Project Canterbury

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

no place: Philip Allan, 1933.

V. Some Important Factors in the Movement

AN OBSERVER OF SOME ACUTENESS once said that the most important factors in the development of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England were Hymns Ancient and Modern, and The Church Times newspaper. Something will presently be said about the first named, and the latter must also be mentioned. But before dealing with its influence, mention should be made of the immensely important place occupied throughout the period of this survey by the English Church Union, a factor of the utmost significance in the past and in the present.

A number of unions for the protection of the Church's interests had existed in the early part of the last century, but they were too isolated to be effective, so, in 1859, a central 'Church of England Protection Society' was formed, which in 1860 became 'The English Church Union' under the presidency of the Hon. Colin Lindsay. The Union gave its support to Mr. Bryan King, who at the time was enduring the disturbance of his work by the rioters at St. George's-in-the-East, and in this work it continued the policy which the Church Protection Society had inaugurated in supporting another victimized priest, the Rev. Alfred Poole of St. Barnabas, Pimlico.

The Union from the first set itself to defend harassed priests, and a great part of its work has been the protection given to clergy who have been penalized for their steadfast adherence to the Faith. A long list of names could be cited, e.g. the Rev. H. D. Nihill, later on incumbent of St. Michael's, Shoreditch, the Rev. W. J. E. Bennett, the Rev. John Purchas, the Rev. C. Parnell, the Rev. J. Baghot de la Bere and many more received the support of the Union in the litigation forced upon them. The most important, however, of all these cases was that of Fr. Mackonochie. In 1867 the first suit against him was promoted, and judgment given adversely in the Court of Arches, Fr. Mackonochie being treated with peculiar severity in being required to pay costs. This amounted to a severe pecuniary fine, and the prejudice exhibited will be realized when it is remembered that Low Churchmen like Mr. Gorham, condemned by the same court, were allowed their costs. The E.C.U. stood by Fr. Mackonochie, who had received a remarkable and probably unprecedented order from the Sovereign, dated January 19, 1869, requiring him to cease from the Elevation, the use of Incense, and other points complained of. In 1870 the Judicial Committee suspended Fr. Mackonochie for three months for non-compliance with the monition of the previous year, though the Vicar declared, and produced witnesses to prove, that the directions as to the elevation and prostrations, etc., had been literally obeyed. This treatment, by which a Civil Court arrogated to itself the function of suspending a priest in the exercise of his ministry, aroused widespread indignation and the E.C.U. voiced prevailing opinion in a memorial addressed by its members to the suspended priest in 1870. The opposition determined to harass the priest and people of St. Alban's, Holborn, with unrelenting persistence, and accordingly the second suit against Fr. Mackonochie was promoted in

1873, judgment being given in 1874. On most of the points, the verdict went against Fr. Mackonochie, who was again suspended, this time for six weeks. About this time, the expression 'the Six Points' seems to have come into use, to denote the practices for which Fr. Mackonochie had contended: it is embodied in a resolution adopted by E.C.U. on the proposition of Canon Carter in

1874. It was at this period that the famous migration of the priests and people of St. Alban's to St. Vedast's, Foster Lane, took place. At the end of the suspension, services were resumed at St. Alban's.

The Court of Arches (the old Provincial Court of Canterbury) was presided over by Lord Penzance, an ex-Divorce judge, who also sat as an official of an entirely new court, constituted under the P.W.R. Act of 1874. In 1878 this Court, receiving renewed complaints relating to St. Alban's, Holborn, decreed that the Vicar be suspended for three years. This drastic step shocked the consciences of Churchpeople, and within three weeks a petition was sent to Queen Victoria signed by 41,000 communicants. A scandalous instance of prejudice became manifest when the decision of Lord Penzance having been reversed by the Court of Queen's Bench, the Treasury financed his appeal to the Appellate Court, where his decision was upheld. Thereupon, the sentence of suspension against Fr. Mackonochie was put into operation, and the Bishop of London, feeling it to be his duty to make provision for the services, sent the Rev. W. M. Sinclair to conduct them on Sunday, November 23, 1879. Mr. Sinclair presented himself but withdrew on finding the Vicar determined to undertake the services himself. It is not without interest to recall how, many years after, Mr. Sinclair, then Archdeacon of London, once again presented himself at St. Alban's, Holborn, this time to preach a sympathetic sermon at High Mass on the Patronal Festival in 1909. No further notice was taken of the suspension until 1880 when a third suit was begun under the Clergy Discipline Act, with the object of securing the deprivation of the Vicar. Mr. Martin, the original prosecutor, signified his unwillingness to be a party to this suit. The Bishop of London sequestrated the income of the benefice, and the Vicar was left to fight his case without resources. Here the E.C.U. came generously to his help. Appeal was made to Lord Penzance to pronounce sentence of 'deprivation of all ecclesiastical promotions within the Province of Canterbury' held by Fr. Mackono-chie, but while this was under consideration Archbishop Tait, from his death-bed, thought of a way out of the difficulty, by which Fr. Mackonochie should retire from St. Alban's, and accept the benefice of St. Peter, London Docks. This was done, but it did not avail against the rancour of the Church Association, which scored a sorry triumph in 1883, when Lord Penzance signed the decree of deprivation, and Fr. Mackonochie resigned St. Peter's, London Docks. His death in a snowstorm in the Forest of Mamore in 1887 touched the imagination of all, and the numbers who took part in his funeral procession from St. Alban's to Waterloo made it clear that public sympathy had turned strongly in favour of the devoted warrior whose labours had for so many weary years been hampered by controversy and thwarted by opposition. The sad history of this protracted persecution is given here with no desire to rake up forgotten animosities, but to illustrate what was going on elsewhere, to a less protracted extent. Up and down the country, the machinery of the courts was set in motion against priests who were doing their duty in obeying the laws of the Church, and in every case the English Church Union gave its counsel, financial support and the sympathy of its fellow Churchmen. The names of the 'Five Confessors' may be mentioned here. They were: the Rev. Arthur Tooth, of St. James', Hatcham (already alluded to); the Rev. R. W. Enraght, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Bordesley, Birmingham; the Rev. T. Pelham Dale, Rector of St. Vedast, Foster Lane; the Rev. S. Faithorn Green, Rector of St. John, Miles Platting, Manchester; the Rev. J. Bell-Cox, Vicar of St. Margaret, Liverpool. These five suffered deprivation and imprisonment under the P.W.R. Act, and by their witness and steadfastness may be said to have brought to an end the policy of legal persecution.

The English Church Union, in its support of these and other priests, has been led from time to time to issue valuable pronouncements upon matters affecting the relation of Church and State, the observance of the Church's laws, and kindred subjects, but it has never been anxious to promote 'ritualism' or concern itself overmuch with questions outside its immediate province. It has always been a laymen's society, and to that circumstance it owes much of its weight. Even more does it owe the respect which it commands to the personality of its second President.

On June 16,1868, the Hon. C. L. Wood was unanimously invited to succeed the Hon. Colin Lindsay as President. Succeeding to the title of Viscount Halifax, it is by the latter name that he has earned the grateful esteem and respect of all classes of Churchmen. No one can estimate what the English Church Union, or the English Church, owes to his unfailing loyalty to Catholic principle, his gracious bearing alike to friends and opponents, and the wisdom which has enabled him to guide the destiny of the great society with which he has been so closely identified. His help has been an asset of incalculable value to the cause to which he has devoted his life, and it is a tribute to the affection and respect which he has inspired, as well as to the reliance which is placed on his judgment, that he should have been recalled at the great age of 93 to the Presidency which he had relinquished in view of advancing years. A link with Pusey and the early days of Tractarianism, Lord Halifax has never allowed himself to lose touch with modern developments, or to act as a brake upon enthusiasm or devotion. To have enjoyed the lifelong service of such a character is a blessing for which the Catholic Movement can never be sufficiently grateful.

Turning to other activities of the English Church Union, mention should be made of its consistent defence of the Church's Marriage Law and of Christian Education. Something will be said later of elementary education, and secondary education has not entirely been forgotten. Of late years it has been realized that Adult Education is far from complete, as far as religious knowledge is concerned, and accordingly the Union has addressed itself to supplying deficiencies in this direction. By means of its Literature Committee and Study Circles, it is attempting, with success, to diffuse a knowledge of Catholic truth among the more thoughtful sections of the community and has already produced work of lasting value.

Closely connected with this has been the effort, forced upon it from without rather than voluntarily undertaken, to set forth a Revision of the Prayer Book which should commend itself to Catholic Churchmen. The agitation for the revision of the Prayer Book sprang in the first instance from Latitudinarian sources. The various Royal Commissions on Ecclesiastical Discipline vindicated, albeit unwillingly, the Catholic contention, leaving the 'Moderate Central' party in the position of being obliged to find some justification for their omissions, rather than to condemn the 'ritualists.' The Commission which reported in 1906 had to consider evidence not only of excess but of defect and deviation. Accordingly the course which suggested itself was that of furnishing sanction for an elasticity which had gone too far to be curbed, and was, in many points, too reasonable to be restrained. Thenceforward Prayer Book Revision became a matter of practical moment, though opposed by the foremost liturgical scholar of the time, the late Dr. Wickham Legg.

The Union could no longer adopt a non-possumus attitude, and hence arose the Green Book, which made some use of Scottish and South African models, and produced a revision of the Communion Office at once conservative and in line with research. Though it never succeeded in securing adoption, it influenced the various assemblies concerned with revision, and helped to break down a tradition of somewhat unreasoning adulation of 'our incomparable Liturgy.'

Literary activities of the Union in its earlier days led to the production of The Church Review, the precursor of the present Church Union Gazette. In 1863 The Church Review started on an independent career, and after an existence of much usefulness, came to an end in the early years of this century.

Far greater has been the influence of The Church Times. This journal, initiated in 1863, attains its seventieth birthday in the centenary year of the Catholic Revival, and it is safe to say that no more powerful auxiliary has contributed to its advance. From the first, The Church Times has stood for uncompromising adherence to Catholic truth, and has never allowed itself to become 'official,' either in outlook or phraseology. Its writers have included the trenchant Dr. Littledale and the genial Canon Benham. Some of the ablest papers came from the pen of Canon Lacey, while the literary criticisms of Canon Anthony Deane have been a source of continual delight. For a time, Dr. Hermitage Day brought his erudition and the fascination of a limpid style to its pages, and its present editor has given it a tone of sympathy with 'the Humanities' unusual in a paper devoted mainly to ecclesiastical concerns.

It is, however, in the department of Instruction that The Church Times has been, and continues to be, preeminent. Whether it is in the sermons printed week by week in 'The Anglo-Catholic Pulpit' or in the humbler department devoted to answers to correspondents, sound instruction is afforded. How many readers have learnt from its columns the truths which, in a more normal condition of the Church, would have been imparted from the pulpit or taught in the Confirmation class! Recently, the suggestion has been made that the correspondence columns of Church papers are unprofitable to the reader, and constitute a temptation to the writer! Such a suggestion is without warrant, for, on the whole, fairness and good-temper are scrupulously preserved, and often valuable information is elicited in the course of correspondence on important topics.

The Church Times has had the advantage of the assistance of experts in such subjects as Church Law, Church Music, Architecture, etc. Every now and then its pages have been enlivened by descriptive articles by artists and travellers, of recent years enriched by admirable illustrations. Where it has dealt with ceremonial, the tendency has been to lean to the 'English' side, but there has never been any bigotry displayed on 'the Roman question.' Indeed, the sane attitude of most English Catholics on this matter is due in no small degree to the wisdom of those who have taken so large a share in moulding the opinions of the average reader. On questions of Church policy, a definite and consistent line has been followed, and the steady refusal to hail with paeans of joy everything simply because it emanates from official sources has made The Church Times a valuable, because independent, critic of the Church Assembly.

Finally, in this estimate of influences which have shaped the course of the Catholic Revival, an important place must be given to the Theological Colleges. The Protestant objection to them as seminaries was, in one sense, well-founded, but maturer wisdom has substituted emulation for condemnation and in Ridley Hall, Wycliffze Hall, and the lately founded St. Peter's Hall, Oxford, Evangelicals have owned the importance of the training of the clergy. The abysmal lack of'priestcraft' among the clergy at the beginning of the last century accounts for much of the ignorance and consequent indifference of the people. Chichester led the way in point of time, followed soon after by Cuddesdon, in imparting definite training for the ministry. Wells, Leeds and Ely came later, but followed the same principle, viz. that a theological college existed to afford a devotional training to its members, not simply to enable them to pass the 'Bishop's' examination, still less to supply students with opportunities of beginning 'practical parish work.' That experience would appropriately begin in the curacies to which a wise Principal would send his men, and to this day it is the only attempt at a scientific canalizing of the Church's man-power. Bishop King, when Principal of Cuddesdon, is said to have taken especial care over this point, and it is recorded that when one particularly vigorous and active student announced that he was going to a pioneer missionary diocese, the Principal merely remarked with a charming smile "No: dear-----is going to a slum parish in Bristol." And such was King's compelling force that he did!

The training, all too short as it was, gave men a devotional framework for their lives. Offices and some of the Hours were recited, the practice of intercession fostered, and the Daily Eucharist was valued, so that the generation of young men who came down from the theological colleges brought with them the breath of fresh ideals and inspiration. They took their priesthood seriously and soon the face of the Church in the parishes began to change. Not one of the older colleges would be reckoned 'extreme': in none were silk vestments used until quite recent times. No encouragement was given to 'spikery' but the devotional life, the daily office, the frequent celebration of the Holy Mysteries, the periodical retreat, became part of the life of the student, never to be given up in after days. (The word 'spike' was due, it is believed, to Canon Bright, who coined it to designate the devotee of ceremonial for its own sake, and was an uncomfortable stickler for rigid accuracy. It is a type which, according to a well-known priest, has largely passed away since the War.)

Cuddesdon, under Liddon, King and a worthy succession of principals, has enjoyed the advantage of having trained a number of the bishops of the Church in England, Scotland and the Dominions, among them the present Archbishop of Canterbury, and its sober though definite Churchmanship has thereby made an ineffaceable mark on the Church of our own time and deserves to be reckoned among the most potent influences in the direction of Catholic conceptions of the Church and ministry.

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