Father Dolling's work with individuals--His friends' recollections of various incidents--Specimens of his correspondence--His speech at English Church Union meeting, S. James's Hall, on [the Lambeth opinions (October 9, 1899)--His article to the Pilot on 'The Genius of the Church of England' (February, 1902).
'Personal influence the means of propagating the truth.'--CARDINAL NEWMAN: Parochial and Plain Sermons.
'Surely whosoever speaks to me in the right voice, Him or her I shall follow, As the water follows the moon, silently, With fluid steps anywhere round the globe.'
AT Poplar, as before all through his life, an immense amount of work was done by Dolling in the recovery of individuals from the effects of misfortune or of sin. Continually persons were coming to stay with him, by his invitation, in order to be set right, like those who came to David in the cave of Adullam, 'everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented.' Still Dolling's sympathy for those who had received the hard knocks of the world, his love 'for helping lame dogs over stiles,' did not lead him to be a mere credulous believer of tales of misfortune. His great experience and his keen insight into character balanced his human kindness and that Bohemian strain in his temperament which led him to sympathise with Bohemians; and so he kept lines consistent with reasonableness and common-sense in his dealings with the multitudes of 'cases' (for their number was legion) which came before his notice. In his accessibility to individuals needing moral and spiritual help (while without necessarily pressing his own form of Christianity upon them), as well as his sympathies with all movements for the emancipation of labour, and in his cordial personal relations with Protestant Dissenters, he much resembled the late Cardinal Manning. His was the Manning rather than the Newman order of Christian activity and influence. We are not alluding to the more diplomatic aspects of Manning's career. We have heard of a gentleman who, owing to some difficulties in England, was leaving for Australia, and who, though an Anglican, went to see Cardinal Manning immediately after his farewell interview with Father Dolling, and was much helped by the sympathy and judgment of both. He said that Manning asked him about his Anglican friend Dolling, of whose goodness the Cardinal had heard.
His power in dealing with individuals consisted in his capacity of restoring self-respect by trust and confidence. He made the man believe in his own God-given capacity to rise out of the slough of despond and stand upright as a man, holding Christ's hand, for he never taught mere self-reliance of the stoic kind apart from Christian faith. He brought out any good there was left in the man by his own trust in him. He treated the convicted thief as if he were an honest man. He would ask the apparently hopeless drunkard to do little acts of kindness and usefulness for him to show that he did not abhor him.
Dolling was often blamed for the severe language he used about his brother clergy, and certainly the higher his conception of their office, the heavier the demands which he felt that people had a right to make upon their capacities and their lives. It must, however, not be forgotten that there are many priests who owe, humanly speaking, to his loving patience, his hopeful firmness, and his tenderness of heart, the fact that they are now restored to the happy and useful exercise of their ministry, a ministry no longer stained by intoxication or impurity, or, it may be, dishonoured by theft. If the moral recovery of a priest is more difficult than that of a layman, there is probably no one in the English Church, as many of her own Bishops could testify, who has more frequently and more successfully restored his clerical brethren from despair or hardness of heart to learn to exercise their priesthood as a sphere of honest, manly penitence than has Robert Dolling.
As to his influence with individuals, we have received an immense amount of correspondence and recollections from people of all ranks and classes in society whom he has helped and strengthened, set right, or kept right in body, mind, or spirit, in the most various ways: in a multitude of cases through the exercise of 'absolution with spiritual counsel and advice' in sacramental confession, administering this special help and discipline in accordance with the directions of the Church of England, which so plainly claims to retain and to exercise that 'power of the keys 'which Christ has committed to His Church; often through a personal interview of a confidential and religious nature; often through the daily intercourse and influence of friendship--that natural sacrament, as he always regarded it--yet always with the result of cleansing, bracing, kindling the soul, if any capacity for good remained in it at all. No priest probably ever dealt with a greater variety of souls. There lie before us proofs of this in regard to some of the highest of the aristocracy of the land, and in regard to Landport butcher-boys, for instance. In all cases there was the same personal longing regard for the individual's good. He used to remark that Christ took as much trouble and care in dealing with the peasant woman of Samaria as with the rich and learned Sanhedrist, Nicodemus.
But the best evidence of this will be given by quoting from a few of the mass of letters which have been received either by his sisters after his death, or by the present writer in regard to this biography. A great deal of this matter, though of extreme interest, could not be inserted without unduly enlarging the present volume. A clerk writes as follows:
'The warfare of good against evil, as evidenced in a single being's life, has had of late years no better personification than in him who is now no more. While with him and under his eye I was a sturdy Protestant, and am so still, but I can only say that a more real, trusting, heart-whole Christian man I never met. The pressure of the world is very great against an outspoken man of Mr. Dolling's type. I fear he felt it of late years, and wore himself out in the stress. I often think of the small dark S. Agatha's of 1892, when I attended the men's services, and where we used to sing his favourite hymn, "Thy kingdom come, 0 God." '
The same writer, who had been employed in the London postal service, writes also as to the S. Martin's League days:
'The spirit of comradeship was the one requisite, and this was at its highest at the annual League supper in the Holborn Town Hall, when enthusiasm reigned. On that night scores of postmen in uniform, and sorting-lads out of it, might have been seen at a late hour going over "Blackfriars Bridge in a long string singing, en route to Borough Road house, previous to dispersal, finishing up with an earnest request from Brother Bob that no one would be late for next morning's early duty at G-.P.O. or branch.'
A tramway driver writes to the Commonwealth:
'We workers want men to-day like the late Father Dolling. Lord keep his memory green!'
An actress whom he had known from childhood writes:
'When Father Dolling came into the pit of the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, I was playing Sophia Freelove in "The Road to Ruin." I saw his face, surrounded by many "boys," and heard his hearty laugh loud above all others. How he enjoyed a joke, didn't he? Dear Mr. Dolling!'
The following is a letter of a different kind from a well-educated young man who had wasted his chances, and whom Dolling had sheltered at St. Agatha's parsonage, with the hope of putting him straight:
'MY DEAR MR. DOLLING,
'I don't know how to write and tell you what a cad I have been. I stole your cheque-book on Saturday, but, thank God, I have not got anything from it. I filled in three cheques in my madness, which I return to you, so that you may see that I have had nothing. I am so awfully sorry, and I am especially thankful to God that He stopped me in time from fraud. You will understand that I am really repentant, because if I had burnt the book and the cheques it never would have been found out. Will you, can you, ever forgive me? I have asked God to do so, and I hope and believe He has. My reason was this--I owed some money. Fancy, after you being so good a friend to me, my doing such a thing! But I feel I must confess it like a man. Please write and tell me you forgive me. I am so sorry, but still let me call myself,
' Your affectionate friend,
A clergyman's widow writes:
'My husband was in great distress, and although we were entire strangers to Father Dolling, directly he heard of it he sent instant relief. He also made a most wonderful offer to my husband, who was seriously ill at the time, and who had been ordered to go to a more genial climate. Father Dolling offered him, free of rent, a beautiful house in the Isle of Wight, and sent a cheque of £6 to cover travelling expenses. My husband only lived for six weeks, and after his death I received the enclosed letter. Mr. Dolling's sympathy and goodness saved me from despair.'
The following is the letter referred to:
'MY DEAR MRS.-----,
'I am very sorry about your dear husband, and yet I bless God for it. He is saved from more pain, and the end was quiet and peaceful. I am sure you will be in difficulties about money. Please accept this from me. God strengthen and bless you!
'Yours very faithfully,
'R. R. DOLLING.'
The following is from an old Wykehamist, now filling an important official post in connection with one of the departments of State:
'The sight of Dolling and the knowledge of him were good for us all--the fact of him in fact--a man obviously a good sort, and obviously brave, unselfish, hard-working, self-denying, who was at once cheerful and humorous, and also certainly in earnest. Dolling did not teach so much as exist. One found one's self glad to be with him, and realised that one was glad because he was good.'
Another Old Wykehamist writes, in reference to Dolling's intercourse with the Winchester College men:
'He did not talk to them about religion--"pi jaw" it would have been called; he did not pose as a priest, but simply lived among them as a boy. During one of his visits to Oxford, where social intercourse took the form of breakfasts, lunches, etc. (everyone being anxious to secure him as a guest), he met a well-known Evangelical clergyman. The latter said to him, "I hope, Mr. Dolling, you are making good use of your opportunities among all these young men," meaning, of course, "you are speaking to them about religion." Dolling's reply was, "Oh! I'm having three square meals a day." Needless to say, no irreverence or impertinence was intended.
'As an instance of his unconventionally, I may mention the following: Once while he was watching the Eton and Winchester cricket match, in the midst of the well-groomed and daintily-dressed crowd that assembles on that great occasion, he turned to "Mrs. Dick" and said, "I say, Mrs. Dick, my collar is undone at the back. Can you put it right?" She, nothing abashed, being as unconventional as himself, replied, "All right, come along," and so before the whole company she searched for and restored the erring stud to its place, Dolling all the while being quite unconscious that he and Mrs. Dick were the centre of attention from the polite crowd around.'
The well-known journalist, Mr. Eaymond Blathwayt, writes of him, among the 'Pen Portraits' of the Daily Mail:
' A sturdy Anglican priest, broad-shouldered, thick-set, with smiling, clean-shaven face, and with all the best traditions of an English public school about him, Father Dolling was emphatically the right man in the right place. He had plenty of romance diluting an abundance of good, sound common-sense. He was a very broad-minded man. The modern High Churchman generally is broad and liberal. Father Dolling, like Father Ignatius and Father Stanton, never hesitated to take a leaf out of the Dissenting minister's book, if he thought well to do so. A queer but attractive combination--ultra-Catholicism with extreme Evangelicalism--and a very clever one. And therefore on account of this and other like concessions Father Dolling had an extraordinary influence everywhere, and with all sorts of people and denominations.'
Rev. C. Jupp, founder and warden of the great orphanage at Aberlour, Strathspey, tells us that Dolling once said to him in regard to the work of Dissenters in slum districts:
'Sir, thousands in the slums are perishing, both in body and soul. If these people are helping to save one or both, God forbid that you or I should put a stumbling-block in their way!'
An officer who was an old friend of Dolling's writes:
' On one afternoon when I called on him at S. Agatha's, he said,
" I wish you would take out Piggy for a walk." '[Piggy was one of /
the then residents of the parsonage.] 'So Piggy and I took not one walk, but many, varied by tea at my own house. After Piggy had been emigrated to the uttermost parts of the earth, Dolling told me, in a most matter-of-fact way, "I thought it better for Piggy to go about with you, as he was just out of prison, and he might have got loafing about with anybody and have got into mischief." Once, when I was residing at the opposite side of the Harbour, I had to telegraph to him to say that my little son, an infant, was not likely to survive the night. Presently the dear man appeared at the frontdoor, his head enveloped in a shawl, and his hat in his hand. It jq appeared that he was ill in bed when my telegram arrived, and, although suffering from an abscess in the jaw, he had got up and crossed Portsmouth Harbour in an open boat in order to baptise the little one.'
A Rector in Suffolk tells us the following:
'Early in August, 1891, we met him at a hotel in Rotterdam. I was to be known as a priest by my dress, but the reverend Father's costume was neither distingué nor distinctive. He was going for a tour down the Rhine, the expenses of which were to be paid by the kindness of Winchester College people, who insisted that he must go. Father Dolling spent a long morning with my wife and myself at Utrecht. Great was his horror in entering the cathedral, which belongs to the Dutch Protestants--a horror which found vent in copious quotations from the Psalms of David, particularly 74th and 79th. He seemed to have absolutely no knowledge of the nature of the Dutch religion, and when he saw the splendid Gothic interior whitewashed and all the seating apparatus facing sideways to the sanctuary towards a big ugly pulpit, and--horrendum dictu--the place of the altar itself occupied by a large marble tomb on which lay the recumbent effigy of a fat, ill-clad Dutch admiral, his indignation and surprise knew no bounds. Later on we visited the Jansenist churches. The Jansenists seem to lack enterprise and even knowledge of their position as distinct from Rome. Towards the evening Father Dolling decided he must leave the dreariness of Utrecht for the sunny Rhine, to which his dear boys would have him go.'
One who is now in Deacon's Orders writes thus:
'When I first met Father Dolling I was left alone with shattered ideals; I loathed everything and everybody, especially religion. I had well-nigh made shipwreck of my faith, and life seemed a chaos. "You had better stay with us a few months," he said, "till you get straight." I worked with him for a longer time. I became rejuvenated--a new man.'
A lady writes:
'His influence reached to all sorts of people living practically alone in the great town of Portsmouth. How lonely the life of a high-school mistress can be only those who have tried it know. He made S. Agatha's to me, what it was to so many others, a home.'
Another lady writes:
'The last time I saw Father Dolling I met him in London on an omnibus. As usual he had with him some of his "lambs." He said to one, "Sonny, get up and make room for this lady." This "son" I should not like to have met in a country lane alone. I noticed then how stout he was growing, but he had the same jovial voice and a face beaming with love for the outcast and rejected.'
We quote the following from some interesting recollections sent to us of visits to Father Dolling at S. Agatha's paid by an Irish Church Rector from the South of Ireland:
'Has it occurred to you that Dolling had in his character a blend of the self-willedncss and determination of the Saxon and all the love and sympathy and impulsiveness of the Celt? It was the union of these characteristics which made him what he was. You will remember, too, that the scene of Columba's labours in Derry and Donegal was the scene of Dolling's youth. He seems to have inherited in no small degree a share of Columba's sympathy and love. ... I cannot forget seeing Father Dolling administering Holy Communion at 5 o'clock a.m. to a number of bluejackets who had got permission to be off their ship. . . . He was a great Christian Socialist, a reformer of abuses of every kind, but the principle of the Incarnation formed the working principle of his life. He gave his life to the people, lived among them, worked among them, died among them. He was barely tolerated, in the main, by the Church authorities--at least, up to his Poplar period. No doubt a better and juster appreciation of the man was setting in before his death, and I am of opinion that this will go on advancing. The scant sympathy shown to Dolling is a blot on the history of the English Church of our time. The Episcopal policy of accentuating the "not otherwise" of the Act of Uniformity, as proved by the result, must ever be a ruinous policy to the best interests of the Church. The Church has, through the instrumentality of "not otherwise," suffered the loss of thousands of her children, men and women, who might have continued hers, but who are now often her bitterest enemies. There should be for such men as Wesley and as Dolling exceptional freedom of action, much less rigidity of rubrics. Dolling was an extraordinary and exceptional man, exceptionally fitted to effect what the clergy of the "not otherwise" school had miserably failed to effect, and therefore he should have had exceptional freedom of action. In the district of Landport, in which Dolling's mission was situated, there were, I think, 16,000 souls; and although I dare say the "not otherwise" system of the Church of England had been faithfully carried out there, yet what was the result? Thousands of these people were practically heathens, leading material, animal lives, morally and socially sunk in degradation. These people never entered a church. The "not otherwise" services never touched them. Dolling felt, was this to go on for ever f
This Rector goes on to say that, while at S. Agatha's, he gave some help in pastoral visitation, and he writes:
'I remember a poor dying woman in Moore Square' [the worst slum in the district, consisting of hovels built round a slaughter-yard]. 'What had taken a powerful hold on this poor woman's heart was the sacramental teaching of the Church. She told me that the words of Christ, "This cup is My Blood," were ever present to her mind during her illness, so great was her faith in the reality of the Blessed Sacrament, and in this faith she died. I remember administering the Eucharist to a young married man, who told me that he owed his conversion to Father Dolling. He died of consumption, and I perceived in his case also how powerfully Dolling's sacramental teaching affected and supported him. The people's love for Dolling was extraordinary. The children delighted in S. Agatha's, and the Eucharist which they attended on Sundays was so sung that a skilled musician, a very dear friend of mine and of Father Dolling's, the late Arthur Patton, a distinguished graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, has told me that he was so attracted by the musical beauty of the service that he came the whole way from Durham to Portsmouth before leaving England to hear it.'
Arthur Patton, mentioned above, was an Irish friend of Dolling's, one of the few Trinity College, Dublin, men whom the latter knew intimately, and one of the very few laymen in Ireland who understood and sympathised with the main aims and principles of the Catholic Movement in the Anglican Church. He was no mere Ritualist, but a well-read theologian in addition to his other gifts, some of them of a brilliant character; and his delightful humour, kindliness, and generosity of heart made him one whose memory will never be effaced from the minds of those who knew him as his friends. Dolling had for him the most cordial affection, although in regard to Irish politics they had little in common, Arthur Patton doing considerable work for the Unionists, and Dolling being a supporter--at least, at that time--of the Irish Home Eule Party. The following estimate of Dolling's attitude towards the policy of the 'safe 'and Establishment-loving section of the English Church is supplied to us by a very old friend of his, who is a priest of much experience, not only in educational, but in parochial work, having been for several years one of the staff of All Hallows', East India Docks, London--the Rev. A. H. Kennedy, now Diocesan Inspector of Schools for the Wakefield Diocese. It exactly describes Dolling's view of the situation, as distinct from that of those who correspond to Cardinal Newman's sober and well-meaning persons, 'who steer the ship of the Church through the channel of No-meaning, between the Scylla of Ay and the Charybdis of No.' Mr. Kennedy writes:
'In regard to all the great questions of life, there was in Dolling the same endeavour to look at things as they are. He refused to allow himself to be blinded by polite and conventional phrases, or to take things for granted because it was pleasant to believe them. He measured the work, for instance, which he had to face in Land-port or Poplar, not on the assumption that he was a priest of tho Church of England, ministering in a Christian country, but according to the facts of the case. He knew well that the Church of England is the Church of only a small minority of the English people, and that we have not to keep, but to win, the great town populations. But there was something greater, more divine, even than any agreement of the intelligence with his ideas that made so many to be his friends. It was the moral attraction. This the character of Dolling enforced on our attention. Everybody felt and saw the width of his love, the breadth of his sympathy, with all sorts and conditions and ages of men and women.'
The following, which we regard as singularly true in its insight, is from one who, when a naval officer, first knew Dolling at Portsmouth. The writer, as he tells us, is now a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and the reasons he assigns as keeping Dolling from the same Communion seem to us just the true ones in his case, and we can state this as the result of several conversations with the latter on the Roman question:
'What principally constituted to me the charm of the mission at Laiidport was that there the ideal and the real, aspiration and action, seemed to be less disconnected than usual. What one would usually call "views" were there raised to the dignity of convictions--i.e., they found an issue in action, instead of, as is ordinary, beginning and ending in a futile exaltation of sentiment. Opinions on matters social or religious were not there like uneasy, disembodied spirits, nor was the "common round" a lifeless corpse. The former animated and informed the latter; the latter gave body and reality to the former. In matters strictly religious I knew him even less than in other matters, but if I may single out a point, it shall be that in spite of the eager desire which his great power of sympathy produced in him to be in tune with the spirit of the age (so that I do not think he could have remained altogether separate from any opinion enthusiastically held by large numbers of people--such an opinion as Imperialism for instance), his faith was quite "unsicklied o'er by the pale cast of thought" in such a matter as the efficacy of prayer. He took prayer for all sorts of temporal gifts very much au sdrieux. I remember being much put out because he prayed for, and got, a sum of money wanted for some special object in connection with the new church. As regards his attitude to the religion of my adoption (the Roman Catholic), what I have said above applies--it was not in him to be otherwise than sympathetic towards so widely held a belief; but, no doubt, much in the Church ran directly counter to his strongest instincts. The unquestioning obedience, which we think the first of all the virtues (as in a way containing them all), did not, I think, make any appeal to him. Certainly he would not have imitated a man as keenly sympathetic as himself with the outcast, S. Peter Claver, S.J., who ceased his good works promptly when ordered by his superiors to do so. Another reason of alienation from us was that he recognised the gulf which separates the main body of the English nation from Popery. A third arose from his confident belief in his own priesthood. In conclusion, I may say that although his views and actions in matters economic and religious were often of a kind to give scandal to a mere theorist, yet he remains to me the nearest approach to a great man with whom I have ever come into personal contact.1
In regard to the allusions to the attitude of Dolling towards the Roman Church in the above letter, we may quote here what we have been told of an interview which a layman friend of his, a University graduate, now taking a leading part in University Extension lecturing work, had with him immediately after the ultimatum arrived from the Bishop of Winchester, which led to his resignation of S. Agatha's:
' I went straight to Mr. Dolling's house, and found him sitting in an armchair reading a novel. He was in his gray frieze coat, which always suggested to me the word "sportsmanlike." There was no trace in him of commotion or irritation. I asked him what it all meant. "It means," he said, "that they want me to join the Church of Home, and I'm not going to do it." This alluded, no doubt, to some of his accusers, and to certain false analogies drawn between him and the well-known Father Maturin, who had preached in S. Agatha's a singularly able sermon on S. Paul just before he joined the Church of Rome. But, as a matter of fact, Mr. Dolling was much more undenominational than he was Roman, and between him and the Church of Rome there was an impassable gap of what may be called English instinct.'
The following letter is from one of a class--medical men--with many of whom Father Dolling had constant relations as friends and as co-operators in work for the relief of suffering humanity. It was written to Miss Dolling after her brother's death:
'As a Roman Catholic doctor, whose life has been spent amongst the poor of the East End of London, may I be permitted in this hour of your bereavement to offer you the sympathy of a heart which is also bleeding for its own loss. We of the East End well know what our poor have lost in the death of your saintly brother, and we of the Roman Church can perhaps best appreciate the value of noble priests like Father Dolling. If the Church of England is to hold its position amongst the masses of the people, it is only by such men as Father Dolling, Stanton (my own dear friend), and Adder ley, that it can be done. You will forgive the offer of my poor sympathy. Its only value is that as a Roman Catholic I know what a devoted celibate priest can do for his flock. My firm belief is that Christianity in England can only be saved by the influence of men like your brother. May Christ, the Consoler, the Comforter, and the God of all consolation, be with you in this hour of sorrow.
'Yours faithfully, 'X.
Mrs. Cashel Hoey, the well-known writer, who much valued Father Dolling's friendship, wrote as follows on hearing of his death:
'This sad world is incalculably the poorer for the loss of him. How absurdly insignificant the so-called great people and great aims and deeds of this world look when we place them side by side with such a man and such a life!'
A gentleman who constantly went to hear Father Dolling preach writes of the peculiar union in his preaching of strong rugged sincerity with an exquisite power of management of the voice in such a way as to express sympathy and pathos. These characteristics are not often found combined in one preacher--i.e., unconventional reality and perfect voice modulation. A gentleman filling an important position as an owner of property in one of our English counties writes of Father Dolling:
'My heart is still full of grief at his loss, and it will never be otherwise with me. I have lost my best and dearest friend and adviser.'
One of Dolling's strongest supporters, Mrs. Barrow-Simonds, of Abbott's Barton, Winchester, has, since his death, also passed away to the activities of the world beyond. Although her main interests lay with the Church of S. Mary Magdalene, Munster Square, she had ever been a constant helper of S. Agatha's since its foundation, and she combined strength of character and mental power with a deep devotion to the Catholic Faith. One whose work among the masses is not dissimilar in its thoroughness and evangelical character to that carried on by Dolling--i.e., the Rev. J. Burn, Vicar of All Saints', Middlesborough, wrote of him after he had paid a welcome visit to All Saints': 'I think I admired and loved him more than any priest I have ever seen.'
The Rev. Dr. Belcher, Rector of Frampton Cotterell, who has been mentioned before, tells us that he can never forget the 'Retreat' which he took for soldiers and sailors at S. Agatha's, which had been arranged and prepared for by Dolling. The fact that such a thing, an event well-nigh unique, was possible shows the wisdom of Dolling's methods with such men (and they were not the strictly 'pious' class). He once said to the Rev. R. Armitage, now chaplain at Woolwich, that he never tried to force religion on his soldier friends, but encouraged them simply to 'go straight and play the game.' In time, however, his influence generally went deeper, and Mr. Armitage tells us that 'when he preached to the men he held them spellbound. As a preacher to soldiers he was splendid. In the barracks they followed him about in crowds.' But this striking side of his work--i.e., among soldiers--we have already described at length in a previous chapter. Dr. Belcher also tells us that on one occasion at S. Agatha's Dolling introduced him to two of the women communicants, a mother and daughter. Both were then earnest Christian women and workers for the Church, but before their conversion the mother was the keeper of one of the most notorious houses of shame in Portsmouth, and her daughter was living an evil life. This case, which the present writer also knew of, was one of the most wonderful moral miracles of which Dolling was the instrument, but there were many similar ones.
We may be allowed to insert here a few words from an account sent to us of Dolling's influence with the rough youths of Landport by a lady (then Miss Nance, now Mrs. Gator), who managed a club for those fellows, under his sanction, when he was at S. Agatha's.
'Mr. Dolling and S. Agatha's Mission was the only kind of religion that ever appealed to them, and I feel sure I could never have persuaded them to go and talk about their lives to anyone else. They said, "Oh, he's different; we don't mind him." I could tell of miracles of healing under Mr. Dolling's touch. One young soldier said to me, "He laid his hand on my head, and, I don't know why, I told him all I had ever done."
'They always thought, when they went to church and anything was said that fitted them, that Mr. Dolling was meaning them. When once he said, in an address, "Are you a thief? Do you give as much of your wages as you should to your mother?" they had an idea that he knew all about them. I remember one very bad fellow whom I persuaded to come to the mission service. Mr. Dolling, seeing him, prayed for him, and he has led since an abso lutely reformed life.
'It was rather pathetic at the time Mr. Dolling was resigning. These rough youths came to me and said, "We hear it's about that little altar. Of course, he doesn't like to pull it down; but we don't mind doing it for him, and then he need not go." '
The following is part of a letter sent from Ontario by one of the 'rough boys,' who was emigrated, but had first 'taken religion,' and been instructed and confirmed:
'You talk about hot. Hot is no name for it, for when I am milking the cows the sweat runs faster than the milk; but it is a lovely place where I am, for on one side is a mountain, and on the other is the lake where I often go to bathe or catch fish. I went to Communion on the first Sunday in the month, but I shall only take it every other month, as they don't have it in the proper way. They have Communion here after morning service, and they don't believe in going without their breakfast. The people here say I am High Church, but I don't know whether I am or not.
'Dear------, the pipe that you gave me I found out was olive-wood, which came from Palestine; but when I got here I lost the stem, so, as the people here object to smoking, I have given it up, and drinking, too, for they say it is more for my benefit than their own.'
One who constantly attended South Mimms Church, Middlesex, when Dolling preached there, as he often did for his work both at Landport and Poplar, tells us that persons who seldom entered the church crowded there from all parts around, even on weekdays, and that the painters working at a neighbouring house asked if they could leave off in order to hear Father Dolling, and that they all went to hear him.
We may insert here two letters to Dolling, showing the variety in type of his friends.
First, from a soldier who wished to get into civil life in order to marry, and from the girl he was engaged to:
'I am writing to thank you for purchasing my discharge. I will pay you back most truly as soon as I get my money. That will not be for another twelve months. 'Hoping you are quite well, from
'GEORGE and BESSIE.'
Second, from a young farmer--a line of remembrance:
'DEAR MR. DOLLING,
'We are having very mild weather here now. I hope it will continue, so that the March winds won't cut off the young crops. . . .
'Accept love and best wishes from
The following letter was sent to the secretary of the Dolling Memorial Fund soon after the first Memoir of Father Dolling appeared:
'I have been deeply moved by reading Mr. Clayton's "Memoir of Father Dolling," the story of whose life and work was new to me.
'I had, of course, heard of his great work at Portsmouth, but had no idea that he was one who had such an intense love for his fellow-men, utterly putting to shame, as it does, our own shortcomings in the service of the same Master. Indeed, I must confess that a deep hostility to Ritualism prejudiced me against his very name until reading the book. I have now learnt to love the man, and to long to have more of his Christ-like love to the lost and the downtrodden. . . .
' Yours very truly,
'X., 'Late missionary in Central India.'
Of letters written by Father Dolling himself we have seen but few which could be reproduced. Letters about him abound. Letters of his own are brief, nor have we been able to procure many of them. His ministry was not of the nature of an apostolat épistolaire. He wrote, generally, tiny scraps, in a hand very difficult to decipher. Of all the materials for his biography his correspondence is the least significant or fruitful. This is remarkable in the case of one who had such a multitude of friends, besides a great number of penitents who had profited by his ministry in confession, and spiritual children of all descriptions. Many of his friends also were scattered all over the world. Still, even to them he seldom wrote more than a few lines at a time. We reproduce, however, a few of his letters. The following relates to circumstances as to which we have no knowledge. It is characteristic in its brevity and its reality of tone:
'MY DEAR -----
'I am so sorry. Give him my love, and tell him that there is only God, who always forgives and always loves;
'R. R. DOLLING.'
From Scotland to that great friend of his, the Rev. John Trant Bramston, one of the Winchester College masters:
'July 25, 1896.
'For the first time after two years I miss your house supper. It is a real sorrow to me, and if it were possible, I should be with you. I wish I could tell you what a help and strength your house has always been to me, and how thankful I am to you for enabling me to know some of my truest and best friends. You and dearest Mrs. Trant will know how in spirit I am with you, and heartily to those who are leaving I say "God-speed," and to those who remain I say "God's strength."
'R. R. DOLLING.'
To a clergyman about his mother's death, and about the secession to Borne of one known to both Dolling and his correspondent:
'I have just seen about your dear mother's death. You and your missus will miss that daily visit very much. May God grant us all the like end! One day's illness, senses and memory clear, the Blessed Sacrament from hands that we love.
'X. wrote to me about himself months ago. Our Church has done nothing for him, and he has naturally a deeply religious mind. His father seems to have acted very kindly. He will indeed be a loss to the English Church.
'R. R. DOLLING.'
To a young working-man contending against some special temptation:
'I do not forget to pray that God may give you grace with your besetting sin. I am so glad you have got work. 'God bless you and your wife always!
'R. R. DOLLING.'
Extract from a letter to a young Oxford man disposed to Neo-Pagan ideas:
'The worship of beauty for itself degenerates into sin. It was the curse of the Renaissance. The worship of strength has its climax in Baal, the worship of beauty in Ashtaroth. Beauty is God's great refinement of the world, but it must be used in God's spirit. All love except that learnt in the heart of God is selfish or sensual.'
Letter to Mrs.------, a very old friend:
'S. AGATHA'S, LANDPORT, 'April 26, 1886.
'MY DEAREST FRIEND,
'I am so glad to get your letter, but sorry for what you say of yourself. I think you have been doing too much, and you ought to make a resolution to leave off work when you really feel tired, and certainly not to begin work when you are tired. Of course iron [the medicine] is good. I have swum in it.
'I am glad you like Mrs.------. ... Of course, in that respect, she is silly, but she has a great heart.
'Why won't you come to stay a little at Portsmouth? X. and his missus [two mutual friends] are splendid. 'God bless and keep you!
'R. R. DOLLING.'
Many of Dolling's letters end with, 'Come and see me,' or some similar invitation. He seldom attempts to deal with the difficulty at length by correspondence where an interview was possible. A thought sent to one in doubt is: 'Why should you expect your faith to be made any easier for you than your morals?' Another frequent saying of his on this subject is: 'Faith is to my soul as my eyes are to my body. Faith is God's gift just as eyesight is, and I can injure it as I can my eyesight.'
From a letter to a gentleman whose little child was in a dangerous illness:
'The most pathetic thing in the world--a little child in pain.'
Letter to a gentleman on the death of his wife:
'MY DEAR FRIEND,
'I hardly dare to write. It seems no one can enter into a sorrow so deep. But death only joins those we love closer and nearer to us because they are now nearer to God. The true union is of spirit, and the material having passed away, that barrier is now removed, and when we are also delivered from the burden of this flesh we shall not only see God, but also see each other as we are. I do pray this for you both, and I know that the little son, her son, will be a great motive for the highest consecration of life. God help and bless you always!
'R. R. DOLLING.'
To one troubled as to the Anglican Church:
'I must write you a line. It is all possible in the English Church. This is just the moment, and God has granted us the grace of witness.'
To a person disappointed by Pope LeoXIII.'s condemnation of Anglican Orders:
'I think anyone who knew must have known how the Pope must decide. If he had said otherwise, he must have convicted his predecessors for the last three hundred years of the grossest acts of sacrilege in re-ordaining unconditionally English priests. The acts of the Holy See have been the best exponent of the teaching of the Holy See. So I always expected this. The reasons given, however, in his judgment (and why he gave them I cannot for a moment think) are not good.
'If the Sacrament of Orders were tied to one form of words, as Baptism and the Blessed Sacrament are, then of course there could be no question; but they never have been.
'East and West use different forms of words in ordaining, and it is just the question on which Pope Eugenius, I think, made an historical error long ago by saying that the Sacrament of Orders depends on the "Giving of the Vessels," and this Pope was historically wrong in this. No doubt at the Reformation individual Bishops had not the intention of conferring what we know to be Orders when they laid on hands, but if that invalidated ordination, whose ordination would be insured? But if the English Church had wished to get rid of Episcopacy and the Priesthood there was a very easy way to do so--i.e., to do as the Continental Reformers did--i.e., give up the names and give up the distinctive offices conferred in ordination. . . .
'The question of Jurisdiction is, of course, quite different to that of Orders.'
He goes on to say that if the Episcopate is such by virtue of its union with the Pope, then, of course, Anglicans are in the wrong, but
'if the Episcopate exists by virtue of its continuous succession from the whole college of Apostles, then the question is decided on the English side.'
The above is the most distinctively theological letter of his we have seen, and almost the only one of that kind which is of any length.
To a friend in great trouble:
'I do pray for you every blessing. Never think that I feel anyone a burden. In the midst of troubles to have to force one's self to enter into another's troubles is ever a great gain. You can understand how self-centred we are.'
An answer to one who had been forbidden by a medical adviser to communicate fasting on Easter Day, owing to bad health:
'If you cannot communicate fasting without being unwell, then break your fast; but if you can do so without being ill, then it is better, for the sake of preserving a universal custom of the Church, to receive fasting.'
To his cousin, the late Rev. E. Dolling, Rector of Hinton S. George, Crewkerne, on the death of his son, a young clergyman, who had gone to work at Qu'Appelle, in British North America:
'MY DEAR, DEAR RADCLYFFE,
'I cannot say that I am sorry, for it seems as if it was just God's very best way of dealing with the dear lad. It was so great a blessing to you his having actually given himself to God in his year in Canada, and God using that gift made to Him in the way of leading the lad more quickly home than in His mercy He sees fit to lead us. It will all make a sad Easter, but that brighter treasure of love, that having, as it were, a special interest in Paradise, how good it is! Do come to us whenever you can; you are both more than welcome.
'R. R. DOLLING.'
The following extracts are from letters written to a lady whose brother had died in Central Africa, and who was not likely to be helped by the more obvious kinds of consolation:
'As humanity is now, it must be perfected by suffering. Some of us believe this is true of the individual himself, and that this being perfected is visible, and can be measured year by year; some of us go further, and say that what we see in germ here is fulfilled hereafter. Every pain and discipline of the Now, when seen in the perfect knowledge of the After, has its recognised use in the result.
But if we do not believe this of the individual, we can, and must, of the human family. It moves towards perfection, and this movement is marked by pain, suffering, self-sacrifice, and the highest death. The heroes of the future perfection are those who suffer for it. He laid down His life. What exact proportion each act of self-sacrifice has to the whole we cannot measure. What the civilization of Africa means to the world's perfection future history will relate. But the smallest wheel or chain in the great machine is as necessary as the greatest. . . . Where does God come in? The whole of the Body of Humanity--our body--moves towards its perfection, a tendency towards righteousness. It is made up of every nation, kindred, and tongue quite foreign to each other, each group quite distinct from the fellow groups, different capacities, different opportunities and aims, and yet all move towards one point, all meet in the ocean that ends all--ends all, that is, as far as conflict is concerned. What is the Centre of attraction, that irresistible Force which draws men against their own instincts, against self, to the higher ideal, an ideal--at any rate at present--outside the Now? We call it God. The name does not matter much. We mean the same thing. Some think that the individual man is lost in that perfect Whole. We believe he remains, his own individuality still abiding. My instinct teaches me that as well as other things teach it to me.'
The following letters were written by Dolling from S. Saviour's to one of the Bishops, not his own diocesan, at the recent time when efforts were made to revive the authority of the Act of Uniformity in order to curb the Ritualists:
'MY DEAR LORD BISHOP, 'November 4, 1899.
'A most excellent cook, whom I have known for a number of years, came to me yesterday. She told me a story that I cannot possibly believe, but I venture to send it to you. There is one Celebration a month in her parish church, and that after morning service. In the winter there is no service after 3.30 on Sundays.
There are no week-day services whatever. Even on S.------'s Day (the Patron) the church was closed. I know you are "taking order" about those who are disobedient to the Archbishop's idea, or your own idea, of the Act of Uniformity, for many of the priests and people of your diocese have revealed to me a very distressed state of mind. Might I venture to crave for my poor cook, who attends S.------'s, the possibility of obeying the Apostolic injunction? She thinks her church is in your diocese. If it is not, I should be glad to communicate with the prelate within whose jurisdiction it is.
'Yours very faithfully,
'R. R. DOLLING.'
Also a second letter in reference to the same:
'November 8, 1899.
'MY DEAR LORD BISHOP,
'I do not mean to be ironical. I thought the contrast so extraordinary. I know------and ------' [naming two 'Ritualistic' churches within the Bishop's diocese], 'priests and people. I know what your conscientious action has cost them. This girl came to me. Surely her parish priest is far more to be blamed than the clergy of those other churches? He breaks the Uniformity Act every day, and sometimes more than once a day; these others only on Sunday once. Here, surely, is a case in point--a case to prove whether things are forbidden all round, or only to certain clergy. If so, why? This is a question asked me every day by souls in great distress, who feel that the episcopal action is almost more than they can bear. One attempt to deal with the same justice would be surely a great encouragement to believe that the government was not one-sided. I wonder sometimes how far we realize each other's difficulties--we yours, you ours. If we misjudge, forgive us, and may God forgive us too. But it is full of difficulties. Perhaps some of us have too many people's burdens to bear, so that we lose our sense of proportion. . . .'
The rest of the letter is on a more private matter. In a letter of reply from the Bishop in question the latter says that the parish alluded to is a relic of the past. Your letter will give me an opportunity. I think it may be claimed for the Bishops, or some of them, that they have tried to see things from your point of view, and to show consideration for it--at least, as much as you have for ours.'
In regard to above correspondence, whatever the differences between Father Dolling and the Bishops generally, they did not consist in his advocating Mariolatry or such devotional practices as the Worship of the Sacred Heart, for he regarded most of the persons (after all but few) who are eager to introduce modern Roman cults into the Church of England as of a decadent type. His vital difference with the ecclesiastical authorities was in the conceptions held respectively by them and him as to the importance of the Establishment to the Church's spiritual mission and character. To most of the Bishops the Establishment is, in the philosophic language of the late Bishop Westcott, the 'spiritual organ of the nation.' It sometimes appears as if they regard it as even the articulis stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae. Dolling, on the other hand, could have taken John Wesley's words as his own: 'Let the Establishment stand or fall as God wills, but let us build the city of God.' Indeed, he would have gone farther, for the Establishment was to his mind one root cause of the 'sober worldliness,' as Dean Church styled it, which has ever been the evil genius of Anglicanism, and the explanation of the almost entire absence of 'the common people' from the parish churches of England. Nor did Dolling believe much in reforms merely initiated to stave off Disestablishment, or talked of periodically, and then relegated to committees. 'The Church Reform League,' he wrote in the Pilot, 'has been bishoped out of existence.' He was, in the main, frankly anti-Establishment, and a 'Free Churchman' in principle. His hatred of Erastianism and his democratic sympathies--in fact, both the theological and political sides of his mind--concurred in this. This, and not copes or chasubles or incense, was in our opinion the underlying root difference between Father Dolling and the Bishops. In a word, he was 'unsound' on the Establishment. It was not, however, only in correspondence that he took the opposition side at this time. He plunged in medias res by criticising the entire policy expressed bj jtbe 'Lambeth Opinions' in a vigorous speech which he made at the crowded English Church Union demonstration in the S. James's Hall on October 9, 1899, a speech which was afterwards published and obtained a wide circulation. We quote a part of it in regard to the attempt to make the Tudor Acts of Uniformity the absolute living rule as to the details of worship in the modern Church of England, or, rather, to do this as against one section of the Church, while the natural meaning of the Ornaments Eubric is openly disregarded by the Broad and Low Church parties, and all except 'the Ritualists' are allowed to act as they please. Dolling did not give exaggerated value to ceremonial details as such, but he thoroughly agreed, though from a totally different point of view, with Mr. A. Birrell (the author of 'Obiter Dicta'), that 'it is the Mass that matters,' and with the statement of one of a different theological position to that of Mr. Birrell, the late W. E. Gladstone, that 'the greatest object of all is the re-establishment of the Eucharist in its proper and Scriptural place as the central act of at least our weekly tvorship.' It was one of the main aims of Dolling's life and ministry to advance this object which Mr. Gladstone so accentuates in the above passage reproduced among Mr. G. W. Russell's recollections of that great statesman's theological and religious convictions. Father Dolling believed that the bringing of the service which the first Prayer-Book recognised as 'The Holy Communion, commonly called the Mass,' out of the secondary and occasional position into which it has fallen in the Church of England, and the making it once more the crown and climax of each Lord's day, is the chief liturgical reform necessary in the Anglican Communion. He therefore deplored the episcopal attempt to suppress the use of incense, because it seemed to him to be a concession to the efforts made to check the restoration of eucharistic worship, with its historic and appropriate ritual, in the Church of England.
'I must say my experience of to-night teaches me that if there is going to be any war on the clergy, the person who tries to make war won't get much of a chance. It seems to me that the Act of Parliament which is supposed to have been put in motion by the Archbishop of Canterbury is of so drastic a character that nobody need be in the least afraid as to what he will be doing in a year or two, for he will certainly be in gaol according to that statute. I got a clever mathematician to make up some statistics about it, and he informs me that every clergyman has had hanging over his head since perhaps three days after he was ordained the possibility of going to gaol for life. This is the penalty for three offences of anybody who adds any word to, or leaves any word out of, the Book of Common Prayer, or who adds any ceremony whatever, whether he be a Bishop or only a common clergyman. Therefore there will be no Archbishop to try anything, and there will be nobody to bring any question before them to be answered; for anybody who abets the clergyman in doing this--that is, all the acolytes and the choir, and, I suppose, even the kind ladies who are present who have anything to do with the ornaments of the altar or working the vestments, because they thereby abet, they also will have to go to gaol for life. Then anyone who interrupts the clergyman is liable to severe penalties. And last of all, every layman and, I suppose, every laywoman, though they are not mentioned, who does not go to church every Sunday and every Saint's Day, and listen to all the morning prayer and the sermon, will be fined tenpence and be excommunicated, and not paying the fine, will also go to gaol; so that at the end of three years the whole Church of England will be in gaol, and will have practically committed suicide.
'I know, however, that the purpose for which I was asked to speak here to-night is not this question about which I have been speaking; others understand that better than I. But I understand one thing, and will say, without fear of contradiction, that whatever has been the message of the Church of England, up to fifty years ago it was a message without Sacraments; the Sacraments were practically lost to England. They may have been enshrined in the Book of Common Prayer, but they were lost as far as the majority of men and women in England were concerned; and this is evident whether you go down to East End parishes like my own, or whether you go to country villages, like one at which I was recently preaching. I will give you a test: Go and ask some chaplain at Aldershot how many of the lads, whether officers, who come from every public school in England, or privates coming from every city or from every little village place, how many of them on Easter Sunday last received the Holy Communion? How many of those dear lads, who are starting out to die if necessary for England, are going out in the strength of the Sacraments? The awful question to be driven home is that, as far as England is concerned, the Sacraments are lost; and I challenge any clergyman, or any layman, or any Bishop, in the whole of England, to say that he can in any sense be satisfied with the methods by which the Sacraments are received in England to-day.
'And if I were asked, Could you point out a parish where more people are brought to the Sacraments than in any other place? it is ten to one it would be one of the very parishes that this present message of the Archbishops is directed against. It was not until at Holborn and down in the London Docks, and then in a hundred other churches, men had been brave enough to face the rebukes of their Bishops, that the Sacraments were again popularised by the old Catholic method. Therefore what you and I should demand, at whatever cost and at whatever hazard, is that which belongs to every branch of the Church--namely, power to bring home the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the present times and the present needs; because, as He Himself is for all time and over all persons, so the application of His Gospel and His Sacraments cannot be bound by the methods of 300 or 350 years ago.'
A pressing Church question of a practical nature with which Dolling often dealt during the last few years of his life was that of the failure in the supply of candidates for the ministry, and the incapacity of many who were accepted and ordained to do any evangelistic work. Purely speculative questions of abstract theology interested him but little. He could cordially have re-echoed the great saying of S. Ambrose prefixed by Cardinal Newman to his 'Grammar of Assent': 'Non in dialectics, complacuit Deo salvum facere populum suum '(Not by logic did it please God to save His people). As to the 'New Criticism,' Dolling's position was liberal, though also orthodox, and he would probably have seen nothing in the 'Hastings' Bible Dictionary' to disturb or frighten him. 'It does not matter,' he would sometimes say, 'whether there be one Isaiah or two, or forty, provided the book so called contains a message from God.' But most certainly these were not the problems amid which he found his special metier. The causes of the failure of the Church of England to develop vocations for the ministry in all classes, and the remedies for this, were essentially questions, on the other hand, after Dolling's own heart, and in dealing with which he was thoroughly at home.
We may quote here the following words spoken at S. Stephen's, Walbrook, in one of the Christian Social Union sermons for Lent, 1903, delivered there by the secretary of the Union, the Rev. Percy Dearmer, on March 12, as they exactly express Dolling's message, continually insisted on, on this point:
'The Church of England to-day is a "class" Church, and not national, as it was intended to be. Prior to the Reformation the clergy were drawn from all classes, and a peasant had as good an opportunity as anyone of rising to be a Bishop. To-day it is not so, and money plays too great a part in reference to candidates for Holy Orders. The "call of God" seemed a minor consideration. But in spite of man's disapproval, God was calling poor men to-day to serve Him in the Church, and the way would assuredly be opened for them.'
We may refer also to the excellent book, 'England and the Church,' by Father Kelly, founder of the Society of the Sacred Mission, Mildenhall, who has himself been instrumental in starting an important training-place there where candidates for the ministry abroad and at home are prepared amid simple and disciplined surroundings. The college which is in its infancy at Mirfield, in connection with the Community of the Resurrection, and the hostel at Hooton Pagnell, Doncaster, in connection with Lichfield Theological College, are also promising efforts to enable vocations to be fulfilled by persons without the pecuniary and other resources which have been in the past practical essentials for entrance into the Anglican ministry. Work in connection with King's College, London, is also likely to be developed in this direction.
At a meeting in Zion College, called to consider this question, shortly before Dolling's death, the latter was one of the speakers. A paper on the subject was read by the Rev. Dr. Bernard, Archbishop King's Lecturer in Divinity, Trinity College, Dublin, and since Dean of S. Patrick's. Another Irishman, Dolling's old friend and East End neighbour, whom he had known well in the Maidman Street days, the Rev. Dr. Wallace, Vicar of S. Luke's, Burdett Road, was in the chair as President of Zion College. In Dolling's speech he assailed the Anglican 'resident gentleman in every parish' heresy, and pointed out that in England social position was too often the basis of the parish priest's influence--the 'freehold 'and the vicarage--whereas in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, for instance, a peasant might rise to be a prince of the Church, and that there respect was given to the spiritual office of the priesthood and episcopate, and the social surroundings connected with them counted for little in comparison. In saying this, of course he was not ignoring the advisability of liberal culture for the clergy where it can be had, but he urged the accentuating and developing of the spiritual side of their office and character as the first and great essential, and that regardless of the desire not unfre-quently manifested by county families, or by the newly enriched who imitate them, to annex the Church of England as their peculiar religious appendage.
Of the immense prejudice still existing among representatives of that which calls itself the 'sober Church of England spirit' against any other than a class ministry, a ministry to which certainly none of the twelve Apostles could have gained admittance, we may, as an instance, quote words spoken at a meeting in support of the Queen Victoria Fund in Preston on March 18, 1908, by a noble lord who represents earnest and honest Anglicanism of the Establishment type:
'He pointed out that the clerks in mercantile offices were receiving far higher salaries than many of the clergy, some of whom had 16,000 people under their care. He stigmatized the condition of things that prevailed as a disgrace and a scandal. It was not surprising, under the circumstances, that there was a falling off in the number of candidates for Holy Orders. It had been suggested that the remedy was to draw candidates from a lower stratum, but as a layman he strongly opposed any such suggestion.'
The speaker apparently would scarcely have recognised as a clergyman Chaucer's ideal priest, the 'Poor Parson,' for
'With him he had a ploughman was his brother.'
This seems to be a suitable place in which to print some parts of an important article on 'The Genius of the Church of England' which Father Dolling contributed to the Pilot of February 15, 1902, exactly three months before his death. It is worth reading, as containing a criticism of the existing ecclesiastical situation in regard to the genius of that moderate churchmanship most favoured in the Church of England by those who steer her course. It also contains some remarks of interest and insight as to the sources of supply of candidates for Holy Orders to which we have alluded above:
'There are, I think, two reasons why the Church of England cannot supply the needs of England. First, she is tied and bound by a system that practically admits of no rearrangement as to incomes. A little town like Winchester, for instance, has more clergy than Portsmouth. The City of London has many more clergy and churches, and far more aggregate income than many of the great London boroughs teeming with population. If she were a body managed by any common-sense at all, this would all be altered at once, and she would be able to deal in a much more efficient way than anybody supposes with the terrible disgrace of leaving hundreds of thousands of people without any clergy or any church. This is, however, a very small part of the real question, and I pass to my second reason, which, I believe, is at the root of the matter. She is not only tied to a perfectly unworkable system, with no power of adapting herself to modern needs, but she has had now for many generations, and still has, a perfect genius for destroying all enthusiasm, and until she is able to evoke enthusiasm among our best young men of all classes she will never get a ministry adequate in number and power. Has there ever been a failure to respond to this call of enthusiasm on the part of our best? The War Office stifled it, and the fiasco in South Africa was the result. The war demands it, and it has been responded to from everywhere. And think of the development in India, of our Empire in other parts of Africa, of our great dependencies in Australia, of our trade victories over the whole world, now, indeed, languishing because our manufacturers have become comfortable and ceased to be enthusiastic.
What is the explanation of the English flag floating everywhere?! The ready response on the part of her best to a call of enthusiasm, perfected by dogged determination to win. Why cannot the Church get young men from our public schools and universities--the only sea in which the Bishops up till now have fished--to answer to the call? It is because there has been no demand upon their enthusiasm. It has been a nice easy profession, in which they could live comfortably, settle down and marry, and live very like their brother the squire, but on a poorer scale. If they were really clever and had good interests there was something better in store for them. During the last twenty years these inducements have been ceasing little by little, until of late, with very few exceptions, they have practically ceased altogether.
It is little to be wondered at if the supply is ceasing, and must go on getting less and less. A genius for getting rid of her best, unless her best will become commonplace--is this too hard a description of the Church of England? What else explains the extraordinary growth of Nonconformity, for which, since the Church of England would not do her duty to her children, I thank God, and surely all who love souls must, for had it not been for their ministry many a soul would have died without a knowledge of Jesus, and many a place would have been left in outer darkness? But like it or not, we must accept it as a fact, and a fact largely due to the Church of England. Is it for a single moment to be supposed that the natural man would prefer the whitewashed little chapel, with its oftentimes ignorant and unlearned preacher, to the parish church, with its wonderful wealth of sacraments and traditions? Surely it was because the parish church never had a chance; its sacraments were hidden away, its traditions were denied. The whole treatment of the Methodist Movement was an attempt to put down enthusiasm. It was not in the least on religious grounds that the Bishops objected to them, and the squire had them stoned and driven out of the village. It was because their preaching and lives witnessed against the preaching and lives of the clergy. It was because their enthusiasm for the Incarnation, perhaps not always correctly expressed, led them to look upon every soul as one for whom Christ died, and therefore for whose salvation every effort must be made. But you will say that this has been altered now. I am not so sure that it has. There have been persecutions in our times. Men have been driven out of the Church of England. What will ever intellectually compensate for the loss of Newman? What of the ignorant riots of S. George's-in-the-East; the sending of priests to gaol; the closing of perfectly harmonious centres of work, due always to a vulgar mob, with the Bishop's authority behind it? And though to-day nearly all the things which the Bishops condemned twenty years ago they recognise and approve, still, they have but one opportunist canon of conduct: Be commonplace, be respectable after the sober manner of the ritual of the Church of England. On the day of Pentecost it was said of some that they were drunk with new wine. Would to God we could see our prelates thus inebriated, or, at any rate, permitting some of their followers to be so! Individually, I suppose, spiritually and intellectually, there are no more pre-eminent men in the world than the Bishops of the Church of England. Three great prelates have occupied Augustine's chair in my time, each with special gifts far above the common man, but with one gift pre-eminent that has been fatal to their brethren--the destruction of all individuality on the part of diocesans. I wonder if it is true that there is a bedroom in Lambeth that each prelate sleeps in on his first visit; that in that room there is a bed which has the power of elongating or compressing each occupant to a certain uniform stature. At any rate, we can see the effect of this process--those that are down go up, up, up, and those that are up go down. On no question of any importance, religious or social, have the Bishops given any leading to their people unless they have been driven to it by the man in the street, and the advice they invariably give is festina lente--very wise, indeed, when you occupy the whole position, but fatal when you are leading a forlorn hope. And this attitude of theirs has been reproduced in modified forms elsewhere. I was addressing a large number of those interested in college and public-school missions the other day, and the difficulty everybody seemed to feel was to get a missioner who could create enthusiasm amongst the boys and young men by showing them things likely to evoke their enthusiasm. This instance is an indication to me of the causes which, I believe, lie at the root of the whole matter. Once let the demand be made on the score of self-sacrifice and self-denial, and difficulties to be overcome, speak of it as a forlorn hope, and you will get as many volunteers as ever you wish. But for God's sake don't let the Bishops put the enthusiast into the unifying bed. But you must go one step further back: you must equip the enthusiast, and I don't believe that a public school or a university is the best place for this equipment. It turns him out an excellent clergyman for the last century, just suited to the work that was demanded of him then. But the same young man won't offer himself now. Surely in the Church of England there are thousands of men with vocations. What, then, is the work of the Bishop, the Rural Dean, and, above all, the Archdeacon, now and again the Parish Priest?--To discover the man with the vocation. Is he related to the peerage? Does he eat with his knife! Can his father pay £1,500 for his education? What does it matter? If he has got the vocation, his blue blood, the splendid chance of his training, will enhance it. Having eaten with his knife will teach him the tact to enable other people to overcome the habit. There is a sense in which it were wise to teach those who are up to go down, down, down, and those who are down to go up. How is the money to come to do it? Oh, be a little reckless about money, have a little faith about it; but if you want to get money don't let the Bishops have anything to do with it. Why does the Church Pastoral Aid Society, nourished by a small and ever-dwindling section of the Church, get as much as the Additional Curates' Society, and the Church Missionary Society get three times as much as the S.P.G.? The very Church Reform League has been bishoped out of existence. Again it is the fatal hand. I wonder if all this is too hardly written. The only claim that the Church of England has a right to make is that she stands a servant as her Master did. How poorly she has fulfilled that duty any Church statistics will show. Go into the little villages on a Sunday, stand in the centre of one of our great city parishes, and your own eyes will show you that the want of enthusiasm in our workers of the past has left nothing to be enthusiastic about in the present. It has left only a complacent failure. And is there in all the world a more deadly thing than a complacent failure f
Whatever may be thought of Father Dolling's opinions, or rather convictions (for he was not a merely 'viewy 'person), no one can deny that he was, above all things, straightforward in his expression of them. He could with all his heart have re-echoed Cardinal Newman's sentence in the 'Apologia'--that the first necessity for those who would teach religious matters to English people to which they are unaccustomed is to realise
'that the truest expedience is to answer right out when you are asked; that the truest economy is to have no management; that the best prudence is not to be a coward; that the most damaging folly is to be found out shuffling; and that the first of virtues is to "tell truth and shame the devil."'
Dolling's article quoted above, with its 'straight talk,' was not meant by him as mere querulous carping, but as that kind of honest facing the facts which the truest loyalty to the Church demands, instead of the ostrich-like method of evading or denying them. In the end, the shallow optimism which makes safeness the ideal, and exalts moderation into the position of the queen of the hierarchy of virtues, forgetting that 'moderation is only a virtue at all when grafted on the stem of zeal,' represents a policy which is bound to hasten the very dangers which it seeks to avert. In fact, an increasing number of Churchmen, as this policy demonstrates its hopeless inadequacy, and kills all keenness and vividness of life, are likely to feel that, in spite of the various bumps and shocks he gave them, 'Was not Dolling right, after all?'
As Canon Scott Holland writes in the Commonwealth for February, 1903:
'In these '--i.e., 'vital spiritual principles'--'and not in any worldly expediencies, lies all the hope of the Church's true policy. ..."
'Bishop Davidson's point of danger here is not the Court. He has survived its perils with a singular simplicity. Rather, it is to be sought at the Athenaeum. There dwell the sirens who are apt to beguile and bewitch him. They have ceased to be mermaids with harps, and have adopted the disguise of elderly and excellent gentlemen of reputation, who lead you aside into corners, and in impressive whispers inform you what will not do, and what the intelligent British public will not stand.'
He goes on to say that, though our rulers in the Church may have
'a deep veneration for the judgment and the wisdom of important laity of this type, yet the Athenaeum is not the shrine of infallibility. Its elderly common-sense has no prophetic afflatus.'