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The New Zealand Evangelist

The West Riding

The West Riding.

The West Riding of Yorkshire has again been the field on which a great principle—not Reform or Free Trade, but Protestantism, or rather Evangelism—has been contended for. The avowed intention of the present Government to endow Popery in Ireland, and the unequivocal desires that the leading men of both the great parties in the state have repeatedly shown, to go to Rome for help in their difficulties with the Irish, have roused up to great activity the protestant feeling of the Empire, but not so much the political as the evangelical protestantism of the country. At almost every recent election the strength of parties has been tried on this question.

The death of the Earl of Carlisle, and the elevation of his son, Lord Morpeth, to the peerage, caused page 57 a vacancy in the West Riding. The Whig party brought forward Mr. Fitzwilliam, third son of Earl Fitzwilliam; but from this gentleman's youth, and his indecision upon the endowment of Popery, his friends soon saw that there was no prospect of his being returned, and he withdrew. The Religious or Evangelical party brought forward Sir Culling E. Eardley, the President of the Evangelical Alliance, and the Treasurer of the London Missionary Society; a man of unquestioned piety, and thoroughly conversant with the Popish controversy. The secular political parties, Whig and Tory, coalesced, and brought forward Mr. Denison, a moderate conservative, highly respected as a legislator, and who formerly represented the county, but was ousted at last election by Mr. Cobden. Against this powerful combination of secular interests, the simply religious principle appeared to have little chance in the struggle. At the close of a keen contest the parties stood thus, in round numbers; Mr. Denison, 15,000 votes; Sir Culling Eardley, 12,000. But although Sir Culling was defeated, Protestantism was triumphant; Mr. Denison, in order to secure his return, pledged himself, in the strongest manner, to oppose the endowment of Popery in Ireland.

In watching the progress of events, nothing appears more evident, than that religion, true and false, is becoming every year more earnest, and a more important and tangible element in society—that the party or statesman, who overlooks it, is counting without his host—and that the church or the christian, that is indifferent, will soon disappear from the contest. Constituencies are becoming more and more alive to the importance of securing “good men,” as much as “good measures.” They are becoming more and more convinced of the value of sound religious principles and high moral character —and that these qualities, so generally prized in domestic servants, are still more valuable in the servants of the state. Other things being equal, the best men will always make the best patriots.