Chapter XIV. 1882.
St. Alban's parish in 1882--Renewed prosecution--Correspondence with Archbishop Tait--Mr. Mackonochie's motives--His resignation--Letters from Dean Church and the Bishop of London--Meeting of parishioners--Farewell sermon at St. Alban's
Twenty years had elapsed since the first Mission service had been held in the newly-formed district of St. Alban's, Holborn, awakening, as it would have seemed, but a transitory and half-indifferent interest in the minds of its inhabitants; but since those early days, in spite of many drawbacks and disappointments, much had been accomplished. The contrast between St. Alban's in 1862 and in 1882 was marked, and such as to strike even the most superficial observer. Even in material matters there had been a great advance. Many old courts and dilapidated tenement houses had been pulled down, giving place to widened streets and model lodging-houses. There were large parochial schools held in commodious buildings with an annual expenditure of 1,383l. The church offerings, inclusive of special subscriptions for church purposes, were over 1,000l. a year. There were numberless organisations for teaching every section of the population. A Recreation society, cricket and swimming clubs, night schools, guilds for men and women, girls and boys. The Perseverance Association, for keeping together the boy and girl communicants upon their leaving the Sunday schools, having as its aim ' to pilot them through a difficult period of life, and keep them together in a simple bond of good living.' The Church of England Working Men's Society and the English Church Union had each branches in connection with St. Alban's; nor were efforts wanting to reach those not immediately connected with the parish. Already, in 1877, Mr. Stanton had started St. Martin's League for men employed in the Post Office. About fifty sorters and letter-carriers joined it at the inaugural service, and since then it has year by year increased and prospered until there are now over 700 men upon its roll. It was in this year also that a series of lectures to men on science and literature were started in one of the schoolrooms after the Sunday evening service, and proved a decided success, attracting an average audience of about a hundred. In 1882 Mr. Mackonochie, in giving his usual report, was able to speak of the satisfactory state of the various organisations, and observe upon the bright outlook for the future.
It was in this year that Mr. Hubbard ceased to be patron of the living, handing over all the property which he had in the church and its surroundings to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's.
It might have seemed that now at last peace might be expected. The various prosecutions had been singularly fruitless of results. Even those most opposed to the church and parish were forced to acknowledge that whilst the latter was not neglected, the former had attracted a large and united congregation, whose only desire was to be let alone. But it was not to be.
In the spring of 1882 the irrepressible Church Association prepared a fresh lawsuit, with a view to enforcing Mr. Mackonochie's deprivation. This was a result which Mr. Martin, the original promoter, had especially deprecated; but it had become apparent that nothing less would satisfy those who now for the last fifteen years had been relentlessly prosecuting him.
It was on March 3 of this year that, being brought before the Royal Commission, he wrote to his brother:
As to yesterday it was very interesting. The questioners were the Archbishop of Canterbury in chief, the Bishops of Winchester and Oxford, and one or two side questions from people I did not know. One was Sir Richard Cross, but I only knew that from some one saying, 'You answered Sir R. Cross so and so ... York was not there, nor did I see any one who looked like Coleridge. The Archbishop tried hard to get me to accept the spiritual validity of Lord Penzance. He pressed that, as the two Archbishops had agreed to appoint him, his jurisdiction was valid, although the Act might be a bad one. We went into Disestablishment and to remedies short of it. Also they tried to push me into allowing that if all jurisdiction of courts had been got rid of, the personal jurisdiction of the Bishop revived. I had a hard fight with Winchester over that. As remedy short of disestablishment I gave free election of Bishops by the whole Episcopate, subject to a vote of either the clergy or the lay communicants of the diocese. This, I believe, is the ancient state of things. They asked me how long I thought this lapse dated from, and I said Constantine. They thought this a long time, but I said I could not help that--it was not my doing!
Matters were at a deadlock. It was perfectly clear that Mr. Mackonochie had no intention of receding an inch from the position which he had deliberately adopted. Every possible argument, threat, and means of persuasion had been tried, and tried in vain. During these past years of enforced warfare, with all their consequent suffering and weariness of spirit, his courage had never deserted him, and practically, in spite of adverse judgments and condemnations, his position was stronger than it had been at the beginning.
With a general desire for peace upon both sides there seemed little prospect of it so long as one section of the army was obstinately bent upon the prolongation of the contest. No doubt the vast majority of what has been called the Evangelical party in the Church of England had ceased to desire a temporary triumph, if it were only to be achieved at the cost of ultimate disruption; but the Church Association was pledged to fight to the last. Its promoters were slow to perceive that victory might be too dearly purchased. The Public Worship Act once put in motion was like a destructive engine over which its originators had lost control, and which could not easily be arrested. Its very approach was to have struck terror and cleared the course; it had not been anticipated that so many would have thrown themselves directly in its way.
There was one person upon whom the state of affairs weighed very heavily, and that person was the Archbishop. He was not only conscious of the importance of the crisis, but he felt very strongly the pressure of personal responsibility. He was well aware that his time for dealing with these and all the other vexed questions of the day was drawing to a close. As the 'Spectator' justly remarked:
Smaller and weaker men than the Archbishop would have tried to forget these prosecutions. . . . He would have pleased himself with the recollection that Ritualist controversies might fairly be handed on to his successor, and that in his state of health he was no longer bound to set right with his own hand mistakes which had been honestly made. The Archbishop did not so read his duty. Sickness only quickened his desire to undo his own error, and in the feebleness of approaching death that desire possessed him more and more.
Hence there arose the following correspondence between him and Mr. Mackonochie, of which the first letter was from the Primate:
Aldington Park, Croydon, November 10, 1882.
My dear Mr. Mackonochie,--My thoughts, so far as I am able at present to give steady thought to public matters, have naturally dwelt much upon the troubles and difficulties which have made themselves apparent in connection with recent ritual prosecutions. I am exceedingly anxious that the result of the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts should, by the blessing of Almighty God, be such as to allay disquiet, and by meeting any reasonable objections to existing procedure, to set men's minds free for the pressing duties which devolve upon the Church in the face of prevailing sin and unbelief. Anything which at this moment increases bitterness of feeling may do permanent mischief to the cause which we all have at heart. Anything which tends to preserve peace now will make a satisfactory solution of our difficulties far easier. I venture, therefore, privately to write to you, though I cannot yet do so with my own hand, to invite you seriously to consider whether you can in any way minimise the present feeling of bitterness which undoubtedly exists in some quarters.
I need not assure you that I do not wish in any way to dictate to you a course of action, but if you feel it possible, consistently with duty, to withdraw voluntarily by resignation of your benefice from further conflicts with the courts, I am quite sure you would be acting in the manner best calculated to promote the real power and usefulness of the Church to which we belong. I make this appeal to you under a strong sense of responsibility. You will, I think, feel with me that the circumstances under which I write are altogether exceptional, and you will, I know, give prayerful thought to the subject. I commend you to the guidance of Almighty God, and ask that He may give to us in these difficult times a right judgment in all things.
I remain yours very truly,
A. C. Cantuar.
To this letter Mr. Mackonochie at once returned the following reply:
St. Alban's Clergy House, Brooke Street, Holborn, November 11, 1882.
My dear Lord Archbishop,--Your kind letter of yesterday reached me last night. Your Grace will understand that in a matter of so deep importance I shall not answer definitely without that time for earnest seeking after the guidance of Almighty God to which you refer me, although, indeed, your Grace will not doubt that I have endeavoured to gain it and to act upon it throughout the troubled circumstances of the last sixteen years. It is a great regret to me that any of my concerns should be adding to the pressure of your Grace's anxieties under the severe illness which our Lord has sent to you. Therefore my final answer shall reach your Grace with as little delay as possible.
With earnest prayer for your Grace's restoration to health, Believe me, my dear Lord Archbishop,
Yours truly and very respectfully,
Alex. Heriot Mackonochie.
It was true that on all accounts he was most anxious that the time of suspense should not be prolonged. His own mind was one to arrive at a conclusion rapidly. There was not the haste of impatience, but rather a sort of instinctive desire to bring an argument to its legitimate conclusion and to convert thought into action. Moreover, the appeal addressed to him came from a dying man. The Archbishop had said that he could not yet write with his own hand; Mr. Mackonochie well knew that he would in all human probability never write again, and in the Archbishop's weakness his anxiety for an answer gathered strength, until his son-in-law, Mr. Davidson, felt constrained to write:
I think it only right to tell you that among the very few matters concerning the outside world which at present find a recurring place in his [the Archbishop's] thoughts, and in his conversations with me, is the private correspondence on which he has entered with you. I tell you this merely in case you should suppose from the doctor's bulletin that the Archbishop is at present too ill to receive any letters. It is not quite so, and he asks me every day if there is any letter for him from you. I am sure you will not misinterpret this letter. It is merely intended with the utmost respect to relieve you of any doubt you may be feeling as to whether you would be justified in writing at present to the Archbishop should you find it possible to do so.
It was in answer to this that Mr. Mackonochie at once promised to send a speedy and definite reply. No great time had elapsed; it will be remembered that the Archbishop's first letter was dated November 10, and this was only the 21st; but, as Mr. Mackonochie said, it had been 'much on his mind' not to have answered sooner, fearing delay might have been causing the Archbishop anxiety; anxiety in his own case also being probably even harder to bear than the full force of the blow which he already believed to be almost inevitable.
But yet he had not acted unadvisedly. As usual, he had referred the matter to his own court of appeal--that supreme tribunal of conscience whose decrees he had never as yet put aside, from motives of expediency or in deference to the adverse verdict of the world. He had from the first found his own mind tending in one direction, and felt that the responsibility of a final decision must rest with him; but he did not oppose the general wish that a meeting of the clergy should be convened to take counsel with him upon a question in which so many interests were involved. It was immediately after this meeting that in a letter dated November 23, 1882, he wrote:
The meeting which I was asked to wait for did not help much ... it was opposed for the most part to my own convictions; and yet with me it is immensely difficult to decide. The illness of the Archbishop and the tone of his letter as if from his grave has certainly weighed mostly with me; which perhaps is hardly right, as even the most pressing personal considerations have to give way before the public interests of the Church. However, I suppose I have determined to comply with the Archbishop's request. It seems to be God's will. I do believe I am quite indifferent personally. Indeed personally the line I am taking is a certain loss--not in money perhaps, but in leaving this place . . . Whatever happens, my leaving this will be, at first at any rate, set down as a victory for our enemies, both by friends and foes. I feel myself a little like Rehoboam, between his father's counsellors and his own, with the exception that I am following the elder counsellors and he the younger. ... I have promised to send off my letter to the Archbishop not later than to-morrow, so that the suspense will not be much longer.
As we read the short note we experience a momentary surprise. For the first time there is an expression of fear lest his heart should play the traitor to his conscience. But what are these pressing personal considerations which might, in his opinion, unduly affect his judgment? They have nothing to do with the question of individual loss or gain, they do not even touch upon the personal aspect of the sacrifice, the severance of old ties, the bitterness of parting, the apparent acknowledgment of failure. He notes these indeed, and they must have been vividly present to his mind; but, just to himself as to others, he sees no danger lest they should outweigh weightier considerations. With absolute unselfishness he is preoccupied with the sick Archbishop, and is conscious of a strong and almost exclusive desire to afford him consolation, which for the time casts a shadow of doubt upon the grounds upon which he had arrived at a conclusion. But such a doubt could be only transitory. And now he had taken counsel with his brethren, and his first determination remained unaltered, and on the evening of the same day upon which he had written the preceding note he wrote as follows to the Archbishop:
St. Alban's Clergy House, Brooke Street, November 23, 1882.
My dear Lord Archbishop,--I am sorry to have been obliged to add to your Grace's anxiety by a less speedy reply to your letter than I could have desired.
The subject of your letter has, I think, rarely been out of my mind since I received it, except when at times driven out by the press of active work.
The conclusion at which I have arrived is to acquiesce in your Grace's wish that I should resign my benefice. You will understand that it is to myself and will be to my people a great sorrow, but one which I hope we shall be willing to bear, if the true peace and liberty of the Church can be obtained by my compliance.
My life hitherto, since ray ordination, has had for its object the seeking of those gifts for the Church, and I am contented, if so it be, to give up my peace for this.
Your Grace will, I am sure, understand that I cannot in this matter act otherwise than with that obedience to my conscience to which you refer me, so that you will not think that I have changed my conviction as to the State Courts. I accept the line of action which your Grace has indicated simply in deference to you as supreme representative of Our Lord Jesus Christ in all things spiritual in this land; and not as withdrawing anything I have said or done in regard to those Courts. This I cannot agree to in any way whatever.
No one can deny that the bitterness which your Grace would abate is altogether an exceptional circumstance, giving rise to exceptional remedies to avert, if it may be, by the Goodness of God, ruin from His Church; and leaving her free for the future discharge of her great mission, at home and in foreign lands. For myself I hope I may depend upon your Grace's good offices with the Bishop of London, so that I may be licensed or instituted at once to whatever work in the diocese may offer itself to me. Thanking your Grace for your commendation of me to the guidance of Almighty God, and with my own unworthy prayers for your Grace in all your sickness, believe me, my dear Lord Archbishop, yours truly and very respectfully,
Alex. Heriot Mackonochie.
Mr. Davidson replies on November 25:
I am directed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to express to you with how strong a feeling of thankfulness to God he has received your letter of the 23rd inst. ... It will, I feel sure, be a satisfaction to know what pleasure your letter has brought to the Archbishop in these, his last days, as it would seem, upon earth.
That satisfaction was not, and could not in the nature of things, be unalloyed. The sacrifice was ungrudgingly made, but it was impossible not to feel a deep regret for the disastrous and irremediable line of action which had rendered it necessary. Even Mr. Mackonochie's most inveterate enemies must have felt it was but a poor triumph to deprive a united parish and congregation of a Vicar who now for the last twenty years had, in the teeth of a vigorous and relentless opposition, been striving with an absolute disregard of personal considerations to vindicate what he believed to be the truth. And in fact, when looked at, not only from the vantage ground of Ritualism, but from the points of view of the dispassionate lay spectator, it was clear that the great engine of his adversaries, the Public Worship Act, from which they had expected so much, had, as the ' Saturday Review' remarked, received ' its fatal shock from the Archbishop's deathbed,' and the proceedings connected with Mr. Mackonochie's resignation were ' a moral condemnation from which it could never recover.1
Not only had the Archbishop himself signed, as it were, that moral condemnation, as the first article of the conditions of peace, but the Bishop of London had at once shown an anxious desire to lend his aid to insure their permanence.
On November 25 he had received the following letter from the Archbishop:
My dear Bishop of London,--I enclose to you a copy of a correspondence that has passed between Mr. Mackonochie and myself. I have of course in no way committed you by the action I have thought it well to take in the interests of peace. It appears to me a great blessing that a gate of reconciliation should have been opened by Mr. Mackonochie's willingness to resign. He has of course, in coming to this decision, had great difficulties to contend with from the advice of his friends; and it seems to me that he has in this case shown his consideration for the highest interests of the Church by sacrificing his own individual feelings in deference to my appeal.
I remain, &c,
A. C. Cantuar.
And Bishop Jackson's letter to Mr. Mackonochie upon the receipt of his formal resignation is conceived in the same appreciative and generous spirit:
Fulham Palace, S.W., December 5, 1882.
Dear Mr. Mackonochie,--I did not write to you on Saturday when I accepted your resignation, because I understood from Mr. Lee that I was about to hear from you; but having read, as you are aware, the affecting correspondence between the dying Archbishop and yourself--so honourable to both--I wish to be allowed to express my satisfaction with the conclusion at which you arrived, and my appreciation of the motives which led you to it. I can well understand the difficulties of your position, which must have been great and perplexing, and only to be met by courage of the true stamp and under a firm sense of duty. God grant that it may tend to the Church's peace! I have never ceased, I can say in all sincerity, to value your own worth or that of your work; and I venture to hope that under altered circumstances those strained relations may be relaxed which arise so readily between those whose duty it is to administer the law and those who consider themselves unable in conscience to observe it Believe me to be very faithfully yours,
In a brief reply, Mr. Mackonochie touches once more upon the motives by which he had been actuated.
I felt it impossible (he writes) to refuse acquiescence to such a letter as the most Christian and touching one of the Archbishop, carrying with it the gravity of his Grace's spiritual position, the emphasis of his approaching departure to his rest, the very exceptional circumstances of the present condition of the Church, and the generous consideration with which he urged upon me the line which seemed to him to be my duty.
And already, on December 1, he had written to the Archbishop:
Your Grace will, I think, like to know that I have to-day formally resigned this benefice. ... I shall probably be nominated to the benefice of St. Peter's, London Docks, from which Mr. Suckling will be transferred to St. Alban's. Allow me to express at this time my deep gratitude for your Grace's kindness and generous consideration towards me ever since the time that I entered the diocese of London in 1858; and that often in critical circumstances.
And thus the correspondence closes. The act was accomplished, the resignation was accepted, and he was no longer Vicar of St. Alban's.
This, then, was to be the end of the protracted struggle. Each side might claim the victory. Yet it would be well to remember that the voluntary withdrawal of a leader by no means involves capitulation. He left St. Alban's in order that the truth which he had so perseveringly taught might still be proclaimed there, and that the congregation which he had built up might not be scattered, but might still worship there in peace.
There were no difficulties to be met with from the patrons of the living. Already, on November 19, the Dean of St. Paul's had written:
I hope that you will believe that at any rate I sympathize much with you in your trouble.
And again on the 24th:
You will let me give you my thanks at least for the sacrifice you have made. I will do my best to bring about the arrangement which seems to you the best.
But what that arrangement might be remained doubtful. The idea of St. Peter's, London Docks, had been pressed upon Mr. Mackonochie by others. He wished to remain in his old diocese, but in some subordinate position, relieved from pressing responsibilities and at no great distance from his old parish, so that he might still be amongst his own people. He had been too long in the mêlée of London life to wish for retirement in the country; but the strain had been severe, and it had told even upon his healthy frame and vigorous spirit. Worn, and mentally wearied, he would have remained at his post to the last, if he had been permitted to do so; but he had no desire to accept a fresh command. Too careless of his health to be very observant of symptoms, he was perfectly aware that he was not what he had been. The time when he could give an equally undivided attention to parochial organisation and spiritual direction was past. He could no longer subject himself to unusual mental or physical exertion without being made conscious of its subsequent ill effects. Long years of overwork were telling upon him, and nature was taking her revenge. But even now he had no thought of rest, still less of inaction; and various circumstances had combined to make an exchange between him and Mr. Suckling appear to many whose opinion he most valued to be the easiest solution of the difficulty. He himself appears to have had no strong wishes upon the subject. Having made the one great sacrifice, it would seem as if for himself he had nothing to wish for. On November 24 he wrote:
Friends have been looking out about me. The idea of an exchange between Suckling and myself has been revived. I have seen J. B. Lee, who says that the Bishop is quite prepared to accept it without conditions. Suckling is favourable, but asks for a week's consideration. The St. Paul's people (or at least the Dean, to whom I wrote) will forward any arrangement which I suggest. If this scheme goes through it will be remarkable.
There is not a word as to personal predilections--in all probability he did not even pause to ask himself if he had any--and on December 1 he wrote:
In a few days I shall (D.V.) be Vicar of St. Peter's, London Docks. There are certain formalities which will take up a little time, but which will be run through as soon as possible. The case of Martin v. Mackonochie is at an end.
What will be the next phase of the conflict between Christ and the world remains to be seen. There is no doubt of the truth which Monsignor Talbot is said to have propounded as the fruit of his morning's meditation, that the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world are diametrically opposed to each other, and therefore if this resignation brings peace for the time, war must arise from some other quarter. For the present we must be content. Of course it is a wrench to sign oneself out of St. Alban's, but it will be a counterbalancing satisfaction to take up Lowder's work.
And a few days later, December 4, he wrote that he should probably be instituted on Friday, if it were not for the Archbishop's funeral. . . . Affairs are being kept very quiet, but I dread a dénouement daily. It will be a great relief when that is over.
It was no wonder that even his courageous spirit shrank from the moment when the news would have to be made known to his congregation. There had been not only the ordinary bond of union between priest and people, but it had been of unusually long standing, strengthened and cemented by every fresh assault from without, by every fresh opportunity for mutual forbearance and endurance within. Moreover, it was obvious that the step which he was taking was likely to be misunderstood by those whom it would touch most nearly.
He was very anxious to be the first to speak to them of the contemplated change; but the secret had not been well kept. When Mr. Mackonochie found that the intelligence would be in the papers, all that he could do was to announce a meeting of the parishioners and regular congregation for the Saturday night which followed the publication of the news. 'This,' he wrote, 'will a little take off the bitter edge. I am, however, very sorry not to get the first word.'
It was a natural and legitimate regret, for if anything could have allayed bitterness and lightened the blew, it would have been to feel that it was dealt by one who would most gladly have spared them if he might, whose loss was even greater than their own.
The church, in which the meeting was held on Saturday night, was, as might have been expected, filled to overflowing, and amongst the large congregation, with the exception of a few indifferent spectators, there was no one whose aspect and tones were so entirely free from agitation as Mr. Mackonochie's whilst he addressed them for almost the last time as Vicar of St. Alban's. Deeply moved and yet absolutely self-controlled, he stood facing his congregation whilst in forcible and temperate language he put the whole case before them.
He began by reading the correspondence which has been already given in this chapter, with perfect openness giving every detail of the proceedings, and freely explaining the motives by which he had been actuated; and then he went on to speak of what lay so near to his heart--the past years he had spent in their midst, and all which they had meant to them and to him.
As time went on (he said) they had grown to understand one another better and to work together better, and their love had got cemented more and more ... The great glory of Christianity was in some way or other to suffer for Christ and with Christ. Now, if by such action as he had taken there could be a little ease granted to the Church, a breathing time of peace in which Church parties might look one another in the face, and learn perhaps that their features were not so unlike one another, ought they to shrink from taking it? He thought that they could see that many rough corners had been rubbed off, in spite of hindrances which seemed insupportable to one another, as the result of increased intercourse. Those who claimed for themselves the glorious name of ' Evangelical,' if they marvelled at the Catholic's ways which they did not understand, began a little to see that they who had received Catholic truth held Evangelical truth just as much as they did Apostolical order; for what was Apostolical order unless it was built on Evangelical truth? , . . Of course those who had been gathered in in the infancy of that church did not like to think of a successor; but there was one Lord, one Saviour, one High Priest. Let them get out of the way of thinking about an individual priest. . . . All earthly priests, as he had told them over and over again, were nothing more nor less than the outward signs and visible instruments of their great High Priest Jesus Christ. Then let them not think for a single moment that they had lost anything because they had lost the priest who had been with them these twenty years.
Then Mr. Stanton, who had worked with him from the time of the church's consecration, spoke a few words, too, of consolation and encouragement--consolation 'in that though the separation must be in many respects a very real one, yet their old Vicar was not going very far off, and encouragement because the man who had been appointed in his place would carry on his work in the same spirit and on the same lines.
On the following Sunday Mr. Mackonochie preached his farewell sermon upon the text (Isaiah liii. 10): 'When thou shalt make an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands.' The prominent thought in this, his last sermon, was the necessity and joy of sacrifice. He referred with deep thankfulness to the many blessings which, as a congregation, they had received; to the peace vouchsafed among themselves; to the continued presence amongst them of clergy whom they knew so well--Mr. Stanton and Mr. Russell having worked with him almost from the first, and the youngest member of the clerical staff having been with him for the last eight years, and then he commended his successor to them and said:
If Almighty God had blessed his ministry and been pleased by His Holy Spirit to shed abroad upon them grace in this church, let them return Him thanks for that grace and show their thankfulness by still worshipping at its altar. ... It had pleased Almighty God to give them a grief--in a certain very feeble sense He had been pleased to make their souls an offering to Himself--they must bear it, they must do more--they must thank God for it.
The words had all the force of reality. He had already put them into practice, fully recognising the truth that a voluntary and ungrudging sacrifice is alone worthy of acceptance.
He had nerved himself for the inevitable trials of these last days; the pain of natural misconstructions, the disappointment of friends, the sense of personal loss, the dreariness of a fresh beginning amongst comparative strangers, deprived of the support and companionship of his old coadjutors, and now in one sense the first bitterness was past.
On St. Stephen's Day he wrote:
Christmas Day passed off I hope well. Probably we have had a certain sense of farewell which did not at first sight brighten the angels' song; although at the next thought it was clear that only ' Glory to God, on earth peace,' could soften the sorrow. Happily we are all behaving very well, and talking at least, if not thinking, little about it.
But those amongst whom he had lived and laboured so long would not part with him without some tangible evidence of their unalterable regard. On the following St. Alban's Day they presented him with the sum of 1,800l., together with the following address:--
Rev. and dear Father in Christ,--We, the clergy, sisters, parishioners, members of the congregation, and friends of St. Alban's, in presenting you with the accompanying testimonial, desire to express our unfeigned sorrow at your departure from the parish where you have so faithfully ministered for the past twenty years. We are not unmindful of the great personal sacrifice which that ministry has entailed upon you, nor of the noble and unflinching stand you have made during that period for the doctrine and principles of the Church of Christ in this land, and for which, not only your own flock, but all English Catholics owe you an eternal debt of gratitude. It is our fervent hope that God will bless your labours in your new parish as abundantly as He has blessed them in the past, and that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear you may receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Signed on behalf of the Committee and subscribers.
B. G. Lake.
G. R. Hogg.
It is a curious commentary upon his character to observe that those who knew him best would by no means consent to place the sum mentioned at his own disposal. It was spent in purchasing an annuity, no one of course supposing that his life upon earth was so soon to be cut short.
When this address was presented he had already, since the middle of January 1883, been established in the scene of his old labours at St. Peter's, London Docks.