IN the spring of 1844 Mr. Carter resigned Piddlehinton for the living of Clewer, which is in the gift of Eton College, and here he began the work which was to continue for fifty-seven years, and with which his name will be always associated.
The parish, though perhaps not much more populous than at present, was far larger in extent, and included a considerable part of the town of Windsor. It had been neglected to a degree which now appears almost incredible. It had usually been held by a Fellow of Eton, and the rector was frequently non-resident. As the Vicar of Windsor was also incumbent of Datchet, and preferred to live in that pleasant village, it followed that these two parishes (now divided into four, with eight churches) were served by two curates; and even these were not always on the spot, for at one time the Curate of Windsor lived at an hotel in Piccadilly, coming down for Sunday; and on other days, when his services were required for marriages or funerals.
The heart of George Augustus Selwyn, afterwards the great Bishop of New Zealand and Lichfield, but then a private tutor at Eton, was stirred by the sight of this spiritual desert, and he with some like-minded friends, began active work among the neglected people. One fruit of their devotion greatly affected Clewer. Mainly through their efforts the church of Holy Trinity was built, and consecrated at the close of 1844, for the town part of Clewer, which was then formed into a new parish. They had also procured the building of a school-chapel at Dedworth, a hamlet about two miles from the town, and here one of the Eton workers, the Rev. Stephen Hawtrey (who became the first incumbent of Holy Trinity, Windsor), laboured for some time. He formed a small choir, which he used to take with him, passing the whole Sunday at Dedworth, and resting between the services in a cottage or in the fields.
Then, when Mr. Carter began his work, he found some new life already stirring, but the long past neglect left bitter fruits.
For some time the parish had been under sequestration, owing, it was said, to the intemperate habits of the late rector, and though for two years the locum tenens (the Rev. E. J. Gould, Mr. Carter's brother-in-law, afterwards Curate-in-charge of Windsor) had done all that was possible to amend matters, the time was too short to produce much effect.
The ancient and now beautiful church was in worse than disrepair. Some of the massive pillars had been cut away and the walls held up with iron clamps. The little churchyard, being over full, a second had been formed--not adjoining, but across a road (in which was the parish pound)--a desolate place indeed, with no visible sign of its consecration. When the first cross was placed on a grave, people said that there was nothing to be seen like it, except in the graveyard of the Roman Catholic chapel at Reading.
The behaviour of the congregation was on a par with the appearance of the church and churchyard. At first the new rector used to sit in the desk in his surplice while the bells were ringing, as a means of stopping the talk that went on among the men in the large square pews, and the women who gathered in winter round a stove, which stood in the middle of the church. The font was filled with hats. An old barrel-organ led the singing of a few school-children.
"Perhaps the very worst feature of the time was the churchwardens having half the alms, and giving them in money gifts to those who came regularly to Holy Communion. Such was the effect, that people generally were repelled from Communion, and those who came were objects of contempt as eleemosynary beggars. It took long to root out this most unhappy state of feeling, though the churchwardens kindly gave up to me their share of the alms. It was extraordinary how long it took also to do away with the prevailing habit of looking out for gifts, arising, I suppose, from the very indiscriminate manner of giving, which had spread itself to all the labouring class."
Letters of this date show with what anxious thought and care Mr. Carter entered on his difficult work. He again wrote for advice to Dr. Pusey, whose answer gives an interesting glimpse into the practical difficulties of the time.
"MY DEAR CARTER,
"I have some difficulty in answering your questions, because I have never had a parochial care, and so cannot judge of the temper of people.
"I should think that there should be a difference between those rubrics which relate to yourself, and would affect those only who wish to avail themselves of a provision so made, and those which would affect all who go to church at all. We have, in restoration, not our own duty only to perform, but to regard our people. It may be ground enough for restoring anything that it is required of us; but unless people have been first taught to look upon the Church as a parent, this, alone, is rather a dry ground for them. . . . There is an obvious objection in their minds, that the Church has not, for above a century, had any power of revising her rubrics, that we do not know whether she would have retained them . . . and there is something in this. We ought not to be in the state in which we are. The very necessity of change, implies defect, and a previous acknowledgment of it. Unless we were wrong before, we should be wrong now, and until people see that we have been so, there is a rightful prejudice against change. Then restoration ought to be the act of the body, so that people should feel that they were obeying not only disused laws, but a living authority. ... I think harm has been done by trying to introduce changes without teaching people about them before, and trying to raise their mind to them. It does not seem to me right by our people to bring all at once a practice before them which they have to receive or reject so unprepared. It seems to me risking the putting them in a worse condition, and a want of Christian consideration. . . . We have not only acts and services to restore, but which is far more, habits of mind to recover in our own people. . . .
"My own theory, then, for restoration, would be, I think, to commence at once those things which did not put people decidedly in a worse position if neglected, and require them to choose at once for better or worse. Thus, unless there were local reason to the contrary, I should at once commence daily service at an early hour, because attendance at that office is at all times a question of duty; and being at an unusual hour (I believe an early hour is far the best), it is not like a deliberate refusal. It is meant, as things are, not for all, but for those who can attend.
"The restoration of Communions is far more difficult, unless they also are placed at an early hour, which in itself is far the best, and which in most places is almost an absolute duty in the case of frequent (i.e. weekly) Communion. For on the one hand, that feeling which has been handed down to us of 'never turning the back' upon it, is so valuable, that one would be risking serious injury to persons, and much inward strife and distress, by bringing them to the choice unprepared, and might be breaking down a valuable feeling; on the other hand, we might lead them to diminish preparation, and the aim with which they now approach it. For there is among the uneducated a much deeper reverence often, and unwillingness to approach without full preparation, than among the rich. I should be disposed in this to lay down no rule for myself beforehand, but ascertain who were communicants, learn something of them, and then speak with them.
"With regard to the prayer for the Church Militant, I think it would be best to prepare people's minds beforehand by a sermon on intercessory prayer, which might make part of a course of sermons on prayer (including the daily service), for all that has been said about it might make people think it a mere form or badge, and so they would never come to feel the full beauty of it; whereas I think that if they learnt how Apostolic and exactly prescribed by Holy Scripture it is, none of the better sort of people would object to it.
"For ordinary charitable collections, that way of collecting at the door, leaving God's House, as if wrong to do it in His sight, is really so heathen and irreverent, and the other of offering the alms to Him with prayer for their acceptance, at His Altar, is so beautiful and fitting, just what any mind of simple piety would wish, that I can hardly think there would be any difficulty if the subject were adequately explained, high ground taken, and withal arrangements made as to length in collecting and privacy in giving (by some sort of box or bag).
"But a weekly offertory is a high thing. It also is so clearly Scriptural, and such an obvious act of grateful piety, and such a manifest blessing on the week's labours, that I should hope people might be brought, without any great difficulty, to this also. . . . Intending to carry out the rubrics altogether, you would restore catechising in an evening service, which, if pains is taken, may be much more interesting and instructive than a sermon. ... I hardly think it expedient to consult the Bishop, when the use is clear, because it makes him responsible, which they had often rather not be. I do not think that it is any compromise not doing everything at once, provided that it is your intention to do so, and that you delay only until you have prepared your people's minds for it. ...
"E. B. P."
"Lent, Ember Week. Friday. 1844."
The condition of the Church was early considered, though some time passed before much could be taken in hand; and there is a letter from Mr. J. H. Parker, dated July 13, 1844, advising as to a suitable pavement, and the best design for a font-cover.
"Archdeacon Manning" was consulted as to the best way of creating an interest in missionary work, and he wrote from Lavington in July, 1845, about "a plan (short of the offertory) for parochial collections."
"I can think of nothing better than the scheme you suggest--of two boxes in the church, one for home and one for abroad, with Lectures.
"If I were to suggest anything further, it would be: (1) Sermons on Missions, etc., without collections; (2) Boxes in private houses, even of the poor; (3) Collector for the S.P.G., and each having a book with a few names. I find this enlists a strong and active feeling distinct from the principle of giving. Obviously, the thing we have all neglected too much is frequent mention of alms corporal and spiritual, and of missions, etc., in our common preaching and catechising.
"Believe me, my dear sir,
"Yours very truly,
"H. E. MANNING."
With this letter was found a copy in Mr. Carter's writing of one written by himself on this subject, which seems to have occupied him a good deal. It is only dated September 26.
"MY DEAR MR. HOBHOUSE,
"Had I the pleasure of a longer conversation with you, I would have mentioned to you that Archdeacon Manning entirely supports the association system. The plan pursued in his archdeaconry is to get persons to give their names as contributors, then have their offerings collected by some voluntary agents, the sums being delivered to the parish priest, and once at the end of the year the sum-total is brought and laid on the altar at the time of the offertory. He has found this plan well succeed, and has strongly recommended it. He advises, also, an alms-box in the church as well as in private houses, and particularly speaks on the need of sermons on missions, etc.
"I certainly feel that there is great good in the principle of getting persons to give their names and avowedly join a body united for such a purpose. In America, where the mission system is put on the highest ground, the plan in each separate parish is personally to get persons to give in their names as contributors, and then they bring their offering to church, wrapped in paper, signed with their name, and it is collected by the persons appointed.
"But the principle of associating persons by name as contributors seems fully acted upon, the only difference being that we collect out of church, and they in. Much as I prefer the latter method, yet it seems impracticable in our present circumstances in ordinary parishes, and therefore collecting at the houses seems unavoidable. Manning has spoken to me strongly of the good of getting collectors in the parish, both as good for themselves as well as for the Society. . . . How to start an association is a different thing. The offering of the yearly sum on the Altar seems a great improvement on the usual way.
"I am truly glad to have had the pleasure of knowing you, and remain,
"Most faithfully yours,
"T. T. CARTER."
A little later we find letters on the position and duties of schoolmasters.
"I perfectly agree with you," writes the Rev. T. Jackson, then head of the Battersea Training College, "that the Elementary Schoolmaster is daily becoming a person of greater importance, and that many, many influential parties are bidding for his support. I, for one, pray that he may be kept sound, a true friend of the Church, a faithful ally of the clergyman. . . . My notion of the Church's elementary teacher is that of an educated peasant, living among the peasantry, sympathizing with their wants and pursuits, and endeavouring to lead them in whatever promotes their civilization; above all, their progress in the way to heaven. ... It is the highest philosophy and the mark of the deepest skill to teach plain things in a plain way. . . . Societies of a formal kind, instituted for the benefit of schoolmasters, have produced much good. . . . Why should not a series of country parsonages be opened in succession to the twenty nearest schoolmasters, a service be given in church, afterwards essays and a short discussion, some tea and coffee, by no means to be omitted, and making the agape complete, a final interchange of Christian sympathizers, and a blessing from the Rural Dean or some senior clergyman?"
Another letter on the same subject, with some account of an association for mutual improvement among the London schoolmasters, comes from the Rev. W. Short. [Brother of the Bishop of St. Asaph.]
"I believe," he says, "if the clergy take care to see that Christianity is distinctly taught according to the doctrines of the Church of England, there is no fear of the Government taking education out of the hands of the Church. . . . I trust, having the game in our hands, we may not be so foolish as to lose the opportunity of giving England a Christian education."
Mr. Carter toiled early and late. He had been accustomed, when at Burnham, to hold evening meetings at cottages in the scattered hamlets, and this use he continued at Clewer, and found useful. He also gave short addresses at the daily Matins, which some of the older people attended. One elderly man was so far touched that he volunteered to ring the bell daily without payment, and continued to do this for several years. House-to-house visiting was undertaken to the utmost of his power; but drunkenness was terribly rife. After a miserable week, in which the Sector had to bury two persons who had died violent deaths through drinking, he began a temperance society. He worked also for the social improvement of the people, took a deep interest in the establishment of a benefit society, and gave part of the glebe for allotments.
In addition to this varied work at home, for two years he acted as an Organizing Secretary for S.P.G., in order to earn money to begin the reparation of the chancel.
For many years he could not afford to engage a curate, but the ever-ready help of Eton did not fail, and two private tutors, first, Jacob Mountain, who worked in Clewer till the call came to give himself to mission work in a lonely out-station in Newfoundland, and then Wellington Furse, subsequently Principal of Cuddesdon, and then Archdeacon of Westminster, came to his aid. But they could only give the time spared from their other work, and Mr. Carter became greatly overdone. He would sometimes arrive at a distant cottage so much exhausted by the walk (he was a rapid walker, and would go surprising distances in a very short time) that he could only sink down into a seat and rest before being able to speak. In those days he hardly ever took a holiday, except the two short visits each year to- his father, in summer at Burnham, in the winter at Eton, which were rarely or never omitted, and which he much enjoyed, especially the long summer days in the woods and lanes of Burnham.
Such a strain, aggravated as it was by his attempt at total abstinence, which did not suit his constitution, could not continue with impunity, and in 1853 his health broke down. He was ordered to the sea, and went with Mrs. Carter to Folkestone.
"If the process of imbibing salt air at every pore be the thing to be desired," he wrote, "we have so done, for no two gulls could have been more constant on the cliffs than we have been, and nobody of our own species, I think, has been so much about the coast, except the preventive service officer. You will see us much browned."
Rest and sea-air restored his strength, and about this time his father enabled him to have a regular curate.
In 1853 he was able to begin the long-dreamed-of restoration of the parish church. It was in so bad a state that a proposal was made to build a new church in a more central spot, leaving the old one for a cemetery chapel; but he could not bear the thought of this, and the vestry supported him. He began with the chancel, and the parishioners were so much pleased with the effect that they gave willing assistance in the further and larger work of restoring the nave to a iitting appearance. Some few difficulties were made, but on the whole the work was carried out with great unanimity.
"Mr.------in high good-humour," Mrs. Carter writes in 1855. "Only conceive his proposing that if father would stand at the north instead of the west of the altar, he would not object to a lectern! Father consents up to a certain portion of the service; telling Mr.------ that he must not consider this as a compromise to obtain a lectern, but as consideration of the wishes of his flock! which Mr.------ thinks so amiable that he thinks there will be no further objection to a lectern."
Meanwhile Mrs. Carter had taken the choir in hand (not a surpliced choir, then hardly to be seen at that date in a village church, but a mixed choir of men and women), and worked diligently, assisted as time went on by two ladies of great musical gifts, to improve this portion of the service.
The singularly meagre hymn-book which had been found in use was replaced first by Hullah's arrangement of the Metrical Psalms, and then by a hymn-book specially compiled, and printed privately in 1859, with a dedication to the parishioners of Clewer, "in grateful commemoration of their parish church," and this continued in use till the publication of "Hymns Ancient and Modern "made it needless to keep it in print.
This is, perhaps, the best place to introduce Mr. Carter's own account of his intercourse with Bishop Wilberforce, which counted for much in the work at Clewer. "His" (the Bishop's) "activity reached everywhere, embracing all details, stirring work where it was slack, and where it was alive keeping his hand upon it, or trying his best to do so. I remember, e.g. in early days, privately putting forth a leaflet containing a prayer relating to the Blessed Sacrament. He heard of it. It happened to be beyond his line of belief, and he at once took it up, remonstrating about it. This he did always most kindly, but in a way very difficult to resist. . . .
"With an enormous capacity for work, an overpowering attractiveness of manner, and excessive warmth of affectionateness, he entered into the Church movement in a most practical way, unlike any one else. He popularized the Church revival, and raised the whole idea of Episcopal work, with a most elastic sympathy, extending itself on all sides, to all kinds of views. The Tract writers restored doctrine; he impelled it forward as an active force, at least in its main practical issues.
"There was no man that preached more, not one that made others preach more sermons, as I remember hearing Bishop Thirlwall say at one of the Cuddesdon festivals.
"The Bishop organized the course of Lenten sermons at Oxford, making St. Mary's and St. Giles' the two centres, and collecting preachers of different schools from various places. He initiated missions, not according to the more scientific, and in the most important particulars, the more effective method of later days, but according to his own mind. He chose certain centres, and included the surrounding villages, and arranged for services throughout the district. We communicated together in the morning at the centre; after breakfast, perhaps, met in conference on some practical matters touching ministerial life, and then dispersed to our appointed posts; and in the evening there followed supper and pleasant talk. His method started the idea of missions. It stirred new work in and around the chosen centres. It cherished brotherly love and co-operativeness among men possibly not likely to meet at other times.
"He did not initiate retreats, but he gave them a fresh impulse and a high sanction, making them a regular annual use at Cuddesdon College, and, from his example, drawing together to attend them elderly men, such as Leighton, head of All Souls, and Archdeacon Randall. He was himself always present, when not called off for work, or greatly pressed, one year himself giving the retreat. They were begun after his own idea, socially inclined as he was in all his methods, and so talking in a subdued tone was at first the rule; but this, as men grew to desire it, he soon allowed to be discontinued, and silence became the custom as elsewhere.
"The Bishop furthered ritual, though far from being a Ritualist. Characteristically, he was against outward details of religious use, though he liked and encouraged a certain reverent form; e.g. he liked processions of surpliced clergy and choir in due order. . . . The Bishop's peculiar and evident policy was to encourage, while moderating, those who were inclined to advance, and, on the other hand, to raise to a higher level the slower minds of his Evangelical adherents, and so bring together the two parties. And certainly he succeeded by his ubiquitous energy, his social attractiveness, and his many co-operative arrangements, so as to weld the diverse elements together in a very remarkable manner, and impart to them a higher Church tone than, as far as I know, is to be found in any other English diocese, leaving an impression that lived after him, and still lives.
"Visits to Cuddesdon were a part of the Bishop's scheme. They were quite unique, delightful experiences, never to be forgotten. He kept a kind of open house at Christmas, inviting the clergy who worked with him and others, and holding meetings of Inspectors and Rural Deans. There one met those with whom one was most in harmony, and with whom one was accustomed to co-operate in Church doings, as well as men of mark. Among others whom I remember, one met Sir George Prevost, the Randalls, Pott, Liddon, Butler, Milman (afterwards of Calcutta), Claughton (afterwards of St. Albans), Burgon, Bickersteth (afterwards Dean of Lichfield), Gordon, famous for his school-work; also Leighton of All Souls, and his wife. The order of the day was as follows: First, prayers in chapel, and sometimes a short exposition of Scripture by the Bishop. Then breakfast, with general talk, the Bishop, as always, the leader; then, shortly, an invitation to his study to certain of us, to discuss, perhaps, the subjects for the Lenten sermons, or to settle the preachers, or to make arrangements for a mission, the when, and the where, and the what. This might last till luncheon. Afterwards he would invite some of us to walk with him, himself, with a thick stick in hand, heading the party. Then he might start a subject and ask us to express our thoughts They were often serious ones. I remember one on the Blessed Sacrament, and his asserting his view; while------and some of us bore witness to another belief. But he was always patient with differences.
"Returning home, some of us might be called into the study to write letters for him, he dictating to each, then signing, if necessary, and sealing; he always sealed his letters. Then, in due time, dinner, somewhat, though not over, luxurious; and then his very remarkable conversational powers would come out. The ladies being gone, he would sometimes start some subject of the day and have it discussed. Then the drawing-room, and music, and easy talk, himself calling one or another aside, to speak more privately while resting on a sofa by his side.
"This is a long digression, but the circumstances closely affected my own life. I was led to work, helping, in part, to carry out the Bishop's plans, so that it could not well have been omitted. I had my share in the Lenten sermons, the missions, and the retreats, till he left for Winchester.
"I once stayed with Bishop Wilberforce at Lavington. It was the year when Manning left us (1851). When I was with the Bishop, it was known that this was sure to come. Knowing Manning pretty well, I told the Bishop I could not but call at the vicarage to see him. The Bishop wished me not to do so, but I could not have done otherwise. I was with him in his study looking out upon the beautiful wooded hill above Lavington. I have never forgotten our talk. . . . The main subject was as to inspiration. He had come to believe that, not Apostles only, but a whole line of teachers down to the present time, leading men, at least, such as the Church of Rome had canonized, were equally inspired. It was clear enough what would follow. This idea agrees with what he subsequently wrote, viz. that to quote history is heresy. j
"Manning's eloquence was great. We always delighted to hear him.
"While Cuddesdon influences were thus telling, life was growing around one at home among the neighbouring clergy, and mutual intercourse was furthered, especially through the clerical meeting which I joined with others in forming soon after coming to Clewer. We discussed all the burning questions as they arose. It was a very stirring time, for we were striving together to revive old truths; and differences, which afterwards revealed themselves, had not appeared so as to divide us. . . . It was the discussions that were there carried on that led me to write my two books the 'Doctrines of the Priesthood' and the 'Doctrine of Confession,' the latter the stiffest work I ever undertook. I had a very great desire always to make good what I had committed myself to in argument, and so I was led to write fully on the subjects discussed.
"One good deed which deserves to be recorded was done by the Clerical Meeting. It was the time when as yet the Private Chapels Act had not been passed, and there was no opening for dissentients from the teaching of the parish church to form for themselves a more congenial service. The Evangelicals had chosen Exeter Hall for a regular Evensong on Sundays. It raised a great commotion, and at last the incumbent of the parish in which Exeter Hall is situated forbade it, and the law supported his rights. When we talked this over at one of our meetings, we resolved to petition the Deans of St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey to commence a Sunday Evensong. The meeting that week happened to be at my house, and I had to write to the two Deans Milman and Stanley (?) Other influences no doubt helped, but the services were soon commenced as we desired."
By this time the work at Clewer (which now included the House of Mercy) had so far grown that the single curate had been supplemented by one, if not two others; and we are permitted to give some recollections by one (the Rev. EL Tudor) who worked in Clewer from 1858 to 1865.
"An old friend whom I had known at Cuddesdon, and who was senior curate of Clewer, asked me to come and see Mr. Carter with a view to my coming there as one of his curates. I went, and it was decided that I should work there, and though so many years have passed, I can remember my interview with Mr. Carter, and that I felt then, as I have ever since felt, that I was happy in being curate to so holy and earnest a rector. Clewer was then in a transition epoch. Roughly, it might be said that it had four scattered centres of population, and that his parishioners consisted of all sorts and conditions--rich people, who had also houses in London; well-to-do people; two or three farmers; people retired from business or engaged in it; working classes of all kinds, and the poor. I mention these details because I think they may point out that Mr. Carter had a parish which, from its size and arrangement of population, contained elements of special difficulty, increased by the parish church being at the extreme border of the parish. One thing I may mention is, that during the six years I was Mr. Carter's curate, though, no doubt, there were some who did not on all points agree with him, I never heard of any who doubted his goodness or did not recognize how hard he worked. The parish church was full of high pews in 1858;l it was restored through Mr. Carter's and the parishioners' exertions, and I well remember how in those days, when church restoration was a novelty, the gentle manner of the rector, his consideration for those people who were doubtful about any change, got over various difficulties.
"Besides services in the parish church, there were services in Dedworth school-chapel, evening service at Clewer Green school in the winter, and a mission room near where St. Stephen's church now stands, and services now and then in another part of the parish. When to these were added services at the House of Mercy, and supervision of the many good works which gradually clustered round it, it must be allowed that the Rector of Clewer, with the many calls on his time as a preacher, a spiritual guide, an author, the writer of many letters, had much to do, and it is pleasant to recall his cheerfulness, his hopefulness, his thought that by God's blessing all would go well. Like many good men, he fortunately had a sense of humour, and after the meeting at the Rectory on Monday mornings, when the services for the week and the following Sunday were apportioned, one of his curates thought it his duty at times to tell, for the edification of the rector, some passing tale or curious event. At these meetings it was often striking to find how well Mr. Carter knew many of the poor, how interested he was in them; and in the homes of the poor the curates often heard remarks which showed the reverence with which the rector was regarded. As the population of Clewer rapidly increased, and the parish had not then been divided, it would have been impossible for any rector to know all his parishioners; but I think they all knew him, and recognized his saintly character. Bishop Wilberforce once said, 'Mr. Carter is often upstairs.' He meant that often his sermons were very spiritual, his thoughts often directed to another world. In the inner minds of many of the poorer parishioners of Clewer there was, I believe, a deep sense of the rector's sympathy with them, and a feeling that his thoughts were often fixed on heavenly things, or, in the homely language of the Bishop, that he was 'often upstairs.'
"At the Ruridecanal Chapters and at the interesting Clerical Society's meetings Mr. Carter was regular in attendance, was listened to with great respect, and though subjects with elements of controversy occasionally were discussed, he set the good example, which was happily followed, of fairness and courtesy, however earnestly differing opinions were sometimes expressed and maintained.
"I have written at longer length than I had intended. I might have dwelt on Canon Carter's kindness and sympathy in times of happiness and in times of sorrow. I might have alluded to his beautiful and spiritual sermons, but others will do this better. I will only add that I consider it a chief honour of my life to have been the curate of so good a man."
The writer of these recollections was himself a great benefactor to Clewer. He and his family built the beautiful little church at Dedworth, an early work of Mr. Bodley, which was consecrated in 1863. [The inscription in it runs: "To the glory of God, and in memory of Mary Sophia, daughter of Andrew and Helen Thynne, and wife of Henry.]
The Rev. G. D. Nicholas, Vicar of Clewer St. Stephen, has also kindly given his impressions of these early days, and an account of a great event in the history of the parish, the foundation of the daughter church and parish of St. Stephen.
"My earliest recollections of Clewer date from the year 1861. I had been ordained Deacon to Holy Trinity, Windsor, in the Advent, 1860, and I remember the Rev. H. Lanphier, lately come (I believe), as subwarden of the House of Mercy, coming to preach at the soldiers' services at 9 a.m., and my assisting him. In those days I had an almost superstitious veneration for 'Clewer' and all connected with it. I was very proud of being once asked to preach at a special evensong, probably in Lent, when I remember we vested in a temporary vestry near the small chapel door. In those days I used to slip off to the House of Mercy for early Communion and Evensong on a week-day, when not wanted at Holy Trinity. In 1862 I went to Newfoundland, and Mr. Carter still gave me counsel and advice when I asked for it. He sent out to me a copy of his Lectures preached in 1862 at All Saints', Margaret Street, on the 'Passion and Temptation of our Lord,' and so he did the next year those on the 'Life of Sacrifice,' preached in 1864. I returned to England in November, and before Christmas saw Mr. Carter, who offered me a curacy at Clewer, if I could wait three months. In April, 1865,1 went as assistant curate for Clewer, and remained so eight years.
"A surpliced choir was gradually supplanting the old choir of male and female voices who sat behind the pulpit. Black stoles only were worn, and, at least in the morning, the black gown was used; this was done in consideration for some of the parishioners. At first white stoles were used, but it was some time before red and green were introduced."
It was apparently in Lent, 1866, that services began in Clewer Fields on Sunday, in the house which is now the Mission House (of Clewer St. Stephen).
The following is in Mr. Carter's handwriting:--
"On July 3rd we laid the foundation stone of St. Stephen's Mission, still to be seen to-day in front of the College. Two ladies, Associates of the Sisterhood of St. John Baptist, by Tudor, who died 10th of June, 1860, aged 58. This church of All Saints' was built by her husband and children A.D. 1863."
two separate gifts placed at the disposal of the Rector, enabled him to purchase this site, and also within a comparatively small amount of the sum required to build the school and mission house. The site purchased included space sufficient for a church, proposed hereafter to be built in connection with the mission house and schools. Think upon these benefactors, my God, for good, according to all that they have done for this people.
"T. T. CARTER,
"Rector of Clewer.
The title of St. Stephen was chosen because, as St. John Baptist (House of Mercy) was the first in dignity among prophets, and St. Andrew (parish church) first called apostle, so St. Stephen was Christ's first martyr.
"In 1868, on October 29, St. Stephen's Mission and temporary chapel, now the Sisters' Oratory, was solemnly blessed by the rector. He celebrated in linen vestments, myself and the Rev. B. J. Ives (now Vicar of Roath) acting as deacon and subdeacon, and the boys of 'Bell Farm' School acting as choir. [A preparatory school in the parish, kept by ladies, in which the Rector always took warm interest.] There were forty communicants. At Evensong the rector preached from Isaiah xliv. 3,' I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,' etc., and bade none think the ground of their hearts was so dry but that the floods of the Holy Spirit could yet fructify it."
In the following spring, after a few days' illness, Mrs. Carter was called away. She entered into rest on Quinquagesima Sunday, February 7, 1869. This is not the place to speak of her or of the lifelong loss to her family. "Ask for us," Mr. Carter wrote to Mr. Nicholas on the morning of her departure, "that the rector and his three children may bear their very sore bereavement according to the perfect will of God," and please renew it in brief at offertory prayer, and let it be asked at all services.
"Thank God, all was peace, and we are supported and comforted."
For more than a year after this heavy blow, Mr. Carter worked on, but in January, 1871, he got a chill. The effect of long overwork and overstrain made themselves felt, and the result was serious and prolonged illness. He was hanging between life and death for more than a fortnight. His doctor, Dr. Ellison, when asked by one who was ministering to him whether "there was any hope?" replied that he could not say there was no hope in his case (because he knew the vigour of his constitution), but he had never known any one recover from such a condition. Prayers and intercession before the Altar were being offered continually, and they were not in vain. In the midst of extreme bodily prostration, his mind was clear. After receiving, in the presence of relatives who were gathered for the purpose, the Blessed Sacrament (which was thought to be by all his last communion), he sent messages, through the celebrant, of love to friends; and, during his illness he never lost consciousness. His sister each morning read the first lesson to him, and it so happened that on one of the mornings the lesson was Genesis xlix., which, containing an account of Jacob bidding adieu to his children, his sister did not like to read, thinking it too touching, and so she began chapter 1., when Mr. Carter, raising his head a little from his pillow, said softly, "That's the wrong lesson "--so-clear waa his memory in the midst of extreme bodily weakness. For weeks his'life was in danger, and when this was past, little hope was felt of his return to active work; but by God's blessing, after a rest of nearly two years, much of which time was spent in Italy, he returned home in renewed vigour, to labour yet for thirty years. The following letters refer to this time:--
"TO THE REV. G. D. NICHOLAS.
"Monday, March 13, 1871.
"I hope all is going well, and that none of you is pressed overmuch. It has been a long parting, and I am still but slowly progressing. They tell me I shall find a great change with change of air, and I hope next week to move to Hastings, where kind friends have provided most hospitably for me. [Mr. and Mrs. Charles Randell, to whose constant and affectionate friendship Mr. Carter owed much.] I am afraid it will be some time before I can be of use to any one, but I am truly thankful for so many blessings and prayers for me.
"I long in vain to see St. Stephens, which I suppose is beginning to make your mouth water. [The first stone of the chancel of St. Stephen's church had been laid in the previous November.]
"I fall back on Scott and suchlike for occupation. Will you give my loving remembrances and all good wishes to Ives, Whitlaw, Harrison, Little (the venerable synod). [The name given to the weekly gathering of clergy.]
"Ever in all Christian bonds of love,
"T. C. C."
"TO THE SAME.
"Tunbridge Wells, July 29, 1871.
"Thank you very much for your report. It is a great blessing all went so well, and in good time all that remains needful will come. You, too, will be strengthened and guided onward as things open. Generally one sees and knows little of effects, and to walk humbly and deal justly, and live devoutly and do all things reverently and kindly, has its blessings, quicker than one would expect. . . .
"Would this do for the inscription?--' To the glory of God, the most Holy Trinity, and in the faith of Jesus Christ, we lay the foundation stone of this church, dedicated as the Church of St. Stephen, Protomartyr, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost'--with the date and any names you think well. I should like your own, of course, as mission-priest in charge; no need of churchwardens. Bishop should be added; architect and builder, I suppose, also.
"Thank you for what you say. It is a very great comfort to me to feel the confidence in you that I do entirely.
"I must close in a hurry. God bless you.
"T. T. C."
"TO THE SAME.
"Tunbridge Wells, Aug. 21, 1871.
"I am more than content about the Choir Fund, and am much obliged to you for settling about the bill. I suppose ------has his use, as forest flies no doubt do good." (Here follow minute directions as to parish charities.) "I think these are all. I am anxious to clear off all matters. My book with account of alms, you will find, I hope, without trouble.
"I am delighted with the photograph of St. Stephen's and yourself in it. How well it looks. And so my long story comes to an end. What a number of details compose life. I hope------and ------will send in their reports. ... I am desirous to have all accounts paid in and out before my far-off journey, which is to be on the 30th of this month; it seems an exile, though in a delightsome land.
"All blessing be with you and your work.
"Ever affectionately yours,
"T. T. C."
During the rector's absence, Mr. Nicholas was left in charge of the parish.
"It was," he writes, "an anxious time, for reasons which need not be dwelt upon here, and I well remember how, if I was nominal head, we all looked to the Rev. W. H. Hutch-ings (who had charge of the Community and Religious Works) for guidance and real leadership.
"In May, 1871, a letter signed by Canons Liddon and C. L. Courtenay, Dr. Monsell, and Revs. B. T. West and G. Cosby White, was written to the Guardian, suggesting a 'thank-offering to God for the restoration from dangerous illness of the Warden of Clewer.' It ran thus:--' It having pleased God to hear the prayers of His children (who in many churches throughout England asked in the time of his trial for the restoration of this good servant of the Lord), and life (though, alas! life much shattered) having been given to their prayers, we request all who sought the blessing to return thanks. . . . and we venture to suggest that in each church where such thanksgiving is, the offertory (which is the rendering of our words of feeling into deeds of faith) should be devoted to the completion of St. Stephen's Church . . . one of the latest of the many good works of the Rector of Clewer; the removal of the remaining debt and all care about it from the mind of one whose Christian offices of love have helped so largely to remove heavier cares from their hearts, is the purpose of this appeal.'"
On July 25 the church of St. Stephen's was opened. The following letters speak for themselves, showing the particularly keen interest which the Rector took in his parish and people during his long absence:--
"TO THE REV. G. D. NICHOLAS.
"Hotel de Milan, Florence, Nov. 13, 1871.
"I did not think it at all likely that the college would allow any of the tithe to go. ... The living is not large, and there are two churches on it, so I felt sure they would have demurred, and the patronage, if such it may be called, still more questionable. But I trust you may not need to take a vow of absolute poverty. I trust the commissioners may add to the £1000, and when once you are a district, at all events grants can be obtained from the Curates' Aid and Diocesan Spiritual Help. . . . We must also try and get a Clergy House, that you may have a nicer home--Cowley. . . . I will, of course, as long as I live, do what I can to make all complete and give help, as I trust you will do what you can, as I know you will desire, for the parish church. I will give what you think fair for hymn-books for St. Stephen's. . .. I am afraid nothing can be done more for Spital till a centre in the shape of a school-chapel is got there. This I have long had in my mind, and trust to carry it out as soon as possible after my return.
"As to the club-room, you mention coals only. I would gladly give coals; but last winter there was also rent of room and candles, and Grinnel's services. I had hoped by this winter that some free room or other means would have arisen to lessen the cost. I should be sorry that it should drop, but it is a good deal, inter alia, to keep up alone. 'I could see no other way this winter, and probably there is no other way now. Is there any one you could think of who would help in this matter? But rather that it should fail I would undertake it, if they have a good report as to conduct. . . .
"I must leave with you to arrange with the Mother about the commencement of the regular services at St. Stephen's. ... I could indeed wish I had been with you to commune over all this. But all, I feel assured, will be ordered rightly. I greatly trust you will be blessed in your eventful work. You hold a most important position. . . . If there are many adversaries, there are more that are for you than those that are against you. Patient steadfastness with kind considerateness, large-hearted sympathies with lowly-hearted trustfulness, will, with the truth and the Presence of our Lord and the spirit of faith, surely win the day and triumph at last.
"All blessing and strength from above be yours, now and ever. My love and best wishes to the brethren.
"Ever your very affectionate
"T. T. C."
TO THE SAME.
"Hotel dela Ville, Naples, Dec. 12, 1871. "Thank you very truly for all your tidings. ____'s death is indeed very startling. I could not wish her otherwise, for with all her weaknesses she was a truly religious and single-hearted woman, so simple even in her faults that she was ever as ready for a sudden call as one could one's self desire to be. It was a very lonely lot, and much trial, and much that seemed faulty or odd was really peculiarity of health. I am thankful for all you have done for her. She deserved all honour in her last end.
"As to the new organist--if necessary to give £60 to secure a really good man, I would meet it as I have done, and leave you to judge. . . .
"I will do the best I can about the Pastoral. The idea of doing it came over me one day in church at Florence.
"I am exceedingly glad the launch will not be till my return for many reasons; glad, too, there need be no change in the charge of the parish. . . . [The formation of St. Stephens' as a separate district.] My love and very best wishes and grateful thanks to the brethren. I find this place agrees with me. It is colder than I looked for, and all say it is exceptionally so, but it is dry, bracing, and generally sunny all day. There is very little in the churches here: all ecclesiastical taste very low; shocking dressed dolls in glass cases in all the popular churches, with operatic music at the High Mass at the Jesuit's Church, on the 8th, Mass lasting two hours. The Museum very full of interest. It has been too cold to make far expeditions. . . . All truest Christmas blessings to you and to all, for I may not write again probably.
"Ever affectionately yours,
"T. T. C.
"P.S.--I have omitted to say that I wish £1 to be paid, if it has not been, to the ringers, for ringing on St. Andrew's Day."
In 1872 the Rector came home for the summer, and was able to celebrate at St. Stephen's on July 25, the anniversary of the dedication of the chancel. In the autumn he returned to Italy, remaining abroad till July, 1873, when he was able, with restored health, to resume the work from which he had been laid aside for two years and a half.
On his homeward way he wrote to Mr. Nicholas, then about to be instituted to the Cure of St. Stephen's.
"Boulogne, Friday evening, June, 1873.
"We have been constantly on the move since I found your last at Munich, or I would have sooner written. My heartiest best wishes and prayers, as you may well be assured, are with you in this eventful crisis of your life, one that I have so long looked forward to, and which is to me the fulfilment of so many anxious searchings of heart. May you have all needful grace and strength and guidance vouchsafed to you. We shall so soon meet that I only send these few lines.
"I have heard nothing from------, but had it been otherwise, I know you too well and too long to doubt or change the uniform confidence that I have ever felt towards you. It has always been a great point of rest to me amid many anxieties. . . . We have just come here and stay quietly, after a long and rather tiring journey, and rest here till Monday morning, and trust for a happy meeting on Tuesday.
"Ever most affectionately,
"T. T. C."