Project Canterbury

The Life of Charles Alan Smythies
Bishop of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa

By Gertrude Ward

Edited by Edward Francis Russell, M.A.

London: Offices of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, 1899.

Chapter I. Childhood--School and College Life--Curate and Vicar, 1844-1884

CHARLES ALAN SMYTHIES was born in London on August 6, 1844. His father, the Rev. Charles Norfolk Smythies, Vicar of St. Mary, The Walls, Colchester, had married Isabella, the daughter of Admiral Sir Eaton Travers, of Great Yarmouth. Their life together was, However, of short duration, for in December 1847 he died of consumption, leaving three little boys--Henry, who died in his ninth year; Charles Alan, the subject of this Memoir; Palmer, who later on entered the Navy, and is living still. Isabella Travers is described as a beautiful girl, with deep religious instincts. One who knew her intimately remembers still her singular reverence for holy things, quiet confidence in prayer, and, later on, her devotion the religious training of her children. After the death of her husband she stayed on at Colchester for some years, and during the latter part of this time Charles went to school at Felstead. In or about the year 1857, Mrs. Smythies moved with her children to Swanage, to be near her brother, the Rev. Robert Duncan Travers, Rector of Swanage, but partly also to gain for her children the advantages of the kindlier air of the Dorset coast. In 1858 she married the Rev. George Alston, Rector of the neighbouring parish of Studland, and this beautiful spot became henceforth the home of the boys. It would have been difficult to have found for them anywhere lovelier or more delightful or more healthful surroundings. The inhabited portion of the parish is shut off from Swanage by smooth downs that mount, ridge beyond ridge, in huge undulations up to a considerable height, affording from their highest ridge a superb view seawards and landwards. The village itself, housing in scattered cottages some six hundred souls, lies in a hollow of these downs; and here, screened from the winds, and, as it were, in the focus of the sunshine, every green thing grows luxuriantly. Lofty and well-formed trees overarch the paths, and the picturesque cottages, with their roofs of thatch or stone, are draped, from chimney-top to foot, with climbing plants. In the centre of the village, at the meeting-point of many shady paths, is the ancient church of St. Nicholas, patron of sailors. This building dates back as far as the twelfth century; it is pure Norman, very simple in plan--a nave and tiny chancel with a dwarf tower rising from the roof at the point where nave and chancel meet. Time has weathered the stone into a beautiful pearly grey, dappled here and there with rich brown stains of iron, and the green and gold of fern and moss. The churchyard is disposed in irregular fashion on the steep slope of the hill; two yew trees of great age stand to the west, and beneath their shadow lie the graves of George Alston and his wife. Stately elms twine arms all about the boundary of the churchyard, but leave openings here and there, with glimpses of blue sea. The .old circular font still remains within the church, and in the tower the ancient bells, and owls, as ancient in their lineage as the tower itself.

The rectory nearby is a modern gabled building, with no pretence to beauty, save for the long tresses of the creepers which clothe its walls. From it a winding path descends somewhat rapidly to the shore of Studland Bay, its beach of fine, loose sand that the wind lifts easily into smoke-like clouds. This shore extends northwards in a gentle curve for two or more miles to the mouth of Poole Harbour, and southwards and seawards for about a r mile, when it ends abruptly in a rocky headland. At the northern extremity of the parish is a broad belt of moorland, raised but little above the level of the sea. It is remarkable for the variety and perfection of its moorland plants--the Osmunda, for instance, which grows breast-high in broad patches. A mere of considerable extent, silent and tranquil, and surrounded by an almost impenetrable tangle of brushwood, forms a very paradise for wild birds which build their nests in safety among the reeds. Grey herons wade sedately in the shallows, and gulls wild duck rest on its quiet surface, or wheel at r ease overhead. There could scarcely be a more charming playground for a lad of spirit who had a taste for natural objects. As a matter of fact, it was much more than this to Charles Smythies, for here he learned many things of inestimable value to him in later years. The spot presented in miniature many of the features of his future African diocese--the sea-shore, the swamp, and the tangled bush, in which it is so difficult to make one's way, and so easy to get lost. In this place he was able to gain considerable experience in woodcraft and in the ways of wild creatures, and to learn how to use eyes and hands and feet He became an excellent shot, and in his boat could beat into Poole Harbour when older boatmen shook their heads at the weather. And all this knowledge proved eventually of the greatest service to him, not only relieving and giving interest to his long, lonely, monotonous journeys in Africa, but enabling him on many occasions to pilot his caravans, and save them from threatened disaster.

Those who love to trace the hand of God in the fortunes of men will see it not only in this, but also in the fact that, when the time came to choose a school for the boy, his parents were led to the grammar school of Milton Abbas, at that time under the care of the Rev. James Penny. [The Rev. James Penny, Scholar of St. John's College, Cambridge, Rector of Stapleton.] Charles Smythies could scarcely have come under a happier or more really educative influence, and in later years he was never tired of telling how much he owed to the affection and wise methods of his master. At a time when, in most schools, everything was sacrificed to intellectual distinction, Mr. Penny--himself a scholar, and loving scholarship--had the courage to give the first place to character and physique. An excellent naturalist, he possessed the art of inspiring his pupils with his own love of natural things, and with the desire to come into closer and more intelligent relationship with all they saw about them. And this contact with 'wild and fair Nature' he counted as one of the most efficient instruments of real training. Thanks to his happy methods, a delicacy which Charles Smythies inherited from his father entirely disappeared, and the spare, weed-like form of an overgrown boy filled out gradually into that fine commanding presence which made him always conspicuous among men, and won for him in later times the admiration and the homage of his African flock. School life at Milton Abbas developed also in him a manly English delight in adventure, in difficult tasks and feats of endurance, and a certain dignified self-possession which never forsook him.

The Rev. A. E. Eaton, one of his schoolfellows, recalls his simple, undemonstrative piety at Milton Abbas:

It showed itself more in act than in words, though he could speak out plainly enough when occasion required. Religion without cant pervaded his daily life, and controlled his actions unobtrusively; it was shown in his forbearance when provoked, in his diligent application to work, and in his thoughtfulness for other people. Always good-natured, if he chanced to meet a child fetching water from a spring, or an old man toiling up a hill with a bundle of sticks, he would ease him of his load, and carry it to his cottage door. He was above talking 'goody-goody,' and hardly ever mentioned religious subjects, except maybe in discussing the preacher's sermon on the way from church. Those who seemed to preach only because they had to say something were duly distinguished from those who preached and really had something to say. On several occasions he gave timely counsel and advice to younger boys in matters of right and wrong, and helped them to retrieve their characters and to regain self-respect as well as the esteem of others. There was no trouble at this school about kneeling for private prayer in the bedrooms; everyone did that. But Smythies, unlike most of his fellows, had the habit of reading the Bible on his own account daily, lingering for the purpose in the schoolroom with imposition-writers, when the breakfast-bell rang. Others adopted the same practice whose good influence as laymen or clerics is now widely extended. By the time that he was head of the school, swearing had come to be reckoned 'bad form,' and the dread of his hand had caused bullying to cease. At most games he was a fairly good player, especially at hockey and football; but a fondness for Natural History often led him far away from the cricket field. He and his fidus Achates were privileged to go wherever they pleased for walks, to botanise and entomologise, on the understanding that they would abstain from bird's-nesting, this being tabooed on account of complaints from landowners. Their wanderings on whole holidays extended from twenty to thirty miles, and sometimes involved swimming across the Stour with their clothes tied in bundles on their heads. Some of the masters shared the same tastes for Natural History, especially Mr. Penny, and enjoyed the joke of being shown specimens of local plants and insects which they knew without asking must have come from Lord So-and-so's park or Squire Somebody's preserves. For winter he had other hobbies, such as led him to commanding hills and the chief places of interest around Blandford, and in the course of his rambles many were the country churches visited and searched for ancient brasses, bits of Saxon work, and all sorts of precious relics of the past. Music was not one of his strong points. His renderings of 'Auld lang syne' and 'God save the Queen' were things to be remembered.

The time spent at Milton Abbas school was one of the happiest memories of the Bishop's life. It often came back upon him in the African forest, and he would write long and interesting letters to his old master, describing the strange forms of vegetation and of animal life that came under his notice, and sometimes would send a contribution to the school museum.

Mrs. Penny writes of the time spent under their roof:

He lived the life of an ordinary English schoolboy, ever a general favourite with all from his warm and loving heart and most sympathetic nature, always an observer of persons and things, with good judgment and sound common-sense; very tolerant to the failings of others and humble in his opinion of himself, not especially a scholar, yet rising to be head of the school before he left to go to Trinity, Cambridge, in October 1863.

In later years he frequently paid visits to his old school. Once he had to pass it in the train without stopping. He wrote afterwards to Mrs. Penny:

I looked out lovingly and longingly to catch every wood and every bit of road and river. They came back to me like old friends, with a shade of something rather sad, though not unpleasantly so.

The holidays were, of course, spent at Stud land. An attempt to glean some memories of the Bishop's boyhood from the Studland cottagers was not conspicuously successful. Very few indeed are living still who knew him there. Of these the most hopeful was one who had been formerly cook at the rectory. We found her in a charming cottage, a miracle of dainty cleanliness, fresh and sweet; but the past was a faded picture to the old lady, and she could contribute no more to this Memoir than the fact that ... 'Master Charlie were a rare 'un to lay abed a-mornings!'

In October 1863 Smythies went up to Cambridge and entered at Trinity College. It would be interesting if we could make out the part that his Cambridge life played in shaping him for his future work, but unfortunately there is almost no information to be had. The wise freedom of his school life, and the trustfulness of his masters, had doubtless prepared him for the larger freedom and graver responsibilities of the university. The religious training of home and school helped him also, beyond doubt, to keep his feet steady and his soul untarnished in the perilous springtide of life, when a man finds himself at the parting of the ways, face to face with aims and ideals diverse as heaven and hell. It is a dazzling and bewildering and fateful experience. And the turning to the right or left is determined often by the most trivial circumstance--the accident of a place in hall or in the boat, or a room upon a particular staircase. The intellectual enthusiasms and ambitions of a university are for some a great safeguard; they furnish an absorbing interest which at least reduces a man's leisure, and often his inclinations to go astray. To others, athletics give wholesome occupation; they train men to endure, and help towards mastery over the animal that is in us all. There is no evidence that Smythies was greatly occupied with either. He did his work honestly and steadily, and in the secret 'forge and workshop' of his soul met the inevitable struggles of young manhood, and stood fast. The few reminiscences of his time at Cambridge agree in this, that he lived a quiet, blameless, serious, yet buoyant life, in no way conspicuous, or, as one of his friends puts it,' with none of those extremes of vice or virtue which make a biography interesting." His chief recreation seems to have been in taking long walks. This was a characteristic of his boyhood, and remained so throughout life.

What spiritual influences touched him at Cambridge we know but imperfectly. There was no dearth at that time of men of religious mind amongst the dons and clergy of the town; but they were strangely inaccessible to us, strangely silent, strangely shy of saying anything of a spiritual sort by way of warning or encouragement to the undergraduates. We were much thrown back upon ourselves, and our experiments were often more creditable to our heart than to our judgment. Evangelical parents were wont to arm their sons with an introduction to Mr. Clayton of Caius, a good man, upon whom a portion of the mantle of Charles Simeon had fallen. The letter would be duly presented and as duly honoured by an invitation to breakfast, and there, for the larger number of course, the matter ended. For those whom it was the fashion of the time to call 'muscular Christians,' there were the occasional visits of Charles Kingsley. Men read his books with enthusiasm, and applauded his lectures, and listened to his sermons with an attention that they gave to no one else. It was a wholesome, bracing, stimulating influence, but I do not think that it touched Smythies directly. The 'High Church' undergraduate had not much choice of spiritual guides. The only organisation for his religious benefit was the 'Theological Society' (S. T. C.), at that time under the presidency of the Rev. George Williams, senior Fellow of King's, a man of great learning and real piety, and profoundly interested in the Eastern Church. Those of us who had the courage to brave out the frost of a far from encouraging manner found at last beneath it a warm and sympathetic heart. At his rooms we met from time to time for prayer and the study of theology, and--so far as our awe of him allowed--for discussion. From time to time also he invited us to meet and hear various distinguished persons who had been to us but famous names only. On one occasion Tischendorff charmed us with the story of his discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus; on another the Count de Vogue discoursed to us on the ancient Christian cities of Central Syria, and showed us the plates of his interesting book. Amongst other noteworthy visitors I remember Dr. Pusey, who impressed us profoundly, first of all by being so totally unlike what we expected him to be, and then by his singular and beautiful humility. Smythies belonged to this society, and shared with us its good influences. I expect that Stephen Bridge, a Trinity man of his own standing, introduced him there. [The present Vicar of St. Paul's, Herne Hill.] It was to him that Smythies owed his first distinct realisation of the Church as the Body of Christ, and the sacraments as the channels of divine grace.

In 1867 he took his degree, and for a year or so after his degree was engaged in teaching a young man, with whom he travelled on the Continent.

In October 1868 he went to the theological college at Cuddesdon, and at once became, what he continued to be until the close of his life, the devoted disciple and friend of
its most winning Principal, Dr. King, the present Bishop of Lincoln. It is a dangerous thing for a Cuddesdon man of the period from 1863 to 1873 to start upon the subject of 'the Principal.' We are full of memories, full of the sense of deepest obligation to one who always seemed to us the living embodiment of those great ideals of priestly love and sacrifice and holiness, which, at his feet, we learned to revere and long after. It is not easy to speak of such things with soberness. Let it suffice to say that Smythies counted his friendship with Dr. King as one of the very best of the good gifts of God. Many of us landed in Cuddesdon more or less like wild birds, fresh from the unlimited freedom and unlimited self-pleasing of our university, to find ourselves in an atmosphere of a wholly new, and, at first, by no means wholly satisfying order. It was a wonder to see how soon the wild birds settled down to the restraints of ordered life, ordered prayer and work, and worship and play--how soon they came to find the yoke sweet. After the grace of God, it was the magic of 'the Principal's' personal influence that worked this wonder. Smythies gained much in his year at Cuddesdon, both in self-discipline and in spiritual power. He brought in also his own personal contribution to the tone and style of the place, to that sum and product of many influences which together made the college just the happiest, helpfullest place in all the world. The Rev. V. S. S. Coles, [The present Librarian of Pusey House] who was a contemporary of Smythies, writes:

Certainly, at that time, Cuddesdon was not wanting in liveliness. It could not have been, while George Swinny was a student; and amongst those who gave opportunity to his bright and boyish wit, the future Bishop must be included. [Rev. George Swinny died in Nyasaland, 1887.] No two men could have been more suited to play off, by contrast and repartee, each other's characteristic points; no two were more united in that depth of character, which, crowned by grace, led them both to give their lives to Africa. But it would have been a great mistake to think that Smythies' peculiarity meant nothing more than this. As the eldest of a large double family, he had, while quite young, been somewhat fatherly in his home relations, and he became the trusted friend of more than one younger or weaker than himself at Cuddesdon.

In 1869 Smythies was ordained deacon, and priest in 1871, serving his first curacy at Great Marlow. Here he stayed nearly three years, devoting himself chiefly to the boys. It was here that he made the acquaintance of one to whom through all his later life he looked up as to a mother--Mrs. Wethered.

Whenever during his episcopate he had to come to England, he never failed to spend at least some days with this friend of his early ministerial life. Weakened with fever and wearied by his great journeys to the lake, he turned to her for shelter, and in her home and beautiful garden, and in the affectionate care of the whole household, found perfect rest and refreshment.

In 1872 Smythies accepted the invitation of the Rev. F. W. Puller to join him in his new work at Roath, Cardiff. The two men had been contemporaries at Trinity, Cambridge, but had only known each other slightly; their intimacy, so full of profit to Smythies, and I doubt not, to his vicar also, began at Cardiff. Mr. Puller had just been appointed Vicar of Roath, and found himself face to face with problems and tasks of no ordinary difficulty. The town was entering upon that extraordinary transformation which in a few years has raised it from a position of merely local importance to its present distinguished place as the successful rival of the ancient port of Bristol. In 1872 the parish of Roath numbered 7,000 inhabitants; it has now 40,000. One who knew it well at this time writes:

This rapid growth and varied immigration made it more like a colonial town than any other place in the United Kingdom. . . . Probably in no place in England was the English Church so weak numerically.

Such a condition of things offered special difficulties and special opportunities to the work of the clergy. But it needed a man of faith and courage and patience, and of more than common ability, to face it with any hope of success. Mr. Puller brought all this to his formidable task, and the people of Roath did not take long to discover it and respond to it. They found in him a rare maturity of mind and character, a treasury of exact and varied learning, and, best of all, a deep spirituality and a deep concern for the souls of men. It will surprise no one to hear that Smythies counted it a joy and an inspiration to serve under such a chief. From the first he looked up to him and obeyed him with the utmost confidence, submitted all his plans to him, and even as Bishop leant upon him as the wisest of his counsellors. In his turn Smythies placed at his Vicar's disposal a force and volume of practical ability without which his influence upon the parish would have been far less effective. The two men were complemental to each other, as hand to soul and soul to hand. Mr. Puller taught with great ability from the pulpit, in classes, at meetings, and in his study. Smythies carried the message out into the crowded streets and lanes of the city; he was continually in the parish, visiting from house to house, and thus bringing influence to bear upon a great number of persons. In particular he devoted himself to the boys; he loved to have them about him, threw himself enthusiastically into all their interests, their work, and their play, taught them individually with the utmost care and patience, and went after them if they strayed, refusing to be refused. One of his old boys relates of him that he never stooped to compromise or to abate the claims of truth and duty in order to retain the affection of his lads, but told them the simple truth, in plain, unadorned speech, without hesitation and without apology. [Mr. A. E. Hooper, plasterer, of Roath, to whom I am indebted for many interesting reminiscences, condensed into the few lines here given.] To glide gracefully over the points of faith and duty which happened for the moment to be unpopular, to let them drop into the background, or to veil them in a mist of generalities, was a form of prudence which he detested He was never content to leave a principle 'in the air' and unapplied. When, for instance, he was teaching his lads the Christian duty of self-denial, he did not hesitate to claim from them, poor though they were, specific acts of sacrifice. He taught them to keep Lent and Fridays, to make their confession, and to communicate regularly and frequently.

It was this habit of straight, frank speech--one element of his conspicuous manliness--that gained for him the ear and heart of the men of the parish. They flocked to the special services that he arranged for them, and were content to give up part of the precious dinner-hour to listen to his preaching in their workshops.

The happy partnership in work was at last broken in 1880 by Mr. Puller's resignation. He resigned in order that he might enter the religious community of St. John, Cowley; but not before he knew that the patrons of the living were willing to appoint Smythies in his place. This softened the blow to many who were pained at the prospect of the loss of one to whom they owed so much, and clergy and people accepted their new vicar with entire loyalty, as one whose worth they had tested, and who might be expected to build without break upon the deep and solid foundations which Mr. Puller had laid with such patient self-restraint. In this new position of responsibility Smythies began at once to show signs of those gifts of generalship which found their full development in his later work as Bishop. New organisations for different classes of persons were started, and fuller expression was given to the great Catholic truths which for eight years the people had been sedulously taught. He began the daily Eucharist, and the children's Eucharist, and added much to the beauty and solemnity of public worship. After a Mission he founded a little Home and Work of Mercy, and committed it to the care of the East Grinstead Sisters. The Home has worked much good, and is still flourishing.

Meanwhile the rapid growth of the population demanded imperatively the building of a new church. Smythies threw himself with all his abounding energy into the distasteful work of begging. He would sit up night after night, and far into the night, writing appeals, and made many expeditions to various towns and country houses to plead the claims of his people. The stately church of St. German's remains as the abiding fruit of his zealous labour.

Amongst the organisations which he started was an association in support of foreign Missions.

Roath Missionary Association (writes his friend and colleague, the Rev. J. E. Dawson,) [Now Vicar of St. Saviour's, Cardiff] was one of those on which he bestowed special interest and attention. During the long vacancy in the Bishopric of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, which followed the death of Bishop Steere, Mr. Smythies made it a rule in the meetings of the Missionary Association to have special intercession offered for the appointment of a fitting successor.

It occurred to no one to suspect in what way God would answer that prayer.

In the middle of July 1883 he received a letter from the Bishop of London, offering him the bishopric of the Universities' Mission:

I well know (the Bishop writes) the sacrifice which the acceptance of such an offer demands, but I doubt whether there is another Missionary field so full of hope and interest. . . . The interest in it at home is great and growing; and it is the object of many prayers.

To this Smythies sent at once the following characteristic refusal:

My Lord,--In answer to your letter received to-day, I feel that I can say at once that in many ways I am not fitted for the post which you wish to offer me. But I am intensely interested in the Central African Mission, and I do think that to be its Bishop is to fill one of the most honourable posts in Christendom. Such being my feeling, and your Lordship having offered that post to me, who feel myself entirely incompetent, perhaps I may venture to say that I do know of one man who is admirably fitted for the office of Bishop of Central Africa in everyway, and on whom I think every pressure ought to be put to induce him to accept it--I mean the Rev. F. W. Puller, who is now at the Cape, and who gave up the incumbency of this parish to join the Society of St. John the Evangelist, solely, I believe, from his zeal for Mission work, and especially Mission work abroad. I have every means of knowing Mr. Puller's character, as I worked with him and lived in the same house with him for two years in this place. During that time he won a place in the confidence and respect of the late venerable Bishop of Llandaff, and enjoyed the esteem of all who knew him to a very high degree. For Christian courtesy and tact, for wide theological reading, for the power of study in the midst of distractions, for intense belief in Missions and zeal on their behalf, I certainly have never met anyone superior to Mr. Puller; added to these he has a fair and calm judgment and is a good classical scholar, reading the Fathers in the original with ease, and speaking French like a native, and therefore presumably having the power of acquiring languages. Mr. Puller has also the gift of attracting men to himself and keeping them loyal to him. Few parishes are more fortunate in their staff of clergy than this. There are seven clergy, three of whom work without stipend. Three have been here for some years besides myself. I dare say I may get some credit for this, but it is really due to Mr. Puller. It was he who made the work attractive--three of our staff having worked as my fellow-curates under him, and two others--the only two who have left the parish in eleven years--leaving for important reasons, and for posts of responsibility. And if, my Lord, you were to ask any one of us who have worked with Mr. Puller, or the clergy of the Rural Deanery who used to listen to him, or the people here who know and love him, there is not one I believe who could not say that Mr. Puller is in every way fitted for the office of Bishop of Central Africa. It is very seldom indeed that any man can be found to unite scholarly refinement with missionary zeal and power of influence to the degree in which they are united in Mr. Puller, and it seems to us a very sad thing if so important a post should be given to inferior men when we believe it would be so exactly to the taste of one so well fitted to fill it. My Lord, I trust you will forgive my having used your offer to me as a permission to say so much, and I hope you will believe it is only from a most sincere desire that the best man should be secured for the Mission. I can only say this, that if circumstances were such as to make me think it my duty to leave the post to which God has called me at the present time, I can think of no other post which would have a greater claim upon me than that of Chaplain to Mr. Puller if he were called to the Bishopric of Central Africa.

I remain, my Lord, with earnest prayer that God may guide your Lordship and those who have the choice,

Your obedient Son and Servant,

Smythies followed up his appeal on behalf of Fr. Puller by a visit to Cowley, but to his disappointment Fr. Benson, at that time Superior of the Society of St. John, gave him no encouragement. The Committee of the Mission had therefore to recommence their search for another name to submit to the Bishop of London. They needed a man of many and singular qualifications; such men are rare, and of these rarities none seemed willing or able to accept the perilous honour. In their extremity they returned to Smythies, and begged him to reconsider his decision. This he consented to do, for the months of fruitless search and waiting had been fruitful at least in this, they had supplied him with a new indication of the will of God. He besought the prayers and counsel of his friends, and finally wrote to the Bishop accepting the sacred charge. An account of his acceptance he communicated in a letter to his flock in the Parish Magazine:

You will know by this time (he wrote) that I have been called away from here, where I have been with you so long. I had thought that there was nothing which would make it seem my duty to leave Roath, and I looked forward, if it so pleased God, to spending my life amongst you. In such a quickly-growing population I knew there must be change and rearrangements, but I still thought I should pass my days in some part of this parish. But God seems to wish it otherwise, and you know the great point of our religion is to find out God's will, and make that our own. I shrank very much indeed from the thought of leaving you when I was first asked to do so; but a summons came again in such a way that I could not refuse to listen, and, as all the obstacles which I foresaw were removed, I began to think that it must be God's will that I should go.

After explaining the arrangements which had been made with regard to his successor, and the work of the parish, he continued:

If God is calling me, He will not let anyone really suffer by my obeying that call. As to myself, it does not very much matter where we live or how long we live, if we only try to live nobly and obediently.

Charles Alan Smythies was consecrated Bishop on St. Andrew's Day, 1883, at St. Paul's Cathedral, by the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Bishops of Llandaff, London, Oxford, Carlisle, Bedford, and Bishop Tozer (the predecessor of Bishop Steere in the Central African Mission) assisting. The sermon was preached by Dr. King, who at the close of his sermon thus referred to his work at Roath:

The ability and assiduity with which you presided over a parish of more than twenty thousand souls; the faithfulness and wisdom with which you declared to them the whole counsel of God; the patience, tenderness, and courage with which as a priest of God you laboured to set free and teach individual souls; the respect, gratitude, and love which clergy and laity, rich and poor, have long felt for you, and recently, on more than one occasion, made known; the simplicity and self-forgetting trustfulness with which you have given yourself to this new service, to serve your Lord, not knowing, not questioning, what the future of your life or death may be: all this, and more, gives us good ground for hoping that you will go to your new and harder work supported by the prayers of many hearts, and encouraged by the evidence God has already given you of His presence with you and His love.

The Bishop returned to Roath to bid farewell to his friends.

When I speak and think of 'home' (he said), Roath is the place that I shall always mean--the place of happiest memories and most sacred associations, of many blessings sent by God to help me.

He left Roath on January 14, and on the 16th sailed for Africa.

Project Canterbury