Project Canterbury

Bishop Montgomery: A Memoir

By M.M.

[London] The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1933.

Chapter II. Early Days and Harrow

Henry Hutchinson was the second son of Sir Robert Montgomery. His elder brother Arthur died at the age of twenty. He was born in Cawnpore in 1847. His earliest recollection is that of falling off an elephant. "My father feared I was killed. He took me up covered with dust, hardly a feature visible. As they looked at me a little hole appeared in the dust, followed by a roar, and all anxiety was banished." Then when he was eight years old he was sent home, in 1856, in charge of Colonel Martin. "As it was growing dark my father and mother took me into a room and we knelt down and my father commended me to the keeping of God. I cannot remember the words, but the memory of that prayer I can recall very clearly. In 1913, when I was in India, I visited 'New Park/ the house my father built when he was in Lahore. I walked into the sitting-room and recognized the spot where I had knelt with my father and mother. I did not see my father again till 1865. I was then a Harrow boy and in the eleven."

Henry's first school was Miss Baker's at Brighton, where his elder brother Arthur was already. Miss Baker was a most fervent Christian of the strictest Evangelical principles. She aimed at teaching her pupils the Bible and making them realise the great truths of revelation. Her teaching and that of Mr. Clay, the rector of St. Margaret's, the church her pupils attended, was an abiding influence on Henry's life. These are his own words: "I think I may say I was brought up on almost undiluted hell fire. On the whole such diet has done me immense good, for it has left behind in me an awful sense of the Holy Will of God. The thunders of Sinai should not be forgotten by any Christian. He passes on to a Land of Promise, but the reality of sin and its consequences must remain, if we are not to fall back into belief of a God of easy good nature." In after years he claimed that a stern Evangelical upbringing was the best foundation for an Anglo-Catholic, and he often described himself when asked to which party in the Church he belonged as an Evangelical High Churchman.

From Brighton, Henry passed on to Mr. Waterfield's school at Temple Grove, and in 1861 he went to Harrow. "Dear Harrow," he writes. "Whenever I see the old hill crowned with the church and spire, and make out the lines of school buildings, memory takes me back to school days in which I learned, or rather imbibed unconsciously, some of the greatest lessons of life."

The headmaster was Dr. Butler. Henry's future father-in-law, F. W. Farrar, was one of the masters; also E. E. Bower, "a genius who played football for fifty years." His housemaster was the Rev. F. Rendall, with whom, and his wife, Henry kept up a lifelong friendship. But the master who had the greatest influence on his life was the Rev. John Smith. Harrow was in a very bad state at that time. There were many boys in Rendall's house who were as wicked as they could be--a thoroughly depraved lot. In the end twelve were expelled or asked to leave. The bullying was brutal and terrible. Bad language also was common. As a new and delicate boy, Henry went about in fear and trembling, and writes, "I can still recall the misery of that first term." But it was redeemed by the friendship of John Smith. He was a great friend of Mr. Rendall's and often in his house.

He used to send for all the new boys and make them promise that they would not engage in evil practices. There is no doubt that he was the greatest power for good that Harrow possessed then. Henry writes: "I can see his tall bent figure and flowing grey hair as he went up to School, watched with reverence by all the boys. Or I can catch the tones of his voice as he pleaded with us from the chapel pulpit in the name of his Master. All through my Harrow days I had this strange and penetrating influence before me. . . . When I was leaving I offered him a photograph of myself in a white waistcoat, a flower in the button-hole, etc. But John Smith refused it. He said, 'I like my old one best, dear fellow,' and he produced one of myself as a quiet and shy boy with turn-down collar." Henry never met John Smith after he left Harrow. He died in an asylum, but Henry revered him all his life as one who turned many to righteousness and influenced whole generations of Harrow men.

Another great influence in Henry's school days was Harrow chapel. "All, and more, what Rugby chapel was to Tom Brown, has Harrow chapel been to me. I would no more have missed a chapel than I would have missed going to Lords! Here I was confirmed and received my first Communion. Here I slowly rose in the rows of seats till I occupied nearly the first one. The organist, John Farmer, meant his work to be felt in our souls. The boys sang and responded well, and the masters believed that in the chapel they had the strongest engine for Christian education."

Henry was a great athlete and excelled in all the school games. He was in his house football and cricket elevens, and was put into the school cricket eleven in 1864. He became captain of the school football eleven, and during that time they never lost a match. Football was perhaps his strongest point. It was said that no faster or more brilliant player existed. But he excelled in cricket too. Fred Ponsonby said of him when he left Harrow in 1866 that he was the second best point in England, E. M. Grace being the first. He won the school fielding-prize that year, and also the prize for the greatest number of catches in first-class matches. And as to races--Henry won all the school races, hurdle and flat, throwing the cricket ball, etc., and the Ponsonby prize for the member of the eleven who was thought to have worked hardest at his school studies during the summer term. He writes: "I think I learnt as much from games as from anything. They are a real education for life, helping to build up character, to endure adversity patiently, to fight uphill games, to keep one's temper, to practise unselfishness for a common object."

In due time Henry became head of his house. "Of course it was a great help to me that I was good at games--fellows at school reverence such persons. I remember that I had power then that I can hardly hope ever to have again. How well I remember my first night as head of the house. I can recall the intensity of my prayers at what seemed to be a solemn crisis of my life."

There is no doubt that the five and a half years spent at Harrow had a lasting influence on Henry Montgomery's life and Character. He never ceased to love the old school, which he constantly revisited, and the words of the old school song often came back to him--

"Five hundred faces and all so strange,
Life in front of me and home behind,
I felt like a waif before the wind,
Tossed on an ocean of shock and change.
Yet the time may come, as the years go by,
When your heart will thrill
At the thought of the Hill
And the day you came so strange and shy.

Five hundred faces alive with glee!
Trials are over; the term is done,
With all its glory and all its fun:
And boyhood's a dream of the past for me.
Yet the time may come, though you scarce know why,
When your eyes will fill
At the thought of the Hill
And the wild regret of the last good-bye."

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