Period between S. Agatha's, Landport, and visit to America, 1896-1897--Father Dolling at Philbeach Gardens, South Kensington--Before leaving S. Agatha's, sermon in London, 'The Church and the People,' in series, 'A Lent in London '(1895)--General attitude in regard to Disestablishment--Action of Bishop of Durham in regard to the mission at S. Mary's, Tyne Dock--Dolling inhibited from preaching at Evesham by Bishop of Worcester (Dr. Perowne)--The 'Ten Years in a Portsmouth Slum '--He preaches in many churches in London and through the country for reduction of S. Agatha's debt--Special services (S. Agatha's Day) at S. Cuthbert's, South Kensington (February 5, 1896)--Sermons to men at S. Margaret's, Westminster (Lent, 1897)--Visits to Prinknash, Gloucester--Tour to Algiers (1897)--Sails for United States of America (May, 1897).
'Our dusted velvets have much need of thee;
Thou art no Sabbath-drawler of old saws.'
TENNYSON: Sonnet to J. M. K.
IT was not only in regard to ritual matters and sacramental teaching that Father Dolling had been getting during his stay in Portsmouth into more and more opposition to the 'safe 'party in the Church. The question of the Welsh Church Disestablishment was much to the front, and at this time he was a strong advocate of the severance of the ties between Church and State, and voted against a resolution to 'save the Welsh Church' at the Landport ruridecanal meeting summoned to express its opposition to the proposed measure. The S. Agatha's branch of the English Church Union, which was a large and vigorous one, was also, we think, the only branch of the Union which ever passed a resolution in direct support of Disestablishment.
In his later years Father Dolling was less inclined to regard that measure as necessarily the inauguration of a better condition of Church life. He feared that all power might get into the hands of the wealthier laity, who would practically dictate the line which the clergy should take. But a 'Church Defender' so-called he never was, or never would be, at any period, believing that the existing condition of the English Establishment is bound up with Erastianism, or the popular conception of the Church as a State department. Erastianism in any form he detested as strongly as did Mr. Gladstone or the seceders of the Free Kirk movement in Scotland. He regarded it as the death of true Christianity, as fettering the Church, regarded as part of the great Catholic Society, and also tending to numb and check the efforts of personal and enthusiastic religion.
We here reproduce a sermon which he preached on the subject of 'The Church and the People,' as one of the special Christian Social Union addresses delivered in 1895, and published under the title of 'A Lent in London.' The first of the series was delivered by the then Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Benson), and it is this one the conclusions of which Dolling daringly ventured to criticise in his own address-Had it been a matter of academic scholarship or abstract philosophy or some point connected with the by-paths of Church history, he would have had too much modesty and good sense to express disagreement, at least in public, with so eminent an authority as the great prelate to whom he alluded. But the Archbishop had spoken of the relations of the Church to the working classes, past and present, and that was a subject on which Father Dolling was an expert, and had certainly gained some right to be heard.
The little sermon must be taken as a Avhole, and his criticism of the weak side of the English Church is one that, however shocking for those to acknowledge who prefer the ostrich policy in regard to unpleasant facts, is none the less one that most unprejudiced observers are likely to ratify. His statement about the English Reformation is amply justified by what such learned Anglican writers as Dr. Watson Dixon in his 'History of the Church of England,' or Dr. Jessopp in his essays on 'The Great Pillage,' tell us. Dolling's loyalty to the Church of England was genuine. He never wavered towards Rome for an instant, even when most solicited that way, and his Catholic and sacramental principles made Dissent impossible for him, much as he personally loved many Dissenters. But he did not conceive of 'good Churchman-ship 'as involving shutting our eyes to plain facts. The following is the sermon in question:
'"There is a Church question to-day. Something wants doing." I would thus venture to translate Prince Bismarck's famous words. The very fact that I am asked to speak upon the question of Town Missions, and that one of the Church papers has for the last six or seven weeks delivered itself over to the discussion of the question, "Why don't Working Men come to Church?" surely proves conclusively that something wants doing. For the last eighteen years of my life I have lived amongst working men, the vast majority of whom are altogether untouched by the Church of England. Working as a layman I saw this more plainly than I do to-day, though I have tried, even after I was ordained, to preserve my common-sense. When I was ordained I was sent by Bishop How to a district containing 7,000 people in the East End of London. I don't believe that twenty-five of these were influenced by the Church of England.
'Nine years ago I took charge of my present district in Landport. It contains between five and six thousand people. Dr. Linklater had had charge of it for two years. When he came there were not five communicants living in it. Nor is this to be wondered at. The parish from which it is taken contained 23,000 people, and was worked by a vicar and a curate. I thank Grod there were five active centres of Dissenting worship in my own district alone. In the county of Hampshire there are practically three great towns: Winchester, with a population of over 19,000, has twelve beneficed clergy, dean, archdeacons, canons, minor canons, etc.; Southampton, with a population of over 65,000, has fifteen beneficed clergy; Portsmouth, with a population of over 159,000, has sixteen beneficed clergy. Canon Jacob, in Portsmouth, with splendid self-denial, keeps nine curates; but there are few Canon Jacobs in the Church of England.
'The real difficulty is that those in authority know nothing about it. Bishops give timely notice before they visit parishes, and generally see things through the spectacles of the clergyman or of the ecclesiastical layman, generally a much more ecclesiastical person than the clergyman himself. If they want to know the real truth let them get a census made of the male communicants. It is far wiser to know your weakness than to know your strength. Many believe that increase of population will explain our present failure. But did you ever know a new district springing up without some Dissenting worship being offered to the people? I don't believe it is a want of liberality on the part of Church people that prevents the Church of England doing the same. It is the red tape of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the freehold of the parochial clergy. But even in places where there has been no increase of population--the large mother parishes of London and the little village churches where for the last thousand years there have been priests and Sacraments--what is the proportion of regular communicants?
' Don't think for a moment that I mean to say that the working man of England has lost his respect for religion. I once read in a French author, "You in England have two Sacraments, the Bible and Sunday. You retain them both. We had seven, and have well-nigh lost them all." I would to God that I could impress upon you how much the maintenance of this respect for religion has depended on our English Bible and our English Sunday! Let us be very cautious before we dare by act or word to weaken their influence. Don't let us be ashamed to confess what we owe to the splendid work of the Dissenters. It makes me oftentimes sick at heart to hear the way in which the newly-ordained, strong in the orthodoxy of his High-Church collar and of his grasp of doctrine, speaks of these class leaders, at whose feet he is unworthy to sit.
' And yet, thankful as we are to God for the self-denying and consistent witness that they have borne to Jesus, a present Saviour, we cannot but recognise that without the Church men cannot be perfected. The Church has lost its hold on them, and they have lost their hold on the supernatural. The Reformation in England, the work of the King and the aristocracy, never really touched the common people, and because it lacked a popular element, lost its democratic side, the chief power in the Catholic Church for revolutionising the world. The parish became the property of the incumbent, the diocese of the Bishop. You remember the story of the wife of an Established minister in Scotland remonstrating with her husband when she saw all the people crowding into the Free Church, and his answer, "He, my dear, may get the people, but I have got the tithes in my pocket." The incomes given in the pre-Eeformation times partly for services now discontinued, or only now just being gradually restored, and partly for the good of the poor, their education and their needs, the clergyman being then the only man of light and of learning, has become now the prey of his wife and his sons and daughters, enabling them to be educated like ladies and gentlemen, and to take their part in upper class society. Not only is the money their prey, but oftentimes the management of the parish as well. Do you think that you will get working men, or any other men, interested in that in which they have neither part nor lot? Practically the clergyman is forced upon the parish, and in turn enforces his own methods, perchance even those of a Low-Church wife or of a Ritualistic daughter. Does "vicaress" spell "vicarious" ?
' And there are far graver scandals than these. Men, perfectly incompetent through age and illness, must linger on because, forsooth! of their families. Everyone pities them, but, for God's sake, let us pity them out of our own pockets, and not out of God's tithe. Sometimes it is the clergyman who is really to be pitied. He would do anything he could to touch the people, but how can he, seeing he has never learnt? A public school, a university, does not train a man to understand artisans or farm labourers. Five per cent, of his parishioners, his equals, he does understand; 15 per cent., those hungering after gentility, he may guess at; the 80 per cent, he is practically hopeless with. Then he is bound to consider the feelings of those with whom he mixes most freely, who support his charities, and very likely with many true kindnesses help himself. There is a deeper meaning in S. James' scathing words than the actual localities mentioned.
'And then the terrible difficulty of the Book of Common Prayer> containing as it does but one popular service, the administration of the Holy Communion, which has been till quite lately reserved for a few of the elect, shorn of all the assistance which music might have rendered to make it understood, with no dignity of glory about the rendering of it, frigid simplicity according to the mind of the Church of England falsely interpreted. Morning and Evening Prayer were at best services for clerics or for the really spiritually instructed, full of difficulties, full of perplexities. Is it any wonder that men preferred the warm and loving and personal worship that they found in the chapel? Is it so long ago since many dignified clergymen believed that the chapel was really more suitable for common people?
' And if the Church of England suited the working man so badly in ecclesiastical matters, did her attitude on social questions suit him better? You have been told how largely the very roads and bridges, the art and education of England, were due to the clergy; that liberty in England is due to the undauntedness of Bishops; that the history of the Church of England is "a progressive tale of the upward march of men." I am constrained to believe this because of the authority of him who said it. But in all earnestness I pray you ask yourselves, Are there ten working men in England that believe it? Perhaps you will answer back to me, "All this can be reformed," A free Church can reform herself, a fettered Church never. And if your heart is aflame to defend the Church of England, first, at any rate, see that you cleanse her. And you will never do this until you have the courage, not only to think, but to speak the truth about her; to put away from ourselves all tall talk, and in a spirit of true and real humility begin by confessing where we fail. Let those in authority put the question to the test, let them through Convocation propose the needed reforms; and if our Establishment forbids us to reform, let us burst our bonds and set ourselves free.
'And now I believe that the Missions in the Church of England are practically doing this very thing. They are indoctrinating the minds of the younger clergy with the spirit of divine discontent with their methods and themselves. Just as from the slums of Holborn and London Docks the restoration of the beauty of worship arose, which, attracting the multitude, has enthroned the Sacraments in the hearts of understanding and intelligent worshippers; the life of poverty and degradation, of meanness, of utter want, which those pioneers in mission work shared with their people, by the sharing enabled them to understand their minds, their longings, their desires, so as to translate into a language which they could understand the Catholic learning of Oxford schoolmen; so to-day it is the contact with the suffering and degraded and impoverished that enables men to translate into actual amelioration the theories and statistics which Oxford and Cambridge Christian Socialists have, at the cost of so much toil, evolved. Splendid as the individual and personal work is of so many of our present Missions, yet their actual achievements are as nothing compared with their power as centres of education. They are the leaven which, little by little, is leavening the whole lump of the Church of England. And if I might venture to suggest, like all true educational centres, they make terrible demands on the teacher. If to go down and stay at the Oxford House is merely a fashion, an interesting way to spend a few weeks in the year; or if men from the universities or public schools for change do a little slumming, as fashionable women did ten years ago, the use of Missions will soon cease. It is the enduring of hardness, it is sharing the life as far as possible, the very food, the understanding of the thoughts, the realising of the difficulties, the carrying away out of sight poverty which degrades men and women made in the image of God, a discontent with the luxury, the "needed comfort" as it is called of modern life, that will create amongst the educated classes a true enthusiasm for the righting of wrongs that cry out continually into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth, for which, if we do not repent of them, England's Church, at any rate, because she has not dared to speak out the truth, must expect her punishment.
' And for those of you who cannot from circumstances take part in this actual work, do not let other burdens besides that of personal suffering and labour fall on those who are doing this work for you. It is possible by denying yourselves--and surely this season of Lent speaks of that--to remove in a large measure one of the most wearying of these burdens. During the ten years in which I have been privileged to conduct Missions I calculate that I have spent at least eight hours a week in begging. It would be perfectly possible for the congregation that hears me to-day to relieve me of this. Let each one of us put it to our own conscience whether we are doing our duty to Almighty God and our fellow Christians in this respect.'
No wonder that, apart from 'third altars' or 'extra services,' Dolling's relations with the ecclesiastical authorities were seriously strained when he left S. Agatha's at the beginning of 1896. Even before his departure there came also the implied condemnation of his line of action from one whom, of all the English prelates (along with the Bishop of Rochester), he felt himself nearest to in regard to the great social questions of the day--i.e., the late Bishop of Durham, Dr. Westcott.
Dolling was to have taken a parochial mission at S. Mary's, Tyne Dock, in that Bishop's diocese, early in 1896, but the Vicar, the Rev. G. King (now Bishop of Madagascar), wrote to say that the Bishop of Durham had requested that he should be asked not to come because of his action at Landport. This was immediately after his resignation of S. Agatha's Bishop Westcott added, in his letter to the Vicar of S. Mary's, that, in his judgment, 'submission to authority is essential for the corporate life of the Church.'
Dolling's natural criticism on this was that he had not resisted authority, but had resigned when he could not conscientiously submit to its requirements. He felt much pained j by Bishop Westcott's action, but it is pleasant to record that just before the time of his going to America, in 1897,!> Dr. Westcott wrote him a long and friendly letter, in which he speaks of Dolling's 'exceptional powers' and of the great pain and sorrow the line he felt bound to take about Tyne Dock (which he said was only a request to the Vicar, not an inhibition of Dolling) had given him. The letter ends:
'I feel that the surrender of our own will and judgment to our responsible rulers is vital to the permanent success of our work, and I pray that God may give you this with all other blessings in the fulfilment of your service.
'Yours, with every goodwill,
The one direct and open inhibition of Dolling as a preacher at this time proceeded from the then Bishop of Worcester (Dr. Perowne), who sent a peremptory document to the Rev. G. Napier Whittingham, Vicar of Evesham, forbidding him to allow Dolling the use of his pulpit for a proposed course of sermons in Lent, 1896. The Vicar and churchwardens of Evesham urged Dolling to deliver the course in a public building in their town, but Dolling declined, writing: 'It would not be right for me to accept your people's very kind offer, for I am very desirous never to disobey a Bishop.' The churchwardens sent a strong remonstrance to Dr. Perowne.
A large number of the beneficed clergy in all parts of England invited Dolling to preach or lecture at this time, and if he was regarded as a 'suspect' by some of the Bishops, he certainly was welcomed by a multitude of the priesthood and a large section of the laity. Such pulpits as those of S. Paul's Cathedral, S. Margaret's, Westminster, and many other less noted churches were occupied by him at times during this his 'out of work' period, and in many of the great West End churches he was a most frequent and welcome preacher. In the pulpit he was felt to be unconventional, fresh, and powerful, speaking with manifest sincerity, in a good sense a man of the world, and yet enthusiastic, never dull, and yet even in his boldest ventures never really vulgar.
During this period (January, 1896, to May, 1897), except for these various preaching and lecturing expeditions, and for an excursion for health to Algiers in 1897, he was staying in London with his sister, Miss Josephine Dolling, at 48, Wetherby Mansions, Earl's Court. The presence at this house of a dear little child, Leah Hunter, grandchild of Mrs. Crowe, Miss J. Dolling's friend (formerly the famous tragic actress, Miss Bateman), was a great joy to Father Dolling. His love for children, which was a marked feature in his character, often saved him from depression and vexation.
It would fill too much space were we to trace all his movements at this time. His preaching engagements brought him all over the country. He generally asked (and received) large offertories in order to pay off the building and other debts on S. Agatha's, so as to relieve the new Vicar of so great a load. His efforts to raise money for his ministerial and social works were so incessant, and, we may add, so successful, all through his life, that he said in one of his printed letters that his epitaph ought to be, 'Now the beggar died.'
But he did not forget to help the good works of his friends as well. He was especially interested in Miss Violet Oakley's Children's Home, the Barry Orphanage, Dulwich. He loved it because, like Miss Wells' S. Agatha's Home at Portsmouth, it is managed in a human rather than mechanical way, as a family rather than as merely an institution.
On February 5, 1896, S. Agatha's Day (the patronal feast of the Landport Mission), a special day for intercession for Father Dolling and for S. Agatha's was observed at the well-known Church of S. Cuthbert's, Philbeach Gardens, Earl's Court. He gave a talk there to his friends in London gathered together on thaiv,day.
Not only, as we have seen, was Dolling invited to preach in 'Eitualistic 'Churches, but in many others of various description. His clerical friends were not all of one theological complexion. He met with an affectionate reception in many a rectory, in spite of his plain speaking about the Church and the clergy, and every new place he went to he left fresh friends behind him. No man ever had more of what Shakespeare calls 'troops of friends.'
He made some visits to the North at this time. On one of these occasions, when on his way to stay with his friend, Sir John Eiddell, at Hepple, Rothbury, he went down Hartley coal-mine, where he was delighted with the spectacle presented there of healthy, vigorous, and splendidly organised labour in the very bowels of the earth, and of the utilisation of scientific inventions and appliances to increase the efficiency of the coal industry.
He preached in some of the Newcastle churches, especially in S. Thomas', Barrass Bridge, an important church, of which the well-known Christian Evidence writer, the Rev. A. J. Harrison, is the incumbent. The latter writes: 'Dolling spent all Sunday, July 19, 1896, with us. He took all our hearts by storm. It really was love at first sight, and he never lost our hearts.' He had preached often at S. Luke's.
At All Saints', Edinburgh, he preached for a week, at the beginning of November, 1896, to a crowded congregation at 3.30 and 8 p.m. daily. Many Presbyterians attended his ministry on this as on other occasions in Scotland. We are told that at one of these Edinburgh addresses he much amused some of the clergy in the congregation by saying:
'I often think we clergy are the most ridiculous body of men going, and as to the jokes that are made about us on the stage, we have only ourselves to thank for them.'
We may quote the following from a lady in Scotland, living in the country, whom he visited at this as well as at other periods:
'Mr. Dolling's visits always seemed 'to me to make us all--servants, guests, mistress--feel happier and better able to fight the daily round of life, with its constant small troubles and frictions. But R. R. D.'s personality and presence seemed to cast a halo upon everything, and I can truly say young and old loved him when they fell under his influence. He was ready to join in everything, and had a wondrous power of thinking himself into people's interests.
I lament over the loss of our dear friend's presence. His little addresses on Sunday in Scotland, either in a tiny church or in a room set apart for prayer, were wonderful, and were attended by very many. He actually had among his congregation Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, and people used to come four or five miles to hear him. The Roman Catholics were told not to attend.
They obeyed in the letter, but not in the spirit, as they came and sat under the open windows of the tiny chapel and heard every word. Nor were they asked to come.'
In the early part of 1896 much of Dolling's time was occupied in composing, at his sister's house, the book 'Ten Years in a Portsmouth Slum,' which contains the story of his labours and of those of his helpers at S. Agatha's. It was his only publication of any length, although he published some occasional addresses, and also in his last years contributed articles to the Pilot on the subjects on which he knew most.
Many of his sermons, which were always without fully-written MS. (although often with extensive notes), were reported, and the newspaper records of several have been preserved. His book is a bold, unconventionally written record of his work and ministry as head of the Winchester College Mission, Portsmouth, and of the general history of the mission during his ten years in Landport. It had a wide sale, and received praise from the most unexpected quarters.
Among Nonconformist papers, the Methodist Recorder, in an article (May 20, 1902) published shortly after his death, writes thus of this book, 'Ten Years':)
'We shall never cease to be thankful for his "Ten Years in a Portsmouth Slum," and shall cherish the memory of a life wholly devoted to lifting up the destitute and outcast. His love of sinners was his glory.'
The book is now unfortunately out of print.
At this time, and often before and since, Dolling spent some time at the house of a friend in Gloucestershire, Mr. Thomas Dyer Edwardes, whose residence, Prinknash Park and Manor, among the Cotswold Hills, is one of the most interesting places from its historical associations among the ancient homes that are the architectural glories of England. Mr. Edwardes frequently asked one or other of the clergy of S. Agatha's to stay there, from time to time, for rest and change, and a more delightful transition from the slums of Landport it would be hard to imagine. Prinknash House was the summer residence of the last Abbot of Gloucester, Abbot Parker, in the days when the glorious cathedral of Gloucester was S. Peter's Abbey. Queen Elizabeth Wood-ville on one occasion, and Henry VIII. and his Queen, Anne Boleyn, on another, are believed to have slept under the roof of Prinknash. After the Dissolution the house passed into the hands of an unscrupulous supporter of the New Monarchy, Sir Anthony Kingston, who harried the monks, and afterwards, in Mary's reign, complying with all the changes in religion, led the Reformer Bishop Hooper, to be burnt at Gloucester. S. Peter's Chapel, adjoining the house, is said to have been dedicated by Laud, afterwards the martyred Archbishop, who was a friend of the then owner of Prinknash. The park, with its thickly-wooded plantations, monastic gardens and fish-ponds, and the nightly hooting of its solemn owls, is a fitting setting for the grand old house itself--a splendid historical relic, touched with all the enchantment and poetry of the past. The associations of the park are relieved by the vista of open landscape seen through the broad spaces where the sunlight strikes in between the mystery and the shadow of the woods. A place more different from S. Agatha's Parsonage, arnid the slaughterhouses and fried-fish shops of Landport, it would be hard to conceive.
Here Father Dolling was always an honoured guest, ministering and preaching on Sundays when at Prinknash in the chapel, which, as an ancient 'Peculiar,' enjoys special rights as being not only the private chapel of the house, but also the parish church of the estate.
Mr. Dyer Edwardes has supplied us with a few of his remembrances of Dolling as follows:
'I was, and still am, a resident in the winter months at the Riviera, and about fifteen years ago I used to attend a small Anglican chapel at Nice. In this little chapel I heard Father Dolling preach on behalf of his Landport Mission, and he at once captivated me with his bright and then almost boyish personality. He spoke with a tenderness and originality the like of which I had never come across before. He afterwards asked me to come and see him at Landport on my return. His magnetic personality captivated you; you felt as if taken possession of. I gained in him that priceless thing--a true friend, on whom one can rely in joy and in sorrow. The addresses which he gave in Prinknash Chapel touched all hearts. I was constantly asked, "When will Father Dolling be coming down again?" The people who heard him never forgot him. He dedicated the new altar and apse in the chapel, and he once held here a retreat for many of the local clergy. I was told by his sisters that in his last illness he was constantly talking of Prinknash, and hoping that, if God spared his life, he might be able to go down there again and lie in a chair on the lawn, but it was not to be.'
During this 'out-of-work' time Father Dolling revisited Portsmouth more than once, much to the joy of all his old friends there.
Several attempts were made during these eighteen months which intervened between his Landport and American experiences to get him a suitable sphere of work, but some hitch seemed to occur in every case. The Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's might have appointed him to S. Mary's, Somers Town, had it not been that a previous six years' clerical work in London was a necessary condition for the occupant of the post. Dr. Marshall invited him to take S. Eaphael's, Bristol, but it was practically a chaplaincy to a sisterhood rather than a parochial sphere. There was a probability of an 'Episcopal' Church in Glasgow being offered to him, but the idea fell through, and in any case the post would scarcely have been suitable. We may mention here that while he was in America a mission district in Middlesborough, Yorks, was offered to him by the Rector of S. Paul's in that town, but Dolling's reasonable stipulation that it must first be made a legal parish could not be entertained.
We ought to note here that while Dolling was out of work a remarkable offer was made to him from South Africa. The Bishop of Mashonaland wrote to ask him to undertake a work of extreme interest at Buluwayo, involving splendid opportunities of influencing a large and important class of young men. Though Dolling declined this, as being rather too old for the peculiar kind of work required, yet he was much touched and gratified by the Bishop's offer, coming, as it did, at a time when most English prelates seemed to regard him with fear and trembling, in some cases privately asking those of their clergy who wished to have his ministrations not to do so, for fear of giving offence and aggravating the much-exaggerated 'Church crisis,' which was then beginning, and so of endangering the Establishment.
The Bishop of Mashonaland writes about this offer the following letter, which he kindly allows us to publish:
'The Bishop of Pretoria has forwarded your letter re Father Dolling to me for reply. Yes, it was I who gladly offered dear Dolling the work at Buluwayo at the time when the Church at home was afraid of him and his splendid enthusiasms and aspirations--practically showing him a dignified cold shoulder, unable, seemingly, to hold or use his gifts. I offered the work to him, firstly, because there was a great work to be done, and I knew he could do it; and, secondly, because it burnt into my soul to think of the shame of acknowledged failure on the part of the mother Church to keep such gifts as his in her service. Dolling wrote to thank me, but felt he could not begin at his time of life to grapple with the problems of colonial work. I expect he was right so far, but had he come we should all have felt honoured by his fellowship and inspired by his example as
"One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward;
Never doubted clouds would break;
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph:
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake."
His was a truly evangelic, martyr spirit. His religion was from his boyhood a business, and his business was religion. Is the Establishment too select for such?
'Yours very faithfully,
The parish of S. Nicholas, Deptford, in the Diocese of Rochester, was vacant during part of this time, and strong influence was brought to bear on the patron in order to secure it for Dolling. It would have suited him admirably. It is mainly inhabited by persons engaged in the foreign cattle trade and in slaughter-houses (there are over seventy of the latter in Deptford), and all its population is of a type which could only be effectually dealt with by a personality such as that of Father Dolling. But the effort to secure this parish for him fell through, and as time passed on it really seemed as if the rulers of the Church of England, semper pavidi, did not want such men as Dolling, and as if the Anglican, self-complacent temper had learnt nothing from the terrible examples of its failure to deal with Wesley and his followers in one generation, and with Newman and his disciples in another.
The failure of this effort--the only one, we think, of those suggested the success of which would have thoroughly gratified Dolling by affording him a suitable environment for his peculiar powers--led him to think of the United States as affording a possible sphere, and so he accepted an invitation from the Rev. Dr. Mortimer, Rector of S. Mark's, Philadelphia, to cross the Atlantic on a tour of preaching, conducting missions, etc., in America.
Before he left England he had delivered a remarkable series of sermons to men, during the Lent of March, 1897, in the historic church of S. Margaret's, Westminster. The subjects were:
'The East End Loafer.'
'The West End Loafer.'
'The Society that Breeds Them.'
'The Church that does not Save Them.'
These were daring subjects and daring titles. Few sermons of his made a deeper impression. Several Members of Parliament attended them, and large numbers of men of all classes also. 'Father Dolling,' said a well-known M.P., 'was one of the few clergymen I could ever listen to with pleasure. He was so human.'
In his treatment of the third subject the preacher insisted most powerfully and pathetically upon the crime of the murder of womanhood, the defacing the Divine image in a human being, and encouraging the sale of God's temple for the vilest sacrilege. It was a subject that had burnt itself into his soul.
In regard to the Church, he said, what he so often repeated, that 'since the Reformation, the Church of England had been lost to the masses'; that it is a Church which, whatever its excellencies in other directions, has been out of touch with the interests and ideas of the 'common people' of England.
The great ground-text, the bedrock, as it were, of Dolling's social and religious teaching, the very nexus of his Gospel, is Gen. i. 27: 'And God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him." This sublime faith in the grandeur of man's capacities and vocation, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, was to Dolling the incentive of all his labours, the foundation of all his hopes. He could have repeated with profound and joyful agreement the grand words of the Catechism of the Kirk of Scotland: 'The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever.' Hence he insists on the necessity of opportunities of virtue and goodness for all. He will not have woman sacrificed that man may indulge. He insists that society should dare to be just in its judgments, to speak of the 'fallen man' as well as of the 'fallen woman.'
These Westminster sermons of Dolling's were no beatings in the air. They were blows straight from the shoulder, not aimed at some abstract heretical notions of past centuries, but at the living devils of to-day. He always spoke plainly of much that is wrong and anti-Christian in existing social arrangements, and the vital root remedy for reaching the source of these evils he proclaimed to lie in the more sincere acceptance by all classes of society of the purity and self-sacrifice presented to us in the Person and the Gospel of Christ.