Project Canterbury

Alexander Penrose Forbes:
Bishop of Brechin, the Scottish Pusey
by William Perry

London: SPCK, 1939.


THE Church of England at the present time possesses a measure of freedom from State interference which is little more than a shadow compared with the spiritual freedom enjoyed by the Established Church of Scotland or the Scottish Episcopal Church. The "Royal Supremacy", though dying, is not dead even yet, and in the fifties of the nineteenth century it was very much alive. When Keble and others in 1847 protested against the appointment of Dr. Hampden to the bishopric of Hereford by the Crown, the real point at issue was not whether the Bishop-elect was guilty of false teaching, but whether the Church had any voice either of. approval or disapproval in the matter. The legal decision ruling out the old right to object to the confirmation of an episcopal appointment by the Crown caused slight repercussions in Scotland and distressed some of Forbes' friends, among them the Marchioness of Lothian.

Following this came a much more serious blow at the freedom of the Church, when the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council pronounced, in opposition to the Bishop of Exeter and the Court of the Arches, that the Rev. G. C. Gorham was entitled to hold a benefice, though he rejected the doctrine of baptismal regeneration as taught in the Catechism and presupposed in the Prayer-book. The Gorham case, as it was called, had begun before the Hampden one had been decided, and, as Dr. Liddon says, "these were the two main causes of the second wave of secessions from the Church of England to the Church of Rome." Manning (afterwards Cardinal) and Archdeacon Wilberforce in England, and James Hope (afterwards Hope Scott) and the Marchioness of Lothian, two intimate Scottish friends of Forbes, were among those who left the Church of their baptism owing to the Gorham judgment, which in effect seemed to prove that in so spiritual a matter as the doctrine of regeneration the final word lay with the State, and not with the Church. In point of fact subsequent history proved that the Church was not committed to any such heresy by the Privy Council, but at the time the case aroused widespread distress, not only in the Church of England, but also in the Scottish Church. Letters on this question poured in upon Forbes, from Gladstone, Justice Coleridge, Pusey, Keble, and many others. A letter to the Bishop dated January 24, 1850, from Coleridge, nephew of the poet, a man never given to hasty or exaggerated statements, shows how serious was his view of the position caused by the Gorham case. "The consultations", he writes, "on this Gorham case and on the question of the Royal Supremacy which is shaking people a good deal have taken more time than I can spare from my profession. I hope, however, that good men are becoming quieter, and as it comes to be investigated our position turns out better than it looked at first, though it is certainly bad enough. We shall perhaps have to come North for a Church before long, though I hope and expect we shall be able, though with difficulty, to hold our own here." The reference to "coming North for a Church" reveals the known fact that some persons at that time seriously thought of seeking spiritual freedom in separation from the Church of England and in communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church. Manning satirized this idea by saying, " We got out of the boat at the Reformation but I am not now going to get out of the boat into the tub." In Scotland, Lady Lothian, a woman distinguished as much for her spiritual enthusiasm as for her charming disposition, was much perplexed by reports of the possible effects of the Gorham judgment, as the following note to the Bishop, dated March 1850, shows:--

Dearest Friend,

I heard from your brother on Thursday that you are very busy preaching this Lent. I am not going to intrude myself upon you, tho' I should very much like to know how you are. I always feel anxious about my hardworking and delicate friends at this Season. My object in writing at all is to ask you to send me Mr. Robertson's letters back, for their owner has asked for them. What do you think of the Gorham mess? We are really in for a struggle now. I cannot regret it, for however awful it may be, I cannot but hope that our position will be made known to us. If we are not a true portion of the Church the sooner we know it the better. If we are, it will be an unspeakable blessing to have such proof of it given, as will enable one to believe in the Divine Mission of our reformed portion of the one Body of Christ and to cling and cleave to and love her with all one's whole heart and soul.

Excuse this scrawl, and believe me, yours always affectly,


(Mr. Robertson was chaplain to Lady Lothian, and later, a convert to Rome.)

Some time later, when reports of Manning's secession began to circulate, her unsettlement increased so much that she put to Forbes the blunt question: "Was it not a duty to leave a Church (in which such doctrines as baptismal regeneration could be denied) and join the Roman Church, in which these were never doubted? "The Bishop passed on this question and some others to Keble, who had stayed at Lady Lothian's house near Jedburgh, and knew her well. Keble's reply is as remarkable for its insight into the lady's character as for its sanity on the questions propounded to him, and is here printed almost in full.

Hursley Vicarage,
Sat. after Epiphany 1850.


Your letter was awaiting me when I returned yesterday from London, and what you tell me of dear Lady L. tho' I was in some sort prepared for it, added one to the sore thoughts (Pusey, who feels things in earnest would call them " heart-aches ") which I brought with me. I wish I could think of anything at all likely to quiet and steady her. For myself, I do not feel as if I could ever advise anyone to quit our Church, under any circumstances which left her the being of a Church; it seems to me that it must be in itself an act immoral and undutiful, however excusable, in the person doing it by reason of invincible ignorance. My own feeling is so entirely that what is wrong in me is owing to neglect and abuse of opportunities, not to want of them, that I should feel it utterly ungrateful to turn upon the Church, and say, " You should have taught me better and made me more like these good people whom I see elsewhere "; and my reason, if I could trust it, seems to show me greater difficulties on the Roman side than on our own. Therefore, you see, I could never give that advice. But even if there were cases in which I could give it, I do not suppose that this would be one. For (now I am going to speak quite confidentially, though it is yet another heart-ache, as it ought to be, to whisper anything against such a person, who has been so kind to me) is there not a little want of faith, in her not throwing herself at once into such a work as that of the sisterhoods, and burying her scruples, as it were, under it? That is the advice, which, if I knew how, I could wish to insinuate into her mind. Even if she had no doubts touching Communion I could fancy it the very thing for her--that she should enter into it, and devote herself to it as a business--as a Patroness and Inspector, I mean; she has in her, if I mistake not, some points in common with no less a person than Miss Sellon, which would much help her in such a career, if she took a fancy to it. But v. there it is--" if she took a fancy to it ". Is she not a little apt to take fancies and give them up? My conviction is that the appointed remedy for distress like hers is not taking a sudden plunge that will land her she knows not where, saddening and alarming all who love her best, and tempting those who depend on her, some to light thoughts of religion, some to absolute scepticism; but devoting herself more or less to the daily round of duties, and when there is room and time, to come to " counsels of perfection ", so that when the disturbing thoughts come, she will know it to be her duty to say to them at once, " Begone, you are but Satan's messenger to hinder me in my day's work, begone, I have no time for you." Then with her sanguine temperament I am sure she must have need to be greatly on her guard against impatience, and the desire of seeing the good that is doing or done : which under the mask of requiring "signs of life" seems to be hurting many souls in all communions at the present day. I have been always taught to think that apparent failure in spiritual work was no sure sign that the work was without a blessing: · else what shall we say to the Thirty Years' Work at the end of which the number of the names together was but 120? And here I have glided as it were into the other topic of your letter, the possible revival of discipline in some mode and degree in the Scottish Church. It falls in with thoughts and dreams which I have often had: but then one has always felt that whoever set about it must make up his mind to seem, both to himself and others, to fail in it during his own time: as our Lord again seemed to fail, when He told that rich young man to sell all that he had and give to the poor. He seemed to fail, yet to that saying we now trace (i) the offertory in the first Church of Jerusalem, (2) St. Anthony, (3) St. Augustine. I remember my dear friend, Hurrell Froude, used to say, that whatever bishop should revive discipline might as well make up his mind to a violent death.

I do long for something of the kind, and it sometimes occurs to me that it might be made to come in well after trying the effect of such a mission as Monro and others have planned for London, and for which (perhaps because at this distance I do not see the difficulties) it has often seemed to me that Edinburgh or Glasgow (might I add, Dundee?) would be a very desirable place. But be it Mission, or Discipline, or Sisterhood, or whatever good work, I pray that it may be undertaken in the kind of spirit, which will not let us repine if it seem to fail. Is it not even a good and safe prayer, that God would, in a general way, hide from us any good work He may permit us to do? If a man make this prayer sincerely, he will not repine or be put out by seeming failure, since it is what he must expect if his prayer be granted?

Farewell, my dear Lord, and the blessing of Almighty God be upon you and upon all your good plans, especially on that for the kind and dear friend, whom I have spoken of so rudely (I trust not from want of love to her--that would be too bad). An old man may send a young bishop his blessing, but of course the bishop must give him his in return. This I know you will do for

Your affectionate friend and servant,


There were other worries which vexed the Bishop's soul at this time. He had taken a minor part in the publication of a revised Prayer-book for the Scottish Church, in which his brother and Charles Marriott of Oxford had been specially active, a step which drove the other Scottish bishops almost frantic.


I write to tell you that I have had a short letter from the Warden (Wordsworth) asking me what I have had to do with the new Prayer-book, so that you see that he proposes making a row about it.

I hope that all this baptismal row will do good, if, as I believe we are, we are living branches of the Vine. At any rate it is satisfactory that the point is so definite; a Church really committed to laxity on such a point cannot be a true one. Then it is a great comfort that the controversy is not on the other Sacrament, and so one's heart is not torn out of one by the mad impiety of one's opponents.

Let me hear from you soon,
Your affectionate


The Scottish bishops did in the end protest against the Gorham judgment; but Bishops Terrot and Gleig were at first so afraid of offending the ecclesiastical authorities in England that Bishop Trower of Glasgow, who was the prime mover in the protest, was for weeks in despair. The last sentence in Forbes' letter to his brother proved prophetic; controversy "on the other Sacrament" was soon to follow, with Forbes himself as the storm centre.

Another excitement arose in the autumn of this year (1850) in connection with the so-called "Papal Aggression", when Pope Pius IX set up a hierarchy in. England; it was rumoured that a similar measure was contemplated in Scotland, though it was not enacted till 1875. Four of the Scottish bishops, in a panic, drew up an address to the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England, to which Forbes refused to attach his name. The address spoke of the "unexampled insolence" and "the arrogant assumption of the Bishops of Rome", and of the Anglican bishops as "recognized by law", as if that added anything to their prestige; it ended with "an earnest repudiation of the errors and superstitions of the Church of Rome" and its "intolerable aggression". The Synod of the diocese of Edinburgh followed this up with a similar address, signed by the Dean (Ramsay) and the Synod Clerk; this was less abusive of Rome, though hardly less intolerant than that of the bishops. Forbes contented himself with a modest protest, on the ground that "it is a principle of ecclesiastical order that one bishop should not trample upon another bishop and that the intrusion of a prelate into an already occupied See is a crime violating the great law of unity". In a letter to his clergy at the end of December 1850 the Bishop deprecated "the language of hatred, indignation, and scorn, which had been lately used in reference to the Papal Aggression, as essentially sinful". A concluding paragraph in this letter is clearly directed against the address of his four brother-bishops which he had been asked to sign, and shows his firm repudiation of the "establishment" view of the Church encouraged by them. "We," he writes, "the members of a Church which was deprived of its position as an establishment by the overthrow of the House of Stuart, and which since that time has existed as a purely spiritual body, enacting and altering its laws irrespective of any earthly head, could, with an ill grace, protest against the act of another Communion, which act, by their own laws, they were quite competent to perform." For his courageous independence the Bishop incurred some unpopularity and, according to the Scottish Ecclesiastical Journal of January 1851, "calumnious reports were current, as though he were unfaithful to the Communion for which he spends and is spent so devotedly; we believe it is the aim of the Bishop by well doing, rather than by many words, to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men ".


Amidst these anxieties and distractions from without, it was not easy for the Bishop to retain the peace of mind and cheerful confidence with which he had begun his episcopate four years before. The pastoral work of St. Paul's grew heavier as the congregation increased in numbers; and though he had now a "junior minister" or senior curate to assist him in the work and to assume responsibility when he was absent on episcopal duties, the strain on body and mind was not less, but more than before. He had opened a mission for the poor, so modest that it did not seem worth while giving it a name, until some years later it became the Church of St. Mary Magdalene; a young deacon was in charge of "the mission", as it was called, and he had to be nursed, supervised, and encouraged till he was able to stand on his own feet. When Easter came, the Bishop was a tired, sick man. His only relaxation was literary work. He used to say "the creation of new brain babes" was the best means of forgetting one's troubles. Like his friend W. E. Gladstone, who at Hawarden kept half a dozen separate tables for different subjects--Homer, Butler, theology, history, politics, and novels--Forbes believed in varying his literary pursuits. Though worn almost to a shadow in the spring of 1851, he had four books in hand, two devotional, one doctrinal, and the fourth a story of the Jacobite rebellion. But by the month of July his condition became so serious that he was ordered off immediately for a long rest.

For him a holiday afforded no change unless it was spent abroad. In the course of his life he visited France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Austria so frequently that the languages of these countries were almost as familiar as his own. Hurriedly preparing a report for his Diocesan Synod, which, among other things, showed that three new schools had been opened in the diocese and suggested that at future synods the Eucharist should be celebrated before proceedings began, he set off for the Continent to enjoy that feeling of relief from responsibility which only distance from the scene of labour and escape from the penny post could give. By the middle of September he felt a new man, and in October he could write home from Dundee to his father in this cheerful strain: "Here I am back, safe and sound after a delightful time. Nothing could exceed the pleasure of my trip except to find you all well on my return. I am, thank God, in excellent health and spirits. I have been very happy while away, and I hope the trip has not been without its spiritual good to me also. To be by oneself in a foreign town, surrounded by strange faces, seems to increase one's dependence upon God, and the isolation from one's friends brings more before one 'the fellow citizens with the saints and the household of God', which we are too apt to forget in the midst of the congenial fellowship of those we love here below."

In this happy frame of mind he resumed the familiar routine of work in Dundee, where he found the population still increasing from the influx of Irish immigrants attracted by the expansion of the jute industry. The Orange element was not easy to satisfy. They missed both at St. Paul's and "the mission" the "no Popery" cry to which they had been accustomed in Ireland; but the Bishop was very patient with them, and the Sunday services, still confined to eleven and three o'clock, with Holy Communion only twice in the month at the former hour, were as simple as they could be. For the satisfaction of his own spiritual needs there was a tiny chapel in the Bishop's house near the church, where it was unnecessary to hide Catholic symbols of the faith and where souls who had emancipated themselves from the hard religious negations of the time could receive the spiritual counsel and comfort which they desired. There was much to encourage him; his lay managers or Vestry (as we should call them) were loyal friends whose spiritual practice was much more Catholic than their theory; his small band of diocesan clergy were becoming more united and more enterprising under his guidance; above all, the people of Dundee began to look on Forbes and speak of him as "the Bishop"; his devotion to the poor had touched their hearts and his interest in the social life of the community had won their admiration.

Early in January of 1852 he learned that his friend Mr. Gladstone was intending to raise the question of admitting laymen to membership in the Diocesan Synods of the Scottish Church. Forbes was a warm advocate of the co-operation of the laity and had already set up a Diocesan Association of laymen which met immediately after the spiritual work of the Synod was done, the long day's proceedings ending with a dinner at a hotel, when the whole body of clergy and laity were the guests of the Bishop. But the Bishop was convinced that the laity possessed neither the knowledge nor the experience for handling spiritual and doctrinal matters; tradition was also against the proposal. In the following letter he indicates his doubts about Mr. Gladstone's proposed experiment.

I hear that you are busy about the lay representation in the Church, and that we are the parties on whom you wish to make experiments. I confess I dread it much in a body where there is so little dogmatic faith; and, though I should have less difficulty about the apportioning of moneys, or even the judicial trial of scandals, etc., yet I see much risk in the attempt.

Forgive me, if I have written more boldly than I ought to one who has weighed these matters so much more than I have done.

Mr. Gladstone, however, persisted, and received much support in Scotland for his plan, but fortunately nothing came of it, and the way was kept open for the wiser method of utilizing the laity in matters spiritual through the Consultative Council which was set up in 1905.


The year 1852 saw the publication of four books from his pen, an adaptation of the French writer, Pinart, under the title of The Nourishment of the Christian Soul, a devotional manual The Pious Churchman, a theological work on the Nicene Creed, and a story founded on fact, The Prisoners of Craigmacaire. These works admirably reflect the character of the Bishop. His supreme passion was religion, to help men and women to communion with the living God, and therefore he welcomed from all quarters, including the Roman Catholic Church, anything which was likely to further that "chief end" of man. He incurred suspicion in his own Church by editing Roman Catholic works of devotion, but, as the present Bishop of Oxford says, "The more Catholic outlook of the Tractarian leaders, and their passion to base their movement on personal as well as corporate devotion, led at once to an emphasis on wider and better devotional reading.

Dr. Pusey edited a series of devotional manuals, followed by Bishop Forbes in Scotland; the writer names four of Forbes' translations and adaptations, including The Nourishment of the Christian Soul, which some years later had reached a fourth edition.

The volume on the Nicene Creed is an attempt at what the Bishop describes as "exact theology", and owes not a little to the definiteness of Thomas Aquinas. "Amid the great revival of the last twenty years," he writes, "as deeper views of God's truth have by His mercy been accorded to our aching hearts, a desire of a more systematic theology has almost of necessity been engendered." The book exhibits a wide knowledge of the thought of the time, from Pantheism in its various forms to Mormonism; the author knows the scientific objections to the doctrine of creation, but he is sure that the same voice which said in revelation "Consider the lilies", says now in science "Consider the foundations of the earth". He is, however, somewhat at a loss in reconciling the account of creation in the book of Genesis with the new discoveries, and is content to prophesy that "the savants of the next century will probably look on us with the same pitying eye with which we regard the adherents of the Ptolemaic theory". The treatment of the various articles of the Creed proceeds upon the old-fashioned lines of a time when New Testament criticism was unknown and when proof-texts were regarded as unanswerable arguments, but the Bishop's words on the necessity of Christian Unity, on Natural Religion, on Calvinism, on Providence, and the like reveal a mind earnestly seeking to understand truth in its varied forms and to ally it with "the truth as it is in Jesus".

More impressive than the intellectual presentation of this summary of Christian doctrine is the spirit in which it is expressed. No theological writer appreciated more than he the truth of the saying, "The heart makes the theologian." The Bishop has a message for the heart which the mind blesses. Take this on the Passion of Christ: "Eighteen hundred years of reverent admiration have divested the Cross of every lowering thought. That which formerly bore the worst of men now glitters in the diadem of kings. It is the sign of the Christian's hope, it is the earnest of his triumph. Lowly reverenced without, patiently borne within, it is the transforming power whereby the spirit of the world is changed within us into the Spirit of Christ." And this on the essential unity of the Church in spite of its divisions: "Shall either Greek or Roman churchman speak of the devout Ken or George Herbert or Lancelot Andrewes, as devil's blinds to keep men by a simulated disguise of goodness from what they term the true Church? Nay, shall men undervalue the unsacramental grace of those who, like Spencer and Gerhard, have adorned systems which generally in their practical results, have led to the most miserable consequences?"

This volume was the first attempt of the Bishop to write on Christian doctrine, and it was therefore natural that he should keep to the old method of exposition through Scripture and early Christian writers. His originality appears in his explanation of theological terms and in his determination to abandon the vague pietism of the day, with its shallow thinking and confused vocabulary. His illness and sojourn abroad shut him off from access to books, and he acknowledges his debt to Charles Marriott (who spent so much time helping others to write books that he had no leisure to write one himself) and to his revered teacher, Dr. Pusey. "I beg especially to express my thanks to the Rev. Charles Marriott, B.D., Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, who at great trouble to himself has looked over the proof-sheets; and also to one, to whom posterity will render that homage which those who have the honour of knowing him accord to him now, the distinguished Professor of Hebrew in the same University." The volume is "affectionately dedicated to an old Oxford friend, the Rev. J. J. Hornby, M.A., the munificent Rector of Winwick, to whom the author owes more than he can adequately acknowledge ".

Early in May of the following year (1853) when " the Easter duties ", as he called them, were over, the Bishop was ready for his holiday. Along with his friend, John Mason Neale, one of the most versatile of the English Tractarians and a notable expert in mediaeval hymns, Canon Jenner and a medical doctor, J. H. Rogers, he set off on a tour of Spanish and Portuguese churches. In stature Neale was the shortest of the four, and he was only an inch under six feet; they must have been a striking foursome. Neale's letters, published in 1910, give a vivid account of their travels in Spain and Portugal, prefaced by five amusing verses in "dog" Latin, describing the special interests of each of the four travellers. The Bishop is admirably hit off as one who gravely considers the condition of the Roman priesthood, "what section still retains its soundness and what has fallen into corruption", while Neale describes himself as "the cause of delays " in his hunts for new Latin hymns and sequences. Here is a letter from Burgos which gives an intimate little picture of the Bishop:--

Wednesday Evening.

I do thank God that we have seen Burgos Cathedral. On the whole it is the finest I know--reckoning up all the interest of different kinds it possesses. We have also seen all the other churches in Burgos, about eight. As to difficulty in seeing churches, I never met with so much civility--at the Cathedral in particular. Tomorrow, all well, we start for Palencia, a seven hours' journey. As to our goings on, we have coffee or chocolate as soon as we are up, an almuerzo at one, and dinner after dusk. This room is a very good-sized one, with brick floor; two large sleeping-places open out of it; the Bishop is now lying on his bed in one: I am sitting at the foot of his room and discoursing with him, and it is striking eight p.m. We are presently going down to dinner. You can't tell how much I hope to hear from you at Valladolid, and how very anxious I am about your going on well, and the rest. . . .

From Burgos the party drove in a hired diligence to Torquemada, where they stopped for dinner, and then made for Palencia to see the cathedral. But a Frenchman whom they met at dinner told them that the best inn there was horribly bad, and Forbes took fright at the description of the food and the beds. The party split up into two, Neale and Jenner going on to Palencia, and Forbes and the Doctor to Valladolid, where the other two met them next day. Neale and Jenner found the food at Palencia uneatable and the beds so wet that it was hopeless to think of undressing. They entered Portugal on May 19, and at Miranda they were the sight of the place, the people never having seen an Englishman since the Duke of Wellington had been there in 1810; their inn was execrable and the meal hard-boiled eggs. But as they had ridden all day on mules, they managed to sleep through the night. There Neale's description ends. Early in June they reached Lisbon, from which they sailed for home. On the tour they visited a vast number of cathedrals, libraries, monasteries, and churches. From more or less annual journeys such as these Forbes came to understand the religious condition of Roman Catholic countries better perhaps than anyone in England, and while well aware of the faults and weaknesses of Roman worship and practice, he was a sympathetic admirer of all that was good in the Church of Rome, and especially of those devotional writers whose works kept the flame of personal religion alive both among a considerable section of the clergy and among numbers of the poor. Like Neale, he wrote to his family long letters descriptive of his holidays abroad, but these unhappily were not preserved.


When Forbes reached the age of thirty-five, his energy seemed to be untiring. In 1853 he had a variety of new enterprises in hand. Two of these were the outcome of his enthusiasm for social reform. The first was the establishment of the Baldovan Orphanage in Dundee, and in connection with it a house for mental defectives on the model of a similar institution at Interlaken, probably the first of the kind in this country. The second was the acquisition of an agricultural school at the village of Drumlithie, to improve the wretched condition of boys engaged in farm labour, who were often "bandied about from farm to farm" away from parental control and obliged to live in the squalor and degradation of outhouses known as "bothies". The organization was officially described as "an Association for promoting improvement in the dwellings and domestic conditions of labourers in Scotland". Forbes was the Dr. Guthrie of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and in the incumbent of Drumlithie, the Rev. D. K. Thorn, he found an eager colleague. The institution was run on Church lines, and the boys were under the charge of Mr. Thorn, attending daily service in the church and learning habits of personal devotion as well as of clean living; the elementary education of the boys was also continued, and practical instruction given in farm and garden work in the ten acres of good land surrounding the institution. How long St. John's College continued it is impossible to say; but it was a new and bold experiment in social reform, which refutes the criticism that the leaders of the Oxford Movement played no part in redressing the social wrongs of the time. At this period the financial resources of the Church were so meagre that it was impossible even to provide a living for its clergy; no funds of any sort were available for social work. It was, therefore, all the more to the credit of the Bishop that he could even think of undertaking new financial obligations. He himself contributed generously to the scheme, and with the help of his own friends raised several hundred pounds to acquire the land and buildings.

On July 21 the Bishop laid the foundation stone of the new church of St. Paul's, in the presence of a large number of people, "among whom", to quote a reporter, "were many elegantly attired ladies". In a short speech after the ceremony, the Bishop thankfully acknowledged the generosity of his people, rich and poor alike, and specially commended the building committee and the Vestry for their unanimity and zeal. The following sentences show what manner of man the Bishop was: "In 1753 our Church was but a scattered remnant with a penal law forbidding our ordinances. Now in a hundred years we stand here a free people, permitted the full exercise of all our rites, for which it becomes us to thank God. No doubt that persecution was necessary to purge us of an unholy Erastianism, to break up a dangerous connection with the State, and to place around us those influences which have tended to our prosperity." A brass on the stone bore a Latin inscription composed by John Keble, which ended with the prayer that those who adored the truth might in that place daily adore the Father in spirit and in truth, and also with one mind be diligent and frequent partakers of the Lord's Body and Blood.

The Bishop had in hand two other undertakings: the erection of a new church to take the place of the "mission" in Dundee, and of a Diocesan Chapter Room and Library for the clergy and others in Brechin. He personally assumed liability for both. No public appeals were made. The congregation of St. Paul's could not help much, if at all, for there was still a heavy debt upon that building. He could only fall back upon his own private resources and invite the help of his many friends in Kincardineshire, Oxford, Edinburgh, and elsewhere. Here is a begging letter addressed to no less a personage than the aged Dr. Routh, President of Magdalen College, a tried friend of the Scottish Church in days when her friends in the Church of England were few and far between.

Sept. 20th, 1852.


I took the liberty some weeks ago to desire Parker to send you a little work of mine on the Nicene Creed, in which I had used your authority with regard to a statement that the expression "one baptism" was a mere enunciation of St. Paul's words and avowedly a condemnation of reiteration.

I am at the moment trying to build a chapter room and Diocesan Library at Brechin, and I should feel it a great honour to my diocese if you would give me a subscription for it. The name of the President of Magdalen seems rightly to be connected with any attempt to raise the standard of learning and respectability of our depressed clergy.

I have lately perused a very interesting collection of Jacobite Memoirs, by Bishop Forbes, the Titular of Orkney. It gives a curious account of a meeting between him and Bishop Gordon of London. They are in the possession of Mr. Robert Chambers of Edinburgh, in case your reverence should wish to see them.

Wishing you continuous good health and commending myself to your prayers.

Dr. Routh died two years later in his hundredth year. On May 23, 1856, the Bishop wrote to his successor at Magdalen: "We have had the late President's dedication of his works to the Scotch bishops nicely framed to be hung up in our Library, St. Andrew's Hall, where we meet in Synod. Could you send me to paste upon the back of it the dates of the President's Birth, Election and Death, and any other details that may be interesting to future times?"

When the Bishop in 1847 determined to live in Dundee and make that large town the centre of his diocese, it was commonly believed that the small See-city of Brechin, where the ancient cathedral still stands (though now the property of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland), would cease to have any position in the life and work of the diocese. But the Bishop's historical sense was too strong to tolerate so complete a break with the traditions of the past.

No doubt it was a wise policy to move the residence of the Bishop to Dundee; but the erection of the Library in Brechin was intended to maintain the historic connection of the diocese with the ancient cathedral town; in order to ensure that this should be a living reality, the Bishop moved the meeting-place of his Annual Synod from Dundee to the Library in Brechin. The Library was erected on rising ground near the church, and forms one of a group of buildings, the others being the day school and the verger's house. It is Gothic in style, and consists only of an oblong room lighted by four high, mullioned windows, each having armorial bearings in stained glass. Over the door is a large flat stone with the Forbes arms and the initial R.F. and I.M. The Library now contains about 5000 books, of which 1800 belonged to the Bishop; some Jacobite relics which he valued greatly he also bequeathed to the Library. Unfortunately practical considerations have now frustrated the Bishop's intentions, for the Library is seldom visited, and the Diocesan Synod has returned to Dundee; at the present time the sole connection with the old See-city is confined to the titles of the Bishop and the Dean of the Diocese, and the simple but attractive little Library erected by the Bishop.

Here is the first of a small packet of letters written to one of his most intimate friends, the Rev. Roger Lingard, who afterwards joined the Bishop at St. Paul's as assistant priest without stipend.

In the Fens, August 1853.


I daresay you think I have forgotten your existence. God forbid. You would hear of my sudden attack which kept me in bed after the laying of the Foundation Stone. Then I went to Dupplin for two days but broke down in the middle of the service and otherwise was a worry to my friends. Then I had a delicious convalescing week with the good Collingwoods where I met one or two nice clergy and their wives. I travelled south with the Bishop of Carlisle, who seems a very able kindly person, a good deal sat upon by his elderly daughter.

Thence for the retreat to John Sharp at Horbury, where he has ministered on Puseyite principles for nearly 40 years and where the people hearty, kindly and very "churchy", are much what I am convinced St. Saviour's, Leeds would have been if it had kept its legs. A kind salutation to every priest, and the little children like those in Spain running up and putting their dirty little paws into yours. The church, of the George II epoch, nicely bedaubed and good in its furnishings. We had a fair sprinkling of West-Riding rectors at the retreat, including the new Vicar of Leeds, Dr. Gott.

Then I came on here, spending two hours in Retford with Canon Gray, a Tractarian, fellow of Trin. Coll. Camb. who is working the town well. I missed Lady Caroline Horslake. Then by Peterburgh, Spalding and Holbeach to this place. My conscience! Roger, I wish I had you here. Every few miles a huge high perched church capable of holding 1000 people which must have cost some £10,000 to build, generally in the grossest state of neglect, but some feeling the touch of the Restoration. This place is most curious. It is new ground belonging to Lord Carlisle reclaimed by dykes from the German Ocean and intersected by the most uninhabitable salt water creeks, which they flush every high tide, running miles and miles into the country. Where were formerly nothing but flounders and star fish, there are now miles and miles of smiling corn land. The Wash is a mile from the house.

I go to Dr. Pusey's on Wednesday. If I can do aught for you in Oxford write to me at Christ Church. Believe me

Your affectionate friend,



The years 1854 to 1856 may be passed over. The death of his father, Lord Medwyn, which occurred in 1854, broke up his old homes in Edinburgh and at Medwyn. The outbreak of the Crimean War accentuated his grief, for, like his friend Neale, he had little liking for the union of Britain with Moslem Turkey against a Christian country. A day of prayer and humiliation was enjoined by the Crown, and Forbes duly observed it with his congregation, but in a spirit different from that which Parliament expected of the people. In 1855 he established an institution on a small scale for the training of schoolmistresses in Dundee, and held his Diocesan Synod for the first time in the new Library at Brechin. As the year closed, he published an interesting Commentary on the Litany, a considerable work which extended to 260 pages. These activities were the Bishop's diversions in the midst of weekday and Sunday duties which alone would have left an ordinary person no time for anything more. How engrossing the parochial labours of the Bishop were may be judged from the following account by John Mason Neale in a letter dated October 5, 1855:

Dundee, the dirtiest of all dirty places, looked blacker and grimmer than usual on a very wet evening, and I was not sorry to get to the Bishop's; I came at a very opportune time. The Bishop has two congregations here, though at the present moment they meet in one church, owing to the other having been rebuilt. There are therefore four services there, and the curate was called off by the sickness of one of the parish priests near. At 9.30--it was pouring--I took the first service, Morning Prayer down to the Litany, and Holy Communion. Then the Bishop came to the second service at half-past eleven, and I went home by his desire and wrote a sermon and went up again by three. That service I said; and preached from "Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now?" Then he took me to his new church--on the whole, except All Saints', London, the finest modern church I ever saw; then we dined; and then to the school. The first class, of the mill girls, was quite a new phase of things to me. They are from eighteen to twenty-five. He asked me to -talk to them, but, as you may imagine, I made him do so. And very well he did it. He was speaking to them, from the Gospel, on our Lord's having taken our nature upon Him, and their bodies being the temples of the Holy Ghost, and I cannot imagine anyone's speaking more homely and to the point, and yet with so much delicacy, as he did. Then he went to see a man who had committed murder and was in gaol; and then we went to the fourth service. The curate by this time was come back. It was choral service, and the boys certainly gave the Gregorians uncommonly well. The church was crammed with poor. I was to preach extempore, and when I got up into the pulpit, and saw that sea of faces, I felt quite overcome. . . . Then we went to the evening school for schoolmistresses, and I was introduced to Sister Mary (Miss Bruce), the Superior. They have five at present; the whole thing seems very nicely arranged. So back to tea, and then the Bishop could only lie on the sofa, and do nothing else. This morning we went to the school again, and then to the hospital. There are eight wards, each containing twenty beds. . . . Then we went to a model lodging-house for the mill girls, of which the Bishop seemed very proud. By what I hear, the state of the mills here is perfectly frightful: bad beyond any badness that you could conceive; and this is an effort to mend the evil. There are a hundred and eighty in this house, and its accommodation shews what their previous accommodation must have been. The rooms are about two-thirds the size of my study, and low, and with one small window; each has four beds, each bed intended to contain two persons; all four beds of course nearly touching. Fancy eight persons, so crammed in, being inmates of a model lodging-house! Add to which, that the kitchen is in the middle, and the steam of the broth they were cooking penetrated into all the rooms.

I can give you no idea of the noble church which the Bishop is building here. And here such a thing is almost necessary, on account of the multitude of religions; yesterday I saw seven good-sized "chapels" in a row. There is here a sect called the Glassites. One Glass, an earnest-minded man, some seventy years ago, dissatisfied with Presbyterianism, read the Bible for himself, and came to the conclusion that the Holy Communion ought to be celebrated every day if possible, that the dead ought to be prayed for, and that "ministers" could not marry twice. Some of the best Presbyterians in Dundee joined the sect, and it went on well till just lately. The Bishop visited someone at the hospital; she told him she was a Glassite, and that they had gone on most happily till the affair of the rabbits. "The rabbits?", asked the Bishop. "Thae drearfu' and waesome rabbits", she said. Then it came out that there had been a controversy whether it was lawful to eat snared rabbits, on account of the blood being in them; and so a schism broke out!

In 1856 Forbes was joined at St. Paul's by the Rev. H. Macnamara, who, as senior curate, proved not only an indispensable colleague, but a trusted and intimate friend. In the same year St. Paul's Church was opened for service, a proud day for the Bishop, for it was then the finest church in Scotland.

From 1853 to 1856 the Church of England rang with controversy on the doctrine of the Eucharist; both Pusey and Keble published treatises which alarmed the ecclesiastical authorities, whose courts in 1850 had vindicated Gorham for believing too little about Baptism and in 1854 condemned Denison for teaching too much about the Eucharist. There can be little doubt that Forbes' determination to deal with this subject was in some measure due to Pusey's Real Presence, published in 1855. But that was not the only, or even the principal reason which induced the Bishop to choose the Eucharist as the subject of his Primary Charge. Forbes was deeply distressed by the impoverished conception of the Blessed Sacrament held by his own people in Dundee, and even by their clergy, and to this he attributed both the infrequent communions and the lack of reverence which at that time prevailed among the laity. It was with the intention of deepening the spiritual life of his own clergy and people that he wrote the Charge, which brought upon him such misrepresentation and obloquy that he carried the mark of persecution upon his face to his dying day. The story of the Bishop's prosecution for false teaching has never been fully related. In the two following chapters I have endeavoured to avoid prejudice and to understate rather than exaggerate the almost incredible blunders of the bishops at the trial, as well as before and after it.

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