Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Letters from New Zealand 1857-1911


page 353


January 1st, 1912.

My dear St. John,

My time for retirement from work has come. Yon will understand this, knowing my age, and that I am acting under medical advice. Owing to the liberality of both the Diocese and my parishioners, I am able to retire with a good annuity, besides what is due to me from our Pension Fund. So I am not under the necessity, so hard on many, of remaining at work, to its detriment, when no longer able to do full justice to it. I know that it needs younger hands than mine. Who was it in old times that said, "One should put an interval between work and death?" It is a great privilege to be able to do that; a privilege which in future years will be possible for the clergy in New Zealand, if the system of our Pension Fund is carried out carefully.

After the completion of the church, and some months of work, I obtained leave of absence for a short visit to England, having secured as locum tenens the Rev. S. T. Adams, Rector of Coton, near Cambridge, who carried on the work of the parish with much success, aided by Mr. T. Curnow, my curate. Giving full notice of resignation, the Ven. Archdeacon Jacob, an Oxford man, was duly appointed as my successor. I am glad to say that the financial resources of the parish have prospered so well that my successor will have the aid page 354of a second curate; three men being none too many for the increased population of the place, and its places of worship; a great contrast, as I look back, to my single-handed work for so many years. So I can leave it to other hands with a quiet mind and a thankful heart.

In the East end of the chancel of the church there is a triple lancet window of considerable size. It was suggested to me, just before I left, that on some future occasion it might be possible to fill it with stained glass, and that it would be well if I were to arrange with Messrs. Powell for a design to be ready when wanted. Soon after arriving in London, I received a letter, stating that the parishioners had determined to erect the glass as a memorial to myself, and that the money, a considerable sum, was forthcoming. A curious and probably unique position. It falls, I imagine, to few to be asked to plan their own memorial. The window was completed, and on my return I superintended its erection. It is quite a masterpiece of Powell's work in design and colour. The proportions of the window are excellent, the central light much higher than the others. High up in that Our Lord stands in the act of Benediction; above Him Cherubin and Seraphin; on either hand, in the side-lights, the archangels Gabriel and Michael look up in adoration. Beneath them, stretching across all three lights, a cloud of angels, kneeling, offer praise. Below, in the central light, stand the Virgin Mary, St. Peter and St. John, and behind them five Apostles, representing the Apostolic Church. In the left-hand light a group representing the Church of old, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, and Isaiah. In the right-hand light representative of the Church Catholic, St. Paul, page 355St. Stephen, St. Alban, St. George, St. Augustine, and St. Paulinus. The window dominates the whole church, and is seen to its best advantage in its deep recessed setting of stone wall, divided by marble columns, in the clear light of Southern skies. I cannot better describe its effect, especially in regard to the majestic figure of Our Lord, than in the words of a constant worshipper in St. Mary's, "Beautiful as it is, I never look up at it with mere admiration—something higher, adoration."

Doing things for the last time, I find, is rather sad work; so is leave-taking. Last Services in centres of the Archdeaconry, gatherings of Sunday School teachers and children, of the Young Men's Society, and other parochial organizations, besides the inevitable last words to personal friends.

In Christchurch, at Bishopscourt, partly in the house, and in the grounds, there was a large assemblage of Clergy, Synodsmen, and many others to bid me farewell. I shall never forget the Bishop's kindly words of "the long years of service which would not be forgotten." In Timaru, besides a special gathering of St. Mary's people, a public meeting was held, representing the citizens and South Canterbury. Mr. Craigie, the Mayor, presided, and, to my great satisfaction, on the platform were the heads of all the religious bodies in the town. As I have said in previous letters, we all work in our respective spheres without bitterness of controversy, and yet with loyal adherence to the principles we profess. I have many personal friends, whom I value much, amongst other communions than our own. The farewell greetings of this great gathering touched me deeply, especially the words of one of the speakers with which he concluded page 356after a most generous estimate of my work,—"Behold how good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in Charity." As part of the presentation made during the evening, I received a beautifully bound "Citizen's Appreciation," containing an illuminated address, with photographs and water-colour views of Timaru and South Canterbury.

I am adding a few words on board the steamer in which I left the Bluff, the southernmost part of New Zealand. I was there in 1857, as I mentioned in my first letters when no craft had visited it, save an occasional whaler, and a few Maori canoes; now a busy harbour.

It is New Year's day. I am watching the fast receding coast-line of forest-covered hills and their background of snowy peaks, leaving behind me fifty-four years of experience and work. Work shared with many others who made the great venture of migration to a new land in the uttermost parts of the earth. Work, too, of far wider importance than we realized at the time, of beginning and shaping the early years of a new national life. I can imagine no happier privilege, in such a well favoured country, and with fellow workers and pioneers of the sort which New Zealand may well be proud of.

My share in this, now belongs to the past, but by no means a past gone for ever, the end of a chapter never to be reopened. Do you remember Dryden's lines?

"Not Heaven itself upon the past has power;
That which has been! has been, and I have had my hour."

page 357

An hour in which with all its imperfections and failure there was much substantial success, and many visible rewards of labour. Much no doubt left undone that should have been done, yet something done, and in it all the abiding sense of God's merciful blessing; a possession for ever that nothing can take away. With this, and not the least of it all, memories of personal friendships and affection, and of no small share in the happiness and daily trials of so many with whom I spent strenuous years of work and play.

I am,
Yours ever,

H. W. H.

January 1st, 1912.