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A see for a Cecil (I)

21 October 2016

October 20th, 1916.

QUIDNUNCS and prophets have again been mistaken, and indeed they may well be forgiven for having failed to discern in the Rector of Bishop’s Hatfield a possible Bishop of Exeter. Lord William Cecil took his degree — apparently a pass degree — from one of the less distinguished Oxford colleges, he was ordained to the curacy of Great Yarmouth, and after two years there went to Bishop’s Hatfield, where he has since remained. His interests have lain chiefly in mission work in the far East, and one of his two books deals with changing China. Amiable, earnest and unconventional to the verge of eccentricity, he might have died a simple rural dean if he had been plain John Smith. But the political services of the Cecils can hardly be overlooked, even in a democratic age, and the Bishop-designate’s three brothers have perhaps earned the right to more distinctions than they can themselves enjoy. We may, however, be permitted to express a doubt whether their united efforts in defence of the Establishment will avail to counterbalance the effect of an appointment which so strongly suggests family and political influence rather than personal qualifications for so responsible a post. The recent appointments to vacant sees have caused many Churchmen to ask themselves afresh whether the Church would not do well, at any cost, to recover for herself the right of selection, as well as that of election which she still nominally retains. A heavy task awaits Lord William Cecil in the West, and we wish him all success in accomplishing it. But at the same time it is quite necessary to say plainly what is in many minds.


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