The Project Gutenberg eBook, The London Pulpit, by J. Ewing Ritchie

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Title: The London Pulpit

Author: J. Ewing Ritchie

Release Date: April 8, 2010  [eBook #31925]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1858 William Tweedie edition by David Price, email



author of thenight side of london.”

“Oh heavens! from the Christianity of Oliver Cromwell, wrestling in grim fight with Satan and his incarnate blackguardisms, hypocrisies, injustices, and legion of human and infernal angels, to that of eloquent Mr. Hesperus Fiddlestring, denouncing capital punishments, and inculcating the benevolences, on platforms, what a road have we travelled!”—Carlyle’s Latter-day Pamphlets.


Second Edition.
revised, corrected, and enlarged.



p. ijohn childs and son, printers.

p. iiDedication


Dear Robinson,

In dedicating to you this edition of a Work, the contents of which originally appeared under your editorial sanction, I avail myself of one of the few pleasures of authorship.  Of the defects of this little Volume none can be more sensible than myself: you will, however, receive it as a trifling acknowledgment on my part of the generous friendship you have ever exhibited for an occasional colleague and

Yours faithfully,

Finchley Common,
   Nov. 7, 1857.

p. 1the
of london.

‘Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto,’ said Terence, and the sentence has been a motto for man these many years.  To the human what deep interest attaches!  A splendid landscape soon palls unless it has its hero.  We tire of the monotonous prairie till we learn that man, with his hopes and fears, has been there; and the barrenest country becomes dear to us if it come to us with the record of manly struggle and womanly love.  This is as it should be, for

‘The proper study of mankind is man.’

In pursuance with this axiom, we have devoted some little time to the study of one section of modern men deservedly worthy of serious regard.  There is no subject on which men feel p. 2more intensely than they do on the subject of religion.  There are no influences more permanent or powerful in their effects on the national character than religious influences.  We propose, then, to consider the pulpit power of London.  There are in our midst, men devoted to a sacred calling—men who, though in the world, are not of it—who profess more than others to realise the splendours and the terrors of the world to come—to whom Deity has mysteriously made known his will.  Society accepts their pretensions, for, after all, man is a religious animal, and, with Bacon, would rather believe all the fables in the Koran than that this universe were without a God.  For good or bad these men have a tremendous power.  The orator from the pulpit has always an advantage over the orator who merely speaks from the public platform.  Glorious Queen Bess understood this, and accordingly ‘tuned her pulpit,’ as she termed it, when she sought to win over the popular mind.  We deem ourselves on a level with the platform orator.  He is but one of us—flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone.  The preacher is in a different category: he in his study, we in the rude bustle of the world; he communing with the Invisible p. 3and Eternal, we flushed and fevered by the passing tumult of the day; he on the mount, we in the valley, where we stifle for want of purer air, crying in our agony,

‘The world is too much with us; late or soon,
Getting or spending, we lay waste our powers.’

We feel the disparity—that there ought to be an advantage on the preacher’s side—that there must be fearful blame somewhere, if his life be no better than that of other men.

Before we begin our subject, we will get hold of a few facts and figures.  According to the very valuable Report of Horace Mann on Religious Worship, it appears that there are, in England and Wales, 10,398,013 persons able to be present at one time in buildings for religious worship, and that, for the accommodation of such, 34,467 places of worship have been erected, leaving an additional supply of 1,644,734 sittings necessary, if all who could attend places of worship were disposed to do so, the actual accommodation being 8,753,279 sittings.  In reality, however, the supply more than keeps pace with the demand.  ‘Returning,’ says Mr. Mann, ‘to the total of England and Wales, and comparing the number of actual attendants with the number p. 4of persons able to attend, we find that, of 10,398,013 (58 per cent. of the whole population) who would be at liberty to worship at one period of the day, there were actually worshipping but 4,647,482 in the morning, 3,184,135 in the afternoon, and 3,064,449 in the evening.  So that, taking any one service of the day, there were actually attending public worship less than half the number who, as far as physical impediments prevented, might have been attending.  In the morning there were absent, without physical hindrance, 5,750,531; in the afternoon, 7,213,878; in the evening, 7,333,564.  There exist no data for determining how many persons attended twice, and how many three times, on the Sunday, nor, consequently, for deciding how many attended altogether on some service of the day; but if we suppose that half of those attending service in the afternoon had not been present in the morning, and that a third of those attending service in the evening had not been present at either of the previous services, we should obtain a total of 7,261,032 separate persons, who attended service either once or oftener upon the Census Sunday.  But as the number who would be able to attend at some time of the day is p. 5more than 58 per cent. (which is the estimated number able to be present at one and the same time), probably reaching 70 per cent.—it is with this latter number (12,549,326) that this 7,261,032 must be compared; and the result of such comparisons would lead to the conclusion that, upon the Census Sunday, 5,288,294 able to attend religious worship once at least, neglected to do so.’

The non-attendance appears to be greater in towns than in our rural populations; and in this respect London is not unlike other places.  It is difficult to classify its religious developments; but the principal denominations may be stated as follows:

protestant churches.


Church of England and Ireland.
Scottish Presbyterians:
   Church of Scotland.
   United Presbyterian Synod.
   Presbyterian Church in England.
Independents or Congregationalists.
   Seventh Day.
   New Connexion, General.
p. 6Society of Friends.
Moravians, or United Brethren.
Wesleyan Methodists:
   Original Connexion.
   New Connexion.
   Primitive Methodists.
   Wesleyan Association.
   Independent Methodists.
   Wesleyan Reformers.
   Bible Christians.
Calvinistic Methodists:
   Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.
   Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion.
Sandemanians, or Glassites.
New Church.
Brethren (Plymouth).


German Protestant Reformers.
Reformed Church of the Netherlands.
French Protestants.

other christian churches.

Roman Catholics.
Greek Church.
German Catholics.
Italian Reformers.
Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons.


p. 7In all, 35; of these 27 are native, and 8 foreign.  These are all, or nearly all, the bodies which have assumed any formal organization.  There are, in addition, many isolated congregations of religious worshippers, adopting various appellations, but none of them sufficiently numerous to deserve the name of a sect.

Of course, the chief of these various denominations is the Church of England.  In the Handbook to Places of Worship, published in 1851, by Low, there is a list of 371 churches and chapels in connexion with the Establishment.  Some of them have very small congregations, and every one confesses it is a perfect farce to keep them open.  In some of the city churches, thirty persons form an unusually large audience.  But most of them are well attended.  To these churches and chapels belong, in round numbers, 700 clergymen.  The appointments of ministers to the parish churches are, in most cases, under the control of the vicars or rectors of their respective parishes.  In the case of private chapels, the party to whom the property belongs has, of course, nominally the right of appointing the minister; but, eventually, that appointment rests with the congregation, for to p. 8thrust in an unpopular preacher against their wishes would be to destroy his own property.  For the parish churches, again, the right of appointing the clergymen is vested in various hands according to circumstances, which it would require too much time and space to explain at sufficient length to make them understood.  The patronage is, in a great many cases, invested in the Crown; but the Bishop of London is also a large holder of metropolitan patronage.  The Archbishop of Canterbury is patron in several cases, and, in some instances, holds his patronage conjointly with the Crown.  In such cases, the right of appointment is exercised alternately.  The Lord Chancellor is sole patron of four or five livings in London, and in six or seven other cases exercises the right of patronage alternately with the Archbishop of Canterbury, with the Bishop of London, with private individuals, and with the parishioners.  The parishioners possess the sole right of patronage in only three or four instances; and, in one or two cases in the City, particular corporations possess the right of appointing the clergy.  The doctrines of the Church of England are embodied in her Articles and Liturgy.  Her orders consist of bishops, p. 9priests, and deacons.  Besides, there are dignitaries—archbishops, deans and chapters, attached to cathedrals, and supposed to form the council of the bishops, archdeacons, and rural deans.  The average income of a beneficed clergyman is £300 a year; of a curate, £81.  The number of church-sittings in London and the surrounding districts, according to Mr. Mann, is 409,834.

Next in order are the Independents or Congregationalists, who differ from the Church of England more in discipline than doctrine.  They maintain the independence of each congregation—that a church is simply an assembly of believers.  Only two descriptions of church officers are regarded by them as warranted by Scriptural authority—bishops or pastors, and deacons; and the latter office with them is merely secular.  Amongst them the deacon merely attends to the temporal affairs of the church.  In the Episcopalian Church, the deaconship is the first step to the priesthood.  In London and its neighbourhood the Independents have about 140 places of worship.  Mr. Mann’s return does not give them so many, but he states the number of sittings to be 100,436.

p. 10The Baptists have much in common with the Independents.  Like them, they believe in the unscriptural character of state churches; and, like them, believe each church or assembly of faithful men to be able to manage its own affairs; but they differ from nearly every other Christian denomination on two points—the proper subjects and the proper mode of baptism.  According to them, adults are the proper subjects of baptism, and immersion, not sprinkling, is the proper mode of administering that rite.  As an organized community, we find them in England in 1608, about thirty years after Robert Brown had begun to preach the principles of Independency.  The Baptists have many subdivisions.  The Particular Baptists preponderate: they are Calvinistic.  A remarkable unanimity of sentiment has always existed among them, except on one particular point—the propriety of sitting down at the communion table with those who reject adult baptism.  Mr. Horace Mann gives the general body 130 chapels; Mr. Low, 109.  The Census returns give them accommodation for 54,234.

The Methodists have, in all, 154 chapels in London, the larger number of which belong to p. 11the Wesleyans, who are Arminians, who are governed by a Conference, and whose ministers are itinerant.  Mr. Mann tells us they seldom preach in the same place more than one Sunday without a change, which is effected according to a plan generally re-made every quarter.  London is divided into ten circuits.  Then there are the Calvinistic Methodists, who were originated by the labours of George Whitfield, aided by that devoted Countess of Huntingdon whose name yet lives in connexion with one of the most remarkable revivals of religion in our land.  There are several sub-divisions besides.  The original Wesleyan body has suffered much of late in consequence of the operations of the Wesleyan Reformers.  It is stated that, by this division, the connexion sustained a loss of 100,000 members.  In London, the Methodists, including, as in the case of the Baptists, six or seven sub-divisions, have sittings for 69,696.  Of the number of attendants it is calculated about 12,000 are church members, or communicants.  It may be as well to mention here, that, with the exception of the Irvingites, and, of course, the Roman Catholic Church, which only admits priests to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, p. 12and of the Quakers, who do not profess to observe that ceremony at all, there are two classes of persons attending all churches and chapels—the common hearers, and the smaller class who profess to be converted and regenerated men.  In the Church of England the theory is, every baptized man is this; and therefore every one has a right to approach what is called the Table of the Lord.  In the Church of Scotland, we presume, it is the same.  An anecdote, which was told by Mr. J. Haldane, implies this:—that gentleman stated that once he was present at a Highland parish church on a sacramental occasion, when there was a pause, for none of the people seemed disposed to approach the tables; on a sudden he heard the crack of sticks, and, looking round, saw one descend on the bald head of a man behind him.  It was the ruling elders driving the poor Highlanders forward much in the same manner as they were accustomed to pen their cattle.  Among Dissenters only a certain class are supposed to have this right—that class consisting of those who profess to have become in their natures changed and sanctified to God, who are considered to be ‘a chosen generation—a peculiar priesthood!’  They are received into the p. 13church after, generally, a careful scrutiny as to their motives and convictions and character, and, at any rate, amongst Dissenters are generally considered as the Church, for whom a Saviour died, and on whom he devolves the conversion of the world.

The remaining divisions of the church and chapel goers of London may now be disposed of.

The Presbyterians have 23 chapels, some in connexion with the Church of Scotland, and some not.  The number of chapels thus connected is 5, and the number of Scotchmen settled in London being about 130,000, it is more than probable that Sawney is not the church-going animal abroad, he most undoubtedly is when he is at home.  It seems that the Scotch attending Presbyterian churches in London, even if they occupy every sitting, are not more than 18,211; and, if Sawney were not proverbially an economical fellow, one would be inclined to hint that you will catch him taking a cheap railway excursion on the very day in which, in his ‘land of the mountain and the flood,’ it is deemed sinful to do more than walk from one’s home to the nearest kirk.

Next, as regards numbers, come the Unitarians, p. 14who have 9 chapels in London, and about 3300 sittings.

By-the-bye, we ought to have mentioned before this the Roman Catholics, who have 35 chapels, and of whom there were, on the Census Sunday, 35,994 worshipping at one time.  In no case do the Census returns give us the real attendance.  We have merely the number of sittings, or attendants, morning, afternoon, or evening.  In the case of Roman Catholics, we have given the number of persons attending in the morning, there being this difference between them and other sects, that with the latter, the number of sittings will be generally much greater than that of the attendants, whereas with the Roman Catholics the reverse is the truth, as they get more out of their chapels than any other denomination can.

It seems the mild, drab-coloured men, who call themselves Quakers, and wear broad-brimmed hats and square collars, and say ‘thee’ and ‘thou,’ of whom Belgravia knows but little, but who, nevertheless, are foremost when some great good is to be done, and some outcast class is to be reclaimed and saved, are but a feeble folk, as far as numbers are concerned.  The p. 15‘youngest of the four surviving sects which trace their origin to that prolific period which closed the era of the Reformation,’ they promise to be soonest extinguished.  In 1800 they possessed 413 meeting-houses; in 1851 they had but 351.  Mr. Low gives them 9 chapels; Mr. Mann but 4, with sittings for 3151.  This latter number, small as it is, appears to be considerably more than is required for their services.  The real truth, probably, is, that Quaker worship is too calm and phlegmatic for this bustling go-a-head age.  In George Fox’s time, men held communion with the Invisible and Eternal—with Him who dwells in the light to which no man can approach.  There are but few who care to do so now, and therefore is it that that race of practical philanthropists was far larger in George Fox’s time than ours.  As to the other sects, it is scarcely necessary that we do more than take a very hasty glance at them.

The Moravian Brethren, who date from 1772, with Count Zinzendorf at their head (and who have no reason for their separate existence save the fact that, when they appealed to the lot as to whether they should join the Lutherans or p. 16not, the lot was against the junction), have 2 chapels and 1100 sittings.

The Jews have 11 synagogues and 3692 sittings.

The remaining congregations, with the exception of the Mormonites, who have now 33 places of worship, are almost exclusively isolated.

There are 94 chapels that thus defy classification; nor can we be surprised that such is the case.  Our boast is, that every man is free to worship God according to the dictates of his own heart—that religious inquiry is unfettered amongst us—that every man who chooses may form a sect for himself.  The advantages of this state of things preponderate over its disadvantages.  The philosopher may despise, and the Christian of a generous heart and catholic aspirations may regret, that such should be the case—may think it better that men had wider views—better that we should stand on a broader platform than a sectarian one: but we may not quarrel with the conditions of religious existence.  We must feel that these sects and schisms denote religious life and thought—that their absence would be death—and that, as the world grows and the truth becomes clearer, they will, one by one, disappear.

p. 17‘Thus star by star departs,
   Till all have pass’d away;
And daylight high and higher shines,
   Till pure and perfect day.
Nor sink those stars in empty night,
But hide themselves in heaven’s own light.’

The 94 chapels we have referred to, belonging to the New Church, the Brethren, the Irvingites, the Latter-Day Saints, Sandemanians, Lutherans, French Protestants, Greeks, Germans, Italians, have accommodation for 18,833.  Of course some of these people have but little reason to give for the faith that is in them.  Actually, in this age of intelligence—in these days of cheap literature and cheap schools—there are men and women so sunk in ignorance as to credit the absurd pretensions of Joanna Southcote or Joe Smith; but these people we must include.  We sit in judgment on none; and thus we give the church and chapel goers, as follows:

Church of England












Roman Catholics




p. 18Moravians




Isolated Congregations




According to the last returns, we have the following population: Finsbury, 323,772; Lambeth, 251,345; London (City), 127,869; Marylebone, 370,957; Southwark, 172,863; Tower Hamlets, 539,111; Westminster, 241, 611; and with other places not classified, in all, 2,362,236.  If we compare this with the figures I have given, we shall see that, if all the accommodation that exists were used, rather more than a quarter of the London population frequented public worship.  In reality, the number is less.  Yet, perhaps, the returns show as much religious observance as we could expect.

By way of contrast, let us see how the London world that is not religious spends its Sabbaths.  A very large and complicated organization would be required to collect the statistics of the habits of the population of London on a Sunday, but an attempt was made on August 16, of the present year, to throw some light upon the subject by a few gentlemen accustomed to observe and estimate large numbers of people.  The p. 19outward passenger-traffic by the railways during the morning appeared to be about as follows:—

Great Western, by the 8 and 9 o’clock trains


Ditto, by the afternoon trains


South Western, by the two early excursion trains


Ditto, parliamentary


Ditto, afternoon train


London and Brighton, with South-Eastern, North Kent, and other lines at London-bridge:


   By morning trains




Great Northern:






Eastern Counties:






North Western:






The steam-boats above and below bridge were crowded, and the various public gardens, &c, on the sides of the river, were also crowded.  About 14,000 persons passed down the river, and about 6000 upwards, beyond the ordinary river traffic.  In Greenwich Park there were about 80,000 persons, and Gravesend and Woolwich were also crowded by visitors, estimated at 10,000, including the patrons of Rosherville gardens, &c.  p. 20At 5 o’clock there were nearly 2000 persons in Cremorne Gardens, and at 8 o’clock fully four times that number.  Hampton Court was scarcely as crowded by visitors as on some previous days, but the numbers there and the excursionists to Kew have been already estimated by the boat and train.  In the Regent’s Park the numbers have not been counted at any time during the summer, though some of the “penny-a-liners” have given the exact number.  There was an immense crowd listening to the people’s subscription band in the Regent’s Park, and at a low estimate the numbers considerably exceeded a hundred thousand.  In the Victoria Park, where another people’s band played from five till seven o’clock, there were about 60,000 persons present at one time.  The aristocracy had a very large number of carriages in the Hyde Park, and about 8000 entered Kensington Gardens during the afternoon.  From these estimates, intended to be free from all exaggeration, it would appear that out of the population of London, about one quarter of a million were engaged in what has been characterized as the “public desecration of the Sabbath.”  If we include servants, omnibus-drivers, cabmen, &c.—persons who follow on the p. 21Sunday the usual avocations of the week, of course this number is considerably increased.

It is cheering to think that the pulpit has advanced; and to feel, if it have not its lights, such as Chalmers, or Irving, or Hall, it has become almost freed from the buffooneries by which at one time it was disgraced.

            ‘’T is pitiful
To court a grin when you should win a soul;
To break a jest when pity should inspire
Pathetic exhortation; and to address
The skittish fancy with facetious tales
When sent with God’s commission to the heart!’

Huntington, the S. S., or Sinner Saved, used to stop in the middle of his sermons with exclamations such as—‘There, take care of your pockets!’  ‘Wake that snoring sinner!’  ‘Silence that noisy numskull!’  ‘Turn out that drunken dog!’  Rowland Hill once preached as follows:

‘The mere professor reminds me of a sow that I saw an hour since luxuriating in her stye, when almost over head and ears in the mire.  Now suppose any of you were to take Bess (the sow), and wash her; and suppose, after having dressed her in a silk gown and put a smart cap upon her head, you were to take her into any of your parlours, and were to set her down to tea p. 22in company: she might look very demure for a time, and might not give even a single grunt; but you would observe that she occasionally gave a sly look towards the door, which showed that she felt herself in an uncomfortable position; and the moment she perceived that the door was open, she would give you another proof of the fact by running out of the room as fast as she could.  Follow the sow with her silk gown and her fancy cap, and in a few seconds you will find that she has returned to the stye, and is again wallowing in the mire.  Just so it is with the unrenewed man.  Sin is his element.’

Could anything be weaker or in worse taste than that?

The pulpit has ceased to offend by any such exhibitions.  The men in the pews have advanced, and the men in the pulpit have had to do the same.  Men of science and of intellect and literature must have men of science and of intellect and literature to preach to them.  It is power the ministry lacks.  It fails because it is of the past—uses the language of the past—prays the prayers of the past.  Instead of seeking a revival in the churches, it had better seek its own revival.  We have some twelve hundred clergy p. 23(Church and Dissent) in this great Babylon, and yet the devoutest worshipper can scarce name a dozen as superior men.  Yet preaching is not the difficult thing ministers affirm.  Literary men, enterprising merchants, sharp attorneys, aspiring barristers, honourable M.P.s, work infinitely harder, though professing infinitely inferior aims.  A popular actor certainly seeks no richer reward than a popular parson; but the former will throw into his performance a life of which the latter appears to have no idea.  For the men who care not for the manner but the matter, the pulpit has still less to offer.  Where, then, is the wonder that in London, where men are not driven to church or chapel—where they do not lose caste because they do not observe the required customs of respectable society—the mass are beyond the reach of the preacher’s voice, listening, it may be, to the sermons on our stones and in our streets—the sermons the world’s great ones and illustrious leaders preach, when they worship railway kings, or erect statues to royal debauchees?  What wonder is it then that in life’s busy scene the still small voice of the pulpit grows weaker every hour?


Church of England.


One of the wonders to us, looking back upon the middle ages, rich in all the experience they lacked, is their faith in heathenism as a fact, long after heathenism as a theology had given way to the victorious Cross.  It seems not only as if many Christian churches were erected on what were once pagan temples, but as if, under new names, the old pagan superstitions still lingered, as if their hold on the heart of man were too firm to be driven out by any doctrine, however new or true.  In the middle ages, before a Bacon had led forth the sciences from their house of bondage—before men had ceased to theorize, and to believe alone in facts, and the truths facts utter, what confidence, for instance, was given to that p. 25pagan science, or jargon, for it ought not to be called a science, named astrology.  The old heathen gods still remained.  Jupiter and Mars, Saturn, and Venus, and Mercury, were still the arbiters of human destinies.  Take up the great philosopher of that age—Cardan for instance—and you shall read in him more of the mysterious influences of the heathen’s Jupiter than of the Christian’s God.  Every educated man exclaimed in language as plain, though not, perhaps, so poetical, as that of Max Piccolomini, that—

Doth the old instinct bring back the old names,
And to yon starry world they now are gone,
Spirits or gods that used to share this earth
With man as with their friend; and to the lover
Yonder they move, from yonder visible sky
Shoot influence down, and even at this day
’T is Jupiter who brings whate’er is great,
And Venus who brings everything that’s fair.’

Something like this in the Christian world prevails.  Thus is it the Old Testament binds with iron grasp men who profess to take their religion from the New.  They tell you the law was the schoolmaster—that it was the shadow of good things to come, and yet for all that they do and plan, the Old Testament is their perpetual p. 26precedent.  Instead of the recognised version, ‘All Scripture is given for instruction,’ some of the good people we have referred to seemed as if they read confusion.  The old Commonwealth men blundered terribly in this way; but every age has had men guilty of similar blunders.  Poor Granville Sharpe had an interview with Mr. Pitt, to plead the cause of humanity, and wasted the golden opportunity by attempting to explain to that great Minister—to whom the explanation was all unintelligible—the meaning of the little horn in Daniel.  In spite of Christianity, men still cling to Jewish rites and Jewish creeds, as if the Temple of Solomon still wore its ancient splendour, as if the seed of Abraham still enjoyed their sacred birthright, as if the sceptre had not departed from Judah, and Shiloh had never come.  Go into the churches of the metropolis any time you like, and the probability is that in more than half the texts will be taken from the Old Testament, and the certainty is, that in almost all, all the arguments and illustrations will have a similar source.  Thus we have a composite order of preaching.  It seems as if the preacher knew not on which side to take his stand, under which king to speak or die.  p. 27The hand is Esau’s, but the voice is Jacob’s.  You hear as much of David as of Christ, as much of the ceremonial of a worship of form and ceremony, as of the simplicity introduced by Him who was born in a manger, and had not where to lay his head.  To break free from all this—to act in the living present—to let the dead past bury its dead—to speak to the men of to-day in the language of to-day, is a great advantage to a preacher, even if it require, on his part, a little extra care in the composition of his sermons; and no one knows this better than the popular Assistant Minister of St. John’s, Waterloo Place, Regent Square, London—the Rev. Mr. Bellew, formerly of St. John’s Cathedral, Calcutta.

To give a man the position Mr. Bellew has acquired, however, something further is needed.  Peculiar qualities of thought or utterance, especially the latter, are essential to a man if he would be talked of on all sides—run after by fine lords and ladies—in request all over London for charity sermons—and admitted to plead in the august presence of Lord Mayors and Princes of the blood.  In the first place, then, it must be remembered that Mr. Bellew preaches with all the studied earnestness of the actor, and every p. 28syllable tells as distinctly as if it were Macready declaiming on the stage.  Then he is an Irishman, and what Irishman is not fluent and born to drive in the pulpit; and what is wonderful, though an Irish Protestant, Mr. Bellew avoids the rôle, somewhat overdone, of a McNeile, or a McGee, or a Maguire, and does not commit the absurdity of making his every sermon a wearisome protest against Popery and the Pope.  Why should Irish clergymen get wild on this head?  It is not, says Goëthe, by attacking the false, but by proclaiming the true, that good is to be done.  And it is the same in religion; the Irish Protestants have little to complain of—their history is written in the tears and blood of millions whom they have wronged for ages.  By the violation of all right—by means that will ever stain the Irish Protestant Church with shame—by laws the most infamous the malice of man could devise, have they got to be where they are; let them take the goods the gods provide and be thankful.  If anything could make a man sympathize with Roman Catholics, it would be the history of the Protestant Church since its first establishment there by the strong arm of law.  On all other matters Mr. Bellew seems equally to avoid the p. 29errors of partisanship; he ignores the foolish ceremonial disputes of his own Church—the petty doctrinal discussions, which are the more fiercely agitated the more trivial and worthless they in reality are.  His Christianity is something proud, and majestic, and divine,—a universal remedy for a universal disease,—not a skeleton of dead doctrine, or a bone of contention, or an obsolete word, but a living, healthy, beneficent power.

But Mr. Bellew has other attractions.  Not only are his sermons broad and catholic in tone,—not only are they enunciated with oratorical effect,—not only are they heightened by the charm of a commanding presence,—but they are in themselves highly polished, full of passages of rare eloquence, and retain the attention of the hearers.  They all open well, the exordium is always spirited, and its tone is maintained to the end of the discourse.  Thus one commences as follows, “Eternity is the answer to life’s question—immortality is the hallowed reward of life’s holy works.”  Another has, “Life is the expression of religion.”  In another we get a quotation from Tacitus pregnant with meaning, “Truth is established by investigation and delay.”  Then p. 30the circumstances of the text are well brought out.  If Paul speaks at Corinth, we see that licentious city with its groves and temples; if on Mars’ hill he proclaims an Unknown God, the orator, with a lustre on his face brighter than any genius could bestow, is in our midst; around him are the restless Athenians, and in the background, the marble statues of their deities—of silver-eyed Minerva, and Apollo, lord of the silver bow.  If some divine word of the Great Teacher himself is the subject of discourse, then the Hebrew landscape is painted as only those can paint who have trod the steps—as Mr. Bellew has done—where, more than eighteen centuries ago, the Christ and his sorrowing disciples trod.  Occasionally a little pompous verbosity may be detected; instead of simply telling us how the earth’s great ones are despised too often by the world, Mr. Bellew says, ‘My experience of life, and the more I read from all history, sacred and profane, modern and ancient, is this—the veritable heroes of humanity have generally been decorated with the epithets of popular insult.’  This is a little too much in the mouthing vein, and reminds us of the singular encomium on Mr. Bellew in the Morning Herald, to the effect p. 31that our preacher ‘unveils the plan of salvation in the most graceful and attractive manner’—as if Mr. Bellew was a Madame Mantilini, and the plan of salvation was the last new fashion.  Perhaps for this singular criticism Mr. Bellew is in some part accountable.  Our readers may have seen a caricature of two popular preachers, under the title of Brimstone and Treacle.  Brimstone is supposed to represent the youthful hero of the Surrey Music Hall: the pulpit Adonis, curled and scented and lack-a-daisical, called Treacle, is supposed, though very wrongly, for Mr. Bellew is no man-milliner, to typify the subject of this sketch.  In spite of grey hair and sallow cheeks, Mr. Bellew has somewhat too much the appearance of a lady’s man, and his Christianity is evidently that which will do credit to the best society; nor is this to be wondered at.  Has he not an uncle a Bishop, and has he not the élite of the beau-monde to hear him?


In the good old times, before the Reform Bill was carried and the Constitution destroyed, at a period long prior to the introduction of cheap ’busses and penny steamers and the new police, stood an old church in the north of London, in which the parishioners of St. Pancras were accustomed to meet for public worship.  In spite of its unadorned appearance, it was a venerable pile.  According to some, it was the last church in England where the bell tolled for mass, and in which any rites of the Roman Catholic religion were celebrated.  In its burying-ground twenty generations now sleep the sleep of death.  Grimaldi the clown, Woollet the engraver, William Godwin, Mary Wolstonecraft, Walker, immortalized by his Pronouncing Dictionary, Woodhead, the reputed author of the ‘Whole Duty of Man,’ Jeremy Collier, the writer against stage plays and the successful combatant of Dryden, Ned Ward, author of the ‘London Spy,’ Theobald, the hero of the early editions of the ‘Dunciad’ and the editor of ‘Shakspeare,’ Boswell’s friend, p. 33the Corsican Paoli, here await the resurrection morn.  What passions, what hopes, what virtue and vice, what loved and loving forms, what withered anatomies, have here been laid down!  Tread gently!—every bit of dust you tread on was once a man and a brother.  Tread reverently! for here human hearts bursting with agony—the mother weeping for her children, the lover for his bride—have seen the last of all they hoped for under the sun.  You may hear a good sermon here from the old text: ‘Vanity of vanities,’ saith the preacher, ‘all is vanity.’  Such is the lesson we learn here—that all the shows of the world are poor and little worth—that false is

‘—the light on glory’s plume,
   As fading hues of even.
And love, and hope, and beauty’s bloom,
Are blossoms gather’d for the tomb—
   There’s nothing true but heaven!’

But we may not linger here.  Time came and went, and, as usual, wrought wonders.  St. Pancras ceased to be St. Pancras in the fields.  It was laid out in broad streets and handsome squares.  It was lit up with gas.  It echoed to the roll of carriages.  It witnessed the introduction of flunkies, with glaring livery and p. 34tremendous calf.  Upon its broad pavements flaunted, in all their bravery, city lords and city ladies.  Of course, the old church would not do for such as they.  Early Christians might worship God in a barn, but modern ones, rich and respectable—of course, if they are rich they must be respectable—would not for the life of them do anything so ungenteel.  So a new place—the first stone of which was laid by a Royal Duke, notorious for his debts and his connexion with Mrs. Clarke,—was built, with a pulpit made out of the old well-known Fairlop oak, on the model of a certain great heathen edifice, and the St. Pancras new church reared its would-be aristocratic head.  Alas! alas! it was on the unfashionable side of Russell-square.  That difficulty was insurmountable, and so the church has to stand where it does.  However, the frequenters try to forget the unpleasant fact, and to make themselves as genteel as they can.

Take your stand there at eleven on the Sabbath morning.  What a glare of silks and satins—of feathers—of jewels—of what cynics would call the pomps and vanities of the world!  With what an air does that delicate young female—I beg her pardon, I mean young lady—foot it, p. 35with Jeames behind carrying her Book of Common Prayer!  United Belgravia could hardly do the thing in better style.  Enter the church, and you will see the same delightful air of fashionable repose.  If the grace that is divine be as common there as the grace that is earthly, Mr. Dale’s charge must be a happy flock indeed.  With what an air does it bow at the name of Jesus! with what a grace does it confess itself to consist of ‘miserable sinners!’  One would hardly mind, in the midst of such rich city merchants and their charming daughters, being a miserable sinner himself.  Such opulent misery and fashionable sin seem rather enviable than otherwise.  At any rate, the burden of such misery and such sin seems one easily to be borne.

But prayers are over, and yon immense congregation has quietly settled into an attitude of attention.  All eyes are turned in the direction of the pulpit.  We look there as well, and see a man rather below the average height, with fresh complexion, mild grey eyes beneath light-coloured eyebrows, with a common-place forehead, and a figure presenting altogether rather a pedantic appearance.  This is the Rev. Thomas Dale, M.A.  p. 36He looks as if the world had gone easy with him; and truly it has, for he is a popular Evangelical preacher—perhaps, next to Mr. Melville, the most popular preacher in the English Church.  He is a popular poet—he is Vicar of St. Pancras, and Canon of St. Paul’s.

Mr. Dale reads, and reads rapidly; his enunciation is perfectly distinct; his voice is somewhat monotonous, but musical; his action is very slight.  You are not carried away by his physical appearance, nor, as you listen, does the preacher bear you irresistibly aloft.  His sermons are highly polished, but they are too invariably the same.  There are no depths nor heights in them.  They are all calm, subdued, toned down.  They do not take you by storm: you miss the thunder and the lightning of such men as Melville and Binney.  Mr. Dale’s sermons are, like himself and like his poetry, polished and pleasing.  All that man can do by careful study Mr. Dale has done; but he lacks inspiration, the vis vivida, the vision and the faculty divine, which, if a man have not, ‘This brave overhanging firmament—this majestical roof fretted with golden fire’—‘is but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.’  Yet p. 37Mr. Dale has an immense congregation.  I take it that he suits the level of the city magnates that crowd his pews.  Philosophy, poetry, passion are quite out of the reach of such men, whose real god is the Stock Exchange, and whose real heaven is the three per cents.

Another and a better reason of Mr. Dale’s immense congregation is, that his charity is unremitting—given in the best way, in the shape of work instead of alms—and irrespective of the religious sect of the recipient.  I have heard of several such cases that do him much honour.  And, after all, in the pulpit as well as elsewhere, conduct tells more than character in the long run.  Hence his personal influence is great; and, of course, that helps to fill the church.  Nor can we much wonder.  What eloquence is stronger than that of a holy, a useful, a devoted life?  Acts speak stronger than words.  I see more power in an act of charity, done in the name of religion and of God, than in the passionate and fascinating gorgeous rhetoric of an hour.

Mr. Dale is a good Greek scholar, and has translated Sophocles.  It is easy to see why Sophocles should better suit him than Æschylus p. 38or Euripides—the polish of the one would please him better than the wild grandeur of the others.  Of him, as a poet, I cannot speak very highly.  His versification is correct—his sentiment is good.  To the very large class of readers who will accept such substitutes for poetry as the real thing, our divine is a poet of no mean order.  ‘What we want, sir,’ said a publisher to me the other day, ‘is a lively religious novel.’  Mr. Dale’s poetry answers to these conditions: hence its success.

His poetry was a great help to his popularity.  When he was rector of the parish of St. Bride’s, and evening lecturer at St. Sepulchre, he was more intimately connected than at present with literary pursuits, and was much run after.  About that time Annuals were the rage, and Mr. Dale edited a religious Annual called ‘The Iris,’ and young ladies learnt his verses by heart, or copied them into their albums.  At one time Mr. Dale was Professor of English Language and Literature at the University College, in Gower Street.  However, as a Tory and a Churchman, he seems to have found himself out of his element there, and left it for King’s College, Strand, at which place he held a similar appointment.  It was p. 39thought that church preferment had something to do with this; that his chances were, in consequence, in danger; that in high quarters the University College was regarded with an unfavourable eye: so Mr. Dale threw it overboard.  Such was the rumour at the time.  Of course, to some men, such conduct may seem only wise—prudent; but if ministers of religion thus shape their conduct, with a view to worldly success, what chance have they of regenerating the world?  If such things be done in the green tree, what may we not expect in the dry?  A teacher of living Christianity surely should be the last to desert a cause, merely because it is weak, and unfashionable, and poor!

As a writer, Mr. Dale has been most untiring.  His first poem came out in 1820.  It was the ‘Widow of Nain,’ and was read with delight in religious circles.  In 1822 he published another poem, called ‘Irad and Adah, a Tale of the Flood; with Specimens of a New Translation of the Psalms.’  About this time the poetic inspiration appears to have died, for since only a few occasional verses have appeared from Mr. Dale’s pen, and henceforth he seems to have betaken himself to prose.  In 1830 he published p. 40a volume of ‘Sermons, Doctrinal and Practical;’ in 1835, ‘The Young Pastor’s Guide;’ in 1836, ‘A Companion to the Altar;’ in 1844, ‘The Sabbath Companion;’ in 1845, ‘The Good Shepherd: an Exposition of the 23rd Psalm;’ in 1847, ‘The Golden Psalm, being an Exposition, Practical, Experimental, and Prophetical, of Psalm xvi.’  Besides these publications, he has printed several occasional sermons.  He has now attained a high position in the Establishment, which certainly can boast few more faithful or laborious men.  Originally not intended for the Church, his subsequent success has justified his devotion of himself to her service.  Altogether his lot has been cast in ‘pleasant ‘places,’ and he has had ‘a goodly heritage.’


St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge, has done what it is a very hard thing to do, created a sensation in this our phlegmatic and eating and drinking and money-making and merry-making age.  It professes p. 41to be a Puseyite, and not a Protestant, place of worship.  Puseyism, says a red-haired Saxon, foaming with indignation, is next door to Roman Catholicism, and a Puseyite Church is half-way to Rome.  True, my perturbed brother—true.  But what of that?  Some are inclined to think that Church of Englandism is akin to Roman Catholicism, and that all its churches are halfway to Rome.  That brutal old tyrant, Henry the Eighth, was a Roman Catholic at heart, and had faith in himself as an infallible Pope.  His genuine daughter did the same.  Laud, who lacked the discretion of that strong-minded woman whose

‘Christ was the Word that spake it,
He took the bread and brake it,
And what the Word did make it,
That I believe and take it,’

is a splendid specimen of ingenious mystification on the vexata questio of transubstantiation,—I question whether Charles James Bloomfield, Bishop of London, could have returned a more confused and unmeaning response,—died for his Roman Catholic tendencies.  To this day England remembers who it was, with red, swollen face, and brown apparel, and collar with a spot p. 42of blood on it, made his maiden speech in Parliament by indignantly informing the House that Dr. Alabaster had preached flat Popery at St. Paul’s, and in our own day Mr. Gorham has failed in obtaining a legal decision against the Roman Catholic doctrine of baptismal regeneration.  The mistake is, in supposing that the Church as by law established is Low Church.  If it were so, then, of course, out ought to go the whole crop of Puseyite priests, in spite of the tears and hysterics of female piety.  On the contrary, the Church of England is like the happy family in Trafalgar-square.  Beasts of the most opposite description there dwell together in peace and unity.  Dogs and cats there sleep side by side.  In the prospect of a common maintenance natural enmities are forgotten.  Conformity is impossible.  I cannot use my brother’s words with his exact meaning.  I must put my own interpretation on the creeds and articles to which I subscribe, and so long as the State Church is a chaotic mass of heterogeneous materials—so long as it has no definite voice, nor law—so long as bishop clashes with bishop, and at times with himself,—for we may have here a Puseyite, there an Evangelical, here a fox-hunting divine,—there p. 43must be everywhere heart-burning and scandal, and the degradation of Christianity itself.  But, exclaims my vehement red-faced Saxon friend, you are making Papists by letting the Puseyites remain.  I don’t know that.  Papacy is alien to human nature, or it is not.  If it is not, you cannot get rid of it.  If cut down to-day, it will sprout up again to-morrow.  It springs from a tendency, I take it, in the human heart.  In a mild form, that tendency gently blooms as Puseyism.  A cold in one man may, by means of gruel, be removed in a week.  In another man, it may deepen into deadly decline.  Puseyism may retain as many in the English Church as it may send to Rome.  Your Low Churchman may say the Puseyite has no business in the Church at all.  Well, the other may say the same of him, and there is no one to decide as to who is right.  King James II. said, Hooker’s Apology made him a Papist, but Hooker was not responsible for this, and is still rightly looked on as one of the brightest ornaments of the Church of England as by law established.  Men make strange leaps.  Many a convert to Rome has been won from the ranks of Methodism.  Many an infidel has been born and bred in the very bosom of the Roman p. 44Church.  A Puseyite may become a Papist, but he also may not, and so may other men.  Some people say there is Popery everywhere.  I listen to a Wesleyan Reformer, for instance, and he tells me that the Conference is Popish, and that the President is the Pope.  If so, it is hard to blame the Puseyites for exhibiting the priestly tendency, more or less apparent, as some affirm, in all priests.

I imagine the crime of Puseyism, in the eyes of most churchmen, is the crime of a pretty woman in an assembly of haggard crones.  The Puseyite place of worship is always neat and clean, and worth looking at, and it attracts when others fail to do so.  The causes of it must be various.  Why does one graceful woman robe herself in simple muslin, and another dazzle you with her gorgeous attire?  You may be a philosopher.  If that woman can be your companion, can feel as you feel, and love as you love, you care not for her attire.  But she knows that the world has a different opinion.  The Puseyite becomes an object of interest.  On a small, very small scale, he is a hero.  True, to fight about little ceremonials argues the possession of a brain of but limited power, but his opponents are in a p. 45similar position.  If you deny worship to be the simple genuine feeling of the heart—if you make no provision for that—if you turn it into a form, why then, possibly, the more of a form it is the better.  I confess the way in which they intone the service at St. Paul’s is pleasant to listen to.  It is not worship, I grant.  Neither is mumbling the thousandth time over a printed form of words worship.  What a dull thing an opera would be, read, and not sung.  It is true people do not make love, or do business, or address each other in music, in real life, but in an opera they do, and the effect is great.  So it is with the Church of England service.  Intoned it may be unintelligible or theatrical, but it is attractive nevertheless.  It is not natural, but what of that?  The soul bowed down with a sense of sin, yearning for peace and pardon, in its agony and despair will vent itself in broken sentences, and will turn away from all ceremony—from even the sublime liturgy of the Church of England, as poor, and cold, and vain, inadequate to the expression of its hopes and fears.  But why those who go to church as a form find fault with the people of St. Paul’s because their form is a little more attractive than their own, I confess I cannot understand.

p. 46But I have forgotten the Hon. and Rev. R. Liddell, M.A., a man of small mental calibre, who has done the next best thing to achieving greatness, and has achieved notoriety.  In a letter he wrote to the late Bishop of London (in which he wickedly told his lordship if he had ‘any distinct wish upon the subject, he is ready to comply with it,’ as if Charles James ever had any distinct wish with reference to Church matters), he styles himself a loyal son of the Church.  At any rate, he is a brother of Lord Ravensworth, and perhaps that is almost as good.  His public career is now of about twenty years’ standing.  Originally, he was curate of Barking, Essex; thence he removed to Hartlepool; and when it was found desirable to send Mr. Bennett to Frome (not Rome), Mr. Liddell was selected to fill his vacant place.  It is questionable whether any successor could have been appointed more agreeable to Mr. Bennett.  Mr. Liddell has certainly followed most religiously in the steps of his predecessor.  St. Barnabas is what it was pretty nearly in Mr. Bennett’s time.  In St. Paul’s a little more discretion is shown, and if you are struck with any difference in the manner of performing divine service at St. Paul’s to that p. 47used in other places, you draw a comparison in favour of the former.  The congregation is exceedingly wealthy and aristocratic.  You are struck as much with its air of high life as with its High Church appearance, and having thus a double charm, I need not add that St. Paul’s is crowded in every part.  If success be a true test, Mr. Liddell is most indisputably in the right.

As a preacher, Mr. Liddell does not shine.  Pale, with light hair and complexion—rich, for the place is worth £1500 a-year at the least—he would all through life have remained an obscure, gentlemanly man, had he not fortunately fallen in with the Puseyite tendencies of a large and influential section in the English Church.  His voice is clear but not full; and, as one of his bitterest opponents told me, he can preach a good sermon when he likes.  But his teaching is not that which can do the man much good.  Eschewing the common evangelical doctrines, and holding views inconsistent with free inquiry and the growth of manly thought, he has but little left him to do in his discourses but to expatiate on the sanctity of the priestly office, and the mysterious powers possessed by the Church.  These are his favourite topics.  p. 48To win the truth—to lead a god-like life—to bring back man, the wanderer, to heaven and to God, seem minor matters at St. Paul’s, so long as the pillars are wreathed with costly flowers, and that the service is intoned.  And to this teaching the world of fashion in its unfathomable puerility submits, and men who are our legislators, men who are high in rank and influence, men whose example is law all over the land, take it for truth.  Mr. Liddell styles his congregation highly educated and devout.  He is right in that statement.  Men who have sat under him and his predecessor, who have believed them with unshrinking reverence, who have taken every statement as the truth, have been highly educated, but in a wrong direction.  Granting that Mr. Liddell is right, what avails his teaching?  Is not his mission grander and more comprehensive than he deems it?  Has not man something better to do than to learn to bow, to intone, to admire flowers, and to look at painted glass?  In the universe around him, can the priest find no voice more audible than his own?  Does not his own Church convey to the listening ear sublimer revelations?  If it be not so, Puseyism is a thing worth fighting for—worth dying for; if it be so, p. 49the minister and the ‘highly educated’ and devout congregation at St. Paul’s have made a terrible mistake—a mistake which the friends of pure and undefiled religion may well mourn and lament.


‘If I saw,’ wrote John Sterling to Archdeacon Hare, in 1840,—‘if I saw any hope that Maurice and Samuel Wilberforce and their fellows could reorganize and reanimate the Church and the nation, or that their own minds could continue progressive without being revolutionary, I think I could willingly lay my head in my cloak, or lay it in the grave, without a word of protest against aught that is.’  Since then Wilberforce has become a bishop, and there is no danger of his becoming revolutionary; Maurice has gone on seeking to reanimate the Church, and the Church now raises the cry of heresy, and the Council of King’s College deprive him of the Professor’s Chair.

p. 50The real difficulty—which Sterling deemed invincible—which has proved too strong for Professor Maurice, is that, whilst there is such a thing as development in religion, the Church of England is not the place for it.  The Church of England was a compromise; but it was a compromise between Geneva and Rome, and a compromise now dating three hundred years.  It was never deemed that it would require a wider platform, or that it would have in its pulpits men of larger vision or of more catholic view than the men it had already.  If it had a view at all, it took, like Lot’s wife, a backward glance to the tabernacle and its service—to the law delivered amidst thunder and lightning on Sinai’s sacred head.  It looked not to the future.  It knew not that there were,

         ‘Somewhere underneath the sun,
Azure heights yet unascended, palmy countries to be won.’

It made no provision for the growth of man’s free and unfettered thought.  Consequently it is the Church of England only in name.  Out of its pale, divorced from it, there is more of intellectual life and independent thought than there is in it.  This is the condition of its existence.  p. 51It is associated with certain creeds and articles and rites: harmonizing with them, you have a position in society, you have a certain yearly stipend, and chances of something better, as Samuel of Oxford knows well.  The Church of England was never meant to be the nursery for thought.  You have made up your mind immediately you matriculate at her Universities.  Your career for the future is to maintain those articles.  In a word, you must conform.  The task has been hard, and few great men have stooped to it, and fewer still have done so and lived.

But a man must not quarrel with the conditions he has imposed on himself.  You have your choice.  You wish to preach the truth.  Well, you can do so, in the Church or out of it; but in the one case you are more or less tied.  You may preach the truth; but it must be Church’s truth, if you take the Church’s pay.  Of course, this is a disagreeable position to an independent man; at the same time, it is not without its corresponding advantages.  You get into good society, you have a respectable living, you may marry an heiress, or become tutor to a Prime Minister or a Prince.  Outside the Church men of intellect generally have taken their p. 52stand, for it is perilous to tamper with convictions in order to maintain a position.

It is easy to see how, in Maurice’s own case, what power has been thrown away in this tantalizing task.  Had he started fresh, with no creed for him to conform to, with no position to maintain, he would have been a far more vigorous thinker than he has ever been.  But he has ever had to come back to the Church—to the doctrines and teachings of men.  A Church that shall embrace the religious life and thought of England, coëxistent with the nation, after all is but a dream.  Were there such a Church, Maurice would hold no mean rank in it.  But the State Church is not such, and cannot be such, unless its articles and creeds be glossed over with a Jesuitry not more ingenious than fatal to all moral growth.  But each generation tries the hopeless task.  The men of intellect and purpose in the Church have felt themselves in a false position, and have laboured to get out of it.  They have trusted to one and then another.  For a long time Mr. Maurice has been the coming man.  The Church was once more to be a power—to have the nation’s heart—to enlist the nation’s intellect on its side.  Writing in his usual bitterness, Carlyle says:

p. 53‘The builder of this universe was wise,
He plann’d all souls, all systems, planets, particles!
The plan he shaped his worlds and æons by,
Was—Heavens!—was thy small Nine-and-Thirty Articles.’

Mr. Maurice has accepted this language as sober truth, and has made that truth the pole-star of his ministerial life.

Most of our readers know Lincoln’s-inn-fields.  It abounds with lawyers.  In one part of it surgeons are plucked, and in another, clients.  It has a small chapel not far from Chancery-lane, and if the residents of Lincoln’s-inn-fields attended it, there would be but little room for strangers.  However, this is not the case, and thus I managed to get in.  It is a curious old place.  It was built by Inigo Jones; and the then popular and admired, but now forgotten, Dr. Donne, preached the consecration sermon.  The walls have reëchoed to the oratory of Secker and Tillotson.  The windows are of stained glass, and one of them, containing St. John the Baptist, was executed at the expense of William Noy, the famous Attorney-General of Charles I.  In the crypt, underneath the chapel, are buried, Alexander Broome, the cavalier song-writer; Secretary Thurloe, who had chambers in the p. 54Inn; and that stern Puritan, William Prynne, who wrote about ‘The Unloveliness of Love Locks.’  During Term time this chapel is open for worship every afternoon at three; and the preacher is the Rev. Mr. Maurice.

Considering the position Mr. Maurice has attained, and the notoriety attaching to his name, your first feeling is one of wonder that he has not a larger congregation.  After writing more books on theology than any other clergyman of the day—after teaching more youth—after mixing up himself more with the working classes than almost any other man I know of—one is surprised that Mr. Maurice’s audience is not larger; and I can only account for it by supposing that his task is impossible, and that he is fighting a hopeless fight; or on the supposition that, after all, Mr. Maurice’s place is not the pulpit, but the professor’s chair: yet that he has a numerous class of followers, the sale of his books is an unanswerable proof—a sale, however, much commoner amongst Dissenters, I have good reason to suppose, than amongst the clergy of the Established Church.  Mr. Maurice has the true appearance of the professor—short dark hair, sallow face, precise manner: all indicate p. 55the man of study and thought.  His voice is clear and agreeable, though not strong.  His reading is very rapid, but, at the same time, emphatic.  As to action, he has none.  He aims more at what he says than how he says it; and, if you listen, you will find food for thought in every phrase.  You can hardly imagine that the man before you has been charged with heresy, he seeming to differ in no other respect from other clergymen, save in his superior power of ratiocination and in the wider inductions on which he bases his doctrines.

What Mr. Maurice’s opinions are he has taken full care to place before the world.  He is a churchman in the fullest sense of the term.  ‘I have contended,’ he writes in his ‘Kingdom of Christ,’ ‘that a Bible without a Church is inconceivable; that the appointed ministers of the Church are the appointed instruments for guiding men into a knowledge of the Bible; that the notion of private judgment is a false notion; that inspiration belongs to the Church, and not merely to the writers of the Bible; that the miracles of the New Testament were the introduction of a new dispensation, and were not merely a set of strange acts belonging to a particular p. 56time; lastly, that the Gospel narratives must be received as part of the necessary furniture of the Church.’  One would have thought such churchmanship as this would have satisfied any one.  However, the cry of heresy has been raised, principally, it seems, because he denies the doctrine of eternal damnation—an awful doctrine, we do not venture to affirm or condemn here.  Because he has done this, he has been branded with infidelity; and The Record, and The Morning Advertiser—neither of them journals distinguished for talent, but rather the reverse—hounded on the public indignation against Mr. Maurice, forgetting that no man has so earnestly laboured to Christianize—not the dark tribes of Polynesia, for then these journals would have been redolent with his praise—but the savages with white faces and dark hearts that we meet in our streets every day.

It is melancholy to think that wretched theologians may aim their small shot at such a man, merely because his idea of God and Christianity may be less fearful, more loving and humane, than their own.  Surely a man may love God and his neighbour as himself—may believe Christ suffered for the sins of the world—without p. 57being hooted by every ignorant or unreasoning fool, because, on other matters—matters merely speculative—matters too dark for man ever to fully inquire into or completely to understand—his opinions differ from their own.  Proud as we are of our press, yet such exhibitions should make us mourn, that at times it can so far forget Christian charity and common sense, and descend so low.  One thing is clear, that there is no tribunal in the Church that can satisfactorily settle the question of heresy; and another thing is clear, that whilst so many men differing so widely from each other are in the Church, the question with the majority of them cannot be one of principle but of pay.  Churchmen should be the last to raise the cry of heresy, for it is a revelation to the world of what must ever be their weakness and their shame.

Mr. Maurice, after all, is thrown away where he is: all his life he has been in an uncongenial position.  The son of a dissenting minister, the habits he acquired have clung to him from his earliest youth.  Hazlitt tells us how a man so nurtured grows up in a love of independence and of truth; and such a one will find it hard to retain a connection long with any human organization p. 58and creed.  Then, as the brother-in-law of Sterling, Maurice would naturally be led to modes of thought and action other than those the Church had been in the habit of sanctioning.  Eminently religious, he never could have been what he was to have been, a lawyer; but as an independent writer on religion, as a co-worker with Isaac Taylor, of Ongar, for instance, what might he not have done?  Another mistake of Maurice’s is, that his mission is to the poor.  His style is the very last that would be popular with such.  In the pulpit or out, Maurice preaches not to the public, but to the select few—to literary loungers—to men of ample time and elevated taste—to men of thought rather than of action—to men freed from the hard necessities of life, and who can leisurely sit and listen to his notes of ‘linked sweetness long drawn out.’  Hence is it that he is more a favourite with intellectual dissenters than with churchmen, and that I believe at Lincoln’s-inn-fields his congregation is made up more of the former than the latter.  They love his efforts at self-emancipation; they admire his scholarship, his piety, his taste.  They eminently appreciate him, as he, like the intellectual power of the poet,

         p. 59‘Through words and things
Goes sounding on a dim and perilous way.’

The absence in him of all that is cold and priestly—his human sympathies—his love to the erring and the weak and the doubting, whom he would reclaim, are qualities with which the better class of religionists would heartily sympathize, and with which perhaps they would sympathize all the more that they come to them couched in language of dream-like beauty, all glorious, though misty with ‘exhalations of the dawn.’

As a writer, Mr. Maurice is well known for his ‘History of Metaphysical Philosophy,’ his ‘View of the Religions of the World,’ his ‘Articles of the Church considered with Reference to the Roman Catholic Controversy,’ and his ‘Essays,’ which are more especially intended to grapple with the difficulties Unitarians feel in connection with orthodox doctrine.  They have all obtained an extensive sale; but they are not for the public; not for the men who buy and sell and get gain—who rise early and sit up late; but for the student and divine.  Hence it is that Maurice and the school with whom he acts, such as Kingsley, Hare, and p. 60Trench, can never reanimate the Church of England, nor win the operatives over to it.  That they do great good, I admit; that they have a mission, I grant; but not where they fondly deem it to be.  There is a destiny that shapes their ends, and the issues, I doubt not, must be for the good of man’s soul, for the cause of truth, for the glory of God.


The great John Foster (who, by-the-bye, in his essay on ‘Decision of Character,’ has much mischief to answer for, as every obstinate mule quotes his authority when, against all advice and entreaty and common sense, he persists in going wrong—poor Haydon always quoted Foster) wrote one of his best essays, ‘On the Aversion of Men of Taste to Evangelical Religion.’  The professors of Evangelical religion, I think, scarcely forgave him.  The sanctuary, it was thought, should have a shibboleth of its own.  In its peculiar terms and general formation it p. 61should differ from the ordinary language of other men.  If persons of taste were kept away—if the men of intellect and science and learning stood aloof—it mattered little; for the wisdom of the world was folly, and it was ordained that it was to be brought to nought by the weak in years and understanding—‘out of the mouth of sucklings and babes.’  The religious, I fear, some of them with a certain kind of pride—for there is a pride in the Church as well as in the world, and we all know whose

         ‘Darling sin
Is the pride that apes humility’—

took pleasure in their cant terms, and sprinkled them as plentifully in their sermons and prayers as ever did skilful cook in time-honoured Christmas pudding.  Wilberforce once took Pitt to hear Cecil.  When they came out, Wilberforce tells us he was surprised by Pitt telling him he could not understand a word of the discourse.  There was nothing wonderful in that.  Pitt had never been to hear an Evangelical preacher before.  His world had been a different one.  He was a stranger amongst strangers.  Their language was not his, and conveyed no meaning to his ear.  Greek or Hebrew would have been as intelligible p. 62to him.  Pitt’s case was a common one then, and is a common one now.  Foster’s Essay has lost none of its point or power.  There are still not unfrequently in the services of our churches and chapels, in the peculiar phraseology of the pulpit, some grounds for the aversion of men of taste to Evangelical religion.  However, there are illustrious exceptions: one of the most illustrious of these is Henry Melville.

Would you hear him, reader, then for awhile you must leave the shop or the counting-house, and penetrate with us to the very heart of our great metropolis.  The Golden Lecture, as it is called, a lectureship, I believe, belonging to the Mercers’ Company, and worth about £400 a-year, is delivered every Tuesday morning, and Melville is the lecturer.  The church of St. Margaret, in Lothbury, is the spot selected, and it is an appropriate place for a Golden Lecture, for everywhere around you, you have—

‘Gold and gold, and nothing but gold,
Yellow and hard, and shining and cold!’

On one side is the bank that hides such treasures in its mysterious and well-guarded cells.  An hour’s quiet walk in one of them, p. 63my good sir, would make you and me independent for life.  Every step of our way we are surrounded by gigantic companies; We walk on enchanted ground; we breathe enchanted air.  Fortunes here are made and lost in a day.  It was well that the piety of our forefathers selected such a spot, that once in the bustle of the week God’s voice might be heard as well as that of Mammon.

But it is time we enter St. Margaret’s.

Like most city churches, it is small and cold and mouldy—seeming to belong more to the past than the present age.  However, for once, it is alive again.  The old seats once more abound with beauty, and wealth, and fashion—or, at any rate, with so much of them as belong to City dames.  We have left the roar of Cheap-side and Cornhill; but, after all, we have the world with us here as well as there.  For awhile we shall forget it, for there is the preacher, and already the magic of his voice has charmed every ear.  I know no more magnificent voice.  I know no statelier air.  It always carries me back in fancy to the days of the elder Pitt—or to the earlier times of Bolingbroke—or to that still earlier day when the Hebrew Paul preached, and p. 64the Roman Felix trembled on his seat of splendour and of power.

Tall, of dark complexion, with grey hair and blue eyes, with a face lit up with genius—the most brilliant preacher in the English Church: such is Henry Melville.  His action is simple and singular.  When he commences scarcely any is observable.  Then as he flies along, and warms as he proceeds, the head is dropped with a convulsive jerk, and the right hand is raised, and the climax is ejaculated (for so rapid is his delivery it can scarcely be called preaching) with a corresponding emphasis.  No sooner is the text enunciated than he plunges at once into his subject, developing and illustrating his meaning with a brilliancy and rapidity unparalleled in the pulpit at the present day.  You are kept in breathless attention.  The continuity of thought is unbroken for an instant.  Every sentence is connected with that which precedes or follows; and, as the preacher goes on his way like a giant, every instant mounting higher, every instant pouring out a more gorgeous rhetoric, every instant climbing to a loftier strain, you are reminded of some monster steam-ship ploughing her way across the Atlantic, proudly asserting p. 65her mastery over the mountain-waves, landing her precious cargo safe in port.  When she started, you trembled for her safety; she was so lavish of her power that you feared it would fail her when she needed it most.  But on she wends her gallant way, scattering around her the mad waves as in play.  I can compare Melville with nothing else, as he stands in that pulpit—in that sea of human souls—drowning all discord by his own splendid voice, mastering all passions by his own irresistible will, piercing all scepticism by his own living faith.

And yet Melville is not what some understand by the term, ‘an intellectual preacher.’  He does not aim to demonstrate the reasonableness of Christian truth—to convince men whose understandings reject it.  With the large class who are perpetually halting between two opinions, who to-day are convinced by one man, and to-morrow by another—who have lost themselves hopelessly in German mysticism—Melville has no sympathy whatever.  I never heard him use the terms objective and subjective in my life.  Of honest intellectual doubt, with all its pain and horror, he seems to have no idea.  Melville always is as positive as Babington Macaulay p. 66himself.  In no circumstances could he have been a Blanco White, or a Francis Newman, or a Froude.  As a churchman he stands rigidly inside the pale of the Church.  His God is a personal God.  His Christ descended into hell.  His heaven has a golden pavement, and shining thrones.  Wordsworth tells us—

‘Feebly must they have felt, who in old times
Array’d with vengeful whips the furies.
Beautiful regards were turned on me,
The face of her I loved.’

Melville never could have written that.  His hell is physical, not mental.  It is a bottomless pit where the smoke of their torment ever ascends—where the worm never dies—where the fire is not quenched.  In all other matters his vision seems similarly clear, and intense, and narrow.  Beside the Church, whose creed he preaches, and whose articles he has subscribed, and whose emoluments he pockets, he knows no other.  His Holy Catholic Church is that which the State pays to and supports.  His successors of the Apostles are those whom Episcopalian bishops ordain.  His redeemed and sanctified ones consist only of those who have been confirmed.  According to him, error from the p. 67pulpits of the State Establishment is sanctified, owing to some mysterious power its pulpits possess.  Pulpits outside the Church are not only destitute of that power, but, alas! destitute also of all saving grace.  I have called Melville a brilliant preacher.  He is that; but his brilliancy, like that of Sheridan, is the result of intense preparation.  I write not this to disparage him.  I consider it much in his favour.  In these days, when the pulpit contains so small a part of the learning or the intellect of the age, no pulpit preparation can be too intense, or elaborate, or severe.  It is said Melville writes and re-writes his sermons till they arrive at his standard of perfection.  It is said he not unfrequently devotes a week to the composition of a single discourse.  I can quite believe it.  Every sentence is in its proper place—every figure is correct—every word tells—and the whole composition bears the stamp of subdued and chastened power.

Considering how rich the Church to which Mr. Melville belongs is, and how transcendently his talents outshine the mild mediocrities by which its pulpits are adorned, Mr. Melville cannot be considered to have been very successful in the p. 68way of patronage.  His income from Camden-town Chapel, Camberwell—a place of worship belonging to a relative—was about £1000 a-year: he resigned that when he was made President of Haileybury College.  As Chaplain of the Tower, I believe, he has about £300 a-year.  I have already stated what his Golden Lectureship is worth.  Certainly, he is not a poor man, but, compared with some of his brethren, he cannot be considered very rich.  He has published several sermons.  ‘Fraser,’ some years since, in a severe criticism on them, detected several remarkable coincidences between passages in them and in Chalmers’ Sermons—of whose style, certainly, Melville strongly reminds one.  But I am not aware that the criticism did Melville much harm; and he is still in as great request as ever.  I am told there is no such successful preacher of charity sermons in London: no other preacher is so successful in taking money at the doors.  As an orator, in the Church or out of it, no man can produce a greater effect.  He strikes the chords with a master’s hands.  At his bidding strong men tremble and despair, or believe and live.


I know not that there is a happier berth in the world than that of a fashionable Evangelical preacher in this enlightened city and enlightened age.  See him in the pulpit, adored by the women, envied by the men!  Wherever he goes he is made much of.  The shops in his neighbourhood abound with his portrait; his signature graces a thousand albums; young ladies of all ages and conditions work him his worsted slippers; his silver teapot and his easy chair are the contributions of his flock.  If there be an elysium on earth, it is his private residence.  If a man is to be deemed fortunate this side the grave, it is he.  If mortal ever slept upon a bed of roses, such is his enviable fate.  In old times men suffered for their religion; were deemed as dirt and dishonour; were things to point at and to shun.  In old times they had to suffer more than this: the man who would be loyal to his conscience or his God might not look for happiness and peace on earth.  He had to wander in sheepskins and goatskins; he had to renounce father, mother, p. 70sister, brother—all that was dear to him as his own life.  From the fair enjoyments of the world and the bright love of woman he had to tear himself away.  A sad, solitary life, and a bitter and bloody death, were what Christianity entailed on you in the olden time.  Ay, you must have been a strong man then to have borne its yoke.  And yet, sustained by a living faith, young, tender, delicate women bore it as if it were a wreath of flowers.  Men might talk of self-denial and taking up the cross then: they did so then.  But they are gone; and now, if you wish to learn self-denial and take up the cross, you must renounce Christianity.  Its sleek and popular minister can tell you little either of one or the other.  Religion now dresses in silk and satin, goes to court, has all Belgravia hallooing at her heels.  Her ways indeed are ways of pleasantness, and her paths, paths of peace.  Dr. Watts was right—

‘Religion never was design’d,
To make our pleasure less.’

Take, for instance, the honourable and reverend rector of St. George’s, Bloomsbury.  As the brother of a Lord, Mr. Villiers has great claims on a British public; as a canon of St. p. 71Paul’s, the rector of a well-filled church, still greater.  Bloomsbury Square is not exactly high life, but it is respectable.  The better sort of professional men and merchants abound in it.  Its neighbourhood is a step in a genteel direction.  It is not part and parcel of that vulgar place, the City.  It is on the way to the West-end.  One might live in a worse place.  Its natives are civilised, eschew steel forks, and affect silver spoons.  Most of them speak English, and a few have carriages of their own.  The place has seen better days; but it is not altogether of the past.  It abounds with the latest fashions.  It can talk of the last new novel.  Even its religion smacks of the genteel—carries a morocco prayer-book, with silver clasps, is followed by a page with buttons of shining hue, and has its services performed by men of honourable and exalted name.  Many in the Church have been born in low stations—have risen up to high rank, nevertheless.  Still it is a merit to be of aristocratic descent, and even in the Church that fact is as patent as in the world.  It is only in Turkey that birth carries no weight—but then the Turk is but little better than one of the wicked.

p. 72Independently, however, of these considerations, Mr. Villiers must have been a popular preacher.  He is a fine, well-made man; his figure is prepossessing—a great thing in a public speaker.  Weak, stunted, deformed, wretched-looking men have no business in the pulpit.  A man should have a portly presence there.  He should also have a fine voice, and Mr. Villiers is singularly happy in this respect.  In the Church there is not a man who can read its stately service with more effect.  And that service, well read to the hearer in a fitting mood, is a sermon itself.  Nor does Mr. Villiers’ merit end here.  He is no dull drone when the service is over and the sermon has begun.  With downcast eye he reads no moral essay that touches no conscience and fires no heart.  On the contrary, he is exceedingly active and energetic in the pulpit.  He looks his congregation in the face—he directs his discourse to them.  He takes care that not a single word shall lose its aim.  His musical voice is heard distinctly in every part of his crowded and enormous church.  Mr. Villiers is not an intellectual preacher; nor is he a man of original mind; nor does he revivify old themes, so as to make them seem fresh and p. 73new.  The common truths of orthodox Christianity are those which form the staple of his discourses.  To convert the sinner and edify the saint are his aim.  Philosophy and the world’s lore he passes by.  His plainness makes him popular.  The poorest can understand what he says, and they love to hear him, especially when he denounces the fashionable follies of high life.  Against such fashions Mr. Villiers is always ready to protest.  The theatre and the ballroom are the objects of his bitterest denunciations; the frequenters of such places find no mercy at his hands.  Of course this plainness delights his congregation.  As they frequent neither the one nor the other, they care little what harsh things he says of those who do.

Out of the pulpit we know little of Mr. Villiers.  One does not hear of him at Exeter Hall.  The Freemasons’ Tavern seldom echoes the sound of his voice.  His parish duties seem to absorb him.  He does not publish a new volume of theology every month, like Dr. Cumming, though he has published a volume or two of his Sermons, and some of his Lectures to Young Men.  To be sure he has enough to do where he is.  But still many ministers attempt p. 74much more, and his preaching cannot be a very severe tax on his mental powers.  Robert Montgomery published a book, called ‘The Gospel before the Age’—the Gospel of Mr. Villiers certainly has no such claim.  The school to which he belongs has very little reference to the age—has a very easy way of settling all the problems of the heart—never seems to imagine that there can be two sides to a question at all.  This makes it very easy work for preacher and people.  Such being the case, the wonder is not that Mr. Villiers preaches so well, but that, with his powerful voice and action, he does not do it better.  Since the above was written Episcopalianism in Bloomsbury has sustained a loss—Mr. Villiers is now a bishop.

p. 75The Independent Denomination.


All the world, I take it, is acquainted with the Monument, which,

‘Like a tall bully, lifts its head and lies.’

You have been to see it, or you have passed it as you have rushed to take the boat to Greenwich, or Hamburg, or the ‘Diggins.’  In either of these cases, unless you had been too much absorbed, you might have seen a plain, substantial building, evidently devoted to public worship.  There is nothing peculiar about its appearance; but there is something peculiar in the man who generally fills its pulpit—for it is the Weigh-House Chapel, and the preacher is the Rev. Thomas Binney.

Let us suppose it is a Sabbath morning, and the time half-past ten.  A stream of people has p. 76been flowing for the last quarter of an hour to the door of the above-named chapel: a few in private carriages—some in cabs—the rest on foot.  The larger portion consists of males, and, again, that majority consists of young men.  They come, evidently, from the shops and warehouses and counting-houses of this great metropolis.  They belong to the commercial classes.  They are the raw material out of which are evolved, in process of time, aldermen, merchant princes, and Lord Mayors.  They are such as Hogarth, were he alive now, would sketch for his industrious apprentice.  A few medical students from the neighbouring hospitals, and men of law or literature from the more aristocratic West, and you have the usual congregation to which the Rev. Thomas Binney ministers in holy things.

It is something to preach to these twelve hundred living souls; to place before them, immersed as they are in the business and bustle of this world, the reality of that which is to come; so to speak that the voice of God shall be more audible to them than that of gold.  Yet, surely, if it can be done by man, he can do it whom we now see, with reverent step, ascending p. 77the pulpit stairs.  What power there is in those great limbs, that full chest, and magnificent head!  Nature has been bountiful to him.  Such a man as that you can’t raise in London or Manchester.  You can imagine him the child of the mountain and the flood—learning from nature and his own great heart and the written Word—wild and strong and fierce as the war-horse scenting the battle from afar.  You see he has a warm heart, human sympathies; that, in short, he is every inch a man—not a scholastic pedant, nor an intellectual bigot, nor an emasculated priest.  Oh, it is pitiful to see in the pulpit, preaching in God’s name, some poor dwarf who has never had a doubt nor a hope nor a noble aim, and who enunciates your damnation with the same heartlessness with which he tells you two and two make four.  There are too many of such in our pulpits—men made ministers in some narrow routine of theological study, in some college where they get as accurate an idea of the world against which they have to warn men as the Chinese have of us.

It was not so in the grand old apostolic times.  Paul, Peter, James, and John preached of what they had seen and heard and known and felt.  p. 78Too generally the modern preacher tells you what he has read, and which, parrot-like, he repeats.  It is not so with Binney.  You see all that man has to go through, he must have gone through—that scepticism must have stared him in the face—that passion must have appealed to him in her most seductive forms—that the great problem of life he has not taken upon trust, but unriddled for himself—that he has gone through the Slough of Despond—passed by Castle Doubting, and sees the gilt and the rouge in Vanity Fair: or, as he says himself in his life, ‘the man has conquered the animal, and the God the man.’  Such a man has a right to preach to me.  If he has known, felt, thought, suffered, more than I, he is master, and I listen.  Such a man is Binney.  I can yet read in his face the record of passion subdued, of thought protracted and severe, of doubt conquered by a living faith.

Well, the service has been begun.  The congregation has joined in praise; and now it is hushed and still, while in accents feeble at first, but gradually becoming louder and more distinct, the preacher prays.  The liturgy of the English Church is beautiful and touching, but it is cold and unvarying.  It does not, with its eternal p. 79sameness, answer to the shifting moods of the human soul.  Such prayers as those of Binney do.  They bear you with them.  Your inward eye opens and refines.  Earth grows more distant, and heaven more near.  For once you become awe-struck and devout.  For once there comes a cloud between you and the world and the battle of life.  You are on the mount, and breathe a purer air.  Your heart has been touched, and you are ready for the preacher and his discourse.  At first you hardly hear it.  The great man before you seems nervous, awkward, as a raw student.  He runs his fingers through his scanty hairs.  He takes out half a dozen pocket-kerchiefs and blows his nose.  Being asthmatic, you are compelled to cough, and you have immediately the preacher stopping, to turn on you a withering glance.  But at length you catch, like a gleam of sunshine in a November fog, a fine thought in fine language.  Your attention is riveted.  What you hear is fresh and original, very different to the common run of pulpit discourses.  The preacher warms, his eye sparkles, his voice becomes loud, his action energetic.  You listen to powerful reasoning and passionate appeal.  Binney has been compared to Coleridge.  I don’t think p. 80the comparison good.  He is far more like Carlyle.  The latter, a Christian, with a good digestion, would preach precisely as Binney.  Binney is a Christian Carlyle, with the same poetry and power, the same faculty of realizing great and sterling thoughts; but with a light upon his way and in his heart which Carlyle has never known.

I have said Binney is not the kind of man born in great cities.  You see that in his physical frame; it is also evident in his mental character.  Everything about him is free and independent.  Whatever he is, he is no narrow-hearted sectarian, shut up in his own creed, having no sympathies outside his own church.  I take it that he sees also a certain kind of goodness in the world; that he does not feel

‘What a wretched land is this
That yields us no supplies;’

that he thinks life is to be enjoyed, and that genius, and wit, and beauty, are far from sinful in themselves.  The result is, Binney’s experience of life is greater than that of most ministers, and he keeps abreast of the age.  He studies to understand its thought, to answer its questionings, to lead it up to God.

And yet this man—with his great Catholic p. 81heart, standing by himself, tied down by no creed or common organisation—because, in a moment of excitement, seeing what was to him a dearth of truth and life in the Establishment, he said that it destroyed more souls than it saved, has been looked upon as the incarnation of all that is fierce and narrow in political Dissent.  Never was a bigger blunder made.  As regards all such matters, Binney is a latitudinarian.  I dare say even sharp-scented theologians may see a little of what they call heresy occasionally wrapped up in the sermons of the Weigh-House Chapel.  The charge is a common one in the mouths of those who would make a man an offender for a word.  The curse of the pulpit and the pew, hitherto, has been that such snarling critics have abounded in each.  To such, Binney is a terrible stumbling-block.  They cannot understand him, and yet they dare not condemn.

Mr. Binney is still in the prime of life.  He was born somewhere in the north, where they have bigger heads and frames than we southerns have.  He was educated at Wymondley College; he was then settled, as the phrase is, at Bedford, from which place he moved to Newport, in the Isle of Wight.  About twenty years since, he was p. 82invited to the Weigh-House Chapel, where ever since he has remained.  His income from that source must be very respectable, as the Weigh-House Chapel congregation is pretty well to do in the world, and can afford to pay its pastor handsomely.  As an author, Mr. Binney has gained extensive popularity, although he has not done much in that respect; and his first work, the ‘Life of the Rev. S. Morrell,’ a friend and fellow-student of his own, was a most extraordinary performance—just the thing a man like Binney would write when young.  It has, however, long been out of print.  His principal work is ‘Discourses on the Practical Power of Faith.’  His sermons have been his most frequent publications, and his Lecture on Sir F. Buxton—a lecture delivered to young men, with whom Mr. Binney is always popular—has been reprinted on both sides of the Atlantic, as I believe also has been his last published work, ‘How to Make the Best of Both Worlds.’  I believe, also, Mr. Binney has written some poetry.  I recollect a few powerful lines, with his name to them, commencing with—

‘Eternal light—eternal light,
   How pure that soul must be,
p. 83That, placed within thy searching sight,
It shrinks not—but with calm delight
   Can live and look on thee.’

His sermons often are prose poems.  Occasionally they are common-place.  We are all dull at times; but they are generally lit up with

‘The light that never shone
On shore or sea.’

I fancy, sometimes, Mr. Binney imagines that he has now made his position, and that, therefore, less exertion is required on his part than formerly.  A weaker man would have sunk into the idol of a coterie long before this.  A minister is never safe.  Popularity is often a fatal boon.  Some men it withers up at once.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about our subject has yet to be said.  Though the popular pastor of a popular London congregation, he is still plain Thomas Binney—still without the very questionable honour of an American D.D. appended to his name.


The pulpit is an old institution—next to the theatre, perhaps the oldest we have.  To almost every generation of men on this small isle set in the silver sea it has revealed all that it has had to communicate relative to this world or the next.  ‘Thanks to the aid of the temporal arm,’ writes Thierry of Edbald, King of Kent, ‘the faith of Christ arose once more, never again to be extinguished, on both banks of the Thames.’  Before that the pulpit had been introduced, and it remained powerful when England, at a monarch’s nod, forcibly dissolved the spiritual union she had so soon contracted and so long maintained with Rome.  To the Protestants the pulpit was more essential than to the Catholics.  To the Protestants who dissented from the Established Church it became more important still.  Without it they were nothing.  Dissenting vitality depends upon the pulpit.  If that be weak and cold, unable to get at the heart and to act upon the passions of the multitude, Dissent melts like snow beneath the warm breath of p. 85the south.  If it be otherwise, Dissent flourishes and grows strong.  The history of sects is the history of individuals.  Whitfield, Wesley are instances.  In the Church of England it is otherwise.  That has a status independent of the pulpit.  Without any particular individual, it has a service elaborate and solemn and complete, and more attractive than from its eternal monotony, in spite of Puseyite natural attempts to the contrary, one would imagine would be the case.  Yet it is becoming confessed the Dissenting pulpit has ceased to be what it was.  I own I hardly understand why.  Tom Moore tells in his diary that no exercise of talent brings so immediate a result as oratory.  I believe every one who has ever got upon his legs will say the same thing, and where can the orator have a wider field than in the pulpit?  At the best, the senate or the bar have nothing of equal interest.  I believe the difficulty may be partly explained in two ways.  In the first place, the pulpit is too much a repetition of creeds and theologies that are becoming extinct; and in the second place, there is a dead weight in the pews which masters the pulpit, and deadens its intellectual life.  I believe many a minister says things in private p. 86conversation that he has not courage enough to utter in the pulpit, and that when he tries to do so, owing to the vagueness of theological terms, what he says in one sense is understood by his hearers in another.  No wonder then that the pulpit is so barren of power, and that many a man of gifts and parts in our days of universal reading prefers the press to the pulpit, and chooses rather to teach with his pen than with the living voice.  Yet the pulpit is not wholly deserted.  It can still boast its consecrated talent.  It has still in it men who would have succeeded, had they tried other professions—who have something more to distinguish them than a sleek appearance or a fluent voice.  To this class does the Reverend Baldwin Brown belong.

Some years back Clayland’s Chapel was erected in the Clapham-road.  A dissenting D.D., famed for his eloquence and wit—for his book against the theatre—for his encounter with Sidney Smith—for the strict orthodoxy of his reviews in the Evangelical Magazine—and for sundry indiscretions not quite so orthodox, became its minister.  The reverend gentleman failed to gather around him a flock.  He preached p. 87and none came to hear him.  The pews were unoccupied, and the quarterly returns were small.  He abandoned the chapel, and with dubious fame, and an appearance somewhat too much that of a bon vivant for the minister of a religion of self-denial and mortification of the flesh, went down to Warwickshire to become the pastor of a village congregation, and in time to die.  Clayland’s chapel then was placed under the care of the Rev. Baldwin Brown, then a young man fresh from Highbury College, to which place he had gone after completing his education at University College, becoming a graduate of the London University, and having been, I believe, called to the bar.  Mr. Brown is now in the prime of life.  He cannot be much above thirty.  He attained his position earlier than ministers generally do.  His father was a man of some standing in the world, as well as in his own denomination.  His uncles were no less distinguished personages than Drs. Liefchild and Raffles, and last, and not least, he had that easy confidence in his own powers, which are great, and his attainments, which are greater, without which you may have the eloquence of Paul, or the piety of John, and yet no more p. 88move the world or the most insignificant portion of it than a child can arrest a steam engine, or than a lady’s parasol can still a storm.

Mr. Brown’s settlement at Clayland’s Chapel has been successful.  The cause—to borrow the conventional phrase—has prospered; the chapel has been filled, and the church has considerably increased.  His fame has grown.  He has become a man of note.  At Exeter Hall his voice is often heard.  Undoubtedly some of his success is due to the circumstances I have already mentioned, but undoubtedly the greater part of it is due to himself alone.  It is something for a man to find a position already made for him.  It saves him many a year of herculean and unregarded toil; but to keep a position is almost as difficult as to make it, and this Mr. Brown has succeeded in doing.  The reason of this must be sought for in Mr. Brown himself.  The man must have some speciality to fit him for his work, or he cannot be successful in it.  That Mr. Brown has this is, I take it, beyond a doubt; nor can you long attend upon his ministry without finding such is the case.  Mr. Brown’s distinguishing characteristic is freshness.  There is nothing stale or conventional p. 89about him.  He evidently preaches what he thinks.  His speech is a living speech, not a monotonous repetition of old divinity.  He has wandered out of the conventional circle.  He has come in contact with great minds.  He has had a richer experience than generally falls to the lot of the divine.  He views things broadly and in a manly manner, not from the narrow platform of a sect.  His faith is a living one.  His Christianity is practical—that by which men may shape their life as well as square their creed.  Instead of wandering weakly and sentimentally in other lands and in other ages, he brings his mind and heart to bear upon the realities of the present day.  The questions of our age, not of past ages, he discusses in his pulpit.  The day that passes over him is the day to which he devotes his energies.  He gives you an idea of earnestness and activity and independence—of a mind well educated and drawn out—filled with Christian truth, and earnest in the application of that truth.  He is not a great rhetorician—his strength seems to be in his common sense.  If the Bible be true, the sooner man gets that idea into his head and acts according to it, the better.  If man have to obey p. 90the Divine law, the sooner he submits himself to it the happier he will be in this life as well as in that which is to come.  I know there is nothing new in this,—that other men attempt to teach the same thing,—that all divines are saying it one way or another every Sunday; but the merit of Mr. Brown is that he says it as a man of common-sense would say it to men possessed of common-sense—that he does not wrap his meaning in the unreal verbiage of a mystic and unreal theology—that he takes his teachings, and arguments, and illustrations from real life—and that he talks of religion as men of the world of consols and railways; and no man can do this, to whom religion is not the business of his life.  In personal appearance there is nothing particularly remarkable about Mr. Brown.  He is tall—thin—of light complexion, a very different style of man to the fat, indolent-looking old gentlemen that figure in the picture gallery of a certain popular religious magazine, but with an appearance of intellectual activity and readiness for his work and age, to which few of the good old conventional divines now happily gathered to their fathers ever seem to have had an idea.


If the reader has ever been in the habit of attending public meetings, he must occasionally have seen an amendment proposed by a man evidently in a minority, yet proposed nevertheless.  The man who does this is a man of confidence, of good lungs and nerve.  First, the meeting will not hear him at all.  ‘Down, down!’ is the universal cry.  But the man stands firm, fixes his arms across his breast in the manner of the ‘Napoleon musing at St. Helena’ of the late Mr. Haydon.  He knows that that angry hubbub cannot last long: that the indignant public will be out of breath in five minutes; that the more frantic it is now, the more exhausted and quiet it will be anon; and, with a calm smile of pity, he waits the result.  All that he has to do is simply to stand still, and, if he does this long enough, there is no meeting on the face of the earth that can refuse him a hearing.

In some such manner has the Rev. John Campbell made good his position in the religious world, or rather in that one section of the Congregational p. 92body over which he rules with a rod of iron.  At times there has been a hubbub, but the Doctor knows no hubbub, however loud and angry, can last long; and to the mass, destitute alike of information and principles, it is a real blessing to get hold of a firm, dogmatic man, who knows his own mind, and who will kindly take care of theirs.  Fluent in pen, meagre in attainment, seemingly master of no one subject, yet writing vehemently on all, the Doctor is precisely the man to give the law to that low class of readers more or less present in all religious denominations.  It is easy to see what he is, and what he is not.  He is not an accomplished orator, for he eschews the graces of the platform.  He is not a man of learning, for learning softens the manners.  He is not a man of lofty grasp of thought, for he has never said a word, or written a line, that is not narrow and sectarian and one-sided.  But he is hard, energetic, confident, loud in voice, and boisterous in manner; as unabashed as the Duke of York’s monument in Waterloo Place.

You can see what manner of a man Dr. Campbell is in the twinkling of an eye.  It is not often he preaches now; but if you chance to be p. 93at the Tabernacle, in the City Road, when he does preach, you will feel the description of him is correct.  The memory of that Apostle in an age of sensualism and sin, George Whitfield, still sheds a fragrance round the dreary-looking chapel, in which some few hundreds, chiefly of the poorer sort of small tradesmen, meet, Sabbath after Sabbath, and where the Editor of the ‘Christian Witness,’ of the ‘Christian Penny Magazine,’ and of the ‘British Standard,’ occasionally harangues.  If you go, gentle reader, take with you a good stock of patience, for you will not find the service easy, or the sermon short.  There, in the very pulpit where Whitfield, the persuasive, the silver-tongued, stood—the Whitfield, whom lords and ladies flocked to hear; who lit up with light and life a wicked and adulterous generation—an age destitute alike of faith and heart and hope—you will see a big cumbrous man, of severe face and repulsive manner, with a voice harsh and rough as a mountain-stream.  The face is almost hidden between two uncomfortable collars, which create your sympathy for the unfortunate mortal in such an unpleasant fix.  Continuing your search, however, you see piercing eyes beneath bushy brows, a nose of a decided character, a most firm p. 94chin, and a head of thick grey hair, the obstinate irregularities of which would throw a fashionable hair-dresser into despair.  Moore wrote of Castlereagh that—

‘He gave out his small beer with the air of a chap
Who thinks to himself, ’T is prodigious fine tap.’

Just so preaches Dr. Campbell.  In the pulpit he has it all his own way.  You cannot contradict him.  You cannot even intimate dissent; and he harangues with the air of a judge.  Evidently the congregation has been dragooned into what it is, for the preacher gives no sign of intelligence or vigour.  He takes a text and preaches from it.  The divisions of the sermon are the sentences of the text, and he talks in the most desultory manner imaginable.  The oratory belongs to the deadly-lively school, and consists of mild common-places, pumped out with a ferocity reminding one of the stern Puritans of the olden time, but rather out of place in the Tabernacle in which the Doctor reigns supreme, and which we suppose is licensed for public worship, according to Act of Parliament.  Moderate your expectations if you go there.  Dr. Campbell has been far too busy a man to master the thought and aspect and characteristics p. 95of our age.  Of what man in England, in London, in the nineteenth century, is aiming at, he seems to have but a remote idea.  So blind is he that, if he wants a heathen, he puts on his spectacles and reads you an account of one out of some old Missionary Magazine.  Nor does the Doctor atone for this by the beauty of his style and the perspicuity of his tone.  His voice is husky and, at times, inaudible; his manner, bad.  Sheridan had a bad voice, so had Fox, so had Burke; but these men were orators, nevertheless.  Dr. Campbell is not one, and never was one.  He builds up no lofty structure.  He bears you on no unfaltering wing far,

‘Far above this lower world,
Up where eternal ages roll.’

He overflows with no brilliant eloquence, and burns with no celestial fire.  He never ascends into the region of beauty and splendour, and life and light.  His is not the magic art to take you from step to step along the Christian path, till your soul heaves, and you exclaim, ‘It is good to be here!’  On the contrary, he leaves you flat and cold and dull.  He amplifies, and waves his right arm, and quotes texts, and repeats a feeble sentence emphatically; but that p. 96is all; he makes no progress.  In going from Edinburgh to Stirling, by water, you are carried backwards and forwards, by the winding of the stream, in the most remarkable manner.  You see Stirling long before you approach.  You keep going, and yet you don’t seem going on.  Dr. Campbell winds just in the same way.  You have talk without effect; action without progress; words without thought.

The real truth is, Dr. Campbell is one of the failures of the age.  His ‘Martyr of Erromanga’ has been his only creditable work.  No man has talked more, or done less.  He attempts too much.  He would be everything, and is nothing.  Superficiality has ever been his bane.  A fatal copiousness of words has ruined him.  More golden opportunities than those he has had, no man ever had.  A failure in the pulpit, he turned himself to the press; and a powerful body, with an organization in almost every town and village in the land, rallied round him as their chief.  To circulate his publications the most gigantic efforts were made.  The ‘pulpits were tuned,’ the Sunday-school was invaded, the congregation was taken by storm.  Like most men whose invective powers are strong, the Doctor can p. 97flatter, and he did so with a vengeance.  The model church was the church which took in the most of the Doctor’s publications.  The successful minister was the minister who sold the most of them.  The people of whom the Doctor had hopes were the people who subscribed 4s. 4d. per quarter to Bolt Court.

But the Doctor can bear no rival; he must reign supreme.  John Childs, of Bungay, and Dr. Adam Thomson, of Coldstream, destroyed the Bible monopoly; but Dr. Campbell had the command of the press, and took the credit to himself.  An eminent publisher started a newspaper and a religious magazine, and the Doctor looked coldly on him till he sold the newspaper and gave up the magazine.  When the ‘Anti-State-Church Society’ was formed, the Doctor was one of its members, but it had a ruling spirit who was not the pastor of the Tabernacle, and the Doctor’s zeal soon died away.  The Doctor also professes to be with the Teetotalers; but they don’t all go to Bolt Court, and the Doctor damns them with faint praise.  If the Congregationalists grow restive, it matters little; they have no chance against him; they have been delivered over to the Doctor, body p. 98and soul.  It is in vain they struggle to be free.  Will the Doctor publish what would militate against himself?  Will the Doctor withhold from publishing when it gives him the chance of an easy triumph?  Of course, a man is a fool to enter into a controversy with a newspaper editor.  The editor is omnipotent; you must give in.  If it is folly to kick against the pricks, it is the height of folly to encounter the editor of a newspaper.  Hence the Doctor’s triumphs have been easy; but they have been due more to the weakness of his foes than to any strength of his own.

As to the utter weakness of the Doctor in execution, let us turn to the ‘British Banner.’  A man may be heavy, rambling, in the pulpit; but with his pen he may be quite the reverse.  The ‘Banner,’ when under the Doctor’s care, was a failure.  That was to have been a paper to Christianize the world; to win over the discontented infidelity and chartism of our age; to pervade the land with a living Christian faith: for this, Doctor Campbell had a support such as was never given to man before.  The Doctor told us that there was an infidel press; that that infidel press circulated by tens of p. 99thousands; and that it behoved Christian men to try and arrest such a state of things.  Christian men believed the Doctor, and invested him with tremendous power.  And what has been the consequence?  That the world has a fresh sectarian paper, and that the readers of the infidel press remain just where they were.  Is this a success?

Take another test.  The London weekly papers exchange with the country ones; the consequence is, many of the leaders appearing in the former are reprinted in the latter.  This is about the best test you can have of what a newspaper is.  The editors of the country papers are very fair representatives of the intelligence of the age.  What they reprint must be generally good.  You would expect this to be so, and it actually is the case.  The papers which have the highest reputation for talent and clearness of view are precisely the papers most quoted from.  But who ever saw a reprint of a leader from the ‘British Banner’?  If the leaders in the ‘Banner’ were as distinguished for the vigour of language, for the correctness of their views, they would be reprinted as extensively as the papers the ‘Banner’ was intended to supersede.  If the Doctor’s aim were good, if it were desirable to start a paper p. 100that should be Christian, and yet popular, so that it should circulate everywhere, the Doctor’s failure has been complete; for he has not only not done so, but he has hindered the men who would.

Like most vituperative men, Dr. Campbell is terribly thin-skinned.  You may praise, but you must not blame.  He seems conscious that honest criticism would tear him to shreds and tatters.  We heard of a Scottish paper in the habit of giving pulpit portraits.  It was expected the Doctor would be served up in course of time.  The Doctor let it be understood that, if anything of the kind were done, he would write the paper into the Broomielaw: and the matter dropped.

The last time I heard the Doctor he was preaching about the Chinese.  He told us, what most of us knew well before, that China was a very large country, that it had a wall eighteen hundred miles long, that Confucius lived three or four hundred years before Christ; but there was one thing he did not tell us—that the Chinese call a man of talk, and swagger, and rhodomontade, a paper tiger.  But perhaps the Doctor was wise, as comparisons are odious.  After all, that such a man, with his fulsome eulogies and violent p. 101invective, should have come to be a power, is a melancholy fact—a fact indicating that Dissent will have to undergo a very formidable purifying process before men of taste, and intellect, and learning will be found willing to join its ranks.


The one great want of the metropolitan pulpit is men abreast of the age, who can sympathize with its pulsation, can respond to its wants, can permeate it with a living faith.  The majority of the men in the pulpit cease to be such when they get there.  Of the human heart, as it is fevered with passion, or boils over with desire, they know nothing.  They see men under a mask.  Smith does not talk to his minister as he does to Brown; with Brown he is facetious—occasionally a little loose—and, after a good dinner and a bottle of wine, speaks in terms almost of approval of fashionable follies.  The minister comes in and the conversation is changed—allusions are made to the ‘Evangelical p. 102Magazine’—the Missionary Society is referred to—something is said of Sunday Schools, and the world for a time is dropped.  Smith, junior, acts in a similar way.  Before his minister he assumes a virtue, if he have it not—is sedate—quiet, anything, in short, but what his intimates find him to be.  It seems to be the condition of the pulpit that it shall see life under a mask; and as to thought, that does not move in the regular time-worn ruts, that is condemned at once.  It is not the thought of the pulpit, and it therefore must be false.  It may be born of vigorous intellect; it may have been nursed by years of severe thought; to get at it, the thinker may have sacrificed many an early friendship—many a cherished association—many a sacred tie; but, nevertheless, the pulpit would blast it with its stern anathemas, and pronounces it a crime.  Occasionally, a man in the pulpit can act differently.  Some few years back, when Professor Scott, then of University College, London, now of Owen’s College, Manchester, was in town, it seemed as if an honest attempt was made to meet and win to Christianity the philosophy that was genuine and earnest and religious, though it squared with p. 103the creed of no church, and took for its textbook the living heart of man rather than the written Word.  In our time the same thing is attempted.  The man who has had the courage to make the attempt—and to whom honour should be given for it—is the Rev. Thomas Lynch.

Judged by externals, the Rev. Thomas Lynch is a failure.  He is a small spare man; his bodily presence is contemptible; he is a reed shaken by the wind.  You get no idea of the church militant when you look at him,

      ‘Of the drum ecclesiastic,
Beat with fist instead of a stick.’

He is none of your bully ‘Bottoms,’ to roar ‘so that the Duke will say, let him roar again.’  His chapel is in the very unfashionable neighbourhood of Tottenham Court Road.  His hearers are few and far between.  Out of the immense crowd of church and chapel goers in this great city, not three hundred can be got to hear him; and yet I know no man better worth your hearing.  Your popular orators, your Dan O’Connells and your Dr. Leifchilds, are big men—and yet your small men have often the organization favourable to the development of poetry and thought.  So is it with Mr. Lynch.  It is the old Gospel he preaches; but he handles it in a p. 104new and fresh form. What is wearisome from others, comes with a peculiar fascination from him.  The truths common-place men have made prosaic and common-place, the magic of his genius can render quite the reverse.  His is the rare power, given to the true poet alone, ‘to clothe the palpable and the familiar with golden exhalations of the dawn;’ and his also is the still rarer power to show piety—

‘Sitting as a goddess bright,
In the circle of her light.’

You see that Christianity to him is life and power—no form of words, but a reality; that it fills his heart; that it works in his intellect; that it sanctifies his utterance.  Hence it comes fresh to you as it does to him; it is alive with the light of genius and of God; with him it is applicable to the conditions of existence, to man’s need and nature—no tinkling cymbal—no empty brass.  A brother and a man preaches to you; your equal in philosophy, in thought, in lettered lore; your superior in what is greater and nobler still.  Yes, that frail man, with an imperfect frame—with a voice so weak that you can scarcely hear him—with an appearance so homely that you would never think that in such a casket a soul of any greatness could be enshrined—p. 105can speak to you of the great things of God—of righteousness, and temperance, and the judgment to come, so that you—worldly scoffer or philosophic sceptic though you be—must listen with admiration and respect.

A tale is told of a certain divine who was much given to a practice common in the Scotch Church, though not very popular here—of exposition.  Once upon a time, when remonstrated with, the worthy preacher, with a candour deserving of all praise, replied, that he did so because, when he was persecuted in one text, he could flee to another.  Mr. Lynch needs no such practice.  His Bible is no sealed book, but a revelation of light, and splendour, and truth.  To him there is nothing common, or barren, or unclean.  All is food for his intellect, always active—and his fancy, always copious and rich.  Nor even does that, luxuriant though it be, lead him astray.  All the while he is in earnest, illustrating, as he himself writes in that choice book of his, ‘Theophilus Trinal’—that

      ‘the powers that play in fancy,
   Can a holy earnest show,
As the colours of the bubble
   Shine serenely in the bow.’

p. 106His theology we will describe in his own words.  In the book we have already referred to, he writes: ‘Human nature, like ancient Job, is foul and sore with disease, spirit-worn, and weary with incessant strivings of heart.  The Philosophies, as friends, come with their sympathy and wisdom; but their words are dark clouds, edged brightly, which reveal the splendours of truth behind them, but disclose not the orb; and to the parched heart they are but as clouds, with a wind indeed, but without rain.  But after the discoursings of philosophy with human nature, there is heard the voice of God, saying, “I am; behold my works; hope and believe!”  As experience enlarges, spiritual questions accumulate, till at the last they pass into one great question concerning the world and human life, which the heart expresses not in words, but which fills it with a mute agony of wonder.  To this question there is no answer, or hope of any, till the voice of God is heard, saying, “I am!”  This voice from a whisper rises till it has the sound of many waters.  Happy are we if we believe and feel that the man of sorrows, and of success after sorrows, Jesus, the Son of God, is still his real and sufficient p. 107representative.  He is God’s surety to the world.  He, bearing the sins of the world, bears also its difficulties.  In the faith of Christ have the men of many generations found fixed standing-place, immovably secure.  In him they have heard the voice, “I am!”  “Here we rest,” they have said; “our God, we will not distrust thee!”  He bears the golden key of love that shall unlock the secret of the world.  This key is a key of escape from a prison; key of entrance to a palace.  Oftentimes, in life, we may seem as those who struggle in a wide stormy sea, knowing their strength only by the greatness of their ineffectual efforts.  Yet are we safe.  For though we may feel as if rather drifting in a slight skiff over boisterous waters than making way over them in a strong vessel, yet if, after dreary days, Columbus found the land which reason taught him to hope for, much more shall we reach the country promised to the faithful.’

Having thus referred to ‘Theophilus Trinal,’ a book which has already reached a second edition, we may as well add here that Mr. Lynch has published a sermon explanatory of his views and aims, and Four Lectures delivered at Manchester, on various forms of Literature, and is, p. 108and has been for some time, one of the principal contributors to a magazine called the ‘Christian Spectator’—a magazine understood to be intimately connected with that section of the religious world of which Edward Miall, late M.P., and Editor of the ‘Nonconformist,’ is the great exponent and type.  In this sketch it is impossible altogether to ignore the Lynch Controversy; let me describe it in a few words.  In 1856 Mr. Lynch published a volume of religious poems called the Rivulet, some of them for private perusal, some for public worship.  The Eclectic Review had a favourable notice of the book; the Morning Advertiser was sorely offended with this review, and, in the style of criticism peculiar to that journal, proceeded to show that the Rivulet was deeply tainted with deadly heresy.  Some leading ministers of the denomination to which Mr. Lynch belonged generously declared their belief that Mr. Lynch was a man to be honoured for his Christian creed and life, whatever the reviewer might think.  This led to a still further storm.  Not content with attacking Mr. Lynch, the Morning Advertiser made the protesting ministers the subjects of its censure.  The British Banner p. 109endorsed all these charges, and gave to them, to the immense delight of the Record on one side and the Reasoner on the other, a wider circulation.  Considerable confusion followed—reverend gentlemen and Christian laymen quarrelled with all that bitterness which usually distinguishes the divine—pamphlets and letters were plentiful as blackberries.  Actually the Congregational Union postponed their autumnal meeting on account of the strife thus generated.  The upshot of the whole matter was, that the publicans complained, and the Advertiser for a time directed its attention to more congenial subjects than those connected with theology—that Dr. Campbell’s connection with the British Banner was terminated, and that Mr. Lynch had a much speedier sale for his poems than, I fear, otherwise he would have had.

That Mr. Lynch has no larger congregation, I take it, is a reproach to the Christian Church.  One would think that there was a divorce between it and talent and taste, or Mr. Lynch would preach to crowded benches.  As it is, however, more time is left him for the press, and, after all, the world is ruled by what is read, not heard.  The spoken word may die—the printed p. 110one must live.  What of truth there is in that is immortal.  It will forever bud and blossom and bear fruit.

In conclusion, it may be as well to state here that Mr. Lynch is a minister of the Congregational body, and that his chapel is in Grafton Street, Tottenham Court Road; that he was educated at Highbury College, and then became minister of a small body of seceders from Dr. Leifchild’s congregation.  He is young yet.  He is older in thoughts than in years.  His inner life has been of richer growth than his outer one.  A popular preacher he can never become; but to men of thought, especially to men of literature—to the school of Tennyson and Coleridge—his will always be a welcome name.


Is the language of the Psalmist, descriptive of himself, universally true?  Is it true that man is born in sin, and shapen in iniquity; that he is p. 111depraved; that he hates what is good, and loves what is bad?  If it be so, that fact, of itself, sufficiently accounts for the war ever carried on between faith and reason, the church and the world.  If it be so, it is vain that philosophy attempts to break down the line of demarcation, and to lead men to what it deems a purer faith.  At its best and highest it is powerless—nothing better than, in the language of Carlyle, ‘Thrice refined pabulum of transcendental moonshine.’

The only remedy for this is to return to the practice of the Wesleys and the Whitfields of an earlier day, to proclaim the naked truth: That man is a rebel against God—that he is destined to eternal perdition—and that every step he takes, till his heart be touched by divine grace, and won by the attraction of the cross, leads him further and further in his downward way.  It is a terrible doctrine, this; yet, strange to say, it is a popular one.  The men who preach it are the most popular preachers.  Their Gospel tramples on intellect, and they do the same.  According to them, the weak things of the world, and the things that are despised, are powerful to bring to nought things that are; and, therefore, they take their stand above the science and literature p. 112and philosophy of man, which they hold but as dirt in comparison with the truths they teach and the discoveries they reveal.  Their appeal is not to the intellect or the taste.  For neither do they care.  They display no pride of learning, no affluence of imagination, no pomp of words.  They abound with no thoughts rich and rare.  The perilous paths which the human intellect finds for itself, when in wandering mazes lost, they altogether ignore.

Hence their immense success.  The common mass of church and chapel goers are not given, by mental speculation, to trains of abstract and protracted thought.  Generally, their education is of the most limited description, consisting of little more than is requisite for the ordinary business of ordinary life.  The London bourgeoise are not a very learned folk.  Were a Coleridge set down amongst them they would say, ‘Much learning hath made this man mad.’  They would at any time prefer a Hall to a John Foster, or such a man as Robert Montgomery to Professor Maurice or Mr. Lynch.  But they can be reached through the heart, and they love so to be reached.  Nor on religious matters is this very difficult to do so.  The chief requirements p. 113are simplicity and earnestness—that you should not reason, but command and appeal.  The more simply and authoritatively this is done, of course, the better it is done.  An audience does not love to be distracted, or to have its mental powers severely taxed; but it comes to be excited, to be quickened, to be delivered for a time from the things which are seen and temporal, and to realise those which are unseen and eternal.  The men who aim straight at this end—if they have at all the requisite amount of voice and manner—are sure to have an audience fit, and not few.

Thus Mr. Martin has won his way, and become a power in the pulpit.  About fifteen years since, he came to London from a provincial college—a college which the self-satisfied young gentlemen of Highbury, with their acknowledged popular preaching talents, regarded in much the same way as Nazareth was regarded by the Jews.  A new chapel had just been erected in Lambeth by the Congregationalists, and immediately Mr. Martin filled it.  Where there had been a few wretched hovels there rose up a temple crowded with worshippers.  Every part was full.  The preacher was young; his style was exceedingly p. 114simple; but he had the calm self-possession of a man with a mission to men’s souls, and he had a clear voice, and a manner grave and, at times, pathetic or severe.  It was seldom that men had seen, on such young shoulders, so old a head; and the Dissenting world rushed to hear the boyish preacher who seemed miraculously endued with the wisdom and gravity of age, and whose popularity even seemed to have left him simple and unaffected, in spite of it all.  In time, a new chapel was erected in Westminster, not far from the residence of royalty; and of that chapel Mr. Martin became the minister.  There he yet remains, and there his popularity is as great as ever.  You are lucky if you get a seat, the chapel, which has recently been enlarged, being always full.

Mr. Martin’s forte is seriousness.  He appears always solemn and devout.  In the man himself you see no sign of great intellectual power.  Dressed in sober black, close buttoned to the chin, you see a young man, with a pale heavy face, worn down by work.  You may listen a long time before fire flashes from those eyes and lips, or before that brain thinks out of the commonest style of pulpit thought.  It is really remarkable p. 115with how little instrumentality Mr. Martin produces so great an effect.  He looks perfectly unimpressible—as if the world’s vanities never could charm him—as if he passed his life in some hermit’s dismal cell, and not in the city’s passionate and restless crowd.  You would fancy that he was the inhabitant of an altogether different sphere, that he never laughed or smiled or read ‘Punch;’ and this appearance, I take it, is some help to his pulpit success.  Charles Fox said it was impossible for any one to be as wise as Lord Thurlow looked.  I would not go so far as to say that no man can be as devout as Mr. Martin looks, but certainly his appearance must be in his favour with the large class who attend public worship, although his nasal twang is not very agreeable, and his face itself is more indicative of the priest of narrow thought and of ascetic habits, than of the man with glowing sympathies and generous life.

In the pulpit all this tells.  Wait awhile, if you are sceptical, and you will soon be convinced of the fact.  The mass around you will soon be permeated by the preacher’s power.  As he unfolds his subject—as he goes directly to the point—as, with plain and terrible language, p. 116he warns men of sin, and of its fearful results—as he expatiates on the terrors and splendours of a world to come—as he realises the day when the trumpet shall sound, when the grave shall give up its spoil, when the dead, small and great, shall stand before God—you see that he has got at the heart of his audience—that it hangs upon his lips—that he sways it at his will—that at his bidding it trembles and despairs—or that it believes and hopes, and loves and lives.  And all this seems done with little effort, in the boldest and plainest language possible.

A man of one book is always a formidable foe.  Mr. Martin is a man of one book.  That one book, as he reads it, proclaims one fact—salvation by the cross; and to proclaim that fact is the one mission of his life, and the one message on his lips.  Out of that book other men may get more; out of it Mr. Martin gets but one great and all-absorbing idea.  This being the case, one is not surprised that Mr. Martin is not met with frequently out of the pulpit, or that what little he has published has been in the sermon line.  He has identified himself with Ragged Schools and the Early p. 117Closing Movement, and the United Kingdom Alliance for the Suppression of the Liquor Traffic; and has, I believe, written and spoken in their favour.  But the pulpit is his peculiar sphere: there he is great—there he has no rival near the throne—there he speaks as one having authority, as an accredited ambassador from God to man.  In thus acting he shows his wisdom; for there he has achieved a success which men of greater brilliancy, of wider intellectual power, have often sought in vain.  Cowper draws his model preacher:

—‘Simple, grave, sincere—
In doctrine uncorrupt; in language plain,
And plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste,
And natural in gesture; much impress’d
Himself, as conscious of his awful charge,
And anxious mainly that the flock he feeds
May feel it too; affectionate in look,
And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty man.’

Mr. Martin might have sat for the portrait.

p. 118THE REV. A. J. MORRIS.

The Rev. A. J. Morris is an Independent, alias a Congregational, minister at Holloway.  Of course my fashionable readers don’t know where Holloway is.  I may as well then briefly inform them that it is a suburb of London, not far from Islington and the New Cattle Market.  Holloway belongs to the Dissenting part of London.  The metropolis is cut up into sections:—Quakers congregate in Tottenham, and Edmonton, and Stoke Newington; Jews in Houndsditch; the Low Church party is very strong in Clapham; at the east, down by the river, there is an immense number of Baptists; in that large district, known at election times as the Tower Hamlets, Dissenting chapels are plentiful as blackberries, while in the more fashionable districts of Chelsea and Brompton you will hardly find one.  The philosopher of Malmesbury (Sir W. Molesworth could have shown you the passage in the Leviathan) argues that a man should always be of the religion of his country, and thus is it these sects have become p. 119hereditary in their respective localities.  You never hear of Puseyism in the Tower Hamlets; you might as soon expect to find the Italian Opera there as a St. Barnabas.  Almost all the Dissenting families of London have been born, brought up, and gathered to their fathers in one locality.  To this day the Dissenters of London are buried on almost the very spot where De Foe wrote his satires, and Dr. Watts his hymns.

In spite, however, of this intuitive faith in the past, a faith no logic, no mental illumination, can root out or destroy, dissent has its new chapels and new men.  Of these latter the Rev. A. J. Morris is one.  People who read Mr. Ruskin, and talk sentimentally about architecture—a practice very rare among architects themselves—will see in Mr. Morris’s chapel something of the character of the man.  It is new, but still it appropriates to itself what is graceful and useful in the past.  For instance, it has more of an Episcopalian character than dissenting chapels at the time of its erection generally had.  Up to that time dissenters had prided themselves on the uncomely and unpoetical aspect of the places in which they met for p. 120public worship.  Your dissenting chapel was generally a square, built of the ugliest red brick, and rendered hideous internally by square deal boxes, called pews, in which the people sat under a common-place divine, generally as plain as the place.  Such was the meeting-house, as it was termed in the hallowed days of dissent, in the good old times.  The whole affair was an abomination to men of taste.  Mr. Morris has introduced a great reform—he has abolished the pew system.  He has as graceful a gothic chapel as heart could desire; his place of worship is reverential and in keeping with its character.  ‘That man of primitive piety,’ as glorious old Isaak Walton termed him, Mr. George Herbert, says in his Temple:—

            ‘quit thy state,
All equal are within the church’s gate.’

Such certainly is the language of Mr. Morris’s chapel, and such I imagine more or less would be the language of Mr. Morris himself.

Having entered the chapel and got a seat, a matter of some little difficulty,—for the place, which is not very large, is almost always full,—of course you naturally look in the direction of the pulpit.  There you will see a man in the prime p. 121of life, of average size, with a light complexion, with a head nearly bald, and with what little hair it can boast of a colour popularly known as sandy.  The head is well shaped, round and compact, and complete.  Mr. Morris’s appearance is that of a recluse, of a student of books and his own thoughts rather than of manners and of men.  He wears no gown, but, nevertheless, has an ecclesiastical appearance, partly possibly resulting from the fact of his wearing an M.B. waistcoat.  M.B., perhaps it may be as well to observe on the authority of a late Edinburgh Reviewer, means Mark of the Beast, and was a term used by clerical tailors to denote those square, closely buttoned vests, much affected at one time by curates and other young people suspected of a Puseyite tendency.  Mr. Morris’s voice is loud, but not very agreeable.  He has a singular mannerism which is anything but pleasant till you are used to it, and when, as was the case the last time I heard him preach, the reverend gentleman asks—‘Ow shall we lay up for ourselves treasure in Eaven?’ you are apt to forget the gravity of the occasion, and to indulge yourself with a feeble smile.

In what Mr. Morris himself says, however, p. 122you will find no occasion for a smile.  What he says is worth hearing.  In this unsettled age you will see that he has settled convictions—that his religion is a real thing—that it is that which his intellect has fed on—that by which he has squared his life—that by the truth of which he lives, and by the lamp of which he is prepared to find his way when he comes to the valley of the shadow of death.  The peculiarity of Mr. Morris as a preacher seems to me to be healthy manliness.  He preaches as a man to men.  Those whom he addresses are most of them engaged in business, and his aim is to teach them that Christianity is as fit for the counting-house as it is for the closet—as fit for the week-day as the Sabbath—as fit for the world as it is for the church.  Some men once in the pulpit seem to forget that there is such a thing as the living present.  They are perpetually dwelling on the past, trying to make dry bones live.  They can tell you what the old divines said.  They can quote their favourite commentators.  They can parody the religion of men whose religion at any rate was a real thing, but that is all.  Of our times they have no idea.  Of the human heart, as it beats and burns in this age of the—

p. 123“Steamship and the railway, and the thoughts that move mankind,”

they are profoundly ignorant.  They are strangers in a strange land.  Amongst us but not of us—of an alien race and speaking an alien tongue—with garments, it may be, unspotted by the world, but without the strength and the heart and the rich experience which contact with, and mastery over, the world alone can give.  Mr. Morris is not one of this class—nor is he a painter of idle pictures, whose talk is of fields ever clothed in living green—of white garments—of pavements of sapphire and of shining thrones—nor is he a dreamy sentimentalist lisping out the attributes of the Majesty of heaven and of earth in terms of maudlin endearment, as some drivelling dotard might tell of the goodness and the virtue and the precocious cleverness of the child of his old age.  Were Mr. Morris either of these, he might have a larger audience—he might be a more popular preacher—but he certainly would be a less useful one.  He thinks, and he gives you something to think about as well.  His own creed he has not taken upon trust, nor does he want you to do so either.  He has a clear, definite conception of spiritual p. 124realities, and he aims to give you the same.  Mr. Morris has not genius—but he has intellect clear and strong—perhaps a little deficient in fire, and a habit rare, but invaluable in a minister, of independent thought and action.  As a preacher he ranks high in his denomination.  Out of the pulpit he is almost unknown.  As a platform orator I know not that he has any actual existence at all.  I imagine he belongs to that growing class in all denominations who have less faith in public religious meetings every year.

As a writer, Mr. Morris has acquired some little reputation; not that he has written much, but that what little he has done has been well done.  His chief performance is, ‘Religion and Business, or Spiritual Life in one of its Secular Departments.’  The Spectator—a journal not much given to theology, especially that of Dissent—was compelled to confess it was a ‘series of able and thoughtful lectures on the union of Christianity and business, addressed apparently to a Nonconformist congregation.  The topic is treated forcibly, without the mannerism frequent among dissenters, and the rules of life enforced are not impracticably rigid.’  p. 125He has also published several sermons; ‘Christ, the Spirit of Christianity,’ is one.  A ‘Review of the Year 1850’ is another; and another is the ‘Roar of the Lion,’ which, as it was suggested by the papal aggression, and was praised in the British Banner, was, I should fear, an inferior production.  His last work is, ‘Glimpses of Great Men; or, Biographic Thoughts of Moral Manhood,’ a work intended to illustrate, by the examples of Oberlin, Hampden, Luther, Fox, Bunyan, Cromwell, Milton, Moore, De Foe, Knox, Whitfield, Foster, Irving, Christian heroism in its beauty and power.  The sketches are short but practical and to the point, well worthy especially of the attention of the young, for whose benefit they were more especially designed.

p. 126The Baptist Denomination


In the times of Robert Hall, when the talents of that rather over-rated orator gave the Baptists a lift in public estimation, and made them respectable, save in the eyes of gentlemen of very strict Church principles, the Rev. Mr. Kinghorn, a strange spare man, a keen debater, and a great Hebrew scholar, presided over a select Baptist congregation, at St. Mary’s, Norwich.

Norwich at that time was very literary.  William Taylor, the first Englishman to sound the German Ocean, and to return laden with its spoils of heresy and erudition, lived there; as did also Wilkin, the Editor of the best edition of that rare light of Norwich, Sir Thomas Brown, and William Youngman, a severe critic, though a writer little known beyond the city in p. 127which he so long resided.  At that time Norwich drove a considerable trade in logic as well as in woollens.  The whole city had a disputatious air.  The weaver-boys—and William Johnson Fox, now M.P. for Oldham, was one of them—learned to dispute and define and doubt.  There Harriet Martineau philosophised in petticoats, and George Borrow, at its grammar-school, fitted himself for the romance of his future life.  In a city thus given to thought were required, in the pulpit, men of superior power—especially in the Dissenting pulpit; for, while the clergyman of the Establishment can say “Hear the Church!” his Dissenting brother can only say “Hear me!” and that he must say to people, the condition of whose existence is free thought.

At Norwich, Mr. Kinghorn, it was considered, was equal to his post, and held it long.  He gathered around him a congregation rich and intelligent.  He instilled into their minds the strictest principles of Baptism.  To their communion-table none were to be admitted—no matter how pure their creed, how consistent their life, how Christian their heart—unless they had been the subject of water immersion.  It p. 128seems strange that men should ever have quarrelled about such trifling matters; and yet to their heaven Mr. Kinghorn and his flock would admit none but the totally baptised.  (If sectarians had their own way, what a place this world would be!)  But, in time, Mr. Kinghorn obeyed the common law and died, and the church had to seek out a successor.

After several ministers had preached on probation, the choice fell upon the Rev. William Brock—then, I believe, a student fresh from the Baptist College at Stepney.  The choice was a happy one.  The cause prospered, the church increased, the place was enlarged, and still the pews were full.  It was considered a great treat to hear Mr. Brock.  Of course the female sex fluttered round the new pastor.  Of course the gentlemen fluttered round them.  An air of taste pervaded the chapel.  It was called “the fashionable watering-place.”

But this was not to last for ever: a time was coming when the pastor would be removed.  Amongst the great railway contractors, one of them, it seems, was a Baptist, and an M.P.  Sir M. Peto—for it is he to whom I allude—became M.P. for Norwich, and bought an estate in the p. 129neighbourhood.  This naturally led to his connection with Mr. Brock, and this connection led to Mr. Brock’s removal to London.  In the immediate neighbourhood of the baronet’s residence, Russell Square, there was no popular Baptist preacher.  To go every Sunday to Devonshire Square, where the élite of the Baptists did congregate, was a long and dreary ride.  It were far better that the mountain should come to Mahomet than that Mahomet should go to the mountain.  Sir M. Peto did not wish in vain.  These great railway contractors can do what they like.  In a very short while a very fashionable chapel was built in the neighbourhood of Bedford Square.  It stands out in bold relief by the side of a tawdry Episcopalian chapel-of-ease and a French Protestant place of worship.  As soon as the new chapel was completed, Mr. Brock was duly installed as pastor.

Mr. Brock’s début in London was a decided success.  The chapel, which, I should think, could contain fifteen hundred hearers, is invariably crammed.  If you are late, it is with difficulty you will get standing room.  The genteel part of the chapel is down stairs, and if you do get a seat, you will find it a very p. 130comfortable one indeed.  In a very snug pew, at the extreme end on the right, you will see Sir M. Peto and his family.  Half-way down on your left you will see the spectacles and long head of Dr. Price, Editor of the ‘Eclectic Review.’  Lance, the beautiful painter of fruits and flowers, also attends here, but I believe you will find him in the gallery.  The people all round you look comfortable and well fed, and no one presents a more comfortable and well-fed appearance than the Rev. W. Brock himself.

There he stands, in that handsome pulpit, in that richly-ornamented chapel, with all those genteel people beneath him and around him—a stout, square-built man—a true type of Saxon energy and power—without the slightest pretensions to elegance or grace.  Such men as he are not the men young ladies run after, fall in love with, get to write in their albums, buy engravings of for their boudoirs; but, nevertheless, with their strong passionate speech, and indomitable pluck, they are the men who move the world.  During the war, we are told, it was the weight of the British soldiery that carried everything before it.  The Frenchman might be more scientific, more agile, more skilful every way, p. 131but the moment the word was given to charge, resistance was hopeless—you might as well try to stay the progress of a torrent or an avalanche.  What the Englishman is in the field, Brock is in the pulpit.  You are borne down by his weight.  He gives you no chance.  On comes the tide, and you are swept away.  You are learned—evidently the man before you has little more than the average learning picked up in a hurry, in a second-rate academic institution.  You like to theorise on the beautiful and divine—the preacher before you cares nothing for your flimsy network, born of Plato and Schelling.  You explain away and refine—Brock does nothing of the kind: ‘It is in the Bible—it is there!’ he exclaims, and that is sufficient for him.  You may say it is absurd, it is opposed to reason and common-sense.  You can no more move Brock than you can the Monument.

I take it, this is the secret of Brock’s success: he is positive and dogmatic, and people want something positive and dogmatic.  It is only one day in the week that Smithers can spare for theology; and, wearied with the cares of six working days, he requires the theology he gets p. 132on the seventh shall be positive and plain.  With the monk in ‘Anastasius,’ he feels that life is too short to hear both sides.  The British public does not like to be bothered.  It likes everything settled for it, and not by it.  Hence it is Macaulay’s ‘History of England’ is so popular.  Your popular preacher must be dogmatic: the more dogmatic he is, the more popular he will be.  Brock’s earnest dogmatism does everything for him.  There is no great beauty in his style, there are no bursts of splendour in his sermons, there is no speculation in his eye; but he has a vehement tone, is plain, affectionate, practical, full of point and power.

Brock is one of the Catholic Baptists, and will admit to the table of their common Lord all who believe in Christ as their common head.  He has not improved by his removal to London.  He preached better sermons in Norwich than here, and he has got a slight affectation which I don’t remember at Norwich.  He mouths his a’s as if he had, to use a common phrase, an apple-dumpling in his mouth, and occasionally painfully reminds you of a vulgar man trying to speak fine; but I believe this is unconsciously done on his part.  At Norwich he was an ardent p. 133politician, advocated complete suffrage, defended the Anti-State-Church movement, and is, I believe, one of the few leading London Dissenting ministers who still fraternise with the Association now known as the Society for the Liberation of Religion from State Patronage and Control.  As a platform orator, he is very effective: he is everywhere the same—everywhere you see the same hearty dogmatism and genial sincerity.  You may differ from such a man, but you cannot dislike him; you would rather have him for a friend than a foe.  To his own denomination he is a tower of strength.  He is the first man who has made the Baptists popular at the West-end.  Till Brock came, the Baptist congregations in the neighbourhood were very meagre.  Brock cannot do for his sect what Hall did, or what John Foster did.  By his writing he does not appeal to the religious cultivated mind of England, nor by his graceful eloquence does he commend it to men of taste; but he speaks to the practical English mind, to the shop-keeping middle class, of whom I believe he was originally one, and to the door of whose instinct and hearts he evidently holds the key.  Scarlett succeeded, we are told, because there sat listening in the p. 134jury-box twelve Mr. Scarletts.  For the same reason Mr. Brock succeeds.  The men he speaks to are men of like passions with himself.


In a very unaristocratic neighbourhood—in no more fashionable a locality than that of Devonshire Square, Bishopsgate Street—preaches the Rev. J. Howard Hinton, till Mr. Brock came to London the acknowledged great man of the Baptist denomination.

Nor was this title undeserved.  If the possession of a powerful mind—subtle, analytic, acute—a mind fertile in the destruction of fallacies, and in the reception and exposition of great truths, gives its possessor any weight at all, Mr. Hinton must, in any rank of life, have occupied no mean place.  Still more may be said in his favour, especially in his character of a Christian minister—that his language is forcible—that his own feelings are strong—that in season and out of season it is evidently his aim to expound and p. 135declare, to the utmost of his ability, Christian truth.

Yet Mr. Hinton has a very small congregation.  I should think Devonshire Square Chapel cannot contain more than five hundred hearers at the very outside—a very small proportion, it must be admitted, of the intelligent frequenters of public worship in London.

The real reason of this scant attendance, I suppose, is that Mr. Hinton has no clap-trap about him—that he has none of the fascinating airs of the popular Evangelical divine—that he has long past that time of life when young ladies take an interest in their darling minister—and that, if you wish to get any good from the preacher, you must not merely listen to him, but must use your own intellectual powers as well—an exertion far from common amongst the church and chapel goers of London.  Six days in the week those who have brains are working them in this crowded city, and the seventh they wish to be a day of rest.  They take the Sabbath as a pleasant opiate—as a kind of spiritual Godfrey’s Cordial for the soul—that they may go back to the world with renewed energy and power.  To such Mr. Hinton does p. 136not preach: with such he is no favourite.  No singer of sweet songs—no player upon pleasant instruments is he.  Tall, sickly with the work and study of a life, grey-haired, inelegant as all book-worms and men of thought—with the exception of Sir Bulwer Lytton—are, with a voice by no means melodious, but tremulous with emotion as it is played upon by the soul within: such is Howard Hinton.  If you stay to listen—if you have sense enough to see the heart in that ungainly frame and the intellect in that capacious brain—you will hear a sermon that will repay you well.  From whatever subject he is preaching on Mr. Hinton always manages to extract something new; you are really instructed by his sermons; your views become clearer and more enlarged; you understand better the Christian scheme.  Mr. Hinton is more than what I have here implied.  He is something more than a great reasoner or acute divine.  He has a heart, and he speaks out of it to you.  He excites your emotions as well as convinces your understanding.  There is flame as well as light in that pulpit—flame, perhaps, all the more glowing that you did not expect to find it there.  On all subjects Mr. Hinton is an independent, p. 137an original, and a fearless preacher.  On some he is peculiar—on most he is far ahead of the denomination to which he belongs.  This is, especially, the case with regard to the strict observance of the Sabbath.  Mr. Hinton believes that it was made for man, not man for it—a fact of which the denominations which pride themselves on being Evangelical seem to have become utterly oblivious.  Mr. Hinton sees in Christianity a principle at variance with the observance of set times.  He sees in man’s nature abundant reason why the man who does not profess to be religious should not be chained down to a form.  He sees the man of genuine religion will so shape his life that every day shall be a Sabbath, and be religiously observed; and that, if he be not religious, it is worse than mockery to ask him religiously to observe a day.  It is to the credit of Mr. Hinton that he has ably and faithfully preached this doctrine—a doctrine which, if it be much longer denied by the clergy of this country, threatens to be attended with most disastrous results.  It is dangerous to establish an institution which the Author of Christianity never made; and if ministers choose to say that Christianity is inconsistent with fresh air—p. 138inconsistent with the preservation of physical life—inconsistent with the laws the God of nature has ordained, the certainty is that the lower classes in ‘populous cities pent,’ who toil from morning till night six days in the week, will do as they now practically do—reject Christianity altogether.

I have said Mr. Hinton’s theology is original.  A short sketch of it will soon make this clear.  Thus, while he holds the doctrine of human depravity, he contends that ‘No man is subject to the wrath of God, in any sense or degree, because of Adam’s sin, but every man stands as free from the penal influences of his first parent’s crime as though Adam had never existed, or as though he himself were the first of mankind.’  Calvinism Mr. Hinton in toto explodes.  He says: ‘Without being moved thereto by the Spirit of God, and without any other influence than the blessing which God always gives to the use of means, you are competent to alter your mind towards God by obeying the dictates of your own conscience, and employing the faculties of your own being.  Think on your ways, and you will turn your feet to God’s testimonies.  This is what God requires you to do in order to p. 139obtain deliverance from His wrath; and, except you do it without regard to any communication of His Spirit, he leaves you to perish.’  At times Mr. Hinton seems to contradict himself.  But, after all, is not the theme one on which the human intellect can never be perfectly consistent and clear?

At one time Mr. Hinton was much in public life.  In the Anti-Slavery agitation he took a conspicuous part.  He was also connected with the Anti-State-Church Association, and is still a great advocate of voluntary education.  Within the last few months several able letters have appeared, from his pen, on this subject, in the ‘Daily News.’  But on the platform he is not often heard, as was his wont.  Mr. Hinton was settled, I believe, originally, at Reading, where he won a high reputation—I am told the Rev. Mr. Milman, the poet, who resided in Reading at the time, always spoke of Mr. Hinton as by far ‘the most original-minded man among us’—and came to London when Dr. Price resigned, on account of ill health, the pastorate of the church in Devonshire Square.  Mr. Hinton then became his successor.

His publications are various.  The following list will show his industry at least: ‘Athanasia,’ p. 140in four books; ‘On Immortality in 1849;’ ‘Letters written during a Tour in Germany in 1851;’ ‘Memoirs of William Knibb, the celebrated Missionary in Jamaica;’ ‘A History of the United States of North America;’ ‘Theology, or an Attempt towards a Consistent View of the Whole Counsel of God;’ ‘The Work of the Holy Spirit in Conversion Considered;’ ‘Elements of Natural History; or, an Introduction to Systematic Zoology, chiefly according to the Classification of Linnæus.’  Besides, Mr. Hinton has written pamphlets in favour of Voluntaryism in religion and education, and published sermons innumerable.  In the pulpit or the press, his labours are most unremitting.  He may be denied the possession of great talent, but all must admit his power of persevering toil.

The only drawback in connection with Mr. Hinton, I am told, is that his temper is rather uncontrollable—that he is rather more rugged than need be: indeed you will not attend long at Devonshire Square before you find this to be the case.  It is a pity it should be so.  A man should have more command over himself.  Young preachers may be put out by a cough, or any other sign of indifference; but old practised hands should have long outgrown that.


A playwright in the pulpit seems an anomaly.  The stage and the pulpit have generally been at bitter war.  Jeremy Collier had the best of it in his day, and I believe would have the best of it in ours.  The stage with its paint and sawdust and glaring gas—the stage as it is—is the last place to which an earnest man would turn with hope.  Originally religious, it has long ceased to be such.  It has become simply an amusement—if the reproduction of all that is heartless and flippant and rotten in society be considered as such.  Our English Catos don’t go to the theatre at all, and when one who is not a Cato goes there, it becomes to him a sight melancholy rather than otherwise, unless he have sunk altogether into the unhappy life of that dullest of all dogs, a gay man about town.  As to the stage being a school of morals, the idea is the most preposterous that ever entered the head of man.  At the best, when it collects a goodly company—when it is lit up with beauty—when it resounds with merriment—when it is p. 142electrified by wit—it is a pleasant place for the consumption of an idle hour.  More it is not now.  More it has never been since people could read and write.  More it can never be.

Yet even the stage has had its saints, as in old times the world gave up its high-spirited and gay to the cause of God.  If emperors have become monks, it is not wonderful nor surpassing the bounds of probability that men should give up writing plays and take to writing sermons instead.  A few years back Gerald Griffin exchanged the world for a monastery.  In our own day Sheridan Knowles is an example of a still greater change, for he has left the stage for the pulpit, and has consecrated the evening of his life to the advocacy of Christian truth.  I fear in this latter character he is not so successful as in his former.  Well do I remember him at the Haymarket.  It was the first time I ever was inside a theatre.  The enjoyment of the evening, I need not add, was intense.  A first visit to a theatre is always enough to bewilder the brain.  You never see men of such unsullied honour—women of such gorgeous beauty—scenes of such thrilling interest in real life—and when I learned that the drama itself was p. 143the production of Knowles, my admiration of him knew no bounds.  But I confess in the pulpit he did not appear to me to so great an advantage.  It may be that I am older.  It may be that time has robbed me, as he does every one else, of the wonder and enthusiasm which, to the eye of youth, makes everything it looks on beautiful and bright.  It may be that I, as every one else does, feel daily more deeply—

      ‘The inhuman dearth
Of noble natures;’

but nevertheless the fact, I fear, is but clear, that Knowles does not shine in the pulpit as he did on the stage, which he has now renounced some years.  Of course he has a crowd to hear him, for a player turned parson is a nine days’ wonder, and run after as such.  The question is not, can he read well? not, can he convey his thoughts in elegant language? not, can he compose a lecture which, to his own satisfaction, at least, can demolish insolent popes and self-conceited Unitarians, against which classes he principally labours; but can he preach—preach so that men are awe-struck—acknowledge a divine influence, and shudder as they look back on the buried p. 144past?  I fear this question must be answered in the negative.

Let us imagine ourselves in one of the numerous Baptist chapels of the metropolis—for to that denomination of Christians does Mr. Knowles belong—while he is preaching in the pulpit.  You see a shrewd, sharp-looking old gentleman, dressed in black, with a black silk-handkerchief around his neck, and with a voice clear and forcible as the conventional old sea-captain of the stage.  He takes a text but remotely connected with his discourse, and begins.  You listen with great interest at first.  The preacher is lively and animated, and is apparently very argumentative, and nods his head at the conclusion of each sentence in a most decided manner, as if to intimate that he had very considerably the best of the argument.  Now, this is all very well for five minutes, or even ten; but when you find this lasting for an hour—with no heads for you to remember—you naturally grow very weary.  Knowles, I imagine from his preaching, seems to think argument is his forte; never was a man more mistaken in his life.  His sermons are bundles of little bits of arguments tied up together as a heap of old p. 145sticks, and just as dry.  He seems an honest, dogmatic man, certainly not a great one, and clearly but a moderate preacher after all.  A man may eschew the conventionalities of the stage, and the conventionalities of the pulpit, and yet fail.  Mr. Knowles is a case in point.  As a lecturer, I am told he has been very successful in Scotland.  He seems to suit the Scotch better than the English.  He lectures against Popery, and the Scotch will always listen with kindly feelings to the man who does that.  I don’t imagine that in London Mr. Knowles will do much.  He is very controversial.  Theology is to him a new study, and he rushes into it with all the zeal of a juvenile enthusiast.  This suits the Scotch, but not the English.  We are a more tolerant folk.  We are all orthodox, of course, but our orthodoxy takes a milder form.  We tolerate a clever George Dawson, an infliction against which Scotland rigidly rebels.  We may be one nation, but we are far from being one people.  We yet live on different fare.

I have already said Mr. Knowles is a Baptist.  He has been connected with that sect ever since he left the stage and became a religious man.  p. 146It was in Glasgow, I believe, that he, to use the common phrase of the evangelical sects, came to a knowledge of the truth.  It was in consequence of his attendance on the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Innes, a Baptist minister in that city, that the change took place—and that he was led to look upon the world, and man, and his relation to them both, in a new light.  It was in Glasgow that he was baptized, and became a member of the church.  That he should turn preacher was natural.  Accustomed to address public audiences, there was no necessity why he should give up the practice, and there were many reasons why he should not.  Accordingly, every Sunday almost he is engaged in preaching, and occasionally takes lecturing engagements in the country.  He is also Professor of Elocution at the Baptist College, Stepney—a teacher of deportment—a clerical Turvey-drop to the pious youth of that respectable institution.  This is all very well.  If art is of use—if it can make the eloquent more eloquent, and the dull less so—its aid should surely be invoked by the Christian Church.

I would only add, that Mr. Knowles is an p. 147Irishman,—that he was born in 1784,—and that his plays, especially the Hunchback, still retain possession of the stage.


Next in estimation in this great democratic country to a real live lord is a real live lord’s relative.  If you can’t shake hands with a real peer, it is something to shake hands with his brother.  It is impossible to get people to believe that human nature is everywhere the same; that God has made of one blood peers and people, black and white.  In this unsettled age, perhaps, faith in the peerage is as abiding a conviction as any whatever.  Nor is it limited to what is called the world.  The Church participates deeply in the folly; no piety is so acceptable, has so genuine an odour, as piety in high life; no homage is considered so graceful to the Lord as the religion of a lord.  A lord at a Bible meeting—a lord stammering a few unconnected common-places about Missionary Societies or the conversion of p. 148the Jews—a lord writing a book on the Millennium, throws the religious world into a state of heavenly rapture.

This, I take it, is the origin of the success of the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel as a preacher in this great metropolis.  If Baptist Noel is not a lord himself, he is of lordly origin.  His mother was a peeress in her own right, and, as a tenth son, he must have a little blue blood in his veins.  His sister is, or was, a lady in waiting to the Queen.  His brother is an earl.  He himself, at one time, was one of the royal chaplains.  He is redolent, then, of high life: what a delightful thought for the London shopkeepers and tradesmen, who were wont to resort to St. John’s Chapel, Bedford Row!  I really believe that these good people felt that by going to hear him they were killing two birds with one stone—getting into the very best society, and at the same time worshipping the God of heaven and of earth.

But this is not Baptist Noel’s only claim.  His position has done much for him; but his real merits have done much more.  It is something to find a man who is brought up to the Church, honestly devoting himself to his sacred calling; p. 149scorning the pomps and allurements of the world; in season and out of season a faithful minister of Christ.  With his high rank, with his family influence and the family livings—for to suppose that the family has not such, is to deny that it is a respectable family at all—though a younger son, Baptist Noel might have led a haughty and luxurious life—a life of sensual indulgence or lettered ease.  For such a course he could have quoted precedents enough.  But religious truth had sunk deeply into his heart.  His creed was no scholastic dogma, but a living faith.  With his inner eye he had seen the vanities of this world, and the awful realities of the next; that all men were guilty before God; and that it was only by faith in the atonement that the guilt could be wiped away.  Hence his perseverance, his single-mindedness, his zeal, He preached, not to please men’s fancies, but to save men’s souls—not to lull them into a deceitful peace, but to induce them to fly for mercy from the wrath to come.  True to this unvaried theme, Baptist Noel leaves to others gorgeously to declaim, or learnedly to define, or coldly to moralize.  Evidently with him, for such matters, life is too short and eternity too long.

p. 150Hence he is one of the plainest preachers of the metropolis.  He aims at your heart, not at your head.  He touches your affections, if he cannot master your understanding.  He may win you over by his gentleness, though he fail to convince you by his power.

Such, as a preacher, is Baptist Noel.  Immediately he rises in the pulpit you feel that you have that undefinable mystery, a gentleman, before you.  Few, indeed, are the gentlemen who surpass him in elegance of appearance, or urbanity of manner.  He is about fifty-five years of age, tall, and of a fine figure; his hair is of a light brown colour, his complexion is fair and pale, his face long, and his features handsome.  He has a high forehead, deep-set blue eyes, a long and rather aquiline nose, and an expressive mouth.  His voice is rich and silvery, not ‘harsh and crabbed,’ but

‘Musical as is Apollo’s lute;’

and so indeed it ought, for Baptist Noel rarely concludes his sermons within an hour.  If his eloquence be compared to that of a stream, it must be that of no mountain country, but of peaceful plains, of one of which it may be said that

            p. 151‘through delicious meads
The murmuring stream its winding water leads.’

He is remarkably fluent; his sentences are particularly smooth and well constructed, and his voice gently modulated: of action, he can be said scarcely to have any.  Baptist Noel is a thorough Englishman in this respect.

As a thinker, he has been more remarkable for his freedom and candour than for his consistency and depth.  He has always held, in the main, what are called Evangelical views, but his views have not always been on all matters the same.  At one time he was an opponent of Millenarian views—he then became strenuous in their favour—now he has returned to his original opinions, and opposes them as warmly as before.  He acted a similar part with reference to the British and Foreign Bible Society, and his amiable little tract, on the Unity of the Church, was considered very inconsistent, by Churchmen and Dissenters alike, with his position as a minister of the Establishment.

As a writer Mr. Noel’s principal work has been that on the Union of Church and State, in which he justified, at considerable length, his secession from the Establishment.  He has also p. 152published an account of a tour in Ireland, to which he was sent on a visit of inspection by the Whigs a few years since; and he has also written a little poetry, some of which has found its way into print.  It is hardly necessary to say that it is of that common character which it is said neither gods nor men allow.

To many, Mr. Noel’s whole career as a Churchman was very offensive.  They had no idea of a clergyman of the Church of England standing on the same platform with a Dissenting brother.  I believe, by his conduct, Baptist Noel drew down upon himself more than one Episcopal rebuke; and, therefore, few were surprised when the time came when he burst the bonds that had long held him, and became the minister of the Baptist church, John Street, Bedford Row—a church formed by the Rev. John Harrington Evans, like Mr. Noel, originally a clergyman of the Establishment.  Still the effort was a bold one.  By such a step he had nothing to gain, and much to lose.  Worldly considerations would have prompted him to remain where he was.  I honour him that he obeyed the dictates of conscience.  Men do so rarely, and, when they do so, they are but rarely honoured.  The p. 153religious world made much more of Baptist Noel when he was in the Church than now.  Scarcely a religious public meeting was held in the metropolis without Mr. Noel being put down in the bills as one of the speakers: now his voice is rarely heard.

This is strange, but true.  Regret it as we may, such is the fact.  It was when Baptist Noel preached at St. John’s that he was run after.  What crowds filled that dreary place!  How difficult it was to get a seat there!  The dingy, dirty old building itself was enough to draw a crowd.  It was built for that fiery, foolish priest, Sacheverell.  Scott, famed for his Commentary on the Bible, was a curate there.  There also preached the scarcely less celebrated Cecil.  In his steps followed Daniel Wilson, the Bishop of Calcutta.  Wilberforce had worshipped there.  The building itself was a fact and a sermon as well.  The place had a religion of its own.  The neighbouring pulpit in which Baptist Noel now officiates has nothing of the kind.  Perhaps, however, the less Dissent is encumbered with tradition or history the better.  As it is, the soul is sluggish enough.  Leaden custom lies too heavy on us all.


I fear there is very little difference between the Church and the world.  In both the tide seems strongly set in favour of ignorance, presumption, and charlatanism.  In the case of Mr. Spurgeon, they have both agreed to worship the same idol.  Nowhere more abound the vulgar, be they great or little, than at the Royal Music Hall on a Sunday morning.  Mr. Spurgeon’s service commences at a quarter to eleven, but the doors are opened an hour and a half previously, and all the while there will be a continuous stream of men and women—some on foot, some in cabs, many in carriages—all drawn together by this world’s wonder.  The motley crowd is worth a study.  In that Hansom, now bearing a decent country deacon staying at the Milton, you and Rose dashed away to Cremorne.  Last night, those lovely eyes were wet with tears as the Piccolomini edified the fashionable world with the representation of the Harlot’s career.  That swell was drinking pale ale in questionable company in the Haymarket—that gay Lorette was sinning on a gorgeous p. 155scale.  This man was paying his needlewomen a price for their labour, on which he knows it is impossible for them morally to live; and that was poisoning a whole neighbourhood by the sale of adulterated wares.

A very mixed congregation is this one at the Surrey Gardens.  The real flock—the aborigines from Park Street Chapel—are a peculiar people,—very plain, much given to the wearing of clothes of an ancient cut—and easy of recognition.  The men are narrow, hard, griping, to look at—the women stern and unlovely, yet they, and such as they alone, if we are to believe them, are to walk the pearly streets of the New Jerusalem, and to sit down with martyrs and prophets and saints—with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob—at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

‘The toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe.’  Here is a peer, and there his tailor.  Here Lady Clara de Vere kills a weary hour, and there is the poor girl who sat up all night to stitch her ladyship’s costly robe.  Here is a blasphemer come to laugh, there a saint to pray.  Can these dry bones live?  Can the preacher touch the heart of this listening mass?  Breathed on by a spell more potent than p. 156his own, will it in its anguish and agony exclaim, What must we do to be saved?  You think how this multitude would have melted beneath the consecrated genius of a Chalmers, or a Parsons, or a Melville, or an Irving,—and look to see the same torrent of human emotions here.  Ah, you are mistaken—Mr. Spurgeon has not the power to wield ‘all thoughts, all passions, all delights.’  It is not in him to ‘shake the arsenal, and fulmine over Greece.’  In the very midst of his fiercest declamation, you will find his audience untouched; so coarse is the colouring, and clumsy the description, you can sit calm and unmoved through it all—and all the while the haughty beauty by your side will fan herself with a languor Charles Matthews in ‘Used Up’ might envy.  Look at the preacher;—the riddle is solved.  You see at once that he is not the man to soar, and soaring bear his audience, trembling and enraptured, with him in his heavenward flight.

Isaiah, the son of Amos, when he received his divine commission, exclaimed, ‘Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips!’ but the popular minister of New Park Street Chapel has no such trembling forebodings; p. 157no thought of his own unworthiness, no fear that he is trespassing on sacred ground, or that he is attempting a task beyond his powers, impedes the utterance of his fluent tongue.  Not a trace of the scholarship, or reading, or severe thought, or God-sent genius, or of that doubt in which there lives more faith than in half the creeds, will you find in the whole of his harangue.

On the pulpit, or rather the platform, Mr. Spurgeon imitates Gough, and walks up and down, and enlivens his sermons with dramatic representations.  He is ‘hail fellow, well-met’ with his hearers.  He has jokes and homely sayings and puns and proverbs for them.  Nothing is too sacred for his self-complacent grasp; he is as free and unrestrained in God’s presence as in man’s.  Eternity has unveiled its mysteries to him.  In the agonies of the lost, in the joys of the redeemed, there is nothing for him to learn.  His ‘sweet Saviour,’ as he irreverently exclaims, has told him all.  Of course, at times there is a rude eloquence on his lips, or, rather, a fluent declamation, which the mob around takes for such.  The orator always soars with his audience.  With excited thousands waiting his lightest word, he cannot remain passionless and unmoved.  Words p. 158and thoughts are borne to him from them.  There is excitement in the hour; there is excitement in the theme; there is excitement in the living mass; and, it may be, as the preacher speaks of a physical hell and displays a physical heaven, some sensual nature is aroused, and a change may be effected in a man’s career.  Little causes may produce great events; one chance word may be the beginning of a new and a better life; but the thoughtful hearer will learn nothing, will be induced to feel nothing, will find that as regards Christian edification he had much better have staid at home.  At the best Mr. Spurgeon will seem to him a preacher of extraordinary volubility.  Most probably he will return from one of Mr. Spurgeon’s services disgusted with the noisy crowding, reminding him of the Adelphi rather than the house of God; disgusted with the common-place prayer; disgusted with the questionable style of oratory; disgusted with the narrowness of the preacher’s creed, and its pitiful misrepresentations of the glorious gospel of the blessed God; disgusted with the stupidity that can take for a divine afflatus brazen impudence and leathern lungs.  Most probably he will come back confessing that p. 159Mr. Spurgeon is the youngest, and the loudest, and the most notorious preacher in London—little more; the idol of people who dare not go to theatres, and yet pant for theatrical excitement.

When Mr. Whiteside finished his five hours’ oration on Kars, Lord Palmerston replied, that the honourable gentleman’s speech was highly creditable to his physical powers.  A similar reply would be suitable to Mr. Spurgeon.  You come away, having gained nothing except it may be a deeper disgust for the class of preachers of which Mr. Spurgeon is a type.  We have heard somewhat too much of Negative Theology—it is time we protest against the Positive Theology of such men as Mr. Spurgeon.  There are no doubts or difficulties in his path.  The last time I heard the reverend gentleman, he had the audacity to assure us that the reason God allowed wicked men to live was, that as he knew they were to be damned, he thought they might have a little pleasure first.  Mr. Spurgeon is one of the elect.  His flock are in the same happy condition.  God chooses them out of the ruins of the fall, and makes them heirs of everlasting life, while he suffers the rest of the p. 160world to continue in sin, and consummate their guilt by well-deserved punishment.  If he sins, it matters little; ‘for that vengeance incurred by me has already fallen upon Christ my substitute, and only the chastisement shall remain for me.’  Mr. Spurgeon has heard people represent ‘God as the Father of the whole universe.  It surprises me that any readers of the Bible should so talk.’  To the higher regions of thought Mr. Spurgeon seems an utter stranger—all his ideas are physical; when he speaks of the Master, it is not of his holy life or divine teaching, but his death.  ‘Christians,’ he exclaims, ‘you have here your Saviour.  See his Father’s vengeful sword sheathed in his heart—behold his death-agonies—see the clammy sweat upon his brow—mark his tongue cleaving to the roof of his mouth—hear his sighs and groans upon the cross.’  Again, he exclaims, ‘Make light of thee, sweet Jesus!  Oh, when I see thee with thy shirt of gore, wrestling in Gethsemane—when I behold him with a river of blood rolling down his shoulders,’ &c.  All his sermons abound with similar instances of exaggerated misconception.

Mr. Spurgeon steps on the very threshold of great and glorious thoughts, and stops there.  p. 161Of God he speaks as irreverently as of Christ.  ‘Oh!’ cries the sinner, ‘I will not have thee for a God.’  ‘Wilt thou not?’ says he, and he gives him over to the hand of Moses; Moses takes him a little and applies the club of the law, drags him to Sinai, where the mountain totters over his head, the lightnings flash, and thunders bellow, and then the sinner cries, ‘O God, save me!’  ‘Ah! I thought thou wouldst not have me for a God.’  ‘O Lord, thou shalt be my God,’ says the poor trembling sinner; ‘I have put away my ornaments from me.  O Lord, what wilt thou do unto me?  Save me!  I will give myself to thee.  Oh! take me!’  ‘Ay,’ says the Lord, ‘I knew it; I said that I will be their God; and I have made thee willing in the day of my power.’  ‘I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’  Here is another passage.  Preaching at Shipley, near Leeds, our young divine alluded to Dr. Dick’s wish, that he might spend an eternity in wandering from star to star.  ‘For me,’ exclaims Mr. Spurgeon, ‘let it be my lot to pursue a more glorious study.  My choice shall be this: I shall spend 5000 years in looking into the wound in the left foot of Christ, and 5000 years in looking into the wound in the p. 162right foot of Christ, and 10,000 years in looking into the wound in the right hand of Christ, and 10,000 years more in looking into the wound in the left hand of Christ, and 20,000 years in looking into the wound in his side.’  Is this religion?  Are such representations, in an intellectual age, fitted to claim the homage of reflective men?  Will not Mr. Spurgeon’s very converts, as they become older—as they understand Christianity better—as the excitement produced by dramatic dialogues in the midst of feverish audiences dies away—feel this themselves?  And yet this man actually got nearly 24,000 to hear him on the Day of Humiliation.  Such a thing seems marvellous.  If popularity means anything, which, however, it does not, Mr. Spurgeon is one of our greatest orators.

It is true it is not difficult to collect a crowd in London.  If I simply stand stock still in Cheapside in the middle of the day, a crowd is immediately collected.  The upper class of society requires finer weapons than any Mr. Spurgeon wields; but he preaches to the people in a homely style—and they like it, for he is always plain, and never dull.  Then his voice is wonderful, of itself a thing worth going p. 163to hear, and he has a readiness rare in the pulpit, and which is invaluable to an orator.  Then, again, the matter of his discourses commends itself to uneducated hearers.  We have done with the old miracle plays, wherein God the Father appears upon the stage in a blue coat, and wherein the devil has very visible hoofs and tail; but the principle to which they appealed—the love of man for dramatic representations rather than abstract truths—remains, and Mr. Spurgeon avails himself of it successfully.  Another singular fact—Mr. Spurgeon would quote it as a proof of its truth—is that what is called high doctrine—the doctrine Mr. Spurgeon preaches—the doctrine which lays down all human pride—which teaches us we are villains by necessity, and fools by a divine thrusting on—is always popular, and, singular as it may seem, especially on the Surrey side of the water.

In conclusion, let me not be understood as blaming Mr. Spurgeon.  We do not blame Stephani when Caliban falls at his feet and swears that he’s ‘a brave god and bears celestial liquor.’  Few ministers get people to hear p. 164them.  Mr. Spurgeon has succeeded in doing so.  It may be a pity that the people will not go and hear better preachers; but in the meanwhile no one can blame Mr. Spurgeon that he fearlessly and honestly preaches what he deems the truth.

p. 165The Presbyterian Body.


A tale is told of a fashionable lady residing at a fashionable watering-place, at which a fashionable preacher preached.  Of course the fashionable chapel was filled.  It was difficult to get a seat: few could get more than standing-room.  Our fashionable heroine, according to the tale, thither wended her way one Sabbath morning; but, alas! the ground was preoccupied.  There was no room.  Turning to her daughters with a well-bred smile, she exclaimed: ‘Well, my dears, at any rate we have done the genteel thing!’ and, self-satisfied, she departed home, her piety being of that not uncommon order, that requires a comfortable well-cushioned seat to itself.  For some reason or other, it is now considered the genteel thing to go to Dr. Cumming, and the consequence is, p. 166that Crown Court Chapel overflows, and that pews are not to be had there on any terms.  I should have said that nowhere was there such a crowd as that you see at Dr. Cumming’s, if I did not recollect that I had just suffered a similar squeeze over the way, when I went to see the eminent tragedian, Mr. Brooke.

I believe the principle of there being such a crowd is the same in both cases.  The great mass of spectators see in Mr. Brooke a man of fine physical endowments, and a very powerful voice.  They are not judges of good acting; they cannot see whether or not an actor understands his part; they have no opinion on the subject at all: but Mr. Brooke has a name, and they run to hear him.  It is the same with Dr. Cumming.  The intrepid females, the genteel young men, who go to hear him, are no more judges of learning and ability than any other miscellaneous London mob: but Dr. Cumming has a name.  Carriages with strawberry leaves deposit high-born ladies at his chapel.  Lord John Russell goes to hear him.  Actually, he has preached before the Queen.  So the chapel is crammed, as if there was something wonderful to see and hear.

p. 167I confess I am of a contrary opinion.  I cannot—to quote the common phrase of religious society—‘sit under’ Dr. Cumming.  I weary of his Old Testament and his high-dried Scotch theology, and his Romanist antipathies, and his Millennial hopes.  ‘You tell me, Doctor,’ I would say to him, ‘that I am a sinner—born in sin, and shapen in iniquity—that I am utterly and completely bad.  Why not, then, speak to me so as to do me good?  I care nothing for the Pope!  Immured as I am in the business of the world—with difficulty earning my daily bread—I have little time to think of the Millennium, or to discuss whether the Jewish believer, some two thousand years ago, saw in his system anything beyond it and above it—anything brighter and better than itself.  The student, in his cell, may discuss such questions—as the schoolmen of the middle ages sought to settle how many angels could dance on the point of a needle—but I, and men like me, need to be ministered to in another way.  Men who preach to me must not wrestle with extinct devils, but with real ones.  What I want is light upon the living present, not upon the dead and buried past.  Around me p. 168are the glare and splendour of life—beauty’s smile—ambition’s dream—the gorgeousness of wealth—the pride of power.  Are these things worth living for?  Is there anything for man higher and better? and, if so, how can I drown the clamour of their seductive voices, and escape into a more serene and purer air?’  And how am I to know that these professing Christians, so well dressed, listening with such complacency while Dr. Cumming demolishes Cardinal Wiseman—are better than other men?  As tradesmen, are they upright?  As members of the commonwealth, are they patriotic?  As religious men, are their lives pure and unspotted from the world?  I want not theories of grace, but what shall make men practically do what they theoretically believe.  It is a human world we live in.  Every heart you meet is trembling with passion, or bursting with desire.  On every tongue there is some tale of joy or woe.  If, by mysterious ties, I am connected with the Infinite and Divine, by more palpable ties I am connected with what is finite and human: and I want the preacher to remember that fact.  The Hebrew Christ did it, and the result was that his enemies were constrained to confess p. 169that ‘never man spake like this man,’ and that the ‘common people heard him gladly.’

Dr. Cumming preaches as if you had no father or mother, no sister or brother, no wife or child, no human struggles and hopes—as if the great object of preaching was to fill you with Biblical pedantry, and not to make the man better, wiser, stronger than before: perhaps it may be because this is the case that the church is so thronged.  You need not tremble lest your heart be touched, and your darling sin withered up by the indignant oratory of the preacher.  He is far away in Revelation or in Exodus, telling us what the first man did, or the last man will do; giving you, it may be, a creed that is scriptural and correct, but that does not interest you—that has neither life, nor love, nor power—as well adapted to empty space as to this gigantic Babel of competition, and crime, and wrong, in which I live and move.

The service at Crown Court Chapel is very long; the Scotch measure the goodness of their services by their length.  You must be well drilled if you are not weary before it is over.  The chapel itself is a singular place.  You enter by an archway.  The gallery steps are outside; p. 170the shape is broad and short; a galley runs on three sides, and in one is placed the pulpit, which boasts, what is now so rare, a sounding-board.  As no space is left unoccupied, the chapel must contain a large number of persons.  The singing is very beautiful—better, I think, than that of any other place of worship in London.  There is some sense in that, for the Scottish version of the Psalms of King David is not one whit more refined, or less bald and repulsive, than that of our own Sternhold and Hopkins, or Tate.  But, nevertheless, the singing is very beautiful.  Dr. Cumming himself looks not a large man, but a sturdy determined man, with good intellectual power, and that power well cultivated, but all in the dry Scotch way; though so little does the Doctor’s speech betray him, that you would scarcely notice that his pronunciation was that of a native of the ‘Land of Cakes.’  He is young-looking, his hair is dark, and his complexion is brown.  As he wears spectacles, of course, I can say nothing about his eyes; or, as he wears a gown and bands, as to the robustness of his frame.  He looks agile and well set; strong in the faith, and master of texts innumerable wherewith to support that p. 171faith.  A polished, graceful, self-contained, and self-satisfied man.  He may be a man of large heart and sympathies; but he has not the appearance of one.  He rather seems a man great in small things, tediously proper and scrupulously correct—a great gun, I imagine, at an Evangelical tea-table—and, with his ultra Protestantism (he is a countryman of Miss Cuninghame’s, and every Scotchman hates Popery as a certain personage does holy water), he is a tremendous favourite at Exeter Hall.  Indeed, I do not know that there is at this time a more popular performer on those boards, and he is a favourite with people whose favour pecuniarily is worth something—with people who can afford to buy his books.  Hence, also, he is one of the most copious religious writers of our day.

It is vain to attempt to give an account of the Doctor’s works, when ‘every month brings forth a new one:’ their name is Legion.  There is only one man who can be compared with Dr. Cumming in this respect, and that is that notoriously hardened sinner, Mr. G. P. R. James.

I read in one place of Dr. Cumming that ‘he has everything in his favour; his singularly handsome person, his brilliant flow of poetic p. 172thoughts, his striking talents, and his burning Protestant zeal, combine to make him one of the most interesting speakers of the day; and when we add to all this, his modest simplicity and humility (qualities as becoming in one of his years, as they are rare in one of his powers), we need not wonder that he is generally admired and beloved.’  Another admirer writes: ‘When hearing Dr. Cumming, one is reminded of the description of “Silver-tongued Smith,” one of the celebrated preachers of Elizabeth’s time.  But though the subject of our sketch is truly silver-tongued, the solemnity, at times, almost the severity, of his manner preserves him from anything like tameness.  Perhaps there is not a firmer or more fearless preacher than the Doctor—a fact which has been proved over and over again of late, as his Romish antagonists have found to their cost.  Dr. Cumming’s manner in the pulpit is pleasing.  He seldom uses any other action than a gentle waving of the hand, or the turning from one part of his congregation to the other.  He is no cushion-thumper, and depends for effect more upon what he says than on the graces of action.  Not that he is ungraceful at all—far from that: what we p. 173mean is, that he is in this respect directly the opposite of those pulpit fops who flourish their bordered pieces of inspiration-lawn in the pulpit, and throw themselves into such attitudes as compels one to believe that the looking-glass is almost as essential a preparation for the pulpit as the Bible itself.’

Dr. Cumming is a warm supporter of Establishments, a sworn foe of liberalism, which he declares to have ‘charity on its mantle, and hell in its heart.’  He is a good hater.  These things may fit him to be the idol of Crown Court, but do little more.  The large vision which looks before and after, which makes man a philosopher, which teaches him to see the good in all human developments of thought and action, and calmly and lovingly to abide their legitimate results, has been denied him.  The consequence is, he has sunk into the apostle of a coterie, and ‘gives up to party what was meant for mankind.’


It is a remarkable fact that a Scotchman has never led the House of Commons.  The real reason is, I imagine, that Scotchmen are not generally very oratorical.  The Scots suffer from the fercidum ingenium which old Buchanan claimed for them, undoubtedly; but it does not generally assume an oratorical form: it finds other ways of development.  It leads Sawney, junior, to bid farewell to the porridge of the paternal roof, to cross the Tweed, to travel in whatever dark and distant land gold is to be had, and a fortune to be won.  But there it stops.  Joseph Hume was a model of a Scotch orator.  There was not a duller dog on the face of the earth than that most excellent and honoured man.  One would as soon listen to a lecture from Elihu Burritt, or sit out a pantomime, as listen to a speech from the Scottish Joseph.

So it is with the Scottish pulpit.  It is generally hard and heavy, destitute of life and power, abstruse, metaphysical, learned, and consequently dull.  Yet there have been splendid p. 175exceptions.  The fiery and holy Chalmers was one, and Edward Irving was another.  The Scottish Church in Regent Square was at one time a place of no common repute.  Irving, with his splendid face, half fiend half angel—with his intellect hovering between insanity and genius, the companion of fanatics and philosophers—there

‘Blazed the comet of a season.’

To this day his name yet lives.  In spite of the delusions and follies with which his name was connected—in spite of the reaction, the natural result of all enthusiasm, no matter what—Irvingite churches remain amongst us to this present hour.  But at one time they threatened to pervade the land.  All London flocked to Regent Square Church: the religious world was in a state of intense excitement.  Timid men and nervous women went there, Sunday after Sunday, till they became almost mad.  Unknown tongues were heard; strange sights were seen.  Some thought the end of the world had come, and were seized with trembling and fear.  It was a time of wonder, and mystery, and awe; but it passed away, as such things in p. 176this world of ours must pass away.  The great magician died.  The crowd that had wondered and wept at his bidding, went to wonder and weep elsewhere.

Under such circumstances, to attempt to fill the vacant pulpit was no easy task; and yet that it has been done, and done successfully, is evinced by Dr. Hamilton’s success.  It is a fact that he preaches there every Sunday to a crowded church; that there, where there were divers prophesyings and bewilderment universal, now order reigns; that the only voice that you hear there now, besides that of the preacher, is that of the precentor, as he reads the bald version of the Psalms, to which the modern Scotch stick as immovably as did their fathers to the Covenant in the days of Montrose.  This is an undeniable fact.  Nor does it surprise you when the Doctor makes his appearance in the pulpit.  At first, perhaps, you are rather surprised.  There is certainty nothing taking about the man.  He looks tall, strong, and awkward, with a cloudy face, and a fearfully drawling voice; a man, not timid, but not striking—plain and unaffected—better fitted for the study than for the fashion of May Fair.  If you look closer, you will see p. 177indications of a calm, untroubled heart, with deep wells of fine feeling, of tenderness and strength combined.  But still the Doctor is not the man to make a sensation at first sight—very few ministers are.  One can understand this in a way.  In certain families, it is said, the good-looking are put into the army—if fools, into the Church.  Yet, generally, the jewel is worthy of the casket.  If the one be rich and beautiful, the other is so as well.  Plain and slouching as he is, I am told the Doctor succeeded in engaging the affections of a lady possessed of considerable property.  But this is by no means remarkable: clergymen of every denomination make as many successful marriages as most men.  One would think that they took the common wicked standard of wicked men, and judged a woman’s worth by the extent of her purse.  I fear that there are as many fortune-hunters in the Church as there are in the world.

If ‘Hudibras’ had been written in our day, we should at once have supposed that Dr. Hamilton had helped the poet to a hero.  Like Hudibras, the Doctor

         ‘scarce can ope
His mouth, but out there flies a trope.’

p. 178He has been called the Moore of the pulpit.  An admiring critic says of him: ‘Like the poet of “Lalla Rookh,” he possesses vivid imagination, brilliant fancy, and sparkling phraseology.  His sentences are strings of pearls, and whatever subject he touches he invariably adorns.  His affluence of imagery is surprising.  To illustrate some particular portion of Scripture, he will lay science, art, and natural history under contribution, and astonish us by the vastness of his acquirements, and his tact in availing himself of the stores of knowledge which, from all sources, he has garnered up in his mind.  But plenteous as are the flowers of eloquence with which he presents us, their perfume, their sweetness, do not cloy.  We listen in absolute wonderment as he pours forth a stream of eloquence, whose surface exhibits the iridescent hues of loveliness—one tint as it fades away being succeeded by another and a brighter.  And a pure spirit of earnest piety pervades the whole of the sermon, the only drawback of which, to southern ears, being the broad Scotch accent in which it is delivered.’

Perhaps this character is a little coloured.  Something must be set down in it for effect.  p. 179Still the characteristic of the Doctor’s oratory, whether in the pulpit or on the platform, is poetry.  He is a prose poet, and his genius makes everything it touches rich and rare.  As becomes a divine, he sees everything through an Eastern medium.  He is at home in the Holy Land.  Jerusalem is as dear to him as London.  All the scenes of sacred story, in the dead and buried past, live before him, and are realized by him as much, if not more, than the most exciting scenes of the living present.  He follows the Christ as he treads the path of sorrow—sees him in the manger—in the temple disputing with the doctors—in the crowded streets followed by an awe-struck Hebrew mob—alone in the wilderness—or dying, amidst fanatic scorn and hate, a triumphant death: and the Doctor tells you these things as if he were there—as if they had but happened yesterday—as if he had come fresh from them all.  Hence there is a pictorial charm in his preaching, such as is possessed but by few, and excelled by none.

This is also characteristic of the Doctor’s writing.  He has used the press extensively.  I see he has just issued an account of one of the sufferers in that unhappy missionary expedition p. 180to the island of Terra del Fuego, the result of which was the slow death, by hunger, of the parties engaged.  His cheap series of tracts, entitled ‘Happy Home,’ are considered, by the religious world, exquisite productions.  They are much in demand.  This, however, is easily accounted for.  The pastor of a rich London congregation can always have a good sale for his works.  The wealthy members of his church will buy them for distribution; even the very poor will make an effort to procure them.  Bad or good, they are sure to have a respectable sale.  Happily, in Dr. Hamilton’s case, this respectable sale is deserved.  His publications have the same beauties as his sermons.  It is to be regretted that the small tracts, published by well-meaning men, with the best of motives, should be so little adapted to that end.  In reality, they do more harm than good.  The very class they are intended for do not read them; and those who do are precisely the class that need to be stimulated into some life higher and grander than your small tract-writer can generally conceive of.  It is to the credit of Dr. Hamilton that he does not disdain to write little books on great subjects, and thus seek to rescue the tract system from p. 181the contempt into which, owing to the injudiciousness of its friends, it has so extensively fallen.

We have only to add here, that the Doctor sides with the Free Scotch Church, and that, of that remarkable movement, he was one of the earliest and warmest friends.

p. 182Miscellaneous.


Aristophanes, were he alive now, I imagine, instead of aiming his wit at the philosophers, would have a turn with the theologians.  Theirs is the real cloud-land.  In spite of the inherent conservatism of human nature in theology, you cannot keep up the old landmarks.  Nay, such is the perverseness of human nature, that the more you try to do so the less chance there seems of your succeeding.  To the reign of the Saints succeeded the madness and the profligacy of the Restoration.  Lord Bolingbroke always said it was Dr. Manton’s Commentary on the 119th Psalm, which his mother, much against his inclination, compelled him to read, which made an infidel of him.  Holyoake, the leader of the Secularists, was brought up in the Sunday School at Birmingham.  Thomas Cooper, the p. 183author of the ‘Purgatory of Suicides,’ was a Methodist local preacher.  William Johnson Fox, who has done as much as any man to destroy orthodoxy in persons of intelligence and position in society, was at one time pastor of an Independent church.  Sterling was long a clergyman of the Church of England, and poor Blanco White traversed every point of the religious compass, earnestly seeking rest, and unfortunately finding none.

Is there, then, no religious truth?  Is man ever to be surrounded by doubt—to be ever void of a living faith—from age to age to turn an anxious eye above, and there see

      ‘no God, no heaven, in the void world—
The wide, deep, lampless, grey, unpeopled world’?

Is it all dark cloud-land when we have done with this fever we call life?  Religion is man’s attempt to answer this question.  A church is an attempt to answer it in a certain way.  The true church is the church which gives the true answer.  But who is to decide?  ‘The Catholic and Apostolic Church,’ says one; ‘the Bible,’ says another.  But, then, who is to decide as to which is the Catholic and Apostolic Church, or as to p. 184what the Bible says?  In all these cases the final appeal must be made to the intellect of man.  But man’s intellect grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength.  I am not to-day, either in body or in mind, what I was yesterday.  To-morrow I shall be a different man again.  Changing myself, how can I subscribe an unchanging creed?  ‘Excelsior’ is my motto.  I believe that

      ‘through the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened by the process of the suns.’

And it is vain, therefore, that you seek to tie me to a creed, or to stereotype what should be a growing faith.  My aim is loyalty to my conscience and God.  Where they lead I follow.

In some such way, I imagine, has Mr. Forster, late pastor of the Congregational chapel, Kentish Town, reasoned.  Originally a minister in Jersey, he was invited to the metropolis about twelve years since.  At that time he was an ardent Calvinist.  The investigation which led him to abandon unconditional election, the final perseverance of the saints, and the special influence of the Holy Spirit, shattered the whole system of opinions in which he had been educated, and p. 185which he had hitherto faithfully upheld.  Other changes followed.  His views of the Trinity were modified.  The consequence was, when a new chapel was built for him, in Kentish Town, it was agreed that all definition of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, should be avoided, and that the clause, ‘This place is erected for the worship of God, as the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit,’ should be placed at the head of the deed.

After further investigation, Mr. Forster found that he could not even subscribe to that—that he had ceased to regard Christ as a mediator at all—and, consequently, he resigned the charge of a church, which, owing to his labours, had become flourishing and great.  Now his banner bears the motto of ‘Free Inquiry.’  He preaches in a handsome chapel in Camden Town.  His church calls itself a Free Church.  It promises to be a successful one.  It is well attended, though it has much to contend against.  The orthodox will not forgive Mr. Forster his desertion of their camp; and the Unitarians, who, in their way, are often as narrow-minded and dogmatic as the most orthodox themselves, cannot exactly hold out the right hand of fellowship to p. 186a man who professes to be free—who claims to know no master—whose appeal is to the law and to the testimony, rather than to the doctrines and opinions of men.

Thus Mr. Forster gravitates, like Mahomet’s coffin, between heaven and earth.  Yet his condition is by no means a rare one.  That a large number sympathise with him, the attendance at his chapel is convincing proof.  Coming out from the orthodox, he bears testimony against them.  In his farewell sermon to his Kentish Town congregation he says: ‘How little have the contents of the Bible to do with men’s personal belief!  How seldom are men taught to rely on their own powers in the investigation of the truth!  How few are the Christians who sit at the feet of Jesus, or frequent the apostolic college!  If Dissenters have renounced the infallibility of the Pope, have they not bowed their necks to a yoke almost as heavy and galling?  If they have given up the Thirty-nine Articles, have they on that account conceded to each other the right of judging all things for themselves?  If the Trentine pandects are not retained as the law of their religious faith and life, are they not bound by the Institutes p. 187of Calvin, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Assembly’s Catechism, the Minutes of Conference, and the Sermons of Wesley—the creeds of chapel trust-deeds, the Congregational Union Confession of Faith, or by the writings of Howe, Watts, Doddridge, Gill, Fuller, Hall, Priestly, Watson, Channing, and of other great men, who ought to be dear to their hearts, but not lords of their faith?  Are we not all of us more or less guilty of this servility?  Have we not yet to learn that there is no via media—no middle way between Reason and Rome?  There is, unhappily, floating over us an invisible and unexpressed opinion, to which all, in the main, must agree.  It hovers over the pulpit and the pew; over the church and congregation; over the professor’s chair and the students’ form; over the family and the school; over the Bible and the Commentary.  All thought, all sentiment, all investigation, all conclusions, all teachings, are controlled by it.  It is this which checks free inquiry; shuts the mouths of those who have convictions which fit not the Procrustes’ bed, according to which all opinions are to be shortened or stretched; makes hypocrites of those who cannot afford to keep a conscience, p. 188or have not courage to brave the consequences of honesty; turns the pulpit too often into the chair of restraint, concealment, or compromise.  Wherever this tyranny is obeyed, there cannot be much depth of conviction, vitality of sentiment, growth of knowledge, and improvement of religious life.  If this principle were applied to science, it would paralyse all the energies of investigation, and make the wheels of progress stand still.  If churches will not respect individual liberty—will not let their ministers and members investigate the Scriptures, and theology, the fruit of other men’s examination of the Scriptures, as fearlessly, impartially, and rigidly as men inquire into Nature and the human results of searching into Nature—such as astronomy, chemistry, and any other branch of science—then it is the duty of every Christian, in God’s name, and the name of human nature, to resist the imposition.  It may cost him friends, income, reputation, station, and much which he highly values.  He is bound, at whatever sacrifice, to maintain his inborn and inalienable freedom.  In this way the yoke of the creeds would be broken.  The churches would be turned into the seats of liberty.  A noble, manly piety would grow up p. 189among us.  The truth, whatever it is, would be discovered.  A new state of things would be instituted.  Every man would be respected as he rejected human authority over his conscience—refused to allow uninspired men to make his creed as his furniture, his bread, or books—tested all opinions by the light of his own reason—chose to give an account of his convictions, or the use of his powers in obtaining his convictions, to none but his Maker.  Self-respect, love of truth, reverence to God, benevolence to men, call upon us all to stand by our native right and duty of searching into all truth contained in all creeds, confessions of faith, catechisms, and all other documents, whether human or divine.  The obligation lies in our power of searching into whatever concerns our moral culture, spiritual life, and religious duty.’

Mr. Forster, in accordance with the sentiments here advocated, has left the Congregational body with which he was connected, and has founded a Free Church.  Whether that church will answer the wants of our age, time will prove.  If the work be good, it will stand.  If it be better than old-fashioned sectarianism, it will remain.  If it speak to the heart of man, it cannot die.  Mr. p. 190Forster has great qualifications for his task.  He is in the prime of life.  His manner in the pulpit is pleasing.  His sermons evince careful preparation, and the possession of a considerable amount of intellectual power.  At times he rises into eloquence.  Some of his published sermons are inferior to none that have been published in our time, and have been received well in quarters where, generally, little favour is shown to the pulpit exercises of divines.

Though unwearied in the discharge of pastoral duties, Mr. Forster has found time for other labours.  Of the Temperance Reformation he has been one of the ablest and most eloquent advocates, and often has Exeter Hall reëchoed his impassioned advocacy in its behalf.  He carries abstinence to an extent rare in this country, and abstains entirely from the use of animal food.  At one time he was an ardent member of the party of Anti-State Churchmen, of which the late member for Rochdale is the glory and defence.  Latterly he seems to have mixed but little with that body.  We can well imagine that his time has been otherwise occupied—that his situation must have been one of growing difficulty and danger—that the claims, on the one side, of a p. 191church orthodox on all great questions, and of truth and duty, or what seemed to him as such, on the other, must have cost him many a weary day and sleepless night.  That he burst his bonds and became free—that he tore away the associations of a life—argues the possession of honesty and conscientiousness, and fits him to be the preacher of the free inquiry of which he has afforded so signal an example in himself.


‘Can you tell me where Mr. Fox’s Chapel is?’ said I to a young gentleman who had evidently been in the habit of passing it every Sunday.  ‘No, indeed, I cannot,’ was the reply.  I put the same question to a policeman, and with the same result.  Yet South Place, Finsbury Square, is a place of no little pretension.  It has been the home of rational religion for some years—of the religion of humanity—of religion purified from formalism, bibliolatry, and cant.  There the darkness of the past has been rolled away, and p. 192the light of a new and better day appeared; and yet the scene of all this was unknown to the dwellers in the immediate neighbourhood.  There is a light so dazzling that it can only be seen from afar, that close to it you can see nothing.  It may be this is the light radiating from South Place.

‘There is a religion of humanity,’ writes Mr. Fox, ‘though not enshrined in creeds and articles—though it is not to be read merely in sacred books, and yet it may be read in all, whenever they have anything in them of truth and moral beauty; a religion of humanity which goes deeper than all, because it belongs to the essentials of our moral and intellectual constitution, and not to mere external accidents—the proof of which is not in historical agreement or metaphysical deduction, but in our own conscience and consciousness; a religion of humanity which unites and blends all other religions, and makes one the men whose hearts are sincere, and whose characters are true, and good, and harmonious, whatever may be the deductions of their minds, or their external profession; a religion of humanity which cannot perish in the overthrow of altars or the fall of temples, which survives them all, and which, were every derived p. 193form of religion obliterated from the face of the world, would recreate religion, as the spring recreates the fruits and flowers of the soil, bidding it bloom again in beauty, bear again its rich fruits of utility, and fashion for itself such forms and modes of expression as may best agree with the progressive condition of mankind.’

And this religion of humanity is to be met with in Finsbury Square.  I am not aware there is anything new about it.  Every school-boy is familiar with it in Pope’s Universal Prayer; but latterly, in Germany, in England, and across the Atlantic, it has been preached with an eloquence of peculiar fascination and power.  Theodore Parker and Ralph Waldo Emerson have been the high priests in the new temple, which fills all space, and whose worship is all time.  In England, as an organisation, whatever it may have done as a theory, it has not succeeded.  Here William Johnson Fox, originally a student at the Independent Academy, Homerton, then a Unitarian minister, and now the member for Oldham, and the ‘Publicola’ of the ‘Dispatch,’ has been its most eloquent advocate.  If any man could have won over the people to it, he, p. 194with his unrivalled rhetoric—rhetoric which, during the agitation of the Anti-Corn-Law League, will be remembered as surpassing all that has been heard in our day—would have done it; and yet Fox never had his chapel more than comfortably full—not even when the admission was gratis, and any one who wished might walk in.  But now the place has a sadly deserted appearance.  You feel cold and chilly directly you enter.  The mantle of Fox has not fallen on his successor; and what Mr. Fox could not accomplish, most certainly the Rev. Mr. Ierson will not perform.

At half-past eleven service every Sunday morning commences at the chapel in South Place.  You need not hurry: there will be plenty of room for bigger and better men than yourself.  The worship is of the simplest character.  Mr. Ierson commences with reading extracts from various philosophical writers, ancient and modern; then there is singing, not congregational, but simply that of a few professionals.  The metrical collection used, I believe, is one made by Mr. Fox, and is full of beautiful poetry and sublime sentiments; but the congregation does not utter it—it merely listens while p. 195it is uttered by others for it.  Singing is followed by prayer.  ‘Prayer,’ says Montgomery (James, not Robert)—

   ‘is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpress’d,
   The motion of a hidden fire,
That trembles in the breast.’

Mr. Ierson’s prayer is nothing of the kind: no fire trembles in the breast while it is offered up.  It is a calm, rational acknowledgment of Divine power and goodness and beauty.  Then comes an oration of half an hour, the result of no very hard reading, and the week’s worship is at an end, and the congregation, principally a male one, departs, not much edified, or enlightened, or elevated, but, perhaps, a little puffed up, as it hears how the various sects of religionists all, like sheep, go astray.  Such must be the inevitable result.  You cannot lecture long on the errors of Christians, without feeling convinced of your own superiority.  The youngest green-horn in the chapel has a self-satisfied air.  Beardless though he be, he is emancipated.  The religion which a Milton could make the subject of his immortal strains—which a Newton could find it consistent with philosophy to accept—which has p. 196found martyrs in every race, and won trophies in every clime—he can pass by as an idle tale or an old wife’s dream.

Mr. Ierson himself is better than the imaginary disciple I have just alluded to.  He has got to his present position, I believe, by honest conviction and careful study.  Originally, I think, he was a student at the Baptist College, Stepney; then he became minister over a Baptist congregation at Northampton, and there finding his position at variance with his views, he honestly relinquished his charge.  I fear such honesty is not so common as it might be.  I believe, in the pulpit and the pew, did it exist, our religious organisations would assume a very different aspect.  The great need of our age, it seems to me, is sincerity in religion—that men and women, that pastor and people, should plainly utter what they think.  I believe there is a greater freedom in religious thought than really appears to be the case.  ‘How is it,’ said I to a Unitarian, the other day, ‘that you do not make more progress?’  ‘Why,’ was the answer, ‘we make progress by other sects taking our principles, while retaining their own names:’ and there was truth in the reply.

p. 197Still, it is better that a man who ceases to be a Churchman, or a Baptist, or an Independent, should say and act as Mr. Ierson has done.  He will lose nothing in the long run by honesty—not that I take it Mr. Ierson has achieved any great success, but he gives no sign of any great talent.  He is not the man to achieve any great success.  People who believe his principles will stop at home unless there is in the pulpit a man who can draw a crowd.  Fox could scarcely do this.  Such men as Ronge, or Ierson, or Macall, who lectured to some forty people in the Princess’s Concert Booms, cannot do it at all.  Mr. Brooke might, if he could be spared from Drury Lane—so could Macready or Dickens, or Thackeray; but in these matters everything depends upon the man.

Of course the first question is, thus emancipated—Why worship at all? why rise betimes on a Sunday, shave at an early hour, put on your best clothes, and, mindless of city fog and dirt, rush hurriedly to South Place, Finsbury Square?  If I take the New Testament literally, I take with it the command relative to the assembling of ourselves together, and have a scriptural precedent for a course sometimes very p. 198wearisome and very much against the grain; but with free reason, an emancipated man, the case is altered.  I am in a different position altogether.  Custom is all very well to the holders of customary views.  I expect a secret feeling lies at the bottom, that, after all, church and chapel going is good—that worship in public is a service acceptable to Deity.

It may be, and this I believe is the great secret of the success of churches and chapels, that people don’t know how to spend their Sundays, especially in country towns, without going to a place of worship.  You cannot dine directly you have had your breakfast; you must allow an interval.  Now, you cannot, especially if it looks as if it would rain, and your best hat might be damaged, fill up that time better than in a place of worship.  So, even Mr. Ierson gets a congregation, although it is made up of people who see in him a man not a whit more qualified to teach religious truth than themselves, and who maintain the right of individual reason, in matters of religion, to its fullest extent.  He has no claim to being heard; yet they go to hear him.  They claim the right of private judgment; yet they take his.  Worship, in its p. 199ordinary sense, they deem unnecessary; yet they approach to it as nearly as they can.  Such is the incongruity between the religious instinct on the one side, and the logical faculty on the other—an incongruity, however, proclaiming that, reason as you will, man is a religious animal after all; that he has the faculty of worship, and must worship; that, take from him his sacred books—his Shaster, his Koran, or Bible—still the heart is true to its old instincts, and believes, and adores, and loves.  True is it, that man, wherever he may be, whatever his creed or colour, still

‘Bound to the earth, he lifts his eye to heaven.’


Are the days of Pentecost gone never to return?  Have miracles ceased from amongst men?  Cannot signs and wonders still be wrought by men filled with the Holy Ghost?  The larger part of the Christian Church answers this question in the negative.  It teaches that p. 200the miracles are dumb, that the need of them has past away, that in the fulness of time the Divine will was made known, and that the Church needs not now the signs and wonders by which that revelation was attested and declared.

A large body, however, has lately sprung up amongst us, holding opposite views.  Enter their churches, and, according to them, the gift of tongues still exists—signs and wonders are still manifest—miracles are still wrought.  Still, as much as in apostolic times, does the Divine afflatus dwell in man, and the man so endued becomes a prophet, and declares the will of God in known or unknown tongues.

For some time past, a magnificent Gothic Cathedral has been in process of being built in Gordon Square.  It stands near where once stood Coward College, and where still stands University Hall, a Unitarian College, and not far from the University College, which a certain Ex-Lord-Chancellor took under his especial care.  On Christmas Day it was thrown open for the performance of the worship of ‘The Holy Catholic Apostolic Church,’ a body better, perhaps, known to the community at large as Irvingites, or followers of Edward Irving.  p. 201Originally, I believe, the sect sprang up in Scotland, and Edward Irving merely joined it, and the form of worship which now prevails was not fully established till after his death.  After Irving left the Scotch Church, the body took refuge in Newman Street, where they have remained till the present magnificent place was opened.  There are to be seven cathedrals in London; each cathedral is to have four places of worship attached to it; and to each service in a cathedral appertain an evangelist, an apostle, a prophet, and an angel.  The angel is the presiding spirit, an apostle seems to be what a bishop is in the English Church.  There is an apostle for England, another for France, another for America, and another for Germany.  To every cathedral there are twenty-four priests.  The angel is magnificently clad in purple, the sign of authority.  The next order, the prophets, wear blue stoles, indicative of the skies whence they draw their inspiration.  The evangelists wear red as a sign of their readiness to shed their blood in the cause.

The Cathedral is well attended: upwards of 1000 communicants are connected with it.  Service takes place in it several times a-day, p. 202and on the Sunday evening a sermon is preached, which is intended to enlighten and to win over such as are not connected with the church.  Many distinguished persons are office-bearers in the church, such as Admiral Gambier, the Hon. Henry Parnell, J. P. Knight, R.A., Mr. Cooke, the barrister, Major Macdonald; while Lady Dawson, Lady Bateman, Lady Anderson, are amongst its members.  Henry Drummond, the eccentric M.P. for East Surrey, has the credit of being connected with this place; but, while it is true that he is an Irvingite, it is not true that he is an office-bearer of the church.  Those who join the church offer a tenth of their annual income towards its support, and this promise, it is believed, year after year is faithfully kept.  The Cathedral itself is an evidence of the liberality of the people.  Attached to the church is a small, but very elegant, chapel, which is to be used on rare occasions, and which was raised by the ladies, who contributed the magnificent sum of £4000 in aid of the work.  The chief beauty of the church, however, is the altar, which is carved out of all sorts of coloured marble, and is superbly decorated.  The service-book put into your p. 203hands is called ‘The Liturgy and Divine Offices of the Church,’ but I do not learn from the members of the body that they think themselves exclusively the church, and that there is no salvation out of their pale.  They merely profess to be one portion of the church, to take within their comprehensive fold members of all other churches; and this, to a very considerable extent, has been the case.  The Irvingites have taken their converts not from the world, but the church.  They have made proselytes, not Christians: the members of other churches have come over to them.  In their ranks are many Dissenters and Churchmen, and amongst their priests are many who have been clergymen in connection with the Dissenters or the Church of England.  They profess to be above the common distinction by which sect is fenced off from sect—Catholic and Protestant come alike to them.

The Liturgy appears to be compiled from the rituals of the Greek, Anglican, and Roman Churches, with a slight preponderance to the latter.  The apostle of the church is Mr. John Cardall, formerly a lawyer’s clerk, but called to his present office, as he himself states, about p. 204twenty years ago, by the voice of prophecy.  This call is acknowledged by the community.  He rules the whole body with irresponsible authority.  He is the final appeal.  On his decision everything rests.  He claims spiritual preëminence over not only the churches in his own communion, but over all the churches of all baptized Christians throughout the world, nay, over all bishops, priests, and deacons, Anglican, Greek, or Roman, not excepting even the Pope himself.  The Liturgy and Service-book is understood to be his compilation.  He has also published a work, entitled ‘Readings upon the Liturgy,’ which is privately circulated, and is said, by those who have seen it, to be an interesting and peculiar book, abounding in the interpretations of the symbols and types of the Old Testament, and an ingenious endeavour to adapt them to the purposes of the Christian Church at the present day.  In the Liturgy, besides what is found in that of the English Church, there are prayers for the dead, invocation of saints, transubstantiation.  The authority of the church, the power of the priesthood, and the existence of actual living apostles to rule the church universal, are acknowledged and enjoined.  p. 205The chief minister of the church, or, as he is called, the angel or bishop, is Mr. Christopher Heath, who, for many years, carried on business in the neighbourhood of the Seven Dials.  He was also called miraculously to his present post.  The other ministers, of whom there are a vast number, are all well paid for their services, on an average much better than many London incumbents.  Several of them have been military men: they are not formally educated for their work, but called to it.  They are not man-made ministers—they claim a Divine sanction and power.  Nor are they taken from the well-educated classes.  They assert that the Spirit may qualify any man, no matter how humble his occupation or his birth.  Some of them, I am told, have been tailors, tinkers, shoemakers, barbers, but are now filled with divine light, and may do the signs and wonders done by the apostles in an earlier day.

With apostolic pretensions, these men are careless of apostolic simplicity.  They must meet, not in an upper room, but in a gorgeous cathedral; they must array themselves in grotesque garments; they must have tapers and incense—Roman Catholic forms and ceremonies.  p. 206One would have thought that the name of Edward Irving would have been kept free from such things; that his followers would have been above them; that they would as much as most realize the spirituality of Him who dwells not in houses made with hands, and whose temple is the lowly and contrite heart.  Genius like Irving’s would have lent grandeur to a barn; and now the master is gone, and having no more an orator to enchant them, the church worships in fretted aisles—treads mosaic pavements—rejoices in fine music and elaborate ceremonial.

Thus always is it: when nature fails, men have recourse to art.  We have no actors now, but, instead, we have a stage splendidly decorated, regardless of expense.  We put Shakspere on the stage in a way that would astonish Shakspere himself: but we have no Shakspere.  Is not this a sign of weakness?  When a beauty betakes herself to jewellery, and invests herself with borrowed graces, is it not a sign that Time is dealing in his old-fashioned cruel way with the rose upon her cheek and the lustre in her eye? and is it not so with the Irvingite Church?  Is not its pomp and splendour a sign that it is not p. 207so rich in apostolic gifts as it claims to be?  Paul, I think, would hardly feel himself at home in Gordon Square.

Since the above was written, the Census Report has appeared.  It has a sketch supplied by a member of the Catholic Apostolic Church.  From it we learn that that Church makes no exclusive claim to its title.  It acknowledges it to be the common title of the one church baptized unto Christ.  The members of that body deny that they are separatists from the Established Church.  They recognise the continuance of the church from the days of the first apostles, and of the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons, by succession from the apostles.  They justify their meeting in separate congregations from the charge of schism, on the ground of the same being permitted and authorized by an ordinance of paramount authority, which they believe God has restored for the benefit of the whole church.  And, so far from professing to be another sect, they believe that their special mission is to unite the scattered members of the one body of Christ.  The speciality of that religious belief—that by which they are distinguished from other Christian communities—p. 208consists in their holding apostles and prophets to be abiding ministeries in the church.


In these latter days men have come to think that no man has a right to enter a pulpit unless he prefixes Rev. to his name—unless he wears a white handkerchief round his neck, and scorns to get a living except from the revenues of the Church.  With them a daw

         ‘is reckoned a religious bird,
Because it keeps a cawing from the steeple.’

You have been ordained, therefore some mysterious virtue attaches to you.  You have ceased to be a man, and become a priest.  You live in a different world to what we common-place sinners do.  The priest has a different tailor to the rest of mankind.  We can tell him by his superfluity of white linen and superabundance of black cloth.  We can tell him by the downcast eye and the short-cut hair.  We know him not by his works, by the beauty of his living faith, p. 209or the savour of his holy life, but by his dress.  The tailor makes us.  One dummy it adorns with red, and that is a soldier.  Another it dresses in fashionable costume, and that is the star of Bond-street and the lion of the ball-room.  Another it arrays in antiquated vest and sober black, and that’s the divine.  Manners do not make the man, but the tailor does.

Yet, happily, the world is not given up to universal flunkeyism.  We have still some who recognise the god-like and divine in man; women not everlastingly falling in love with new bonnets, or manhood not utterly lost in the contemplation of new atrocities in the way of checks for trowsers or stupendous collars for the neck.  Strange as it may seem, it is no more strange than true, that there are some who can see poets in shoemakers or whisky-gaugers; heroism in the daughters of fishermen; philosophy in Norwich weaver boys; apostles in tent-makers or Jewish sailors; and something greater and grander still in the ‘Galilean Lord and Christ,’ the faith in whose divine mission has made Europe and America the home of civilisation, of intelligence, and life.  Faith in p. 210reality has not yet died out amongst us.  There are still men who dare to take their stand on living and eternal truths—who look beyond the crust, and see the gem within—who see duty urging them on, and become insensible to aught else.  Such men make martyrs—missionaries—reformers; on a small scale, such are village Hampdens or Miltons, inglorious and mute.  Such men are sure, sooner or later, to have an earnest crowd of devotees, to exercise a powerful influence on their age, to be the teachers and founders of a school.

Of this class, undoubtedly, Edward Miall, the editor of the ‘Nonconformist,’ is one of the latest.  Originally a student at Wymondley College, then ‘settled,’ as the phrase is, at Ware, then the pastor of a respectable congregation at Leicester, he was M.P. for John Bright’s own borough of Rochdale, and is, as the Times confesses, a distinguished Nonconformist.  I imagine few of my readers require a description of his thin and wiry frame.  As a platform speaker, or as a mere orator, Miall is not very effective; he delights his admirers, but he does not do more.  In the pulpit, few men are more fitted to shine.  Men enter a place of p. 211worship under different feelings to those with which they run to Exeter Hall or the London Tavern.  In the one case you are in something of a reverential mood, and you are not disappointed by the want of physical power.  With eternity for his theme, the preacher soon causes you to forget a feeble voice or a bodily presence not adapted for effect.  The sermonising tone is in keeping with the pulpit, and if every word seem to have an air of preparation, and to tell of labour, you think that it is only after mature preparation a man should speak of religious truth to his fellow-men.  Calm self-possession is essential to the sanctuary, and there you miss not the abandon which elicits the cheers of an excited audience.

In the pulpit, Miall could always command attention.  His manner, if somewhat artificial and prim, evinced the possession of a mind earnest and decided.  His language was nervous; his views were broad and catholic.  You felt that the man before you was no reproducer of other men’s thoughts, no worn-out echo, no empty sound; that the Christianity he preached he had found to be good for the intellect and soul of man; that it was the foundation of all p. 212his knowledge; that on that, as a great fact, he had rested all the hopes and aspirations of his life.  Seemingly void of all animalism—a rock with a gleam of sunlight on it—an incarnate idea—a voice crying in the wilderness—a reed, but not shaken with the wind—Edward Miall is an admirable illustration of what a man with a principle may do.  It was a bold step for him to give up the pulpit and to start a newspaper; it was a still bolder thing to circulate that newspaper in the Dissenting world, with unmistakable quotations from Shakspeare staring you flat in the face, and to accustom that world, used to a very watery style of composition, to language remarkable for its elegance and power.

The effect was startling.  Miall at once became the object of the intensest hero-worship.  The old idols were utterly cast out and destroyed.  Old gentlemen, who had led a pompous life for half a century, suddenly found themselves of no account.  Their power had passed away as a dream.  Students in Dissenting Colleges went over en masse to this second Daniel.  It was a time of intense political excitement.  The corn laws taxed the poor man’s food; Chartism reared its hideous head; everywhere angry discontent p. 213prevailed.  Miall thought the time had come for Christian men to interfere; he felt that the struggle for political rights was not inconsistent with the utmost purity of Christian life; that the Church, by its sanction of existing abuses and its reverential worship of the powers that were, had done much to alienate the popular mind from Christianity itself; he felt that the Church, loaded with State pay, would always be liable to suspicion, however excellent her creed or pure her clergy; and he felt, therefore, that in asking men’s political rights, and the dissolution of the union between Church and State, he should demonstrate to the world that Christianity meant something more than corn-laws, or tithes, or the celebrated Chandos clause—something more than a comfortable living for younger sons.  It is false to suppose that Miall left the pulpit when he left Leicester.  His labours in his new sphere were but a continuation of his labours in the old.  In everything he was unchanged.  He was merely continuing his Leicester work, appealing, not to a county-town, but to the nation at large.  He had changed his platform; but his mission remained the same.  Instead of using a feeble voice, he had recourse to a powerful p. 214pen.  His pulpit was the editorial chair, his church the English race.

Place Miall in the pulpit, and a glance will tell you the man.  You can see he has been brought up in a divinity college; he has all the prim and unfashionable air of youths reared in such secluded spots.  His pale face tells of thought.  You see in his small clear eye that thought crystallises in his brain.  His clenched hand, his determined teeth, his shrugged-up shoulders, prepare you for the tenacity with which he clings to what thoughts come to him.  On the hustings and elsewhere, Miall is the same—not elated when applauded, not depressed when reviled; unbending, imperturbable, mild of demeanour, yet inflexible in purpose.  Yet, after all, his success has been more personal than in what he has done.  Who ever talks of complete suffrage now?—yet that was Miall’s darling idea when he first appeared in the political world, and the Association which calls him father—which is to emancipate religion from the fetters of the State—it must yet be confessed by its most ardent admirers, has got a considerable amount of work to do.

It does seem strange that so pale, calm, p. 215unmoved a man as Mr. Miall seems to be, should have wandered out of the pulpit and the study, with its old books and everlasting commentaries, and exchanged all that elysian dream-land for the fever of politics and the bustle of the newspaper.  It seems stranger still that he should have succeeded, that he should have found favour with our turbulent democracy, not partial to the use of soap, or particularly passionate in their attachment to abstract principles.  Strangest of all is it that he should have managed to be returned as an M.P.  We should have been the last to have prophesied for Miall such a career.  Cato at the theatre, Colonel Sibthorp at a Peace Congress, an Irish patriot speaking common-sense, could not surprise us more.  Yet that Miall has achieved what he has, shows how much may be done by the possessor of a principle.  Miall is a principle, an abstract principle embodied—that man is everything, that the human being is divine, that the inspiration of the Almighty has given the meanest of us understanding.  From the Bible he got that principle, and that is the unerring test by which every case is weighed and every difficulty solved.  In religion it led p. 216him to reject ecclesiastical organisations and claims, the traditions of the Fathers, the pretensions of divines—everything by which the priest is exalted and the people kept down.  In politics, the same rule held good.  If all men are equal—if God has made of one blood all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth—what need for aristocratic usurpation or the legislation of a class?  If all are equal before God, surely they should all be equal before man.  Thus, when angry Chartism was asking for universal suffrage, and the Church was preaching contentment and the duty of submission to superiors, and the danger to religion when a man became political, Miall felt that the time had come for him to step out of the conventional circle of the pulpit into a wider and freer sphere, and to show that Christianity was not alien to human right, and that a man might love God and his brother-man as well.  It does seem strange now that men should ever have doubted so plain a truth.  How it was doubted some few years since, only men like Miall can tell.  Miall’s Anti-State-Churchism was also obtained by a similar process.  If there were no need of priests, if every man could be a priest unto God, what need of State patronage p. 217and pay?  At the best they could but corrupt and enervate the Church.  It was teaching it to rely on a worthless arm of flesh rather than on the living God.

With such views, Miall may surely be included in the ‘London Pulpit.’  Tried by his own theory, he is a legitimate subject for a sketch.  The truth he held in Leicester he holds in London, and he is still as much a divine in the ‘Nonconformist’ office as when he was pastor of an Independent Church.  Occasionally he preaches in one or other of the metropolitan pulpits, and the studied discourse read—but read with admirable distinctness—is of a kind to make you regret that Miall is so seldom seen where he is fitted to do so much.  If you have not an orator before you in the common acceptation of the term, you have before you a master of argument, gifted with a clearness of expression and a high order of thought, rare anywhere, especially in the pulpit now-a-days.  Buckingham wrote of Hobbes’ style, that

‘Clear as a beautiful transparent skin,
Which never hides the blood, yet holds it in;
Like a delicious stream it ever ran,
As smooth as woman and as strong as man.’

p. 218Of Miall’s style precisely the same may be said.  It is always as clear, sometimes as cold, as ice.  As a still further proof of Miall’s claim to be considered a religious teacher, witness his ‘British Churches’ and his ‘Basis of Faith,’—books eminently adapted for the age in which we live.  Yet Miall can speak to the poor, and does so.  The teetotalers have built a hall called the Good Samaritan Hall, on Saffron Hill.  It is a low neighbourhood.  It is surrounded by the dwellings of the poor, and it is erected there as a light for that dark spot, by means of which the drunkard may emerge into a higher life.  The last time I heard Miall was there: the room was full.  On a table, dressed in an old blue great coat, stood Miall, preaching to men and women, gathered from the highways and byways, from the crowds for whose souls no one cares.  Surely that was a finer sight than if, arrayed in lawn, he was preaching to the fashion and wealth of Vanity Fair.


Roman Catholicism seems part and parcel of human nature.  Luther was not more a product of his age than Leo X.  That one man should be a Papist seems as natural as that another man should be a Protestant.  Our sects and schisms are not a very edifying sight.  The greater number of them are eternally wrangling, and uttering at the best but discordant sounds.  Few of them make any provision for the sensuous, for the love of decency and order and solemn ceremonial, which is characteristic of some minds.  Many of them are actually contemptible when you come into close collision with them, and examine their working, and watch their effect.  The harder, the more literal, the more matter-of-fact they are, the greater is the chance that some subjected to their discipline should rebel against it and become converts to the ancient faith.  Mr. Lucas was a Quaker till he became the editor of the Tablet.  It is very probable that Robert Owen may yet die in communion with Rome.  The Roman Catholic Church p. 220offers unity—rest for the tempest-tossed—and to the young and the ardent and the impassioned an attractive worship and an imposing form.

By the side of it—the Protestant substitute for it—the Evangelical Alliance seems a poor thing indeed.  Hence it is that the cry of Roman Catholic ascendancy has always been raised ever since the Church of England appropriated its wealth and seated itself in its place.  It always has been in danger from the Church of Rome, and it always will.  Human nature is always the same.  What has grown out of it at one time will grow out of it another.  Heresy, as Sir Thomas Browne well put it, is like the river Arethusa, which in one place is lost sight of, but only to reappear further on.  Each age has its own development.  Each age but repeats the past, as the son in his turn reproduces the blunders and the youthful follies of his sire.

It is true we get wise, and—

   “Departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”

But the coming age will not take your wisdom—will not follow your footmarks—will experiment for itself.  Tell your passionate son that the fair face he now dotes on, in ten years he p. 221will have forgotten, and he cannot believe you.  It is just as vain to believe that the section who believe in Rome will cease to do so.  Roman Catholicism has some congeniality with man, and therefore Protestantism will always be in danger from it—and the more honest this Protestantism is—the more it takes its stand upon the truth and nothing but the truth—the more it relinquishes the political ascendancy it has assumed, the greater that danger will become.  Cardinal Wiseman is an illustration of this.  Queen Elizabeth or Oliver Cromwell would have soon put a stop to Cardinal Wiseman’s career, but they would have done so in spite of the principles of religious liberty.  Now those principles are acknowledged, and England trusts in Exeter Hall—and Dr. Cumming.  Protestantism may well be in danger.

One Sunday, hearing that the Cardinal was to preach at Brook Green, Hammersmith, I made the best of my way thither.  The church was crowded, and I considered myself lucky in being shown by the woman who acted as pew-opener into a good seat.  Yet this good luck had to be paid for.  ‘A shilling, sir, if you please,’ said the woman curtseying.  ‘A what?’ p. 222I repeated.  ‘A shilling, sir, if you please,’ was the reply.  The woman seemed to consider it so reasonable a charge that I of course complied with her request.  At the same time, recollecting that for half that sum you are admitted into what I suppose is considered the dress circle in St. George’s Cathedral, I did think that sixpence would have been sufficient.  The service was conducted in the usual manner.  It was longer than that of the Church of England as practised at St. Barnabas, and a good deal more attractive.  After mass had been celebrated, there was a hush, and immediately a procession from the side door; what the procession consisted of I cannot say.  My eyes, and those of every one else, I suppose, were turned upon the Cardinal alone.

And first let me describe the Cardinal’s gown;—it was composed of rich red silk; besides he had a red cap, which he laid aside when preaching, and, in addition, he had a very handsome robe round his neck, and a lace or muslin gown of shorter extent than the red one, which came down to his feet.  Only that fluent writer the Court newsman, or he who tells in the columns of the Morning Post of the finery of Drawing p. 223Rooms, when the beauty of England prostrates itself before royalty, could do justice to the dress the Cardinal wore.  Of course it was a grotesque one—but it was a finer dress than that of an English Bishop, who seems all sleeves, and if you do make an object of yourself, the more striking the object is the better—so that, as far as dress is concerned, the Cardinal beats one of our Archbishops hollow.  I think also in his preaching he would be more than a match for them.  Him you can hear.  He is a tall, stately man.  There is an air of power about him.  His voice is loud, and brassy, and unpleasant, but it is not monotonous, and his action is very animated and good.  He stands before the altar, and takes a text which generally forms an appropriate introduction to his discourse, and delivers a well-reasoned, argumentative address, not cut up into heads, as the manner of some is, but connected and complete.  With a fine voice, the Cardinal would be a very effective preacher.  As it is, he does very well.  I should say he has little imagination, little sentiment, little rhetoric, but that he has great stores of learning and power of argument.  He is very plausible, and p. 224seems very earnest and sincere, he preaches principally of the peculiar doctrines of his Church; how it is the one on which God’s Spirit rests; how it is the one true guide to heaven; how it has the one true Divine utterance, to which, if man do not listen, he is lost for ever.  The Cardinal has a square, massive face, with anything but a pleasant expression.  He is yet in his prime.  His hair is brown, his complexion fresh, but inclined to be dark.  His eyes are concealed by spectacles.  A fat, double chin, and large cheeks, minus whiskers, give him a very sensual appearance.  But it is not a pleasant sensuality, the jolly sensuality of a Falstaff or an alderman, the sensuality suggestive of good dinners, with good company to flavour them.  It is the sensuality of a proud, arrogant, and imperious monk.

Cardinal Wiseman is by birth a Spaniard, and by descent an Irishman.  He was born in 1802.  At an early age he was sent to St. Cuthbert’s Catholic College at Ushaw, near Durham.  From thence he was removed to the English College at Rome, where he was ordained a priest, and made a Doctor of Divinity.  He was Professor for a time in the Roman University, and then made p. 225Rector of the English College at Ushaw.  Dr. Wiseman came to England in 1835, and in the winter of that year delivered a Course of Lectures on the connection between Science and Revealed Religion, which, when published, obtained for him a high reputation for scholarship and learning in all divisions of the Christian church.  He subsequently returned to Rome, and is understood to have been instrumental in inducing Pope Gregory XVI. to increase the Vicars Apostolic in England.  The number was doubled, and Dr. Wiseman came back as coadjutor to Dr. Walsh, of the Midland District.  He was appointed president of St. Mary’s College, Oscott.  In 1847 he again returned to Rome.  This second visit led to further preferment.  He was made Pro-Vicar Apostolic of the London District, in place of Dr. Griffiths, deceased.  Subsequently he was appointed coadjutor to Dr. Walsh, and in 1849, on the death of Dr. Walsh, he became Vicar Apostolic of the London District.  In August he went again to Rome, not expecting, as he says, to return, ‘but delighted to be commissioned to come back’ clothed in new dignity.  In a Consistory held on the 30th of September, Nicholas Wiseman was elected to the dignity of p. 226Cardinal by the title of Saint Prudentia, and was appointed Archbishop of Westminster—a title which drove silly churchmen into fits, and which made even Dissenters wild.  Under the Pope he is the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England, and a Prince of the Church of Rome, at which place he now principally resides.  His sojourn in England is understood to be but temporary.  He has published several sermons, and a few volumes, in support of transubstantiation and the other doctrines of the church of which he is such an ornament.  But his literary reputation is principally based on the series of lectures to which I have already referred.

The Cardinal has no great love for our age, and little love for England, if we are to judge by his epistle to his clergy on the Indian Mutiny.  In a sermon on the Social and Intellectual State of England, compared with its Moral Condition, published in 1850, he asks, ‘Are we convinced that the real moral tone of society in every part is on the increase?  Is it not notorious that crimes, and crimes even that were unknown among us a few years ago—that deeds of violence which not even the hot passionate blood of the p. 227South is here to palliate—that such crimes as these are increasing in the great masses of our population?  Is it not well known that the relations of the family are sadly isolated, and that multitudes live without a consciousness of their sacred nature?  Are we improving the people in regard to these things?  Are we doing anything to convince them more thoroughly, and upon true Church grounds, of their great duty to God, to society, to their families, and to themselves?  I fear we must answer no; and I will say boldly that there are reasons why it should be so.  There are immense obstacles in the religious institutions of the country to this being possible—because it is not in their power to come home to the feelings, to the affections of the poor.  They raise not up any who devote themselves to them—who sacrifice themselves for them—who find a higher reward than man can give in making themselves servants of the servants of God.  And what is the visible result of this?  That any great institutions which make us think that we are acting so powerfully on the masses, reach not to the very depths of the miseries which have to be probed, and which have to be healed.  We are content with raising the position p. 228of the artizan, with making him more intelligent, with providing him with the means of education, with instructing him in his leisure hour to store his mind with knowledge.  All this is good, and yet the institutions that work upon that class have not of their own nature a direct moral tendency.’  All this may be true or not, yet it is clear that the institutions which the Cardinal would recommend, equally fail, so far as morality is concerned.  A Protestant is not less moral than a Catholic.  The population of England is as moral as that of France.  Roman Catholic Ireland can boast no superiority over Protestant Scotland.  Luther has not to answer for all the sins of the world.


There are some people who maintain the Wandering Jew to be a myth.  I believe the contrary—that he exists amongst us, and that he is known to men as Dr. Wolff.  I hope the Hon. Mrs. Norton will make a note of this.  It is a fact of which she ought to be aware, as should p. 229Dr. Croly, and especially Dumas, otherwise his wondrous tale will be incomplete.  Yes, Dr. Wolff is the Wandering Jew—not the melancholy personage of the poet and the novelist, but a fat jolly Jew, for whom ‘the law having a shadow of good things to come’ has ceased to exist, and to whom, if I may imagine by his portly presence and unctuous face, the good things have already come.  We may look long ere we see in his countenance

      ‘the settled gloom
The fabled Hebrew wanderer bore,
That dared not look beyond the tomb,
That might not hope for peace before.’

On the contrary, all seems peace within and without, so far as Dr. Wolff is concerned.  Had he any inward sorrow, had he been borne down by its agony, had the accents of despair been ever on his lip, and its terror ever glancing from his eye, he would have been a very different man.  Nevertheless, the Dr. is the Wandering Jew, but in reality, and not in romance; he becomes a Christian, marries a lady of title, and becomes a clergyman of the English Church.  Nominally, he is not of the London Pulpit.  He has a local habitation and a name, but he is of no p. 230place.  He is of an unsettled race.  I have no doubt but that he preaches as much out of his own church as in it, and that he has as much right to be included in the London Pulpit as in any other.  At this time his voice is often heard in London.  It really is surprising that the Bishop, or some admiring friend, such as Mr. Henry Drummond, has never given him a metropolitan charge, or built him a chapel somewhere in the vicinity of the Clapham sect.  One would have thought he would have done as well, at any rate, as Mr. Ridley Herschell, than whom he is a great deal more interesting, and not half so heavy.  What is the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews about?  What is Exeter Hall thinking of?  Is Dr. Wolff too fat for sentiment?  Must female youthful piety lavish its tenderness on a younger man?  Does a converted Jew cease to be interesting, the same as common Evangelical curates, when their hair gets grey or their heads bald?  Must a converted Jew, too, lose his charms as he gains flesh, as any ordinary Adonis of pious tea-tables?  Alas! alas!  I fear these questions are to be answered in the affirmative.  Woman is woman everywhere,

      p. 231‘As fickle as the shade,
By the light quivering aspen made’—

in cave Adullam, or in the select Christian Society of Camberwell—as in the theatre or the ball-room, or, as Mr. Bunn would say, in halls of dazzling light.  I stop not to moralize over the bitter fact.  I merely lament it; and if I deduce a moral, it shall soon be told.  It would be but to bid the male Cynthia of the pulpit make the best of his fleeting popularity—a popularity fading with the first dawn of the double chin, or the first bud of the grey hair.  Dear brother, such is your inevitable fate.  Stern destiny will make no exception in your favour.  Other white hands will be pressed as warmly as your own.  Other lips shall speak oracles, or move the heart of woman to laughter or to tears.  For others, divine eyes shall moisten the best French cambric, and worsted slippers shall be worked by fairy hands.  Every dog has his day.

On his legs, whether on the platform or in the pulpit, Dr. Wolff is one of the extraordinary men of our time.  In shape he is somewhat of a tub.  Wrap it up in black cloth, put on it a big head with a fat face, let that face have small eyes, a slightly Jewish nose, and be of a light complection, p. 232jolly and sensual, and you have Dr. Wolff.  To complete the picture, let the figure have a Bible in his right hand, and let him read from it incessantly with a foreign pronunciation, but with a musical voice.  As a preacher or a lecturer the Doctor is but an indifferent model.  He gets off the rail as soon as he starts.  He gives you a heterogeneous mass of raw material, gathered in every country under heaven.  He talks of Bokhara as familiarly as we do of the Bank; he is as much at home in Palestine as we in Piccadilly.  He begins a sentence with ‘As I was last in Abyssinia,’ as we should say, ‘When we were last in Chancery-lane;’ or he says, ‘As I was smoking with the Schah of Persia,’ as we should speak of smoking a quiet pipe with Smithers of the Strand; and then he loses himself, shouts as if he were a war-horse going into battle—bursts out into unknown tongues—sings Hebrew melodies in what the distracted Puritan calls ‘the blessed tongue of Canaan,’ and has a wild look in his eye as if he were speaking to his own people by the silent waters and ruined temples of Babel, and not in a Christian church and speaking to Christian men.  The Doctor is a rhapsodist, not a lecturer.  He p. 233belongs to the men who have died out amongst us, to the bards and scalds of ancient days.  He is out of place amidst the conventional proprieties and ecclesiastical decorums of the modern church, and especially in that section of it which in this country is honoured with State patronage and pay.  I wonder how Dr. Wolff ever could have become a clergyman—or ever settled down.  Was it Lady Georgiana that produced the wondrous change, that tamed the rover of the desert, and turned him into a husband and a rector?  It is wonderful what woman can do, yet even woman cannot accomplish everything.  She cannot make the Doctor get into a pulpit and preach a sober sermon in a sober way.  She cannot alter his wild and eccentric nature, which makes him an original, almost a mountebank, which in another man would be intolerable.  I must candidly confess that with one or two exceptions no public man ventures so near the verge of absurdity as Dr. Wolff.

My own opinion is, that the Doctor, as I have already stated, is the Wandering Jew.  It is only fair, however, to give facts which would lead the reader to an opposite opinion.  The Doctor tells us himself he was born in 1796, in a p. 234little village in Bavaria, at which place his father was a Rabbi.  At an early age, long before the reasoning power was developed, or before he had sufficient information to justify him in taking the step, he renounced the religion of his fathers, and set up for himself as a Roman Catholic.  After wandering about the country, at times working for a living, and at times subsisting on the charity of friends, he made his way to Rome, and became a student, first at the Seminario Pontifico, then at the Propaganda.  The Doctor seems to have stumbled at the doctrine of the Pope’s infallibility, and to have been compelled to leave in consequence, and tries to make out a case of hardship in his dismissal.  He says he was dismissed without a fair hearing.  It does not seem so.  In writing to his friends, he had said he would always be an enemy to the anti-Christian tyranny of Rome.  No wonder then that Rome dismissed him.  After wandering about the Continent, and learning to read and speak French as he rode on the rumble of Mr. Haldane’s carriage from Montauban to Calais, he arrived in London in June, 1819, and became London Agent to the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews.  In order that he p. 235might be better fitted for his work, he spent some time at Cambridge under the care of the late Dr. Lee.  His journeyings and perils have been great.  He has been sold as a slave thrice, condemned to death thrice.  He has been attacked with cholera and typhus fever, and almost every Asiatic fever.  He has been bastinadoed and starved.  He has been carried away by pirates.  For eighteen years he has traversed the most barbarous countries of the world, and yet he looks as if he had never known a sorrow or gone without a dinner in his life.  He thus sums up his labours:—‘I began in 1821, and accomplished in 1826, my missionary labours among the dispersed of my people in Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Crimea, Georgia, and the Ottoman Empire.  My next labours among my brethren were in England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and the Mediterranean, from 1826 to 1830.  I then proceeded to Turkey, Persia, Turkistaun, Bokhara, Affghanistan, Cashmere, Hindostan, and the Red Sea, from 1831 to 1834.’  In 1835 the Doctor left England for a Missionary tour in Abyssinia—thence for Bombay—thence for the United States.  In June 1838 he received priest’s orders from p. 236the Bishop of Dromore, and became curate of Linthwaite, near Huddersfield, where he had the princely income of £24 a-year—thence he moved in 1840 to the curacy of High Ryland, near Wakefield.  In 1843, at the desire of the Stoddard and Conolly Committee, he undertook to ascertain the fate of those officers, and entered Cabul, where again he was in danger of death, but saved by the friendly power of Persia.  He is now rector of the Isle of Brewers, Somersetshire, but has been recently in London, lecturing and preaching.  Hence his parishioners see but little of him.  He is here and there and everywhere.  The Doctor should never have settled, or if he did settle it should have been in London, where there is something fresh, and wonderful, and stirring every day.


the end.


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Contents: The Religious Denominations of London—Sketches of the Rev. J. M. Bellew—Dale—Liddell—Maurice—Melville—Villiers—Baldwin Brown—Binney—Dr. Campbell—Lynch—Morris—Martin—Brock—Howard Hinton—Sheridan Knowles—Baptist Noel—Spurgeon—Dr. Cummins—Dr. James Hamilton—W. Forster—H. Ierson—Cardinal Wiseman—Miall—Dr. Wolff, &c. &c.



“Mr. Ritchie’s pen-and-ink sketches of the popular preachers of London are as life-like as they are brilliant and delightful.  The thought of producing them was a happy one, and has been carried out in the volume before us with much agreeable animation.  The collection of silhouettes herein presented to our contemplation will be especially acceptable, we conjecture, to our country cousins, as a guide among the more generally known of the metropolitan ecclesiastics.  It will be perceived at a glance that the writer has familiarized himself with the subject, before undertaking its treatment.  Chapter after chapter brings the popular preachers of the Capital before our mind’s eye in a sort of stately clerical procession.”—The Sun.

“Without going so far as the late Sir Robert Peel, and saying that there are three ways of viewing this as well as every other subject, it will be allowed that the clerical body may be contemplated either from within one of their special folds, and under the influence of peculiar religious views, or in a purely lay historical manner, and, so we suppose we ought to say, from the ‘platform of humanity’ at large.  The latter is the idea developed in Mr. Ritchie’s volume, and cleverly and amusingly it is done.  One great merit is, that his characters are not unnecessarily spun out.  We have a few rapid dashes of the pencil, and then the mind is relieved by a change of scene and person . . . He displays considerable discrimination of judgment, and a good deal of humour.”—The Inquirer.

“There is considerable verisimilitude in these sketches, though they are much too brief to be regarded as more than mere outlines.  It is possible however to throw character even into an outline, and this is done with good effect in several of these smart and off-hand compositions.”—Tait.

“It is lively, freshly written, at times powerful, and its facts carefully put together.  It bears the stamp of an earnest spirit, eager in its search after truth, and strongly set against affectation and pretence of every sort.”—Globe.

“Some of the sketches are very good.”—Literary Gazette.

“They are penned in a just spirit, and are of a character to afford all the information that may be needed on the subjects to which they refer.  The author’s criticisms on preachers and preaching are candid, and for the most part truthful.  This book ought therefore to be popular.”—Observer.

“They are written with vigour and freedom, and are marked by a spirit p. 238of fairness and justice—an admirable trait, if we recollect how much the spirit of partisanship governs such strictures as a rule.”—Weekly Dispatch.

“A sketch of the comparative force of the religious denominations in London, and notes upon the chief popular preachers, orthodox or dissentient, republished from a newspaper—we think the Weekly News and Chronicle.  The book, which is written in a sufficiently impartial spirit, will interest many people and offend few.”—Examiner.

“In this volume we have within a moderate space pen-and-ink sketches of most of the popular preachers of the metropolis.  We are bound to say that they are drawn with fidelity, and that the admirers of each Sabbath orator whose mental lineaments are placed before us will easily recognise the prominent features of the original.  Although brief, they evince discrimination and talent; a fluent style being one of their chief recommendations, not much space is devoted to each.  The writer only reviews the most striking characteristics, and his sympathies are manifestly with those who display most liberal and manly tendencies in their religious expositions.”—Sunday Times.

“What Mr. Francis did some few years since for the parliamentary orators of the age, Mr. Ritchie has in the volume before us effected for the pulpit orators of the day.  In brief but graphic delineations, he gives daguerreotypes, as it were, of the living manners of the chief popular preachers of various Christian denominations.”—The Church and State Gazette.


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author ofthe london pulpit.”

Contents: Introduction—Seeing a Man Hanged—Catherine-Street—The Bal Masque—Up the Haymarket—Canterbury Hall—Ratcliff-Highway—Judge and Jury Clubs—The Cave of Harmony—Discussion Clubs—Cider Cellars—Leicester-Square—Dr. Johnson’s—The Sporting Public-house—The Public-house with a Billiard-room—The Respectable Public-house—The Hungerford Music Hall—Highbury Barn—Boxing Night—The Mogul—Caldwell’s—Cremorne—The Costermongers’ Free and Easy—The Southwark Music Hall—The Eagle Tavern—The Police Court—The Lunatic Asylum.



“We would wish for this little volume an attentive perusal on the part of all to whom inclination or duty, or both, give an interest in the moral, the social, and the religious condition of their fellow-men: above all, we should wish to see it in the hands of bishops, and other ecclesiastical dignitaries—of metropolitan rectors and fashionable preachers—of statesmen and legislators—and of that most mischievous class of men, well-meaning philanthropists.  The picture of life in London, of its manifold pitfalls of temptation and corruption, which are here presented to the reader’s eye, is truly appalling.  No one can rise from it without a deep conviction that something must be done, ay, and that soon, if the metropolis of the British Empire is not to become a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.  What p. 239that something is to be the writer does not indeed indicate—that is not his object; what he aims at is, to let one part of the world of London know how another part of the same world spends its days, ay, and its nights.  The disease is laid bare by him, it is for others to devise the remedy.”—John Bull.

“Mr. Ritchie is favourably known to us; nor do we think this little volume will detract from his reputation.”—Daily News.

“Not ill done in parts, it is not done in a fast spirit or affectedly; and the moral tone throughout is healthy enough.”—Illustrated London News.

“Mr. Ritchie’s sketches are lively and graphic in style, and convey truthful pictures of some of the dark phases of London life.  His book may be regarded as supplementary to the Hand-books and Guides of the Metropolis, which lightly touch upon topics which are here specially described and vigorously commented on.”—Literary Gazette.

“We have derived considerable amusement, as well as some information, from a perusal of this volume, whose somewhat fanciful title is, however, very suggestive of its contents.  These comprise the haunts chiefly of our night-roving population. . . .  All that is known in the shape of haunts and habits is here delineated with an unexaggerated fidelity we must bear testimony to.  In effect, the whole is a very gloomy and forcible piece of word painting—literal, true, and graphic.  We accept this little volume cordially, and recommend it as warmly to the attention of our readers.”—Weekly Dispatch.

“The idea is excellent.”—Tait.

“This book is elegantly written; the style is even simple, and is occasionally the vehicle of a manly pathos, somewhat stern, indeed, but all the more real, perhaps, on that account.  This book will be read with pleasure and profit.”—Weekly Times.

“In the ‘Night Side of London,’ Mr. J. Ewing Ritchie draws a most painful, but, we have reason to believe, not an over-coloured picture of the fearful temptations which abound in our great metropolis.  The evils which seduce many a young man from the path of duty, and keep down the poor in their poverty and degradation, are traced to the love of intoxicating liquors, and the abundant facilities which are afforded for the gratification of that fatal passion.  Mr. Ritchie writes in an earnest manner, and his book contains information which demands the careful consideration of the moralist and the social reformer.”—Inquirer.

“Almost every line bears the stamp of truth, and the rising generation would do well to take great heed to its revelations.  Of old, Rome had its public censor of manners, and London needs such an officer as much as ever did that ancient mistress of the world.  Mr. Ritchie has performed this office for us, and the community owes him its best thanks.”—People.

“There is a matter-of-fact reality about the sketches, but they are chiefly remarkable for the moral tone of the reflections.  Generally speaking, painters of these subjects rather throw a purple light over the actual scenes, and say nothing of the consequences to which they lead; Mr. Ritchie is ever stripping off the mask of the mock gaiety before him, and pointing the end to which it must finally come.”—Spectator.

“Mr. Ritchie contents himself with a graphic and not over-drawn description.”—Economist.

p. 240“It is written in a sketchy and dashing style, and is a most readable work.”—Sunday Times.

“The book is a good book, and carefully written; so much so, that notwithstanding the title and repulsive nature of the subject, it may be perused by all classes without fear of offence.  A knowledge of what goes on in this huge metropolis, whether for good or evil, is desirable for all who inhabit or frequent our Modern Babylon.  And, as regards the dark side of the picture, Mr. Ritchie deserves great credit for the tact and delicacy with which he has embodied the information which this book conveys.”—Indian News.

“Mr. Ritchie has long been known as a clever writer in some of the newspapers. . . .  Mr. Ritchie possesses a fluent and clear style.”—The Weekly Chronicle.

“These graphic and powerful sketches, the result of keen, extensive observation and high literary talent.”—Alliance Weekly News.

“We hail Mr. Ritchie as a social reformer, and trust he will not merely rest satisfied with exposing, but will seek at the same time, by personal effort, to illume, ‘The Night Side of London.’”—The Weekly Journal of the Scottish Temperance League.

“We have kept Mr. Ritchie’s book lying on our table, hoping that we might find an opportunity for making it the basis of an article on the fearful evils which it discloses.  We must be satisfied, however, for the present, with recommending all our readers who are anxious to promote the social and moral regeneration of our great cities to read it carefully; and to remember, while they read, that London does not stand alone, but that, all our larger towns are cursed with abominations, such as those which Mr. Ritchie has so vigorously and effectually described.”—Eclectic Review.

“It sketches and spreads out before us many of the Night Scenes of London with great vividness and truth.”—The Christian News.

“It is a book of off-hand sketches, but they afford the reader many truly instructive glimpses of those apples of Sodom and grapes of Gomorrah—the amusements that are furnished for the metropolitan public by the vendors of intoxicating liquors.”—Evangelical Repository.

“Anything of their sort more striking and vivacious cannot be conceived; the more complete descriptions are as buoyant and racy as the briefer; a few strokes of the pen place a scene clearly before the mental vision, and in very few instances can it be reasonably charged upon the writer that he is sacrificing fact to fancy, the literal to the ideal.  Then comes the caution, wisely insinuated, the moral reading of the gay illusion, the exhibition of the interior corruption of the fruit, fair and fascinating to behold.  So suggestively, yet so skilfully, is this done, that we should not be surprised to hear that the perusal of this volume had drawn away many votaries of vice from its debasing follies.  Certain we are that the author’s dramatic style is used with wonderful effect, and in a manner that we hope to see long employed on kindred subjects and for kindred ends.”—Weekly Record.




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