H. A. (Herbert Alfred) Birks.

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

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small and rather meagre tractate on the Greek Church relations
to ourselves. ... It has a measure of attention among the few
to whom the Eastern questions are not, as with so many, so much
shrivelled parchment with obliterated characters. I wish our
bishops at home had more liberty and leisure from their own
home concerns to study such questions. One hears the question
of * reunion' discussed and debated ad nattseam; as for any
practical and effective help rendered the less said the better !
For the newly-stirred desire of self-reform they owe more
(I firmly believe) to the Americans and British Syrian schools,
with all their uncatholic views and teachings, than to all the
magniloquent expressions of sisterly regard which are bruited
about by some membei-s of our Church who stop short with
words !

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To Mrs. Moulsok.

Ghislehurst, June 19.

. . . Only think of the ladies carrying off all the honours this
year. Miss Fawcett beating the Senior Wrangler (by thirteen per
cent, of the marks), and Miss Alford bracketed with the three
first in the Classical Tripoa What shall we poor men do ? The
best is, we seem beaten in missionary work too.

En route for Bedfordshire, yesterday, I stopped at St Paul's
Cathedral and heard rather a fine sermon from the Bishop of
PeterboroV not perhaps quite up to his old splendid level, but
not far off it. On the way back to Chislehurst to day I stopped
at St. Mark's in Audley Street, and heard a really powerful and
pregnant sermon fiom Mr. Bickersteth Ottley, of Brunswick
Chapel. . . .

Ammergau and Stanley seem the two events of the year thus
far. I am thankful that Lord Salisbury has secured the Uganda
protectorate, and that of Zanzibar also, for England as against
Germany, with the trifling price of the cession of Heligoland. . . .
I do trust England will not be a curse to Africa with its gun-
powder and gin, with which it has ruined so many, else it will
desei've to be the Babylon of the Apocalypse, which I sometimes
tremble to think it may be.

I think of you very, very often, and commend you to the love
and sympathy of the Chui*ch's 0(*eat Intercessor and Fellow-
Sufferer. Mr. Ottley said this morning: ^Knowledge has done
much, and work has done much, in helping forward the pro*
gressive advance of the Church, but the fEtith and patience of
sufferers has done more.'

To Mrs. Moulson.

Chislehurst, St. James' Day, July 25.

I have had to defend myself in a series of letters to the
Guardian, from having dealt too hardly with the Greek Church,
which is scarcely fair, as my great object had been to commend it
to respect and sympathy on the part of the Church of England.
• Reunion with the Eastern Churches is with the extreme High
Church party talked about and debated incessantly, but I want to
reach some practical result, and to render some solid service so as
to help them to stand their ground against Bome, which has
seduced some 60,000 members of the Greek Church into the Roman

The only distinct call I have had has been from the Bishop of
Jerusalem to come and help him. Most of my fi-iends look on me
as too decrepit and feeble to help anything or anybody. This is

^ BiBhoff Magee.

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humbling but profitable discipline. It may be well to go and look
whether there is any small niche I can fill or not I wonder
what John thinks about the Archbishop's Court and the coming
judgement. I thoroughly chime in with recent utterances of the
Bishop of Carlisle, that it is suicidal^ when we have at last got hold
of a Church Court we have fought for so long, not to accept it with
gi*ateful respect, and put faith in its being helpful and conclusive
to our strifes.

I glanced with pleasure at Drummond's little treatise, 'The
Greatest Thing in the World, ' L e. Christian charity. If John would
translate it into good and forcible Hindustani I can hardly think
of any little work so likely to be useful to the Church of India.
One might almost think some people thought it to be the worst
thing in the world by their practice, and that the crusaders of the
latter days were to be Christians fighting Christians. Certainly
our Quinquagesima collect needs to be often on our lips and
hearts, and pictured in our lives!

To Mrs. Moulsok.

Kibworth Rectory, Aug, 16.
It made me almost heartbroken throughout this day to hear
from mother of your increased suflfering. • . • I can but plead for
you out of my deep anguish that God >vill have mercy on you and
yours, and on myself also, lest I have sorrow upon sorrow. It
seems as if I could readily offer my own life if only yours might
be spared to those to whom your abiding in the flesh is so needful,
though I can well believe that you would feel it better for yourself
to depart and be with Christ, and that in any case you would say
with one of Dean Burgon's Twelve Good Men^ the pious layman,
Mr. Higgins :

* Let come what will come God*8 will is well come.'

I am struggling hard against a tendency to depression, which is
such a temptation to overworked constitutions like yours and
mine, and I doubt not you often do tiy to put it on one side
(as I try, but not successfully always)^ by thinking, what act
of kindness and sympathy can I perform for some one in
need or suffering? This seems to tend, if anything can, to self-

I am here alone this evening, having run up from Whitby to
take Edmund's duty. The crowds at this season at all the stations
of the large towns, York, Sheffield, Leicester, &c^, are appalling,
and the third classes crowded. I am obliged to take these long
journeys third class.

Aug, 19. We all of us (except mother, who declined) enjoyed
Bamborough Castle and Holy Island last Thursday and Friday,
spite of occasional heavy showers. We had some very bright
hours of sunshine too. Few resting-places seemed to me likely to

VOL n. Y

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be so restful as that Yorkshire and Northumbrian coast, between
Scarborough and Berwick — such quiet, charming seaside retreats,
wild and stormy perhaps in the winter season. At Holy Isle the
excavated cells of St. Cuthbert and St. Aidan were to me more
interesting than the Norman cathedral, whose ruins are most im-
posing and massive.

If I had more means at command I should gladly multiply
such visits to old historic scenes in quiet spots, but English hotels
are ruinous.

It may be mentioned as a proof that the bishop was still
possessed of considerable physical vigour, that he had
formed a strong purpose to go to Lindisfame, as far as
possible, in pilgrim guise on foot. When the party were
breakfasting at Bamborough the rain began to fall in
torrents, and Mr. Knox insisted on ordering a carriage.
At the time of starting it was discovered that the bishop
had slipped away unnoticed. Some three or four miles on
they overtook him in his shirt-sleeves, dripping wet, his
coat over his arm, trudging gallantly onwards, and only
consenting to be driven as otherwise he would have missed
the train at Belford. Later the day brightened, but, with
no opportunity of changing his soaked clothes, he went
through a long day of sightseeing, and a heavy journey
back to Whitby late at night, without being in any v^ay the
worse for it. His pleasure in the scenes of St. Cuthbert's and
St Aidan's ministries was so great that it seemed to act as
a preservative against the rash exposure.

To Mrs. Moulson.

Aug, 26. Last night I took a festival sermon for St Hilda's
festival at St. Hilda's Church [Whitby] on 2 John i and 2. I spoke
of her as the forerunner of all our valuable ladies' missions in
Syria, Punjab, Japan, &c I did not fail to commend Mrs. Mott
and her work, and told them I should gladly receive help, and
hoped that Yorkshire and North umbria would still furnish princely
and munificent lady-workers like St Hilda !

Bntre nous, 1 am almost settled to leave for Egypt about
Oct 25, and may perhaps stay a short time in Cyprus to inquire
whether there is any reasonable hope of founding schools for
Greeks and Moslems there. . . .

May we realize what St. Paul meant by hearing about in the
body the dying of the Lord Jesus.

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To Mbs. Moulson.

Sept, 12, 1890.

Entre nous I may possibly be some weeks or months in Egypt
this winter. . . . Most of my friends discourage and dissuade me
in the matter, but only oneself before God can be master of the
whole situation, and be a kind of central focus, in which a kind of
resultant harmony has to be established between providences,
some concurrent and others discordant and conflicting. The only
home-work of any importance suggested was four months* locum-
tenency for the Bishop of Exeter^ in taking charge of his diocese
during his absence in Japan.

Were I ten years younger such a delay at home w^ould be of no
great moment, but at my age a year spent in any fresh line blocks
the way against any future work of a more grave and abiding
character. I own to have been much perplexed. . . . Taking all
the varied circumstances into consideration, and regarding them
as prayerfully and thoughtfully as I can, I can but come to this,
that when fuU light is not given one must accept the best light
one has, and move slowly forward with some hesitancy but still
more trust.

It is partly a comfort and partly a sorrow to feel how little it
matters to the Church of Christ what line one takes, when
strength is so enfeebled. How different was the case with Canon
Liddon, whose death, taken in connexion with Bishop Lightfoot's.
makes one almost feel as if the two pillars (Jachin and Boaz) of
our Temple of the English Church had crumbled and fallen. The
foundations are cast down, what shall the righteous do ? Better
it is to say, my strength will I ascribe unto God, and to act as the
father of the Faithful, who staggered not at the promise of God
through unbelief.

Yesterday I took Mr. Kelley (of Delhi) over to see the grave of
my old master in missions. Dr. Pfander, at Ham, near Surbiton.
We knelt by the grave to plead for the work in India. I was
reminded of the day when I knelt with a brother missionaiy
( Bambridge) by the grave of a very different man, yet honoured of
God too — Cyrus the Great — near Pasargadae, his old capital.

I fear this has been sadly too selfish a letter, though it pui-posed
to be one of loving sympathy. I took it for granted, it seems, that
your unselfish and generous nature would find most comfort in
partaking another's (a father's) perplexities and troubles (far lesser
yet real), and that what comforts me might possibly minister
comfort to you, for I feel that there is often much in common
between our two ways of looking at things— at any rate, you have
taught me often.

To Mr. SniRREPr.

Chislehurst, Oct, 24, 1890.

... I propose a jom-ney for a few weeks or months, or more,
as God may appoint, to Egypt, perhaps vi& Tunis, to perfect myself


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more in the Aittbic tongue, and to inquire what is being done for
Mohammedan missions most effectively in those parts. The
C. M. S. think me too worn-out to attempt any fresh mission-
work, and I am almost of the same mind with them ; yet I feel as
if a spark of ancient fire survived in my ashes, as in the tenants of
Gray's country churchyard, and I have a shrewd suspicion that it
is not my age alone which renders our C.*M. S. friends to stand
in doubt of me ! But I try to think and believe the best of them,
and plead for them as of old, perhaps more eagerly and earnestly
than ever, though I am not often successful and acceptable in my
pleadings, as might be expected at my age ! . . . My pamphlets
on the Greek Church have awakened some measure of sympathy,
but none have volunteered for active service in that direction. To
be heard amidst the Babel of voices in England, so as to reap
practical fruit of one's pleadings, is increasingly difficult and
almost hopeless.

We had the archbishop down here last night, and a grand
speech he made to a very fair audience in the Parochial Hall on
his Assyrian Missions. For fifty years, it appears, that sunken and
degraded Nestorian Church has been pleading with the Anglican to
come to their rescue, and save their falling into the gaping mouths
of the Americans on the one side and the Jesuits on the other,
from both of which they recoil with horror, naturally enough, as
their missions mean scissions and simply swallowing them up with
open maw ! I begged for and received the archbishop's sanction
and blessing for my proposed venture, if not of faith, at least of
conviction, that I am not yet dismissed the service, and allowed
the discharge of the vetcranl

I cannot see that I have any right to waste my life's work at
tongues, in spite of St. Paul's deprecation of them in comparison
with charity.

Happily they need not be in opposition and contradiction.

To Mrs. Moulson. ^^^ ^^ ^g^

. . . This, I fear, will be my last from England for the present,
if indeed my plans find accomplishment — for mother refuses to
believe I shall really venture abroad again. However, I have
got so far as to obtain a fresh passport and circular notes, and
even a box of medical tabloids^, which seems almost an indis-
pensable requisite now of the missionary work ; almost perhaps
too seriously superseding the evangelist's functions. There seems
a little danger of this depreciation of the soul-healing of the
word in favour of the bodily healing : however, both seem

^ For the purpose of chooBing these the bishop made a point of
inspecting the explorer Stanley's medicine chest, which was on exhibition
in London.

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embraced in the word 'salvation/ Acts iv. 12, if the Greek
original is had regard to. The Archbishop of Canterbury came
over on Thursday. ... I walked with him ^e made me take
his arm, thinking, I suppose, I was a worn-out man !) and
talked over my plans for a journey in Egypt and other neigh-
bouring lands. He seems to approve them on the whole, and
I feel more assurance in having his sanction and benediction as
the head of our Church.

On Friday next the great sentence on Bishop Eling's trial is
to make its appearance. The Bishop of Hereford, whom I saw
there last week, told me he was to leave on Tuesday to help
in giving the finishing stroke to the transaction, which many,
no doubt, are eagerly expecting. . . . Hereford is a place of
much interest, and the scenery is striking and delightful.
I stayed with the Dean (a widower with two daughters), the
Hon. Geo. Herbert — of the same family with the poet. In the
Hereford paper appeared an ode of welcome to me written by
a lady of the old Cheltenham flock, who lives in Hereford now ;
you would have been amused at it.

. i . Should I go to Egypt, vi& Tunis, as I rather propose,
I shall see the spots sacred to St. Augustine's memory. ... I some-
times wish my path had been clear all along to return to the
Indian frontier. It seems hard at nearly sixty-six to start on
a new line of action altogether: but events prove that I was
rightly guided to thi'ow myself into Arabic studies. But for
that the world would have seemed shut against me like a blind
wall without a door I As it is, I hope my studies may turn to
some small account.

Prebeudaiy Edmonds has put out a valuable article on Henry
Mai-tyn^s translation of Holy Scripture, and his burning desire
to do something for the Arab tongue and races. How one could
wish to be young again to throw fresh energies into such a work.
Mackay's Life is deeply interesting, full of fire and solid matter,
with records of scientific skill and exploits of no mean order.
His life sometimes hung on a thread, that is clear. He was
anxious to see Muscat taken up as a mission station. The finest
Arabs in Zanzibar and inner Africa hail from Muscat, he say&
I was greatly struck with the place when I spent six hours
there visiting it as Bishop of Lahore, and read a little Ai-abic
out of the Bible in the bazaars, I believe.

On the same date, writing to the Archbishop of Canter-
bury, who had asked for further particulars of his plans,
after alluding to possible work as a theological teacher for
Greek Church students at Jerusalem, he said : —

'There is one other suggestion I venture to offer which
probably will have occurred to your Grace already. It is with

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reference to the late Mr. Mackay's (of Uganda) strong and urgent
appeal for the adoption of Muscat on the Oman coast, as one
of our chiefest mission centres, because of the important bearing
it has both on Zanzibar, and on the inland territories of our
newly-acquired protectorate in Africa. "In more senses than
one," he writes (as quoted p. 420 of his JW/e), "Muscat is the
key to Central Africa. General Haig is convinced that in
Oman, whose capital is Muscat, there are important openings
for the Gospel. The Arabs who swarm over Central Africa
generally hail from Muscat or other towns in the dominion of

^The entrance into this field might for various reasons be
claimed as justly the inheritance of the C. M. S. on the one
hand, or the Universities' Missions on the other. Your Grace
will be fully aware of the importance of our Chm*ch not being

* Failing both these agencies, it is possible your Grace's Board
or Council of Missions might express some intention of ultimately
attempting to gain a footing on that coast. Muscat I visited
as Bishop of Lahore in 1883 en route for Bushire, and were the
bishop's plans to fail for the establishment of a high school
for the Greeks, I should not refuse, I trust, if invited, to
accompany, as unpaid volunteer, a small brotherhood enlisted
to occupy that field.

*I have thus ventured to open my heart freely on these
two points to your Grace, which I feel sure you will forgive,
as you encouraged me to do so : and at least I have the comfort
of feeling that I have your sanction and benediction for my
present journey of inquiry and fresh trial of health and strength
in connexion with what has been my life's chief work, though
through circumstances it has been too scattered and broken.

*P.S. — I expect to leave quite early next week, and must
devote this week to needful preparations.'

The only remaining letter to be quoted here is perhaps the
last the bishop penned in England, and bears plain traces in
its style of the great pressure under which he wrote it.

To Cakon Edmonds.

TUT ri -n Dover, Nov, 2, 189a

My dear Canon Edmonds, ^^

A formal preface to your published sermon I dare not
hope to find time for on the very eve of starting for a fresh
journey Eastwards (I leave to-morrow, if all be well), nor the
calm thought and self-recollection required. I feel, however,
that your attempt to call to the Church's remembrance the
almost forgotten memories of H. Mariyn's Arabic studies, and

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his inspired forecast And anticipation of the Church rising to
a sense of the dignity and excellence and glory of its high
commission to possess itself of the Arabic tongue in order to
reach the Arab heart, has been most seasonable, and will act,
I pray God, as a most powerful constraint to many (to myself
among others in my riper years) to seek to realize the dramatic,
but no less true, picture his glowing words express of a new
impulse and enthusiasm seizing the heart of a goodly band of
Chiist's young soldiers and servants of the type of Mackay,
OTlaherty, and Hannington, and Bishops Steere and Smythies,
to undertake a fresh spiritual crusade, to roll back the tide of
Arab conquest, and plant the cross above the crescent: not
because we are Westerns and Anglo-Saxons, and because it is
a proud thing to raise racial and national trophies, but in the
way in which Henry Martyn realized so graciously St. John's
own standard of missionary excellence, and reached its hidden
spring and source of mysterious power, when he wrote the
simple words : ''If we. love one another^ God dwelleth in us, and
His love is perfected in us;' *He that hveth is born of Crod, and
knoweth God.'

I am free to confess that the particulai* line of thought and
witness you have by patient, painstaking research extracted from
the very pith and marrow of Martyn's Diary and Corre-
spondence (a work, by-the-by, for whose reprint I have often
pleaded in vain, and for which all that there is of mission-life
in our Church would plead, had it not been so long out of print
and out of sight) has helped to encourage me in undertaking
this journey of missionary inquiry, to say the least, to which
I have felt bound to address myself: too late in life, I regret
to think. To many younger and abler men than myself may
your words, or rather Martyn's words as reproduced and re-
echoed by you, carry home in heart and conscience, and make
effectual to abiding purpose and energetic action, St. Paul's im-
pressive exhortation : * that ye he not slothful, hut followers of them
who through faith and patience inherit the promises.'

It has been my privilege and happiness to come across, in my
Eastern journeys, the footprints of Martyn, and one like-minded
with him in spirit, George Maxwell Gordon, the martyr of
Candahar : e.g. in Patna, the native city adjoining Martyn's
cantonment charge at Dinapoor, in Cawnpore, and in Shiraz.

In the first of these I had made an agreement (which through
some error of time or place did not take effect) to meet
a celebrated moollah, who would have rejoiced the heart of
Martyn, if he could have anticipated the uprising in so bigoted
a city of such a bold confessor of Christ, who wrote of him-
self, some two years since to Eobert Clark, as follows: — 'I am
one of the warmest and heartiest champions of the Christian
faith in India. I spend my life, time, means, in its defence.

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I have read most of the expositions and apologies of the
Christian Scriptures. I am thoroughly persuaded of the truth
of the Bible, and of the gospel of Christ All my faith and
hope lies there. I will, while life lasts, spare no pains and
endeayours to bring over my Moslem brethren to the faith
and love of the Gospel*

I am reminded of a scene, of which I was witness in Shiraz,
which, if Maiiyn's sainted spirit could have been present to behold,
it must have been gladdened and refreshed. I was called to visit,
in a garden villa on the outskirts of that lovely oasis in the midst
of a howling desert, a muj tabid (Moslem archbishop) with a group
of disciples seated around him on the house-top. I presented him
with a well-bound copy of the entire Bible in Persian, which he
first put to his lips and kissed, then laid reverently on his head in
token of profound respect, then spread open before him and held
in his arms, and read out of it portions which he recommended
to the admiring regards of his disciples.

To the more seriously minded women of our Church your
burning words can add least : they are coming to be full of fire
and force already in the great cause which is one main feature of
this new epoch of our Church history. They may add much to
the laymen of our Church, especially to the mercantile element
in their midst, which for every £10,000 of gains won by the
soul-destroying sale of rum and fire-arms barely returns j£io
for the soul-saving spread of the word of truth and kingdom of

Most of all they need to rouse our clergy afresh, as a body,
from the deep slumber and callous lethai'gy and stupor with
which they regard the missionary cause, L e. the solemn duty of
practically espousing it, a matter of which it causes me profound
regret to speak so strongly, but in which all my experience — not
least during this last visit home— compels me to concur with
a remark made to that effect recently by one of our leading speaker's
on missionary subjects.

I must close this, alas ! as my time is exhausted, having to
preach for Bishop Blyth's fund this evening, but remain, with
very true regards,

Yours in brotherly sympathy,

Thos. V. French, Bishop.

This letter stows the bishop at work till the very end.
He had come to Dover to spend the last Sunday in quiet-
ness with Mrs. French, and he was much refreshed by the
services that he attended — early Communion and Morning
Prayer at Holy Trinity, and Evensong at St. Bartholomew's.

Online LibraryH. A. (Herbert Alfred) BirksThe life and correspondence of Thomas Valpy French, first bishop of Lahore → online text (page 35 of 46)