Project Canterbury

The Life of Father Dolling

By Charles E. Osborne

London: Edward Arnold, 1903.

Chapter XXIII.

Poplar--Problem of religious indifference--Bishop Creighton's visit to S. Saviour's (June 24, 1900)--Imperialism--The South African War--Death of Queen Victoria and of Bishop Creighton (1901)--S. Saviour's Magazine--Father Dolling's 'Jubilee' (February 10, 1901)--His favourite books--His love of the theatre--Visit to Spain (May, 1901) and Aix-la-Chapelle (October, 1901)--Death of Miss Wells.

'Do you love your people?'--FATHER DOLLING: Word to the Clergy.

DOLLING had undertaken the charge of S. Saviour's at a period when he was especially likely to feel the weight of the problem presented by the spiritual and mental apathy of the people. It was the beginning of that slack time upon which we have entered when the great religious movements of the last century seem to have spent their force. At the same time triumphant democracy is not without its disappointments. Its comfort-worship, its idolatry of sport and pleasure, its selfishness towards those still struggling in the social abyss, its lack of intellectual and spiritual ideals, are features all too painfully apparent.

This was one movement into which Dolling had thrown himself with sympathy; as to the other, that to which the title the 'Catholic Revival' is given by its adherents, it can hardly be denied that a large element of triviality, pettiness, and internal division has made itself manifest, and that the deep, strenuous spirit of earlier days, the spirit of the 'Lyra Apostolica,' is apparent no more. The movement is broader, more diffusive, yet also shallower; its temper more artificial, its enthusiasms more thin and on the surface. On all sides, in the Church and in the nation, is heard the cry of disappointed idealism, the complaint of the disillusioned, 'Neither hast Thou delivered Thy people at all!' This from the few. As far as the many are concerned, contented apathy.

Personally and locally, also, Dolling had much to disappoint him. The communicants' roll, and the general attendance of S. Saviour's--the latter on even Sunday evenings often only 200 out of 10,000 population--was not, even after some years of work, an augury of much encouragement as far as the adults were concerned. The children, however, were wonderfully hopeful, and their intelligence and affection were to him a continued joy. No doubt, had his life been spared, he would have built up out of them a congregation of earnest worshippers, both men and women, as years went on.

It was the children which made him resolve, even should another post be offered, to stay (as he told his friends shortly before his death) at least five years more at S. Saviour's. As for the adults generally, he certainly did not touch them as he had touched others during his life, from the people of Kilrea onwards. Although, of course, he raised around him a number of earnest and devoted people, yet the larger spiritual influence through the parish was not so apparent.

He wrote in the Pilot for May 4,1901, on 'Religion in East London' (the italics are ours; they mark the points he constantly accentuated):

'I am doing all I can to make my little band of religious people share this work, and say to themselves continually: "We must never be content with the little knot of worshippers who form out-congregation, but we must launch out into the deep amid these heathen people. We must throw off, if necessary, the garments of our respectability, and get into the water ourselves to bring the net to land." But here, of course, one is met with a terrible difficulty: when you have got them into the Church, what can you do with them? I hold that what is needed are two opposite extremes of worship, the one rendering the other wholesome. We want a stately worship full of magnificence that strikes the eye and enthrals it, and forces the man, however ignorant, to know that he is really taking part in an act of worship to a God who demands all that is beautiful and magnificent; and, on the other hand, a simple method of addressing a living Father in prayer--praying about the things that interest those who are praying; praying for bodily as well as spiritual needs, for the bodily are felt in the spiritual; praying in their own language, showing them that their Father does not want them to talk someone else's language. It is very easy to pray for the things the people want in their own tongue.'

'We must not only have our hearts bubbling over with thanksgiving and joy in our Father's presence; we must also take off our shoes from our feet, because we are on holy ground. There is a danger in the emotions being too much aroused unless the prayer be truly one of real adoration, and so the prayer made must be only a step towards Eucharistic adoration. There one does get away from what is selfish, because there we are joined with the whole family of God in heaven and earth, each with his own individual note, but each note must be in harmony with all the rest. How is it possible to do this by any other method than the offering of the Great Sacrifice? Often it seems to me that we Englishmen are too proud to use our eyes. We think ourselves so clever and so intellectual that we can afford to dispense with those religious helps which do very well for ignorant Irish or superstitious Italians.'

In a previous article (November 10, 1900) he wrote:

'I suppose that at the Reformation, which in England came from the reigning and upper classes, and not, as in Scotland, from the people themselves, the people in a large measure lost the idea of the supernatural. Beauty, art, music, and all like things, passed out of their lives, or became completely secularised, and the God that remained, seen through the eyes of Calvinism, became a tyrant, who could not for long maintain His rule.

'The great increase of printing and education, easy journeying in and out of the country, all added their part in breaking down these bonds, and when this Calvinistic God disappeared there was no other to take His place. Private judgment had deprived men of any authoritative voice to which they could listen. The Church was in a. large measure the servant of the upper classes, and had no message to, or attraction for, the lower.

'Of course, I know there is a deep Christian instinct in England, an instinct that has come down to us through many generations, and for the last 400 years, at any rate, founded in a large measure on Puritan belief, fed by what may be called the "two Puritan Sacraments"--the Bible and Sunday. The religion of God was enforced upon everybody, and, no doubt, trained many pious souls, and maintained a broad idea that to be outwardly religious, at any rate, was what was demanded by respectability.

'The last forty years has been a period of loosing these bonds. Few people read the Bible, fewer still observe Sunday. As M. Renan, I think it was, said, "We began with seven Sacraments in France and lost them; you in England had two and kept them "--meaning thereby Sunday and the Bible. If he were alive now, I do not think he would say the same thing. These bonds being loosened, religion has, so to speak, gone to pieces. In every class of life this is visible, but it is specially visible among those amongst whom I live.

'The natural reaction against Puritanism (in the English Church) took the form of a Catholic Revival, which has, no doubt, largely influenced the upper classes and certain little circles in which the preachers of it have been zealous and self-sacrificing men, but the great masses here and elsewhere are practically untouched by it.

'There remains, indeed, the instinct for religion, an admiration for, if not an acceptance of, what may be called the "natural virtues," and a kind of superstitious belief in God, but a belief that makes no demand upon the conduct, far less upon the devotion of him that believes. We live here without God--that is, by far the greater majority of our people do not pray, do not read their Bibles, do not come to church, far less frequent the Sacraments, and live, as a rule, altogether unconscious of the supernatural.

'There is no opposition; we do not care enough to oppose. Within the memory of some readers of this article there was a riot in S. George's-in-the-East because a clergyman wore a surplice in the pulpit; a few weeks ago a procession marched through a large part of Poplar with crucifixes, vestments of every description, and a Bishop in cope and mitre, and nobody said a word. It is not because the cope and mitre have seized the people; it is that the people do not care, and that is the real difficulty of the question.

'The religious instinct is not there. The only sunshine is the excitement of the public-house or the hidden ribaldry of some low music-hall, or the loss or gain of a little money in some form of gambling. I call this sunshine because it is the only bit of colour, and the rest of the life is all the same, deadly dull.

'God is not in any of our thoughts; we do not even fear Him. We face death with perfect composure, for we have nothing to give up and nothing to look forward to. Heaven has no attraction, because we should be out of place there. And Hell has no terrors.

Why, then, should we care about religion? The day of street-preaching and missions, we have got so accustomed to it that we will not even stop to listen. The Salvation Army, with its splendid organisation and wonderful self-sacrifice, seems to be burnt out. What can I do? I believe that man--body, soul, and spirit--must be treated as a whole, and just as I try to learn how to perfect each part of him, I learn that no part can be perfected without the other. I may do all I can to make his body as strong and noble as possible, and his mind acute and vigorous, and yet leave him a poor, maimed, imperfect creature. And so I believe that to try to touch his soul without taking into consideration the rest of him will prove futile and useless. Just as the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee, so the soul cannot say to the body, I have no need of thee. The whole method of God's teaching is full of common-sense, and surely this is a common-sense view.'

The South African War caused him to try to touch the people's hearts and teach them to pray by the constant homely intercessions 'for our dear soldiers at the war,' especially naming, of course, any men from S. Saviour's parish.

He told the people of two Winchester men very dear to him who were at the war--one Arthur Burton, who was killed, and another Frank Festing, badly wounded.

Bishop Creighton's visit to confirm on Sunday, June 24 (S. John the Baptist's Day), 1900, was a day of encouragement. Amid much ceremonial the Bishop blessed a parochial flag, thus linking, as Dolling believed, patriotic feeling and sane Imperialism with the spiritual influence of the Church. Though holding that Christianity is bound to work for the abolition of war, yet Dolling's love for soldiers and sailors, his friendship with so many of them, and his sense of the value of military discipline, as well as his susceptibility to be influenced by all the broad popular waves of feeling of his time, combined to make him in some degree an Imperialist, and to sever him from the 'little England' party. His Imperialism no doubt modified, though it never destroyed, his earlier Radicalism. But if he acknowledged something great in the idea of the Empire, yet the Empire which touched his imagination was not a mere aggregate of opportunities for commercial speculation, but a federation of free and self-respecting Commonwealths, finding their palladium and central symbol of unity in the ancient crown of the Motherland.

The same feeling came out strongly in his sermons and articles in S. Saviour's Magazine on the death of the late Queen Victoria, for whose high disinterestedness of character and devotion to duty he had always had a profound regard. He says of her reign that there has been 'no truer example of unstinted labour 'than those sixty years, and he couples with them as a kindred instance of strenuous service the four years of Bishop Creighton's episcopate, who died almost at the same time as the Queen (1901). Dolling tried to make his people see the moral significance underlying the ceremonial vesture of the coronation as binding King and People together, and linking in one by a common symbolic action of unity the various members of the great federation of free peoples, of which England's King is the head and representative.

When the young Duke of Albany entered upon the rank and duties of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg, Father Dolling, who had already met the Duchess of Albany in connection with philanthropic work, wrote to the latter to convey his sense of sympathy and the assurance of his prayers for the Duke at the time of so important a change in his life. He received from the Duchess a reply in which she says:

'Most gratefully I thank you for your kind words, and I am much touched by your thought of us at this time.'

So much was Dolling's mind filled in these last years by his thoughts of the grandeur of the mission which England could, if she would, discharge for the moral well-being of the world, that as he lay dying his sisters heard him, while unconscious, preaching a sermon, as if to his boys' brigade, on the lessons of that coronation which, indeed, he did not live to see. There is an Imperialism which finds its appropriate and gross outcome in 'mafficking,' and which on its religious side presents poor honest John Bull in the unconscious role of the Pharisee of the nations. There is a nobler Imperialism, the spirit of which is that of Kipling's 'Eecessional,' an Imperialism based on the sense of great responsibilities, not to be lightly shaken off' through craven fears of being great.'

Father Dolling's sympathies, it is needless to say, had nothing in common with the former variety.

Towards the end of his life he was less and less able to do much direct pastoral visiting, owing to pressure of necessary organising work, money collecting, etc., taking up nearly all his time when not at the altar or in the pulpit. In preaching at this time, as before, he dwelt a great deal on the importance of realising the twofold forces of heredity and environment in dealing with the redemption from evil of the bodies and souls of men. The thought of natural law as God's law tempered and mingled with (as in Kingsley's preaching) the more evangelical and sacramentalist elements of his teaching.

During those last years, if Dolling's sermons at S. Saviour's were poorly attended, all over London he was preaching to crowded congregations, and probably these were finer and more really effective sermons than those delivered at any previous period of his ministry, except some of those at S. Agatha's. In the pulpit of S. Paul's Cathedral he was a welcome visitor. The protest against him as a preacher in S. Paul's made by the Rev. B. C. Fillingham, Vicar of Hexton, in the Lent of 1899, was a ridiculous fiasco, from which even the late Mr. Kensit stood aloof. It was a strange contrast to Dolling to return from addressing the immense and interested crowd under the dome of the Metropolitan Cathedral to find on the next Sunday only forty men, including those from the clergy house, gathered to hear the men's address in his own church.

The apathy and deadness of his district was a greater trial to him than any storms of obloquy or misrepresentation could have been. The impact of opposition struck fire, as it were, from his nature. With stagnant tempers he was powerless.

Though never a writer to any extent, being rather a speaker and man of action, Dolling wrote more in these years at Poplar than at any previous time, with the exception of 1896, when he wrote that intensely human document, 'Ten Years in a Portsmouth Slum.' Constant articles of the most varied description, and most of them excellent, appeared from his pen in the little S. Saviour's Magazine, which is quite a unique production among church parish monthlies. It attained great circulation among his multitude of friends, not only in England, but also in America. It enabled him to chat to them delightfully every month. He also wrote several articles on Church matters and on the condition of the people for the Pilot, at the editor's (Mr. Lathbury's) invitation, to some of which we have already referred. His unconvention-ality created a telling style of his own which is singularly effective when he is dealing with the subjects of which the experience of his life had made him a master. Shortly before his death he meditated starting 'The Arcadian Library,' a series of volumes to emanate from or in connection with S. Saviour's, and to which he asked some of his friends to contribute each a volume. His own contribution was, we believe, to have been an autobiography, which for some time he had meditated writing. We insert here the editorial notice which appeared in the Pilot after Father Dolling's death, alluding specially to his contributions to that ably-conducted review:

'The death of Mr. Dolling is, in some ways, an irreparable loss to the Church of England. He had a singular faculty for attracting and enlisting in his undertakings a variety of workers little inclined by temperament or by position to sympathise with his end, while his keen insight into the causes which so often paralyse the best efforts of the clergy has more than once been shown in these columns. There are greater men in the Church than Robert Dolling, but we know of none whom it will be more difficult to replace.'

February 10, 1901, was Father Dolling's fiftieth birthday. It was kept by him as his 'Jubilee.' His friends sent him for that day many contributions for the various objects needed for his parish and his work, and also many personal gifts. He mentions in his magazine among the latter several boxes of cigars, a year's subscription to Mudie's Library, and also to the Times and the Pilot. He wrote before this:

'If you want to give me a really jubilee birthday present, you must help me to start my new buildings here. My ministerial life has been so short, for I was not ordained until I was over thirty, that I have not half had the chance of doing the things that I wanted to do before I lay down my ministry at my Master's feet.'

He did not know that he would be called so to lay it down in little more than a year from the time he wrote these words. Indeed, we note often in his magazine from this time the recurrence of thoughts tender and solemn which have to do with death, as in regard to the death of the late Queen and of the late Bishop Creighton, and later, among his own personal friends, of Florence Wells, who has been mentioned more than once before in this book. Similar thoughts also appear in his article on 'November: the Month of the Holy Souls,' written for that month of 1901. In the 'Quarterly Letter' in which he refers to his jubilee he goes on to say pathetically:

'This is a dull place to be put down in when you are fifty years old, and you need energy to force you to keep your blood vitalised and your faith and hope active. I hope you will forgive my putting it so plainly as this, but when you get to be fifty you know how quickly the years pass by, how much there is to be done, how little time to do it in.'

In a similar strain he wrote in the Pilot about eight months before this, July 21, 1900, in an article on 'Work in Poplar':

'If you have reached any measure of success, the rungs of the ladder on which you climb are your failures--not the failures of those among whom you work, but your personal failure in dealing with them. I have been two years in Poplar now, and I feel this more keenly every day, for no two places in the world are so completely different as this and Landport. There my parish touched the great Government dockyard, with its vast army of well-paid and always employed artisans, tending to create a high conception of energetic workmen; here it touches the banks of the Thames, from which nearly all the great ship-building yards and workshops have departed," leaving only docks, where the work is very precarious, tending to create nothing but loafers. There the great ships and the barracks poured a continual stream of soldiers and sailors amongst us, for our good, indeed, and for our ill. Here, if a soldier or sailor comes to stay with me, the whole parish turns out to see him. There, every street differed from every other street; I might almost say every house differed from every other house. Here, every street, every house, is identically the same. There we lived a rollicking, jovial, if sinful, life; here we manage to exist much less viciously, because we are as a whole bloodless and anaemic. There one's chief duty was to repress; here it is to incite. A Saturday night at Landport was a joyous experience, even if one sorrowed over the sin; a Saturday night here is as dull as ditch-water. Of course it has its compensations--very great compensations. We have no gangs of thieves; we have no streets wholly given over to sin. The public-houses, too, are better in every respect--bigger, and less sordid. How, then, does my Landport experience help me here? Only to teach me to be profoundly distrustful of my own methods, and to give courage to try and try again, if in any measure I may succeed."

To return to Father Dolling's jubilee, he asked in S. Saviour's Magazine, as his best birthday present, for the prayers of his friends, and added, 'I suppose the greatest blessing God has given me are my friends.' His writing about a subscription to Mudie's leads us to mention that Dolling was a great novel-reader, generally having a novel on hand in the intervals of his work and of more serious things. In this, as in regard to the theatre, he was no Puritan. His taste in fiction was very catholic and eclectic, ranging from Gaboriau's detective mysteries, which he loved to unravel, to George Meredith's robust message. 'Diana of the Crossways 'was one of his favourite books, and another of Meredith's also, 'Sandra Belloni,' he read several times. Indeed, he loved grappling with Meredith's obscure yet virile prose, and disentangling the essential core of his meaning. We do not think he knew much of the 'minor poets,' nor in literature, except for a recognition of Ibsen's powerfulness, did he travel very far off the main highway of taste, or get himself involved in the passing literary enthusiasms of the hour. He liked mental food of a solid description better than the temporary whims of literary coteries. He admired Kipling's force and genius, but he rejected his representations of the private soldier as a true picture of present-day barrack-life and barrack-room inmates, and no one not actually a military man knew the English soldier better than Dolling did. He knew several artists as his personal friends, as he did also men of letters and members of the dramatic profession. All this saved his social and religious enthusiasms from becoming stark and fanatical, and brought him into contact with the life of those who minister to the colour, urbanity, and recreation of the world, as well as to the grander aspects of existence. He did not profess to be a judge of pictures. But in regard to the theatre, however, it was different. He did not hesitate to distinguish, often very decisively, between a good and a bad play, either as to composition or acting. He did not share, for instance, in Mr. Gladstone's and the Bishop of Truro's admiration for 'The Sign of the Cross.' The drama and the theatre were the departments of art he understood and appreciated best.

Among men of letters his chief friend was the late Lionel Johnson, whom he knew as an old Wykehamist, but of whom he did not see much in the last few years. The Irish blood and Celtic sympathies of this brilliant scholar, critic, and graceful poet were strong points of contact with Dolling's own mind, for the latter was Irish to the core. So also were Lionel Johnson's Catholic convictions in religion, although he took the step, which Dolling did not, of entering the Communion of Rome. Dolling was not much of a reader of poetry. Parts of Robert Browning's works, however, were very congenial to him. He liked them, as he did Meredith's novels, for their force and robustness. What he knew of Browning he read for himself, only asking help in the way of suggestions as to possible selection from the poems from others. He once, during a time when he was confined to the house, read through nearly all of the 'Eing and the Book,' and enjoyed it. This is no mean undertaking, even for one more literary in taste than Dolling was. We do not think he was a Shakespeare student to any extent. Dickens he loved for his humour and humanity, though he did not read much of his works in later years. As with many other admirers of that writer, Dickens was to him mainly a mellow recollection rather than a present pleasure. Dolling must be added to the number of admirers of Miss Yonge's novels, though her Keble-like type of Church feeling was not exactly his. His was rather the temper of E. Hurrell Froude and of 'Ideal' Ward. The life of the latter by his son, Mr. Wilfrid Ward, he much enjoyed reading. His literary judgment was, on the whole, instinctively good. As might have been expected, philosophical works dealing with subjects of abstract speculation did not appeal to him. He had no taste for metaphysics. His intelligence was only capable of dealing with the concrete. Hence abstract Theism, apart from the religion of the Incarnation, did not appeal to him, and he could not long have stood on the narrow ledge of the Unitarian creed. The English Bible was his supreme book. He was no expert at various readings, but he was saturated with the mind and language of Holy Scripture, especially of the Gospels and the Psalms. He knew the Psalter almost, if not quite, by heart. Psalm xxiii. was all through life his favourite psalm. As to the 'New Criticism,' he was not frightened by it when presented in a sane and reverent form--a form which we distinguish from that marking the 'Encyclopaedia Biblica.' But he objected to steering the boat of the Church broadside on, and puzzling simple people by brandishing the 'Higher Criticism 'from the pulpit in a superficial and unspiritual way.

Among sermon writers F. W. Robertson's extraordinary insight into the perfections of our Lord's human heart and character much delighted him. He scarcely did justice to Newman's 'Parochial and Plain Sermons.' Their severe spirituality seemed to him, we should imagine, as if deficient in warmth and glow, like a perfect statue which yet lacks the veins and arteries filled with the life-blood of humanity. But his character was not that of one well fitted to appreciate the force of Newman's hidden fires. The Newman of the Tract period was not sufficiently broad or evangelical enough to attract the type of mind to which Dolling, with his popular religious instincts, belonged. Newman was a preacher to the 'remnant' rather than to the multitude. Dolling cared for nothing that could not touch the popular heart. F. W. Faber's glowing style he felt more in sympathy with, though not in regard to that writer's hyperflorid extravagancies of language and doctrine.

Indeed, Father Dolling was altogether a very partial disciple of Tractarianism, and not by any means a direct product of its influence. Like Ward at an earlier period, he 'cut into 'the High Church Movement and tried to turn it at his own angle so far as his influence went. Theories of development in regard to science, religion, and life strongly appealed to him. Though he knew nothing of science, the 'Evolution' conception fascinated his mind, and he saw in it nothing inconsistent with Christianity. Of the two great principles of the Christian religion--detachment and fellowship--it was the latter which was more exhibited in him, as the former was in the Oxford leaders. At the same time he was entirely spiritual and inwardly devout. He had absorbed eagerly the sacramentalism of the Oxford Movement, but not its learning or austerity, and much of his teaching was more akin to that of F. D. Maurice than to that of Dr. Pusey or Dr. Neale, for instance. His Catholicism was more warm-hearted, social, and human, though, of course, less learned and philosophical than that of the Tract writers. 'The Oxford Movement,' he often said, 'was made up out of books.'

His own style of preaching was rich and impassioned, rather than restrained or severe. He loved to paint in words the scene of the incident he preached about, but never in a tawdry, vulgar manner. The vivid picturesqueness of Dean Stanley's 'History of the Jewish Church 'much attracted him, and he often used to consult this book before preaching on Old Testament subjects.

He was a great admirer and constant reader of the religious philosophy of his friend, Father George Tyrrell, S.J., in 'Nova et Vetera,' 'Hard Sayings,' and the lectures on 'External Religion: its Use and Abuse.' Though Dolling read little of philosophy as such, having neither time nor inclination for it, and was no student of theology, yet Tyrrell's works held him by their human interest. A theological book of a different description to the above, which he read with keen enjoyment, although parts of it hit Anglo-Catholic positions hard as well as Roman ones, was 'The Lectures on the Infallibility of the Church,' by Dr. Salmon, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. Dolling borrowed it to read, and was fascinated by its racy touches of Irish humour, and by its mingled wit and logic. He said it confirmed him in the Anglican rejection of the Papal Monarchy, but he thought its weakness lay in a failure to realise that the ordinary position of Protestants as to Bible authority apart from the Church was open to even greater objection. We mention his attitude to this book, as it shows his extreme openness of mind in regard to religious as to other questions, since it is a work not at all on what are called 'High Church 'lines. But though emphatically not a student or a man of books, but rather one of action and 'of affairs,' Dolling, when he did read, never confined himself within the limits of one school of thought in theology or otherwise. His was too restive and discursive a nature, too roaming and inquisitive (in a good sense of the latter word) to be content to be always tethered amid the pasture of the 'Anglican paddock,' to use Professor Dowden's expression.

Dolling's want of sympathy with what he conceived to be the stiff and unevangelical character of what is often called distinctively the 'Prayer-Book School' of Churchmen caused him, we think, scarcely to appreciate adequately the perfect English of the greater part of the Book of Common Prayer, its sober majesty of diction. But he was accustomed to point out the wordiness of some of the exhortations. Most 'manuals' of private prayer he disliked, or at the best regarded as props for inexperienced learners or crutches for the limbs of weak devotion. 'Learn to pray in your own words,' was his constant advice. Even in church he loved 'free prayer 'as much as any Dissenter, and fought with the Bishops for the right to use it.

But to resume our story of this closing year. In March, 1901, Father Dolling's health began to show signs of serious failure. He was ordered to go abroad for a complete change, and so he went to Spain, a country which he had never before visited. He reached Madrid on Easter Tuesday at 7 a.m., and went, during this tour, to the more ancient Spanish towns, Cordova, Seville, and Granada (reading while at the latter place Washington Irving's 'Alhambra'). He went on to Malaga and Algeciras, and from that place crossed to Tangiers, in North Africa. (He had visited Algiers in 1897.) He returned to Spain, visiting Cadiz and Toledo. The cathedral of Toledo he describes as leaving on his mind 'a remembrance of great magnificence and beauty.' He found Burgos 'a town under the domination of the clergy, and one of the most ignorant and backward towns in Spain.' He was away altogether for four weeks, but returned with health unimproved. He writes of 'the wonderful beauty and strange pathos' of Spain, but also tells of poor fare at bad hotels, and of roughing it with mule-riding. He did not get the rest he required.

Hence in September of the same year (1901) he was ordered to take a course of baths for six weeks at Aix-la-Chapelle. He sent home to his parishioners, through the magazine, an account of his stay, from which we reproduce the following:

'At 6.45 I drink cups of sulphur water, and drinking, bathing, douching, etc., goes on till 9.30; then I have breakfast. In the afternoons, at 2, we start for the forest on an electric tram. The forest is beautiful, with good walks all laid out and seats everywhere, and generally after an hour we come to a restaurant, where we have tea or coffee. One of the ladies I usually walk with is very energetic, and drives us all along, so that very often we walk six or seven miles till we come to another tram, and so home about 5.30 and rest till dinner. I am in bed before ten.

'There is a lending library, and I take out a novel every day, and generally finish it. Old novels that you have road before, and know the ending of, are very restful.

'My hotel is close to the cathedral. The bells begin at 5.30, and ring every half-hour till 9.30. There are always many people at each Mass, and on Sundays you can hardly get in. All the churches here are very well attended, especially by men on Sunday afternoons between 5 and 6.30. I have looked into six or seven, and all are quite full. All the shops shut on Sundays. On week-days they have popular services, with hymn-singing, sermons, and Benediction, and the church full. It is very different from Poplar. It is not the least like Spain or Italy--few images and pictures, the religion much more severe and manly; at least, so it seems to an outsider, and yet one does not feel an outsider, for there is a spirit of real worship wonderfully helpful to oneself.'

After this Dolling spent a fortnight in Belgium, staying first, however, at Cologne for All Saints' Day, where he was much impressed by the intelligent devotion of the crowded congregation at the High Mass in the world-famed cathedral of this great centre of German Catholicism. The Archbishop of Cologne, he tells us, presided on this occasion.

On February 6, 1902, the death took place, very suddenly, of one who was a dear friend and true helper to him and his sisters, Miss Florence Wells. At the same time he records his thankfulness for the recovery from a dangerous illness of the young schoolmaster, Mr. Ralph Darling, to whose help and example he attributed, with that of Mr. Matley, so much of the great success of the boys' school.

February 10, 1902, was the last earthly birthday that Robert Dolling was to have. He was now fifty-one. The Daily Chronicle selected his name for its birthday greeting on that day, with the following appropriate garland of quotations, a sort of birthday 'posy 'in the Shakespearian sense, such as that paper is in the habit of presenting day by day to 'men of renown' of various sorts:


'"A bold spirit in a loyal heart."--Shakespeare.

'"There are men who think--men--the plucking of sinners out of the mire a dirty business."--Meredith.

'"Thou shalt not heed the voice of man when it agrees not with the voice of God in thine own soul."--Emerson.

'"Good, the more Communicated, more abundant grows."

'"Good old Robert."--Shakespeare.

"For he had power of confession,
As saide himself, more than a curate."

'"Thanks for your pains."--'"Courage, father, fight it out."--Shakespeare.'

Of this Dolling writes to his parishioners in his magazine: 'For your sakes I could wish it was more true.'

Project Canterbury