Page images

which Dr. Lee describes as "that Christian intuition, which is, no doubt, an ordinary fruit of the grace of baptism.” We should prefer to have heard less about the Saints, and more about Him from whom all sanctity is derived. But that Mr. Hawker became a godly man, and strove conscientiously to fulfil his duty, it would be insolent bigotry to deny.

His eccentricities, of course, asserted themselves. His dress, e.g., was decidedly original. He had a claret-coloured coat, and beneath it a knitted blue fisherman's jersey. He also wore fisherman's boots, which came above his knees; and this “ originality” he defended by saying that he did not make himself look like a waiter out of place, or an unemployed undertaker. At one time he wore a hat without brim, “to testify the connection of the Cornish Church with the East”; he early adopted the alb and cope, and throughout his life paid special attention to this department of the priest's office. He had a tender regard for children, who seem to have been deeply attached to him, and animals of all sorts found in him a friend. He must sometimes have had a strange medley about him. One of the finest traits in his character was his care for the poor. He was generous and self-sacrificing in his efforts to alleviate their sorrows, and to effect an improvement in their condition. He championed the cause of the agricultural labourers in quarters where such advocacy was by no means acceptable. Over the porch of his vicarage he wrote words which, we are sorry to learn, have been removed by his successor

“ A house, a glebe, a pound a day,

A pleasant place to watch and pray;
Be true to Church, be kind to poor,

O minister, for evermore.” Not only to the needy of his own parish, but to shipwrecked mariners on that rocky coast, did he render invaluable help. Not a few were by his brave efforts rescued from the water, and then housed, clothed, and fed. And this service he rendered from pure love, and would never receive compensation for it.

We can well believe that he had in the pulpit “a prepossessing and commanding appearance.” In his later years he abandoned the use of a manuscript. Dr. Lee says: "His sermons were of high literary merit; theological in tone, effective and appropriate in illustration, hearty and forcible in practical application, and warm in hortatory wisdom and Christian teaching. At the same time they were so simple in their language that a child might comprehend their truly beautiful lessons."

That he was a profound student we can scarcely admit, nor does he appear to have been entitled to rank as a scholar. He was not, so far as we can judge from his memoirs, a patient plodding investigator, nor was he at all systematic in his method of work. He was a great authority in “ folk-lore,” and many capital stories have in all probability died with him. Of his visionary and superstitious character, inany instances are recorded. He firmly believed in witchcraft and the power of the evil eye. When he met any one with a peculiar eye-ball

, he would ward off its effects by a peculiar twisting of his fingers. He asserted that he had seen the five black spots, like those in the feet of swine, under the tongue of an old woman who was believed to be a witch, and he credited this old woman with the death of nine sucking-pigs, with the damage done during a violent thunderstorm, and various other evils ; and of course he believed in the power of the fairy ring. We cannot be surprised, therefore, when he sees in affliction and death the sign of Divine anger against those who suffer them. Our readers will remember the circumstances under which Bishop Wilberforce was so suddenly removed. Here is Mr. Hawker's explanation of it: “A Bishop in his place in Parliament utters a defiant and rancorous speech, Godward. Soon after, his horse stumbles, and the angel of his baptism holds aloof; and unsuccoured he dies." Worse still, a similar explanation is given of the death of one of the saintliest and most apostolic men which this century has known. Bishop Patteson was by no means a “Low" Churchman—the majority of Englishmen thought him too High. But he was pure and noble-minded; a gentle, truthful, Christ-like spirit, who literally, and year after year, “ hazarded his life” for the sake of the ignorant islanders of the South Seas. And the barbarous manner in which some brutal savage secured for him “an early martyrdom,” sent a thrill of grief and horror through the heart of the civilized world, especially when it was known to be an act of revenge for the crimes of the kidnapping “white men”—the foulest enemies of our race. But this is how Mr. Hawker accounts for the event: "Another Bishop apes the Apostle and the Martyr among the barbarous people of the Southern Seas. In peril an arrow or a club (which the least of God's angels could have averted by a touch, yet did not) slew him. Even I wondered, until his Episcopal ‘Life' was written and printed. Then saw I the cause of these things. The doctrines uttered by this man to the listening heathen were fallacious and untrue. He was Arian, Wesleyan, heretical; and the messages he invented were not sent by God. So among the savages he was left alone.” How any Churchman could pen this false and ungenerous paragraph passes our comprehension, and if we are to trace such events as these to the Divine displeasure, what shall we say of the long roll of martyrs for whom we continually praise God, and in what light shall we regard the sublime and awful tragedy of Calvary?

We cannot be surprised that the man who could speak thus of the saintly Patteson should hold doctrines which Mr. Gould declares to have been “ perilously high,” and which no magnifying glass that we possess can help us logically to distinguish from the absurdities of Rome. He adhered to all the vagaries of the sacerdotal and sacramentarian system, and whether for some years before his death he was consciously a Roman Catholic or not, who for simply prudential reasons remained in the English Church, he would certainly have felt thoroughly at home among the Papists. Dissenters met with scant justice at his hands. Thus he speaks of “the false fame of that double-dyed thief of other men's brains, John Milton, the Puritan, onehalf of whose lauded passages are from my own knowledge felonies committed, in the course of his reading, on the property of others,” &c. Dr. Lee tells us that he plainly pointed out“ the pitfalls of dissent and error,” which are numerous and deep. John Wesley he charges with corrupting the Cornish character: he found them wrestlers, caused them to change their sins, and called it conversion.” He “corrupted and depraved the West of England.” “Wesleyans about here are secret dram-drinkers, and their lust is cruel, deadly. Look at the statistics of Wesleyan regions : seduction and infanticide are the badges of the meeting-house throughout the land.

I undertake to prove statistically that Methodism is the mother of the brothel, and the throttling-cord of modern England.” Well may Mr. Gould say that Hawker“ knew nothing of the greatness, holiness, and zeal of that apostolic man.' Had he done so, would he have replied to one who rebutted his charges, “Tell me about Wesley when you can give me his present address”? Such paltry and wretched bigotry is beneath contempt, and it says little for Dr. Lee that he not only refrains from condemning, but actually eulogises it.

Mr. Gould asserts that bitter as Hawker was in speech against Dissenters, he was always ready to do them a kindness. We should not have expected this, but on Mr. Gould's authority believe it. One or two humorous stories are told on this point. Some one rallied him with always getting comfortable berths for schismatics. one ought," was his reply, “I try my best to make them snug in this world; they will be so miserable in the next.” One day he had a Roman Catholic priest, an Independent Minister, and one or two others to lunch, and described them as “clean and unclean beasts feeding together in the Ark,” and he thought it well to get them to meet here," because they will never meet in the next world.” When told by a Methodist minister that it was thought he would object to bury a Dissenter; “On the contrary," he replied, “ do you not know I should be but too happy to bury you all.” He was enraged at Mr. Cowper-Temple’s Bill, for admitting Dissenters to the pulpits of the Established Church, and deemed it contrary to Scripture, because the Scripture says, “If a beast so much as touch the mountain let him be stoned or thrust through with a dart."

This strange life was closed by an act which has given rise to a keen controversy, the Church Times implying that Hawker was in consequence of it"a blasphemous rogue and scoundrel." We refer to his reception into the Roman Catholic Church. Mrs. Hawker (his second wife) describes it in an elaborate letter to the then curate of Morwenstow, which Dr. Lee has reproduced. There can be no doubt that the reception took place, but it is disputed whether Hawker was the time in full and conscious possession of his faculties. We do not ard the question as of supreme public importance, mainly because

« So


Hawker's ecclesiastical principles must have logically resulted in his so-called “conversion," and have even unconsciously prepared the way for it. The evidence is somewhat conflicting, and it is now impossible to arrive at an opinion which can claim absolute certainty. Mrs. Hawker asserts that her husband had been for thirty years at least a Roman Catholic at heart, and that he was prevented from leaving the English Church by the necessity of providing for his wife, who did not share his faith, and by certain pecuniary complications. Dr. Lee asserts that he had for some time turned his thoughts towards Rome, inspired largely by disgust at the lawless condition of the Established Church. He mentions as causes of a change in his sentiments the appointment of Dr. Temple to the see of Exeter; the doubt about Archbishop Tait's baptism; and Mr. Disraeli's Public Worship Regulation Act. We cannot enter fully into the dispute, but Dr. Lee appears to have good ground for his position. The expressions in reference to the Archbishop are strong. He asks, “ Has Archibald Tait ever been baptized ? If he has, the exorcisms were omitted if one may judge from the demonism of his measure (the Public Worship Regulations Act). I wish he and his could be induced to renounce the devil in old age.” Only establish Tait's unregeneracy, and he is at your mercy.” Again, he speaks of him as (if unbaptized) having laid on people “the empty hands of a Pagan officer, as one who beateth the air.” In strange contrast with this disrespectful treatment of Dr. Tait, are "the appreciatory verses in memory of Cardinal Wiseman, and the congratulations he addressed to Cardinal Manning on his elevation to the purple (see "Lee's Memorials,” pp. 54 and 172). These certainly seem the words of a Papist.

On the other hand, we are reluctant to believe that he was for thirty years playing a false and hypocritical part; and Mr. Gould adduces facts which render it doubtful whether even at the end he really underwent any change. For some years before his death he showed signs of “ breaking up." He became restless and excited. He renewed the habit of taking opium. He often fell into a state of dreaminess, stupor, and depression, and his brother affirms that opium "violently excited him for a time, and then cast him into fits of the most profound depression. When under this influence he wrote and spoke in the wildest and most unreasonable manner.” There must, therefore, have been a gradual weakening of his faculties ; his brain would be partly paralyzed ; and his reception into the Papal Communion under such circumstances can have no very special signifi

Mr. Gould has reason for saying that “The man was an anomaly; a combination of contradictory elements, conflicting characteristics, and mutually destructive opinions. I believe he was perfectly sincere in what he said and did, but he said and did at one time exactly the reverse of what he said and did at another. The masterpower-the balance-wheel of a well-ordered judgment,--was out of his composition."

The important point in the discussion is this—that a man holding


opinions logically undistinguishable from the tenets of Roman Catholicism could, for so long a time, without conscious insincerity (of which we assuredly acquit him), maintain his position in the English Church, and that one of his biographers—also a clergyman-can unblushingly vindicate his supposed renunciation of bis English orders. Dr. Lee regards Nonconformity as essentially and unutterably “unclean," and asks whither else this perplexed man could turn his eyes than towards Rome. He roundly abuses bishops and archbishops, and holds that Dr. Tait's ecclesiastical legislation is placing before loyal Churchmen the alternative, “Infallibility or Infidelity. There are, we suppose, large numbers who support Dr. Lee, willing to accept the honours and emoluments of State-patronage, but spurning the idea of State-control -defying the authority to which, as members of the Established Church, they are lawfully subject, and fostering a spirit of rebellion. It is well for us to note these things, and point out their significance. We have no wish forcibly to prevent any clergyman, however “extreme," from expressing his honest convictions and acting as he deems himself bound by his priestly functions. But we do protest against the Romanizing tendencies which are now at work in the Establishment to an alarming extent, and insist that the power and wealth of the nation shall not be used to sap the foundations of our civil and religious liberty, to bring back the darkness and superstition of the Middle Ages, and subject us once more to the degrading vassalage of the Pope. No half measures will be of avail. The Public Worship Act will never put down the Ritualists, and others like Mr. Hawker, who, though not exactly Ritualists, are equally dangerous. We cannot by such means suppress them ; but it is incumbent on us to labour more earnestly than ever for the great end of civil and religious equality. Let the patronage and control of the State be withdrawn from the Church, and all sects be allowed “a fair field and no favour.”

We have, however, said enough of Mr. Hawker as a Churchman, in which capacity he will soon be forgotten. His memory will live longer in connection with his poems, and with a brief reference to them we will conclude. They were published at different times, but the best of them are all to be found in “The Cornish Ballads and other Poems of the Rev. R. S. Hawker," &c., issued by Messrs. Parker in 1869. The opening ballad is the well-known and spirited “Song of the Western Men," which has reference to the imprisonment of the “Seven Bishops" by James II. The song is an admirable expansion of the genuine old refrain

And shall Trelawny die ?
Here's twenty thousand Cornishmen

Will know the reason why! The ballad is so clever an imitation of the ancient song that it not only elicited the heartiest praise from Sir Walter Scott, Mr. Dickens, and Lord Macaulay, but deceived them into the belief that it was

« PreviousContinue »