WELSH DISESTABLISHMENT. Outstanding and agreeable features of the recent National Convention at Carnarvon were the presence of certain Welsh clergymen, and the tactful declaration of Mr. Lloyd-George that the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales, when it came, would probably be almost altogether by mutual consent. The bitterness of strife (he seemed to hope) was over, and the inevitable settlement might be accomplished with courtesy and good feeling. This view might be unduly optimistic, and resulting, perhaps, from the kindliness most proper at the commencement of a new year, and more especially from the high hopes and nobler feel- ings cherished by the expectation that we are entering on a better era of government and of national life. Even if these views should prove to have been too sanguine, it is yet well to have held and expressed them, as the fact must tend to soften controversy and promote charitable relations among men who are fellow-countrymen, though belonging to different religious bodies. Many of us feel that the imposition of the Anglican Church on Wales was not merely a bitter result of political oppression, but by placing over the Welsh people priests and bishops ignorant of their language, and thus out of sympathy and communion with them, it caused the people to lose the proper ministra- tions of religious life and ultimately to lapse into the degradation of sensuality. The Anglican Church in the Principality was from the first foreign, alien, hostile. In recent years we have seen a beneficient change. Not the least noble among the actions of the venerated Gladstone was to appoint Welsh Speaking Men to the Welsh episcopate, and thus at the very fountain-head to bring about closer and more sympathetic relations between the Church and the Welsh people. But this blessed change came too late to save the Church as a national establishment. Other great religious denomina- tions had by this time established themselves in the confidence and affection and national life of the Welsh people. The Anglican Church in Wales can never henceforth be more than one amongst a family of brothers; but it may become a brother of equal heritage and position beloved by the- others, and not a usurping and privileged brother set aloof from the rest, -in a place by himself, where isolation destroys fraternity and cripples usefulness. For these reasons, historic, racial and religious, the ministers of the Welsh branch of the English Church feel themselves in a false and unpleasant position. The Welsh clergy are the more conscious of their unhappy situation because of the very excellence of their patriotic character. If they were Anglified, they would take an evil pride in being a sort of English garrison in Wales. But in the mass the Welsh parsons are too good and true to their Welsh nationality to enjoy any such role. Some of them have excelled as bards; they have been devoted to the National Eisteddfod, and in a variety of ways they have shown that under the coat of a Welsh clergyman there pulses the blood of a thorough Welshman. This is due in large measure to the democratic origin of the Welsh clergy. They do not, as a rule, belong by birth to a ruling caste; on the contrary, they have sprung in the main from the peasantry and have in their veins the best democratic blood. All these conditions go to make the Welsh parson A Welsh Patriot often unrecognised under the uniform of an alien Church. What wonder then if he steals on to the platform of a Welsh National Con- vention as he did lately at Carnarvon; and can we not imagine that such a man would be glad to be rescued from his false position as minister of an Anglican Church in Wales ? In England the clergyman so frequently belongs by birth to the ruling classes that this alone alienates him from the democratic Nonconformists of the country. But in Wales it is different, as I have pointed out. The Welsh parson springs from the people; he is often the son of Noncon- formist parents; and we have known quite recently of the mother of a Welsh Bishop, pro- ceeding on Sunday from the Bishop's palace to worship in her Methodist Chapel. Therefore, the Welsh clergy, if liberated from the fetters of a State Church and its rigid discipline in such matters would find it easy--indeed delightful- to associate on equal terms with his Noncon- formist brethrei He probably foresees that his influence would be largely increased by coming off his Anglican pedestal, and mixing with his Welsh brethren in fraternal relations. For my own part, I sincerely believe that there is a great future before the Welsh Church when it has been freed from the trammels of the State. There is room in Wales for an Episcopal Church, just as there is for Presby- terian, Congregational, Baptist, and Wesleyan Churches. A free Episcopal Church in close touch and sympathy with the Welsh people would, in my humble judgment, quickly double and quadruple its adherents; and this, not by taking members from other communities-no good cause prospers in that manner-but by attaching to itself people who now hold aloof from the other denominations because they do not quite meet their views, and hold aloof from the Welsh Church because it is foreign in origin and alien in character. A free Welsh Episcopal Church would do a great service to the Welsh Nation by bringing into religious association many thousands of people who at present have none. These ideas of the basis and results of Welsh disestablishment are permeating all creeds and classes in Wales-the Episcopal clergy no less than ministers of other denomina- tions and this fact is the justification of Mr. Lloyd-George's belief that the change will shortly come by consent. It behoves Welsh Nonconformity to approach the question in a generous spirit. Let there be no niggardliness in regard to the terms on which the emancipated Church, so long accustomed to lean on State support, will be set free to go forth on her new mission. This great act of religious equality would be worth a high price. It would purify the atmosphere of the whole Principality, and stimulate every excellent cause. We have had progressively religious proscription, religious persecution, religious tolerance, religious liberty -it is full time that we now have, once for all, religious equality; and then the last dregs of bitterness will be removed from the cup of brotherhood. Best of all, the liberation of the Welsh Church would be a tt!nmph for Welsh Nation- ality. Instead of being simply for dioceses of the province of Canterbury-a mere appanage of an English See—it would become a Welsh National Church. Another great national in- stitution would be added to the Welsh patrimony. The Welsh Church would no longer be under an English Primate, but under a Welsh Primate. One can understand that the truest of the Welsh clergy should be ready for such a con- summation and indeed long for it. May its realisation come quickly PHILIP THOMAS.
MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH ON WELSH DISESTABLISHMENT. Speaking at Newborough, Anglesey, on Saturday evening, Mr. Ellis Griffith made an important declaration on Welsh Disestablish- ment. He said: "The position of Welsh Disestablishment depends on a private assurance given by the Prime Minister to Sir Alfred Thomas and Mr. Lloyd George, and upon the satisfaction which both have expressed with this assurance given to them. The mere fact that three Welsh members are included in the Ministry is also a pledge that they are satisfied with the intention of the Liberal Government in regard to this question. Under these circumstances it might not seem necessary to allude further to the matter, but to accept the position thus accorded to the great Welsh question which has stood in the forefront of Welsh politics for 40 years, and which has been the main factor in gaining Wales over to the Liberal party. It must be remembered, however, that it is not so much a question of the intention of the Liberal Govern- ment as one of whether the question is to be placed before the country in such a way at the present moment that an electoral victory for the Liberal party will give them a mandate to pass the Welsh Disestablishment Bill. Mandate or no Mandate. This is the real issue—mandate or no mandate. It is fairly clear that, generally speak- ing, a mandate must depend not upon private assurances, but upon public declarations, and it would have been far more satisfactory for the Welsh people if the subject of Welsh Dis- establishment had taken its place amongst the other measures which the Liberal party and the Liberal leaders intend to pass into law in the coming Parliament. It is in this connection that Welsh Liberals have scanned with care the election addresses and public speeches of the leaders in the Liberal Cabinet. It would be idle to conceal the fact that there has been much disappointment produced by this perusal. The subject has not once been mentioned in any address published or speech delivered by any prominent member of the Cabinet or even the Ministry. Even at Wrexham, when the Prime Minister delivered a speech especially to the Welsh people, although he specially men- tioned a long list of proposed reforms dealing with labour questions and the better housing of the working classes, there was not even a hint of an intention to deal with the Established Church in Wales. Could not this omission be an argument of great force in the mouths of those who later on will make it their business to prove that the question was not before the country, and will they not have more force in their contention because that in his special appeal made in Wales to the Welsh people the Prime Minister did not once refer to the question which more than any other effects the Welsh people ? Significant Omission. "It is not as if other measures were also omitted, because from time to time several distinct references are specifically promised, and the omission of Welsh Disestablishment from this list is a significant fact which must be taken into account. Can it be said, in reply to the' Conservative party, say two years hence, that the question of Welsh Disestablishment was before the country in such a form that it gave the Cabinet the right to say that judgment had been pronounced upon it, and that they have a right to deal with it? Of course I am not referring to Wales only. The question is always before the electorate in Wales—but Wales cannot give the mandate. The mandate must come from the electors of Great Britain, and the question is whether they have had an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon the subject. It is not necessary to say that the House of Lords will do its best to throw out the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church. It is only now and during the next few days that we can take such steps as will make it impossible for them to say that the country has given no mandate. If the election takes place without the case being made absolutely clear it will mean an uncertainty as to the position of Welsh Disestablishment, and I hold that the first available moment should be taken advan- tage of to place the matter beyond the region of controversy."
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