IT is a very congenial task during a few days of Christmas holiday to sit down and write, as requested, a Preface on the Feast of the Apostle of Love to another book about one who was pre-eminently an "Apostle of Love" to our generation.
We were all very grateful to Mr. Russell for his excellent Life of our friend and saint, but I am glad to know that another book is to be sent out, of which the first chapter has been sent me as a specimen, and if the rest of the chapters are as good as the first it will be a delightful book.
For indeed we cannot have another Edward King, and we must make the most of the one we were given, as a gift from heaven. I will not attempt to anticipate what the reader will find so well expressed in the first chapter, with every word of which I am in complete agreement.
But perhaps I may illustrate what will be co found there by a few personal experiences of the man, as I knew him. I first saw him when I "sat under him," as Pastoral Professor at Oxford, and it only came out afterwards that the largish fee for instructing us how to read in public was paid by the Pastoral Professor.
Years passed, and I saw nothing of him until, in passing through Oxford in 1884, I heard him speak about the Oxford House, little thinking I should have any connection with it, and he warned a little gathering he was addressing not to go there instead of a Theological College, but beforehand--a warning which I saw carried out in numberless cases in the nine years during which I was subsequently head of that institution; but the really famous story in connection with the Oxford House was his "Rub Lightly" address, which I did not hear.
He was on his way to Lincoln, and everything had gone except a solitary match-box, on which the words "Rub Lightly," as we all know, are often written; this he gave as the key-note of the new adventure, and every one who has ever worked in such a district as Bethnal Green knows that no better advice could be given.
It was not until I became Bishop of London that I really got to know intimately one who rapidly became my father and friend. His loving-kindness and tender care was shown to younger bishops as well as to the people of his old diocese, and often did he honour me by staying with me at Fulham or at London House.
His great love of horses, mentioned in the first chapter, was well known to me, and I sent him and his great friend, Bishop Pager, from St. Paul's to Fulham behind a spanking pair of cobs, which I then had, drawing a light victoria. I told the coachman to drive them down the Embankment all the way, and they did the distance in seventeen minutes. For some reason I had to be at Fulham that day, and was not at the service; but the bishop sprang from the carriage when I went out to meet him with both hands outstretched: "Oh! it was glorious, dear friend; I did enjoy it; and think! we might have had bronchitis!"--a thanksgiving which Bishop Paget paralleled next day after we two had had a vigorous game of lawn tennis: "I did enjoy that game, bishop; think, we might have been fat!"
Every night I used to lead Bishop King home to London House from the House of Lords during the long debates on the first Education Bill; and he had such touching confidence that, when with his increasing deafness he was doubtful about the very complicated details on which we were voting and rapidly dividing, he said: "I always follow you into the lobby, bishop, when I am in doubt"--a compliment which I deeply appreciated.
One speaks of this lighter side of our friendship, because it would be telling "God's secrets" to tell of the great spiritual help he was to me as a bishop, both by his counsel and even more by his example. When you want to be like Jesus Christ in all the complicated details of a bishop's life it is an enormous help to have an example before your eyes of one who more completely represents "the attractiveness of goodness" than any one else you had ever met.
This help Bishop King gave to me, and I have no doubt to thousands of others; but as one humble member of those thousands I am pleased to have been allowed to lay this little tribute at his feet.
A. F. LONDON.
BOURNEMOUTH: Feast of St. John the Evangelist, 1917.