religious fanaticism and repressive legislation, but it is surely a curious sign of the times that the theatre of the struggle should have been the great democracy of the West. When democratic opinion thoroughly favours repression, that repression is likely, in the conditions of modern society, to be stronger and more uncompromising than under a monarchy or an aristocracy. It is difficult to observe without some disquiet the manifestly increasing tendency of democracies to consider the regulation of life, character, habits, and tastes within the province of Governments. On the whole, however, democracies, at least in the Anglo-Saxon race, seem to me favourable to religious liberty. No doctrines have more manifestly declined during the last half-century than the doctrines of salvation by belief, of exclusive salvation, and of the criminality of error, which lay at the root of the great persecutions under Christian rule. No forms of liberty are more prized by English democracies than the liberty of expression, discussion, and association. The prevailing passion for equality favours the rise of various sects, and a great indifference to religious dogma in general prevails among the working class, who have now risen to power.
There is, however, another influence connected with, and scarcely less strong than, democracy which has an opposite tendency, and it is probable that if religious persecution ever again plays a great part in human affairs, it will be closely connected with that growing sentiment of nationality which I have examined in the last chapter. No attentive observer can have failed to notice how frequently it displays itself in a desire to unify the national type, and to expel all alien and uncongenial elements. Religion more than any other single influence perpetuates within a nation distinct types and consolidates distinct interests. Few facts in the nineteenth century have been so well calculated to disenchant the believers in perpetual progress with their creed as the anti-Semite movement, which in a few years has swept like an angry wave over the greater part of Europe. It was scarcely heard of before the latter years of the seventies, but it has already become a great power, not only in semi-civilised countries like Roumania and Russia, but also in Austria and in Germany. In France, which had been prominent for its early liberality to the Jews, the immense popularity of the works of Drumont shows that the anti-Semite spirit is widely spread. I have already noticed how clearly the extravagant French enthusiasm for Russia, at the very time when the Russian Government was engaged in savage persecution of the Jewish race, shows that a question of national interests and national revenge could supersede, in one of the most enlightened nations in Europe, all the old enthusiasm for religious liberty. The recent movement for proscribing, under pretence of preventing cruelty to animals, the mode of killing animals for food, which is enjoined in the Jewish ritual, is certainly at least as much due to dislike to the Jews as to consideration for cattle. It appears to have arisen among the German anti-Semites, especially in Saxony, and in 1893 a law prohibiting the Jewish mode of slaughtering cattle was carried in Switzerland by a popular vote.
In these countries the anti-Semite movement has been essentially a popular movement, a fierce race-hatred, pervading great masses of the people, and for the most part neither instigated nor encouraged by their Governments. Religious fanaticism has mixed with it, but usually, and especially in Germany, it has played only a very minor part. Many causes have conspired to it. The enormous power which Jews have obtained in the press and the money markets of Europe is very evident, and great power is never more resented than when it is in the hands of men who suffer from some social inferiority. Jews, in some countries, are specially prominent in unpopular professions, such as tax-gatherers and small money-lenders, agents, manipulators, and organisers of industry. They have little turn for labouring with their hands, but they have a special skill in directing and appropriating the labour of others. They have come to be looked upon as typical capitalists, and therefore excite the hostility both of Socialists, who would make war on all capitalists, and of the very different class which views with jealousy the increasing power of money, as distinguished from land, in the government of the world; while, on the other hand, they have themselves contributed largely to the socialistic and revolutionary elements in Europe. Among their many great gifts, they have never, as a race, possessed the charm of manner which softens, conciliates, and attracts, and the disintegration of politics, which is such a marked feature of our time, brings every separate group into a clearer and stronger relief. It is as a distinct and alien element in the national life that they have been especially assailed.
The Russian persecution stands in some degree apart from the other forms of the anti-Semite movement, both on account of its unparalleled magnitude and ferocity, and also because it is the direct act of a Government deliberately, systematically, remorselessly seeking to reduce to utter misery about four and a half millions of its own subjects. The laws of General Ignatieff in May 1882, and the later and still more atrocious measures that were taken at the instigation of M. Pobedonostseff, form a code of persecution which well deserves to rank with those that followed the religious wars of the sixteenth century.46 The Russian legislator does not, it is true, altogether proscribe the Jewish worship, though no synagogue is permitted in any place where there are less than eighty, and no public prayer in any place where there are less than thirty, Jewish houses. Nor does he absolutely and by a formal measure expel the Jews from Russian soil. Such a step has, indeed, been adopted on a large scale in 1891 and 1892, in the case of the poorer Jews of foreign nationality. It is estimated that these number about 150,000, and many of them, though of foreign parentage, had been born in Russia, had lived there all their lives, spoke no language except Russian, depended absolutely on Russian industries for their livelihood, and desired nothing more than the naturalisation which was refused them. The small number who consented to abjure their faith were suffered to remain. Multitudes of the others were expelled from their houses, and driven like cattle by bands of Cossacks across the frontier, where thousands have perished by misery and cold.47
For the native Jews a different treatment was provided. The legislator contented himself with driving the great body of these Jews, including several hundreds of thousands of persons, out of an immense proportion of the territory and out of the great cities, in which they had long lived unmolested; confining them, in the territory in which they were allowed to dwell, to the overcrowded towns; banishing them by countless restrictions, disabilities, and disqualifications from all honourable and lucrative posts, and from a multitude of the trades and occupations in which they were accustomed to earn their livelihood, and thus deliberately reducing them to such a depth of misery that in some provinces large numbers perished by literal starvation.48
The Jews are at the same time subject to a number of taxes which do not fall upon the Christians. Their offences are punished by special laws and harsher penalties. Their military service is more severe than that of Christians, and they are excluded from all the higher ranks of promotion. They are pronounced aliens by law, their condition is regulated by special ordinances, and they are left unprotected to the mercies of the police.
Bribes as well as penalties are employed for their conversion. Every adult convert is rewarded with a gift of from fifteen to twenty roubles from the State, and every child convert with half that sum. If one partner in a Jewish marriage adopts the orthodox faith, that partner is at once freed from the marriage tie, and permitted to marry a Christian. All the children under seven of the sex of the convert are compulsorily baptized. If the couple elect to live together, the convert must sign a declaration that he or she will endeavour to convert the other; and if such conversion is not effected, both are prohibited from residing outside the Jewish pale. Though no one, according to Russian law, can perform a legal act under the age of twenty-one, Jewish children at the age of fourteen may be received into the Orthodox Church without the permission of their parents or guardians.
There are, it is true, a variety of exemptions, some of them resting upon regular decrees, but a large part purely arbitrary and precarious. Wealthy Jews are able, after a certain number of years, to become members of what is called the First Guild, and are permitted by the payment of a large sum to purchase the right of living in any part of Russia; and some classes are exempted from portions of the code on account of their university degrees, or of the practice of certain learned professions. Their number, however, has been carefully limited by a crowd of recent enactments restricting to very small proportions the Jews who are admitted to the universities and the professional training schools, and in many other ways impeding their education.
A more important exception is that of skilled artisans, who, under the system of passports, annually renewed, are permitted to reside temporarily outside the pale. Their position, however, is utterly precarious. The passports may be at any time withdrawn. The permitted trades have never been authoritatively defined, and the limits of exemption have been frequently and arbitrarily contracted.49 By a recent enactment the artisans are only allowed in a small proportion of towns, where their industry can be under constant supervision.50 If through age or infirmity they are unable to work, they are at once banished to the pale, and any intermission of work makes them liable to the same expulsion. It has been a common practice, write the American Commissioners, ‘to visit the workshops in which these artisans were employed when they were out delivering work, or perhaps on a holiday, and because they were not found actually engaged in such artisan's work at the time of the visit, they were reported as being fraudulently enrolled in the Artisans’ Guild, and thereupon expelled to the pale.51 In many cases they have been expelled simply because they were not found working on their own Sabbath.52
The Jewish artisan outside the pale may bring with him his wife and children, but he must receive no other relatives, not even his father or mother, in his hut. He must sell nothing outside the pale, except what he has himself made, and under this rule tailors have been expelled because the buttons on the coats, and watchmakers because the keys of the watches they sold were not of their own manufacture.53 Their wives also are under the severest restrictions. In 1891, ten wives of Jewish artisans were expelled from Kieff because they had been found guilty of selling bread and milk.54 Among the exempted trades is that of midwife, and Jewish midwives are permitted in all parts of the Empire, but they are specially forbidden to keep their children with them when outside the pale.55 A characteristic provision permits the Jewish prostitute to ply her trade in any part of the Empire. Leroy-Beaulieu mentions a well-authenticated case of a poor Jewish girl who, in order to purchase permission to learn shorthand at Moscow, actually took out the yellow passport of a prostitute, but was shortly afterwards expelled by the police, as it was found that she was not practising the permitted trade.56
In spite of the shackles that are imposed on the Russian press, and the misrepresentations of official writers, the facts of this persecution have been largely, though no doubt very imperfectly, disclosed. The Government of the United States rendered a great service to history by sending two singularly competent and judicial commissioners to study on the spot the nature and the cause of a persecution which drives tens of thousands of Jewish emigrants to America. Their admirably full and temperate report; the excellent work in which Professor Errera has collected and sifted the best evidence relating to the persecution; the writings of M. Leroy-Beaulieu, who is a capital authority both on Russian and on Jewish questions, and a few well-informed articles which appeared in the foreign press, have brought together a vast mass of well-authenticated evidence, and Mr. Harold Frederic has related the story in a book which is founded on close personal investigation, and which is one of the most powerful and most terrible of our time.
To these writers I must refer the reader for the details of a persecution which far exceeds in atrocity any other that has taken place in Europe in the nineteenth century. It cannot be measured by the mere letter of the law, though few persons who have examined the new code will doubt that it was deliberately and methodically constructed with the object of driving the great bulk of the Jewish population to the alternative of conversion, starvation, or exile. Still more horrible have been the sanguinary outbursts of popular fury, often connived at, if not instigated, by authority, the brutal acts of arbitrary violence by which the persecution at every stage has been continually accompanied.
If the reader suspects this language of exaggeration, he should study the accounts in the writers I have cited of the police raid on the Jewish quarter of Moscow, which began the expulsion of the Jews from that city in 1891 and 1892, when more than 700 men, women, and children, who had committed no shadow of offence, were dragged from their homes in the dead hour of the night, and, in the extreme cold of a Russian winter, first taken to the prison, and then marched in chains out of the city and summarily exiled to the pale.57 He should read the account of the Jewish settlement of Marina Rostscha, which was surrounded during the night by a band of Cossacks with torches and drawn swords, who dragged at least 300 unsuspecting Jewish families from their beds, and, scarcely giving them time to dress, drove them from their homes, through the woods and over the snow-covered ground, beyond the limits of the province. Utter ruin naturally accompanied the persecution. The Jews were cut off from their only means of livelihood. There was a wholesale repudiation of debts; and this was, no doubt, a leading motive in the tragedy. Those who possessed realised property were prevented from removing it, and forced to sell it at the shortest notice to a hostile population, usually for a minute fraction of its real value.58 Multitudes of the fugitives perished on the road by cold, or starvation, or fatigue. Some, in the agony of their distress, found a refuge in suicide. Sick Jews in the extreme of suffering were repelled from the Christian hospitals,59 and tens of thousands, in the utmost destitution to which human beings can sink, have been driven from their country to seek a refuge among strangers. According to the careful estimate of Mr. Frederic, in the single year which ended in October, 1892, at least a quarter of a million of Russian Jews have in this way been forced into exile.60
Nowhere, indeed, in modern Europe have such pictures of human suffering and human cruelty been witnessed as in that gloomy Northern Empire, where the silence of an iron despotism is seldom broken except by the wailings of the famine-stricken, the plague-stricken, and the persecuted.
Nearly half of the Jewish race is said to have dwelt there, and their persecution is no modern thing, though in the multitude of its victims the persecution under Alexander III. has transcended all that preceded it. The causes which produced the anti-Semite movement in other lands existed in Russia in peculiar intensity, as there was no other country where the Jews were so numerous, and scarcely any where the Christians were at once so ignorant and so poor. The charge of Nihilism was made much use of, though in truth but very few Jews have been proved guilty of conspiracy.61 An evil chance had placed upon the throne an absolute ruler who combined with much private virtue and very limited faculties all the genuine fanaticism of the great persecutors of the past, and who found a new Torquemada at his side. He reigned over an administration which is among the most despotic, and probably, without exception, the most corrupt and the most cruel in Europe; over a people with many amiable and noble qualities, but ignorant and credulous, sunk in poverty far exceeding that of Western Europe, detached by a great economical revolution from their old grooves and guiding influences, and peculiarly subject to fierce gusts of fanatical passion. Among the causes of the great Russian persecutions of Polish Catholics, of Lutherans, of Russian dissenters, and, above all, of Jews, much has been ascribed by the best observers to the mere greed of corrupt officials seeking for blackmail and for confiscations. Much has been due to social collisions; to the hatred aroused by the competition of a more industrious, more intelligent, and more sober race; to the hatred which debtors bear to their creditors; to the natural tendency of oppressed, ignorant, and poverty-stricken men to throw the blame of their very real sufferings upon some isolated and alien race. Religious fanaticism also, which has a deep hold over the Russian nature, and which has shown itself in many strange explosions, has borne a considerable part. But probably not less powerful than any of these motives has been the desire to make Russia purely Russian, expelling every foreign element from the Slavonic soil. It is a feeling which has long smouldered in great strata of Russian society, and to which the Panslavist movement of our own day has given a vastly augmented power and scope. Some of the most disgraceful apologies for the savage persecutions in Russia have come from writers who profess to be champions of nationalities, ardent supporters of liberty and progress.
17 & 18 Vict. c. 60, s. 2.
E.g., England is, I suppose, the only country in Europe where a peasant woman may be arrested and brought before a magistrate because she has carried her fowls to market with their heads downwards.
The questions raised in connection with the Grammont law have been treated in full by N. A. Guilbon, Des mauvais traitements envers les animaux domestiques.
7 and 8 Vict. c. 102; 9 and 10 Vict. c. 59.
10 George IV. c. 7, ss. 28-34. There was an exception in favour of natural-born subjects who had been Jesuits or members of other religious orders before the Act passed, and who were only required to register themselves. A Secretary of State might also give other Jesuits a special license to remain in England for not longer than six months.
Stephen's History of the Criminal Law, ii. 468-76.
Goldwin Smith's Canada, p. 15. See, too, a Canadian book, Doutre, Ruines Cléricales. There has been a more recent case of a Catholic bishop in Ireland excommunicating the readers of a newspaper of which he disapproved.
Story, On the Constitution, iii. 731.
See the debates on the Clergy Discipline (Immorality) Bill of 1892. See, too, the remarks of Sir R. Temple on this discussion. Life in Parliament, pp. 341-43.
Block, Dict. de la Politique, article ‘Suède.’ See, too, Dareste, Les Constitutions Modernes, ii. 41, 42, 48, 51.
See Dareste, Demombrynes. There is an admirable series of papers examining in detail the Austrian legislation since 1860 in the Revue de Droit International et de Législation comparée. They are scattered through several volumes. See especially tom. viii. pp. 502-5.
An interesting account of religion in Spain will be found in Garrido, L'Espagne Contemporaine, pp. 123-62 (1862).
See Dareste, i. 626.
Revue de Droit International, xx. 334.
Demombrynes, i. 495, 503-5, 510.
Strachey's India; Wilberforce's Life, ii. 24–28, 392-93; iv. 101-26. See, too, on the history of the relations of British law to native religions, Kaye's Christianity in India, and Marshman's Lives of Carey, Marshman, and Ward.
Stephen's History of Criminal Law, iii. 312-13.
Strachey's India, pp. 290-91.
Mill's History of India, ix. 189.
See Boulger's Lord William Bentinck, pp. 77–111, and Mill's History of British India, ix. 184-92. Sir John Strachey, in the excellent book which he published in 1888, says; ‘The prohibition of the burning of widows was and is utterly disapproved by all but a small minority of Hindus. I do not believe that the majority, even of the most highly educated classes, approve it (India, pp. 353-54).
37 George III. c. 142, sect. 13.
Stephen's History of Criminal Law, iii. 321; Kaye's Christianity in India; Leslie Stephen's Life of Sir James Stephen, pp. 259-60. See, too, an admirable chapter on ‘Our Religious Policy in India’ in Sir Alfred Lyall's Asiatic Studies.
Bosworth Smith's Life of Lawrence, ii. 325-26.
Stephen's Criminal Law, iii. 318.
Lee Warner's Protected Princes of India, pp. 292-95.
Ward's Reign of Queen Victoria, i. 462. There is an excellent chapter on Indian Education in Sir John Strachey's India. See, too, an interesting Blue Book on ‘The Results of Indian Administration during the past Thirty Years’ (1889), pp. 16–18.
This is stated in the Book of Mormon.
Many particulars about his remarkable case will be found in an article in the Revue des Deux Mondes, October 15, 1895.
Encyclopædia Americana, art. ‘Mormonism.’ The same well-informed writer computes the whole number of Mormons at at least 250,000.
Mr. Glen Miller in the Forum. Dec. 1894.
See an interesting description of Mormon life and ideas, by Comte d'Haussonville, Revue des Deux Mondes, November 15, 1882; and also an article called ‘A New View of Mormonism,’ by R. W. Barclay, in the Nineteenth Century, January 1884. Mr. Barclay quotes official statistics showing how immensely greater is the proportion of crimes among the Gentiles than among the Mormons at Utah. See, too, Captain Burton's City of the Saints.
Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, p. 174.
See the text of the Edmunds law in Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, pp. 150-53.
Political Science Quarterly, 1891, p. 768.
Mr. Barclay says 16,000 (Nineteenth Century, January 1884).
The text of the very severe and comprehensive Act of 1884 is given in Dickinson, pp. 153-60. It enacts, among other things (ss. 19, 20), ‘that whoever commits adultery shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary not exceeding three years,’ and ‘that if an unmarried man or woman commits fornication, each of them shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding 100 dollars.’
Political Science Quarterly, 1890, pp. 371-72.
Forum, December 1894, p. 464.
Encyclopædia Americana, art. ‘Mormonism;’ Dickinson's New Light on Mormonism, pp. 170-86, 197; Codman's Solution of the Mormon Problem. There are some striking and, I think, just remarks on the persecuting spirit which has been displayed in the English press on the subject of Mormonism in Mill, On Liberty, pp. 163-67 (ed. 1859).
Dickinson, pp. 215-16.
Forum, December 1894.
The Times, July 14, Sept. 29, 1894.
See an article of Mr. Glen Miller's in the Forum, December 1895. The senators elected, however, were of the Republican party.
Report of the Commissioners on the Causes of Immigration to the U.S.A. (House of Representatives, 1892), pp. 185-86.
An excellent summary of these laws will be found in the report of Messrs. Weber and Kempster to the House of Representatives of the U.S.A.: Report of Commissioners of Immigration upon the Causes which incite Immigration to the United States (1892), pp. 149-65.
See Errera, Les Juifs Russes (1893), pp. 40–43. Compare the remarks of Weber and Kempster, p. 165.
Errera, Les Juifs Russes, pp. 103-9.
Frederic, The New Exodus, pp. 166-68.
Errera, p. 69.
Weber and Kempster, p. 39.
Frederic, The New Exodus, p. 248.
Weber and Kempster, p. 39.
Errera, p. 73.
Ibid. pp. 72–73.
Errera, p. 31. Mr. Frederic mentions ‘two perfectly authenticated cases of young Jewish girls of respectable families and unblemished characters who adopted the desperate device of registering themselves as prostitutes in order to be allowed to remain with their aged parents in the city where they were born’ (The New Exodus, p. 216). See, too, p. 247, and Weber and Kempster, p. 42.
The official paper at St. Petersburg denied the employment of chains, but it is established by overwhelming evidence. See Frederic, pp. 289-92; Weber and Kempster, pp. 47–51.
Some striking instances of this at Moscow are given in The New Exodus, pp. 222-28.
Weber and Kempster, p. 41.
The New Exodus, pp. 283-84.
Frederic (pp. 118-19) and Errera (pp. 144-45), have shown the very small number of Jews among the convicted Nihilists. Errera examines very fully the various charges brought against the Russian Jews.