Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties - Vol. 1

By M. Ostrogorski; Frederick Clarke | Go to book overview

THIRD CHAPTER
ATTEMPTS AT REACTION

I

THE exodus had commenced. But whether it was that the mountain from which the promised land could be descried was too distant and too lofty for some, or that others saw the paths leading to the new Canaan blocked by the rising torrent of individualism and were afraid of perishing in the wilderness with their kith and kin, cries of alarm and distress were raised in various quarters, and retrograde movements were attempted after several stages of the journey had been passed.

The first attempt at reaction came from the Church. It was the Church which, identified with the State and inextricably bound up with the ruling class, best symbolized the old one and indivisible order which covered the whole surface of society. And it was against the Church that was directed the first revolt of the repressed individual, of the individual conscience bent on asserting its relations with the Creator. From the second half of the eighteenth century the contending sects and the spirit of doubt and negation which invaded educated society worked continual havoc in the Church. When the State itself was obliged, from and after the year 1828, to sever one by one the legal ties which bound the citizen to the Church, the illusion even of external conformity was destroyed, and the confusion in the spiritual sphere became only too visible. It was then that champions of the Church arose at Oxford who sought to restore the old unity, men like Newman, Pusey, Keble, and Froude, subtle theologians and refined and tender poets. Their ardent imagination made them see the vast structure of the Established Church totter to its base, the crash of its falling ruins seemed to smite upon their ears, and they recoiled in mental affright, like a rider who reins in with a jerk on the brink of

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