Project Canterbury

Life and Letters of
Thomas Thellusson Carter
Warden of the House of Mercy, Clewer,
Hon. Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and
For Thirty-Six years Rector of Clewer.

Edited by the Ven. W. H. Hutchings, M.A.
Archdeacon of Cleveland.

London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1903.

Chapter 7. Resignation of Clewer Parish

IT may be necessary to recall as briefly as possible, as it occurred some years ago, the history of the "Clewer case," both in the interest of Canon Carter and Bishop Mackarness, as it ended in securing to the bishops the power of veto, when a bishop considers the application of such a nature that it is wise not "to promote the office of judge." An effort had been made in the year 1877 to use that "unfortunate piece of legislation," the Public Worship Regulation Act, against Canon Carter. The "Oxford Diocesan History," published in 1882, thus refers to the case--"A signal benefit has also been conferred upon the Church at large and not upon the Diocese alone, in the vindication of the authority of the bishop and his perfect liberty of instituting, or of not instituting, a suit, when it is desired to promote the office of the judge under the provisions of the Clergy Discipline Act." The first attempt at prosecution was a failure, through a discovery which did not throw credit upon the promoters, and which we understand is chronicled in the archives of the Diocese of Oxford. But the second effort at first was more successful. The question turned upon the meaning of the words "it shall be lawful," in the third section of the Church Discipline Act. Dr. Julius applied to the Court of Queen's Bench for a mandamus to force the bishop to initiate proceedings, and the bishop appeared in person to defend his rights, but lost the case. The matter was then referred to the Court of Appeal, and the judgment was reversed. Dr. Julius finally appealed to the House of Lords, where the decision in favour of the bishop was finally settled, and the opposite party condemned with costs. This judgment, we repeat, secured to the bishops a rightful discretion, and thereby protecting the clergy from frivolous and vexatious attacks, besides vindicating a right principle. It must be remembered that the question was not whether Bishop Mackarness had rightly exercised the power of veto, but whether he possessed such a power. It is easy at this distance from the events to misjudge Bishop Mackarness or to regard his line of action as less than heroic. When it was stated that Mr. Carter had resigned through the bishop's pressure, Mr. Carter immediately denied this, saying--

"It is perfectly unfounded. There is not a shadow of truth in it; it would have been contrary to Bishop Mackarness's nature to have given the slightest indication of such a wish had he felt it. Nor have I any reason to suppose that he thought of my resignation. He was one of the most just and honourable and liberal-minded of men. His action was dictated simply by a disgust at outsiders interfering in the services of a parish church, and a desire to sustain what he believed to be a bishop's rightful authority in such a case, for his own and the Church's sake. He did nobly, and it must have been at great cost to his own feelings, for necessarily it exposed him to the suspicion either that he was conniving at my course of action, while he entirely disapproved of it, or that he condoned it out of mere kindness."

The question--the solemn question--how far the oath of canonical obedience could be urged in such matters as those now in dispute, was one to which Mr. Carter, it need hardly be said, gave grave consideration, and upon which he sought advice from those who were qualified to give a wise and unprejudiced opinion. The following reply from Dean Church was both weighty and helpful upon the limits of episcopal authority:--

"The Deanery, St. Paul's, May 1, 1878.


"I have not had an hour since I had your letter, or you should have heard before. I certainly cannot suppose that our Ordination vows carry with them an engagement to absolute and indefinite submission to a bishop's judgment. The term 'godly judgment' plainly qualifies and limits the engagement. I should take it to bind me in things clear and certain, and in things indifferent: just as I should interpret the oath of canonical obedience made to me as Dean by all members of the cathedral chapter.

"But where the question is one of wide legal and constitutional dispute between serious responsible men, I do not think that a bishop has a right to urge an Ordination vow in order to force us to agree with him. The very question at issue is, what is the real law, and no single bishop can claim to rule that. At the same time I am bound to say that to me the law on the rubric seems so uncertain that I cannot feel that it binds to compliance. The interpretation which the P. C. rejects seems to me the most probable; certainly has its difficulties, specially from disuse and from having been allowed to be a dead letter, a circumstance which also attaches to the P.O. interpretation about the cope. It is injustice to enforce uniformity on the ground of an uncertain law. But in my own case, I should feel, if a bishop was disposed to be equitable, that this very uncertainty would allow me to try for some modus vivendi, to help him, if possible, in his difficulties. But perhaps this is impossible.

"Yours, etc.,



"You will know, and I trust will explain for me to the bishop, that all through these troubled times my own convictions have been clear that neither the Ridsdale judgment nor the new jurisdiction carrying it into effect is what we could accept. It is not easy to say how far other minds act on one's own, or how far the influence of a party-feeling may prevail. But I have both written and spoken publicly with the intention of expressing the convictions that I entertained. Whether it was wise or not on my part to do the things now attacked is another point, and is too late to be considered; but having so committed myself, I ought, as I suppose, to be willing to bear the consequences, only I wish to do so in as passive and inoffensive a manner as I can. I mentioned certain names in my last letter as sympathizing in these views, only as wishing to show that I was not in accord with the extreme line in my beliefs and intentions, but with those whom all men look to as the more moderate.

"It is matter of the deepest pain to me, and is indeed the most oppressive feeling, that the bishop considers me to be repudiating his authority, and preferring other claims to my allegiance. I cannot, of course, expect him to place himself in my position and see the force of my own convictions. But in the matter now at issue, and of which my case is a sample, I can only see before me as ruling the contention the Eidsdale judgment, which I think untrue, and Lord Penzance's Court, which I think is -wrongfully exercising authority in carrying it out. For though it is not now a case of the P. W. E. A., yet Lord P. claims to be Dean of Arches only on the strength (?) of it.

"I cannot sufficiently express my obligations to the bishop for his kindness and forbearance towards me, and can only hope that he may not misinterpret my motives in taking a line which he disapproves.

"Ever your affectionate

"T. T. C."


"Eton, April 2, 1878.


"I have sent back the plans to the Mother with a few remarks. I have read with much interest the letters. I suppose you have pretty well resolved on your exact course of action, as there is no doubt about the course taken by Lord Penzance. I see the notice about Mackonochie and Edwards in the paper. What, as far as I can understand the issue of things to be, and what I hope you will do, is to resign after the monition, with a statement of the case and your refusal to obey or acknowledge in any way the Court, but recognizing the force majeure that must prevail. I do not see what is gained by actual disobedience, followed by suspension and subsequent resignation. Perhaps, however, I am only advocating what is your view, as we did not enter into details on Sunday. This course seems to me the proper one deduced from your principle of not fighting though you do not yield, and it seems to me to concede no principle, while it is the most graceful and dignified.

"Shall you see the bishop when he comes here, as he does to confirm, on Saturday? Not that I suppose you have any particular cause to do so.

"Your most loving son,



"August 29.

"MY DEAR E-------,

"I hope I have not done wrong. I have felt unable to consider what may be the result. I have been better able to think what would be true to myself, so as to be consistent, trusting that God may order events so as to prevent needless harm. I could not but see that to accept the bishop's directions would involve compromises which would place one in a very inconsistent position, affecting others also. The complaints against me are as to main points only, so that there was no hope of adjustment but by the sacrifice of these. I feel sure, too, that even the sacrifice of main points of ritual would not much matter so as to reconcile complaints and unite the parish, because my teaching is as distasteful as my outward ways. To come to terms with the bishop, supposing he directed me to concede part and save the rest, would therefore have no good.

"I fear alienation remaining with dissatisfaction at their [? not] getting all they desired from the bishop. With regard to the bishop, I have not felt any duty of obedience in this matter, and therefore feel free to consider what would be truest to myself; I mean in this way--the bishops have surrendered their jurisdiction in this matter. They cannot, as you say, sanction what the Court has condemned in the face of a remonstrant parish. [Mr. Carter was in the habit of imagining the amount and quality of opposition in his parish to be more than it really was.--ED.] It can, therefore, only be by voluntary agreement that bishops and priests can settle such matters between them. Then, as to myself, it would be my own voluntary agreement that I should consent to the bishop directing me. I should be a voluntary party to the compromise. The concessions would, in fact, be my own act. I am committed too far to make voluntary concessions, and should be injuring the cause, and seriously affecting others. There may be cases in which men are not so committed, and to whom no other work is open, who would do well to make the concessions. My position is rather peculiar. Partly, perhaps, of my own headstrongness, but partly spite of myself, what I now do will be much 'marked,' and affect the cause to which I feel I ought to look a great deal. I have long looked that some men must suffer and be put out before people will see that there is one-sidedness in the present policy. If all who are attacked quietly yield to the bishop's desire to settle matters, the present mode of dealing will quickly be stereotyped. Passive or active resistance has in a way won the position--at least, disarmed attack. Similar means may gain more. I don't see how we can look to gain by letting the bishops add the weight of their spiritual authority to the judgment, and claim of their duty to submit not to the judgment as such, but to their spiritual authority directing them to do what their judgment prescribes. If this goes on it will be a more extreme form of government than we have ever had--spiritual. authority enforcing the straitest line of State Courts. If my case goes on it won't be a repetition of Tooth's. It will be as passive as possible; I should simply let the inevitable take its course. It is just possible the bishop may reject the complaint, for we know that there is a deed guaranteeing the complainants against any money liability--an illegal act--and the Church association is the security. I am very sorry for the difficulty and annoyance caused to the bishop, for he would save one if he could, and will not like to let the matter go on; and he is kind, and it is painful to feel unable to accede to his proposal, but it is a case in which one's own consistency is much at stake. Will you kindly send this on to W------?

"T. T. C."

"Clewer, Friday.


"I have been exercised not a little, as you may suppose, since our talk. My first impressions were very confused, and it was difficult to disentangle them, and the tendency to take the easier way to spare myself and the bishop, etc., was strong; other thoughts have come since as to the consistency of such a course, and its possible effects on others. You know my sympathies in the Church would have run, not with the extreme set, but the more moderate section, such as is represented by All Saints, Margaret Street. I have been, therefore, talking the matter over with Berdmore Compton and Liddon, and one or two other like men; they can look at the matter outside, and they are strong against any resigning now. You will like to see their letters, and the line they take. Difficult as is the path of refusing the offered proposal of resignation now, the accepting it seems the more difficult, if, as I fear, it involves loss of caste and inconsistency, and a discouraging effect on others, and a making it easy for the Church Association.

"K. T. G. (a very different mind) has just written very kindly, and though he would persuade accepting law, though bad, yet, as to resignation, he says, 'We have heard that you have entertained thoughts of resigning the living, which would certainly have the effect of saving the conspirators trouble and expense, but would wear in my opinion too much the appearance of conscious weakness on your part, and afford them the opportunity of very much misrepresenting your case. I should rather say, as once was said, though in a different sense, "Nay, but let them come themselves and fetch us out."' This is rather striking from E. T. G., and is certainly, I suppose, the case.

"It is a painful conflict of feeling, but I would wish to take the truer line at all risks. I feel strongly that I ought not to let the House of Mercy matter come in to rule the case. You will see that my mind is now to believe it right to let the matter go and be simply passive.

"Your affectionate

"T. T. C."

"Clewer Rectory, June 14. .


"We shall be most glad to get a day with you that week of the 22nd; the 26th, I think, will be best. If anything happens to make me wish to alter it, I will write to Gertrude; but I think it would quite suit. ... I heard from Pott the other day--a feeler from the bishop, asking what I could do, and apparently apprehending a possible reversal in the Lords. I told him that my idea was to ask the bishop (if the appeal is sustained) to regulate my late celebration as he wished, and that I should retain my present use at the early celebration; I thought this would remove grounds of complaint to a great degree, and so smooth his course. It would be, in fact, acting on what (late) Lichfield did with Bodington at Wolverhampton, and as the archbishop has sanctioned, and would be, I think, the way in which a general compromise might be effected. E. C. U. would fall in with this. . . .

"Your affectionate

"T. T. C."

Besides the letters which passed between the Rector of Clewer and the immediate members of his own family, there were a great many between him and those with whom he was frequently in correspondence on all matters connected with the Oxford movement, and now concerning the very anxious step which he was about to take in resigning his living, and which he did take in 1880. It was put to him "whether he would obey the bishop in the matters complained of, provided his lordship acted as Chief Pastor of the diocese by his own authority, without any reference to the operation of secular statutes?" What would his reply be to the bishop? Would he then be bound to obey for conscience' sake, or feel bound to resign?

His reply was as follows:--


"In answering this question I must trust to your lordship's kindliest forbearance, and that you will allow me to place before you as a reply the thoughts that press on me in this great emergency. I am committed to a cause which appears to me only a phase of the long contention which, ever since the Reformation, has been going on in England between two contending parties.

"These disputed questions of ritual are now the outward symbols of one side in this contention, and to the mind of men generally, as to my own, express its distinctive doctrines. I have slowly but deliberately adopted the main points in dispute, only as simply as I could, to avoid needless offence, and the matters of complaint in my case can only relate to these.

"What I believe and have done, have from various circumstances been publicly put forward, partly not of my own seeking, but rightly or wrongly, I cannot act as though I were alone, or did not commit others, were I to do anything of my own will which would involve me in any surrender of what I have committed myself to. After all that has passed, I should be justly liable to the charge of inconsistency.

"You will, I trust, pardon me in saying that I cannot consider it possible for you to give me directions on these vexed questions, when the public mind, is so agitated, without being influenced in some measure either by popular feeling or by the late judgments. What would have been possible before the late judgments is less so now; and bishops seem to me placed between the alternatives of either ignoring the judgment altogether, or virtually acting under that decision, while seeming to act by their own spiritual authority.

"I do not see how in the face of the complainants, who are really many of the chief parishioners, (a bishop) could uphold me in the main points which the Court has condemned.

"If these were minor details, and by surrendering them the greater points might be saved, the case would be easy, and the desire of accommodation on my part would be ready; but as the only points that can be objected to are the greater points, then any surrender must involve compromise; a compromise without satisfying the complainant would involve me in inconsistency.

"It does not appear to me a question whether or no I would obey my bishop in what he could clearly claim my obedience; but whether I would rather let the law take its course, or accept a kind offer on the part of my bishop- to step in and, at cost to himself of the displeasure of the complainant and the public, save as much as the bishop reasonably could on condition of my surrendering a part.

"In regard to the anxious question of obedience as between priest and bishop, the case (would) appear to me thus:--

"The matter in dispute is not one contemplated by the Prayer-book, where it rules that reference should be made to the bishop in case of doubt, for neither of the complainants doubt or myself, though we take contradictory views.

"Nor is it a case in conflict with my promise so 'to minister' as this Church and Realm have 'received the same'; for though the Realm in its highest ecclesiastical tribunal has condemned the points of ritual in question, the Church in the person of the last three real Deans of Arches has upheld the principle of the Ornaments Rubric for which we contend.

"Nor is it a case in which I have done anything contrary to the Act of Uniformity, for our contention is that we are only the more fully carrying out the directions of the Prayer-book, the opportunity having arisen for restoring what had been lost.

"On the whole, therefore, it seems to me clear that the question of duty pledged or implied does not apply; that the late Act and the action of the Courts have taken these particular cases out of the hands of the bishops, so as to hinder their acting judicially by their own spiritual authority; that any action now taken in such cases as between priest and bishop must be dependent on purely voluntary agreement; and that therefore my readiness to comply with what the bishop proposes can only be a surrender on my part, either for the sake of compliance with the bishop's desire, or of saving my position through his kind interference.

"I can from my heart say that there is no one to whom I would more readily submit a case, in the assurance of being justly and kindly dealt with, than my own bishop, and were the present times different from what they are, my natural disposition would be to concede almost everything for peace. But (it will be clear) I feel sure, how I could not surrender matters of such moment under such critical circumstances as I have described, simply out of the desire to comply with a bishop's kind suggestions. I have given my reasons at such length as to show my anxiety to express as clearly as possible my motives, and in order that I should not be thought lacking in the courtesy and gratitude which are due to you.

"T. T. C."

It was only on rare occasions that Canon Carter kept any copy of his letters; but at this crisis we have some in his own hand. He wrote very much in the same strain to one who was in close touch with the bishop, and who had in early days worked at Clewer.

"MY DEAREST -------,

"You who know me so well will know what I feel about the bishop's kindness. I could not read his letter without the intensest sense of regret at the position in which I find myself, and yet not seeing how with my sense of consistency I could act as I should desire, and would at once do, were it a simple matter of priest and bishop. Nor would I scruple at once to accept the bishop's judgment, if the bishop were free to act without the overruling force of the higher Court and the Privy Council judgment which must determine the case. I could not disobey the bishop's monition, but his monition could not contravene the P. C. judgment in the main points at issue, and to submit to it would only be in another form to accept the ruling of the Court, in compliance with which the bishop's monition must issue; or, should a bishop take a line of his own, and rule independently against the complainants, it could only be to be overruled on appeal. The bishop's jurisdiction in a case thus ruled appears to me to be an entirely different thing from what it ought and was intended to be. Fenelon submitted to the unquestioned ultimate authority of the spiritual tribunal. I should be submitting to what is the bishop's act indeed professedly, but really what was above it and what had overruled it--in fact, to the State tribunal.

"It is most painful to me to write this, and to face the consequences, aggravated as they are by what I know it costs the bishop; nor could I do so but on highest grounds of conscientious convictions, which circumstances have often led me to express publicly, so as to be quite committed before the Church. At my age, to myself the present cost is little. What it may--I know must--cost others is another thing. . . . I should retire from my parish work and place, where I could no longer hold it without a vain conflict. Personally, there would be nothing of the martyr in it, except the 'witness,' so far as this, that I believe the order of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to have gone wrong, and the late judgment one founded on policy rather than justice. Circumstances have forced me forward to testify to these beliefs. I do not doubt them, though I dislike the prominence into which the turmoil has brought me. You know how little conflict or resistance has been in my nature, and how much the way of peace and peace-making has been my disposition; but I have never faltered in my convictions on the facts of the case as they have come to me, and so to be true to myself, there seems only the one way of being wholly passive. I had rather do as you understand me--let the matter go to Lord Penzance, because I should have no compunction in disobeying him. You will say all you kindly can for me to the bishop.

"Ever yours affectionately,


Some misunderstanding ensued, and Mr. Carter wrote again to the same effect:--

"I am much concerned that through insufficient explanation I have caused so much trouble. My meaning in my last, as in my first letter to you, was the same, viz. when the matter comes before Lord Penzance, I should not plead, either as to the facts or the merits, nor indeed appear at all. It would not, indeed, be with any feeling of contempt, but it would be in silence and passively, because I cannot recognize Lord Penzance in any way as possessed of any spiritual power or rightful authority in these matters, but should yield to him only as having power from the State. I need not give my reasons, as the bishop will, I trust, understand that it is in no way whatever connected with his own action, but purely from the fact of the State, as it appears to me, having unconstitutionally taken these matters into its own hands.

"To the question what I should do on being monished by Lord Penzance, I would say that I am not altogether acting blindfold as to consequences, though I am much obliged to the bishop for explaining so particularly what would happen. I do not [suppose] I should heed a monition which I understand to be a warning as to what would follow in case of disobedience. ... If suspension followed, I should retire under protest. ..."

(The rest of the letter is very difficult to decipher. It seems to say that the Rector would retire, and not defy or oppose the law being carried out, though unable to alter any practice at Lord Penzance's orders.)

Canon Carter, in all this, was not acting alone; he sought advice in different quarters, as it was his habit to do. Dr. Liddon was evidently hoping against hope, that some way out of the difficulty might yet be found. His letter reveals this:--


"I have been thinking your letter over. I should make submission to the bishop's judgment depend on his willingness to state publicly (1) that his application to you was quite independent of the P.W.R.A.; and (2) that the advice he would give you would be in no way influenced by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. If he consents to this, we must, I think, admit that, however plain the meaning of a rubric may be, a bishop might decide on the expediency or inexpediency of reviving it, if it had been for a long time obsolete.

"If the bishop's decision involved you in inconsistency, I should resign. Resignation would leave you free for your main work at the House of Mercy, and would untie your hands in some ways. It would also teach the bishops what is involved in their cultus of the State.

"Ever yours affectionately,


"I am too probably advising what may involve great difficulties of income. Pray understand me as writing in the abstract, and as feeling that there may be considerations which I do not sufficiently recognize."

We gather from the following letter, written by Dr. Bright, that he also was consulted in this difficulty: --

"Christ Church, Oxford.


"I am a very poor casuist, and cannot offer any opinion worth having in the very grave question which you have had brought before you. And by this time I doubt not you will have come to some decision. I can only say one or two things which struck me as to the good bishop's proposal. I can well understand that a person who held that the present Judicial Committee had no moral claim on his obedience might take one out of several courses. He might (1) resign; or (2) wait to be [imprisoned] or deprived; or (3) might say in effect, 'although I do not recognize the Judicial Committee as a regularly [constituted] Ecclesiastical Court, yet I could say that the vis major is definitely against the use, e.g., of the vestments, and that they cannot practically be upheld under the present condition of the Established Church.' I think it best to give up the use of them, rather than surrender my opportunities and abandon my flock; and my bishop's advice goes in the same direction.

"But the Bishop of Oxford apparently asks you to submit to a certain spiritual authority of his, independently of the rulings of the Judicial Committee. He offered to deal with the case as if the Committee did not exist; to act simply as a spiritual ruler; and to address you as, ex hypothesi, denying the authority of the Judicial Committee to make the ornaments of 1549 illegal.

"This is--or was--his proposal. Two things occur to me respecting it. (1) It seems unreal to say that he sets aside the decisions of the State Court of Appeal. We know that in fact he does not. He would never have made this proposal but for the judgment of that Court hostile to the vestments. He would not, for himself as bishop, ignore or disown the Court. He could not, in other words,' set aside/ in any one case, the authority or the 'operation' of the law which that Court represents and enforces. But this is not my chief difficulty. The main point is (2), the question as to the extent of this authority which the bishop asks you to acknowledge, or 'not repudiate.' It is certainly not that authority defined in the Preface of the P. B. to be exercised when two parties agree to appeal to the bishop as interpreter of a doubtful rubric. It is something different; and here I do not understand how the bishop can claim a general authority to dispense with this or that point in the law of the P. B. For the bishop speaks to you as to one who believes the law to be still in favour of vestments. The judgment being no true expression of Church laws, therefore the question which at once arises is, what is the amount, what are the limits of this authority thus claimed? What if a bishop, invoking the same authority, had forbidden a priest years ago to celebrate weekly, or settle to baptize after the second lesson, or to read the Athanasian Creed on all the days appointed? In short, if we recognize, in regard to the present distress, an undefined authority on the part of Bishop Mackarness to set one free from the obligation of this or that rubric, one must recognize it also in, e.g., Bishop------, or in a possible nationalistic bishop as well as a Puritanical one. My difficulty is simply a constitutional one; no authority of bishops, in our Church, is indefinite or unlimited. What are the lines which mark out the scope of this authority which the bishop wishes, professedly, to exert? You are asked to obey for conscience' sake--yes; but what principle is involved in such obedience? How far would it carry you, or some one else, who accepted it under the circumstances? If a bishop can dispense with any Church law, he is for his diocese what James II. wished to be as to the general laws of England.

"Yours in all sympathy,


It will be seen by the following letter, from the pen of Dr. Bright, some years later, that he did not take a very hopeful view upon the reconstruction of the Final Court of Appeal.


"I do not think there is any clear path out of the jungle of the 'Courts' question. If you have a mixed Court, in which the lay judges out-number the spiritual, you have the same result as now--a judgment may be imposed by laymen on the Court spiritual of the province. There is a plan under consideration by the Committee of the Lower House, which would divide the Court of Appeal into a lay and a spiritual element, and provide that if their two divisions (i.e. majorities in them) disagree as to all the points in the case, the appeal shall be dismissed, and that sentence of [suspension], decreed by the Provincial Court, shall not take effect, if disapproved by the unanimous voice of the Court of Appeal, etc. I fear that this would be called too cumbrous. It will, perhaps, be discussed next week in Convocation. It does not seem possible for me to adopt the theory that English bishops, because State-appointed, are not representatives of the Church spiritually;--that assumed would lead to far-reaching results.

"At present, I think that Lord C. was quite right in deprecating the attempt to constitute Courts acceptable to all parties. The Dean of ------is a person whom to know is to like; but in this matter he has shown what the 'Antiquary' calls 'right Scottish craft.' He wants to drive us into a corner, and to cast on us the onus of proposing or offering to accept some scheme of an Appeal Court which will be practicable--in that word lies the whole difficulty. 'Practicable '? What does it mean? Such as can be got through the House of Commons? What if Church principle forbids us to aim at that result by the method which involves an illegitimate compromise?

"Yours affectionately,



"Clewer Rectory, July 5 (1878).


"... I am very grateful for your kindly remarks. You hit the points intended, and I was very glad indeed to know that you thought it temperate. It is an anxious time, and I have wished to keep the balance as even as I could, and at least explain my own position, which circumstances have made a complicated one, as well as help others in the same predicament. I wish I could see your new home, but it will not be possible for some while. I shall be tied till we leave home together, if all goes well, on August 6. Then we are due at Bakewell, and after staying there four or five days, hope to make our way to Arran, and so upward from thence to some of our haunts in Ross-shire.

"Your affectionate brother,

"T. T. C."


"July 11.


"What has taken place in Convocation has materially affected my position. Your lordship will, I trust, do me the justice to believe that in refusing to abide by your judgment and yield to your remonstrances, I am actuated by the honest conviction that you could not judge the main points of issue otherwise than as the Law Courts had decided; that at least in my own mind I could not separate your action from such decisions; and to those decisions I could not in any way yield myself, because I believe them to be historically untrue, and false to the principles and interests of our Church. It was only on this ground that I felt unable to give way, though with much pain to myself, and the more so because in the course of prosecution your lordship became involved on my account in so much that must have been sorely trying.

"The fact that many others were depending on what I did, and that a cause which seemed to me, and to many thousands of clergy and laity, to be of great moment, touching doctrine as well as the externals of the Church's worship, involved me in the greater difficulty as to any possible accommodation.

"But circumstances are now altered, and though I deeply regret the action of Convocation, I cannot decline to recognize its authority, though not as yet of any legal force. I do not, however, see my way to such changes as alone would satisfy the demand made on me. The only course, therefore, which remains open to me, is to place my resignation in your lordship's hands, to accept or not at your discretion.

"This, then, I now decide to do, and if by doing so I am relieving your lordship from any further trouble and anxiety, I shall be truly thankful, while I trust you will forgive me any wrong that, in your judgment, I may have committed, while acting, as far as I am able to judge, conscientiously in carrying out what I believe to be the law of the Church, not without regard to the good of my parishioners. "Believe me, my dear lord, "With true respect,

"Truly and very sincerely yours,


"P.S.--My anxiety in taking this step is, in reference to those of my curates who, being concerned only, or almost entirely, with parish work, will have to leave, that they may have sufficient time to look out for other work."


"July 12 (1878).



"I have taken the only step that seemed rightly open to me, and sent to the bishop the offer to resign, if he is willing to accept. I hope you will think this right. I have marked it 'private' only wishing to keep it to your own house for a while. I only wrote to the bishop yesterday. . . . "Your very affectionate brother,

"T. T. C."

It will be observed that Mr. Carter felt the bishop could not pronounce a judgment of his own, but was bound, as to the points in debate, by the ruling of Privy Council Judgments. In a letter of Dr. Bright's, which we print, it will be seen that he strongly takes the same view. The question whether the bishop's directions ought to be obeyed, when he was "the mouthpiece of Courts," was discussed before the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts. A number of Churchmen felt that they could not yield obedience to the bishop when he was "simply forcing upon them the judgment of a Court whose authority they repudiated." [Report of the Royal Commission, vol. ii. p. 156.] Others were ready to listen to the bishop, without going "behind him as to the reasons of his directions." It is a difficult distinction, and Mr. Carter was not seeking a loophole for escape. Dearly as he loved his parish and the neighbourhood of his birth and earliest years, what he believed to be the best interests of the Church would stand before all else in his heart. Men may think him wrong in his judgment, but they can never distrust the purity of his intention or the courage which postponed personal interests to public good; neither can they estimate the pain which he suffered, the cost of the sacrifice to his sensitive nature, when he resigned his living.

The parishioners were prompt in the expression of their sympathy, and a meeting was convened, at which was carried, with the heartiest unanimity, the following resolution:--"This meeting desires to express its deepest sympathy with the Rector of the parish under the prosecution with which he is threatened, and its confidence in him that he will maintain the principles for which he has ever contended, and which he has taught his flock to value." A "memorial" was also signed by a large number of parishioners, expressing their confidence in their pastor, in opposition to some who favoured the "persecution," and called forth a reply from the Rector, in which he thanked them for their sympathy, and added--

"I can truly say for myself and my curates that our simple and most earnest desire has been to follow what is conscientiously believed to be the doctrine and practice of the Church of England, according to the teaching of the Prayer-book, as the truest interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. During a ministration of upwards of forty years as a priest in the Church of England, I have endeavoured, to the best of my ability, and, I trust, honestly, to learn what her teaching is, and now, when the day of my account cannot be far off, I do not hesitate to affirm that every day's experience more and more convinces me that the principles which your memorial is intended to support are the true principles of the Church of our fathers."

The letters following relate to the renewal of the prosecution and the actual resignation.

"Clewer Rectory, August 9 (1879).


"I am obliged to wait before I can take any action. The E. C. U. Council pressed on me that my resignation would not stop the appeal. I told the bishop; he disputed this, but suggested my taking advice on it. Two or three days ago I saw Sir Robert Phillimore, and talked it out with him. He spoke decidedly that this was the case; that as the appeal affected the bishop as well as myself, my withdrawal would still leave it open to go on; that my withdrawal would only damage the case, and leave an unfavourable impression on the judges.

"I wrote this to the bishop, and it seems unavoidable, therefore, to leave it for the present. So I go away on Monday, trusting that my course is clear for the time. We make for Berchtesgaden. Best love to all.

"Your very affectionate

"T. T. C."

"Gosau (above Halstadt See), September 6 (1879).


"I don't know whether you have been in these parts, but I suppose that a cosmopolitan like yourself has been. We are just under the massive peaks of the Dachstein, some 9000 feet high, the monarch of the Styrian Alps--very grand; and the valley in which our little inn is placed resembles Switzerland more than any part we have seen. It is a beautiful evening after a glorious day, and you may judge of the air and clearness by our just having dined (it is half-past eight) in an open kind of summer-house. We have had very beautiful weather, only one wet day, and three or four thunderstorms in the evening, clouding and chilling the following day. But for these very occasional breaks, it has been uninterrupted sunshine. I have wished we could spare some to poor England, though I trust it is mending with you. We have had a very delightful round, staying at a few places, and all full of beauty. Up the Rhine to Würzburg, where Mdlle. ------ lionized us--an interesting old city; passing rapidly through Munich to Reichenhall, a pretty simple kind of Cheltenham, to Berchtesgaden, which you must know. One cannot speak calmly of its beauty and that of its neighbourhood. We were a good eight or nine days there, then two days at Salzburg, climbing up all the stairs duly, and encompassing the Castle Hill all round by moonlight, greatly charming my two daughters; then on to Ischl for a Sunday, and on to Halstadt See. It is not the lake I should have chosen for a summer villa, though beautiful of its kind; but we rowed across to look at the house of Herr------, and then to Alt Aussee, where we stayed three delightful days in a country inn hanging over the lovely lake; it is most charming. And there are two other lakes within a drive also--very beautiful; indeed, it is the land of lakes. Here we remain a few days; it is the end of our tether--a good mountain close, 2400 feet up. We return by Ischl, Passau, Nürnberg, Cologne, etc.

"The most strange thing is that we have not seen above six English faces on our route, barring about a dozen whom we saw at the English service at Ischl; but these were Americans. Our English kind have taken other paths. Henry Oxenham joined us at Ischl, and is with us still. We have come upon one English service only--at Ischl; a glimpse at the Times once or twice.

"There seems a general lull, happily. . . .

"Your affectionate

"T. T. C."

"Clewer Rectory, Windsor, March 18 (1880).


"I hope you have good accounts from Bournemouth, and wonder if you have heard from Neville, but suppose not. I have had many anxious thoughts since we parted; various things came up. Whether the bishop may appeal is still uncertain. The bishops are much moved at the judgment going against their discretion, which they seem to have assumed. I have heard how the archbishop and the others at the wedding, while robing in the vestry, were talking ominously as to this. What the bishop might otherwise do is also uncertain. I find that I could resign when the law is put in force, if at last the bishop is obliged to act. I therefore wait on to see what may come. Nearly all I hear from think this the best course for the present, and that the victory of the Church Association would be more complete and easy if I resigned now. It is not easy to see what is right. I can only hope this is. It is unfortunate for one that circumstances have brought it about that a cause for which I have been long contending, whether for good or ill, is mixed up with my own private course. Best love to all.

"Ever very affectionately yours,

"T. T. C."

In Holy Week, 1880, the appeal was decided in favour of the bishop, and the next day Canon Carter sent in his resignation.


"Your lordship is aware that for some time I have contemplated the resignation of my benefice, but deferred taking the step while the cause which you were kindly defending in my favour was still unsettled. This hindrance is now removed.

"I have regretted giving pain to your lordship by declining to submit the matter complained of to your decision (as under ordinary circumstances I would have gladly done), because I did not suppose it possible that your lordship could decide, at all events, the main points at issue irrespectively of the late Privy Council judgments, and those judgments I could not even indirectly accept, believing them to be prejudiced and destructive of the true historic position of the Church of England.

"But while unable thus to surrender the cause to which, from sincerest convictions of its truth, I had committed myself, I am unwilling to take advantage of your lordship's generous forbearance by continuing to act against your strong disapproval, and this in the face of a divided parish.

"I therefore now resign my cure into your lordship's hands, and with much gratitude and sincerest respect for much kindness, I beg to remain,

"Your most faithful servant,

"T. T. C."

"Tunbridge Wells, April 6.

"MY DEAR S-------,

"I thank you heartily for your most kind thoughts of me. You have happily not known the complication or the strain of such difficulties as I have fallen into. There was, I think, no other way out' of it consistently either for the bishop or myself, and it was the result of long brooding and searching of heart that I came to it as the only possible conclusion. I do not think the bishop could do otherwise than seal what I have done.

"You may have known the strain the circumstances brought upon him, and yet I was so bound about that I could not take the course which he would have wished of giving way.

"The bishop would license me to the Wardenship of the House of Mercy, so that I should still be united with you and my brethren, and have the pleasure of a seat at your 'Synod.'

"With many thanks for all your kindness,

"Believe me, ever very sincerely yours,

"T. T. C."

When Mr. Carter's resignation was made known, a public meeting was convened by the churchwardens, when the following resolution was unanimously passed:--

"That this meeting has learnt with feelings of the deepest concern and regret that the Rector of Clewer, the Rev. T. T. Carter, who has endeared himself to all classes by his unremitting devotion to the spiritual and temporal interests of the parish during the long period of thirty-six years, has resigned his charge. This meeting fervently hopes that before the act of resignation is legally complete, the Bishop of the Diocese may discover a mode of averting such a deplorable catastrophe, and thus secure to the parishioners the continued services and ministrations of their revered pastor so long as God may be pleased to spare him."

(Signed, etc., etc.)

The unanimous expression of sympathy on the part of the Ruridecanal Chapter with Canon Carter in his troubles on resigning the living of Clewer, and of appreciation of the high motives which actuated him, called forth the following reply:--


"I am at a loss adequately to express my sense of thankfulness at the unexpected expression of affectionate sympathy from my brethren of the Deanery, which you have forwarded to me, and of their generous estimate of the motives which have actuated me in my past course. Conscious as I am of the variety of judgments that must have been passed by so large a body, of my conduct under such critical circumstances, their kindly appreciation of the desire which I have had at heart is the most gratifying tribute I could have received.

"I am also thankful for the feeling, so kindly expressed, that I have in any degree contributed to the singular unanimity of brotherly spirit which has uniformly marked our discussions, however keen the interest attaching to the subject, and for the trust that the ties which have hitherto bound me to the Deanery may not be altogether severed. It is with sincerest pleasure that I look forward to an uninterrupted intercourse (though under an altered relation with the diocese) from which I have learnt so much, and through which some of the most precious associations of my life have been cherished. Let me add, my dear S------, how much the value of the resolution, so unanimously passed, is enhanced by the testimony of your own kindly sentiments towards me, with which it is accompanied.

"Ever most sincerely yours,


A committee was formed, with Lord Beauchamp as chairman, members of which were the Earl of Glasgow, Earl Nelson, Hon. C. L. Wood, Dean of St. Paul's, Earl of St. Germans, Canons Gregory and Liddon, J. G. Talbot, Lord Forbes, Et. Hon. A. J. B. Beresford Hope, Colonel Makins, Rev. Dr. West, and Rev. J. E. Hall, for the purpose of presenting Canon Carter with a House of Residence, as Warden of Clewer, as a memorial in recognition "of his exertions in the service of the Church." This Mr. Carter accepted, tears flowing from his eyes as he thanked the two or three representatives who made the presentation of the house, when completed; but he only accepted it on the condition that it should be the residence of successive Wardens after his decease, and not his own property, but that of the House of Mercy. The estimated cost of the house was £3000. After his death, as soon as his daughters could obtain another house, they withdrew from it, and it is now occupied by his successor, the Rev. G. Seignelay Cuthbert.

The following is Mr. Carter's own account of the motives which actuated him throughout this painful time:--

"I was thought by some an extreme Ritualist, and by others that I was led on against my own mind by my curates. But neither was true. My inclination has been for a good measure of Ritual. I have believed a higher Ritual to be our rightful inheritance. I have also thought outward forms, if not in unreasonable excess, a means of teaching the faith, and conducive to faith, and so to spiritual life; that souls are influenced and are won either by subjective means, as the Wesleyans do, or by objective means, by what meets the eye and touches the senses from without; and I have had no doubt but that the latter means is the Church's method.

"With this I have had a rather painful sensitiveness as to troubling others with such matters. I could never, moreover, but feel a sense of what was due to authority, which some of my friends seemed not to feel. But surely authority is a note of the Church.

"Then as to facts. From the first I kept the eastward position, and, I think, the mixed chalice. In minor ways, as in processions, and choral celebrations, and the Altar cross, and flowers, I went beyond what the upper ten of the congregation at all liked, as they showed more or less uncomfortably. But the first movement that made a commotion was lighting the candles at the early celebration.

"Things went on until matters became more critical, and, I suppose, the teaching disapproved. But not until the dissentients had left the church did I light the candles at the later celebration, or use vestments. After a while the attack came, and the crisis. Bishop Mackarness, unlike his predecessor, left me free, and knew nothing of what had been going on, and when the proceedings against me began, he was startled and shocked at my excesses, kind as he always was notwithstanding, and helpful afterwards.

"The line which I took subjected me to a good deal of criticism, and could hardly be approved of by at least the leaders of the Ritual movement, with whom in many ways I had become associated. It was a very excited time--a time of conflict, a soldier's battle, as it was often and not unfitly called, when it was felt strongly that any one attacked was bound to resist to the bitter end, and be ready to go to prison rather than yield in any point; that to resign would only strengthen the hands of his enemy, and encourage attacks. But serious considerations weighed with me--some peculiar to my own case. I had keenly felt the evil arising from a divided state of the parish. I had also, as I have said before, great scruples as to direct opposition to the bishop; and to be accepting kindness in defending me, while opposing the bishop's very strong convictions, aggravated this difficulty immensely. The bishop defended me, people said, not for my sake, but for the sake of his order, defending and vindicating the power of the veto. This was partly true; but it was all done with thorough generosity. He was disgusted by the intrusive action of the Church Association. None of my own parishioners stirring a finger against me, though withdrawing themselves from the Church (the promoter of the legal attack on me was in the parish, but not one of the congregation, and was an instrument of people without), I passed through a period of extreme heart's distress, anxious as to what I ought to do. It was clear that I could not go back on any point in the Church service, not merely as against all my own instincts and convictions, but also because I had publicly defended all the main particulars in the case of others--the 'six points,' as they were called. Of course, while the trials were going on nothing could be done; one had only to wait. But what to do eventually? It was thought that the bishop urged me to resign. This was entirely untrue. He never mentioned anything of the kind. Some friends, anxious for peace, urged me to give in. This idea it was not difficult to reject. Nor would it have been a difficulty still to resist, and persist against all opposition, had no questions arisen as to what was due to authority, or the peace of the parish, or as to how one should regard one's bishop's personal kindness in defending me, as in other matters. Hence came all the searchings and conflicts of heart.

"I suppose very few expected that the bishop would win his cause, and establish the Episcopal 'veto' against all comers; and this made the anxiety all the greater as to my own duty, taking for granted, as I did, that he would lose. When, most happily, he succeeded, I thought my course was clear. The bishop had gained a great victory for his Church --a victory that ensured to bishops a power of defending priests against attack. He had done this by a great effort on his own part. He had pleaded the cause in his own person in Court. After this, to have continued to carry on the Ritual which had roused the storm, and which he strongly disapproved, which would have exposed him to reproach as upholding me in what he thought illegal, out of kindness towards me, this seemed altogether ungenerous and unfair, to say nothing of the question of dutifulness; I could not think the Ritual cause would suffer, the Episcopal veto having been gained; and these moral considerations came in, as I thought, sufficiently strong to decide me. I at once resigned."

It is pleasant to be able to add the following from Bishop Mackarness years after Mr. Carter's resignation, and when he himself was about to leave the Diocese of Oxford. It shows how the trying circumstances and differences had in no way affected personal relations.

"Cuddesdon, January 14, 1889.


"It is a real pleasure to me to have a parting word from you and Clewer. We are to leave this dear home to-morrow, to stay a few days in London, and to find (if God will) a new abode at Angus House, Eastbourne. Old friends from the old diocese promise to look in upon us there, as occasion offers. My severance from the Sisterhood is one of my great griefs. Very heartily do I wish them all good in the future. If they are wise and patient, they have a noble work in the Church of England before them. I am reading your new statutes with much interest this morning; many thanks for the copy you have sent me. I must not say more than that I am, my dear friend,

"Yours in true affection,

"J. E. MACKARNESS (Bishop)."

The Clewer Case. (Printed in the Times, April 5, 1880.)



"If at a time such as the present I ask you to find room in your columns for the accompanying letter, it is because few clergymen are loved and revered throughout the Church of England as is Mr. Carter, and the resignation of his benefice has given rise to feelings of widespread uneasiness, which it is on every account desirable to allay. How far the resignation of Clewer is a precedent to be followed by other clergymen whose circumstances may be more or less similar to those of Mr. Carter, and what such an act implies in respect of general loyalty and attachment to the Church of England, these are questions of practical interest to a great many people just now, and they are answered in the subjoined letter.

"I am, sir,

"Your obedient servant,


"3, Amen Court, St. Paul's, B.C. "April 3, 1880."

"Clewer Rectory, Windsor, April 2.


"In answer to your kind inquiries, I gladly state the leading circumstances of my case which have led me to resign, and which have seemed to me peculiar to myself, and unlike the difficulties now affecting others.

"The bishop has been, at much cost to himself, shielding me from three separate attacks pressed upon him, once under the Public Worship Regulation Act, twice under the Church Discipline Act. He has shielded me partly out of personal kindness, partly from his strong disapproval of these vexatious law-suits. From his own convictions, and his sense of duty in reference to these complaints, he could not at the same time but condemn me and urge me to give way. Though Dr. Julius had no ground to complain, living only a short time of the year at Clewer, and never having frequented the parish church, yet there are others who had a real ground to complain, having lived all their lives in the parish and been accustomed to attend the parish church, and these had been the complainers under the two earlier attacks. There are, indeed, several families of chief standing, socially speaking, in the parish, who have taken the lead privately in remonstrance to myself, publicly in these formal complaints to the bishop, who have therefore considered themselves to have real ground of complaint, though a far larger number of parishioners have sympathized with the changes that have been made, and have been thankful for them. I have been surrounded by personal kindness all the while, yet I could not- conceal from myself the divided state of the parish, or think that the bishop could possibly refrain from interference under these circumstances, though he has well fought the battle necessary to obtain the power, in the strength of which he could protect me, and would, as far as I have reason to believe, have continued to protect me to the end. This state of things is, I think, quite peculiar, and essentially different from that in which any of our friends who have taken a similar line to my own have been, or are now placed, or, I think, ever likely to be placed. I felt that I was laying down no law nor setting any example, having simply to consider what was fair and honourable in my own particular case, and that, whatever the consequences might be, I could only justify myself before God and before the Church by taking openly and avowedly the course which seemed to be fair and honourable. As between man and man, I could not allow myself to accept protection from the one hand and reject remonstrance from the other. I could not consent to be at once shielded by kindness and continue to act under disapproval. If between man and man this were simply intolerable, how much more between priest and bishop? If in any case dutifulness is to come in, it could not but be required, when between equals honour would have dictated it.

"I do not see how, under the circumstances, the bishop could have acted otherwise than he has done, when most desirous of protecting me. Nor could I have done otherwise, I think, than acknowledge my desire to show him all the deference I could consistently with upholding the cause to which I had devoted myself, or fail to relieve him as soon as possible from the strain to which I had subjected him.

"As the whole matter had been so public, I thought my reasons for acting as I have done ought also to be public. My case, moreover, is not at all like that of certain others who are contending against the Courts on the ground that they are not true Church Courts. I have had nothing to do with the Courts. My concern has been entirely with the bishop, and with the bishop acting of himself without the Courts, and indeed himself contending against the Courts, or at least refusing to act through them.

"Let me add a few more words as to another question which you think may possibly arise. I have no other thought but to devote the rest of my days, as far as God permits me, to make the best use of the opportunities of usefulness that remain to me, within the bosom of the Church of England. To the Church of England, notwithstanding all its shortcomings and difficulties, I am unalterably attached, not only by early impressions and numerous pledges, but by convictions growing with growing years. And it would, I think, be only to repeat the grievous error which most unhappily scattered the early Tractarian host to be now impatient under the difficulties and possible losses that beset our witness to the truths we uphold, instead of waiting quietly to see, as they might have done, and what has proved to be an unanswerable fact, how, as of old, truth may avenge itself, and those who once doubted or opposed have become at last the foremost to defend.

"Believe me,

"Ever very affectionately yours,


"The Rev. H. P. Liddon, D.D."


"Cuddesdon Palace, Wheatley, Oxon,

"April 5, 1880.


"I do not know that I have ever read a letter with greater pleasure, or with more thankfulness, than I have read yours in the Times of to-day. Its perfect fairness of statement, and the thoughtful consideration for all who are in any way interested in the question to which it refers--alike in what it says, and in what it forbears to say--are beyond my praise. O si sic omnes! is all I can say, when I think of present controversies and the controversialists who conduct them. I would thank you for it with all my heart, but that I ought rather to thank God for the gifts of charity, candour, and loyalty to truth, which make such a letter possible. It gives me a fairer prospect of peace and spiritual life in the Church than anything which has come under my notice for many a weary day.

"I am only waiting for your letter to issue the Licenses to you, in respect of the House of Mercy, Hospital, Orphanage (there is no other chapel, I think)--to the first (I suppose) as "Warden, to the other two as Chaplain. Be so kind as to let me have the correct description of each institution for insertion in the formal Licenses. You will then be free to consider what date you will wish the formal completion of your resignation to bear.

"Believe me to be,

"Yours very sincerely,

"J. F. OXON."

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