Project Canterbury

After the Tractarians
by Marcus Donovan
From the Recollections of Athelstan Riley

no place: Philip Allan, 1933.

II. Some Notable Men and Women

"WHAT CAN THE MAN DO that cometh after the King?" asks the wise writer of Ecclesiastes. The problem of the second generation of leaders in a great movement is always a critical one. Their work is often in reality harder than that of their predecessors for they have the task of translating principles into actuality, and it is the actuality which challenges opposition. To this day, there are those who pay honour to the Tractarians who enunciated the principles, but denounced the 'Ritualists' who gave those principles practical expression. When the great leaders have gone, it is habitual to describe their successors as second-rate, so the post-Tractarians have always laboured under a certain disadvantage as compared with the 'giants in those days' who gave the initial impetus to the Revival.

One of the greatest of the allies of the Movement was William Ewart Gladstone. It is interesting to notice how he came to identify himself with it. As far back as 1832 he tells us that "something, I know not what, set me on examining the Occasional Offices of the Church in our Prayer Book." A study of them exhibited "Christianity under an aspect in which I had not yet known it: its ministry of symbols, its channels of grace, its unending line of teachers joining from the Head: a sublime construction, based upon historic fact, uplifting the idea of the community in which we live. . . . From this time onward, I began to feel my way by degrees into or towards a true notion of the Church." (Morley's Life, vol. i, 87.)

Led by the claims of logic and history, Gladstone was never a 'ritualist' but was in sympathy with the aims of those who were carrying Catholic principles into action, and identified himself with churches known to belong to what was considered the advanced section. He often worshipped at St. Peter's, Great Windmill Street, and his philanthropic interests were attracted by the wonderful work among the outcast and degraded which was being carried on by the priests and sisters of St. Mary's, Crown Street, Soho. Gladstone was to be seen occasionally in the audience when Father Ignatius preached his missions, and at his own church at Hawarden was presented a dignified, if sober example of Church practice and order.

Mention of the Sisters calls to mind the delightful personality of 'Mother Kate' who passed away, full of years and honour, within recent recollection. She has told the story of her work with characteristic humour and vivacity in Recollections of a Sister of St. Saviour's Priory and Old Soho Days. An epitaph once suggested for Gladstone would more accurately describe her: it was said of her that like Charity she "endureth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things." The early struggles of the community, the defection of some of its members, and the constant difficulties of the work, first in Soho and then in Haggerston, never damped her enthusiasm or quenched her gaiety, and her memory will long be cherished by those whom she helped and cheered.

Another of those who helped forward the cause was Miss Charlotte M. Yonge, a spiritual daughter of John Keble. Her stories, particularly 'The Heir of RedclifFe' enjoyed a great vogue and her magazine The Penny Post contained sound teaching, and the restrained yet decided Churchmanship which animated her writings did much to popularize principles as yet strange to the majority of English people, and to carry them into the homes of countless readers. Her memorial, a chancel screen designed by Kempe, perpetuates her memory in Otterbourne Church, where for many years she was a constant worshipper.

The spiritual force of the Movement owed much to Canon Carter of Clewer. Rector of the parish church of Clewer in the 'forties, he began the work which developed into the great Community which has its headquarters at Clewer. It has numerous centres and varied activities, social, educational and religious, and has never lost the impress of devotion derived from its saintly founder whose life, prolonged far beyond the allotted span, was an inspiration throughout the whole church. Canon Carter was the originator of the great devotional society known as the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, perhaps the most powerful force for intercession and devotion which the Church in England has ever known. Those who think of the progress of the Church Revival as a series of tiresome lawsuits or unhappy persecutions are leaving out of sight the deep stream of devotion of which the communities and confraternities are an abiding evidence.

Mention of the Religious Communities recalls the name of another great founder, the Rev. George Herbert, to whose munificence more than one South London parish was deeply indebted. He founded the Mission Sisters of the Holy Name in 1865, which set before itself the aim of prayer and active work, engaging in parochial and rescue work at home and abroad. Beginning in the parish of St. Peter, Vauxhall, where the Sisters still labour, the Community spread to the Midlands, where work was undertaken in poor parishes in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, etc., and in 1887 the present mother-house was established at Malvern Link. The noble chapel, designed by Mr. Comper, was begun in 1893. Oversea work was not neglected by the Community, and for some years it had a branch house in the parish of St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Recently the Community has again responded to the call from oversea and is working in the hinterland of Liberia, under the direction of the American Fathers of the Holy Cross.

In 1855 the Rev. A. D. Wagner founded the Community of St. Mary the Virgin, and both he and the Sisters incurred considerable obloquy in those prejudiced days. To-day, many religious communities are labouring in educational, parochial, nursing and rescue work. Some have already been alluded to in these pages: others will be found described in the late Rev. A. Cameron's valuable History of Religious Communities in the Church of England. It is safe to say that the Church Revival would never have gained the confidence and affection of the poor to the extent it has done, had it not been for the self-denying lives of the devoted members of such communities. Many a parish has reason to bless the work of the Sisters, and it is to be hoped that priests will not fail to encourage vocations, both among men and women, to the Religious Life.

A priest of an entirely different type, yet one whose contribution to the Church's life was no less valuable in its own direction, was Butler of Wantage. Entering upon the incumbency of a country town in 1847, ne ma<ie Wantage, what it remained for many years, a model parish. The 'Wantage System' was, perhaps, a shade too systematic: everything was ordered and planned, to the minutest detail, and the assistant clergy were really trained in a way that was unknown elsewhere, and indeed might advantageously be imitated in our own day. A clergy-house was established, an innovation at that date, and many a priest afterwards famous began his career there. Liddon, Mackonochie, Montague Noel, V. S. S. Coles, and W. C. E. Newbolt were among those who received their early training there. And a severe training it was. The Eucharist on Ascension Day was sung at 4 a.m., Matins and Evensong were sung every day to plainchant; and it is interesting to find that the cycle of plainsong Office Hymns was in use. The clergy were expected to appear in the odd costume of cassock and--top hat! Butler was adamant on the subject of this singular dress, and is reported to have said that if any change were made, the Church tower would fall down. Strangely enough, in later years when the curates discarded their singular garb, the tower did show signs of instability, though the connexion between the circumstances was not more obvious than that between the Goodwin Sands and Tenterden steeple!

Butler was a model parish priest, and to have organized a parish so thoroughly was no small achievement in days when the Church was emerging from sloth and slackness. The improvement in the level of the clerical life noted by Mr. G. W. E. Russell in One Look Back is largely due to the ideals implanted by colleges like Cuddesdon, but they would have remained unfulfilled ideals had it not been for men like Butler and parishes like Wantage. It must not be supposed that all this was accomplished without opposition, but Butler was a strong man and utterly unruffled by petty annoyances. "You are very repulsive, Mr. Butler," a lady once observed to him, a remark which lacked nothing in directness! Butler died Dean of Lincoln, but did not hold that office long enough to make his presence felt as he had done at Wantage. To him belongs the credit of doing for the English parish what Wilber-force had done for the English diocese.

Though not one of the Tractarian school, Henry Hoare deserves mention as the man to whom, more than to any other, is due the revival of Convocations. He was a close personal friend of Bishop Wilberforce. He was a member of the well-known banking firm, and was for many years churchwarden of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In 1851 Wilberforce and Hoare founded the 'Convocation Society' the aim of which was to bring about the reassembling of Convocation, muzzled since 1717. The project was carried through despite opposition in high quarters and the dislike of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Sumner) to any 'ecclesiastical machinery.' Henry Hoare died in 1866, and the Hoare Memorial Hall of the Church House fittingly commemorates his devoted labours.

Bishop King stands high among those who have raised the level of Churchmanship in the post-Tractarian period. "We have buried our saint," wrote the Bishop of London on returning from his funeral, and nothing can be added to those simple words, unless it be to describe him by the title of his Master as 'the good shepherd.' That was his vocation. Never a platform orator nor a brilliant preacher nor a tireless organizer, he was first and last a pastor, and the part of his work which most appealed to him was that which brought him into personal relation with simple country folk. Ordained in 1854 to the curacy of Wheatley, Oxon, he became after a few years Chaplain, and then Principal of Cuddesdon. Here he had a peculiarly difficult task. The men who came to Cuddesdon were ordinary young men with no very deep ideas of their vocation. The prevailing standard was that denounced by Dean Vaughan in a notable sermon when headmaster of Harrow, in which he poured scorn on those who 'went into the Church,' as the phrase went, to secure an easy career or to step into a family living. At Cuddesdon they received an entirely new outlook, and during Dr. King's time opposition not infrequently manifested itself on the part of those who distrusted seminaries. The Principal had a way of administering rebuke or advice with such disarming humility that it never caused resentment. As one of his students, Canon Brooke, said "Cuddesdon men worshipped the ground the 'Old Principal' walked on and were ready to go and do just what he thought best." Without being a powerful preacher, Bishop King could always arrest the attention of his audience, as was shown by one rather comic instance at Cuddesdon. The appointed preacher at one of the College festivals was late. The Bishop said, "Principal, you must preach." Dr. King began, and no sooner had he secured his hearers' attention than he espied the invited preacher, a far from inspiring dignitary, entering the west door with an enormous manuscript in his hand. "Always do what you are told by authority," said King, "and then, just when you are in difficulties, the angels will come to your help. Here is the preacher," and promptly vacated the pulpit. It is to be feared that the congregation were scarcely as grateful for angelic intervention as was the Principal!

Twelve years as Canon of Christ Church and Professor of Pastoral Theology were filled with activities, notably the founding of the Oxford Mission to Calcutta, in which King was the moving spirit. Again, however, it was the personal influence of the man which was of more value than all activity, and deep was the regret of all Oxford men who came under his influence when Gladstone appointed him to the see of Lincoln in 1885. In 1890 his supposed extreme views brought about the 'Lincoln Judgment,' now scarcely remembered. It occasioned him anxiety and worry, as an attempt to hamper his work, but to his friends there was a certain element of amusement in the idea that of all people in the world Dr. King should be selected as an exponent of 'ritualism.' So far was he from having the faintest interest in 'ritual' that he was utterly indifferent--it might even be said careless--about it. He was by no means a dignified prelate in cope and mitre, and was perfectly aware of the fact. The tale goes that when he was taking part in a procession with a tall and dignified overseas bishop in full vestments, the Bishop of Lincoln, who looked anything but a great prelate, whispered, "My dear man, if every bishop looks as magnificent as you do, no wonder the Protestants object to us!" Where Bishop King helped forward the restoration of Catholic ideals was by his character rather than by any spectacular achievement. He killed the bad old tradition of the proud and worldly bishop, and set a new conception of a Father-in-God before his people. 'Sympathy raised to the point of genius' was Liddon's summary of his character.

Associated with King was William Bright, Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. Practically the whole of his life was spent in Oxford, and his death in 1901 removed a figure familiar in the University since the 'sixties. Dr. Bright was very retiring and diffident, and it is said that he never 'took a service' except in his course in College or Cathedral, and knew nothing whatever of the Catholic churches that were beginning to spring up, or of the services held in them. Yet, strangely, his labours have done more than almost any single factor to propagate the Faith, for his eucharistic hymns are sung wherever the English language is spoken. The best known one, 'Once only once,' is a model of clear teaching, and the favourite 'And now, O Father,' is sung by Catholics and Evangelicals alike. The stanzas usually printed are not the entire poem: the other verses will be found in Dr. Darwell Stone's The Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Oxford recalls the genial figure of Montague Noel, founder and first vicar of St. Barnabas' in that city. Noel was one of Butler's Wantage curates, and the latter wrote of him

"But see who next appears with ready wit,
Bright, cheery, speaking truth with jocund mien,
Strong in the Faith, well furnished for the fight,
Content with humble home and simple fare,
Seeking for nothing but his people's weal.
No life has more than his maintained the truth,
Nor in dark places kindled brighter flame."

Among those dark places was the poor district of Oxford known as 'Jericho.' Here, after a short curacy at Wantage, Fr. Noel laboured from 1869 to 1899, often revisiting it after his retirement until his death a few years ago. He is one of the 'characters' of the Movement. His energy and originality raised the remarkable church of St. Barnabas' which was built at half the cost of the conventional church of the period, eschewing all unnecessary decoration, as far as the exterior is concerned. Within, there is no lack of colour: indeed it is a riot of blue and red and gold, rather apt to be overpowering to those of severe taste. But the heartiness of the singing and the splendour of the services carries away even the most austere purist, and many Oxford men look back with affection on 'Barney's.' Never losing sight of the poor, for whom the church was built, Noel made the church a power in the University as well, and the great congregation on Sundays in term time included many senior as well as junior members of the University. On one occasion we recall a celebrant deacon and sub-deacon at the High Service who had collected six 'Firsts' between them! The Vicar used to get the foremost preachers of the day to occupy the pulpit, but he by no means forgot the needs of the simpler folk. As a catechist he was unmatched and his sallies in talking to the children delighted many older people who used to come and witness his methods. Musically, St. Barnabas favoured the florid style, which was thoroughly in keeping with the atmosphere and 'ethos' of the building. Noel was himself an accomplished musician, but nothing of a 'highbrow' and at St. Barnabas everyone seemed to 'let himself go.' The undergraduate who came up with no acquaintance with anything but school chapel or village church would be first shocked, then attracted, and finally converted.

Another priest who left his mark on the Church in post-Tractarian days was Arthur Douglas Wagner, of Brighton. He was a man of considerable wealth which he expended lavishly in the service of the Church. His own church of St. Paul's, Brighton was the centre of Catholic influence in the 'sixties, and encountered bitter persecution in days when Catholic externals were the object of suspicion to an extent which can scarcely be imagined now. The Constance Kent case in 1865 directed attention to the subject of Confession, and Mr. Wagner was ostracized by his fellow-clergy, attacked by the press and insulted in the streets. He was one of those indomitable characters who could carry on the work to which they set themselves, undeterred by popular clamour, and Wagner's special work was to equip the town of Brighton with Catholic sanctuaries. The Church of the Resurrection, a remarkable building, since, unhappily, demolished: St. Mary Magdalene's, the Annunciation, St. Mary's, Buxted, and the great church of St. Bartholomew were all his work. 'Si monumentum requiris circumspice.'

Laymen, no less than priests, have thrown in their lot with the Church Revival. Mention is made elsewhere of Lord Halifax, of W. J. Birkbeck, of C. E. Kempe and others, and here may be added the name of a remarkable personality, Mr. J. D. Chambers. John David Chambers, Recorder of Salisbury, possessed a profound knowledge of liturgical studies at a time when few scholars in this field were to be found in the Anglican Church, He wrote valuable books on these subjects, generally beautifully printed, e.g. Divine Worship in the Church of England in the 13th, 14th and 19th Centuries, The Hours according to the Use of Sarum, and The Enchiridion. For these books, he translated several of the Office Hymns, two of which are included in the English Hymnal. He died in 1893.

With Bennett of Frome we must conclude this chapter. He is unaccountably ignored by most students of the early days of the Revival. Incumbent for a time of Port-man chapel, he became the first vicar of St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, in 1843, then a new parish specially created for him. The work at St. Paul's went on very successfully for a time, but storms began when Bennett carried out the erection of St. Barnabas, Pimlico, in a very squalid area of his large parish. Here the services were considered 'advanced,' and in 1850-1 riots took place. St. Barnabas' was declaimed against in The Times, derided in Punch and denounced in Parliament. Mr. Bennett had given a pledge to the Bishop that he would resign in order to ease the situation, and he did so, to the great regret of his people, in 1851, being appointed to Frome (or, as he always spelt it, Froome) in the next year. Here he made the church glorious and the parish a model of what such a place should be, gaining the confidence of the people, yet never watering down his message or its expression in ceremonial. The Solemn Eucharist was, and is, always at 8 a.m. on Sundays. The vestments used at first were those in which the beloved priest was buried when in 1886 he passed away. His great friend Archdeacon Denison, preached the funeral panegyric. Nowhere is the task of teaching and practising the Faith harder than in a country town, and especially in its parish church. The city or the village affords easier fields of labour from this point of view, but men like Butler and Bennett established strong and enduring traditions in their respective spheres, which have endured to the present day.

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