R. J. (Reginald John) Campbell.

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; C. K. OGDEN 1






The Rev. R. J. Campbell, D.D.

Canon Residentiary and Clianccllor oi Chichester Cathedral




PRiUT or ST. Philip's cathedral church, Birmingham






Copyright in the United States

of America, igi6, by

D. Appleton &= Co., New York.



I EARLY YEARS ....... 1




V ,, „ „ [continued) . . .110









INDEX ........ 337

t hi^ja ^\^y ji


The occasion of this book is as follows.

In May last at the meetings of the Congrega-
tional Union of England and Wales, held in the
City Temple, the Rev. Dr. J. D. Jones of Bourne-
mouth made public reference to my ordination
in the Church of England, and said he thought
some explanation was due from me. The
assembly seemed to be of the same opinion.
The speaker went on to remark that my seces-
sion from Nonconformity had had a disturbing
effect upon the minds of some of the younger
ministers, as indeed it was somewhat startling
that the minister of their leading church should
take such a step, involving, as had subsequently
been the case, the necessity of being reordained.
This was why, without any wish to embarrass
me, he thought that some public statement of
my reasons for the change of communion was
desirable. He concluded in the most courteous
and Christian manner by expressing the hope in
the name of all present that God's blessing would
rest as richly upon my new ministry as upon
the old.

This direct appeal from a friend and associate


of many years' standing could not be ignored,
especially as in spirit and language it was so
wholly free from any taint of sectarian bitter-
ness or resentment at my action. Being made
under such circumstances it was practically an
appeal from the entire denomination I had left,
to say why I had felt compelled to choose this
course after so long a period spent in the Non-
conformist ministry. Up till that moment I had
said nothing in public and very little in private
as to the significance of the step. I had asked all
and sundry to allow me to maintain this reticence
at least for the time being. Our country was
at war, and anything more unseemly than a
religious dispute at such a time it would be hard
to imagine, even if I had been disposed to face
the prospect of a dispute, which I was not. I
shall never be a party to religious strife again as
long as I live if I can possibly avoid it.

Many attempts were made to break down
my resolve. From the day I resigned the City
Temple to the day of Dr. Jones's speech I had
been besieged by callers and correspondents who
wished to elicit a statement from me on the
subject — some in a generous spirit, others not.
Determined efforts had been put forth to force me
into making a pronouncement which might have
raised the whole Kikuyu issue over again with
the question of my reordination for the storm
centre. I could not be guilty of such a breach


of good taste as to do this when I had barely
crossed the threshold of the Church of England,
and had I complied with the demand, it would
have rightly prejudiced me in the eyes of those
with whom I was henceforth to be identified in
Christian fellowship. So I gently but firmly
declined to be rushed in the matter.

In addition many of my more immediate
friends and followers pressed me to say, as soon
as I felt free to do so, what had influenced me
most in coming to the decision to seek orders in
the Church of England. Few of them were
inclined to find fault with it, but all of them
wanted to know how I stood with reference to the
ecclesiastical and doctrinal questions involved.

After taking a few days to think over Dr.
Jones's frank request, I decided to comply with
it. Nearly a year has elapsed since I said good-
bye to the City Temple, and it is easier to
speak out now than it was then without risk
of exciting controversy. But in any event I
do not feel that it is of much use making a
merely formal statement. A formal statement
might be provocative. It is best to tell the
whole story of my religious life and let it speak
for itself, and this is what I have done in
these pages. That story is not known; it has
not been told before; and to many Noncon-
formists as well as Churchmen it may in parts
be a revelation. After careful thought I have


taken the line of not arguing the various de-
batable issues treated in the narrative. Most of
the arguments on both sides are already out-
worn, and if I were to plunge into the discussion
of them I should only stimulate the irritation
and party feeling which it is my principal pur-
pose to allay. I have therefore confined myself
to describing step by step the road by which I
came to the position I occupy to-day. I may
be mistaken, but I think this is better than
writing a series of essays on points of doctrine,
and is really more informing in the end, though
it involves a measure of self-restraint.

A word to critics. This book makes no pre-
tensions and challenges no comparisons. It is
a plain and unadorned account, honestly set
forth, of one man's spiritual evolution. Nothing
material to the end in view has been kept back,
but I have not felt it necessary to enter into
private and personal details which could add
nothing to the elucidation of the subject.

It remains but to add that if anything herein
contained hurts anyone's feelings or arouses a
sense of injustice in anyone's mind I crave pardon
in advance. To cause pain is far indeed from
my intention. My earnest desire is to help and
not to hinder, to heal and not to wound.

R. J. Campbell.
September 1916.



My childhood was spent with my maternal
grandparents in the north of Ireland, whither I
had been taken from London when I was a few
months old in the hope of saving my life, a well-
founded hope, as it turned out. But I had a
great struggle to survive, and should never have
done it but for the tender and solicitous care
lavished upon me by those in whose charge I
was thus placed. My constitution was one of
extreme delicacy from the first, and has always
remained so, though, thank God, I have not the
battles with ill-health now that form such a
large part of my early memories; or at least
I do not suffer so much pain. As a child I
was scarcely ever free from pain of one sort and
another, and I think this fact has given me a
certain amount of insight into and sympathy
with the woes of others, both physical and
mental. It is often stated, I hope with some
element of justice, that this is a faculty which


has characterised my pulpit ministry throughout
its whole course. If so, I have undoubtedly
paid a price for it. On several occasions before
I was ten years old I was given up by the doctors,
and once was actually pronounced dead. My
grandmother and my old nurse (a woman named
Jean Colvin, whose quaint personality is as
fresh to my recollection to-day as it ever was)
refused to accept this verdict and worked away
at restoring respiration till their efforts were
crowned with almost miraculous success, and
here I am still. And, strange to say, in spite of
all this chronic invalidism, with its not infre-
quent and dangerous crises, I was remarkably
happy. It did not make me at all morbid, nor
can I remember dwelling upon it in thought.
The recognition of this is a great comfort to me
sometimes nowadays when as part of my clerical
duty I go to visit sick children in hospital, for
I think it quite probable that the pitifulness of
their condition is not realised by themselves.
Perhaps the happiest period of my life was this
period of childhood and early youth, for I was
surrounded with love and treated with an un-
failing consideration which I took as a matter
of course.

On my uncle's not very large estate were a
number of cottier tenants whose children were
allowed to play with me, and, as I now see,
though I did not see it then, were expected to


defer to my wishes and spoil me like the grown-
ups. They did not do it, though, or not to any
very great extent. These early companions of
mine quarrelled with me now and then, borrowed
my toys and lent me theirs, got mixed up
with all kinds of questions of meum and tuum,
took lengthy excursions with me through woods
and fields, paid me visits and kept me company
when I was laid up, but I cannot recall that they
showed me any particular deference or that 1
expected it except when our elders were about,
and then it was very artificial. The only ascend-
ancy I ever possessed over them was that of
superior knowledge and a more active imagina-
tion. Having plenty of time on my hands, I
became an untiring reader, especially in history,
and I could always rig up a game in which we
individually impersonated famous historical char-
acters and repeated their doughty deeds. My
ow^n favourite hero was Sir William Wallace,
champion of the liberties of Scotland, a giant
in stature as in generalship. There must have
been something grotesque in such a puny creature
as I was invariably choosing such a part, but
I did. The others had to content themselves
with being Robert Bruce or the Black Douglas
or some one equally eminent or ferocious : I
stuck to Wallace. Nobody, so far as I am aware,
ever wanted to be Edward I, once I had explained
to my own satisfaction and theirs the many


monstrous crimes and misdemeanours of that
monarch, " the hammer of the Scottish nation."
It will be observed that our preference was
given to the chief personages of Scottish history
although we lived in Ireland. Not all English
readers may understand the reason for this. It
simply was that we were Scottish in origin our-
selves. I never heard any dialect but broad
Scots during the whole period of my residence
in that district. We had a great contempt for
England and everything English, which was
only excelled by our hatred of Ireland and
everything Irish. We did not put it that way,
but that is what it came to. We were terribly
down on the Papists, the Home Rulers, and
everything they represented. We firmly and
devoutly believed that outside of our own little
corner of Ulster all the rest of Ireland was in a
hopelessly benighted condition and more or less
seditious. What we thought sedition was is not
clear to me, considering that our loyalty to the
flag could not be held to be identical with loyalty
to England, but only with hostility to Catholic
Ireland. It strikes me that that is principally
what Ulster loyalty is now. When my play-
mates and I were not crudely rehearsing scenes
from Scottish or Continental history under my
instruction we were reviving the battle of the
Boyne, and breathing all sorts of truculent senti-
ments against the descendants of the followers


of King James as contrasted with those of King
William. I do not think, however, that I ever
wanted to be King William when these great
events were toward. Being a Dutchman, he
was not sufficiently attractive, notwithstanding
the tremendous reputation he possessed and still
possesses among Ulster Protestants. He and
King James are the Ormuzd and Ahriman of
Ulster polemics; and I was amused to observe,
as my train was drawing into Belfast when I
paid a summer visit there three years ago, an
immense effigy of William chalked on a wall.
As I remarked to the friend who was travelling
with me, himself an Ulsterman, one might never
have been away; thirty years had made no
difference. There before us was the protagonist
of Irish Protestantism, as always on horseback,
in the old familiar pose with hand and sword
uplifted, pointing the way across the Boyne water
to the discomfiture of James's popish hosts.
To hear an Ulster Orangeman talk one would
think the battle of the Boyne ranked with that
of Waterloo and had far more important results.
How queer it seemed to be sitting in that rail-
way carriage a few hours after leaving London,
and to be back in a mental atmosphere, and in
the presence of facts and symbols, of which the
average Londoner had never even heard. Under-
neath the effigy of the deliverer was scrawled the
time-honoured objurgation, " To hell with the


Pope ! " Had we been in sentimental mood it
might have moved us to tears, because of the
tender memories it evoked. As it was I am
afraid it only moved us to regret that the
spirit of faction and unreasoning prejudice still
so evidently prevented the realisation of Irish
unity. Sir Edward Carson's volunteers were
marching through the streets. They were to
have a grand rally the next day at Coleraine,
when that redoubtable leader himself was to
speak. It was all very homelike, but more or
less like a dream too.

The greatest day in the calendar in my youth
was, of course, the 12th of July, the anniversary
of the battle aforesaid; and for months before-
hand the Orangemen of our neighbourhood
would be preparing for it, marching and counter-
marching with drums and fifes through all the
countryside. They thought about little else as
far as one can ascertain. And even in the winter
the same set of ideas was kept up — in fact, all
the year round. In what they called " the lang
fore-suppers," that is, the winter evenings, the
men of all ages would gather in the farm kitchens
and talk and talk and talk Orangeism, and tell
blood-curdling stories of the evil deeds of the
Fenians in the past. I knew every one of those
stories ; I know them now. And the worst of it
is that many of them were true. There is no
sadder tale in existence than that of the bitter


and relentless feuds of the two races and faiths
into which Ireland is divided. I say the two
races and faiths, for somehow the settlers of the
English pale farther south have not preserved
the same fierce antagonism to the native Irish
that is still evinced by the Scottish Presbyterians
of the north. And when the 12th of July came,
what a glorious time we children had ! — and the
same might be said of our grave and reverend
seniors. I do not know what may be the
case now, but I know what was bound to
happen then. Scores of thousands of Orangemen
marched in procession to an open-air rendezvous
where enthusiastic inflammatory speeches were
made, bellicose songs sung — everybody knew
them — and much strong waters imbibed. The
Ulsterman would not thank you for beer, or
would not in my young days; his consumption
was spirits and plenty of it. The processions
were gay with banners and coloured sashes.
High officials of the various Lodges even wore
orange cloaks and carried a Bible and mallet.
What the latter was meant to symbolise I do
not know, but it was never omitted when we of
the younger generation imitated our elders in
the way of fervent demonstrations. That we
did not in the least understand what all the fuss
was about made no matter : I do not suppose
very many, either old or young, troubled their
heads greatly about that. If the twelfth ended


without a few casualties or even a street riot
or two it was exceptional. One of my most
vivid recollections is that of an Orangeman
being killed on the roadside by some Fenians in
a passing side-car. Being rather the worse for
drink, he had been yelling his party war-cries
at the top of his voice, and they leaped off the
vehicle and bludgeoned him to death, driving
off immediately afterwards at full speed. I
happened with others to reach the spot just
before the breath left his body. It was a ghastly
sight, never to be forgotten; and its immediate
result, as might be expected, was to infuriate
all the already dangerously excited Orangemen,
and reprisals quickly followed. Many people were
injured, and I believe one or two were slain.
A priest had a narrow escape with his life, and
his house and church were wrecked. I remember
watching with my uncle from the safe altitude
of an hotel window the military riding at a quick
trot up the street of the neighbouring market
town and the crowd fleeing before them. This
was not a very unusual occurrence ; it was only
the kind of thing that was to be looked for on
or about the 12th of July.

From this brief description it will be seen that
the mental climate in which I spent my early
days was utterly different from that of England,
so different, in fact, that I am at a loss how best
to indicate it clearly. These people were intensely


Conservative both in religion and politics. The
family to which I belonged had never been
anything but high Tory, and would have had
no sympathy whatever with most of the aspira-
tions of English Nonconformists in the political
and social sphere, and less than might be sup-
posed in the religious — but I will come to that
presently. I have not met with anything in
England exactly resembling the kind of patri-
archal arrangements with which our household
affairs were conducted. We had the same
servants from youth to old age. No one ever
thought of leaving, unless to go to America or
Australia to push his fortunes. No maid " gave
notice" when rebuked by my grandmother; it
would have been no use, her mother would have
sent her straight back. They did not even leave
when they got married, but remained about the
place (unless they went to reside with their
husbands in another township altogether), coming
in every now and then to render special service
as it might be wanted. And yet there was none
of the caste distinction that is so tenacious in
England, very little of the same fear of social
conventions, and none of the vulgar desire to be
considered correct and stylish. That peculiarly
English habit of mind was completely absent from
the folk with whom I had to do. I have never
seen finer men anywhere than the men of that
part of the world. Tall, strong, muscular, they


were more like Australians than Britons in
physique, but fresh coloured and bright eyed.
Alas, I am afraid this robust stock has become
greatly depleted within the last twenty years,
chiefly through emigration. For reasons into
which one need not enter here the rural popula-
tion of Antrim has considerably diminished
during the period in question. Economic in-
fluences have been at work there as in England,
drawing the young men away from the country
to the towns or driving them abroad. I remem-
ber many years ago coming across a sentence in
the Spectator^ I think it was, to the effect that if
one were to discover a spot anywhere on this
planet in which a human steam engine was
making things hum generally the chances were
that he was an Ulsterman. That is not an
unjust reflection, as the records of the English-
speaking race abundantly testify. Some of
our greatest empire-builders have been Ulster-
men, such as Sir George White, the brilliant
defender of Ladysmith, and Sir Samuel Wilson,
formerly Agent-General for Australia; as a boy
the latter was my grandfather's playmate. It
seems a pity that the vigorous country life to
which I was accustomed as a child should have
so largely disappeared, but it has. I have never
looked upon what was to me a more melancholy
spectacle than that revealed in a drive through
the haunts of my youth in 1913. House after


house whose inhabitants I had known well,
including the one in which I was brought up,
lay in ruins, and an air of silence and desolation
brooded over all. It was a great and sadden-
ing change. It may not be the same every-
where, but it was the first thing that thrust
itself upon my attention in the locality I had
known best.

In those days of long ago I must have been a
strange, solitary boy. I liked company, but I
liked being alone more. My uncle, my mother's
brother, indulged me greatly. Being unmarried,
he expected to adopt me as his son, though
whether my father and mother would ever have
agreed to this as a permanency I do not know.
At all events his death in America while I was
still in my early teens put an end to the idea.
He used to buy me all the books I wanted, which
is saying a good deal, and in fine summer weather
I would fill a satchel with them and another
with food, and go off to spend the day by myself
in the fields, returning at bedtime. I had a
perfect passion for nature in all its moods,
and a sort of mystic feeling about it. I never
felt less alone than when in communion with
the holy presence of which I was conscious
everywhere in those habitual retreats. I knew
what Wordsworth's nature worship meant long
before I knew Wordsworth; it was exactly my
own. I used to feel that the whole landscape


was mysteriously alive, and every minutest
object in it, every tiny flower and thorn, became
to my naive perceptions instinct with heaven.
Nor have I ever lost this entirely. It gave me
a view of life which I can only call sacramental,
and which has remained with me all through
my maturer years and helped to put me where
I am to-day, in Holy Orders in the Church of
England and within her sacramental system.
For weeks together I would pursue these solitary
wanderings every day, reading, dreaming, wonder-
ing, after my own fashion praying. I remember
making for myself an oratory in a remote corner
of our woods, and carving a rude crucifix for it
as well as erecting a rough stone altar. Why
I did this I cannot imagine, as I am sure I
never saw anything of the kind anywhere else
at that time, and never took part in anything
approximating to Catholic worship, never went
inside a Roman Catholic Church, in fact. Per-
haps I may have taken note of Episcopalian
sanctuaries, as we had some Episcopalian con-
nections, but it is practically certain that there
would be no crucifix there, nor any of the other
appurtenances of elaborate ritual and ceremonial.
My earliest recollections of public worship are
associated with Cloughwater Presbyterian Church
of Ireland meeting-house. It was very awesome
to my juvenile intelligence, very decorous and
dignified, and withal very plain. The services


were long. To the best of my recollection we
went in at eleven and came out at two or there-
abouts. Perhaps I am mistaken in this. It
may only have seemed as long as that to a
small person intent rather upon what was to be
seen outside. But I do not remember grumbling
at it nor objecting to going; I should as soon
have thought of flying. It all seemed to me in
the natural order of things, and I felt it to be
very solemn and impressive. So it was. Any-
thing more reverent, silent and orderly than the
demeanour of the congregation that assembled
in that unpretentious four-square building it
would be impossible to find; and I shall never
forget the shock I received the first time I was
present at a Nonconformist service in England
and heard the buzz of conversation that went
on before the worship began and was resumed
immediately it stopped. The atmosphere of north
of Ireland Presbyterianism and Episcopalianism
had not prepared me for this practice — far other-
wise. I think my grandfather was an elder
of Cloughwater about this time, but cf this
I cannot be sure as he died suddenly while I
was still very young. But I can quite clearly
recollect my uncle acting as precentor and
" raising the Psalm." Whether this was a tem-
porary duty on his part or not I cannot say;
he had a very fine voice and some knowledge
of music, but I can hardly think of him as


ecclesiastically minded. He was more of a sports-
man and social leader, and one of the best and most
daring riders I ever saw. One of my greatest
delights was to watch him take the fences in
our annual steeplechase. He was able to per-
form feats on horseback that I have never
seen ventured before or since.

My grandfather was very different. He was
a grave, silent man, simple, devout, and of a

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Online LibraryR. J. (Reginald John) CampbellA spiritual pilgrimage → online text (page 1 of 20)