Correspondence between the Lord Bishop of London, the Chaplain, and the Congregation of the British Church establishment in Madeira. J. Hatchard and Son, Piccadilly, 1846.
A Brief Statement of Facts explanatory of the present position of the Church in Madeira. Funchal: A. L. da Cunha, 1846.
A Letter to George Stoddart, Esq., Her Britannic Majesty's Consul, on the present state of the British Church establishment in Madeira, by CALVERLY BEWICKE, B. A. Funchal: A. L. da Cunha, 1846.
THE position of English Chaplains in foreign countries is at all times a painful one, and one that is not in accordance with canonical and ecclesiastical regularity and order. It is a position however in which we are placed, not by any fault of our own, but because we are refused Communion by the Catholic Church abroad, because the Roman Catholic Church exacts unlawful terms of Communion, and therefore excludes us from union with our fellow Christians in all countries which acknowledge the Papal supremacy. We are not guilty in any way of setting up altar against altar, we commit no act of schism, but we are compelled to provide for the spiritual welfare of our countrymen abroad, by the conduct of foreign Catholic countries towards us, and thus our Bishops are placed in the unpleasant situation of appearing to interfere in the diocese of another, which is contrary to all ecclesiastical discipline, but into which situation they are forced by the conduct of foreign Bishops themselves. This position of our foreign Chaplains in no way justifies the intrusion of Roman Catholic Bishops into this country, because we exact no unlawful terms of Communion, but only those which have been in use from the times of the early Church before the superadded articles of belief drawn up not three hundred years ago at the Council of Trent, and because, for the first eleven years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Roman Catholics in England were in submission to the Reformed English Church. But it is doubtless this unhappy position which renders orthodox men of ability, and learning, so unwilling to undertake any foreign Chaplaincy; and it is a grievous disadvantage both to our countrymen and the Church, that such persons cannot always be found to take charge of our congregations abroad; men who would be able to present the English Church to the eyes of the Church abroad, in her true character, as a branch of the Catholic Church, and who would extend the privileges of her services and worship to their fullest extent, to the English congregations established in foreign places.
 In Madeira at least, the congregation of English is fortunate in having for its Pastor a man of great talents and orthodoxy, able to present the English Church to the eyes of the Portuguese Church in the form in which she ought always to appear in foreign countries, keeping her free and clear from all association with any sects or heresies, and presenting her truly as a branch of the Holy Catholic Church with her daily services of prayer and praise, morning and afternoon, weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist, attended by numbers of devout worshippers, contributing a large amount of alms at the offertory, and distributing them for the support of deserving and helpless poor, thus duly fulfilling all the sacred duties imposed upon her by the inspired Apostles of our LORD, and showing a pattern and example worthy of being followed by all congregations; and Clergymen who would truly perform their solemn engagements, can have no better encouragement than the success which has attended the ministrations of the English Chaplain at Madeira, persevering steadily in his righteous course, through evil report and good report, and rewarded by the faithful adherence of a congregation exhibiting an example of constancy in devotion and piety which is superior to the Roman Catholic practice in that country. And truly are the congregation attached to their Pastor. Thoroughly do they appreciate his diligent labouring among them, his careful attention to the sick, of which, alas, the number is great, his unwearied visits of consolation to the distressed and afflicted, the widow and the fatherless: and when disease is rapidly consuming the remaining strength of those who are departing, he is always to be found at any hour of day or night discharging his solemn duties by the bedside of the dying; and many are those who, on the eve of their departure bless him for all his kindness and diligent attention, and say no words can express the comfort and consolation his visits have afforded them. Such is the English Chaplain at Madeira,--would that all foreign Chaplains were his equals in soundness of doctrine, in ability, and assiduous attention to the duties of their holy calling. So satisfactory is all this, that we shall naturally expect to find universal attachment to, and respect for him, and an entire absence of those unrighteous squabbles and disputes which have so disgraced those who set themselves in opposition to the Church, to their Pastor, and to their duty. But alas! even in this quiet and remote island, is heard the disgraceful strife and contention of ill-disposed men, and malicious hostility to the Church. Even here, the last resort of many suffering from insidious disease, seeking for relief from their pain, towards the close of their earthly pilgrimage, peace is not permitted to reign. But bitter war is waged against the Church, bitter persecution against her Pastor. Happy are we to say that success has not yet attended these malicious attempts, but that they have been nobly resisted by the Chaplain, supported earnestly and vigorously by the faithful [279/280] in his congregation, and upheld by the authority of his Diocesan. May Got, prosper his righteous cause, and frustrate the devices of his enemies.
It will be necessary for the information of the public to state the circumstances of this unholy struggle, but we must first review briefly the whole period of Mr. Lowe's chaplaincy. In 1883 he was appointed to the Chaplaincy by Lord Palmerston, at the unanimous request of the British residents in the Island; Lord Palmerston having previously referred to the Bishop of London, and received most satisfactory statements from him respecting Mr. Lowe. The Bishop then gave Mr. Lowe his licence, in virtue of which Mr. Lowe has from that time officiated as Chaplain. [Brief Statement, p. 1.] At the time of his appointment, the state of the English Congregation at Madeira was at the lowest ebb: Service was performed only once on Sunday, and then abbreviated and altered, in direct opposition to the order of the Church. Prayers were omitted, lessons altered, baptisms irregularly' performed, the holy Eucharist administered only four times a year, and even then no alms collected at the offertory. [Brief Statement, pp. 2, 3.] The catalogue of irregularities might easily be extended, but sufficient have been stated. Mr. Lowe commenced from the first gradually to bring the Services up to the proper standard prescribed by order of the Church, till he had established a double daily service, weekly Communions, offertory collections on Sundays and other holy days, baptisms in the Church--restored all the omitted prayers, and a due observance of the great festivals and days appointed to be kept holy. [Brief Statement, pp. 2, 3.] In this salutary course he proceeded for eleven years uninterrupted, to the edification of his flock, and the manifest improvement of religion, and the state of morals and society among the English in the island. In 1844 commenced an unjustifiable opposition to him, which has been carried on up to the present time, and still continues with increasing bitterness and hatred. In the end of that year nine visitors to the island made a charge against his "teaching," and specified four objectionable sermons, three of which sermons half of the objectors had not heard--indeed it is believed that they were not in the island when the sermons were preached! This charge was embodied in a memorial to the Bishop against Mr. Lowe. It was immediately met by a counter memorial made by nine other visitors to Madeira, vindicating the orthodoxy of the Chaplain, and denying the preaching of any sermons contrary to the doctrine of the Church of England. The memorial and counter memorial were forwarded to the Bishop of London, and copies also of the sermons in question were sent to him by Mr. Lowe. In due time an answer was received from the Bishop, stating that there was no doctrine put forth in any of the sermons [280/281] which was at variance with the doctrine of the English Church, [Brief Statement, p. 4.] and expressing himself satisfied from his knowledge of Mr. Lowe for several years past, that he "is justly entitled to their (the counter memorialists) respect and affection. Here then was the first objection raised against Mr. Lowe, and deservedly did it meet with a signal failure. The unfortunate interference of nine discontented visitors, however, stirred up a flame most difficult to be quenched. Had it not been for this unhappy circumstance, matters would in all probability have gone on quietly as usual, as they had been going on for the past eleven years, and the peace of the Church there would have remained undisturbed; to these nine then primarily belongs the responsibility of all the sad scenes, heart-burnings, and contentions that have followed.
In the spring of 1845, twenty-nine of the permanent residents, incited thereto by what has just been stated, made a request to Mr. Lowe to return to the same manner of performing Divine Service as when he first undertook the duty. To this he replied in an able and temperate letter, stating the reasons why it was impossible for him to do so, saying that he was bound to obey the orders of the Church, and that the only way to avoid any irregularity in the Service, was to regulate it according to the directions of the Rubrics, which afforded an invariable rule to follow, and to obey which he was solemnly obliged by his ordination vows, and to the following of which rule he had adhered for many years without any expressed dissatisfaction on the part of his congregation. This did not satisfy them, and the treasurer and two trustees of the chapel proceeded, as they profess, in the name of those who made this application (although no authority has ever been shown which gave them this power; and it is remarkable, that more than one of the applicants withdrew from all further proceedings, being convinced of their unfairness,) to address the Bishop of London, specifying nine points of complaint against Mr. Lowe for his method of performing Divine Service, and otherwise entering into incorrect charges against him.
This letter they sent to Mr. Lowe, expressing their hope, that in consequence of it, he would return to the previous mode of performing service, and that they might thus have no occasion to send it to his Lordship. A cool request, certainly, and very much partaking of the nature of a threat; as much as to say, If you will not make the change we will complain to the Bishop. A very reasonable proceeding, indeed, to ask a man to break his ordination vows, and then complain to the Bishop because he will not break them! Verily, the penetration of these men is exceedingly superficial; but, to persons who are acquainted with them, or know of them, not at all surprising. Mr. Lowe replied to them, that, of course, he could not comply with such a demand; but at the same [281/282] time he mentioned several points of the nine, which he thought might easily be arranged by some explanatory conversation, provided they would yield three points, which he considered unquestionable; not that he hereby expressed any intention of yielding the other six, but that he thought they would be satisfied by some explanation thereon. Their reply was that they would not give up those three points, and would therefore send the letter to the Bishop and wait his Lordship's decision. Well then, the letter was sent, and an answer received. It will be necessary to give same attention to this answer, containing his Lordships decision upon the matter in dispute. Before entering upon the disputed points, the Bishop proceeds to point out several misstatements in the complainants' letter, of which he has been informed by the Chaplain, and a lay member of the congregation, chiefly relating to some statistical details of the relative proportion of Churchmen and Dissenters, and also drawing attention to the fact, that many of the twenty-nine were not members of the English Church, and so had no right to interfere with the arrangement of the services. His Lordship next proceeds to administer a severe rebuke to those who, upon their own showing, had ceased to attend the English chapel, and repaired to a Dissenting meeting-house, because they disapproved of Mr. Lowe. He said, " that those persons who have resorted to this extreme measure, without -waiting to learn the result of an appeal to me, can hardly claim to be heard as members of our Church, on the subject of the present complaint." (Cor. p. 34.)
This well-merited rebuke will show to our readers the opinion entertained by his Lordship of the misconduct and impertinent behaviour of the complainants--an opinion in which no impartial person can fail to agree. His Lordship then condescends to enter into the subject of their complaint, although their conduct had certainly entitled him to refuse them that honour. And, taking the nine points in order, he decides them in the following manner:
"1st. 'Praying with his back turned to the people.'
"Mr. Lowe denies that he does this, and Mr. Bewicke deposes to the same effect. Mr. Lowe has" (observe this as a thing already done) "discontinued, in compliancy with my direction, the practice of standing with his back to the congregation during a part of the Communion Service.
2ndly. 'Preaching in the surplice.'
"I think it doubtful what the law is in this particular, but I have advised the Clergy of my diocese to discontinue the practice where it is objected to.
"3rd. 'Reading every Sunday the exhortation to the Communion.' "I doubt whether this be necessary, and I have stated my doubts to Mr. Lowe.
"4th. 'Returning to the Communion. table to read the Church [282/283] Militant Prayer, instead of finishing the Morning Service, as formerly, with a Collect and the blessing after the Sermon.'
"This is so clearly prescribed by the Rubric, that it is impossible for me, consistently with my duty, to desire any Clergyman to discontinue the practice. . .
"5th. 'The weekly offertorial collection, except at the time of the celebration of the Holy Communion.'
"I think this custom in itself excellent, and not contrary to the intention of the framers of the Rubric. Whether it be absolutely required, may be doubtful; and I have told the Clergy of my diocese, that I feared the people in general were not prepared for it.
"Mr. Bewicke says, that the weekly offertory is generally liked, the great increase of the offerings being attributable, not to the donations of a few individuals, but to the good feelings of the congregation at large. Mr. Lowe gives the following statement of the collections in the month of June, 1844, and 1845:
Collections when there was a Communion, 1844 27 Dollars, 420 Reis.
Collections when there was a Communion, 1845 45 Dollars, 300 Reis.
Collections when there was no Communion, 1844 22 Dollars, 410 Reis.
Collections when there was no Communion, 1845 33 Dollars, 100 Reis.
"He states that the number of Communicants (chiefly residents) during the same months was, in 1844, 91; in 1845, 124.
"Under these circumstances, I cannot urge him to discontinue the weekly offertory.
"6th. 'The putting up in the chancel what is termed a credence table.'
"It appears that was put up, not by Mr. Lowe, but by the trustees of the chapel, in 1841, on his representing to them the delay and inconvenience occasioned by his going into the vestry to fetch the elements, in order to place them upon the table at the proper time. This is a matter of very trivial importance. As the bracket or board in question is not a necessary piece of church furniture, the trustees can remove it if they think fit to do so.
"7th. 'The dismissing the congregation, who do not remain for the Sacrament, without a blessing.'
"Mr. Lowe observes that he does not dismiss them, but that they do not remain to receive the blessing at the time appointed by the Rubric. It is a usual practice in England not to pronounce the blessing after the sermon on Sacrament-days, but either to repeat the concluding benedictory prayer of the Morning Service, or to finish with the doxology. The latter practice seems to be most agreeable to the Rubric, but the former is most prevalent."
But, in this case, the congregation invariably remain till the conclusion of the prayer for the Church Militant, and not till then do those leave the Church who do not communicate. It is therefore manifest that no complaint can possibly be made on this head.
 "8th. 'Singing the anthem, Then with angels, &c. and the Gloria in Excelsis, in the Sacrament Service.'
(Notice the word "Then;" if the complainants had been communicants, and whenever they happened to attend on some of these rare occasions, paid attention to the service, they would have known better how the Preface commences.)
"This, it appears, is done at the later Communion, not at the earlier one. I do not approve of it, except in cathedral-churches, and I have recommended Mr. Lowe to discontinue the practice. He states, however, that a great majority of the Communicants prefer these hymns being sung.
"9th. 'Proceeding with the funeral procession to the church, and thence through the public streets to the burial-ground, in the surplice and bare-headed, except when requested by the deceased or immediate friends.'
"The objection, I presume, is not so much to Mr. Lowe's walking in procession, as to his doing so in his surplice, and bare-headed. This he would do, as a matter of course, from the church to the grave. if the former were situated is the burial-ground; and as the distance between the two is stated not to exceed one hundred yards, I do not see why his walking in his surplice with the funeral procession, from one to the other, should be objected to, if it gives no offence to the Portuguese authorities. The parties complaining do not object, it appears, to his doing so when specially requested; there is therefore no principle in question; but it is evident that it ought to be done in all cases or in none. I have advised Mr. Lowe. if he finds that any feeling exists against his present practice, to put off his surplice after reading the Psalms and Lessons in the church, and to resume it at the grave, not walking in procession. This, he says, he is ready to do."
Inquiry was made of the Bishop of Funchal, whether any offence was given to the Portuguese authorities by walking in procession in the surplice, and a very favourable answer returned, that it gave no offence whatever.
"These are all the charges of which complaint is made, and I have now considered them one by one. I am extremely sorry that differences should have arisen between Mr. Lowe and any portion of his congregation, on matters, some of which are confessedly of trifling importance in themselves, but which Mr. Lowe considers to involve the principle of obedience to rules, which he has solemnly promised to observe.
"Whatever practice is not enjoined by these rules, or sanctioned by general custom, I advise him to lay aside, if by so doing he can satisfy the scruples of those persons who are really members of our Church; but I cannot with any consistency urge him to disregard those rules where they are plain and positive; although I might not think it necessary to press compliance with them in those instances where the nonobservance of them has received a certain degree of sanction from general and long prevailing custom, acquiesced in by the rulers of the Church.
 Those persons who desire to have the advantage of the services of the Church in all their completeness, according to the Church's express directions, would have reason to complain if they were curtailed or altered; and it appears there are many such persons in Mr. Lowe's congregation; and when a question arises, whether he shall comply with the wishes of those who would have him disobey the Church's rules (which he has promised to observe), or of those who desire that he should follow them, it seems but reasonable that he should incline to the latter rather than to the former, and it would be manifestly wrong in me, whose duty it is to take care that these rules are observed, to urge upon him an opposite course of proceeding.
I have only to add an expression of my earnest hope that Mr. Lowe will perform (as I have reason to believe he does perform) all his ministrations with meekness and charity, as well as with punctuality and correctness, and that his congregation will receive them in the same spirit." (Cor. pp. 36-40.)
So far there has not been anything very reprehensible in the proceedings of the complainants. They objected to a certain method of performing Divine Service, they appeal to the Bishop, the only authority in spiritual matters, to whom Mr. Lowe is responsible in terms of the regulations issued by Lord Palmerston for the management of British Churches in Foreign countries. The Bishop sends a reply informing them that Mr. Lowe will give way on some points, but that on others the directions of the rubric were so clear that he could not think of recommending any disregard to them: and that he believed Mr. Lowe would continue to carry on his ministrations in the Christian manner he had always done, and earnestly hoped that the complainants would meet him in the same spirit. His Lordship wrote at the same time to Mr. Lowe precise advice and instructions regarding the Church Services; and placed him at liberty on four points, in which he immediately complied with the wishes of the complainants:
"1. Preaching in the surplice.
"2. Singing the Communion Hymns.
"3. Reading every Sunday the Exhortation.
"4. Walking at funerals from the church to the burial-ground in the surplice." (Cor. p. 42.)
thus showing his promptitude and willingness to gratify them, "to the farthest limit of allowed concession."
Now one would imagine that the intention of making an appeal to the Bishop was to abide by his Lordship's decision--that being the only authority in such matters to which they could refer--else why appeal at all? But no.--Because the decision, although mostly favourable to them, was not exactly what they required, they, forthwith proceeded to set it at naught, and, in the words of a writer upon the subject in one of the daily papers, wrote an impertinent letter to the Bishop, attempting to argue his Lordship [285/286] out of his opinion. To this most foolish and impudent letter his Lordship very properly returned no answer, nor did he in any way whatever take the slightest notice of it, to the great chagrin and disappointment of its consequential writers. The production, however, is too curious a specimen to be passed over without review, and we therefore pray our readers' indulgence while we shortly discuss it. In endeavouring to justify themselves from the Bishop's remark that many of them could scarcely claim to be heard, they unwittingly and most effectually establish the very point they wished to disprove.
Your Lordship seems to think that those persons who have attended Dissenting places of worship can hardly claim afterwards to be heard in an appeal to your Lordship; but as they have not dissented from your Church, but only temporarily withdrawn their subscriptions," &c. (Cor. p. 51.)
They also endeavour to refute the charge made, that of the twenty-nine, eleven are Presbyterians or Dissenters, one a Roman Catholic, six doubtful as to their being members of the Church, &c.; and forward to his Lordship a descriptive list of the religion of the twenty-nine; by which, however, it appears upon close examination that the charge was substantially true. Their attempts at refutation have only led them into statements at once self-condemnatory and ridiculous. They also harp upon the fact that Mr. Lowe only concedes four points, which he did under the direct authority of the Bishop, whereas he previously "ex reseed his ability and willingness to do so on six." He did not do this, but spoke of them merely as easy of adjustment. And one of the four points happening not to be one of the six, they limit Mr. Lowe's concession arbitrarily to only three! And this without taking any notice of his Lordship having said that one point was yielded, and that another was in their power. From which it is apparent that they have gained their wishes on six points out of nine; and yet they are not satisfied! they are like the daughters of the horseleech, crying, Give, give.
They conclude by trusting that his Lordship will be enabled to give Mr. Lowe "that timely advice to give up matters, some of which are confessedly of trifling importance in themselves"! And this after six points out of nine had been yielded to them, and his Lordship's decision that on the other three the "rules were plain and positive"! Enough now of this "vulgar and impartment letter."
The letter of Mr. Bewicke, mentioned at the head of this article is the most unanswerable reply to all the gross fallacies and barefaced misstatements of the opposition in the correspondence which they published, and which has been largely quoted.
 The Complainants being thus completely foiled in the expected result of their appeal to the proper authorities, proceeded in the next place to disregard the Bishop altogether, took no heed to his paternal counsels, and adopted measures of coercion against the Chaplain, most unbecoming to gentlemen and Christians. At the General Meeting on the 12th of January, 1846, when they were met to transact the ordinary temporal affairs of the Chapel--they passed a resolution refusing any salary to the Chaplain! doubtless in the charitable hope that be would leave them for want of bread. [Brief Statement, p. 6.] But it did not stop here, they gave further vent to their spleen and vexation by refusing any salaries to the organist, door-keeper, and pew-opener! innocent unoffending people; but necessary for the convenience of the worshippers at Church. No doubt the complainants having absented themselves from the Church were anxious to make the rest of the congregation suffer for the annoying rebuffs they had received, and to render the circumstances of the Chapel as incommodious as possible! At the same meeting, they resolved to collect no pew rents; in order--it is to be presumed of course--that they might have the excuse of saying there were no funds to pay the Chaplain. Really one becomes angered at the thought of a good Christian Pastor and his faithful congregation being submitted to such indignities. But we know how the Church always has been, and will be persecuted; it is one mark of CHRIST-likeness! One of the complainants, after this meeting, said to a friend of Mr. Lowe's, "Well, at all events, we have got rid of Mr. Lowe."--"Indeed you are very much mistaken," (was the reply,) "for Mr. Lowe will not resign."--"Well, that is hard," answered the complainant. But so it proved: the complainants were again completely foiled; for the good Church people in Madeira immediately raised by private subscription nearly £300 which was given by them to Mr. Lowe, in lieu of the £200 which the meeting had refused! [Id. ibid.] Honour to the Churchmen in Madeira; they are worthy of supporting so noble a cause, and deserving of every assistance at the hands of their fellow Churchmen in England; and this assistance they shall receive. A legal opinion was subsequently obtained as to the illegality of these resolutions, the opinion of an eminent counsel being that the meeting was constituted for the purpose of carrying into execution the objects of the Act regulating the affairs of British Churches abroad, and therefore not justified in withholding the Chaplain's salary, such an act being in direct contravention of the law which provides for--1. The proper support of the Chaplain--2. The due and proper maintenance of Divine Service--3. The expenses of the burial ground--4. The interment of British subject's. Now, if the meeting have power to render null one portion of the act, they have power to render null any other portion,--for instance, to forbid the interment of British subjects,--which is [287/288] manifestly absurd. The meeting have therefore no right to act as they do in opposition to the Act of Parliament; and Lords Aberdeen and Palmerston are open to the charge of acting illegally in sanctioning the resolutions of the meeting. The course of the minority should have been, to apply to the Consul stating their readiness to make up the salary from their own resources, and have desired him to intimate this to the Foreign Secretary, and claim the sum granted under the Act.
Memorials to Lord Aberdeen, who was at the time Foreign Secretary, and protests against these resolutions, were forwarded immediately to the Foreign Office; but his Lordship's answers were all unfavourable to the Church. Perhaps we may be guided to a reason for this: Lord Aberdeen is a strong Presbyterian. Thus matters stood during the year 1846. The organ ceased playing, from want of the organist's salary; but in every other respect the Services proceeded as usual, and the congregation voluntarily provided for the continuance of the services of the door-keeper and pew-opener.
The Services and the weekly Communions were fully and satisfactorily attended, and, notwithstanding that the Chapel only accommodates between four and five hundred persons, and that the influx of visitors in 1848, was very considerably less than in the previous year; and that during four or five months of summer and autumn the congregation is very small; upwards of £300 was collected during the year at the Offertory, being a larger amount than it had ever yet attained. This is a most gratifying circumstance, and a decisive proof of the genuine faith and piety of the great majority of the congregation.
Christmas again came round, and in the beginning of January, 1847, was summoned the ordinary Annual Meeting to transact the temporal affairs of the Chapel. Many Churchmen were qualified to vote at this meeting. Their subscriptions having to be received by the Treasurer, who was one of Mr. Lowe's bitterest opponents, the opposition were fully aware of what their numbers would be; whereas they had no means of ascertaining what would be their opponents'. The opposition consequently manufactured votes for numerous persons, who were well known to be unable to pay s farthing themselves, and this (it is currently believed) by the aid of money obtained out of the island: persons well acquainted with the opponents considering that none of them were in such a position as to be able to provide the sum of £300 which was expended in qualifying them as voters. Now it is of the utmost importance to analyze the composition of this meeting. The complainants mustered thirty-six in number. Of these, only five were communicants; one, a Roman Catholic; most, Dissenters of various denominations, Socinians. Presbyterians, Wesleyans, &c.: others, infidels, profligates, bankrupts; in former times servants, outlawed, [288/289] in prison for crime, and some professing members of the Church, who never attend service, others who attend but rarely.--Was not the Bishop thoroughly justified in saying that they could hardly claim to be heard? Against this heterogeneous set were arrayed in defence of their pastor and their privileges, a compact united band of twenty Churchmen, every one of them a regular communicant. The meeting was presided over by the Consul, who is a Presbyterian, and believed to be completely in the confidence of the malcontents, and privately to lend them his support although his office compels him to preserve an apparent neutrality. The first thing to be done at the meeting, was, to appoint a treasurer and trustees for the year. The Churchmen proposed two men of long standing in the island, and of superior qualifications, well known for their sound Church principles. They were of course outvoted and defeated; and the majority re-elected two of the old once, and chose for treasurer, a man who had never been known to have been in Church! considering, we presume, that the best qualification for conducting Church affairs, is a total absence of religion. This man is brother-in-law to the Consul.
The Churchmen next proposed the ordinary salary of A200 to be voted to the Chaplain for the year 1847. The opposition objected; and on being asked and pressed for their reasons for refusing it, declined to assign any reason. This clearly marks the injustice of the whole proceeding, and justified the Churchmen in saying, that Mr. Lowe's salary was refused without any reason being given for doing so. This was also the case in the previous year, 1846, no reason was given for this pitiful and unprecedented step; and when Mr. Lowe, upon being officially informed by the Consul of the refusal to grant his salary, asked if any circumstances had been stated at the meeting for this resolution, the Consul answered that none had been stated. The Churchmen were again unsuccessful, and the opposition passed a resolution refusing the salary. The Churchmen then proposed the usual salaries to the organist, door-keeper, and pew-opener;--they did not see what connexion these innocent people had with the question: nor did they see why, because the opposition bore such hatred and enmity against the Chaplain, they should be deprived of the useful services of these people. The opposition refused to allow them salaries; for no other reason, can we suppose, than to put every possible obstacle and hinderance in the way of the proper performance of Divine Service. Happily they were powerless to do this--the services proceed exactly as usual. Immediately upon the resolution becoming known, a lady offered her services voluntarily and freely as organist, and a most numerously signed request was sent the following day to Mr. Lowe by his congregation, that he would accept the offer, and resume the chanting and singing. With this request Mr. Lowe complied, and the use of the organ was [289/290] resumed to the great satisfaction of the people, and vexatious discomfiture of the opposition.
The opposition having thus defeated the Churchmen in the meeting by their numerical superiority, and having refused any salaries to the Chaplain and Church officers, next propos to employ a gardener to keep the grounds about the Church. The Churchmen objected, asserting that if their subscriptions were not devoted to the purposes for which they were subscribed, they ought not to be appropriated to the garden--that if the Chaplain received no salary, it was not right to retain persons' subscriptions, and apply them to irregular purposes. Of course they were overruled, and the opposition carried their point. It is important also to notice the conduct of this meeting. The opposition was managed by a Socinian, who took the lead in it throughout. It is well for the peace of the meeting that it was so (although a remarkable proof, that on the Church side of the question was arrayed the real moral worth, respectability, and talent of the English residents in the island), for he was of much superior ability, and manner, to any of the other thirty-six, and conducted the business in a proper way. Not so much can be said for the rest, they were scarcely able to contain their anger and vexation at the quiet, but firm and decided, resistance they met with, and the dignified manner in which the Churchmen, conscious of the justice of their cause, and the sacredness of the principles they were maintaining, received in silence the charges falsely levelled against them. The conduct of the Churchmen in such trying and irritating circumstances was most praiseworthy. The resolutions having been all passed, the minority handed in two protests against them, which were read to the meeting, and the unanswerable arguments they contained roused the ire and temper of the opposition most painfully. On a request that they should be entered in the minute-book of proceedings in accordance with precedent, the Consul, as chairman, said he thought they ought to be entered; but one of the opposition objecting, he withdrew his opinion and put it to the vote, when it was of course decided against their insertion. A third protest was then handed in, against this resolution; and the Consul promised to forward them all to the Foreign Office, with the report of the proceedings. So ended this meeting.
Shortly afterwards another was summoned, at which the majority proposed an address to Her Majesty to take measures to remove the cause of the dissatisfaction. The Churchmen objected to this course as unnecessary and inexpedient, because no answer had yet been received to the protests sent to Lord Palmerston against the illegality of the resolutions of the previous meeting, and because the matters in dispute had been referred by the complainants themselves to the proper authority and settled by the Bishop's reply, and no notice whatever had been taken of this in the proposed address; [290/291] on the contrary, it was made to appear as though nothing of the kind had been done, and the dishonesty of this proceeding excited much animadversion. The opposition having carried their address, made some efforts to prevent the use of the organ, but were completely foiled by the information that by decision of a court of law, the direction of the music in church was entirely under the control of the Clergyman. In consequence of this meeting the Churchmen drew up a counter-address to Her Majesty in Mr. Lowe's favour, and also one to the Bishop strongly deprecating all that the opposition were doing, and calling upon his Lordship to defend them and their pastor. The determination of the Foreign Office was in no way affected by these appeals; and Lord Palmerston followed in the footsteps of his Presbyterian predecessor. But the climax of all this injustice, the crowning point of all these acts of aggression and persecution, the prelude to the intended final act of this iniquitous drama was yet to come, and that not from the opponent faction actually, though probably at their instigation, but from the place whence redress for wrongs ought rather to proceed --from the Foreign Office itself! What follows, does in our estimation outdo all the previously recounted atrocious acts of persecution. A mandate issues from the Foreign Office to the meeting to nominate a successor to Mr. Lowe. Why the Chaplaincy is not yet vacant: Mr. Lowe has not resigned! The Bishop has not withdrawn his licence! Her Majesty has not recalled him! And yet the Foreign Office sent out their orders to the meeting to nominate a successor. Was ever greater insult offered to a Christian Clergyman, a blameless Priest, a man of most upright integrity, esteemed and beloved by nearly all his congregation? Is such conduct to be passed over in silence? No! The indignant remonstrances of all Churchmen must be made known to Her Majesty's government, and to the public;--and, as if to extend these insults to the Church at large, this act is still further perpetrated without any previous communication with the Bishop of London, by virtue of whose licence Mr. Lowe continues un-recalled to exercise his duties as Chaplain! without the slightest intimation given beforehand to the Bishop or to Mr. Lowe! And the first knowledge that the Churchmen have of it is at a meeting called in the beginning of May last, when the despatch was read ordering this shameful proceeding--a despatch which had been made known to many of the opposition, but up to the time of the meeting carefully concealed from the Churchmen! To suppose for a moment that the Foreign Office could ever have made such an egregious mistake, or offered such a deliberate insult to the Church, is beyond all belief.
We understand, that as soon as the knowledge of this extraordinary proceeding came to the ears of the Bishop, his Lordship was naturally very much surprised and annoyed, and protested to Lord [291/292] Palmerston against it in the strongest manner--it was hoped with good effect, as Lord Palmerston was understood to have acknowledged that he could not decently appoint another Chaplain, while the actual Chaplain retained the Bishop's licence; and the Bishop, as was to be supposed, will not withdraw the licence, as he sees no ground whatever for doing so, and considers Mr. Lowe to have been cruelly ill-used and persecuted. Thus stands the matter at present. The Foreign Office has used tyranny worse than ever any Pope did, and its fiat has gone forth to appoint another Chaplain. Meanwhile Mr. Lowe will not resign; he could not do no without yielding to the supremacy of the Foreign Office, and sacrificing all the great principles for which he has during the last three years been so nobly contending; and the Bishop does not withdraw his licence, but protests to the Government against such unbecoming proceedings on the part of the holders of power. May GOD defend the right. But Churchmen mast be active, they must not slumber, they must be up and doing; they must give every support they can to this cause, which is the cause of the Church against tyranny; and justice may yet be obtained, and a victory won for the Church over her unscrupulous foes.
The noble champion of this cause, the faithful Pastor of the English congregation in Madeira, must not be forgotten. He is fighting a glorious fight; and we trust, will meet with a due reward. He has sacrificed his personal comforts and convenience to his duty to the Church, his Bishop, and his flock. He remains in Madeira, to uphold the authority of the Bishop, the independence of Foreign Chaplains, the privileges of his faithful flock; and shall he be left unsupported? No! his cause is the cause of the Church at large; the principles of ecclesiastical discipline, and obedience to spiritual authority are at stake, and we do not doubt for a moment that all Churchmen in England will join in doing everything in their power, to support their Bishop in his lawful authority against the oppression of the State, to maintain in every way their good English Chaplain in Madeira, and to vindicate the rightful and precious privileges of their brother Churchmen in that distant island.