April 17, 1876
A club, called “The Church Club,” has been formed in Liverpool. The leading men in this new organisation are well-known local Conservatives; the meetings of the club take place at the Law Association Rooms, Cook Street, and its object is “to afford opportunity to Churchmen to meet as Churchmen for the consideration of Church matters.”
Some proceedings that have lately taken place in connection with this “Church Club” show a very exclusive and certainly not a very Christian spirit, and great indignation has thereby been caused among what may be called middle-class Churchmen. Several respectable tradesmen – and the names of three well-known gentlemen have been mentioned – recently applied to be admitted as members, but they were refused because they were “tradesmen.”
Now, if this club was a very aristocratic one – composed of the members of old county families – this exclusive conduct might be understood; for the Tory “blue woods,” whatever they may say at election times, do not care about associating with “common tradespeople,” even if the association should be for the consideration of a subject to dear to the Tory heart as “Church matters.” But the Liverpool Church Club cannot in any sense be considered an aristocratic assemblage.
Certainly, some of its members cannot be said to be aristocrats in virtue of either their present position or descent. Several of the would-be exclusives are, it is said, not very un-remotely connected with the “butchering business;” others are solicitors in practice; and a few are gentlemen who have not been eminently prosperous in commerce. Yet these are the persons forming a club that assumes aristocratic airs, and forbids Liverpool Churchmen who happen to be tradesmen to enter its sacred precincts.
The lesson ought not to be thrown away. It will afford another illustration, if one were needed, of the hollowness of the professions of the so-called Tory “defenders of the Church.” At election times, or when assistance is needed, the Tory leaders are hail-fellow-well-met with working men and tradesmen. Then they affect to forget class distinction, and we have heard a working man boast that at the last election Mr —– actually took him by the arm and walked down the street with him.
This condescension can be conveniently laid aside, and the cut direct can be given, when no help is required, with charming coolness, by Conservative leaders to their humble following. The truth is drawing upon the Tory tradesmen that whatever boats of equality take place at election seasons, however some of the leaders may at times fraternise with them for political purposes, at heart some of these lenders are exclusive snobs, as this incident of the Church Club and the tradesmen fully proves.
(Liverpool Mercury: April 17, 1876)