Death of Bishop Thorold (1895)--Dr. Davidson, Bishop of Winchester-Parochial mission conducted by Father Maturm, of Cowley (1895)--Visit of Bishop of Southwell--Opening services of the new church (October 27, 1895)--Question of new license for church--Difficulty with the Bishop of Winchester about 'third altar' and other matters--Resignation of Father Dolling (December 8, 1895)--He leaves Portsmouth (January 10, 1896)--Subsequent history of S. Agatha's--Temporary charge, Rev. Paul Bull--Kev. G. T. Tremenheere, priest-in-charge (1896)--Consecration of church (May 14, 1898) and parish formed.
'The Parting of Friends.'--CARDINAL NEWMAN: Title of last Oxford Sermon.
IT could scarcely have been conjectured that circumstances would arise to lead to Dolling's immediate resignation in connection with the opening of the new church. Two Bishops connected with the mission gave the architectural plans of the new S. Agatha's the highest commendation: one of these was the diocesan, Bishop Thorold, who much preferred basilicas for town centres; the other was the founder of the mission, Bishop Bidding, of Southwell, who said of the new church to the Winchester College Committee in 1896:
' It is a most noble church. The features and outline are not only original and unconventional, but it is a work of unconventional beauty, and has a very great distinction in its usefulness, as well as in the striking style in which it is designed.'
The death of Bishop Thorold in 1895 almost immediately preceded the unexpected event of Dolling's resignation, an event, however, which was unexpected rather in its circumstances than in the fact itself, since he had told Dr. Fearon at an earlier period that he intended to resign S. Agatha's, because of the need of rest, soon after the new church was complete. But he did not realise, until the real strain of departure came, how deep and tender were the ties which bound him and his people to one another.
Bishop Thorold had told Dolling that he thought the little altar decorated in memory of Henry Boss, and at which Bequiem and other Celebrations took place, to be the ugliest thing he had ever seen. In old S. Agatha's it stood as specially dear to many because around it were on wood panelling the names of departed communicants of the mission. A Calvary formed its reredos. When the arranging of the interior of the new church took place Dolling settled to have this altar carried into the basilica and placed against the wall at the centre of the south aisle. To Dolling this altar was the object of special affection, because of the memory of Henry Boss, who has been alluded to in a previous chapter.
With all Dolling's masculine strength, he had also immense reserves of deep sentiment. In this his character was in a noble sense feminine, if in another sense he was essentially manly. All this tinctured, or rather dominated, his theology, so that in regard to anything connected with the dead--the Bequieni Eucharist (or 'Mass for the Dead'), and prayers for the faithful departed--his deep affection for those gone before was a powerful factor which he was incapable of omitting from the consideration of the question, leaving it to be settled by exegesis of Scripture, by Church history, by logic alone. He knew, of course, that it is an historical fact that, even within the first three centuries, and practically from the days of the Apostles, the Eucharistic Sacrifice was pleaded or offered, by 'the proclaiming of the Lord's death till He come,' at least on every Lord's Day, both for the living and the departed (the whole family of God), and not only for those in this world. We may add, that the Eucharist pro de/unctis or pro dormitione, for the repose of the souls of individual members of the Church of Christ, was celebrated at the burial (being itself the primitive burial office), and at certain fixed intervals after the death of the individual remembered, as Tertullian and S. Cyprian bear witness, even before the Nicene Age. In this sense, as distinct from the later materialised views about purgatorial torture and from the Mass traffic, 'Mass for the Dead' is not merely medieval, but is primitive. But the historical argument weighed little with Dolling. The need to remember our dead in prayer, and so remembering them to associate them specially with the Lord's death and sacrifice at the Eucharistic Celebration, was to him an imperative necessity of Christian faith. It was a need of natural affection which Christianity was not intended to destroy, but to consecrate, to satisfy, to provide an outlet for.
But let us see how this question came so prominently to the front in connection with the new S. Agatha's.
On September 28, 1895, Dolling wrote to Bishop Davidson (the present Primate), who had succeeded Dr. Thorold in the See of Winchester, to tell him that the new church would be opened on October 27, and that Bishop Thorold had thought that no new license would be required, as the old and the new church were practically joined together by the vestry. (There was no thought of consecrating the church at this time, as the district had not yet been formed into a legal parish.)
On October 17 Bishop Davidson wrote to say that a new license would certainly be required, and that he had requested the Eural Dean, Canon Jacob, to inspect the new building and to send his report to him. The question of the old or of a new license was not one of mere red-tape. Behind it lay another of great importance--indeed, vital, as Dolling believed, to all his hopes of conducting his ministry in the new church with the same elasticity of method that he had done in the old. If no new license were required, there would be no need for an overhauling by the Bishop of the various arrangements as to the 'extra services' and other usages at S. Agatha's additional to the directions of the Prayer-Book, or, in some cases, apparently contradictory to the latter. If a new license were necessary, Dolling probably feared it would not be granted without a reduction of the mode of worship to what are often called 'sober Prayer-Book lines'--lines which, as usually interpreted, he held to be quite ineffectual for those missionary purposes among the masses to which he believed God intended his ministry to be mainly directed. The Eural Dean's visit resulted in his being told by Dolling, in regard to the third altar, that 'There we intend to say the Masses for the dead.' It was not, however, we believe, exclusively used for Requiems, but also for other Celebrations.
On October 24 arrived a long letter from the Bishop, stating that, while the Eural Dean admired the general character of the building, he had felt bound to tell him what Dolling had said as to the proposed uses of the third altar, and that he (the Bishop) had decided not to grant the new license at all, unless the question of the third altar were submitted to the proper authorities, or the altar itself removed. He also requested Dolling to come immediately to Farnham, which the latter did on the next day, October 25.
The Bishop, though most kind, said at once: 'Mr. Dolling, this is no red-tape question of three altars, but of the services said at those altars.' Of course, neither the mind of the present Primate nor that of Father Dolling was in the least of the merely red-tape order. Probably the Bishop and Dolling were thinking, as it were, on different planes. No doubt the authorities of the Church did not realise Dolling's intense conviction that to be tied down by the Acts of Uniformity to exact obedience to Prayer-Book rubrics would be for him to lose all the vitality and elasticity of methods already apparently most wonderfully blessed during his ten years at S. Agatha's, and especially to sacrifice their missionary character.
The result of the interview was that the Bishop agreed that the new church should be opened by the Bishop of Southwell on the day appointed, October 27, but that, until his own decision in the matter of the third altar and other questions was arrived at, that altar should for the present be screened off from the rest of the church.
It was the privilege of the present writer, then no longer one of its clergy, to be staying as a visitor at S. Agatha's during those days of this time, and certainly they were days never to be forgotten. A great parochial mission was in full swing at S. Agatha's during the fortnight before the opening (from September 30). It was conducted by one of the most powerful preachers then in the Anglican Communion, if not in Christendom, Father B. W. Maturin, then of the Society of S. John the Evangelist, Cowley, Oxford, assisted by Father Robinson, also of Cowley. Dolling's idea was that the close of the mission should also be the occasion of a kind of 'in exitu Israel' of S. Agatha's, and its system of worship, into the adjoining basilica, a sort of successful transference of the swarm into a new hive. It was like the change from the homely tabernacle in the wilderness, 'the tent of meeting,' to the stately temple. It was not altogether joy. There was the feeling on the part of many that 'the old was better'; that the homeliness of the little mission chapel beside the rag-store and the fried-fish shops, with its cracked bell and its family gatherings, would evaporate amid the alabaster and oak and hangings of the magnificent basilica. Besides this, the inner circle of the mission knew that its relations and those of its head with Farnham Castle were strained as never before in its history, and that both Dolling's line and that of the Bishop was unlikely to be relaxed on either side.
The preaching of Father Maturin at this parochial mission was that of this preacher at his best, which means something not easily to be surpassed in power, effect, and grasp of the congregations subjected to his influence. Personally an old friend of Dolling's from early days in Dublin, they had not seen much of each other for many years. Maturin had been much in the United States of America, where his preaching had been listened to by immense congregations. Few men can be more lovable and simple in private life, and more masterly and powerful in what has been called 'the tribunal of the pulpit.' We remember a magnificent address of Maturin's on 'Christ before Pilate,' delivered on a Sunday afternoon during this mission, by which he riveted for considerably over an hour the attention of a congregation of men of all classes who filled the old mission church to the doors. Dolling, by whose influence the men were gathered together, sat listening in the chancel. Not long after, of these two remarkable men, the missioner of that time and the Vicar of S. Agatha's, the former had sought rest in the Roman Communion, and the latter was wandering without a pulpit, altar, or flock of his own.
On Sunday, October 27, the opening of the new church took place. The Bishop of Southwell celebrated at eight o'clock in old S. Agatha's. All the communicants of the 'League' (the congregational guild, with no rules except a monthly Communion) received the Blessed Sacrament at one or other of the early celebrations as a farewell act of devotion before bidding good-bye to the old S. Agatha's. Bishop Bidding has left it on record how greatly he was pleased and touched at the farewell service by the simple earnestness of the communicants. Lady Laura Ridding, a warm friend to the mission, was also staying at S. Agatha's for that Sunday.
At eleven o'clock the exodus took place. The procession moved through the streets from one church door to the other. Among the clergy who took part in it were, besides the existing staff, most of the former assistant clergy, and the Rev. W. Hawksley, Vicar of All Saints, the mother parish. Behind the other clergy came Bishop Kidding in his Convocation robes, and last of all Father Dolling, the Vicar-Designate, in a magnificent cope, the work of the S. Agatha's Embroidery Guild. Behind Dolling walked the churchwardens, Messrs. White and Claxton, and after them the congregation. The general effect of this ceremonial procession with crucifix, banners, and incense through the Landport crowds was more Continental than English, were it not for the dull October sky which overhung the scene. The procession was really, as Dolling said everything at S. Agatha's ought to be, 'at once dignified and natural.' It was certainly regarded with respect, to judge by their demeanour, by the multitude in the street, who, before the work of Linklater and of Dolling, would have hailed it as affording convenient opportunity and objects for practice in the discharge of missiles of various unpleasant descriptions.
The Solemn Eucharist commenced as soon as all had reached their places. Father Dolling, of course, was celebrant. The choir, as usual at the new S. Agatha's, occupied the west gallery, the ritual chancel being reserved for the acolytes and other ministers of the altar. Incense was used ceremonially at the places usual in such a service. It was a service of real dignity, but quite without stiffness or artificiality. Many of the poorer members of the congregation had never been present at any other kind of Christian worship. In regard to this, we remember a lad, brought up at S. Agatha's, and knowing nothing of other churches, who, after he went away to service in a 'low church' or 'moderate' household, wrote back to one of S. Agatha's clergy: 'I do not know if the church here is Church of England at all; they have no vestments, or incense, or anything.'
On the occasion of this opening service the Bishop of Southwell, who occupied a temporary throne in the chancel, preached the sermon. His text was Ephes. v. 15-22. He said in the course of his sermon: 'This noble church now marks the passage for this mission, which had been so faithfully serving God, from childhood to manhood.' He hoped that the buoyancy of childhood would live, although, as he hinted, there must be, in a church of the kind they had now taken possession of, more conformity to ordered rule and custom than in the more childlike days of the mission. The whole sermon had, however, nothing in it harsh or magisterial, but breathed a spirit of affectionate interest in the culmination of a work in the original starting of which Bishop Eidding had had so much to do.
During the entire service the great basilican church, as was of course natural at its opening, was full from end to end with all classes and conditions of people, but mainly, of course, with the actual members of S. Agatha's. The offertory at this the first sung Eucharist in the new church, amounted to ±'96, in addition to which £70 was sent to be added to the offerings by',friends who were unavoidably absent.
In the afternoon Dolling preached splendidly to an audience of 600 men. This day, October 27, 1895, was undoubtedly the greatest and the happiest day of his life. Besides an enthusiastic and devoted congregation, the members of which were singularly united to him and to one another, he had also round him on this day a great number of old friends and former helpers from all parts of England, and from all classes of society--clergy and laity, men and women, rich and poor, soldiers and sailors on furlough, some of his old East End people, friends from the Ireland which he loved, and, above all, his own devoted sisters, who saw in some sense in this beautiful church filled with earnest worshippers a sort of answer from God to the venture of their own faith and courage in coming over to England to throw in their lot with their brother in the slums first of East London and then of Portsmouth.
Long before Evensong on the same Sunday the church was so full that crowds could not gain admission. Before the service a solemn procession with incense and crucifix went through the whole parish. Father Maturin, who was still staying at the mission, was the evening preacher. It was a memorable occasion, a combination of a great church just inaugurated for worship, an immense congregation, and a sermon which for over an hour riveted the attention of all. The subject was the combined definiteness and comprehensiveness of Catholic Christianity, from the text: 'Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes '(Isa. liv. 2).
Dolling went to rest that Sunday with a feeling of universal affection and respect surrounding him, from the Bishop of Southwell down to the street-arabs of Landport.
There remained, however, a sign of quickly impending trouble--the third altar, screened off, the only omen of approaching difficulty, but a real one.
A few days after the opening of the new church a petition was circulated for presentation to Father Dolling. It was signed by 5,000 people of all classes and political opinions, and even of almost all religions in Portsmouth, urging him to reconsider his original plan of resigning after the next Easter, and to stay permanently, or at least for some longer time, in the town. This was probably caused by some apprehension of an approaching crisis. Such a compliment has seldom been paid to any clergyman, especially to one whose line of speech and action had often been so provocative to many and powerful interests as Dolling's had been. In spite of opposition from various quarters, he had gained in those ten years that had just ended an enormous popularity, and that far outside the range either of Church people of his own way of thinking, on the one hand, or the poor and the working classes on the other--the two types of persons naturally most likely to support him.
He writes in his book that this, and also the discovery that the debt on the church was larger than he had anticipated it would be, decided him not to leave at the time he had at first spoken of doing, but to stay on for a longer time, unless the Bishop should impose conditions as to licensing the new church which would be in his opinion impossible for him to accept. To stay and resist was a course which he never contemplated; nor had he a legal freehold even had he wished to adopt such a course.
Whatever may be thought of Father Dolling's line of action at this time, he was certainly not disobedient. Where resignation is possible it is always an honourable alternative to acquiescence in conditions imposed by the will of a superior. A servant, for instance, may be said to be unreasonable for resigning his situation rather than fulfil certain commands or acquiesce in certain prohibitions, but he cannot be said to be disobedient and lawless. To stay and defy the Bishop was a course that Dolling never contemplated for a moment. He would in that case have become practically a schismatic. He had no legal and canonical parochial charge in the strictest sense of the word, and held his authority over S. Agatha's district solely by revocable license or permit from the Bishop. The strongest opponents of Father Dolling could, as to his difficulties with Bishop Davidson, only charge him with being unreasonable, though he had in his own mind plenty of reasons which seemed to him ample justification for his action, and which he expressed to the public and to his friends in various ways. Disobedience to the Bishop in any lawful matter no one can charge him with who follows the course of this most unfortunate controversy. To resign may be sometimes unwise, but it is certainly not the same as to stay on in defiance of lawful authority.
The day after the opening, Monday, October 28, was SS. Simon and Jude's Day. The Rev. B. W. Maturin preached again a powerful sermon to a congregation large for a weekday at the eleven o'clock Sung Mass, and later on in the day the Winchester College masters and men came to see the new church. They spent the afternoon with Dolling and the mission workers, and there was also a short service for them in the church, at which the Bishop of Southwell gave an address.
This week of the opening was a time during which the new church presented a striking appearance. Free to the entrance of all, all day long, it was never quite empty, and the frequent worshippers dotted over the building, as well as its mingled aspect of grandeur and homeliness, gave the whole place the appearance of a Continental basilica without the various 'cults' common in the latter. Every evening during the octave the church was practically filled. Some of the former members of the clerical staff preached in the evenings of the week, as also one or two of Dolling's old London friends. Among the latter was the Rev. Arthur Tooth, of Woodside, Croydon, formerly Vicar of the once noted Church of S. James, Hatcham. Altogether this octave was a time of much deepening of religion. The sense of some impending trouble seemed to make even the most thoughtless touched--at least to some little degree--by the spirit of reverence and prayer.
On November 15 Dolling had another interview with the Bishop at Farnham Castle. He was, on this occasion, in a very overworked state, and quite out of sorts. He was therefore especially unfitted at that time to enter into an explanation of his teaching as to the mysterious subject of the condition of the faithful departed in the Intermediate State, and as to the precise benefits to them to be expected from prayers, and the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice on their behalf, or, in other words, 'Mass for the Dead.' In any case, he never professed to be a scientific theologian.
As the Bishop rightly said, the whole question of 'Prayers for the Dead' covers an immense range. Some Broad Churchmen, such as the late Dean Plumptre, strongly advocate the practice, and so, in the interests of superstition and fraud, did a Tetzel before the Reformation. The practice often appeals to the most spiritual and affectionate natures on the one hand, and to the most credulous and superstitious minds on the other. In one form it is thoroughly Catholic, in another late medieval. It is probably true that the losses of friends and relatives in the South African War have done more to make many English Church people think sympathetically of 'Prayers for the Dead' than anything else at any previous period since the Sixteenth-Century Reformation. Of course, the subject of 'Mass for the Dead 'involves a further consideration--i.e., that of the sacrificial side or character of the Eucharist as the Memorial before God of the death of Christ and as the earthly counterpart of the presentation of His sacrifice in heaven.
It would be unfair to say that the Bishop condemned altogether the practice of 'Prayers for the Dead,' but he wanted to arrive at what Dolling's teaching on the matter actually was, and what was implied in the special use of the third altar. He interrogated Dolling, apparently not unkindly, but in a businesslike way, and took notes of the latter's answers to his questions. One unfortunate answer was that the effect of Prayers and Mass for the Dead was 'to shorten the time' of their purgation, thus introducing that element of time which the deepest theologians have ever excluded from the subject, and which seems to lend itself so easily to a good deal of objectionable superstition of calculation of years in purgatory, etc. It is not the idea of purification hereafter which is questionable in the popular Roman conception of purgatory. That idea has been held by Catholic Christendom, in one form or another, from the days of the Apostles. The English Church condemns, in Article XXII., as Charles Kingsley (in his letter on the Athanasian Creed) pointed out, 'Doctrina Romanensium de Purgatorio '(the doctrine of the Roman Schools about purgatory), rather than all teaching of progressive cleansing and increase of light in the Intermediate State. Even the word 'purgatory' is defended, for instance, by BO un-Eomanist a theologian as the great Danish writer, the Lutheran Bishop Martensen (in his 'Christian Dogmatics'), provided it is freed from superstitious associations. It is the introducing of the idea of periods of time into the conception which so promotes a localised and materialised view of this mysterious subject, and Dolling's answer certainly seemed to favour this.
We know that he afterwards regretted the way in which he had worded his answer, which was given extempore and on the moment. He was not suited to be a theological expert treading the byways of difficult and controversial subjects, though he was certainly never an 'ignoramus,' as he sometimes laughingly called himself, but had a clear grasp of all the main positions of the Catholic faith, and a marvellous power of bringing them within the comprehension of the multitude, a power which very often learned experts entirely lack. He was also at this time highly wrought, out of health, and suffering from that nervous reaction which often comes after the accomplishment of a great design. As he says pathetically in his 'Ten Years,' p. 170:
'I was suffering from a bad attack of influenza at the time. I am quite conscious of not being a theologian, and I am since aware that I used an expression, which the Bishop afterwards quoted in his judgment, which may be very liable to misconstruction.'
What Father Dolling needed immediately after the new church was built was to go away for rest and change, and not to have to gather his mind together for the purpose of making theological definitions on a singularly difficult subject and under singularly difficult circumstances.
On December 7 arrived the Bishop's judgment. Dolling wrote in his book: if
'I believed directly I read it that the judgment forbade us to say our Mass for the Dead or to have Celebrations without communicants. The surrender of these two points I felt it impossible to make. An error has largely arisen that I left because I could not have a third altar in my church, but this is quite incorrect.'
By the two points mentioned he means (1) Celebration with special Requiem Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, and publicly announced as for the faithful departed, and (2) Celebration with less than 'the legal three' communicants, extra to the celebrant. He felt that he was called on to surrender both of these practices. To give way on the first point meant to him the obscuring of the doctrine and use of 'Prayers for the Dead,' and the universal and primitive practice of offering the Holy Sacrifice, by which Christ's death is pleaded, on their behalf. To give way on the second meant either the surrender of the daily Mass (since though always a certain number attended it, yet three did not always receive), or else the artificial manufacture of communicants, a thing which Dolling always felt was injurious to the souls of his people.
So, then, on December 8, the day after the Bishop's decision arrived, Dolling sent in his resignation as school missioner to Dr. Fearon, and on the 9th he wrote to inform the Bishop of the same.
As far, however, as the third altar itself, the immediate fans et origo of the crisis, was concerned, Dolling offered to remove it if the services usual at it would be allowed at another altar. The communicants of S. Agatha's also made the same suggestion. Finally, this proposal was formally made, with Dolling's consent, by Mr. John Pares, a well-known Churchman of Portsmouth. Of all men the latter waa the best fitted to act as mediator, for he had been in close touch both with Bishops Harold Browne and Thorold, and had been one of the special Commission to consider the spiritual needs of the town, and he was also an enthusiastic admirer of Dolling's work, and was one of his personal friends. The Bishop replied to Mr. Pares' letter as follows:
'Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than to learn that Mr. Dolling is willing to remain at S. Agatha's, and to bring his services into general harmony with the due order of the Church of England. He says not a word to lead me to think that he would feel such a course to be possible.'
The Bishop added 'Please note the exact words' (i.e., 'general harmony with the due order,' etc.).
To another correspondent the Bishop wrote:
'Mr. Dolling and I are alike members of a Church to the definite rules of which we have pledged ourselves to conform.'
Meanwhile letters came to Dolling from all sorts and conditions of people--from violent Protestants, from violent Ritualists. Several came from Dissenters expressing love for him in spite of his altars and Masses, and many from citizens of Portsmouth puzzled at the precise nature of the difficulty, and yet recognising the philanthropic value of his work to such a district as they knew Landport to be, a work which they thought it a misfortune should be injured by what seemed to many of them to be only a trumpery dispute as to the number of altars in a church.
Dolling consented to remain for a few days (including the Christmas festival) at S. Agatha's until the arrival of the Rev. Paul Bull of the Community of the Resurrection, who was allowed by the head of that community (then Canon Gore, now the present Bishop of Worcester) to undertake temporary charge of S. Agatha's, with the consent of the Bishop and of the Headmaster of Winchester. Father Bull was appointed by the Rev. W. Hawksley, Yicar of the mother parish, who did everything to help S. Agatha's at this trying time. During his short charge of S. Agatha's, Father Bull gained the affection and confidence of its people.
In a letter written to the Church Times (December 6, 1895), Dolling takes the opportunity of defending his own position at this critical period. He writes:
'I venture to retranslate two old reproaches into more modern language: "The Prayer-Book and the Prayer-Book alone the religion of English Catholics"; "Man was made for the Book of Common Prayer, not the Book of Common Prayer for man." . . . Has the year 1895 discovered the infallible moment when all progress and development in ritual improvement is to cease? The Bishops fifty years ago believed honestly that they were forbidding things which were not according to the mind of the Church of England, just as the Bishops believe to-day. But the history of the last fifty years shows they were mistaken. . . . The truth is that through our past sins the Church of England is once again a missionary Church; she has to convert the multitude as well as edify the faithful. Above all, she has the Gospel to preach to the poor, the vast majority of whom never come to Communion and very few to church. And to do this a dual kind of worship is required, the one full of stateliness and grandeur, showing how the creature may worship the Creator; the other, full of simplicity and personal directness, showing how the sorrowing, poverty-stricken, sinful, oppressed soul can speak to a Father.'
In regard to the liturgical worship he wrote in the same letter:
'Surely there is only one divinely appointed service, the Holy Eucharist. Our bad and un-Christian habits for many years have put other services in its place, so that Matins has become the service of obligation on Sundays for our people. It would surely be very insular to say that our form of this service of Matins, even as administered in the most carefully regulated churches, is the highest type of liturgical dignity, and yet even this fitness of service has only been won by a consistent refusal to accept the interpretation of the rubrics held by former Bishops. . . . Men have discovered that our liturgy can only be worthily interpreted by the study of other liturgies--in fact, that our liturgy was only incomparable so long as men had no other liturgies to compare it with. . . . Restore extempore prayer, and you will have gone a long way towards recovering earnest Dissenters--I don't mean respectable Dissenters who ape the Church. Restore dignity of worship, and you will soon recover the lapsed communicants. Let the clergy set themselves free of the red-tape which fetters them, and they will rediscover their own personality.'
At about this time the communicants of S. Agatha's consulted Father Dolling as to what points they ought to request from the new Vicar, whoever he might be, as essentials to the full use of the Catholic worship and Church life to which they had been accustomed. Dolling, who believed, with Mr. Augustine Birrell, M.P., that, after all, 'it is the Mass that matters,' advised as follows: That they should ask for--
1. The Sunday Sung Mass to be kept in its proper place as the chief and central service, so that the Solemn Eucharist, with full Catholic ritual, should be continued every Lord's Day. This as the chief essential, and that they should accept no compromise as to this.
2. Confessions to be heard openly in the church, and as a recognised part of the Church's system, for all requiring such ministrations.
3. Daily Mass.
4. Requiem Mass from time to time.
We believe that all the above have been fully secured under the new Vicar, the Rev. G. T. Tremenheere, who was well known as a hard worker on the clerical staff of the Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell, and who was appointed by Winchester College in charge of S. Agatha's on February 21, 1896, and licensed by the Bishop on March 2. We believe after this appointment the patronage of S. Agatha's lapses to the Bishop of Winchester. Mr. Tremenheere became legally Vicar in 1898, on the consecration of S. Agatha's on May 14 of that year. Under him there has been a complete continuity of Catholic teaching and worship, so that the Puritan party has gained little or nothing in that way as the result of Father Dolling's resignation.
Before the latter left Portsmouth he received an address signed by a large number of the most respected of the High Church clergy of the Winchester diocese, which, while expressing agreement with him as to 'the efficacy of the Holy Eucharist' for the departed as well as the living members of the Church, yet reminds him that 'it may be pleaded for any purpose from one altar as well as another.' The object was to secure by his surrender of the third altar a modus vivendi which would prevent his departure.
Matters, however, as we have noticed before, had gone too far on both sides to make this possible. There was, indeed, practically a hearty and well-nigh universal regret that he was leaving Portsmouth. To this there were, however, two exceptions: first, those people whose selfish interests were threatened by his courageous exposure of their questionable or depraving practices; and, second, those Bourbons of the Establishment who learn nothing and forget nothing--the Ultra-Protestant section of the Church of England. Some of the latter class in Portsmouth are said to have held thanksgiving meetings for his departure. On the other hand, several of the Nonconformist bodies offered prayer that he might be enabled to stay.
Sunday, January 5, 1896, was the last Sunday when Dolling was with his people of S. Agatha's as their pastor. At Evensong there was an immense attendance, some hundreds of people having to stand through the service. He preached from Isa. xliii. 2: 'When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee.' His theme was the invincible power of faith in God, and especially in regard to prayer. He made no allusion to the theological matters in dispute, but in regard to himself he said that 'ten years ago, naked and empty, he came to that place, and he would leave it, naked and empty, on Friday.' He urged the congregation to cultivate a spirit of faith.
On Thursday, the last day of his stay, the Blessed Sacrament was reserved all day. This had been generally the custom at S. Agatha's on all great days of intercession for any special object in order to kindle a more earnest devotion. Reservation in cases of sickness had also been practised there always, and was practically necessary for decency and reverence, in a large number of cases.
At the Solemn Vespers, on that last night of his charge of the mission, at 7.30 p.m., Father Dolling uttered his farewell to his own immediate people. Throughout the great congregation present on that night the emotion was natural and genuine. It was, indeed, that saddest of all things to those who have hearts, 'the parting of friends.'
Very quietly, and comparatively unperceived, Dolling and his sisters quitted Portsmouth the following morning, Friday, January 10, 1896. In his last 'Annual Report' of the Winchester College Mission, issued at this time, he concludes thus:
'Many hard things are being said against us, many doubt our loyalty to the Church of England; but you will believe us, I am sure, when we say that we have had but one single aim--to bring some poor people in a slum in Landport to the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.'
Shortly before he left, as he tells us in his book, he received the following pregnant and pathetic message from the friend whom he calls 'one of my dearest children,' Father George Tyrrell:
'God allows you to build the fibre of your brain, the blood of your heart, into a temple for His glory, and then with one breath of His nostril o'erturns it, that He may see whether you will bear this also.'
The Saturday Review, in an estimate of his character, when alluding to this period of Robert Dolling's life, and pointing out that it must be remembered that his strongest points were not those which are involved in academic and scientific study or the tact of diplomatic finesse, but rather those of the zeal and sympathy of a loving, devoted servant of God and man, said truly, 'His life and work shrivelled to miserable ashes the ritual controversies that burned around him.'
It was necessary to give some account of those controversies because of the difficulties they involved him in, but they are not the part of his life which constitute its really permanent and characteristic portions. Dolling was too large-hearted and too little influenced by abstract logic to be at home or at his best in the world of religious polemics, and he will be longest remembered, not by his share in doctrinal and ritual discussions, but by the vital and redemptive influence of his Christ-like personality.