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H. A. (Herbert Alfred) Birks.

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

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FAMILY REUNION. MISSIONARY BREAKFAST 179

preserved yet awhile to bear rule in the Church, as the amount
to be raised for the Southwell bishopric grows * beautifully less '
daily. . . . Last night I met my three brothers and two sisters,
besides two sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law at Eastbouma
We had not all met for thirty-six years. ... I think I am imbibing
English health and recovering more power of brain. I must
begin to work at languages again, which I have all but inter-
mitted for a while. I do trust the 'showers of blessing' ai'e
beginning to descend more richly on the lands in which you go
forth weeping, bearing precious seed. I shall look eagerly for each
fresh notice of progress you may be able to give, whether of
Ispahan, Shiraz, or Bagdad. I thank God your youth seems
renewed like the eagle's. With me age seems too fast setting in,
but I cannot help hoping for one more campaign of four or five
years in the Punjab, after which I shall be used up and spent,
I fear.

I am trying to stir up the people of Truro to prove themselves
worthy of having been the birthplace and training- place of
H. Martyn. They seem scarcely to know that there was such
a person, but the first two bishops at least won't let them
forget it.

Sir R Montgomery was calling here last week. He and Mr.
Baikes and Colonel Taylor are the last of the great Punjab heroes,
with Sir H. Norman.

To Edith. (Mr. Christopher's Missionary Breakfast.)

Oxford, Feb. 10, i884,

I think of you so often, and yet the succession of work is so
terrible that no comer seems unfilled. I thought you looked
suffering when I left, and the look seemed printed on my heart
all day ; no change of scene could efface it.

It was striking seven as I knocked or rang at 8 Merton Street,
and right glad I was to have a quiet evening with E. and E.,
though I got an hour or two of writing. Dreams of the great
gathering at the Clarendon Hotel next morning kept me awake
some hours, but as a poor man about to be executed sleeps at
last, they say, so I got some four hours of refreshing rest, and
was helped through by God's goodness better than I feared.

It was an alarming sight though, 200 young men or nearly that
round the breakfast tables, then others were brought in from
another breakfast-room, who could only stand round the doors, poor
fellows. Mr. Christopher prefaced my address, and I spoke three
quarters of an hoiir, then Dr. Ince foUowed with compliments.
There was a lunch of great dignities in Merton Common-room
after ; . . . then followed a long evening of calls with dear E. from
three to seven in the old parish and out, till my voice was nearly
spent, and brain too. Then we got a restful evening again, except
that there were preparations for to-day.

N 2



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l8o LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

Little Ethel was at church ; I hoped to have walked home with
her, but so many old members of St. Ebbe's congregation came to
interview me in the vestry that there was great delay. . . . Merton
chapel is always so interesting to me for the sake of the sad but
lovely little marble monument to Bishop Patteson, lying in the
little boat with the aiTOws that shot him and killed him fastened
in his breast.

To Mrs. French. (The Annual C. M. S. Sermon.)

Charing Cross, May 6, 1884.

You will be glad to know that I got on very fairly by God's
goodness, though not up to my best. It was a splendid congre-
gation, almost appalling from the mass which filled basement,
galleries, and all. I could have wished for more power of voice and
for more time, above all for a deeper sense of the Great Presence,
which in representing such an immensely responsible and world-
wide agency one ought most seriously to realize, and to be bowed
down almost under its gravity and weightiness. Of course I had
to leave out bits here and there, which I should most gladly have
kept in, but they will come in in the printed copy, if the whole
is printed. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was present and
gave the final prayer and blessing, said he should hope to make
a study of it as th<>re was so much to learn out of it ; this was
indeed a great kindness and condescension in him. . . . Alas,
I preached an hour and ten minutes, Cyril tells me I The re-
sponses of the congregation were like the murmurs of the sea.
I am just off for the meeting.

To Edith.
St. Saviour's-on-the-Clifi^, Shanklin, July 7, 1884.

How I wish, dearest Edith, your dear mother and you could
be looking out on this lovely scene now before my eyes, the
broad stretch of the bay on which Sandown and Shanklin lie,
and the sunlit white Culver rocks, with the windmiU and the
little fishing craft with their white sails skimming like butterflies
over the blue waters, leaving their sweet silvery track behind ;
and between my window and the sea, flower-beds well cared for
and bedecked with variegated dyes, cunningly carved out of grass-
plots not the most verdant, as rains have been few and far
between. . . . On these white rocks dear Cyril in his sermons and
on his pastoral rounds must often have looked forth and refreshed
his weary heart, so that makes me feel quite an affection for them,
as I look with affection on all that has brought happiness to my
children, and witnessed their deeds of faith and devotion. . . .

It is a charming spot, and I think that thirty-four years ago
I visited it with your beloved mother. What a difierence between
the young fellow of a college with his raven locks and the grey-



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SHANKLIN. ANNECY l8l

haired ahnost worn-out bishop ! Still I did manage to preach
three times yesterday, not too short sermons ; in the afternoon to
children on Hannah's song. ... I found they knew nothing
about the conversion of their Isle of Wight forefathers to the
Gospel ; so I told them a little about St Wilfrid and the savage
wreckers of these parts, and that they were the last and hardest
to bring round of all the English people.

To Mrs. French.

Annecy, Sunday, Aug. lo, 1884,

We managed to go by steamer yesterday to cross part of the
lake of Annecy, and to walk up from the bank to the lovely
wood-embowered Chateau de Menthon, where Bishop Dupanloup
passed his last days. We were allowed to walk through the
house and see the rooms occupied by Bishop Dupanloup \ We
even passed through the drawing-room, and had a few words
with the Comte and Comtesse of Menthon, who rose up to receive
us, and were very polite. The walks through the woods around
were very enjoyable. ... I feel the perfect throwing off of respon-
sibilities of writing, speaking, and preaching very refreshing, and
I hope by getting up on higher ground the next three or four
days to get even more good. We have not been able yet to see
the tomb of St. Francis de Sales, of which the Annecin people
think so much that they refused all terms with the French
usurpers of their country, except on condition of their being
allowed to retain the bones of their saint undisturbed. ... In the
same church lie the bones of the saintly Madame Chantal, who
from her wealth supported all St. Francis' great institutions.

Annecy is certainly one of the prettiest towns I have seen,
though its odours are unbearable almost, especially at this season.
W. mil walk about with handkerchief up to his nose I The very
worst place for Sabbath observance I ever came to, I think, is
Annecy. There is no show of observing it even. The women
come into church and hear the sermon with large baskets on
their arms. One even put hers on the steps of the bishop's
throne ! What would St. Francis de Sales have said ? My great
coat and a nice shawl I bought in London before starting were
stolen from the train last Thursday. It was a specially nice one
for Indian journeys. I offered ten francs for recovery, but they
almost laughed, as a company of Hindus did, when I proposed
a reward. * Think,' they said, * of anybody bringing back twenty
rupees to get five as a reward.' What can you hope of people
who keep no Sabbath ?

Chamonix, Aug. 17. (To Edith.) We have the most perfect
weather possible, and opposite our bedroom windows is Mont



^ The year before the bishop had visited his tomb at Orleans.



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l82 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

Blanc, from crown of head to foot in simple majesty and beauty,
crowned by God's own hand king of the mountains of Europe. . . .
The traces of the history of St. Francis de Sales and Bishop
Dupanloup interest me, of course, very much, though I grieve to
think the former should be buried in a gold or gilded cofl&n high
above the altar, even above the image of the Saviour I . . . The
snows are simply exquisite, and seem to laugh and sing for joy.

To THE Bev. F. Montgomery (the Chaplain at Lahore).

Tunbridge Wells, Jwne 20, 1884.
It is surprising what sustained effort and energy every institu-
tion in India requires (if it is) to be kept up to the mark. Our
unoccupied laity are so miserably few. I pleaded with old Indians
hard upon this point last Tuesday week at St. Peter's, Eaton
Square, in preaching for the Indian Church Aid Association. . . .
I wish it might set some thinking as to the possibility of return-
ing to India, to hilMife at least, and devoting themselves to
diocesan and other lay agency, such as our new university so
urgently calls for.

To Mrs. Birks. gf^^ 1884.

I was much encouraged yesterday at Addington by the arch-
bishop's expression of deep sympathy with those in the mission-
fields of the Church. In our small way it seemed to remind one
of James, Cephas, and John giving the right hand of fellowship
to the first evangeb'sts of the Church proceeding to foreign
spheres of action. And then what a lesson is given me in my
own suffering and afflicted child's patience and almost joy of
faith in the prospect of leaving Hhe warm precincts of the cheerful
day,' and all she loves below, and entering the unseen, solitarily,
however hopefully I One kiss a day is all I am allowed to give
her, and one text inscribed in large letters on a half sheet. It
was a great comfort to me to think to-night of the way in which
God our Father Himself perfects His own faithful ones for the
glorified body that is to be. He that hath wrought us for this
self-same thing is God.

To Sir William Muir.

Sept, 18, 1884 (four days before sailing).

It is hard to leave a child hanging between life and death, but
there are yet bitterer sorrows than this, yet none or scarce any can
touch the depths of our dear Lord's Gethsemane sorrow. ' Father,
glorify Thy name,' is the prayer above all He has taught us.

Owing to quarantine in Italy the bishop returned by the
Adriatic route from Trieste.



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PARTING FROM EDITH. ADRIATIC ROUTE 183

To Mbs. Fbench.

Hotel Victoria, Vienna, Se^, 24, 1884.

The last twenty-five miles or so before Vienna are very
striking, wide-rolling undulations and reaches of thick forest
with villages interspersed nestling in orchards, lofty convents,
churches and chateaux here and there, giving a very park-like
aspect at times, and there are miles of charming villas which
form the approach to the capital, far lovelier than anything on
the outskirts of London or Paris, or even Berlin and St. Peters-
burg. Si Petersburg, perhaps, beats it in the imperial grandeur
of its broad, new boulevards, but no other capital does, I think,
not even Paris. Some of its palaces are huge and ambitious
enough to have pleased and satisfied Nimrod, and the avenues
of trees along some of the chief streets are deservedly panegyrized
by Tennyson in his * In Memoriam.' Here I suppose he lost his
friend. ... I met an Armenian professor of Persian (so he styles

himself) at in the train. We read some Pushtu together

this morning in which he was interested. I hope to send you
one more line from Europe, then from Africa, then as of old
from Asia. The future seems to want more strength than I have
got. I pray to be able to lean on the Everlasting Arm, and
I pray the same for you.

Ship AiMtriOy Trieste, Segpft. 25.

Yesterday was a lovely journey, so full of almost unequalled
scenery. . . . The text I love to dwell on in leaving the West for
the East, home for a strange land, is the one I wrote out (for
Edith) : * Now they desire a better country, that is a heavenly.
God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared
for them a city.'

I have no time to dwell on the loving, anxious, prayerful
thoughts for you which do and will fill my heart May God's
own peace, the 'perfect peace' though *with loved ones far away,'
fill and sustain your heart I

Adriatic Sea, Se^fft 27.

It delights me to think of St. Paul visiting these parts, as he
must have done, to judge from his words, 'Bound about unto
lUyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.' Trieste
being the chief port and capital of lUyricum, one cannot well
doubt that his feet trod these shores, and his voice was heard in
their streets. Not knowing Italian or modern Greek I can do
nothing in this way, even were it otherwise my duty to do so.
I have rather an interesting set of fellow-passengers— four or five
sisters from SLaiserswerth bound for Cairo and Bayreuth. I have
been giving some first lessons in Arabic to one of them, but they
only know German to speak. • • • Helpful to them is a governess.



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184 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

a Swiss lady of some years, going out to a family at Bayreuth.
She speaks German, French, and English well, and must be
a musician. . . . She is grand-daughter of a French general who
knew the great Guizot, so she also knew him, and specially his
daughter M. Yitr^, who is almost as great an historian as her
father, and has written a charming book, she says — Tahleaiix de
Thistoire franfaise. . . . Then there is a monk with serge and cord
who knows Httle but Italian, so I have not seen much of him ; . . .
two fine young officers bound for tlie Soudan, with whom I had
a long chat this morning ; . . . a large Greek family bound for
Corfu, with four or five very nice boys and girls, of whom I had
a kind of school-class this morning. They read the Greek Testa-
ment beautifully with me in modern Greek pronunciation, and
were equally perfect in French reading. . . . Then there are
Egyptian merchants, all foreigners. ... On the whole it is a very
respectable and ordinary set. . . . There is a honhommie about them
which the English lack. There are a number of pretty lap-dogs on
board. I should have liked to send dear Edith one, which would
have won her heart at once.

Sunday morning. About to arrive at Corfu though not to land,
on account of quarantine. It is an unexpected pleasure to touch
at the shores of dear old Greece, the land of my old enthusiasm,
chosen of our Lord to be by its grand and beautiful language the
exponent of His gospel. What an honour to be put upon a land
and speech, the same honour almost which is put on our English
tongue, in which the same gospel is read throughout the world. . . .
They say that beyond the low hills which face the sea all is tres
jolt, which is likely enough when one thinks of the vale of
Tempe in Thessaly (the modern Albania) and the other exqxiisite
scenery of Northern Greece as its poets describe it.

Mediterranean, near Cape Matapan, Se^t, 3a

• . . The Swiss governess astonishes the world by the mass of
French literature she has digested. • • . I mentioned B^ranger,
and she quoted ode after ode by heart ; she gives glowing accounts
of the leading Protestants of France. The Grerman sisters look
astonished. . . . Ithaca, with its tall precipitous rocks passed by
moonlight, reminded me of the readings the boys and I had years
ago in the Odyssey. It seemed an island created for shipwrecks
almost. I should like to have had my Homer with me. The
coast of Messenia and Cape Matapan with its lighthouse was the
last of Europe, and from thence we left the cool breezes of
Europe for the warmer and more languid breezes of the East and
South.

Hotel Ehedivier, Alexandria, Oct. i, 1884.
I visited the Scotch and American Missions, which are just
starting afresh after the reparation of their ruins, material and



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GREECE. EGYPT. INDIA 185

sociaL Mr. Ewing found me a teacher to read a little Arabic
with me, as I wished to know how the tongue is pronounced here
in case I should have ever to ordain here or in Cairo. . . . Then
I drove with Mr. C. along the canal banks, down which we saw
some eight or ten small steamer-tugs with British sailors on their
way to Assouan. Poor fellows ! I fear far from the whole lot we
saw will return home again. We tried to find the tomb of
St. Mark as I saw it with Dean Stanley twenty-two years ago ;
but it is now buried underground and bricked up, through fear
I suppose of insurrectionary movements. . . . Doubtless to their
bishops and others some secret access is reserved. My next will
be probably from Aden.

To Db. John Fbekch. ^g^^ ^^^^^

Before my hotel are masses of ruined buildings left from the
bombardment. The bricks and stones are adroitly piled in
exquisite order so as to leave no impression of past ruins, but of
grand buildings purposed anew. One of the most patriotic shams
I ever saw I

Some little missive for Edith always accompanied the
longer journal-letters — a verse or two of Scripture, or a verse
of Scripture and a verse of a hymn, with here and there
a word heavily underlined or written out in capitals for
emphasis, and now and then a single line of greeting.
These were continued to the last, but after the return to
India were sometimes interspersed with longer letters.

To Edith.
My beloved Child, Jyepoor, Oct, 15, 1884.

Your dear suffering face so offcen rises up before me with
sorrowful and yet most loving remembrance, and, as I cannot tell
just how you are, I can only gtiess, or rather ask God to tell me,
what thought and what sweet text of His word will help you
beet. To-day I will just give you the last words of my sermon
this evening, which had a little bit of farewell in it for the
passengers, to whom I have tried to speak, though very poorly, of
the things of God.

*One step forward (as Bishop Wilkinson says), one step
bravely taken with foot firmly planted (as when the Ephesian
Christians burnt their books of sorcery), may make all the difference
in our whole course for time and for eternity. I have prayed, and
shall still pray, that it may be so with many here. Do you also
pray for this ! so when life's voyage is over, some parts of it calm
and smooth as ours has been, and others rough and boisterous, as



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l86 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

some we have known, it shall be given us to meet in the harbour
of rest and refuge, the haven of abiding security of which the
Christian poet sings : —

'* There no troubles more await us,
There the tempests cease to roar,
There it is that those who hate us
Shall disturb our peace no more,

Trouble ceases
On that tranquil, happy shore."

Or —as the Psalmist puts it — " Then are they glad because they are
at rest ; and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would
be."'

Dear Cyril and Lydia and your dearest mother were here with
me many many years ago. ... I do long to have a peep at you,
but I seem to trust and believe that our spirits do meet : —

'There is a spot where spirits blend,

And friend holds fellowship with friend;
Though sundered far, by faith we meet
Around one common mercy-seat.'

I am, with fond love,

Your father and friend in Jesus,

Thos. V. Lahore.

To Edith. .^ ^

Nov. 3, 1884.

It was a great joy and comfort to me to get your card and your
own dear handwiiting again. I hope I shall never lose it, but
keep it pinned into my diary. It must have sorely tried you, but
a dear child's love is of untold price in this far-ofiP land of exile.
Yesterday and to-day lu^^e been days of sore brain efforts ; all
sorts of stirring anxious questions have had to be discussed and
partly settled. ... I wonder whether I shall sleep afifcer it all ; if
I don't I shall have more time to think of and pray for you.

Nov, 4. I have got up pretty early to add a few words. I must
give you a text at least out of Jeremiah xxxi — he is one of my
favourite prophets — verses 3, 10, 14, 25. I want the comfort of
these verses too, and shall try to shaxe them with you to-day.
The blossoms I enclose are cherry blossoms from Dugshai, which
I gathered and have kissed them for you. October was a curious
season for them to blossom, was it not ?

To Edith. _, ^r «

Ferozepore, Nov, 8.

It saddened me to learn that you were sufiPering again, but it
was sweet to know that hymns of faith and trust were helping



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LETTERS TO EDITH 187

you to lean on Jesus and to find Him near, nearery nearer, nearer
still, iU in body, but weU in spirit because of His being near. My
heart is full of sympathy and loving thought toward you, and
I can only think of St. Peter's encouraging words — * Let them
that suffer according to the will of Gk)d commit the keeping of
their souls to Him in well-doing as to a faithful Creator.' As
I heard an old minister once say, ^We don't dare keep them
ourselves, nor can any one else keep them for us,' so we can only
say, * To Thy hands I commend my spirit.'

The Psalm says the same elsewhere, does it not? *The Lord
Himself is thy keeper, the Lord is thy shade upon thy right
hand, the Lord shall preserve thee from all evil : yea, it is even He
that shall keep thy soul.' So it is that the peace of God keeps
(garrisons) the heart through Christ Jesus. This morning I am
speaking of the two appeanngs, or Epiphanies, from Titus iL 11, 12,
the Epiphany of grace which began the work of God in us and
aU His people ; and the Epiphany of glory which completes it I
What a beautiful gladdening teaching is this !

Last night little Ruthie [Moulson] put her hand into mine,
and walked five or six times round the nice green garden with me,
holding my black walking-stick with the other hand. She seems
happily quiet and still with me, but is not yet quite at home
enough to talk. She said the other day as she watched the moon
moving, she thought it must be in its gari driving : quite poetical
this, her little substitute for Copernicus' and Newton's theories of
the heavenly bodies I

To Mrs. French. ^ ,

Lahore, Nov, 21.

To-night I have your dear letter of the 30th of October, which
again gives a sad account of poor dear Edith. She seems at
length to be able to contemplate the great change before her.
I was gathering a China aster for her in the Government Gardens
this morning, and wonder sometimes whether it will ever reach
her while living. I thank God with you for the bright simplicity
of her faith. I am glad she can still send me her love, though
even that must be almost an effort. One asks if the love of the
pure freed spirit will be more intense when the body is a clog no
longer.

In forwarding the flower to his daughter the bishop
said : —

^ It must be the loveliest and purest and sweetest of gardens
where Jesus ia " O Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the
companions hearken to Thy voice : cause me to hear it." ''Jesus
stretched forth His hand and caught him, and said unto him,
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt ? " '



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l88 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

To Mrs. French. _

Dec. 13.

Your full account of dear Edith's precious words and out-
pourings of heart were truly valued. ... I hope they will never
be lost. I do praise God that the subject she seemed some while
since to shrink from has no terrors or misgiving for her now, that
death is to her what it truly is to God's child, falling back into
the arms of Jesus. I do try to commend her to the tender loving
sympathy of her Saviour by night and day. ... I always bind
the dear mother and child together in my prayers.

To-morrow week the Duke of Connaught and the Duchess are
to be here, but I have to consecrate the railway church at Rawul
Pindi, so cannot preach before him. I have asked Mr. M. to allow
Mr. Shirreff or Mr. Bateman to preach once for C. M. S. missions.
I think it might interest the Duke to hear some of our most
apostolic men. I may possibly get back on Monday for the
Government House party, and would have arranged differently
for the Sunday had I known he would be here. I would like to
have shown my respect for the son of the Empress.

To Edith. -. , ^

Lahore, Dec. 15.

I think of you in all I read, and to-day in I'eading about the



Online LibraryH. A. (Herbert Alfred) BirksThe life and correspondence of Thomas Valpy French, first bishop of Lahore → online text (page 20 of 46)