THE purpose of this book is to present a brief sketch of the life, character, and work of Dr. Gore. My qualifications for writing it are that I have for many years accounted myself his disciple, and for the last ten or fifteen enjoyed the privilege of some personal acquaintance with him. If some of the reminiscences I have given seem trivial I may plead, in the words of one who knew him better than I did, that 'his eminent greatness of mind and soul make even the smallest things about him precious to the memory.'
A formal dedication of so unpretentious a book might seem affected, but I cannot forgo the pleasure of here inscribing it to his honoured memory; wishing, in the familiar words, that what I have written may be read by his light, as a tribute, sincere though unworthy, to that liberal Catholicism of which he was the foremost exponent, and in which lies, I believe, the best hope for the future of the English Church.
There remains the pleasant duty of acknowledging my obligations; first of all to the Proprietor of the Church Times for permission readily given to draw freely on the reminiscences of Dr. Gore which have appeared in that paper; to Father E. K. Talbot, Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, for allowing me to quote some extracts from the C.R., the magazine of the Community; to Miss Gertrude Tuckwell and the editor of The Times for the story on pp. 57-8; and to Canon Francis Underhill for permission to quote from an article which he contributed to the Church of England Newspaper, a permission kindly confirmed by its editor.
A friend who prefers to remain anonymous has generously supplied me with personal recollections of the Lux Mundi and Westminster periods; and in conclusion I must record my gratitude to Mr. T. W. Squires and Mr. J. G. Stobbart for assistance and encouragement without which the book would not have been written.
IT was not difficult, even for the casual observer, to guess from Dr. Gore's striking appearance, his refined features, and the aristocratic courtesy of his bearing, that he came of distinguished stock. In fact, his father was the grandson of one earl and his mother the daughter of another.
The Gores are an Anglo-Irish family. The heralds trace their descent from Gerard Gore, an Alderman of the City of London in the reign of Elizabeth. His son, forsaking commerce for arms, went as captain of a troop of horse to Ireland, where he married a niece of the great Strafford and became a baronet with the title of Sir Paul Gore of Manor Gore. His great-great-grandson was created Earl of Arran in 1762. A son of the second Earl, General Sir Charles Gore, revived the fighting traditions of the family by taking a distinguished part in the Peninsular War. He was present at the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz before completing his eighteenth year; had one horse killed under him at Quatre Bras and three at Waterloo, but survived till 1862, when the young kinsman who was destined to distinguish himself in the nobler warfare of the Cross was nine years old.
It is worth noting that the family motto is In hoc signo vinces, 'In this sign thou shalt conquer.' The words are said to have accompanied the vision of the Cross which brought about the conversion of the Emperor Constantine. There is a certain irony in the thought that Bishop Gore should have been thus remotely associated with an event which he was wont to lament as one as the most disastrous in the history of the Church.
Charles Alexander Gore (1811-97), nephew of the General and brother of the fourth Earl of Arran, entered the public service as page to the Marquis of Wellesley when Viceroy of Ireland, was at one time private secretary to Lord John Russell, and for many years Commissioner of Woods and Forests. He married Lady Augusta Ponsonby, daughter of the fourth Earl of Bessborough, and niece of the notorious Lady Caroline Lamb.
Their third son, Charles Gore, was born on January 22, 1853. The home of his childhood was on Wimbledon Common, and there he first made acquaintance with one who was to be a close and life-long friend, Henry Scott Holland.
'I had known him from my childhood,' the bishop wrote in after years, 'for we had been brought up together at Wimbledon and he had fascinated me as a remarkable actor of the domestic stage, and as excelling in all the physical exercises of riding, swimming, and skating, in which I felt painfully my own defects."
It must have been about this time, also, that Gore figured as 'an unwilling pupil at a dancing-class.' Sports and amusements, whether indoor or outdoor, never claimed a large share of his interest. At Harrow he threw himself into the usual games with the same vigour as he showed in other departments of school life; and there also he achieved at least one triumph as an amateur actor. Late in life, after his retirement from active work, he enjoyed an occasional visit to the theatre. During this period also he would umpire at rounders for the choirboys of All Saints', Margaret Street; and in the last summer of his life he delighted in playing stump cricket with the children of a house where he was staying.
To return to Wimbledon, it was there that he first came into contact with that form of religion which was to inspire and govern his life. About ten years before his death he wrote, 'I have since my childhood been what I may call a Catholic by mental constitution,' He goes on to describe how at the age of eight or nine he read Father Clement, a book by a Protestant author about the conversion of a Catholic priest to Protestantism. On one reader at least its effect was the opposite to that intended by the author.
'I had,' says Dr. Gore, 'been brought up in ordinary old-fashioned English Church ways. I had only attended very Low Church services. I had never heard of the Oxford Movement. I knew nothing about Catholicism, except as a strange superstition called Popery. But the book described confession and absolution, fasting, the Real Presence, the devotion of the Three Hours, the use of incense, etc., and I felt instinctively, and at once, that this sort of sacramental religion was the religion for me.' In his evidence given before the Ecclesiastical Discipline Commission in 1905 he said:
'I was what people call a ritualist from the time I was a boy, and I have been more interested I suppose in this subject through all the time of my growing up into manhood than in almost any other. I was full, in all the time when one forms one's young enthusiasms, of this particular plea and of all that was involved in it.'
He is speaking of the plea that the doctrines and practices of the High Church party were, on scriptural and historical grounds, legitimate in the English Church and should be tolerated. During his most susceptible years he saw this reasonable plea, reasonably set forth by the men whom he most venerated, ignored and flouted by the authorities in Church and State. He believed emphatically in authority and discipline. Lawlessness was abhorrent to him. But he saw that the lawlessness of which High Churchmen were accused was largely the result of an unfair and oppressive exercise of authority; and this unfairness and oppression helped to make him, as they have helped to make many others, an Anglo-Catholic. On the same occasion he said:
'I love, as I hardly love anything in the world physically, except the beauties of nature, that type and kind of ceremonial worship, which is called ritualistic by many people and Catholic by its maintainers. It appears to me personally to be the one kind of ceremonial worship which really expresses my feelings, and in which I feel really at home.'
We may conclude, therefore, that in religion he had chosen his side and taken up his main position before, in due course, he was sent to Harrow. And, though in some respects his opinions afterwards developed, from this main position he never budged. Of his life at Harrow we have some vivid sketches from his schoolfellow, the late G. W. E. Russell. In one of his books Mr. Russell put into the form of a vision the recollections which came into his mind after hearing Dr. Gore preach in Westminster Abbey:
'I saw bright June sunshine on a leafy hill, and a sky of sapphire, and a green stretch of grass, and a half-grown, fair-haired, red-cheeked boy playing cricket with eagerness and excellent form; and a little later I saw the cricketer transformed into the student, and sitting down with dogged purpose to finish a play of Sophocles before supper; and, yet again, the student-cricketer merged into the histrion, and rendering the Wall in Midsummer Night's Dream with a rough-cast and stone-like immobility which brought down the house. And so onward, through five years of life in a Public School, I see the same boy-figure advancing from success to success, and from honour to honour; and, through all phases and under all conditions, I see the same masculine devotion to duty, the same keen interest in the problems of mind and spirit, the same resolve to use life worthily, the same unvarying witness for whatsoever things are pure and lovely and of good report."
Elsewhere the same writer speaks of his schoolfellow in 1869 as 'a lean and hungry-looking boy,' but already at the age of sixteen distinguished by the head master, Dr. Montagu Butler, as 'one of our most promising scholars.' 'When other clever boys were content to talk about books he read them.' A little later he has become 'the best scholar and the most distinguished boy in the school. At seventeen he had already won the Balliol Scholarship, overawing the examiners, as we were told, by an essay on Cosmopolitanism.'
'But he is not a scholar only. He plays cricket well, and other games at least tolerably. He takes long walks and talks incessantly of everything in heaven and earth. He edits the school magazine with a skill which elicits an unexpected compliment from Mr. Ruskin.' He was also 'intensely interested in politics.' The records of the Debating Society show that he had already chosen his side. He supports the abolition of University Tests; asserts that 'a Hereditary Legislative Body is a mistake'; and amid the horrors of the Commune he, with Mr. Russell and three others, was bold enough to maintain that 'a republic is the best form of government.'
To turn to more serious matters, we find him at Harrow lengthening the cords and strengthening the stakes of the faith into which he had been so oddly initiated as a child. In 1914 he wrote:
'I was taught to invoke the saints as long ago as 1870, and I have never felt called upon wholly to renounce a practice which has behind it such a vast weight of consent.' Mr. Russell also bears witness to this side of his development.
'He was one of the succession of Harrow boys who have always been communicants at the early Celebration at the parish church. In his holidays he was an enthusiastic worshipper at S. Alban's, Holborn, and S. Michael's, Shoreditch.'
From Father Stanton of S. Alban's he learnt, as he said in after life, 'to make his confession, to love the Mass, and to fast on Fridays.'
A final quotation from Mr. Russell may testify to the impression he produced upon the society in which he found himself. We are not surprised to learn that he was not widely popular. He differed too widely from the conventional Public School ideal for that. But neither is it astonishing to read that he was respected by masters and boys alike.
It was impossible to live in Gore's society without feeling ashamed of laziness, and greediness, and self-indulgence. . . . He was preeminently a teacher of duty. The laws of heaven and the laws of home and the laws of school were inextricably interwoven in his mind; and a school-fellow who violated any of them must lay his account for an admonition from Gore.'
The boy is father of the man, and in this account, written before his consecration, of the young Harrovian we may already catch a glimpse of the bishop who was to prove something of a martinet.
At Harrow also he came under the sway of a teacher who was to exercise a profound influence upon his after-life. Dr. B. F. Westcott, afterwards Bishop of Durham, was then a Harrow master, and though he was markedly unfit for the rough-and-tumble of a Public School in the sixties his scholarship and his saintly life won him the respect of his more thoughtful pupils. When he left Harrow in 1868 for a canonry at Peterborough the name of Charles Gore appeared among those of the fifteen monitors who presented him with a farewell address. In this they record their 'gratitude for the teaching and instruction we have so long received from you,' and assure him that 'through your influence some new hopes have been aroused, some new desires kindled, and some new thoughts engendered which will in the appointed time bear fruit.'
We may smile at the youthful solemnity of the phrases, but for one at least of the signatories they enshrined a true prophecy. For, as will appear in a later chapter, a sermon that Westcott preached in Harrow School Chapel in all probability planted in the mind and soul of Gore the seed that was in the appointed time to bear fruit in the foundation of the Community of the Resurrection.
OXFORD AND CUDDESDON
FROM Harrow Gore passed to Oxford with a Balliol Scholarship, thus brilliantly inaugurating a University career that was to include a First Class in Classical Moderations and another in 'Greats,' the final Classical School, and to culminate in a Fellowship at Trinity College. There he remained from 1875 to 1880 teaching and lecturing, and soon made his mark on the life of the University as a young don whose intellectual eminence was unmistakable and who showed no less unmistakably that spiritual and moral interests held the first place in his heart.
We may detect a reminiscence of his Balliol days in the fact that when he was Vice-Principal of Cuddesdon he had a picture of Jowett in his room to which he would point and say that when he met his eye he knew he must ask himself if he were pressing an argument too far. This may have been a necessary lesson for a fiery young enthusiast. But when he migrated to Trinity he came within the orbit of one who was to exercise a more potent and far-reaching influence, an influence comparable only with that of Westcott, in moulding his character and his outlook on life. This was the future Bishop of Hereford, Dr. Percival, of whom Dr. Gore wrote in after years:
'We felt that a great, strong, righteous will was expressing itself amongst us with profound astonishment at our being content to be such fools as we were; and this to me was very bracing.'
The comment is characteristic. Throughout his life Gore disliked any kind of slackness. Mr. Russell is our witness that even as a schoolboy 'he never wasted an hour.' We may fairly conclude that he would respond to such an influence as he describes more readily than most men, and that from Percival he learned, and was willing to learn, that, as he used to say, 'it is a hard thing to be a good Christian,' and calls for strenuous and unrelaxed effort.
Again and again he sounds this note. 'The Christian life is a way of adventure, a difficult way, a way that requires courage.' 'Never let your sons and daughters imagine they can be Christians without a tremendous act of choice.' The demands of Christianity are 'an unlimited liability.'
And what he preached he practised. When he rose to a position of authority he could exercise a somewhat stern discipline over others because his own self-discipline was strict and unremitting. As Canon Underhill writes:
'He had no toleration for shams or shallow thinking. He had a way of piercing right through to the heart of things, and extracting what was essential. And when he had once decided that a certain way of thinking or a course of action was right, nothing could deflect him from it. Moreover, he demanded from other people the sincerity which marked his own character. We loved him dearly, and delighted in his wit, his learning, and his saintliness; but we had to be very careful of our words and sentiments when we were with him.'
The fact that when Percival became a bishop in 1895 he chose Gore to preach the sermon at his consecration suggests that he recognized in him a congenial disciple. But besides Percival and Westcott there was a third influence no less important in moulding his life. Neither of these teachers was much in sympathy with Anglo-Catholicism, but Gore never wavered in his early attachment to that form of religion. Mr. Russell relates that on his first Sunday in Oxford 'Charles Gore took me to the Choral Eucharist at Cowley S. John, and afterwards to luncheon with the Fathers.' Before his ordination Gore made his confession at the other centre of Anglo-Catholicism in Oxford at that time, S. Barnabas', and it was in that church that he celebrated his first Eucharist.
His own teaching about confession was simple and straightforward. He would speak of the happiness it brought. 'I love those ringing words of absolution.' In preaching about it he would tell his hearers that it was left to their consciences to go to confession or not; 'but,' he would add, 'I know there is one person in this church who ought to go, and that is myself.'
But whatever outside influences may have helped to form his opinions, he was always, as he himself said, 'in the true sense a free thinker.' 'Not to think freely about a disturbing subject, or to accept ecclesiastical authority in place of the best judgement of my own reason, would be for me an impossible treason against the light.'
While he was preparing for ordination during his years at Trinity he became finally convinced that it was impossible to hold the old-fashioned view of the Old Testament. The conclusion he reached was that to which he remained true for the rest of his life. He did not conceal his position from the examiners, but showed 'how reconcilable I thought it with the Creeds.' In this he was successful, and was thus able to fulfil his long-cherished ambition of taking Holy Orders. He was ordained deacon in 1876 and priest in 1878 by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr. J. F. Mackarness.
Though he was still in residence at Trinity it was inevitable that he should look for some opportunity of more direct pastoral work than the life of a college don afforded. It was equally natural that he should seek it in an Anglo-Catholic parish, and that he should turn from the pleasant surroundings of Oxford to the congested streets of a great northern town. He found what he sought in the parish of S. Margaret's, Toxteth Park, Liverpool, under Mr. Bell Cox, who was afterwards imprisoned for 'contumacy' in refusing to obey the rulings of Lord Penzance.
For several years Gore devoted whatever time he could spare from his duties at Oxford and necessary holidays to parish work at Liverpool. But this was only an interlude. He was never licensed there. In fact he did not become a licensed curate until after he resigned his third bishopric forty years later.
In 1880 he received a call to pastoral duties of a different kind, and gave up his work at Trinity (though he retained his Fellowship till 1895) to become Vice-Principal of Cuddesdon Theological College under his future colleague in the chapter of Westminster, C. W. Furse, father of the present Bishop of St. Albans.
A former Principal of Cuddesdon, Edward King, afterwards known, by an almost 'inseparable' adjective, as the saintly Bishop of Lincoln, had already divined his worth.
'It is a great blessing,' he wrote, 'that Gore goes to Cuddesdon as Vice-Principal. ... I do feel for him being pulled back from the joys of parish work. But he will be rewarded.' When Dr. King became a bishop in 1885 he at once appointed Gore one of his examining chaplains, among his colleagues being such famous disciples of the first Tractarians as Dr. William Bright, the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History of Oxford, Dr. B. W. Randolph, afterwards Principal of Ely, and Dr. Edward Talbot, afterwards Bishop of Winchester. It is interesting to note that among those whom he examined for Orders at Lincoln was W. R. Inge, the present Dean of S. Paul's.
Another candidate whom he examined says that even in those days 'Gore was gruff,' but like King himself he always had a special affection for young men and influence over them, and these qualities showed themselves at their strongest when candidates for the ministry were concerned.
Among his pupils at Cuddesdon we find the names of Bishop Campbell of Glasgow; Bishop Williams of St. John's, Kaffraria; Bishop Abraham; Dr. R. L. Ottley, who became one of his colleagues in Lux Mundi, and his successor as Principal of Pusey House; and Gerald Maxwell, afterwards Superior-General of the Cowley Fathers.
One of his colleagues at Cuddesdon, Mr. H. Barnett, then Chaplain of the College, has left the following impression of his work there:
'He at once learnt to know individually all the men. They felt that he was one who would be able to help them to know themselves, and his work was far more intimate than that of his predecessor. Not that his lectures or sermons were not appreciated as fully--they certainly were--but in addition we felt that here was a spiritual guide full of sympathy and possessed of an extraordinary power of bringing conscience to work--both his own and that of others--which produced a marked result. . . . Above all, perhaps, we felt that the Vice-Principal was one who held converse with God, and took into the presence chamber every aspect of his work. I remember well when there was some little irregularity in the conduct of the students how he grieved over it, and how difficult it was for him to put it away from his thoughts, and to think that it would only prove a temporary anxiety.'
That Cuddesdon was particularly dear to Dr. Gore was apparent when he returned there as Bishop of Oxford, and it is probable that the three years he spent as Vice-Principal of the College were among the happiest of his life. They were brought to an end by a call to a more prominent position in which he was destined to become for the first time the centre of controversy, and one of the best-known figures in the English Church.
PUSEY HOUSE AND 'LUX MUNDI'
DR. Pusey died on September 16, 1882, close on half a century after the beginning of that movement to which his adherence had given, in Dr. Newman's words, a position and a name. By a true instinct people had discerned in him the protagonist of the movement, and had dubbed its followers 'Puseyites.' It was natural, therefore, that the memorial raised to him should be designed to carry on his work. Under the inspiration of his most intimate surviving friend and devoted disciple, Dr. Liddon, it was decided to found a college of clergy in Oxford to serve as a centre of religious faith, theological learning, and personal sympathy.
The project took final shape at a meeting held at Lord Salisbury's house in London in the following November, when it was resolved to raise a fund to purchase Dr. Pusey's library, and to provide a suitable building to house it under the care of two or more clerical librarians. The Pusey House, as the institution was named, was to be, in Liddon's words, 'a home of sacred learning, and a rallying-point for Christian faith.'
It was by Liddon's choice also that Gore was brought from Cuddesdon to be its first Principal. His original colleagues were V. S. S. Coles, known and loved by many generations of undergraduates as 'Stuckey,' and F. E. Brightman, afterwards Fellow of Magdalen College and famous as one of the most learned of liturgiologists.
Coles has described the formal opening of the House on October 9, 1884. About sixty disciples of the Tractarians were present. Before the Eucharist Dr. Liddon read a lesson from the Book of Wisdom 'in a manner never to be forgotten.' Dr. Archer-Houblon, then Vicar of Wantage,' led a choir, mostly of clergy, who sung Merbecke's service in the sacristy.' The Bishop of Oxford, Dr. Mackarness, gave an address which Liddon, who was apt to be suspicious of dignitaries, described as 'much tenderer and more effective than I should have at all iese anticipated.' After the Creed Gore and his two colleagues knelt before the bishop while he blessed them, and gave them authority to treat all members of the University who should come to the House as their parishioners.
In the spirit of this commission the first Librarians, like their successors, made it their primary duty to devote themselves to the service of countless young men who resorted to them for instruction and spiritual guidance. A writer of the Evangelical school has noted that in this work the first Principal was specially successful with the sons of Nonconformist ministers, and a number of them became ardent disciples of the Gore School.' Nor has it been forgotten that the House was designed as a home of learning as well as of teaching. One of the first of many scholarly works which have issued from it was Dr. Gore's The Church and the Ministry. Described by its author as 'an "apology" for the principle of the apostolic succession,' this book is a treatise on that principle and on the doctrine of episcopacy, tracing their history from the New Testament onwards. Its enduring worth is proved by the fact that a new edition of it, revised by the author's friend, Professor Cuthbert Turner, appeared in 1919, thirty years after its original publication.
Besides the regular work of the Pusey House the nine years during which Dr. Gore was Principal were notable for three things. It was there that the ideals embodied in the Community of the Resurrection began to take shape. During this period also Gore began to reveal to the world that passion for social reform which was to play so large a part in his subsequent career. In his very first, term at Pusey House he invited Mr. Stewart Headlam, the founder and leading spirit of the Guild of S. Matthew, to address a meeting there on its behalf. This Guild was an offspring of the Christian Social Movement formerly led by Charles Kingsley and F. D. Maurice, and was obnoxious to many people by reason of its Socialistic principles. The appearance of its prophet at the Pusey House, therefore, produced, as Coles said, a considerable 'flutter,' and inspired, among other protests, one of those light epigrams which appear to be indigenous to the soil of Oxford.
Sing a song of thousands,
Thirty, say, or more
Spent in subsidizing
Brightman, Stuckey, Gore.
When the House was opened
Straightway Headlam came.
Wasn't that a pretty thing
To do in Pusey's name?
The Principal and his colleagues had no intention of turning Dr. Pusey's memorial into a hotbed of Socialism. But under his leadership it played its part in preaching the gospel of social reform as an essential part of practical Christianity, and it was at a meeting held some years later at the Pusey House, with the Principal in the chair, that the Christian Social Union was founded. This society will form the subject of a later chapter. We must now turn our attention to the third of the episodes referred to above, an episode that raised a tempest compared with which the breeze excited by Mr. Headlam's visit seemed the mildest of flutters.
Lux Mundi was an outcome of 'the Holy Party,' so named by its founder, Scott Holland, who describes it in A Bundle of Memories:
'It was simply the habit of a gang of us young Donlets to occupy some small country parish for a month, do the duty, read, discuss, say our offices and keep our hours together. . . . We would work and play and talk over the possibilities of an Anglican Oratorian Community: and be exceedingly happy.' At these meetings, and no doubt at other times, the young men talked, among other things, of the inroads which Darwin's theory of evolution and the German methods of Biblical criticism seemed to be making on the traditional faith of Christendom. The effect of these innovations, often misunderstood and exaggerated as they were, was to produce widespread distress, unsettlement, and open agnosticism and atheism.
Many years later Dr. Gore wrote a brief summary of these talks in his Preface to Mrs. J. R. Illingworth's Memoir of her husband, a leading member of the group.
'When I became an Oxford don in 1875,' he says, 'I found myself drawn, partly as disciple, partly as colleague, into a circle of rather older men who were already at work at the urgent task of seeking to conciliate the claims of reason and revelation, and so to interpret the ancient Catholic Faith as not to lay an intolerable strain upon the free action of the intellect.' At their meeting in 1887 'the Holy Party' decided that they could best fulfil this task by means of a volume of essays which, in Mrs. Illingworth's words, should embody 'the common view of Christian doctrine which had gradually become the possession of the gathering of friends.' They separated and wrote their essays. As the work grew to completion it was discovered that no essay on the central theme of inspiration had been included. Gore, who acted as editor of the work but was hitherto not a contributor, undertook to supply the gap. When they met at the Westminster Arms, West Malvern, in June, 1889, the final touches were given to the book, and in November of that year it was published under the title Lux Mundi: A Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation.
The contributors included three future bishops besides Gore himself; Arthur Lyttelton, Francis Paget, and E. S. Talbot. The others were J, H. Campion, Scott Holland, J. R. Illingworth, Walter Lock, R. C. Moberly, Aubrey Moore, and R. L. Ottley.
Before considering Dr. Gore's own part in it may be well to state that the real gravamen against the book was, as Dr. Liddon expressed it, that it was 'a proclamation of revolt against the spirit and principles of Dr. Pusey and Mr. Keble'--as far, that is, as their attitude towards Holy Scripture was concerned. The older Tractarians had preferred dogmatic certainty to liberty of thinking, and their immediate disciples, of the type of Liddon, held tenaciously to the old lines of defence. Dr. Gore, as we saw in the last chapter, had come to realize that these lines could no longer be maintained.
Another innovation, though one that gave less offence and was consequently less prominent in the ensuing controversy, was the emphasis which, as its title showed, the book laid on the doctrine of the Incarnation. To many of the other Churchmen, High as well as Low, not only was the Atonement the central doctrine of Christianity but it possessed their minds almost, we may say, to the exclusion of all else. The young men, as represented by the writers of Lux Mundi, saw that to repel the new attacks it was necessary to restate the Christian theology so as to restore the doctrine of the Incarnation, with its social as well as its theological implications, to its true position in relation to the whole Faith. 'The truth about our Lord's humanity came to us,' Dr. Gore wrote many years later, 'with a fresh thrill of delight.' The fresh fermenting wine was once more bursting the old wine-skins. The older prophets would isolate the doctrine of Christ's divinity. The younger men demanded the full recognition of His humanity.
The book in which Gore and his colleagues essayed to fulfil this task consisted of twelve essays and a preface explaining the purpose of the whole. This and the eighth essay, 'The Holy Spirit and Inspiration,' were the work of the editor, and it was against these that the main onslaught was directed.
In his essay Dr. Gore had judiciously refrained from putting the crucial question of the inspiration of Scripture in the forefront of his argument. On the contrary, he had devoted nearly half his space to a discussion of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit before approaching that part of His work. But this arrangement was of no avail to placate the indignation of readers when they were told that the inspiration of Scripture, though an important part of the superstructure of Christianity, is not among its bases; that the Church is providentially not committed to any definition of the actual meaning of inspiration; that while it 'certainly means the illumination of the judgement of the recorder,' we need not suppose that it involves 'the miraculous communication of facts not otherwise to be known '; that the Old Testament contains myth, 'dramatic composition,' and allegory; and that the use which our Lord made of it is no argument against this, for 'the Incarnation was a self-emptying of God, to reveal Himself under conditions of human nature and from the human point of view,' and He observed the limits of the scientific and historical knowledge of His age.
While such statements as these bewildered and affronted those who held to the orthodoxy of the age, the book was welcomed by many readers. It went through twelve editions in a year, and received what its editor described as many 'kind and encouraging criticisms.'
For the time being, however, the grieved and angry voices were the louder. 'The militant Archdeacon of Taunton,' G. A. Denison, was, as usual, in the forefront of the battle. In private he talked of 'the Gorian heresy' and held its author 'the most dangerous man I have lived to see'; in Convocation he moved for a committee to examine the book 'as alleged to contain grave and dangerous error'; accused it of teaching 'a revised faith and a new theology'; and declared that 'the book worships reason, but it does not reason, it assumes.' Finally, when his efforts failed, he resigned from the English Church Union as a protest against its refusal to condemn 'the New Criticism.' 'Eventually,' says Mr. Russell, 'the controversy ebbed away as such controversies generally ebb, in a more or less unsatisfactory series of replies and rejoinders, dissertations and explanations.'*
For a while, however, it raged fiercely in the press and in the debates of Church Societies and Congresses. The eccentric Father Ignatius of Llanthony led a crusade against Lux Mundi in Oxford itself. The Bishop of Taunton, then a resident at the Pusey House, has given a recollection of this:
'Gore sent me to the Town Hall to hear what was said. On my return he came to my room, and I gave him a full report. He remarked only, "Funny old thing," and returned to his work. The following afternoon I was passing the sacristy door when Stuckey Coles, with a chuckle, called me in. "Come and see Father Ignatius cursing Gore." Ignatius was standing under the trees by S. John's College with two others. He was facing the Pusey House with uplifted right hand and evidently much excited.'
The same persistent fanaticism led him to the Birmingham Church Congress of 1893 where the future bishop of the city was to read a paper on Reunion with Nonconformity. As he opened his lips to read Father Ignatius strode starkly forward as if to stop him. In the commotion that ensued it was not clear what happened, but it was said that he pulled out a crucifix and cursed the speaker. [In later years I had an opportunity of observing Bishop Gore's demeanour on such an occasion. He was speaking at a Christian Socialist meeting in London when a woman's shrill voice broke in with some sentences in praise, apparently, of atheism. The bishop turned a gaze of mild surprise in the direction of the interruption, and when it had ceased went on exactly where he had stopped.]
Far graver than all this in its consequences for the subject of this book was the effect of Lux Mundi on Dr. Liddon. The traditional attitude towards Holy Scripture was precious to him not only from the natural conservatism of his own mind, but also because Dr. Pusey had been among its stoutest champions. When the 'new scepticism' seemed to threaten it he comforted himself with the thought that his revered master's memorial in Oxford would prove a strong tower of defence. And now the very man whom he had chosen to command the garrison had not only gone over to the enemy but was actually leading the assault. He had recognized Gore's high character, his learning and his strong Church principles, and 'did not suspect that he had constructed a private kennel for liberalizing ideas in theology within the precincts of the Old Testament, and so much of the New Testament as bears upon it.'
Gore on his part was equally surprised by Liddon's attitude. Before the book came out he had written to him, with unwonted optimism, 'I believe you will approve almost all of it.' He had never made any secret of his opinions. 'Whatever I have said there [i.e. in his essay],' he wrote, 'I have said times out of number to people of all classes in difficulties.'
He had, indeed, begun to form critical opinions in his schooldays. His revered teacher, Westcott, in taking leave of the Sixth Form at Harrow, had said that his best wish for them was that, whatever befell them in life, they might always retain 'a firm faith in criticism and a firm faith in God,' a wish that as far as Gore was concerned was completely fulfilled.
Many years afterwards Canon Coles revealed that the germ of the essay itself was 'a memorandum drawn up for the clearing of his own mind in his undergraduate days, and that a much less delicate and sanguine Conservative than Dr. Liddon was reported to have told Gore in his early days that he was no better than the common atheist."
The colleague at Cuddesdon whose reminiscences have already been quoted says that at that period Gore held the same views about the Old Testament 'which have since become so widely spread'; and he had taught them freely in his lectures at Pusey House. From Liddon alone, living in seclusion and hearing little of what was going on in Oxford, these things were hidden. Consequently the shock was all the greater. To his mind Lux Mundi involved the abandonment of the whole Oxford Movement position on authority as against private judgement. Naturally he felt that 'the world at large thinks it piquant that such a book should have issued from the Pusey House,' and blamed himself for not having made more careful inquiries before recommending Gore for Principal.
The ensuing months were terribly painful to both men. 'Miserable about Gore's Essay,' Liddon noted in his Journal, and Gore applied the same adjective to himself. 'I cannot tell you how miserable the whole thing has made me,' he wrote; and again, 'I wish you knew how deep the pain is of having given so much pain to you.'
He offered to resign the Principalship of the Pusey House if he had not the full confidence of the Governors, but Liddon succeeded in averting a formal offer of resignation fearing that it would result in a vote of confidence in Gore's opinions. 'I suspect that I am nearly alone in Oxford in feeling as I do on the subject,' he wrote; and 'the young generally are strongly on [Gore's] side, and are keeping him up to the mark.' He made his formal reply when he preached the last sermon of his life before the University of Oxford on Whitsunday, 1890. S. Mary's Church was thronged with an excited congregation that had come, as a member of it said, 'to hear him adjudicate between the living and the dead, between the older and the younger High Church party, between the Tracts and Lux Mundi.' They were so far disappointed in that he left the book unnamed, though some passages of the sermon (afterwards published as The Inspiration of Selection] directly traversed Gore's position.
In the fourth edition of Lux Mundi some verbal alterations were introduced to vary expressions which in their original form had given peculiar pain. For some months the editor was absent on a visit to India. On his return he prefixed to the tenth edition a new Preface of thirty pages. Here he reiterates that the essayists were writing for Christians, but for Christians who were perplexed by new knowledge and new problems. In such perplexities a readjustment of faith and knowledge, such as has taken place in the past, is necessary to show that science is not irreligious nor religion hostile to knowledge.
These olive branches, as they did not affect his main position, were of little avail to placate his critics. Denison spoke contemptuously of his 'miserable attempts at explanation'; and many Church people continued to consider him, as a lady expressed it to Father Bickersteth during the Westminster period, 'that awful Canon Gore who doesn't believe the Bible.'
The agony that Gore suffered at this time cannot be exaggerated. It was the supreme tragedy of his life. He was perplexed at the implications that had been found in his work. More painful still, he felt himself sullied by the imputation of treachery to the Church, to the Bible, above all to his Divine Master. And it was an added bitterness that his principal opponent was a friend who felt his trust betrayed.
Happily he had a wise and loving friend and consoler in Canon Furse of Westminster, who had been Principal of Cuddesdon when Gore was Vice-Principal, and who realized the physical exhaustion and spiritual agony which he was suffering. 'Liddon will kill Gore,' he said to a friend who was privileged to be present at an interview at which he poured comfort and encouragement into the younger man's quivering spirit, and then as they walked together in the garden at Westminster restored his confidence and self-control.
Happily, also, there was reconciliation with Liddon himself. In the summer of that year, 1890, he was stricken with mortal illness. He asked a friend who visited him, 'Have you been at Pusey House.' And learning that he had, said, 'Did you see Gore? How was he? Give him my love.' He was too ill to talk to visitors but sent a message. 'If he will come down and let me see him without speaking to him I shall be very glad.' On these terms Gore frequently visited him until he was moved from Oxford in July, some weeks before he died.
There were other consolations. In 1891, Bishop King invited Gore to conduct a retreat of clergy in Lincoln Cathedral, a mark of confidence which must have brought balm to his soul. He received another such mark, this time from the University of Oxford, in being chosen to deliver the Bampton Lectures for 1891. With characteristic courage he took for his subject 'The Incarnation of the Son of God,' and delivered a course of lectures which are in fact a restatement and expansion of the teaching of Lux Mundi.
They consist of a striking exposition of the doctrine of Christ as God and Man and of the obligations which that doctrine imposes upon those who accept it. 'You cannot be Christians by mere tradition or respectability. You will have to choose to be Christians.' Nor did he fail to drive home the social consequences of the Incarnation. Because Christ is our Master and our Example the Christian moral law, the law of brotherhood, must be as intelligibly presented and as clearly understood as the dogmas of the Christian Creed. And he added in a characteristic passage that he found it 'incredibly difficult' to persuade English people of this truth.
It may be convenient to mention here that after 1889 'the Holy Party' continued to exist in a modified form as 'the Lux Mundi Party.' The meetings were at first confined almost entirely to the contributors to the eponymous volume, who gathered every summer until 1914 at Illingworth's rectory at Longworth, there, according to the rectory gardener, to 'pull each other's books to pieces.' As death created gaps in the circle younger men were invited to join it. The last party which assembled at Longworth, in July, 1914, included the editor and four others of the original contributors. Among others who were present were the sons of two contributors, the present Bishop of Pretoria, Dr. Neville Talbot, and Dr. W. H. Moberly, now Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester.
A sentence from a letter written by Dr. Illingworth in 1912 may fittingly conclude the subject:
'When five of us started the first "Holy Party" at Brighstone in 1875, it was the germ of the C.S.U., of Mirfield, and of Lux Mundi and all the other writing of the party. Rather a prolific fact.'
Long before his death Dr. Gore saw some of his statements in Lux Mundi accepted by all but the most extreme conservatives. As Dr. Inge has written since his death, the authors of that book 'paved the way for a more liberal attitude towards science and criticism,' and 'gave the High Church party a new lease of life.' But the agony of that time left a lasting mark upon the chief actor in it. Those who knew him only in latter years might see the effect of the Lux Mundi controversy in his habitual look of perplexity and pained surprise as at an unexpected attack, and in the evidence of suffering, overcome but not forgotten, which was often to be observed in his face.
THE COMMUNITY OF THE RESURRECTION
THE reader may have noticed that one of the subjects that Gore and his friends discussed during their summer holidays was the possibility of 'an Anglican Oratorian Community.' But to trace the beginnings of Bishop Gore's interest in the religious life we must go back to an incident of his schooldays which was briefly mentioned in Chapter I.
In 1868, Mr. Westcott, as he then was, preached in the School Chapel at Harrow a sermon which was an earnest plea for a revival of the ascetic life. He passed in review the achievements of some of the founders of the groat Religious Orders, and ended with an appeal to the Harrow boys to follow the example of the young Francis or the still younger Benedict, and prepare themselves to take their part in reviving the ascetic life of the English Church.
The sermon, as might have been expected, produced a considerable sensation. Parents were alarmed by the thought that Mr. Westcott was advising their boys to become monks, and sober Protestants, already made nervous by the foundation of the Society of S. John the Evangelist at Cowley three years before, were indignant at the suggestion of more monastic orders in the Church of England. The sequel may be told in the words of Mr. Russell:
'Westcott made the only dignified reply. He printed (without publishing) the peccant sermon under the title Disciplined Life, and gave a copy to every boy in the School, expressing the hope that " God in His great love, will even thus, by words most unworthily spoken, lead some one among us to think on one peculiar work of the English Church, and, in due time, to offer himself for the fulfilment of it as His Spirit shall teach." Those who remember that Charles Gore was one of the boys who heard the sermon may be inclined to think that the prayer was answered.' At the Pusey House the germ thus planted began to bear fruit. One of the original members of the Community has told us that soon after Gore went there he 'began to see that the greatest need of the Church was a band of priests, pledged to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience, who, while they accepted the main ideas of the Religious Life, derived from the Rule of S. Benedict, were alive to the changed conditions of modern life, and desired to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, alike in theological study and in social politics.'
From Stuckey Coles we get a glimpse of how this idea worked in Gore's mind before it reached its final form:
'I think it was in the summer of 1890 that some ten priests, including the librarians, met at the Pusey House to exchange thought on the nature and history of the religious life. Our president directed our first thoughts to the Eastern rule of S. Basil, pointing out that its spirit was in some respects less rigid than that of the later Western rules. The interest felt in the English workman suggested that the aim of a modern religious order might be to live, as regards food, house, and furniture, on the scale which would be desired for an English artisan. Much was said of the advantage of an obedience given rather to the chapter than to the superior.'
Presently there arose out of these conferences a society for which a name had to be found. Here Dr. Liddon supplied what was needed. 'Do not call it the Society of the Christian Hope,' he said, 'make it objective; call it the Society of the Resurrection.' This was at once accepted, and the Community came into existence, at least in embryo, in August, 1891, when George Longridge and Cyril Bickersteth arrived at the Pusey House. These, with the Principal of the House as Superior, J. O. Nash, afterwards Bishop-Coadjutor of Capetown, and John Carter, who were already in residence there, made up the number with which it was thought desirable to begin to form a rule. What this was to be is shown in the following extract from a letter which Gore addressed to his colleagues at this time:
'Besides the Resurrection Rule, we aim at saying the whole of the 119th Psalm (if we can), and making a daily half-hour meditation. Also we do our own bedrooms, before Terce if possible. We do not talk before Terce and after Compline--nor before Sext for mere conversation sake.
'We do not go out without leave except in the afternoon. This can always be asked, and is not needed for fixed engagements, e.g. to preach or lecture.
'We aim at devoting our life to prayer, study, work. Thus you will arrange your lives so that what is not occupied by prayer or work or wholesome recreation, should be given to the systematic study of theology, or studies conducing thereto. This is what we have attained hitherto. Whether in the future we are to go beyond this by vows of religion is a quite open question, in which we may hope our minds may be formed by prayer.'
On S. James's Day, July 25, 1892, the six original brethren made their formal profession in the Chapel of Pusey House. They were, Charles Gore, Superior, Cyril Bickersteth, John Carter, Walter Frere, George Longridge, and James Nash. All but the Superior still survive, and of the remaining five all are still members of the Community except Mr. Carter who thought it his duty to remain at Pusey House when the Community migrated to Radley in the following year. Their life at the Pusey House is described by Coles from the point of view of a sympathetic onlooker:
'For a moment it seemed as if the Pusey House was trying to become a monastery. Silence was observed at dinner on Fridays. Great regularity of attendance at the chapel offices, and regulations as to the times of retirement and rising, began to be practised, and undergraduates dropping in to tea at four-thirty found not only the familiar librarians, but quite a little crowd of serious neophytes. It was not long, however, before the leader of these aspirations felt that he must pursue his ideal further from the centre of moving life.'
With this purpose Dr. Gore resigned his position at the Pusey House in 1893 and left Oxford with its interests and distractions for the vicarage of the quiet village of Radley five miles away. His brethren accompanied him, some of them living with the Superior in the vicarage, others at a neighbouring farm. Radley thus became the second home of the Community. There they received a few students, held a summer school for clergy, and quickly found themselves in demand for missions and retreats. They were also in close alliance with the Oxford Mission to Calcutta in which their Superior had been keenly interested since its foundation, and which he had already visited more than once.
In Radley as at Oxford the brethren wore no distinctive dress except the cassock, nor had they yet adopted the title of 'Father.' When people were curious about their mode of life the Superior would reply that they were only a few clergymen trying to be good.
With the exception of the brief periods at Liverpool mentioned in Chapter II, his year at Radley was Dr. Gore's only experience of parochial work; and, as Father Bickersteth says:
'Our Founder was not exactly in his element as vicar of a country parish, but for a while he diligently discharged in person all its duties. Things were sometimes discouraging, and he had not learned to preach to simple folk, as he did later when a diocesan bishop.'
Yet, as the same authority tells us, he 'was happy in his experience as a country parish priest. He insisted in carrying out in person the ordinary duties of vicar. He trained the choir, he catechized on Sundays, he taught the children in the day school, and ... he felt personally responsible if some labourer in the village took too much to drink. He made friends with the boys and masters in Radley College, and used to go and have tea with the college servants, as he wished to establish friendly relations with all his parishioners.' His appointment to a canonry of Westminster in 1894 enabled him to devote his energies to more congenial work, and gave the Community its first foothold in London, one or two of the brethren living with the Superior at Little Cloisters while the rest remained at Radley, where Bishop Nash succeeded as vicar.
The next move took place in 1899 when the Community migrated to its present home at Mirfield in Yorkshire. The story of its work there and of the wonderful developments that have followed is less closely connected with the subject of this book. For on his appointment to the See of Worcester Dr. Gore resigned the office of Superior and was released from his obligations to the Community, though he remained to the end of his life a Prelate Brother, paying annual visits to Mirfield, and always manifesting the deepest interest in the Community and all that concerned its welfare.
Here it must suffice to remind the reader that the little band who made their profession in 1892 have developed into a body of some fifty mission priests, with houses at Mirfield, in London, and in Africa, a flourishing Theological College of a hundred students, and a fraternity of priests, laymen, and women, pledged to a life of devotion and work. In all these ways it is faithfully carrying out the ideals of its founder. Or, as Canon Underhill puts it:
'Formed on the basis of Gore's own liberal Catholicism and social ideals, it is now a strong force in the Anglican Communion. It seems to many of us well adapted to meet the needs of our day, combining a disciplined life with a clear sense of the needs of the modern world. As such it well represents the mind which formed it.'
THE CHRISTIAN SOCIAL UNION
zeal for social righteousness which was one of the master passions of Charles Gore's life cannot properly be considered apart from his other activities. It meets us at every stage of his career. It is likely enough that in this as in other matters the latent seeds of his future activities were first stirred into life by the teaching of Westcott at Harrow. We know from his own words that at Oxford he found himself in 'cordial agreement with Ruskin against the dominant Political Economists.' And we have already seen that at the Pusey House he played a part in the founding of the society in which for some thirty years he and others like-minded with himself strove to carry out in practice the social teaching of the Gospel.
There were in the eighties a number of Churchmen who, while believing in Christian Socialism, that is to say, the application of the Christian law to social practice, were not convinced that it must necessarily be identified with the political socialism of the Guild of S. Matthew. Accordingly they decided to form a new society which should appeal to the Church at large rather than to any particular party.
The actual beginnings of the Christian Social Union are to be traced in four lectures on 'Economic Morals' delivered by Mr. Wilfrid Richmond at Sion College in 1889 under the auspices of Canon Westcott, as he then was, Scott Holland, and Mr. John Carter.1 But it was formally inaugurated at a meeting held at the Pusey House in November, 1889, and in the following year Dr. Westcott, who had just been appointed Bishop of Durham, became its first President.
'Its motive,' Bishop Gore wrote in after years, 'was the sense that Christianity, and especially the Church of England, had lamentably failed to bear its social witness--its witness to the principles of divine justice and human brotherhood which lie at its heart. It had left the economic and industrial world to build itself up on quite fundamentally unchristian premisses, as if Christianity had got nothing to do with the matter.'
Therefore 'it was essential that at least by a tardy act of repentance the Christian Church should bestir itself to reconsider and assert its own principles and let the contending parties and the apathetic church-goers see that it was nothing less than essential Christianity that was at stake.' The purpose of the C.S.U., to use the title by which the Society came to be generally known, was, in fact, the practical application of the doctrine which had just been re-stated in Lux Mundi. From that doctrine, that Christ was Very Man, it followed that His Body the Church must express humanity at its fullest and best as a universal brotherhood, and must stand firmly for social as well as personal righteousness. Membership was confined to Church people, because only through them could the Church be awakened to the real social meaning of its doctrines of Baptism, of Confirmation, and of Holy Communion.
On the other hand, it did not, like its predecessor the Guild of S. Matthew, draw its members from any one party. They might hold any political and economic theories they liked so long as they allowed the Christian law to govern their social practice. Its objects indeed could be, and were, accepted by Church people of every religious or political school of thought. As the Union gave up its separate existence some time ago I it may be well to state them in full. They were:
I. To claim for the Christian law the ultimate authority to rule social practice.
2. To study in common how to apply the moral truths and principles of Christianity to the social and economic difficulties of the present time.
3. To present Christ in practical life as the living Master and King, the enemy of wrong and selfishness, the power of righteousness and love.
Whether or no Gore was responsible for the actual wording of these 'objects' they clearly bear the impress of his thought. The first embodies the general principle which appears again and again in his writings, that it was impossible to be a true Christian without applying the teachings of Christianity to the practical affairs of life.
The second insists on the importance of study. As his friend James Adderley, himself for long a prominent member of the Union, has reminded us, it is a grave mistake to suppose that Gore would rush into denunciation of abuses or advocate Utopian reforms without informing himself of the facts. On the contrary, he would always insist that careful inquiry must precede action.
Thirdly, when the facts were known, the Christian solution must be boldly applied. Of the practical work of the Union, its crusades against slums or against the use of leaded glaze in pottery, this is not the place to speak. It is sufficient to say that whatever effect was achieved, either by these corporate efforts or by the work of individual members and branches in their own localities, was in great measure the result of Dr. Gore's driving force, supported by the untiring enthusiasm of the colleague whose name must never be forgotten when the C.S.U. is mentioned, Henry Scott Holland.
If I here obtrude a personal reminiscence it is in order to illustrate how Bishop Gore would never be content with mere talk about social reform but would whenever possible have it translated into action. I recall, then, a meeting at which we were ready to carry by acclamation a resolution pledging the members to a certain course of conduct, and how the President1 checked us before taking the vote and solemnly charged us not to vote for the resolution unless we were seriously determined to carry it out in our daily lives.
His teaching and his example were not without their effect. Since his death a paper so little prone to enthusiasm about the Church of England as the New Statesman has testified that the members of the C.S.U. 'were really determined never to buy cheap if it meant buying nasty.' The same writer truly declares that--
'Charles Gore did more than any one man, except perhaps Westcott, to change the official attitude of the Church to the problem of Labour; it is due to him, and to men like Stanton, Dolling, Headlam, and Scott Holland, that the assumption usually made on the Continent that Christianity and Socialism are incompatible has never been accepted in England.'
Not that Gore himself ever accepted the Socialist creed in politics. 'I do not hold with the Socialistic theory myself,' he told the House of Lords in 1908. For the greater part of his life he was, to speak generally, a Liberal in politics. In his later years he was strongly drawn to the Labour Movement, and declared openly that it was right to take for its motto, 'Justice, not charity.' But he would not shut his eyes to its shortcomings. For him the demand for rights must always be accompanied by the readiness to perform the corresponding duties.
'The weakness of the democratic movement,' he wrote in 1918, 'is that it is much more occupied with claims than with responsibilities, and shows itself as a whole too little conscious of the moral difficulties involved in realizing its ideals. It exhibits but little sense of how profound a claim real democracy must make upon the average citizen--not only upon his intelligence but also upon his character. It demands not only deepened and prolonged education, but also profound and widespread moral reformation. Jealousy, dishonesty, slackness, and lust appear to be as prevalent in the circles of "labour" as in any others; and their prevalence does, I fear, threaten democracy with failure, unless the message, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" receives a quite new welcome on a very wide scale.' A little later he is found lamenting that the spirit of which the C.S.U. was the expression had failed in two respects. It had failed to make any effective impression on the Labour and Trade Union Movements as a whole. And 'it has not succeeded in stirring up what it believes to be the right spirit in the mass of those who preach in the pulpits or sit in the pews of the Anglican churches.'
The burden of his famous sermon, 'The Church and the Poor,' preached at the Church Congress of 1906, was that the Church was still the Church of the well-to-do. It had condescended to the poor instead of becoming identified with them. Deep penitence and confession that we were on the wrong lines must precede any effective reform. 'This sermon is only the cry of a permanently troubled conscience,' he exclaimed in a characteristic phrase. He was one of those, in the words of Keats,
to whom the miseries of the world
Are misery and will not let them rest.
Yet in 1918 he could look back over his own lifetime and acknowledge that there had been some improvement. That the Church had taken some part in bringing this about was, though he would never have admitted it, very largely his doing.
Last of all, in the Halley Stewart Lectures on Christ and Society, delivered in 1927 and published in 1928, we see the aged prophet preaching once more the old message to a new and much-changed generation. That the social evils which we deplore 'are not the inevitable results of any unalterable laws of nature or any kind of inexorable necessity, but are the fruits of human blindness, wilfulness, avarice, and selfishness.' That the remedy will not come by legislation alone, but demands a fundamental change of spirit in society and in the individual; and that 'Jesus Christ is really the Saviour and Redeemer of Mankind, in its social as well as in its individual life, and in the present world as well as in that which is to come.'
ARCHDEACON Furse always believed that a letter which he wrote to the Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery, was the determining factor in securing Gore's appointment in 1894 to the canonry of Westminster vacated by his own preferment to the archdeaconry. Be this as it may, and it is by no means unlikely, the appointment was the most decisive turning-point in Gore's career. That it was a public proof, if proof were needed, that he was in no way under a cloud in consequence of the Lux Mundi episode, was the least important of its results. It brought him from the seclusion of Radley to the great world of London. It gave the prophet a platform from which he could deliver his message to the world. And it enabled the scholar and the 'monk' to become what he remained for nearly forty years, the most potent spiritual force in England.
It was not a fact of solely historical interest that he was the first member of a Religious Community who had also been a member of the Chapter since Abbot Feckenham and his brethren were driven out in 1559. As already stated, his house at No. 4 Little Cloisters became a branch house of the Community of the Resurrection, and he lived there with one or two other members of it under the Rule of the Community. [Visitors remarked as something new in a canon's house that for purposes of study the fine drawing-room was divided into compartments by book-cases.]
This was in itself a striking phenomenon, but far more striking in its effect upon the world at large were his sermons from the Abbey pulpit. When he was announced to preach the Abbey was crowded as it has never been crowded before or since except on State occasions. The queues that gathered outside before the service were one of the sights of London. Many can still remember his appearance in the pulpit in those days: the splendidly shaped head still luxuriantly covered; the tawny beard as yet unflecked with grey; the strong emphatic voice; the rather ungainly gestures and swayings of the body. I myself first heard him at this time, and if I was impressed by his appearance I was still more strongly impressed by the burning sincerity of what he said. There were none of the tricks, and little of the charm, of oratory, but I felt that this was preaching such as I had never heard before.
A friend allows me to quote the following reminiscence:
'There was a Good Friday in Westminster Abbey when Canon Gore took the Three Hours' Service. The Abbey had not then the adjuncts to devotion that it has to-day. There was just the one man and the great congregation. By a coincidence, on that spring morning the sunlight slowly paled, and, as the central portion of the service drew on, there was deeper and deeper gloom that lifted at the last. Through what was nearly darkness came the voice of the man who had himself experienced the night of the Cross.' Among the most abiding fruits of his ministry at the Abbey were the books on various portions of the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Epistles to the Romans and the Ephesians. The obituary notice of him in The Times described these courses and their effect with felicitous accuracy:
'His expository lectures drew immense congregations; his systematic teaching, week by week, of the Epistle to the Romans, the Sermon on the Mount, and other parts of the New Testament revealed to the London public his splendid gifts as a teacher. With perfect lucidity he would draw out the meaning of the passage before him and relate it in a practical fashion with modern problems of living. There are those who believe that in no other part of his long career did Gore find so exactly the work for which he was best fitted or achieved so valuable an influence as in these expository lectures at the Abbey.'
The books in which this teaching is embodied follow the same method. Each of them is well described on its title-page as 'A Practical Exposition.' He knew that his name was connected in the public mind with Biblical Criticism, and it seems as if he were resolved to show that for the ordinary churchgoer this criticism need form no bar to the study of the Bible. 'It is surprising,' he writes in the Preface to The Sermon on the Mount, 'in how few parts of the Bible critical difficulties, be they what they may, need be any bar to its use.'
A critic so little disposed to empty compliment as Dr. Inge has said of these books:
'They exhibit extreme honesty of purpose, fearless acceptance of Christ's teaching honestly interpreted, scorn of unreality and empty words, and a determination never to allow preaching to be divorced from practice. No more stimulating Christian teaching has been given in our generation.'
Two other books written during the Westminster period must be briefly mentioned. Both first appeared in Christian Social magazines edited by Gore's friends: The Creed of the Christian in James Adderley's Goodwill, and Prayer and the Lord's Prayer in Scott Holland's Commonwealth, They were the first of what The Times has called the 'great little books' in which he revealed his power of presenting the doctrines and the obligations of Christianity not only to the learned and the devout but also to the man in the street.
The following story told by his fellow-worker in the C.S.U., Miss Gertrude Tuckwell, illustrates another side of his activity at this time, and one which never ceased to be prominent:
'In these years we were fighting for the sufferers in certain specially dangerous trades--notably those attacked by lead-poisoning in china and earthenware, in which trade at that date the ravages were terrible. But the fund we drew on for exhibition, agitation, and relief was exhausted, and I went in despair to Canon Gore. He tenanted a house in Little Cloisters and many of us will remember that austere study with its matted floor and crucifix on the wall above the desk at which he sat. I told my need for £100. Certainly, we should have the proceeds of an offertory. He preached for us-- as he alone could preach--himself came to take the offertory, and sent us £100. Time passed and I went again. But I had been forestalled. The offertories he could bestow were promised.
He bent his head over the desk and thought. Then suddenly opened a drawer and laid before me his school trophies--medals of gold and silver. These he would sell for the fund, but, belonging to a brotherhood which had all things in common, he must first ask leave. Protest was useless. I had come for a sermon, not a cherished possession, but before Canon Gore left for an autumn holiday, somehow those medals had been coined to fill our coffers. Whenever I reflect that, owing to the legislation which our agitation made possible, the four hundred odd cases of lead-poisoning in china and earthenware had been reduced to fourteen in 1929, I pay tribute to the bishop's sacrifice of his cherished boyish prizes.' This untiring worker for the poor was also appreciated at the other extreme of the social scale. Queen Victoria made him one of her honorary chaplains in 1895, and a chaplain-in-ordinary in 1900. In the latter capacity he also served her successor, King Edward VII. In addition to his regular work at the Abbey he was in demand as a preacher and speaker, and for two years was Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Cambridge; and amid all these diverse claims on his time and energies he found leisure to join with Dr. Forrest Browne, then Bishop of Stepney, and Dr. W. E. Collins, afterwards Bishop of Gibraltar, to found the Church Historical Society.
To many people who knew him as a public figure, or had only slight personal acquaintance with him, he appeared a formidable figure, 'consumed,' as he has been described, 'by his mission, a voice with something of the desert austerity.' Few except his intimate friends would have called him, as Scott Holland did in a letter of 1896, 'the old dear.' But, to transpose the adjectives which Fuller applies to Shakespeare, though 'his genius generally was solemn and serious he could when so disposed be jocular,' and he appeared in more genial mood to the friends of all ages, including some of the senior boys of Westminster School, who on Sunday evenings came together in the house at Little Cloisters, round a trestle-table 'in a room with a superabundance of books and too few chairs for the company,' some of whom had to sit upon the floor. Among them Gore would walk up and down, sometimes chin on chest, with arms tightly folded, sometimes with head thrown back and beard waving in the air, as he talked of the religious and social questions of which his mind was full.
When Bishop Gore died the message announcing the fact to the world outside Great Britain stated that he was 'for some years a prominent figure in religious controversy in England.' This, as a colonial paper truly remarked, was to plumb the depths of bathos. But there was this excuse for the news service responsible for it that, though controversy was as repugnant to him as he was unsuited for it, he did from time to time manage to get involved in a good many controversies. It so happened that several of these occurred more or less simultaneously towards the end of his time at Westminster.
In 1898 he edited another volume of essays, this time on Church Reform, which speaking generally is a plea for the self-government of the Church on somewhat similar lines to those actually laid down by the Enabling Act of 1919, but with a communicant franchise. Thirty-four years ago all this sounded very revolutionary. It was laying hands on the accepted relationship of Church and State, and, to say the least, seemed like a coquetting with Disestablishment, which to many Church people was the accursed thing. Consequently the book caused a certain amount of commotion, though it was mild in comparison to that roused by Lux Mundi.
In 1901 a controversy of a different kind arose out of the publication of his book, The Body of Christ. He had been invited to take part in the 'Round Table Conference' on the Eucharist held by Bishop Creighton at Fulham in October, 1900, and wrote the book to clear his own thoughts on the subject. It deals with the Presence of Christ in Holy Communion, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and the Prayer Book service. In a passage which attracted a good deal of attention, some of it unfavourable, the author spoke of 'the apparently light-hearted security with which the obvious intention of the Sacrament according to the mind of Christ has been enlarged in later practice' in the separation of the Sacrifice and the worship from Communion; and, 'more than this,' in the later developments of Reservation, and of Exposition and Benediction, a development about which, he observed, 'the theologians of the Roman Church have had an uneasy conscience.'
Further consideration of this subject may be postponed till we come to his dealings with it as bishop, but it may here be mentioned that The Body of Christ drew from Dr. Inge the high but well-deserved eulogy that in it 'the true nature of the Sacrament is unfolded in a masterly and beautiful manner.'
Finally, an incident may be recalled which proves that he would not refrain from delivering his soul on political matters about which he held unpopular views. In the autumn of 1901 there was a good deal of excitement about the English 'concentration camps' for Boer women and children which were an incident of the war in South Africa. The Government's admission that the rate of mortality in them was high caused uneasiness to many besides its political opponents, and in October Canon Gore addressed a letter to The Times in which he urged that measures should be taken to reduce it.
Even this moderate plea gave offence to some people of whom the earnest and eloquent Canon Knox-Little may stand as a type. He denounced the letter as 'deplorable,' 'hysterical,' and 'mischievous'; and its writer as 'a book-worm and an arm-chair theorist.' George Meredith's favourite, the Muse of Comedy, would probably contemplate with interest the fact that not many months later the two men were brought into contact as Bishop and Sub-Dean of Worcester, when the fiery Sub-Dean had the pleasure of observing how the book-worm and theorist set about the very practical task of creating a new diocese.
In passing, a tribute should be paid to Lord Salisbury, the head of the Government which Gore criticized. Within a month of the appearance of the letter in question he had nominated its writer to a bishopric, and the great era of the Westminster Canonry was ended.
TOWARDS the close of the year 1901, considerable sensation was caused by the announcement that Canon Gore had been chosen to succeed Dr. J. J. S. Perowne as Bishop of Worcester. The sardonic humour of Lord Salisbury, must have been tickled by the effect of his bombshell. True the bishop-designate had become the greatest spiritual force in the Church. But in the eyes of many he was all that a bishop ought not to be. He was the head of a community of 'monks'; he was a 'ritualist'; he was a 'Christian Socialist'; and he 'didn't believe the Bible.' No wonder there was fluttering in many dovecotes.
Some of the inhabitants of Worcester went so far as to hold a public meeting to express their indignation at being saddled with the Editor of Lux Mundi. But only the Church Association took active steps to prevent his consecration. Through its agency an attempt was made to raise objections to the confirmation of his election. The Vicar-General, Mr. C. A. Cripps, refused to hear the objectors. They applied to the King's Bench Division for a mandamus to compel him to do so, but the Court upheld the Vicar-General. The consecration had been fixed for S. Paul's Day, 1902, and, as was most fitting, it was to take place in Westminster Abbey. But as the legal proceedings were still pending it was postponed, and the crowds who came to the Abbey on that day were disappointed to see that Gore was not among the bishops to be consecrated.
It was at a simple service in Lambeth Palace Chapel, on February 23rd, that Dr. Gore was consecrated by Archbishop Frederick Temple. Dr. Moberly, one of his colleagues in Lux Mundi, preached the sermon, and after the service the aged archbishop left the chapel leaning on the arm of the bishop on whom he had just laid his hands.
Needless to say, the wise courage of Lord Salisbury in choosing him for a bishop at a time when Anglo-Catholics and even 'High Churchmen' were rarely found on the episcopal bench, was fully justified. Another Canon of Westminster, himself destined to adorn that bench in later years, Dr. Hensley Henson, spoke of the appointment from the Abbey pulpit.
'I believe,' he said, 'nay, I confidently expect, that if God in mercy to His Church grant strength and years, the episcopate which is about to begin in the Diocese of Worcester will take rank in our ecclesiastical record as in a rare degree illustrious and fruitful.' The preacher's adjectives were happily chosen. Dr. Gore's career as a bishop was indeed illustrious and fruitful to a rare degree. His tenure of the See of Worcester was short but it was memorable. For apart from his successful administration of the unwieldy diocese, in less than three years he carried through the division of it and the foundation of the Bishopric of Birmingham.
Before describing this achievement it will be well to say something of his work in general in his first diocese.
With something of that tendency to look on the dark side of things, of which he was wont to accuse himself, he spoke in his Primary (which was also his only) Visitation Charge in his first diocese of his disqualifications for his office:
'I had hardly ever been to a confirmation, since I was myself confirmed, before I was called upon to confirm. I have never attended an archidiaconal or episcopal visitation before I am called upon to visit. I knew nothing about the law of dilapidations or faculties, or the thousand and one details of ecclesiastical law and administration with which a bishop is called upon to deal.'
In course of time he schooled himself to perform the more mechanical duties of a bishop with efficiency, but he was never reconciled to them. 'A bishop's life is a dog's life,' he would say, and 'I doubt whether to be made a bishop is a matter for congratulation to any man.' The truth is he was not suited for the routine part of what Anthony Trollope calls 'the business of bishoping.' But he soon showed that he understood the more vital business of a father in God.
Any apprehensions that he would administer his diocese on party lines were quickly allayed. Before his consecration he had resigned not only the post of Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, but also his membership of the English Church Union and the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Evangelicals in his diocese soon found that they had nothing to fear from him. Nor had any of his clergy except those who were not sincerely trying to live up to the high standard of their calling. One who knew him well has recorded that there were some of them 'who were not all that they shoul d be. The bishop harried them relentlessly; he would not leave them alone.'
He would tell with enjoyment a story illustrating his dealings with a clergyman of this kind, though without indicating in which of his dioceses the events occurred. He was trying to get rid of an undesirable incumbent when he received what appeared to be a unanimous petition from the parish in the incumbent's favour. The bishop nevertheless succeeded in getting him removed and then paid a viisit to the parish in some alarm because he had, as he supposed, disregarded their wishes. On the contrary, he found that they were all delighted with what he had done, and when he asked about the petition he was told that they signed it because they did not like to refuse, and they thought it would not do any harm.
His evidence before the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline, which was given on March 3, 1905, the day after his enthronement as Bishop of Birmingham, may be taken as summing up his policy on the vexed questions of public worship with which the Commission was inquiring. As it occupied fifteen pages of a Blue Book only a few points can be picked out here.
He stated that his policy had been to secure 'the performance of the Prayer Book services without omission, and of those services only, except where I have thought certain supplementary services for special occasions could reasonably be allowed.' The chief of these was an 'Office of Placebo or Vespers of the Dead' which he read in full to the Commissioners. He had been 'somewhat surprised that in the few churches in country places in my diocese where there is an advanced ceremonial there does not appear to be the slightest objection to it." Nevertheless, as he emphatically stated more than once, his directions in these matters had, so far as he knew, been universally obeyed. On the other hand, he had apparently been unable to control the clergy in their choice of hymns, and had sometimes attended--'services which were flooded with hymns of a type which corresponds, so far as I know, to nothing in the Prayer Book and to nothing in antiquity, and in which the actual prayers appear almost as something that are put up with because the congregation know that what they love in the way of these hymns is coming soon.' From some parts of his evidence it is clear that he was a stiff disciplinarian, and not prepared to acquiesce even in practices of which he personally approved until they were sanctioned by lawful authority. But more important than this is the urgency with which he impressed upon the Commissioners that the things the 'ritualists' were striving for were neither lawless innovations nor the mere 'trimmings' of public worship, but a return to the true ideals of the Prayer Book, and that they had a right to be tolerated. He reminded them of the recent growth in liturgical knowledge, and as steps toward the toleration of what was legitimate he advocated the revival of the legislative power of the Church, and the reform of its courts on lines which should render them acceptable to the great body of Churchmen.
This sketch of his first episcopate may end with an account of an incident which is not without its amusing side. Before his appointment a project had been put in hand to build a church which should be a stronghold of Evangelicalism; and as a witness of its purpose it was to be dedicated by the name of Hugh Latimer, the former Bishop of Worcester and Protestant martyr. At its consecration on July 23, 1904, the bishop of the diocese was of course invited to preach the sermon, and he probably surprised his hearers by taking the opportunity to deliver a panegyric on his predecessor as 'the prince of Christian Socialists.'
He mentioned, indeed, that Latimer was burned 'just under the window of the room which I used to occupy in college at Oxford.' But otherwise he said very little about controversies of doctrine or the candle that was never to be put out. Instead, he warned his audience that 'there is a weariness of doctrine that has no manifest effect upon life'; but there were 'hearts awake in all classes' for 'a Christian doctrine which is brought to bear powerfully and directly upon life individual and social,' a doctrine 'full of the fire of the Lord against injustices and social wrongs.'
There is perhaps no more striking example of the necessity which Bishop Gore felt was laid upon him to drive home the social implications of the Christian Gospel upon all occasions.
IT has been truly said that the story of the foundation of the See of Birmingham reads like a romance. The project had had a chequered history. It had been inaugurated as far back as 1888 by Bishop Philpott, who had promised £800 a year from his episcopal income towards the endowment of the new see. This offer was not renewed by his successor, Bishop Perowne, and during his episcopate the scheme was moribund. A few months' experience convinced Bishop Gore of two things. First, that the Diocese of Worcester was too unwieldy to be effectively administered by one man.
'To become acquainted,' he said, 'with the persons and characteristics of eight hundred clergy, and the internal affairs of five hundred parishes, as a man ought to be acquainted with them who is to be (in any real sense) superintendent, especially if he is anything but quick in the apprehension and memory of individuals, is a portentous task.' And, secondly, he saw that Birmingham, the capital of the Midlands and one of the principal cities of England, ought to have a bishop and a Church life of its own.
He was encouraged by an offer of £10,000 from an anonymous donor (afterwards revealed as Canon Freer) on condition that the whole sum needed, which was estimated at £105,000, was raised by April, 1905. In February, 1903, the new Bishop of Worcester called together the surviving members of the original committee, renewed Bishop Philpott's offer of £800 a year from the income of the see and added a personal gift of £10,000, representing practically the whole of his private fortune.
His dynamic leadership and the hope that he would himself become the first Bishop of Birmingham caused the scheme to be enthusiastically taken up. Donations poured in; in less than five months £94,000 had been raised, and before the end of the year the total exceeded the amount originally proposed and reached £118,000.
The necessary legal formalities followed, and in December, 1904, it was announced that the Bishop of Worcester had been offered and had felt it his duty to accept the position of first Bishop of Birmingham. A local chronicler records that 'this welcome announcement was heralded forth by hearty peals on the bells of the various city churches.'
He was enthroned in S. Philip's Church, the pro-cathedral of the see, on the feast of S. Chad, patron saint of the Midlands, March 2, 1905. In his address on this occasion Dr. Gore spoke with enthusiasm of the ideals of a city bishopric, including among them that the bishop 'ought to feel himself really surrounded by his clergy and laity, and to take effective counsel with them'; and that 'our contribution to the civic life and our witness for social righteousness ought to become more vigorous.'
The new diocese was in many ways a contrast to that of Worcester. It had at this time a population of about 950,000, was divided into a hundred and forty parishes, and contained some three hundred clergy. It was compact, 'a pocket diocese' as some one called it, being contained for the most part within the limits of a single city, and a city which was famous for its corporate life and for the local patriotism of its citizens. It was therefore one in which it was possible to realize in action the ideals laid down by the bishop in the sermon just quoted. And what was possible Charles Gore could do.
In the first place, it was easier in a city than in a large country diocese to put in practice his ideals of a father in God. As Bishop of Worcester he had refused to live at Hartlebury Castle. In Birmingham he lived simply in a house which he described as the ugliest villa in Western Europe. He set aside £1,000 a year out of his income as 'the Bishop's Treasury,' from which grants might be made for Church work especially in poor parishes. He appointed a commission to inquire into the needs of the diocese, which resulted in the establishment of' the Bishop of Birmingham's Fund.'
But he also relied on personal observation. Within two years he had preached in every church in the diocese, and was thus brought into close touch with the clergy and people in his charge. By such means he welded them into a united brotherhood without distinction of party. Men of all shades of opinion could rely on his friendship and support so long as they were good workers; and his own simplicity of life and devotion to work enabled him to get the best out of others. Not that at this or any other time he concealed or watered down his own opinions. The impression he made on the people of Birmingham is illustrated by the story of the policeman, outside S. Philip's Church, who was asked, 'Is that the Protestant Cathedral?' 'No,' he replied, 'it's the Catholic Cathedral, but it was Protestant before Bishop Gore came here.'
The following account by Canon Underhill of the atmosphere of the diocese under his rule is too charming to be omitted:
'Scandals faded away at his presence; order and discipline were maintained; the laity loved and trusted him as much as the clergy. Above all, the atmosphere of the diocese during his episcopacy and that of his beloved successor, who preserved the tradition, was warm with friendship and unity. He ruled by a mixture of affection, wit, and where necessary, severity.' Canon Underhill also relates the following characteristic anecdote:
'A priest who wished to introduce a certain practice into the services of his church went to ask permission for it from the bishop, who was doubtful of the wisdom of allowing what was sought. The suppliant endeavoured to strengthen his case by quotations at some length from an impressive living authority who was personally known to both the parties. The bishop sat in a characteristic attitude, leaning forward in his chair and holding his head between his hands, occasionally groaning (as his habit was). At the end of the last quotation he looked up, and asked, "Did------- really say that? What an ass!"'
During his tenure of the See of Birmingham a Nonconformist divine, Mr. R. J. Campbell, came into public notice as the leader of what was called 'the New Theology.' In this particular form the movement was short-lived. But it served as the occasion for Bishop Gore to reassert the full Christian creed in a series of lectures which he gave in the Cathedral during Lent, 1907. They were published with other addresses in a volume entitled The New Theology and the Old Religion.
From time to time during the latter part of his life he was accused of departing from the principles he had championed in Lux Mundi, and of refusing to others the liberty of free inquiry which he claimed for himself. Such accusations of inconsistency he always strenuously denied. With him, as Father Talbot has said, 'the same terminus, however often it was reached, was approached again and again by a genuine movement of mind and spirit; so that positions static in appearance were maintained by a continual and original energy of thought and faith.' As early as 1887 in a sermon on 'The Clergy and the Creeds' preached before the University of Oxford he had distinguished in a most emphatic way between liberty of opinion on such a subject as the doctrine of Inspiration which the Church had not defined, and the truths of the Creed which the clergy may not deny or regard as open questions.
In his Birmingham lectures he reaffirmed this position.
'We must be very gentle with scrupulous and anxious consciences. We must be very patient with men under the searching and purifying trial of doubt. But when a man has once arrived at the steady conviction that he cannot honestly affirm a particular and unambiguous article of the Creed, in the sense which the Church of which he is a minister undoubtedly gives to it, the public mind of the Church must tell him that he has a right to the freedom of his own opinion, but that he can no longer, consistently with public honour, hold the office of the ministry. . . . The Church of England requires its ministers to mean what they say when, as leaders of the congregation, they recite the central creeds of Christendom, or say, "I believe."'
'It is a great advantage,' he went on to say, 'to stand simply on the ancient creeds.' And he contrasted the advantage enjoyed by the Church of England in this respect with 'the down-grade movement as to the standard of doctrine' among Nonconformists, and with 'the tremendous obstacles' which the Roman Catholic Church puts in the way of 'the critical judgement and the freedom of historical inquiry.'
It is worth noticing that the passage from which these paragraphs have been quoted is immediately followed by an earnest plea that the Church should devote more attention to the duty of witnessing for social justice. Indeed it is remarkable to observe in almost all his utterances how every subject seems to lead him inevitably and without any 'dragging in,' back to the theme which was never far from his thoughts. To give one more example; in a sermon on the Transfiguration preached about this time, in speaking of the glory which shall be revealed, he went on to regret that modern and popular religion had placed it in a supersensuous time or space called heaven; whereas the Old and the New Testaments alike placed it on this solid earth, and taught us to seek it in the quickened consciences and brightened lives of human beings. All temporal reforms, all ameliorations, in the lot of debased and downtrodden men and women were elements in the making of that New Heaven and New Earth of which prophets had dreamed, and for which Christian citizens were bound, by the very law of their profession, to work and fight.
Apart from The New Theology and the Old Religion the only book of importance which Dr. Gore, published during his Birmingham episcopate was Orders and Unity (1911). This, like its predecessor, was based on a course of Lent lectures delivered in his Cathedral. It reasserts the 'Catholic principles' of Episcopal Authority and the Apostolic Succession which its author had maintained in The Church and the Ministry and applies them to the present position, especially with regard to the question of reunion with Nonconformists.
Before writing it he had, he says, 'determined to think the whole subject through afresh.' The result was that he was more than ever convinced of the truth of his former position that' the episcopate is an essential constituent of Christianity.' He was willing and eager to co-operate with Nonconformists on the 'neutral ground' of social and philanthropic work, but he would not disguise from himself or from them his unalterable belief that they had 'broken a fundamental law of catholic fellowship.'
In his first utterance as Bishop of Birmingham he had spoken of the part which the Church should play in civic life and in corporate social efforts. He was as successful in this as in creating a united Church life. Birmingham had long been a stronghold of Nonconformity, and he worked heartily and amicably not only with Nonconformists but with all his fellow-citizens in things that concerned the common good, in housing reform, in the provision of open spaces, and in efforts to improve the lot of workers in sweated industries.
Before long he was able to expound his political and social views from a more exalted platform. A few months after his enthronement he became entitled to a place on the episcopal bench in the House of Lords, and he took his seat there on February 19, 1906. On August 3rd he made his first speech, opposing the Liberal Government's Education Bill as 'contrary to Liberalism.' He denounced the 'undenominational' method by which the State was to select a residuum of Christianity and establish it as the religion to be taught in the schools. Such teaching would be 'the weakest and worst' kind of all. By denominational teaching, he explained in a later speech, he did not necessarily mean the Catechism. He was quite willing that nothing but the Bible should be taught. What he did care for, 'with all my heart,' was that it should be taught with a definite understanding of the Christian Faith as implied in the creed of the Church.
When in 1908 the same Government introduced its Licensing Bill to impose restrictions on the drink trade, he strongly supported it. In the face of much opposition in Birmingham he made an uncompromising speech in its favour at a meeting in the Town Hall. He presented to the House of Lords what he called 'an immense petition' from the citizens of Birmingham on behalf of the Bill, and spoke and voted for it. 'The developments of the last fifty years,' he said, 'have represented individualism run mad to the detriment of the interests of the whole community.' And 'we have got to reassert the right of the whole community.'
Without prejudice to the remarkable influence of a rather different kind which he exercised in his latter years, it may be said that during the Birmingham episcopate Dr. Gore was at the height of his career. His physical powers were still at their most vigorous, and, though he now had little time for writing books, his speeches and sermons were as powerful as those of the Westminster period and carried with them the additional prestige of an active and successful diocesan bishop. An article which Dr. Inge contributed to the Edinburgh Review in 1908 bore the significant title, 'Bishop Gore and the Church of England.' In this, while vigorously criticizing in some respects the bishop's opinions and policy, the future Dean of S. Paul's freely admitted that he is 'the strongest man in the Church of England,' and exercises in it 'an influence which is probably far greater than that of any other man.'
It is difficult not to regret his decision to give up after only six years the position which had brought him to this height. In 1911, the See of Oxford fell vacant through the death of his friend and collaborator in Lux Mundi, Dr. Paget, and was offered to Dr. Gore. Dear as Oxford and its associations were to him he was reluctant to leave his congenial and successful work in Birmingham. As a country diocese Oxford did not appeal to him, though he felt that there was work to be done there, and work which he might be able to do. His final acceptance of the offer was determined by the advice of two counsellors, Archbishop Davidson, for whom he had a marked respect--'one of the greatest of living Englishmen,' he afterwards called him--and his trusted friend, Scott Holland. In Birmingham his decision was naturally received with keen regret. The citizens paid him the rare honour of erecting his statue outside the Cathedral. Roman Catholics and Nonconformists alike bore witness to his strenuous efforts as a social worker, the President of the Wesleyan Conference describing him as not only 'a true lover of the people' and 'a great and distinguished citizen,' but also as 'a powerful defender of the faith." To his friends and fellow-workers in the Church he left, as one of them wrote, 'the legacy of a united and well-ordered diocese, and the memory of inspiring teaching and a high example of fatherly rule and personal service.'
OXFORD AND CUDDESDON AGAIN
IT is usually supposed that the Oxford Episcopate was the least successful period of Dr. Gore's career; and although, as will be seen, there were large compensations, it is true that during these eight years he was harassed by a succession of difficulties and troubles more painful than any that had beset him since the Lux Mundi controversy.
One of them met him on the threshold. The question of the division of the diocese had been under consideration since 1905, and a committee appointed by Bishop Paget had reported in favour of the creation of a separate diocese for the county of Buckingham. This was a matter of which the new bishop had already had some experience. But the atmosphere in which it was now enveloped was very different from that described in the last chapter, and although when he brought the scheme before the Diocesan Conference it was approved by large majorities of both clergy and laity, it was coldly received outside.
A number of Buckinghamshire landed proprietors published a letter to the bishop in which they expressed themselves hostile to the proposal, and though he urged its supporters to continue to 'educate and agitate' for it he was obliged to acquiesce 'as a temporary expedient' in the appointment of a suffragan.
There was a good deal to be said for the objectors. The proposed diocese would have been awkward in shape and situation, and it was natural that its inhabitants should have disliked losing their traditional connection with Oxford. But it is impossible not to suspect that the opposition was in part inspired by suspicion, possibly of the bishop's religious and certainly of his political opinions; especially as he had recently given new offence by his support of the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales.
This Bill was introduced into Parliament in 1912, and was vehemently opposed by the great majority of English as well as Welsh Church people. With the exception of his old friend and teacher, Bishop Percival of Hereford, Dr. Gore was the only bishop who spoke and voted for it in the House of Lords. He admitted that he had grieved almost all the clergy and laity of his diocese by doing so, though now as always he was ready to allow the same liberty to other consciences, in matters outside the limits of ecclesiastical authority, as he claimed for his own.
'I hope,' he wrote in his Diocesan Magazine, 'no member of the diocese will doubt my cordial approval of his taking any such public and strenuous action in defence of the present situation as his conscience approves.' Another trouble not immediately connected with his diocesan work was the Caldey episode of 1912-13. A Community of Anglican Benedictines under Abbot Aelred Carlyle had settled in the island of Caldey off the coast of Wales, and had been in negotiation with the Archbishop of Canterbury with a view to regularizing their position. The archbishop had stipulated that the Community should elect an Episcopal Visitor, and had suggested that the Bishop of Oxford would probably accept the position. This suggestion was agreeable to the Community, and the bishop was duly approached. As a preliminary measure he asked Dr. Darwell Stone and Mr. W. B. Trevelyan to visit Caldey on his behalf, and after receiving their report put forward a number of stipulations which, he wrote, 'lie outside all possibilities of bargaining and concession.' Among these were that the Prayer Book Service of Holy Communion should be used in the chapel in place of the Latin Liturgy, and that Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction should be abandoned. The Community found themselves unable to accept 'requirements so decisive' in matters 'vital to our conception of the Catholic Faith,' and, in spite of an earnest appeal from the bishop for further consideration, broke off the negotiations, and with some few exceptions submitted to the Roman See.
It is difficult not to feel that in this episode the bishop allowed his tendency to rigorism to gain the upper hand somewhat too strongly; or to withhold sympathy from the abbot's final letter in which he stated that the bishop had met the plea for consideration of the special circumstances of the Community with 'a cold, formal demand.' On the other hand, it is clear from the correspondence that the Community were not less intransigent than the bishop. They were in fact depending for their devotional practices on modern Roman Catholic authority, and though the bishop might have delayed the catastrophe by adopting a more conciliatory attitude, it is by no means certain that he could have prevented it.
He showed the same spirit in dealing with the question of Reservation of the Sacrament in his diocese. In the course of their deliberations on Prayer Book Revision the bishops had drafted a rubric allowing Reservation for the communion of the sick and for no other purpose, and had agreed that it might be put into practice as a temporary measure. As a party to this decision Dr. Gore felt himself bound by it. Individualism, he maintained, both among bishops and incumbents, had gone much too far, 'the only way of salvation for the Church of England is the way of corporate government.'
In discussing the subject he confessed to an early attraction to Benediction which he had overcome because he thought it theologically indefensible; and he now made his position perfectly plain.
'This later Western use of the Reserved Sacrament as a permanent centre of devotion has not behind it either Catholic or ancient authority. The Eastern Church does not know it and the ancient Church did not know it. It has not the sanction of our own part of the Church, the Church of England. The present episcopate exhibit no change in this respect. If there were any proper authority for it, I should of course be wholly willing to allow it. But it is plainly not the intention of the bishops as a body to allow it. And individual bishops who have assented to the proposed new rubric, as I have, are in my judgement bound in honour not to sanction the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the open church, which confessedly is desired not solely in order for the communion of the sick, which can be provided for by Reservation in a secluded chapel, but also in order that the faithful may direct their devotions to our Lord in the Holy Sacrament.' He expounded these views more fully in a brilliant address on 'Reservation' which he gave to the clergy of the Diocese of Chelmsford at the request of Bishop Watts-Ditchfield in 1917. Such utterances brought him into disfavour with the more extreme Anglo-Catholics. To them he would apply Cardinal Newman's description of some members of the Church of his adoption, who 'having done their best to set the house on fire leave to others the task of extinguishing the flames.' They on their part could deny neither his learning nor that he was himself an Anglo-Catholic, but they regarded him with a suspicion which sometimes took rather absurd forms. Once when he visited a London church the vicar took him into the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved; 'And really the bishop was most reverent,' he added in a tone of surprise when telling me about it. I wondered what he had expected.
At the same time his attitude on the Kikuyu question offended the Evangelicals. Kikuyu is an old and almost forgotten story now and need not be recalled save as an occasion to quote Bishop Gore's words in condemning the 'united Communion of Churchmen and Nonconformists Service' which had caused a great sensation. 'I hate the argument,' he wrote, 'because I love Nonconformists and admire them and acknowledge the abundant fruits of their ministry.' But for English Church people 'to accept a non-episcopal ministry is an act of explicit rebellion against the authority of the ancient and undivided Church than which there can be no rebellion more complete.'
In 1910 he had declared that 'the Anglican Communion would certainly be rent in twain on the day on which any non-episcopally ordained minister was formally allowed within our communion to celebrate the Eucharist.' And in now repeating the assertion he added, 'Those who most resent that so it should be have not been able to deny that so it is.'
Another outcome of Kikuyu was to involve him in controversy with the 'Broad Church' school. Bishop Weston of Zanzibar when attacked for his attitude towards non-episcopal missions had replied with a counter-attack upon the claim of this school to hold the statements of the creeds in a non-literal sense. In the debate which ensued Dr. Gore intervened with The Basis of Anglican Fellowship, a book intended to 'help anxious minds' by inculcating once more 'the painful duty of thinking' about principles. He admitted the right to apply the principles of criticism to the New Testament but denied that it had succeeded in shaking the historical truth of the Virgin Birth and the Bodily Resurrection of our Lord, and asserted that a man who cannot accept these truths has no right to 'retain his position as an officer in a Church which requires of its officers the constant recitation of the creeds.' The controversy was an exceptionally bitter one. Dr. Gore's early reputation as a 'heretic' was brought up against him in what he described as 'a rather savage spirit,' but he always maintained his essential consistency.
The effect of all this may be summed up in his own words. 'There is a limit of teaching,' he said in 1917, 'both in the direction called Liberal, in that called Protestant, and in that called Catholic, and I fear I have felt bound to make myself disagreeable at different times impartially in each direction.'
'Not one of the bishops is capable of saying "No,"' he exclaimed on another occasion. That he was capable of showing himself so conspicuous an exception to this rule was the result of two leading principles on which he always insisted in himself and, as far as possible, for others: respect for authority, and the duty of clear thinking. But though he never shrank from asserting these principles the effort of doing so was not without its effect upon him. It was not in his nature to become sour or bitter, and at the worst of times he could always show himself tender and loving to those who were dear to him. But it is undeniable that at this period he suffered from an irritability that rendered him more formidable than ever. 'The best of bishops is a little difficult just now,' said an incumbent in his diocese, and this was the general feeling among those who had to do with him without knowing him well. No doubt the long strain of the war told on his nerves as on those of most other people. The result of all this was apparent in his public manner. His writhings in the pulpit and on the platform were more marked than ever, and he seemed to speak with greater difficulty, as if, one hearer expressed it, every word were dragged out of him with a corkscrew.
His Primary Charge to the Diocese of Oxford, The Church and the War was delivered in the autumn of 1914 and was a powerful exposition of the theme stated in its first paragraph: 'God has visited the sins of Europe by allowing them to lead to their natural issue.' In addition to the universal need of penitence and prayer he impressed upon the clergy the special duties laid on them by the exigencies of the time. He himself paid special attention to these, and among other things took much trouble in inaugurating the work of the Women Messengers.
During the war he seldom spoke in the House of Lords, but he intervened in a debate on conscientious objectors to plead for fair treatment of them while strongly dissociating himself from their views. 'They are the most aggravating human beings with whom I have ever had to deal.'
About the same time he was engaged on a piece of work which was to have more lasting results. While the preparations for the National Mission were in progress he wrote to Messrs. Mowbray, 'I want to publish a manual with some such title as The Religion of the Church of England, A Manual of Membership. Such a book is in very wide demand just now, and I should like to have a try at meeting the demand.' Needless to say the proposal was eagerly accepted, and the result was The Religion of the Church, one of the most popular of his 'little books.' The writing of it was something of a tour de force. He wrote it during a summer holiday in accordance with an agreed time-table, and each chapter was sent to the printers as soon as written. It is worth mentioning that some years later a Unitarian who is now a priest in the English Church stated publicly that this book played a leading part in his conversion.
In 1918 the bishop delivered his final Visitation Charge. In it he drew out the lessons of the years of the war, especially as they affected the Church. It was published under the title Dominant Ideas and Corrective Principles. To a friend who objected to the title as cumbrous he humorously replied, 'I remember a book which had a large sale being called Reasonable Apprehensions and Reassuring Hints'
In his attitude to the relations of Church and State Dr. Gore showed himself no less uncompromising than in other questions of acute controversy. A single quotation must serve to illustrate this statement:
'Bishops and clergy are bound at present by their declaration "in public prayer and administration of the Sacraments to use the form in the said book prescribed" (the Book annexed to the Act of Parliament), and we have no reasonable freedom to alter the form. Well! let us insist on winning our liberty. But till we show ourselves worthy to win our liberty, we must accept the conditions of our bondage. We must at least be honourable slaves.' This last phrase produced some resentment. It is certainly an instance of what has been called his habit of grasping his nettles rather too eagerly. But he was as anxious as any one that the Church should win its liberty by legitimate means. When the Report of the Committee on Church and State, which ultimately led to the Enabling Act, was published in 1916, he called for 'a general and vigorous effort to carry its proposals into effect.' He specially welcomed the provision that the Church franchise should be confined to those who had been confirmed, and the final decision to sacrifice this principle was one of the motives which determined him to resign his see. 'I cannot,' he wrote, 'fight against a movement towards autonomy for the Church to which for many years past I have largely devoted my life: but I cannot any longer cordially co-operate with the movement now that it has placed itself on what I think is so false a basis.'
It is time to turn to the brighter side. It would be a very false history of this period of his life that should leave the impression that, though it was undoubtedly a time of strain, it was altogether one of controversy and unhappiness. As has already been said, there were large compensations. One of the chief of them was the new joy he found in ministering to the country people. Though his own experience of a country parish had been very short he no sooner found himself once more in a rural diocese than he threw himself with his usual thoroughness into its life. As he went about among the clergy his powers of sympathy enabled him to understand their difficulties and to show himself as ever a true father in God to them and their people. 'The welfare of England is bound up with the country life,' he said at this time, and went on to speak of the special opportunities of the village clergy for social as well as religious work.
He learned, also, to preach simply to the country people. The two village Confirmation addresses which have been published since his death are models of what such things should be. In them we find him once more teaching the old lessons in simple words. 'To be a Christian is a tough job for any one of us.' 'The Bible really is the Word of God. We are fools if we neglect it.'
Now, again, he had the opportunity of exercising that influence over young men which had been so marked a feature of his early ministry. When he spoke or preached in Oxford itself the undergraduates flocked to hear him. In 1914 he took the leading part in a mission to them which made a deep impression. 'He always seemed happiest,' says one who attended it, 'in the company of young men, and he would treat the difficulties and doubts they brought to him with a reverent attention and sympathy which in itself made a deep difference to many of them.'
But what brought him the greatest joy of all at this time was the close neighbourhood of Cuddesdon College and the renewal of his relations with its students. One of them has written a delightful account of these relations from which I am allowed to quote.
'In the middle of all his preoccupations he used to invite us over to the Palace to supper on Sundays. The seminarist entered with hesitating steps; the bishop would come and put his arms round the shy guest, holding him in a positive hug, while he whispered in the low tones reserved for the deep emotions, "Bless you." 'At Cuddesdon he threw off not only his troubles but his gaiters and other episcopal formalities.
'He disliked being waited on unnecessarily. He tried to stop one carrying his bag. One Sunday evening after supper, in August or September, it was turning cold in the drawing-room at Cuddesdon, and the fire had not been lit. The three or four students who were his guests were struck into immobility by the sight of the bishop's ascetic purple form on all fours on the hearth, and striking match after match before the fire could be made to draw.'
At the same time 'his eye was very capable of flashing with derisive laughter, and his nose could cock up with a quiver of righteous scorn, as he balanced on his toes and thrust out his beard, "pointing" like an old and wise dog at some sham or meanness.'
His work as a diocesan was now drawing to a close. In the autumn of 1918 he paid his only visit to America, and found, as others have found before him, that 'American hospitality and enthusiasm and their zeal for being "addressed" are overwhelming,' Soon after his return he announced his decision to resign his see in June,
'My main motive,' he wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 'is the conviction which has been growing in me for some time that the best way in which I can use the rest of my life, for the Church and other causes in which I am deeply interested, is by seeking such leisure as would enable me to do serious study and to write something better than "little books," and I hope to have the opportunity of more continuous preaching and speaking than my present position makes possible. As you know very well, being bishop of such a see as this leaves one no chance of such leisure. I have had seventeen and a half years of being a bishop and for me at least that is long enough. I used to discuss the matter with my predecessor Francis Paget. We agreed that there was no obligation upon us to continue being bishops till we were decrepit.'
His friend, Dr. J. B. Seaton, then Principal of Cuddesdon, has put on record a conversation in which Dr. Gore reiterated the main motive for his retirement.
'I have a passion to write: as a diocesan bishop, I can keep level with my business, but I have only time to write little books. I must write something bigger before I die.' How nobly he redeemed this promise the next chapter will show.
ON leaving Cuddesdon Dr. Gore returned to London to resume the life of writing and preaching which he had given up on his appointment to his first bishopric nearly twenty years before. He took up his abode at Number 6 Margaret Street, as tenant of the parochial authorities of All Saints' Church. There he remained for several years, celebrating regularly in the church and in the Sisters' Chapel close by, and taking his usual keen interest in the affairs of the church and parish. At the same time he attached himself to Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, and was licensed to the Rector of S. George's, Hanover Square, in whose parish the chapel stands, thus becoming for the first time in his life a licensed curate. His custom was to preach at Grosvenor Chapel during Advent and Lent, and once a month at other times.
Of recent years he had not often been seen in London pulpits, and when it was realized that the prophet had returned, the floor and galleries of the chapel were thronged with eager listeners in a way that recalled the great days of the Westminster Canonry. Two of his courses especially will live in the memory of those who heard them. One on The Epistles of S. John carried on the series of devotional and practical expositions of Scripture which were a feature of the Westminster period. The other, entitled Christian Moral Principles, was a powerful statement of the demands of Christianity on the individual conscience.
While his teaching was as uncompromising as ever, he had thrown off the awkward mannerisms of earlier days. He seemed happier and easier in his mind than he had been with the cares of a diocese upon him, and the change showed itself in his appearance and manner. He stood upright in the pulpit and the words flowed easily and quietly with no ungainly jerks of delivery or twistings of the body. The only peculiarity was the occasional long pause while he stared disconcertingly but, I think, unconsciously at the occupants of the seats immediately beneath him.
He had two favourite quotations, Shakespeare's 'tremendous,' as he called it, Sonnet cxxix, and especially the concluding couplet; and a passage from Goethe:
Und so lang du das nicht hast
Dieses--Stirb und werde!
Bist du nur ein truber Gast
Auf der dunkeln Erde.
Which he would translate, 'Die to live: for as long as that is not in thee, thou art but a sad stranger upon the gloomy earth.'
For a happy example of what I may call his lighter manner I should like to quote this from an unpublished sermon:
'One of the great tests of democracy, if the mass of men ever gain control of the political machine, will be whether they will assign its due value to the work of the mind, and realize the conditions under which it is produced.
'Imagine a ploughman in Westmorland, about a hundred years ago. As he is at his work he sees a rather shabby old gentleman lollopping along past the field where he is sweating over his plough, or lying for hours under a tree, staring in front of him, apparently thinking of nothing. And the ploughman says to himself, "Well, he 's a lazy old beggar, anyhow." But it is William Wordsworth, his whole mind and brain and heart a-strain upon one of his great visions of Nature and of Man.' In 1927 the house in Margaret Street was needed for parochial purposes, and he moved to Number 27 Eaton Terrace, which was to be his last home. Henceforth he celebrated and sometimes preached at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, of which Mr. Christopher Cheshire, formerly Priest-in-charge of Grosvenor Chapel, was now Rector. But he continued his regular work at Grosvenor Chapel under Mr. Cheshire's successor, Canon Francis Underhill. On coming to London he also accepted the post of Lecturer in Theology at King's College, London, and for a short time was Dean of the Faculty of Theology in London University.
Many other calls were made upon him. Not only was he frequently invited to preach at the Universities and elsewhere, and to fill such posts as Gifford Lecturer and Halley Stewart Lecturer; but the authorities of the Church were naturally anxious to make use of his wisdom and experience. When the bishops of the Anglican Communion assembled for the Lambeth Conference of 1920 he was no longer qualified to be a constituent member of the Conference. He was, however, invited to join it as a consultative member, but excused himself on the characteristic plea that he would prefer not to take part in the deliberations if he were not to have a voice in the decisions, or any responsibility for them.
In 1923 he was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury as one of his nominees to take part in the Malines 'Conversations' on Reunion with the Church of Rome which had been inaugurated two years before by Lord Halifax. These Conversations bore no immediate fruit, but Dr. Gore's participation in them affords opportunity for a brief summary of his opinions about the Roman Catholic Church.
As long ago as 1888 he published a book entitled Roman Catholic Claims, which in a revised form is still in circulation. It is 'addressed to Catholic-minded persons who are members of the Church of England,' and seeks to strengthen 'the fabric of a positive Catholicity which is not Roman.' 'My purpose,' he wrote, 'is to build not to destroy.' The appearance of a new edition of this book at the time of its author's appointment to the See of Birmingham evoked a reply from Dom Chapman, O.S.B., who acknowledged not only the tone of moderation in which, except at one point, the bishop's book was written, but also the spirit of friendliness in which he had entered on his duties at Birmingham and the value of his labours 'in the Christian cause against the common enemies--ignorance, indifference, unbelief, and sin.'
To the end of his life Dr. Gore remained 'ineradicably anti-Roman.' Yet, now as always, he was eager to join cordially with Roman Catholics or others with whom he disagreed in causes in which he could co-operate without sacrifice of principle. He became a staunch and energetic supporter of the League of National Life, a society largely consisting of Roman Catholics, the object of which is to oppose what is called 'birth control.'
In 1927 he wrote for the League a powerful and outspoken pamphlet entitled The Prevention of Conception while grumbling in private at having to use the unscholarly word 'contraception.' The cause appeared to him as an example of his favourite doctrine that, as he said in this pamphlet, 'truly the Christian life is not easy to flesh and blood.' Some one had said to him, 'I know the beastly thing is wrong, but what am I to do?' and such a suggestion of compromise with evil roused his fighting instincts like the sound of an enemy's trumpet. After his death Dr. F. J. McCann, the eminent physician and gynaecologist who is President of the League, wrote:
'Dr. Gore's wide outlook, his masterly grasp of social problems, his acute intellect, his accurate judgement, his energy, his reliability, combined with a capacity for work almost incredible in a man of his years, compelled the admiration of his fellow workers. . . . He was of the greatest value as a councillor through his sagacity, his tact, and his keen sense of humour. His warm friendship will always remain for me a cherished memory. By his death the world is poorer, but he will be for ever numbered with the great.'
Nor in these last years did his passion for social righteousness in other forms show any sign of slackening. He took part in the discussions which resulted in the Copec Conference of 1924; and in 1927 he delivered the Halley Stewart Lectures which have already been mentioned.
Another master passion which never forsook him was his devotion to the Catholic Movement in the English Church. He took part in the Anglo-Catholic Congresses at the Albert Hall in 1920 and 1923, presiding over the meeting on 'The Church and Social and Industrial Problems,' at the former, and reading a paper on 'The God of the Prophets,' at the latter. It is true that he regarded some of the more recent developments of the Movement with a benevolently critical eye, in which their adherents might possibly think that the criticism outweighed the benevolence. But he never faltered in his support of the Movement as a whole. His pamphlet, The Anglo-Catholic Movement To-day, sums up his final thoughts on this subject. It recalls the original principles set forth by the Tractarians; and shows how these still hold good with some necessary modifications, particularly in respect of the attitude to be adopted towards the Bible.
But all these activities, however important, were subsidiary to the main purpose for the sake of which he had resigned his see. 'What a nuisance people are,' he said with a smile to a friend who came upon him unexpectedly when he was on a holiday in Italy; and it is likely that he thought the same of those who interrupted his main task with calls to preach, to lecture, or to write little books. In order to avoid interruption to his work on the first big book of this period he gave up part of his holiday in 1921 to preparing Christian Moral Principles for the press, and he more than once declined invitations to publish collections of his Grosvenor Chapel sermons, though he sweetened the refusal by adding 'Thank you for thinking of me.' 'I am afraid of getting a character for needlessly repeating myself,' he wrote on one such occasion. But he also felt that he must concentrate his energies, 'while twilight lasts and time wherein to work,' on what he felt to be his primary duty.
This was nothing less than a restatement on a large scale of the Christian Faith adjusted to modern knowledge and modern needs. 'Gore is writing a big book in three volumes,' a friend of his said to me soon after he settled in London; and we both felt that something big, in more than one sense, must be the outcome of such an undertaking. The first volume, Belief in God, appeared in 1921 and amply fulfilled expectations. A single firm of booksellers quickly disposed of more than a thousand copies, a fact which gave the author genuine pleasure when he was told of it. It was about this time, also, that he greatly enjoyed the remark of a member of the book trade, 'We look on Bishop Gore as the Ethel M. Dell of the Church.'
Two other volumes followed, Belief in Christ in 1922, and The Holy Spirit and the Church in 1924, the three forming a connected series under the title The Reconstruction of Belief. In 1926 he issued a final volume, Can We Then Believe? in reply to some of the criticisms which had been made upon its predecessors.
Belief in God remains one of his great books, but it cannot be denied that, considered as a whole, The Reconstruction of Belief necessarily suffered from the wide range of subjects which its plan compelled him to discuss. As the present Bishop of Oxford has said, Dr. Gore was at home in the atmosphere of learning and thought originally in it, but hardly any man could be at once a first-rate metaphysician, a first-rate historian, Hebraist, and New Testament critic; and it is no derogation to Dr. Gore's wide scholarship to say that in some respects it was unequal to the task which he had set himself. Nor, again, had he much sympathy with the mystical approach to religion. 'I don't understand all this talk about a To turn Simul,' he said. To him Baron von Hugel was 'a dear old thing,' but the Baron's view of mystical religion as in essence independent of ethical considerations seemed to him fundamentally antagonistic to his whole conception of Christianity.
As an expression of its author's personal views The Reconstruction of Belief is interesting and valuable. But it is not likely to hold a permanent place among the great books of Christian apologetic.
No sooner was one heavy task accomplished than the indomitable veteran was ready for another. The English Church Union and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge had jointly undertaken the preparation of a new Commentary on the Bible, and they very wisely offered Dr. Gore the post of editor-in-chief. The step met with the success it deserved. The work was no light one either physically or intellectually for a man in the seventies, even with much competent assistance. For it involved the selection and control of a large body of contributors, the supervision and revision of their work, and finally the seeing through the press of a volume of sixteen hundred closely printed pages. All, however, was successfully accomplished, and when it was published in 1928 the New Commentary on Holy Scripture was justly hailed as one of the triumphs of his life.
Still his labours were not at an end; and still one more success on a large scale was in store. There was some surprise when he was invited to deliver the Gifford Lectures at the University of St. Andrews, during the winter of 1929-30. These lectures are usually given by distinguished philosophers; James Ward, Lord Balfour, Bernard Bosanquet, and A. E. Taylor had been among his predecessors. As a specialist in philosophy he could not pretend to rank with such men as these. But to quote his own words in the first lecture:
'If a "philosopher"--that is, a lover of wisdom--means a man whose spirit can find no rest unless he can gain and keep some "theory" or vision of the world of things and experiences, such as shall enable him to interpret its manifold phenomena as parts of one whole, and as expressive in some sort of one purpose, in which he himself is called to cooperate with will and intelligence--if that be the meaning of a philosopher, then, though defective knowledge and capacity may render me a poor specimen of the class, certainly I am a philosopher.'
This claim cannot be denied; and these lectures, with their powerful vindication of the Christian position, reveal once more his passion for truth and righteousness. Moreover, they are, in the words of a very competent critic, 'full of serenity and wisdom, reviewing with all fairness every great system of morality known to men.' They were published in 1930 as The Philosophy of the Good Life, and there is perhaps not one of his many books which has a better prospect of enduring the test of time.
In the previous year he had published the last but one of his small books, Jesus of Nazareth, of which it was soon announced that more than a hundred thousand copies had been sold. Of this wonderful little book I can only echo the words of the critic quoted in the preceding paragraph; it 'is an addition to the literature of beauty as well as to the literature of knowledge.'
Enough has been said to prove that the title of this chapter is if anything an understatement, and that Dr. Gore's decision to resign his see at the age of sixty-six was fully justified. Nothing that he could have done as a diocesan bishop would have equalled in value and importance the ten years' work of which a sketch has just been attempted. As Bishop of Oxford he would no doubt have remained the leading figure in the English Church, but once he had shaken off diocesan and administrative burdens and was free to devote his time and energies to the kind of work for which he was most fitted, he rose to a position in the life of the nation which hardly any religious leader has occupied in modern times.
His influence was not confined to any one Church or school of thought. After hearing one of his addresses to undergraduates in the University church at Oxford Father Maturin, then a Roman Catholic, said, 'This night has been an answer to my prayer. I have always longed to see the University church filled with undergraduates, being taught real religion by a master of it.' Another Roman Catholic who heard him preach on prayer exclaimed, 'Well, I have said the Pater Noster all my life, but I feel as if I had heard it for the first time to-night.'
Some years ago a very shrewd judge of such matters commented on the remarkable popularity of his books among Nonconformists. Even his opponents recognized his power. An unsympathetic study of him published soon after his retirement began by admitting that a popular vote 'would place him head and shoulders above all other religious teachers of our time.' A Protestant orator told his audience that it was time they gave up being 'afraid of Bishop Gore.' But such an exhortation could have little effect. He was a kind of universal consultant to whom not only the authorities of the Church but private individuals could resort in any religious difficulty. 'People rush up to me in the street and ask, "What are we to do?"' he is said to have remarked. He was the leading figure in the Church in all religious matters, 'the voice most echoed by consenting men,' and the character most honoured and admired.
All this time he went on leading the simple, studious life that was natural to him. When he moved to Eaton Terrace he lamented that his new home had no place that would comfortably hold a bookcase fourteen feet long. Yet a visitor to that house observed that it appeared to be furnished principally with bookcases. It was remarked that his bedroom both there and in Margaret Street were extremely 'unluxurious,' a statement that would probably have been true of all his previous residences. In these years he relaxed his rule of never visiting the theatre, and we are told that he enjoyed Mr. Bernard Shaw's S. Joan and, more especially, The Apple Cart. He also delighted in the plays given by the choirboys of All Saints', Margaret Street. Late at night after the day's work was done he would take pleasure in a novel. He read Mr. Galsworthy's books as they came out, but his favourite novelists were Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen. For a holiday he would visit some pleasant place on the Continent where he could indulge his love of beauty in art and nature. At home in congenial company he would reveal the qualities that endeared him to his intimates. I quote once more from the interesting reminiscences of Canon Underhill:
'The bishop's talk was excellent. I do not remember any one who was his equal in drollery, dry wit, and felicitous phrasing. Thus he once said that while he had no difficulty in loving his enemies, he found it extraordinarily hard not to loathe his admirers. And being on one occasion invited to partake of one of those brown, dry-looking foods with which so many people now begin breakfast, he declined on the ground that he had not yet inured himself to the consumption of gravel. Young men and women loved him. They delighted in his quick wit and apt repartee, but they felt too the affection for them which lay behind his brilliant fun.'
So he lived out the fruitful autumn of his days, enjoying his work, enjoying his relaxations, until the occasion arose for him to render one final service before the end.
THE END--SOME CHARACTERISTICS
DR. Gore's long life was so full of multifarious activities, all springing from the one root of his intense devotion to Jesus Christ, that it has not been possible within the scope of this little book even to touch upon them all. But one which has as yet been scarcely mentioned is too important to be passed over without a few words--his interest in Foreign Missions.
Not long after his second visit to India he said in a sermon: 'The Mission Field is in a certain sense the confessional of Churches.' There, he went on to explain, Christian Churches are seen for what they really are. Against a background of heathenism, faults and shortcomings are laid bare which are not so obvious in nominally Christian countries. This, to some extent, explains the attraction which Foreign Missions had for him. In heathen lands he thought the Christian must live up to his profession or discard it altogether. There was no place for that 'diluted Christianity' which he so strongly abhorred.
The mission in which he was chiefly interested was the Oxford Mission to Calcutta. His connection with it dated from its foundation in 1880 and was maintained for half a century. He paid his first visit to Calcutta during the interval between his resignation of his position at Cuddesdon and taking up his work at Pusey House. On that occasion he took with him a Cuddesdon man, Mr. J. L. Peach, afterwards a member of the Mission staff, and remained in India for nine months to help the missioners at a time of great strain. One of them wrote that his arrival with his companion 'was like the relief of a garrison.' Again in the winter of 1889-90 he sought relief from the strain of the Lux Mundi controversy in a visit of three months to India.
To pass over his other efforts in aid of this Mission and of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa, of which he and Scott Holland were for many years the joint pillars in England, he paid a final visit to India at the very close of his life. He left England towards the end of 1930 to take part in the jubilee celebrations of the Mission at Calcutta, and to inquire into the probable effects of the South India reunion proposals. The Calcutta correspondent of the Church Times sent home a striking account of this visit:
'During Advent, Bishop Gore, whose tireless energy in India would have taxed the strength of many a man half his age, gave a course of sermons in Calcutta Cathedral. He invariably preached in the morning in some other church.
'He travelled widely, and preached also in Bombay Cathedral and Madras Cathedral, addressed the clergy in Calcutta and Madras, gave lectures to Hindu students, who clustered round him afterwards with reverent adoration their brown eyes, and conducted a seven days' retreat for the members of the Oxford Mission at Barisal, gave an address to the Community of S. John Baptist in Calcutta, visited the Community of the Holy Family at Allahabad, of which he is the Visitor, paid a visit to the Viceroy in New Delhi and preached in the new church, flew over the new city to see what it looked like from above, dashed up to Darjeeling to see the snows, and down to Travancore--a trifle of sixteen hundred miles each way as the crow flies--to encourage the Syrian Christian Church.'
It is small wonder that such strenuous efforts proved too much for a man of seventy-eight even when he was as strong as Bishop Gore. Before leaving England he had seemed to be in his usual vigorous health. 'You know, I shall die soon,' he said to me at that time, in reply to a casual remark about his plans after his return; but the words did not appear to express more than the natural reluctance of a man of nearly eighty to look far ahead.
He returned in the spring of 1931, and for a time no ill effects were apparent. With the approach of autumn he prepared to resume his usual winter's work, including his sermons at Grosvenor Chapel, but the strain had been too great, and in September he was warned that he must not preach again until after Easter. Soon after this his heart was attacked by an illness that nearly proved fatal. On recovering from this he showed that it was still true that, as was said of him in boyhood, he never wasted an hour. When writing in October to thank me for a book I had sent him he added: 'I am laid by for six months from all preaching or lecturing by a "tired heart." But I am writing a little book.' This was his Reflections on the Litany.
Of this, the last of his 'great little books,' the trite phrase is for once literally true that its value is out of all proportion to its size. In ninety-seven small pages it includes the concentrated essence of all his teaching, social, doctrinal, and devotional. Space will not admit of any analysis of its contents, but it is worth noticing that we catch an echo even of the Lux Mundi controversy when he quotes from Dean Church a regret that the Tractarians had 'stuck up for so much dogmatic certainty, and drawn so narrowly the limits of liberty of thinking.'
The book was finished and sent to the printer in November, and he was able to correct the proofs though he did not live to see its publication. In January he was suffering from a severe cough, but was able to go out (for the last time except for the journey from his house to a nursing home) on Sunday, January l0th. By a kindness for which I am especially grateful I am allowed to quote from the Church Times the following delightful sketch of him in his last days.
'During the past seven or eight years, it has been my good fortune to have many quiet intimate gossips with Dr. Gore--the last less than a week before his death--and the memory of them will remain among my precious possessions. There was a charming graciousness in the spare bowed figure in the well-worn black cassock, a great gentleman, never lacking in courtesy, despite his impatience with folly and the second-rate, a saint whose goodness was an inspiration to his friends and acquaintances. And his friends were many, among the nearest in his later years--and the fact is not to be forgotten in an estimate of both men--the late Archbishop Lord Davidson.
'His talk was always good, though his habit of muttering into his beard was sometimes a little bewildering. He had abounding humour, and his comments on men and things were shrewd, individual, and sometimes devastating. After some particularly caustic judgement, his eyes would twinkle, and his beard would wag with an almost boyish glee. Dr. Gore, indeed, never gave one the impression of an old man. When I saw him last week, he was obviously very ill, but his mind was as acute as ever, and his talk had a measure of his characteristic liveliness.
'Dr. Gore was a man of wide and varied appreciations. He loved pictures. "I've had a wonderful day to-day," he said to me once, "a whole afternoon with the Turners in the National Gallery." He loved music. In the autumn--it was his custom to spend August in London--he always went once a week to the Promenade Concerts. He loved dining out. He lived the simplest of lives in his little house in Eaton Terrace; but he was no recluse. Indeed, the picture of him that will remain with me is of an evening at Liddon House, when, after dinner, with his pipe in his mouth, he gossiped and chuckled. The scholar and the saint was indeed a splendid human man.
His interest in social reform, so evident in his Westminster days when his influence was so great with such brilliant young men as the late Charles Masterman, remained till the end. He had the greatest admiration for the work of Lord Irwin in India. In our short talk last week, he told me of his meetings with the Mahatma Gandhi, and how impressed he had been by him. "The trouble," he said, "with Gandhi, as with all Indians, is that he is entirely uninterested in facts." We went on to talk of Dr. Inge, who had preached on the Sunday before at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, and for whom the bishop expressed whac seemed to me acutely critical admiration.
'Then his cough grew very troublesome, and I said "Good-bye." "Come and see me again when I'm better," were his last words to me.'
By the following Tuesday pneumonia had set in. Though suffering much pain he was able on that day, with characteristic thoughtfulness, to send the publishers of his forthcoming book a note of the names of some friends to whom he wished copies to be sent. On the same day he was taken to a nursing home in Kensington, and there he died at half-past eleven on the following Sunday morning, January 17, 1932, five days before his seventy-ninth birthday.
By a tragic coincidence, Reflections on the Litany was published on the following day. The daily papers naturally made the most of the opportunity thus afforded them, and the words 'Should a dying man be told?' appeared in more than one headline, with reference to his comment in the book on the 'spiritual cruelty' of not warning the dying of their approaching end. There is food for more serious thought in the fact that several papers gave prominence to a sentence from one of his books to the effect that Adam and Eve never really existed as historical persons. It almost seemed as if to these journalists and their readers the enunciation of this truth was the most important action of his life. It is fair to add that a number of the popular as well as the more serious journals showed a more intelligent appreciation of his work in bringing the Church into closer touch with modern thought and with modern social and political movements.
His body was taken into Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street. There he lay in state while great crowds flowed past the coffin on which lay the episcopal insignia of mitre and staff. It was noticed that a very large proportion of them were working people come to pay their tribute of respect and affection to the great champion of social justice.
On the morning of January 20th a Requiem was celebrated by the Bishop of Truro, one of the original members of the Community of the Resurrection, the present Superior, Father E. K. Talbot, the Vicar of Holy Trinity (Mr. Cheshire), and Canon Underhill also taking part in the service. By the bishop's own wishes his remains were then cremated and the ashes taken to Mirfield for burial. Requiems and Memorial Services were also held, among many other places, at Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, Birmingham Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and at S. Alban's, Holborn, where a Requiem arranged by the English Church Union was celebrated.
At Mirfield Vespers of the Dead were sung in the church of the Community on Thursday evening, a watch was kept through the night, and the Solemn Requiem was sung at 11.30 on Friday morning, January 22nd, in the presence of the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Wakefield. Father Talbot was the celebrant, and the last Commendations were spoken by the Archbishop, the Bishop, and Father Talbot, who also committed the ashes to the grave in the choir of the church.
On the stone which covers the grave are inscribed the words:
CAROLVS GORE EPISCOPVS FVNDATOR OB: xvn JAN: MCMXXXII REQVIESCAT IN PACE
'There he lies where he longed to be,' in the home of that which among all the achievements of his life was perhaps the nearest to his heart, the Community of the Resurrection.
It is not my purpose to attempt any formal appreciation of Charles Gore and his work. That duty has been and will be performed by many who are far better qualified for it than I am. Moreover, if this book has failed to show, so far as its modest scale allows, what manner of man its subject was, the failure will not be repaired by a few paragraphs at the end. Enough has been said already of his lifelong work for God and His Church. This cannot be summed up better than in the words of Dr. Inge: 'What the Church of England is to-day Dr. Gore has made it.' I will only attempt by way of conclusion to indicate what seem to me some salient points of the character which underlay and inspired his work.
I referred a few pages back to the intense devotion to Jesus Christ which lay at the root of all that he was and did. To complete the statement it should be said that this was a devotion to Him as Very God and Very Man. To Dr. Gore Christianity was primarily, as it was expressed in Lux Mundi, the religion of the Incarnation. Because Christ is Man His follower must hunger and thirst for justice to all men, and may never rest as long as he can do anything to advance it. Because Christ is God His follower must never be satisfied as long as he himself comes short of the standard which his Master has set up. 'I am an oldish man now,' the bishop said to some Confirmation candidates in 1914, 'if I were to rest content, to give up expecting to be made better, God Himself could not help me.' It was loyalty to Christ that inspired his continual insistence on the truth that Christianity is a hard thing, and demands from the Christian an unceasing struggle.
For himself the struggle was no easy one. 'I am a successful hypocrite,' he would say; and 'I am sometimes tempted to thank God that I am so naturally wicked.' His friends would attribute such sayings to his humility expressing itself in humorous exaggeration, and no doubt they were right. But with all reverence it may be said that this humility was the outcome of self-knowledge. His nature was no placid one, and the complete victory over self was not won, his will was not utterly surrendered to his Master, without stern self-discipline and unremitting watchfulness.
And this strictness with himself enabled him to demand an equally high standard from others. At Birmingham his demand that incumbents should live in their parishes caused some grumbling. But he could enforce it the better because he himself lived in an ugly villa. In authority he was uncompromising in his insistence that his lawful orders should be obeyed, but his own obedience to authority was prompt and unquestioning. For a small example: once at a Church Congress when the chairman's bell rang before he had finished his paper he sat down in the middle of a sentence as if he had been shot.
Of all the men and women of his time he was the great example of the Christian soldier, always on duty, always on the watch. This it was that made him seem grim and formidable to those who did not know him well, and caused even his friends, from his boyhood to his old age, to remember that in his presence they must bridle their tongues and watch their actions.
This was all a part of the extraordinary sincerity and courage which even those who did not know him personally could not help recognizing. He never in the slightest degree glossed over faults in himself or in others. He looked them in the face just as in his work as a scholar he looked the facts in the face, never paltering with them but following unflinchingly where they led him. Here, again, I may give a small example. I once heard him say in an address, 'We cannot claim Shakespeare as a Christian'; and I thought at the time how refreshingly this plain statement contrasted with the laboured arguments of those who go about to prove that Shakespeare was an adherent of their own form of Christianity. Again, he would insist that Church history is not, as Bishop Lightfoot called it, 'a cordial for drooping spirits.' On the contrary, when looked at with clear eyes it is often, he would say, a depressing study.
So much, and indeed much more, those can say who knew him slightly or only through his public life and his books. His more intimate friends can speak with greater authority of his humour, his tenderness, his love of God and man. All alike can thank God not only for what he did but for the great example of what he was.
Through such souls alone God stooping shows sufficient of His light
For us the darkness to rise by.