H. A. (Herbert Alfred) Birks.

The life and correspondence of Thomas Valpy French, first bishop of Lahore online

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Online LibraryH. A. (Herbert Alfred) BirksThe life and correspondence of Thomas Valpy French, first bishop of Lahore → online text (page 19 of 46)
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war with the Lamb, but the Lamb shall overcome them.' It
seemed to lift one's thoughts above the ephemeral struggles to
the gi-eat world-wide mysterious conflict which underlies the

To Edith. j^i^ ^g, 1882.

I write a few lines just to save this post from the dak bungalow
at Pathankot, which your dear mother and Agnes will well
remember. It has been raining heavily much of the night, and
so dark that we ran into some ox-waggons, and the man who
drove them cried bitterly, saying his ox was dead ; . . . however,
the ox shook himself and stood upright, not much worse for his
accident, I hope. After the rain the cuckoos are singing sweetly.

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as Lydia heard them every day in Cashmere. . • . You are often
in my thoughts, because they used to make me fear in my illness
that I should not get well again, and so I did wish to be ready
for all events and for whatever God might be pleased to appoint.
That makes one ao peaceful, if not quite happy and joyful, and peace
in Jesus is better perhaps than joy, because it is from principle
rather than feeling, and from deeper teaching perhaps of the
Holy Spirit. I used to shed happy, thankful tears over those
words from the hymn which begins ' When languor and disease
invades,' especially the verses —

' Sweet in the confidence of faith

To trust His firm decrees,
Sweet to lie passive in His hand
And know no will but His.

'Sweet to reflect how grace divine

My sins on Jesus laid,
Sweet to remember that my debt
His death of suffering paid.

* Sweet to look inward and attend

The whisper of His love,
Sweet to look upward to the place
Where Jesus reigns above.

'Sweet in His righteousness to stand

Which saves from second death,
Sweet to experience day by day
His Spirit's quickening breath.

'If such the sweetness of the stream,

What must the fountain be.
Where saints and angels draw their breath
Immediately from Thee?*

Other more exalting verses of the hymn did not comfort and
help me so much, but these were so restful and peaceful that they
were like a pillow to rest an aching head upon, for they were
full of grace, full of the work of Jesus and His Spirit, and nothing
of one's own. * Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work.'
Kesting so quietly in God's will and Christ's work and His
Spirit's teaching, wo come to understand those words : ' all things
are yours, life, death, things present, things to come, and ye are
Christ's, and Christ is God's.' That hymn of Dora Greenwell's
also helped me much, 'I am not skilled to understand'; but
after aU, those ' inward whispers of His love ' are best, and not
himian words so much.

The fields and woods are of the richest green at this season.
They reminded me this morning of the words —

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' Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood
Stand dressed in living green.'

One feels that these words are quite truey only falling short, of
the living reality. What refreshes and gladdens us most on
earth has its perfect counterpart in heaven, and always the full
uninterrupted health which can enjoy the fresh beauties, no
faintness or sadness or weariness such as your suffering brings
so many hours of ihe day, my precious child. But the sufferings
in the garden and on the cross were infinitely sharper. It is
a great pleasure to see one of the old dear faces in the house at
Lahore. Would I could see yours in it also. In the great
Father's house above, may we not think it will be sweet to see
the old faces, as one by one they enter after the battle of earth
is over? I wish I could write more, but the * doolie kahhars'
(bearers) are very impatient, and it is cruel to keep them waiting,
as they are farm-labourers and have their fields to look after.

To Mrs. French.

Dalhousie, Atig. 23, 1882.

At last it seems as if the Suez Canal were really blocked for
a while, but one writes on in hope that He who went before
Cyrus *to open before him the two-leaved gates, and the gates
shall not be shut,' may yet keep our empire pathway open, which
is to so many a home pathway too for passing to and fro of
prayers, thoughts, and counsels I This is the eleventh letter
to-day, and most of them have required much thought and brain-
racking on very varied subjects. Finances. Divorce questions.
Settlings of quarrels. Proposal for a painted window in the new
cathedral to Lady Egerton, in which I am asked to take the
initiative. Bishop Caldwell asking about his rights to appoint
archdeacons. Archdeacon's proposal to overhaul and remodel
Auckland House School. Working out the cathedral question,
what is in hand, and how the rest is likeliest to be gathered,
&c., &c. The morning was spent in the Fort Hospitals. Then
the Sisters have got into trouble by turning a girl out only
sitspected of thieving, and I have had to discharge the maU (gar-
dener) and gwala (cowherd) for unfaithfulness.

It will be so strangely like old times to be with you again in
Brighton, and to find old Mr. Yaughan there still. . . . The move
to Oxford was the most mysterious and wonderful almost, and
struggled against for a while, yet one's after-life has been so
much shaped by that move, so many valuable acquaintances
of the great men of our day seem to have been formed there, and
one was dragged into the publicity almost needed for my present
life. Yet most of my time I was down in the slums of St Ebbe's.
The saving point about my life, amidst many errors and sins, was
holding to that verse, I think, ' He that is faithful in that which
is least is faithful also in much.'

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To Edith.

Sq>t ij 1882.

It has set in for steady rain this evening, ... so my hay-crop
will be spoilt, so ^eu* as it is cut I fear ; but then my bread does
not depend upon it like the English farmers'. I am afraid the
damper climate of Tunbridge Wells has not so well suited you,
dear child. I did so hope it would please God to give a real
change for the better there. This morning I baptized dear little
Buth at Meean Meer Church after the usual Friday service.
Lydia enjoyed the drive much, and baby was perfection, only
giving a little start under the sign of the cross, as we all do
at times under a real cross when God is pleased to send it, and
if it were not foUowing Jesus in it, we should start much more. . .
I see the Edinboro' Review speaks of the war in Egypt as likely
to be as great a one, and to call for as great effort on the part of
England, as the Crimean War and the Mutiny in India. I had
not thought of it as of such great importance.

One cannot help being interested in all that befalls a country of
which the Bible prophecies are so many, and the places one reads
about now in the papers, as Bameses and Heliopolis, awaken such
strange recollections. I wonder what has become of Miss Whately
at Cairo ? I remember so well my walks round Alexandria with
Dean Stanley. The English church we went to look at together
is not quite destroyed, I hope. ... I have got a few houi-s for
Sanskrit lately, reading passages out of the old Vedas. I want to
see what they thought about God in the very, very early days.
Even then they had 33 gods, now they talk of having 33,000 ;
but I don't quite believe this. . . . Little Buth is my thirteenth
godchild. One or two have died, I believe.

To Mrs. Sheldon.

Jacobabad and Dadur, Od. 6, 1882.

I have tried to get both the C. M. S. and S. P. G. to take up
Quettah as a fine centre both for Belooch and Afghan missions.
The youtig missionaries unhappily will all get married, and this
often sadly sinks them down to the common level of non-itinerant
evangelist^ ... To join a brotherhood for seven years and (if
needs be) to marry afterwards seems the more excellent way, but
it is not the way of the C. M. S., and my example has not been
sufficiently in favour of it You will blame me perhaps for my
hard views on missionary matters, but poor Bishop Steere was
strongly of that mind, and the Cambridge Mission at Delhi nobly
adheres to it. Father O'Neill's death at Indore of cholera is deeply
deplored; he was a man of singular holiness, devotion, and
modest humility. My wife's cousin, Ch. Janson, died immediately
on reaching the Nyanza, as you will have seen, in connexion with
the Central African Mission. . . . How delightful The Christian

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lately has been with its notices of Moody's last weeks in Scotland,
and of Haslam's parochial reminiscences I How interesting Egypt
is at this time I When will the altar to the Lord in the land of
Egypt be set up ?

On the same subject of Church extension at Quettah he
wrote to Cyril from Much, Oct. 24 : —

I have just been drafting a memorial to Sir' D. Stewart for
a church at Quettah. But Lords Eipon and Lytton, in different
ways, hinder aU Church appropriation of State funds, and though
the chief officers at Quettah gladly sign the memorial, yet I am
not sanguine. The railway is expected to reach Quettah in two
or three years' time. The Supreme Government of India has
wrestled out and obtained at length permission to occupy it per-
manently as a standing military outpost of strategic importance,
stretching out its hands into the turbulent tribes, and beckoning
and commanding peace to them. Oh, that with it may be the sweet
message of the gospel peace, and with it the Hands that made
Joseph's hands strong I It was a great privilege to spend three
afternoons in witnessing to Afghans in the fruit market at Quettah
in their own tongue, and leaving a few copies of the word of God
among them. I translated and copied out Isaiah liii. and gave it
to one of the best educated among them to take home with him,
and never part with, as written out with the bishop's own hand.
May God graciously bless the feeble effort, and cause His Spirit of
life to enter into the slain of this valley of dry bones, as it truly
is. I was so thankful for our crowded English congregation last
Sunday afternoon. I prepared a sermon for them as suited as
I could make it for their special circumstances : * Now therefore
ye are no more strangers and foreigners.' Spoke of the pilgrim
wanderings of the English people in these wilds, and the wander-
ings and estrangement of heart from God, which absence from
home influences, and stated worship, and the unsettled mode of
life so sadly produce ; and the blessed privilege which SL Paul
dwells on in tliese verses— narrowing lus circle and bringing it
nearer and nearer to hearts, citizenship, fellow-citizenship, fellow-
citizenship of saints, the household, the household of God ; the
grandeur, saintliness, antiquity of the Church of God, built on
the foundation of apostles and prophets ; Christ the corner-stone
by which all is bound together, on which all hangs ; the sum-
mons here to rouse ourselves to more thorough devotion, courage,
watchfulness. Christian service. It gladdened and impressed my
own heart much. I pray God it may have had this effect on

others. ,„ ,, ^

To Mrs. French,

Quettah, Oct. 18, 1882.

I am sorely distressed about the so-called Sacred Carpet at Cairo,

and the parade of the British army to do it honour. Were it the

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Indian army in particular which was guilty, I should be disposed
to send in my resignation. As it is, the whole Church of England
is implicated and compromised with a superstitious, if not idola-
trous, act. God must be jealous of His own honour, and avenge
such breaches of it.

To Mrs. French. t^ v.- ht

Karachi, Nov. 5.

I must write a few lines to you to-day here, within sight of the
sea, which seems to be so homelike, and brings such happy thoughts
of home and you, though it cannot really by sight of it annihilate
distance. It is not yet heaven, where there shall be no more sea
(as I say in a sermon to-day, speaking of the city of God — * although
there is no more sea, no separating, sundering sea, yet there is
a river which makes glad') — but I look at it with the more
pleasure as the months roll on, which bring near (please God)
our reunion again after so many unions and severings. I went
in a small steam launch this morning to Manorah, a little island
five miles from here, where is a small church where the harbour
officials and their families have a service each Sunday. Standing
by the altar and in the pulpit, you look through the west door to
the grand blue sea, which is quite inspiring. ... I preached with-
out book, as I usually do now, once a day at least. God seems to
have given me something more of ease and fluency, and perhaps
some power in so doing, which I only pray may be His own power
working with souls. I certainly have, as a rule, better audiences
than I used to have with written sermons ; but I take very great
pains in preparation, and write it nearly in full beforehand.
I think the order and consecutiveness of matter is better pre-
served in this way.

I stayed with Col. W., the Commissioner at Shikarpur, and
had a little work among the Afghans, and paid visits also (during
the two days) to a Eurasian lady in deep distress of soul, and truly
in earnest, who had been so longing for pastoi-al counsel and com-
fort. I could not help thinking of Philip and the eunuch, for he
can scarcely have met him in a more dreary and desolate spot
than Shikarpur. It is one of the wealthiest and most ancient
cities of Sindh, and a great emporium of trade, probably long
before Alexander, a little fallen lately because the Russians keep
diverting thence, and from our frontier generally, the trade which
formerly flowed through and across the border ; and also because
the railway makes it a place of passage rather than of stoppage,
which is a detriment to trade ; so old cities, like old people, get
shelved, and the new have their day.

To Mrs. French. t^ u- t^t

Karachi, Nov. 13.

I have sent several copies of Law's Serious Call to different
people, and the book seems to awaken interest. I am so glad

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the archdeacon mentioned it to me. I used to think it an
old-fashioned and effete book, but the heart of man is much
alike in all agea

To Edith. (On Dr. Pusey's funeral.)

Karachi (undated).

What a very interesting and impressive sight Dr. Pusey's funeral
must have been ! I am so pleased to think I used to attend his
Hebrew lectures thirty-five yeai's ago. I am sorry the Becord spoke
so severely of him. I only wish I were half so good as that holy
man was, and I think he kept multitudes back from Eome, though
he may have helped a very few, who had not strength of mind to
understand him, to find their way to Rome, contrary, however,
to his strong dissuasions. I am trying to send a little girl up to
the Sisters' school at Murree, whom the nuns here are trying hard
to get hold of. She is at the convent, and they would not let her
come to the confirmation class, though both she and her mother
wished it. The Bomanists are yery strong here, and very prosely-
tizing, but the Lamb must overcome, for He is Lord of lords.
There is a beautiful new Bomish cathedral, which I looked into
one day. Oh, if the Church of Bome could but alter its un-
scriptural ways and be reformed like the Church of England,
how nice it would be ; but I fear the Bible gives us no hope of
thiSy and they seem to have got worse and worse.

To Ctbil. _p^ 6

It delighted me so much in your letter, received yesterday, that
you spoke oi^our cathedral.' No human sympathy can gratify
me so much as that of my own dear family. Only think of
Sir Evelyn Wood in Egypt becoming the successor of the Nechos
and Amasises; and Arabi praising up the English as the best
civilizers. What a bitter pill for the French to swallow ! Oh,
may God keep us faithful to His truth, and not allow us any
more to do homage to sacred carpets, which distressed my soul.
I have felt much the good archbishop's death ^ He was a kind
friend to me all through life, since I was his pupil at Bugby. It
seemed quite likely he would recover.

To Mh8. Gbegg. j^ ^ ^883.

I feel sure it must be with many sinkings of heart that you
enter on this new year and look forward to its desolate loneliness,
for no friendship or sympathies can replace a husband's love, and

* Archbishop Tait.

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He who says, ' Thy Maker is thy husband,' still suffers us to feel
keenly these pangs of parting and severing of closest holiest bands
which Himself has fastened. May you be enabled to realize the
force of that wonderful verse, * My presence shall go with thee,
and I will give thee rest/ .... It grieves me so much that the
evangelical clergy fight so shy of India, and leave it to the tender
mercies of less spiritual men. But the old cry always goes up,
and seems to satisfy them, * There's plenty to be done at home ; '
aa if Jesus had said, * Go ye all into your own homes and preach,'
instead of * Go ye into all the world.'

I am glad you are thinking of Clifton, as the schools there are
so good, and the air is so veiy healthy and bracing ; and you
would meet many dear old friends of mine, who have helped me
so nobly in my various works out here, and do so still. . . . We
seem to weep out the old year this time more than I have ever
dona Your own dear husband at home ; and then the good and
great archbishop (though the Guardian calls him the £rastian
great archbishop, which has some tmth in it) ; Dr. Pusey, one of
the great saints of this century, though in some points certainly to
be condemned ; Bishop Steere ; Mr. Lowder, one of the holy
army of martyrs, though tending to excess in ritual : my dear
wife's cousin, Charles Janson, in Zanzibar, in whom the saint
seems to have developed rapidly ; and not least, two remarkable
ladies in the Punjab, Mrs. Baring and Mrs. Fumeaux. . . . My
best blessings on your dear children ; I trust they are not mine,
but His who blesses for ever.

To Mbs. French. (Referring to an anxious letter about home
affairs, and the relative claims of India and England on
his presence.)

Jan. 14, 1883.

Till the great day of account it is perhaps a question hard to
settle, though I have never had so many expressions of thank-
fulness as I have had this year for my having been appointed to
the bishopric ; but I do not wish to set much store on such ex-
pressions, for He Hiat judgeth me is tJw Lord. . . . The S. P. G. and
C. M. S. have both asked me to speak at their spring meetings in
London, so that I fear your Iwlf-hope that I shall not be pressed
in the way of meetings and sermons is scarcely likely to be
realized. This fear would make Penzance or Clovelly a delightful
retreat. . . . Two evenings ago we had a large committee of the
C. M. S., at which three native candidates for deacon's orders were
proposed and earned, also two others were discussed as likely. Is
not this a matter of thankfulness ? Four out of the five have
been a longer or shorter time at the Divinity School. But for the
instruction there received, it would have been distressing to pass
most of these for the ordination examination. ... I preached

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a solemn sermon yesterday at the pro-cathedral on the duty of
society and the Church with reference to adulterers in our midst
It was a good and very attentive audience. I vdshed it to be
known what attitude we should take up as a Church in those
questions. Mrs. M. called it an ^ Athanasian ' kind of sermon, yet
I do not think it could offend even the Low Church, for I con-
sidered the course St. Paul took in Corinth. Still it might
excite in the worldly party some animadversion. I can't help
this, however. I am so glad I was enabled to muster up the
courage to speak out. ... I know you would have upheld ma
In the evening I preached at Meean Meer. I never saw such
a large congregation — so many officers and soldiers. It was
altogether a novel and refreshing sight.

The bishop's correspondence in his Persian tour has been
given with sufficient ftdness, but a few letters may be added,
written by him during his fourteen months in England and
on the voyage out again.

To Mb. Clark.
My dear Brother, Tunbridge Wells, Aug, 3, 1883.

I have been over three weeks at home, yet I fear I have
not written a line to you yet as I intended, but the influx of cor-
respondence from relatives and fiiends, and a sense of considerable
exhaustion and weakness from fever, have restricted my power of
work greatly. ... I think I shall have light work only the first
three months, after that the responsibilities of my office will
entail more regular and continuous engagements. Edith is still
a prisoner though somewhat less of a sufferer from her spinal
ailment. Cyril has a small living near Exeter offered him by
Sir John Kennaway. With Basil I am reading Gains and Jus-
tinian, as he goes in for a Law Tripos at Cambridge next year (d.v.).
I saw the Scrivens and Maclagans in passing through London.
They have become most comfortably settled, and are engaged in
various useful Christian work and service. I wish there were six
Maclagans instead of one on the C. M. S. committee. Poole
seems to have commended himself to the Archbishop for Japan
entirely by his speech at the Church Missionary meeting. . . . Bruce
writes me cheering accounts of the way in which the great
sheikh's opposition to the sale of the Bible has been overruled
by the Prince Eegent of Ispahan. I must try to get him a fresh
fellow-labourer, for which he makes urgent appeals. He starts
shortly for six months at Bagdad, without Mrs. Bruce and their
daughter. Mr. Bickersteth's paper in the IntelUgencerj *More
Prayer and More Labour,' is very characteristic and full of useful
suggestion. Indian native apostles are sorely wanted. ... It


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does not seem likely that any one will occupy my Dalhousie
house after the Moulsons leave it, so please appropriate it for any
missionary brethren or sisters who may be ill-housed or houseless,
only they must not pay me anything, please, for rent For the
Congress at Beading I am given such a vague subject — ' Foreign
Missions of the Church of England ' — that I do not know what
I can make of it . . . Sibthorpe's life has many useful lessons.
I am especially struck (next to his hunger and thirst after holi-
ness) at his solemn remarks continually on the exceeding value
to the crown and people of England, and the maintenance of
religion and virtue in it, of the preservation of the Church of
England from its would-be spoilers and destroyers. Missions
abroad do not seem to have occupied his attention. I want to
write a sermon on Epaphras and his agony in prayer for his
flock, that they might stand perfect and complete in aU the tmU of
God. What a model of a native pastor and evangelist ! Oh, for
such in the Punjab !

I must now close with brotherly regards and affection to yourself
and all the dear brethren and sisters around you, the Fishers,
Guilfords, Briggs, &c.

I am^ as ever, your truly affectionate brother,

Thos. V. Lahore.

I hope the prayer-meeting keeps up pretty welL Convey my
hearty blessings and good wishes to its members.

To Db. Bbugs.

Truro, Oct. 29, 1883.

... I have never forgotten you and yours and the exceptionally
happy time spent under your roof and in the midst of your dear
flock. . . . Your joys and sorrows seem to live in my memory
continually, and I am trying to awaken all possible interest every-
where in the recent events as well as prospects of your mission,
or rather I should say not to awaken but to sustain, for your own
addresses and appeals had long since stirred up unusual interest.

The good bishop * here is fiiU of missionary zeal, but, like so
many other Engli^ bishops, has considerably suffered in health.
Next to his love of the Atonement, his love of souls seems the impas-
sioned affection of his heart. It will be really a splendid cathedral
when completed, the building now rapidly advancing 'i\'ith its
granite foimdations and Bath stone superstructure. He has got
a body of eminent young Cantabs helping forward the sepai-ate
departments of his diocesan agency. ... A fortnight since I was
at Durham for the C. M. S., and at Bishop Auckland staying with
the bishop *. ... I go to Lincoln next Saturday, where I believe
you also were. The dear old bishop ^ there seems likely to be

» Bp. Wilkinson. « Bp. Lightfoot » Bp. Chr. Wordsworth.

Online LibraryH. A. (Herbert Alfred) BirksThe life and correspondence of Thomas Valpy French, first bishop of Lahore → online text (page 19 of 46)