Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/399

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379
THE CHURCH

changes. Amid the "clash of new ideas," the inrush of mechanical invention, the progress in every branch of industry and science, the Church alone had remained "inert and lethargic."[1] Bishops in the early nineteenth century were still "amiable scholars," living in dignified ease apart from their clergy, Church patronage was in the hands of the large landowners, "faculty pews and rented sittings absorbed the best parts of the churches, and the poor were edged out into the corners of the aisles and the backs of the galleries." The beautiful cathedrals of past ages were looked on as "interesting museums," "picturesque survivals of a barbarous past." But the restless activity of the age swept over the Church at the last The repeal of the Test Act in 1828, allowing Dissenters to occupy official posts in the State, forbidden heretofore, was followed by Catholic Emancipation the following year. The Reform Bill of 1832, placing power in the hands of the middle classes, who formed the backbone of Dissent in England, aroused Churchmen to a sense of danger. At the same time a general awakening in Literature and Art was taking place, men were everywhere yearning after more

  1. Wakeman