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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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he would not like to claim to be what the advertisement re*
quired, he had had some experience in the Lord's vineyard,
and was really desirous to labour for the good of souls ^.

^ After the bishop's death, Mr. Hunt, the Vicar, wrote in his Parish
Magazine : — * One there was, a poor woman who, without hearing the
bishop speak a single word, was so struck by his whole demeanour,
as observed by her in a casual glance through the vestry window, that
she felt she must go to church to hear him. That one glance of hers at
this holy man was made to her, in God's providence, the first step
towards a Christian life.'



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3IO LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

His offer was joyously accepted, and he was able to gather
many of his family about him, and combine some pleasant
expeditions with his pastoral work.

To Mrs. Moulson.

Penzance. August iB, 1889.
Yesterday we went together to see Marazion. I to see some old
MSS., Sanskrit and Arabic, which an old clergyman, Mr. Stott,
has treasured up for years past. His MSS. are not of such
antiquity as he wished to believe, I fancy. Nearly opposite the
church at which he serves for a few weeks is Lydia GrenfelFs
house, Henry Martyn's affianced. It is now called Grenfell
Lodge. The lady who lives in it (sixty years of age, she may be)
was a pupil of Miss Grenfell, who lost her reason through a broken
heart, if this lady's account is true, for the last twenty years of
her life. I made her smile by saying, 'As it must be eighty
years since Henry Martyn visited Lydia Grenfell in this house,
I suppose you can scarcely remember his face ! '

To Mrs. Moulson.

Royal Hotel, Bath, Sept 11, 1889.

, • . The weather at present is the perfection of climate, such
as the old English style of summer more than any can lay claim
to. Yesterday it seemed doubly enjoyable as one was borne
through the soft green slopes of Somersetshire, rolling up to the
Mendips and Cheddar, having Weston and Clevedon and other
choice watering-places on the right, and breezes of the Bristol
Channel wafted over the wolds, everybody in holiday trim and
many radiant with smiles. My two years at Clifton made all
scenes vividly impressed on mind and memory, and recalled old
characters, and friendships which endeared the spots more than
mere beauty of sceneiy could. I am particularly impressionable
in the way of loving pilgrimages to old spots, consecrated by
recollections of those loved and lost.

I have been visiting this morning the old Eoman baths which
have been recently excavated almost immediately under the present
pump-rooms and bathing establishments, which are recovering
their old importance greatly, and attracting visitors from afar,
Americans and othera It has been really a great discovery, and
is so unmistakably antique and quaint, besides exhibiting the
wondrous engineering skill and craft of Boman workmen, that
I should have been 8oi*ry to miss it. Our work in the East seems
(much as modem Bath restores the antique Balnea Sahs of ancient
Boman Bath) to be building up again the foimdations of ancient
generations, and restoring breaches long unfilled, and reviving old
heaps of ruins.



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BISHOP AUCKLAND AND LIGHTFOOT 311

I walked up Lyncombe Hill early to day to refresh recollections
of uncles and aunts at whose houses I loved to stay forty years
ago. There they stand still, but occupied by strangers. A young
cousin, Filleul, has St. James* Church. ... At Lyncombe Chm'ch
I preached the first sermons I delivered on taking orders. One
could not help looking with some little interest on a spot of such
early history.

Shortly after this he spent three or four days at Bishop
Auckland, during the last weeks of Bishop Lightfoot's life,
and wrote thence to Mrs. Knox : —

Auckland Castle, Oct. ai, 1889.

The bishop here is very feeble, and talks but little. I much
fear that there is little hope of his rising to his former power in
public, though he labours on at his literary efforts as much as
ever, perhaps.

He has beautified the chapel marvellously by painted windows,
done by a Bruges artist, representing the chief events and per^
sonages in Northumbrian Church history. The faces are those of
modem bishops— Tait, Benson, Selwyn, Harold Browne, Words-
worth of Lincoln, and others ; Canon Westcott also.

The forest and river scenery from my window are very striking,
even in this dull damp weather.

I addressed the Highbury young students (Mr. Waller's ') last
week. They seemed very susceptible of missionary interest, and
grateful for information. Our old friend, Mr. Gee \ cultivates this
spirit.

A day or two afterwards he wrote to Mrs. French from
Stockton-on-Tees : —

* I had a chat with Bishop Lightfoot yesterday before lunch in
his study on the Greek Church, and proposed educational insti-
tutes. He spoke very encouragingly and hopefully, and asked me
to employ any patronage which his name and support could yield
to so good a cause.'

The remembrance of this visit was a source of great
thankfiilness to Bishop French when a few weeks later
Bishop Lightfoot died. He refers to it more at length in
the little pamphlet called Some Notes of Travel by a Mis-
sionary Bishop, which he published early the next year at
Sir W. Farquhar 8 particular request ^

* Rev. C. H. WaDer, D.D., Principal ; Rev. H. Gee, B.D., F.S.A., Senior
Tutor, London College of Divinity.
' See pp. 26 and 31 of the pamphlet.



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312 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

To MbsI Stone, Telhah Hall.

Chislehurst, Nov. ii.
... I have five invitations at least to help on Intercession Day,
and grieve one cannot be cut into five portions for the multiplied
agencies demanded. May the Lord multiply the five loaves and
two fishes as in the days of His earthly ministries, and the
disciples too to convey the supplies to the multitudes. Friday
I was permitted to address nearly two hundred clergy of South and
North London on some of the observed results and fruits of mis-
sionary labours in the East. The hearty enthusiasm shown might
well warm and cheer one's heart I have much yet before me.
Please add to your many kindnesses and sympathetic encourage-
ments a weekly remembrance (if I may venture to ask it) that,
counting my own planting and watering to be nothing, I may
lean only on the hope of His heavenly grace.

After visits to Stanhope, Bishop Butler's old parish, and
his old friend Mrs. Clay at Ambleside, whence he called on
the only surviving Miss Arnold at Foxhow, the bishop
went to Dean Butler at Lincoln for the Intercession Day,
where Mr. Lefroy and the Bishop of Ballarat took part in
the addresses.

* The Dean,' wrote Bishop French, ' is full of vigour. The old
sexton said to him, **Why, sir, the services follow one upon
another as fast as the trains at Clapham Junction I " Not bad
that. It seems such a pleasure to see Mr. Lefroy once again. He
seems full of holy joy in his work and prospects. He leaves in
three weeks for India.'

Before he left the bishop wrote to him : —

Chislehurst, Dec, ii, 1889.
... I think of you at this time with sorrowful and yet happy
S3^pathy, for I must rejoice with you in the rich grace which
empowers you to occupy so blessed and weighty a post in the
Master's house. I trust my poor prayers will never be wanting
in your behalf, and that I in my feebleness and decay of power
shall not be forgotten of you. I do not believe I shall. I am
glad to have your welcome sermon, and hope to study rather than
read it. Anything you publish will always be most acceptable.
In the midst of the trials you have in your heart (incident to
your work and its surroundings) may His comforts refresh
your souL The fresh wrench of parting from a beloved and
honoured parent, the one spared to you, will be sharp in its
suffering, as I know well from having had to leave my own
mother's actual deathbed for India. Small and shadowy resem-



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CHRISTMAS AT CHISLEHURST 313

blances (in our poor life's historiee) of the blessed Saviour's
anguished parting with the Virgin Mother.

I dare not occupy many of the few moments left to you on this
side the waters with thoughts, truer and holier than which will
be ministered to your own inmost soul from our compassionate
Advocate and High Priest Himself, and from deep thinkers and
almost inspired writers like those who sent you forth from the
Cambridge circle of friends, whose hearts throb in such close union
with your own.

Begging you to convey from me, though a stranger in the flesh,
truly sympathetic regards to your mother, and the thanks of the
Punjab Church for the gift to it of her son,

I am yours in undying brotherly affection,

Thos. Valpy French, Bishop.

To Mbs. Moulsok.

Chislehurst, St Stephen's Day.

I wish I could have written to you for Christmaa . . . Good
wishes and blessings though tardy are not reluctant and heartless
you may be sure, and will be heard and answered, I trust, by Him
to whom past and future are ona ... I celebrated and preached
at Mr. Murray's church yesterday, taking the text I love, * When
the fulness of the time was come,' &c. I began by saying, ^ I spoke
on these words twelve months ago at Bethlehem to a small Greek
flock, and though that haJlowed spot is far away from us, I pray
that Bethlehem may come near to us to-day with its blessed hopes
and holy inspirations.' I spoke of good Bishop Lightfoot's death
as a shadow cast this year on the brightness of our Christmas, and
spoke of him as a pillar of our Church, and almost an oracle of
Truth, a burning and shining light— and quoted a few words from
his great sermon at the Wolverhampton Congress on the destiny
in store for the Anglican Church, as a rallying'point for races and
churches in the future.

27^/k . . . Our little Christmas gathering has passed by, . . •
four out of the seven ! . . . Alfred talks of going to Berlin. I wish
I could go too to have a peep at good old Delitzsch, who cannot
be far from his end : one of the world's great prophets, a Jew like
Edersheim lately gone from us, and Lichtenstein and Babinowitz,
two Jewish prophets of Hungary and South Bussia, who seem
doing a work of preparation for the fulfilment of Zech. xii. I am
so glad to have seen a little of the returning Jews in the Holy
Land ; it was like seeing them in Ezra's or Nehemiah's time
after the Captivity ! but oh, how small their spirit and energy
now as compared with that era, through the want of a leader
of power. However, there are the two witnesses prophesying
in sackcloth.



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314 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

To Francis Frekch.

Chislehurst, Jan. i, 1890.
One line to acknowledge your very loving congratulations on
my birthday. This is the -first letter I have written for 1890.
The entrance on another decade is a solemn reminder of the rapid
flight of years, and now half the seventh decade of my life is con-
cluded I can hardly expect my life will be spared to see 1895 (the
full age of man for me) ; both mind and body refuse anything like
the work I once exacted from them with impunity. . . . Arch-
deacon Farrar told me he had been trying to stir up the Welsh
clergy to take up foreign missions, and had addressed quit« a body
of them at St. Asaph. I like to see men like Farrar and Canon
Liddon bestirring themselves on such subjects. It wants a second
Wilberforce (or one like Cardinal Lavigerie of the Boman Church)
to gird up his loins like a man and undertake a missionary
crusade ; one could long to be young again for such an object, but
one must be thankful to have been borne with so long.

To Mrs. Moulson.

Chislehurst, Jan, 23.

. . . How depressing it seems the removal of so many great and
distinguished men, such as Bishop Lightfoot, Mr. Aubrey Moore
of Oxford, and Professor DoUinger, for whom I always felt a deep
respect, ... a massive and Herculean character of colossal propor-
tions. It must be humiliating to Rome never to have been able
to subjugate his conscience and will, spite of all their determined
effort to crush and overawe him. ... I have enjoyed Bishop
Matthew's first charge, which reached me last mail. It is
thoroughly sensible and temperate, and ought to give all honest
men satisfaction. ... I wonder whether John and you have read
Bishop Steere's Life (of Zanzibar). I have been enjoying it the last
few days and making notes of it. I fear that at present State
politics are sadly mixed up with the growth of our missions : the
Central African bishops and clergy do try, I think, to keep un-
trammeled and unembarrassed.

Ja/n, 24. To-morrow it will be three years since the consecration
of the cathedral, the first day I became acquainted with Major
Thomdike ! The anxieties of that last year I seem never to have
got over. ... I am trying to work at Ajrabic as if I were to go to
the East again, but I often fear this will not be permitted to me.
I fear I should do so little good with a brain so weakened ; yet
surely to die in the mission field is a wondrous honour, if Bishop
Steere and Dr. Pfander spoke truly. It always seemed their
ambition. Bishop S. said, ' I cannot think why modern mission-
aries are bo afraid of dying.' This grandly high standard I cannot
profess to have reached, yet I admire those who have. . . . The
C. M. S. and S. P. G. seem to be attracting more of a good style



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LIGHTFOOTS REMOVAL AND SUCCESSOR 315

of University men than formerly, at which I greatly rejoice. I get
no opportunity now of having access to the Universities. ... I see
nothing of the committees of the societies. They think me a
renegade from sound principles I fear, but I plead for them with
my small remnant of power. I lose my way about the labyrinth
of London so much, that I see little of old Indian friends. At
missionary anniversaries I usually come across one or more.

To Mrs. Urmstok.

Chislehurst, March 8.

One line, dear friend, of grateful recognition of your sisterly
kindness and welcome^, which did my heart good, as I always
feel I have so much in common with your dear husband and
yourself in the way we regard the work of God, though one
feels humbled (7 must at least) to think what a miserably small
contribution one has to offer to the treasury of Him who, as the
greater than the temple, beholds how men cast theii* treasures
into it . . .

I send you the best likeness I have of my poor self. ... At
my age there is little good in perpetuating worn and withered
countenances. One has to look on to the reproducing of far more
than human beauty in the perfect likeness of the Lord. ' When
I shall wake up after Tkp likeness.' Still, even here it may be
a growing transforming of the old into the new, and the earthly
into the heavenly, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

To Mrs. Moxtlson.

Chislehurst, March 20.
Dr. Westcott's acceptance of Durham will be a sore bereave-
ment to Cambridge, quite an orphanfiood, . . . One bright thought
and joy to me is that Mr. Lefroy is spared to DelhL He was the
clasp that held fast the pearls of the chain from being scattered.
Dr. Lightfoot had done much to resuscitate and enlarge Durham.
If Westcott were to find time to give a course of lectures termi-
nally at Durham, and rouse an enthusiasm to create a small
northern Cambridge, it would be worth the severance for the last
ten years of his course from Cambridge, and like the old days
when the great divinity schools were both at York and Canterbury
under the great Theodore and Alcuin, whom Charlemagne had to
call over to Aix and other centres to revive theology among the
Gauls and Teutons. ... I am sorry to see the P^re Didon has
preached his last sermon at Ndtre Dame. He seems to have
dived into the mysteries and ground truths of the faith, nmch
more than Lacordaire did.



^ Referring to a visit to Southsea.



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3l6 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

Little Gladys comee in most mornings into my study putting
her little finger out towards a little box of photos of Buth and her
sister, &c. ; she reminds me so of dearest Edith's daily journey
into my study at Cheltenham to turn over my drawers for any
little curiosities she could extract to learn all about. Those
Cheltenham days seem like one little Malta harbour amid the
Mediterranean tossings of our life. Oxford and Keble terrace was
too shoi-t a glimpse of it, and Erith scarcely got inside the bar of
the port

sist. My good old friend is gone at last who sent me Xioo
a year for the cathedral while it was in building, a sort of Queen
of Sheba to me, supposing (what we are not told, however) that the
queen took interest in building Solomon's temple. She had just
completed her century of life. I wish I could for once have seen
her, but she said that she was so deaf that it would only tantalize
her. I should like to know what she sent to Bishop Matthew to
complete the decorations. I fear that there is little chance of the
steeples being built during my lifetime. How I should like to get
a joint memorial to my beloved friends Pfander, Knott, and
Gk>rdon: underneath the names and dates one might introduce
the three sentences from the Te Deum : —

' The glorious company of the apostles praise Thee' (Pfander).

* The goodly fellowship of prophets ' (Knott).

* The noble army of martyrs ' (Gordon).

All of these having been connected with the Punjab, it seems
to me our cathedral ought to have a joint memorial to three such
men. . . .

Entre nous I am a lUtU in hopes of being able to do some little
work for Greeks in Egypt, Syria, or Palestine, but as yet the pre-
cise door is not open. The G. M. S. is closed against me, I fear,
as the penalty of my high churchmanship. Bishop Blyth and
the archbishop favour my taking the work in Syria and Pales-
tine. I should still be twelve days sail from you, alas I though,
if in Egypt, I might have the delight of seeing you en passant
You will keep up your good courage and stout heart I trust in
hope of it some day.

I work on still for the British Syrian schools and have sermons
in prospect at Blackheath, and at Chigwell through Mrs. Birks' kind
influenca I wish I could do more for the Jews. Think of 70,000
of them being now settled in the Holy Land ! Bishop Blyth is
very warm on the subject. . . • Besides Eastern studies I try
to secure a portion of each day for theological study. It is
a sore pity that the clergy as a rule do not keep these up. My
favourites at present are Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, and
Archbishop Leighton. The two former I think I recommended
to John for systematic study. A man deep in those two books
would be a godsend to any parish, if he were great in the Bible
as well.



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A CONFIRMATION AT CHIGWELL 317

The writer may be pardoned if he pauses to notice this
brief visit of the bishop to his mother's house : it was his
own last opportunity of setting eyes upon him. The much-
loved Thomas Legh Claughton had just resigned the see of
St. Alban's, and his successor had not been appointed. In
the interim Bishop French kindly consented at the
invitation of the vicar, the Rev. T. Marsden, to hold
a confirmation in the parish. When he arrived on the
Saturday, before he could be hindered, he had plunged
halfway upstairs with a heavy bag of books, saying *he
would not break the housemaid's back with it.' On the
Sunday morning he preached for the British Syrian schools
from his fevourite passage in Zech. xiii, * Awake, sword ' :
and in the afternoon he held the confirmation. Before
delivering his charge he knelt beside the chancel steps^
and poured forth his heart in every collect of the
Prayer-book that pleads for the presence and good gifts of
God the Holy Ghost; then he spoke fervently about the
seal of the Spirit impressing on the heart the image of the
Saviour's love. All present must have felt they had re-
ceived a good man's prayers and blessings. In the evening
he again attended church and delivered to the candidates
their confirmation cards. The bishop's blue bag, that he
was so loth to let another carry, his brisk and energetic but
somewhat jerky walk, due to sore feet that often pained
him greatly, although he would not drive ; his interest in all
the work of others ; his modesty about his own ; his resolute
redemption of the time for private study; his unwillingness
to lead the family worship, and the comprehensiveness and
beauty of his prayers when he at last consented, will long
live in the memory ; and doubtless what he was at Chigwell
he was in every town and village that he visited, bearing
about the stamp of holiness and of humility, the image of
his Saviour's love impressed on his own soul.

To Miss Mills.

Chislehurst, April 5, 1890.
I do think the list of apostolic men and women, and prophets
too, has largely increased in our Church the last seven years,



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3l8 LIFE OF BISHOP FRENCH

though the battle with unbelief and with Rome is hot and fierce.
Never in our missions were we so confronted with Rome, into
which Leo XIII seems almost to have infused a new and
invigorated life, and vastly progressive influences. Still it is not,
and cannot be, the power of God unto salvation, as the pure
Gospel is.

To Mrs. French.

Burton, April 21, 1890.

... It was a deep pleasure to look on my dear mother's tomb
once again, and my beloved brother's. The old clerk still in
office : he is said to keep the curates all in order, and allows of
no deflection from my father's old ways. However, there is
a strong surpliced choir, and the Hymnal Companion has been
introduced. Mr. Drury says he still wears hands in remembrance
of my father.

There is a remarkable curate at the old church, a Mr. Nuttall,
bi"other of the Bishop of Jamaica, who knows all the Intelli-
gencei*s, Gleaners, Mission-fields, &c. by heart, better than any
person I ever met. Kurruck Singh, Kasim Khan are familiar
words in his vocabulary. He knows the Punjab mission-names
almost better than I do. ... It is quite a treat to meet such
a scholar in the mission-field. I speak reverentially in his
presence !

Mrs. Adams ^ came into the vestry last night to shake hands.
She went down to two trains to meet me, but I was too late for
her. ... I seem a stranger here to most. ... I called on the
brewers and other merchants in Burton to found a Christian
college in some large city of the Punjab, to acknowledge their
debt to India for the growth of the town. I fear this will not be
responded to !

From Burton he went on to Lichfield, where his visit to
Bishop Selwyn's grave, with its simple epitaph —

*In Peace,
A servant of Christ, a teacher of the Gentiles,
Bishop of New Zealand and Lichfield * —

was a great interest, and the remembrance of his own
ordination to the priesthood some forty-two years earlier.
From the midlands he travelled by night-mail to take part
in the consecration of his old friend, Dr. Noel Hodges,
to the bishopric of Travancore, and Dr. Tucker to the
bishopric of Eastern Equatorial Africa, the service taking

^ His old uurse.



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PAMPHLET ON THE EASTERN CHURCH 319

place in Lambeth parish church on April 25. From the
day when Eiapf took part in the meeting from which he
was sent out to his first missionary work at Agra, French
had always followed with keen solicitude the fortunes of
the Church of England missions in East Africa: and it is
interesting to find him brought into personal contact with
the three first bishops of the equatorial diocese, Hanning-
ton, Parker, and Tucker. A little earlier he had astutely
remarked, *The Pope will rejoice in the Romish baptism of
Mwanga, King of Uganda. Should he be killed in war, it
would be a case of canonizing as a martyr, in course of
years, perhaps.'

To Mrs. Moulson. ,^ , ^

May 26, 189a

I lunched with Sir W. and Lady Farquhar to have a chat about
the Greek Church and the East generally, in which they both take
very peculiar interest, more so almost than any one I know. My
pamphlet he had sent to Mr. Gladstone, who is an old fnend of
his, and he showed me a letter in reply in which Mr. Gladstone
expressed deep interest and regretted I had published anony-
mously. Poor Mr. G. can scarcely have had time to read it
very thoroughly with his infinitely varied interests. ... I am
looking forward to a period of compai'ative rest during July
and August if it can be achieved, for an achievement indeed it
is to secure rest in England, the busiest people in the world, in
the busiest of all the ages.

To THE Bishop of Lahore.

June 12, 1890.
. . . Mrs. Moulson will have sent you a copy, I trust, of my



Online LibraryH. A. (Herbert Alfred) BirksThe life and correspondence of Thomas Valpy French, first bishop of Lahore → online text (page 34 of 46)