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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8



A thrill of holy pride and joy must have been sent through the soul of every good Australian churchman by the speech of Dr. Marsden on the day of his installation at Bathurst. "They were all aware," said the new prelate, "how highly the Bishop of Sydney was esteemed in this colony, but they did not know how deep was the regard felt for him in England. He was held in the highest appreciation at home, and he was frequently referred to as the wisest man in the Archbishop of Canterbury's diocese, and a wish had often been expressed that he could be translated to the English Bench." For fifteen long years this incarnation of wisdom, this cynosure of British ecclesiastical thought, compared with whom the scholarly Thirlwall, the crafty Philpotts, and the saponaceous Wilberforce fade away into insignificance, has been wasting his spiritual fragrance on a very desert air. With the modesty which is characteristic of true greatness he has refrained from exhibiting his exalted merits to a vulgar and unappreciative gaze, and has meekly submitted to be looked upon by the mass of the people as a very commonplace colonial bishop. This reserve we may deplore, but we cannot censure that which doubtless is true apostolic humility. What language however can be invented which shall fitly describe the base conduct of English editors! Hireling scribes, who, suborned perhaps by some ambitious and unscrupulous aspirant to a seat on the right reverend bench, systematically suppress in their reports of parliamentary intelligence, of the proceedings in convocation, and other ecclesiastical meetings, those bursts of admiration of Bishop Barker's wisdom which are often to be heard, while they do not hesitate to give prominence on all possible occasions to any mention of such a black heretic as Colenso! It is humiliating to have to admit that the only allusion to the Bishop of Sydney within our recollection in any English paper appeared in the London Spectator nearly two years ago, when the good prelate was rudely and unfeelingly quizzed for having, in a noble burst of loyalty, just a week after the Clontarf tragedy, declared that "their grief and shame and horror must ever remain undiminished;" and that "there were many fathers in this community who, since the dreadful crime had been committed, did not dare to look their own offspring in the face, for very shame to think that their children should have been born in a country, the shores of which page 122 had been stained with the blood of the Queen's son." It is no small comfort to turn from this sublime, but soul-subduing picture of episcopal sorrow, to the Herald of May 10th, where we see reported a speech of his lordship at Bathurst quite bristling with jokes. Let us hope then that his grief is after all somewhat assuaged, and that as the Prince is now happily well and uninjured by the assassin's shot, so the more terrible wound made in the soul of the good bishop may have become cicatrised. If this be so, let us venture further to hope that the fathers of his acquaintance will deign once more to look upon the faces of their hapless and disconsolate offspring.

Dr. Temple has made a sad mistake. He knows it, and admits it; although his somewhat weak and vacillating speech in convocation does not by any means convey an ample retraction, or a satisfactory defence of his case. It is painful to read his half admission that Essays and Reviews may have done mischief as well as good by the "unsettling of faith," (did not Christ unsettle faith?) or his finely drawn distinctions between the moral obligations of the Bishop of Exeter and those of Frederick Temple, or the cruel way in which he renders quite nugatory his bold assertion of the right of free inquiry by maintaining that the acceptance of the Bible as God's Supreme revelation to man must be our starting point in all religious inquiry. To his honour be it said, however, that as long as his elevation to the Bench was in the least degree doubtful, he was persistently deaf to the beseechings and the threats of those who wished him to repudiate his connection with Essays and Reviews; and there can be no question that he spoke in all sincerity when he assured the world that he made the concession because he thought that good men would be grieved by his not doing so. An honest, but, as we think, a very poor reason. Take from amongst those who joined in the chorus of indignation against Dr. Temple's appointment all who were actuated by bigotry, hypocrisy, envy, or malice, and we suspect that few will remain, except those in whom the rational faculties have been completely stilled by the popular theology,—who breathe an atmosphere of faith only, and who, however pure and estimable, should not be allowed to obstruct the progress of truth. Certainly no mercy should be shown to such an insolent and audacious champion of orthodoxy as the Bishop of Litchfield, who, while denouncing the obnoxious work, ostentatiously proclaimed his utter ignorance of it contents! What would this bishop have thought if one of his Maori friends to whom he offered a Bible had contemptuously flung it back with the remark that he wanted no such trash; that he had not read it himself, but had heard that it was about donkeys talking, and men living inside of fishes, and would not waste his time over such nonsense. This would indeed be a shocking exhibition of prejudice, but not a whit worse than that which Bishop Selwyn himself has displayed in the matter of Essays and Reviews.

It is never too late to mend: so the Herald after conspicuously advertising—of course the "wages of iniquity" will be returned, or at any rate handed over to some deserving institution—"an exhibition of a very disgusting and demoralising character" recently opened in Sydney, suddenly discovers its mistake, and calls upon "the conservators of public morals and decency to page 123 suppress the nuisance referred to." We quite agree with the Herald. These exhibitions of wax models, got up ostensibly for scientific, but really for most disreputable, purposes are common enough on the other side of the Equator, but we question whether London or Paris contains a display of this sort which for out-and-out filthiness could vie with the one now stationed in Pitt Street. The wonder, in truth, is that the Police, acting under the supervision of the Inspector of nuisances, are not empowered to seize the disgusting contents of these mock physiological museums, and summarily reduce them to wholesome tallow. It was hardly pleasant to see, as we saw the other evening, some hundred or more of young men, many of them in their teens, turning away from the few wholesome models with a hasty glance, and crowding around others which we shall not defile our pages by attempting to describe with a scrutinising puriency of manner which but too clearly indicated how well the projectors of these exhibitions—tickling and debauching as they do the imaginations of young men prior to working upon their fears to the emptying of their pockets—understand their damnable game. We trust the "Authorities," whoever they are, will demolish the nuisance in question before the mischief is done.

From recent English papers we learn that the Rev. Mr. Gilfillan, a Scotch divine of respectable status, a few months since, ventured to opine that the world was not made in six days; whereupon some of his reverend brethren in the interest of orthodoxy and the Book of Genesis, formed themselves into a board for the purpose of dealing with Mr. Gilfillan's heterodoxy. Before this board he appeared, and after disposing of the quantum sufficit of humble pie, endeavoured to show what he did and what he did not moan; and, under the cloud of dust thus raised, managed to back out of the difficulty as creditably as circumstances would permit. All parties, therefore, agreed eventually that the world was made in the old orthodox style of six days. But about the same time there appears on the arena a group of philosophers, Professor Huxley, Sir William Thompson, Professor Sylvester, Mr. Monteith, etc., who, in their discussion on geological time, evidently show that they never heard of the six-day Scotch divines. Professor Huxley endeavoured to show that the stratified rocks, estimated at fifty-six and three-quarter miles in depth might have been deposited in one hundred million years if only one eighty-third of an inch of sediment were to be deposited annually. Now the crust of the earth is supposed to be a thousand miles thick, and taking the formation of the balance of the crust at the same rate as the stratified rocks, we have this sum:—If fifty-six and three-quarter miles give one hundred million years, how many years would one thousand miles give? We hand this sum over for the disposal of our juvenile readers, merely remarking that possibly Dean Cowper may in this interesting calculation find an additional proof of the harmony of Science with the book of Genesis.

The Rev. G. G. Howden has been grubbing, apparently for the first time, among the Biblical Mss., and is able, it seems, on their authority, to rebut "the theory, boldly advanced by the enemies of truth, of the Gospels being a development from facts and teachings of an entirely non-supernatural character." Upon what grounds, the newspaper report of his lecture does page 124 not say; but from the intimations given, it is clear that Mr. Howden has fallen into the. common mistake of supposing that to establish the authenticity of an ancient document is to verify the events of which it may be the record. Now, we are ready to admit that Christianity is singularly fortunate in possessing manuscript copies of most of the books of the New Testament, dating as far back as the end of the fourth century, but there is no evidence to show that the Vatican or Sinaitic MS. is a reliable transcript of the original writings produced more than three hundred years before; and if there was, is it not surprising to think that well informed and thoughtful men should, on the strength of mere documentary evidence, be ready to believe that living men were ever possessed by demons, or that dead men were ever restored to life? Mr. Howden's notion of the "Christian Evidences" is, indeed, singular, if he imagines that events which are flatly opposed to the teachings of Science are to be taken as genuine matters of fact simply because certain persons, whose brains were teeming with all manner of superstitious fancies and expectations, thought proper, in their ignorance or their enthusiasm, to put them on parchment. Such rotten and antiquated props, as the mass of thoughtful men now clearly see, are not the strength but the weakness of Christianity, much as Mr. Howden and others may think and vociferate to the contrary. As for his sneer at those who cannot agree with him in these matters as "the enemies of truth," there can be little question that, had he lived in the time of Christ, he would have flung the same taunt at his Master—the greatest sceptic, thank Heaven, that ever lived.

Thrice within the last three months has the colony been swept by devastating floods, and numerous have been the suggestions—benevolent, engineering, prudential, economic, etc.—for the alleviation of the consequent distress, and for the prevention of the worst results for the future. It is satisfactory to know, however, that the suggestion—to the culpable remissness, we think, of the parties from whom it should have emanated—has at length been made by Mr. E. Butler, of Goulburn. This prophetic genius has, it seems, discovered that the recent floods may be traced to the same causes which brought about "the flood of forty days we read of in Genesis, when God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth," and who is now, therefore, punishing us, in similar fashion, for "our much unnecessary work on Sundays, our general extravagance, particularly in drink and ladies' dress, our propensities for money-making, and our self-neglect." We are sorry to hear it. Still, as the voice proclaiming this dismal message is not "out of the whirlwind," but merely that of Mr. E. Butler, we may and must rebuke it, as an impious intrusion into the counsels of him whose doings, save as they are revealed to us in the unerring sequence of Cause and Effect which pervades and governs the Universe, are utterly beyond our human scrutiny. Our prophet, how-ever, is clearly not to be gainsaid. He believes, to use his own language, "that the united prayers of a Christian people can set aside the order of nature," and, accordingly, calls upon "the leading men, clerical and lay, of our Christian churches," since "the State rulers will not take counsel together," to abase themselves and, as far as possible, the community at large, before an offended God. And why not? The Church of England still retains in her liturgy forms of prayer for Rain and Fair Weather, nor is it page 125 for infidels like ourselves to regard them as mere withered branches of the liturgical tree. Why, then, between the flood of March 20 and that of April 26, or between the flood of this latter date and that of May 12, was not a day of humiliation named? Or, failing a proclamation by His Excellency, why didn't Bishop Barker—we understand that Roman Catholics, much to their credit, do not countenance this wretched superstition—summon his suffragan bishops, the clergy and the laity, to prostrate themselves in solemn prayer and humiliation? Fancy the spectacle of them marching bareheaded through the pitiless rain—no umbrellas allowed, by way of enhancing the effect—to the Cathedral in George street, and dolefully chanting the De Profundis or the Kyrie Eleison! And then, when, as the result of their supplications, the clouds began to lift, and the sun to show his face again, imagine the big organ pealing forth its Te Deum, and the people greeting their cloud-dispelling bishop as the favourite of Heaven and the benefactor of his country! What an effect! The abolition of state-aid, indeed! Why, the paltry and dwindling £20,000, or whatever it is, would at the next meeting of Parliament—Mr. Buchanan himself acquiesing—have been doubled and tripled; while scoffers and unbelievers of every grade would have been silenced for ever. The hierarchy have indeed lost what Mr. Butler terms a "very rare opportunity."

The newly-arrived Bishop of Bathurst enters upon the discharge of his functions under unusually favourable auspices. He seems to have been brought out under the especial patronage of that excellent churchman, Mr. John Campbell, who a few weeks ago braved the ridicule of his colleagues in the Legislative Council in defence of the Christian verities. We are assured also by the Bishop of Sydney that the previous training of the new prelate was of the right kind, and that his intellect is of such a high order that he stood twelfth in a competitive examination at Cambridge out of one hundred and twenty candidates, ill-health alone preventing him from probably eclipsing the eleven who were above him: a gratifying intimation, but unhappily not verified by the Cambridge Calendar, in which we can only discover his name as one hundred and tenth in a list of one hundred and thirty-nine. What, however, has mainly contributed to bring the not very exciting topic of a new colonial bishopric into prominent notice on this occasion, is the circumstance that I)r. Marsden is the grandson of a very eminent Australian clergyman, long since deceased, whose merits, we suspect, have been the stepping-stones of the new prelate to episcopal dignity. That excellent divine, whose praises have been sung so often within the last few weeks, has been described as "childlike in humility, angelic in vigour of mind and benevolence, full of enterprise for the good of mankind, and full of faith and reliance on the divine promises." It is melancholy to reflect, however, that in this world, the most immaculate purity of life, and the most self-sacrificing moral heroism are no safeguards against the tongue of the slanderer, or the sneers of the ungodly. It is bad enough that Mr. Wentworth should speak of him as a reverend hypocrite; a crafty, turbulent, and ambitious priest; rancorous and vindictive; one who systematically opposed the education of the poor, the institution of Sunday Schools, the civilisation of the aborigines, and every other philanthropic movement. But it is far worse that one of the page 126 most illustrious clergymen of his own church, Sydney Smith, should have been betrayed into picturing him, on the mere authority of Governor Macquarie's statements, as "a little merry bustling clergyman, largely concerned in the sale of rum, and brisk at a bargain for barley!"

The "Life of the Rev. D. J. Draper" has been placed before the Australian Public, and the Rev. Dr. Cairns, of Melbourne, whom the Herald quotes in its Review of the work, is responsible for the statement that the deceased divine was placed on the London to sound the last notes of solemn warning in the ears of all in the doomed ship who had hitherto rejected mercy. We say responsible, unable as we are to regard such rash and preposterous decisions as to what Providence means by this or that event as other than a serious religious offence. Placed there by whom? we ask. And if by God, why did He, knowing what was about to happen, allow the London to commence her last voyage, or, at least, not move her commander, when the danger became imminent, to head back for Plymouth, instead of driving deeper and deeper into that fatal Atlantic tempest? unless, indeed, Mr. Draper was another Moses, and Captain Martin another Pharaoh, whose heart it was necessary to "harden" in order that the mission of his servant might be accomplished. Eloquent, too, is Dr. Cairns' account of Mr. Draper's demeanour when "in the memorable midnight prayer-meeting he spake a word in season now to one trembling creature, now to another, as he offered Christ to every one, and implored the Lord to convert them ere they passed to their last account." On the point thus mooted there is room, we conceive, for difference of opinion. For ourselves, we cannot help thinking that the presence of a man like Mr. Draper on a disabled and apparently-sinking ship is, to say the least of it, a very questionable advantage. His demeanour on the London, as a clergyman of strong evangelical tendencies, was exactly what might have been looked for; but we are not, we suspect, alone in our opinion that the fit of excitement which seized upon Mr. Draper during the last hours of his life was—to say nothing of its paralysing and demoralising effect upon passengers and crew—but a pitiful display of character as compared with that of the first officer, whose hands were on the donkey-engine when the ship gave her final lurch, or with that of the actor, G. V. Brooke, who contemplated the scene with a face full of resignation, and met his fate as a man should meet it. With all respect for the memory of the dead, we must venture for the sake of the living to question whether Mr. Draper was as well-prepared for his passage out of this world into the next as were many on the London, who, so far from needing his professional services, his offers of mercy and of Christ, must have regarded them as a profane intrusion upon the solemnity of their last thoughts.

Mr. Charles Matthews, of histrionic repute, can, when he likes, be excessively funny; but his humour will not prevent a man here and there, even in this mammon-worshipping community, from estimating his debasing cash-in-hand standard of human effort and achievement at its true worth. Such an ideal of life is bad enough in the young man who has a fair prospect of some day being in a position to "pull down his barns and build greater," but in the old man who, like Mr. Matthews, must, in the natural course of events, quit page 127 the stage of this world's affairs altogether, it is as sad as it is despicable. As a set-off, however, to his greed of gold we may give our visitor credit for his honesty of speech. Mr. Matthews plainly avows that he is in Australia to get what he can out of us; to make as big a "pile" as possible. But when a parson comes among us, always, of course, at an increased salary, be sure that, in nine cases out of ten, he will take the first opportunity of informing his new flock and the public generally, that he has experienced—to the serious impeachment, we think, of the Spirit, to whom such invitations are invariably attributed—a "call." The fibber!

We have no desire to charge the reverend gentlemen and others who are promoters of the Servants' Training Institution with an attempt to obtain money on false pretences, but we cannot acquit them of singular carelessness in their mode of placing the scheme before the public. Let any one read the report in the Herald of the meeting held in the Masonic Hall on the 9th May, and he will fail to discover, either in the explanatory paper of Mr. Lee, or in the nine rules of the institution read by Mr. Webb, or in the addresses of the three other reverend speakers, the faintest intimation that the movement is to be limited within certain theological boundaries. We were, indeed, after a first glance at the report under the pleasant impression that the idea of a religious test had been abandoned. A careful perusal of Lord Belmore's opening speech, however, soon dispelled the illlusion. His Excellency announced in unmistakeable terms that the institution would be "strictly Protestant." It may possibly be thought by some that this statement is more creditable to his lordship's candour than to his prudence or good taste. However this may be we think that he deserves the thanks of the promoters for placing them in a true position, and of the public generally for informing them what it is they are invited to support. Bid it not occur to the reverend philanthropists that if their statements were to go forth without qualification the money of benevolent Catholics might flow into their coffers? Surely it would not be honest to accept such money, although indeed, as we are not told that the man who fell among thieves was reprimanded for having availed himself of the Samaritan's benevolence when his own priests neglected him, so possibly, it may be thought that in the event of any lack of enthusiasm on the part of the children of light, the worldly wealth of the ungodly or unbeliever might fairly be accepted and applied to the spread of true religion. By the way, it would be interesting to know what precise meaning was attached by Lord Belmore and his friends at the Masonic Hall to the word "Protestant." Would, for instance, a subscriber to the most Protestant paper in Sydney, the Free Religious Press, be considered one of the fold?

Looking at the same matter from another point of view, it seems probable enough that many mistresses, if only from selfish motives, will be ready to support a scheme which promises them some measure of relief from a notoriously crying nuisance. We suspect, however, that their enthusiasm will sufler a chill as soon as they discover, as many of them must, that an annual subscription of a pound gives them only a fractional chance of getting not a servant but an apprentice, who, after all, may be an extra source of page 128 worry and annoyance. The difficulty, in truth, is an arithmetical one, and may be dealt with as such. Of one hundred girls taken in hand, how many will become cleanly and industrious domestics? Of those qualified by the Institution to act, how many will fall to the lot of mistresses qualified to teach and to rule? Of the child apprentices, how many will find their way into homes where they will receive due courtesy and befitting comforts in exchange for their modest manner and domestic usefulness? The scarcity of servants in any country where wages are high is inevitable, and some degree of unfitness in them must be looked for in a colony where the climate, and the disposition and habits induced thereby, are unfavourable to the old home ways. Where there is much gadding, lounging and listlessness in a family, it cannot be expected that the servants will be brisk and thorough. That Sydney is full of indifferent servants is neither to be denied nor wondered at, however much for the sake of society, high and low, it may be regretted. There are many combining causes for this state of things, and to the suggestion of remedies for it there is, of course, no end. But the only effectual and lasting remedy will be found in the cultivation of virtuous principles, settled habits and home-loving tastes, and in the revival of that old-fashioned housekeeping pride which is the root of incalculable happiness and the safeguard of much virtue.

We observe with much satisfaction that another and, as we think, a far more excellent institution, the "Porter and Shoe-black Brigade," has not only been projected, but actually set afloat, and that in consequence there are at this moment some twenty or thirty boys earning a fair amount of money every day who a week ago came under the denomination of "City Arabs." These boys are not only afforded employment during the day, but are instructed every evening in reading, writing and arithmetic. It is really gratifying to find in these days of much talk and little work, that a number of persons can be found capable of organising and carrying into effect a purely philanthropic scheme; and it is none the less gratifying that all this has been done without aristocratic patronage or ecclesiastical interference.