by Arthur Posonby Moore-Anderson, 1947.
Full text below.
DUBLIN. THE BEGINNING AND THE CALLErin, the tear and the smile in thine eye Blend like the rainbow that hangs in the sky.
. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
Psalm xxiii. 6.
I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die ;
His love not mine the resting place,
His truth not mine the tie.
AN anglicised Irishman of Scottish extraction. My father's description of himself. Born in Dublin of Ulster stock, his youth was spent in the part of Ireland now known as Eire. Called to the Irish Bar he was early side-tracked into Secret Service work in connection with the Fenian movement of those times.
When this led to his crossing the Channel to England it was, as he afterwards expressed it, with a return ticket in his pocket. But from that day his native land knew him only as a visitor. First in the Home Office, then at Scotland Yard, and finally in retirement, he remained a Londoner for the rest of his life.
Duty made him a relentless tracker of criminals. But the dynamiters would have been more than a little surprised had they known that the man behind the scenes who hunted them down was author of many books on the Bible and the Christian life. No less amazed would have been many a professional burglar could he have come upon the C.I.D. Chief giving a Gospel address in some London mission hall. His life of seventy-seven years was a many-sided one, in some respects unique.
Robert Anderson was born in 1841 at his parents' home in Mountjoy Square, Dublin, whither his father, Matthew Anderson, had come from Londonderry as a young man. The appointment of Crown Solicitor for the city was given to my grandfather by the government of Lord Beaconsfield. An elder of the Irish Presbyterian Church, he served first in the old Mary's Abbey congregation, of which my father was a member in his youth, and afterwards at Kingstown, now called Dun Laoghaire.
When living in Dublin one of his duties was that of Seneschal of the Manor of Mary's Abbey, where he used to hold a Manor Court ; an appointment which he owed to Lady Harriet Cowper, for whom he acted in legal matters. Her first husband had been the famous Count D'Orsay, who made several gifts to my grandfather, including a bronze equestrian statuette of the Iron Duke, now in my possession, modelled by himself in 1848. D'Orsay was born in Paris in 1801. Known as the last of the " Dandies," unusually handsome and well-dressed, he was looked upon as " the mirror of fashion and the mould of form." An accomplished painter and sculptor, he was an intimate friend and supporter of Louis Napoleon. By a coincidence the St. Mary's Abbey estate had belonged to my mother's family for about a hundred years from the time of King James the Second. Drogheda House, their Dublin residence until 1822, was on the property.
A family friend, Professor Pierce Simpson, gave his impression of Matthew Anderson in these words : " I used to regard him as the Lord Chancellor and Primate of Ireland rolled into one, and to hear him say prayers was enough to make a saint out of a sinner." My grandmother, before her marriage Mary Lee, also came from Derry, where an ancestor, Samuel Lee, won fame as a leader of the freemen of the city, the 'Prentice Boys, in the siege of 1689.
" Five generations have since passed away," wrote Macaulay, " and still the wall of Londonderry is to the Protestants of Ulster what the trophy of Marathon was to the Athenians." And H. V. Morton says : " I suppose that no other city except perhaps Limerick has such a single-minded memory of its history. You cannot live even for a few hours in this city without hearing the story of the Closing of the Gates of Derry. . . . They tell it all over again with just pride ; how the thirteen 'prentice boys shut the gates in the face of a Catholic army sent to win the town for James II ; how Derry declared for William of Orange ; how the town endured the worst horrors of starvation and disease for one hundred and five days. .. . It was one of the most gallant defences in the history of siege warfare."
And now in 1945 one reads of our own King George VI and Queen Elizabeth being taken on a tour of the walls. No doubt they heard once again the great story of " No Surrender," and of how at last the relief ships bringing food broke the boom across the Foyle.
" It is never possible," writes Morton, " to feel that Derry is an ordinary city. Look where you will and you see the wall and a peeping cannon. The memory of 1688-89 is as vivid as though the smoke of Roaring Meg was still blowing from the walls."
Assuredly, as I listened to my grandmother's tale and gazed at the portrait of the Rev. George Walker, the heroic acting Governor, my childish impression was that she had been through the siege herself.
Another coincidence is that an ancestor of my maternal grandmother, William Gardner of Coleraine, was killed when in command of a company of the defenders ; another of my mother's forbears, Henry, third Earl of Drogheda, commanded a regiment of Foot in the Battle of the Boyne shortly afterwards.
My father was educated privately in Dublin and later in Paris and Boulogne. On leaving school he began a business career in one of the Dublin breweries, its owner being a rich and sonless friend of his father's. But after eighteen months he turned from this and at the age of eighteen entered Trinity College, familiarly known as T.C.D. In 1862 he graduated B.A. with Moderatorship and Medal, being awarded the LL.D. in 1875. The earliest diary I have found is for the year 1861, the brief entries in which often include items such as : " Read for five hours ; cricket." He was keen on Rugby football too, playing half-back, I think.
The College Historical Society at T.C.D. corresponds to the Union Societies at Oxford and Cambridge, the membership being reciprocal. My father became Auditor (President), and it was one of the chief interests of his 'Varsity life. A number of his contemporaries became prominent in after years, some of them famous. A close friend, David Plunket (Lord Rathmore), wrote a few months before my fathers' death:
" Your references to the past helped me, like Clarence Mangan's poor old battered Barmecide, to ` call up many a gorgeous show which the pall of oblivion hides' of the gay days when you and Tom Snagge and Ashbourne and FitzGibbon and Freeman Wills and Lecky, and many another more or less famous Argonaut, sailed out with me from the old T.C.D. harbour on life's journey. You and I now alone remain. And you carry on still with all your remaining canvas set. More power to your elbow and to your brave heart ! "
[Those mentioned in this letter all became well-known personages : Sir Thomas W._ Snagge, D.L., LL.D., Judge of County Courts ; Edward Gibson, 1st Lord Ashbourne, Lord Chancellor of Ireland ; Rt. Hon. Gerald FitzGibbon, P.C., Lord Justice of Appeal ; Rev. Freeman Wills, M.A., author and dramatist ; Rt. Hon. W. E. H. Lecky, O.M., LL.D., D.C.L., historian and Philosopher.]
And my father himself said : " I cherish pleasant memories of those years. Religion and politics are the bane of Ireland, but the politicians and priests had not yet poisoned the life of the country. In Trinity, Orangemen and Romanists, `ferocious Radicals' and high Tories, mixed together and discussed their differences with the courtesy and kindness of Irish gentlemen." In the light of this, it is interesting to find his diary for 1898 recording a " T.C.D. Dinner " in London at which there were present Mr. John Redmond, the Irish Nationalist leader, and Sir Edward Carson, the Ulster Unionist. Mr. W. E. H. Lecky was in the chair, and others in the company were Lord Rathmore, Sir Robert Ball (the astronomer), Sir Thomas Snagge and Canon Teignmouth Shore. The 1900 diary also mentions the dinner, when those present included Lords Morris, Iveagh and Londonderry, Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick and Dr. J. B. Crozier, Bishop of Ossory and Ferns.
But to return to the early years, the 1861 diary records a short time spent in London as a law student at the Temple. An entry for 5th February reads : " Went to the House of Commons and met Williams ; got into the Lords' to hear the Queen. Dinner with W., then down to the House where heard Disraeli, Russell and Bright." In his reminiscences he related how he came to hear the Queen's Speech that day, the last occasion on which Queen Victoria read her Speech herself, for after the Prince Consort's death in that year she never again did so. The future Assistant Commissioner used to make friends with the police on duty in the House and through them obtain members' orders admitting to the Gallery. A police officer, a fellow Irishman, put him up to the adventure of getting into the House of Lords along with the " faithful Commons." However, " if we catch you," said he, " it's not in the House of Lords ye'll find yourself ; but we'll not catch you if ye do what I tell you." Admitted to the- Lobby my father found himself in the middle of a group of M.P.s waiting there. When the Speaker's procession, followed by some of the leading members of the Lower House, had passed, the waiting group closed in with a rush. " Had I been as anxious to keep out as I was to get in," the story proceeds, " nothing could have stopped me. I was almost carried off my feet, and it was not until I found myself inside the Lords' that I was able to raise my hand to take off my hat."
The next day the diary records : " Went to House of Commons by boat. Heard FitzGerald and Russell." And later in that year:
" Drove down to Moville tandem to see the Fleet. Went on board Revenge, where the Admiral was receiving the Corporation good feed." Does this diary entry forty-two years later (1903) show that there was some reward for his having been a law student in London, for he never practised at the English Bar? " The King's Dinner in Middle Temple. A great function ; Sir. R. Finlay, Choate, Duke of Devonshire, Lord Rosebery, Lord Lansdowne. The King present."
j Mention has been made of my grandfather being Seneschal of the Manor of Mary's Abbey. A Manor Court exercised a civil jurisdiction such as County Courts used to have. The judge was nominated by the lord of the manor. The idea of holding a mock court occurred to my father, his elder brother, and some of their college friends, a typically Irish performance resulting. The court-keeper was notified of a special session to be held on the chosen evening ; and all was found ready, not excepting the presence of a police-constable at the door. One of the actors, who attained fame at the Bar and in Parliament, later a peer, took his place on the bench in borrowed wig and gown ; a divinity student, afterwards an archdeacon, was put upon his trial for an assault. The combination of lying and cunning in the evidence seemed true to life, and the speeches were eloquent if not altogether relevant.
The seats allotted to the public were fairly well filled, for an evening sitting and a criminal trial were unprecedented. But when the proceedings resulted in a conviction, and the "judge announced that before dealing with the prisoner he really must have a smoke, there was a roar of laughter, " in which the accused heartily joined." The public, suddenly realising that they had been fooled, stampeded from the court. It was characteristic of life in Ireland then, said my father, that they were not taken to task for the escapade, which was never reported nor noticed in any way. And the Seneschal first heard of it many years later as he sat by the fireside with his grandchildren playing around him.
Another incident which could hardly have occurred except in Ireland was related by my father long afterwards in his plea for more common sense and imagination in the treatment of youthful criminals. A boy had been brought before a Dublin magistrate who was a man of great force of character and quite unconventional. Although the charge was a petty one the police gave a bad account of the lad, declaring that he had a chance of doing well if he wished, but that he was going wrong and was likely to become a regular criminal.
To the amazement of a friend who was sitting with him on the Bench the magistrate, in blood-curdling language, sentenced the youth to be flogged in the adjoining yard. The friend was then taken to the magistrate's private room from which they could see the prisoner, looking half-dead with fright, while two burly constables were inspecting instruments of flagellation borrowed, presumably, from some police museum. The yard gate, however, had judiciously been left open-for the dramatis personae were Irish and understood their parts-and, seeing his chance, the lad made a dash for it and escaped. " Now," said the magistrate, " we've saved that boy ; we'll never see him here again ! "
My father's long life of Christian witness and service really began with a deep spiritual experience a few months after his nineteenth birthday. The story must be given in his own words, written fifty years later, near the close of that life:
" Until I get to Heaven, I shall never know whether I was not a child of God in infancy. My mother regarded me as God-given to take the place of a son who died shortly before I was born, and who was evidently a veritable Timothy (2 Tim. iii. 15, R.V.). She loved to talk to me about him, and his story had a great influence upon me. Even in early years prayer was no mere form with me, and I delighted in reading the Gospel of John and some favourite Psalms. But in due course I was taught that no one who has not been ` converted' can be a child of God, and I had never experienced any crisis of that kind.
" As time went by my conviction deepened that I had not been ` converted.' But owing doubtless to my early experience and to the restraints of a Christian home I continued to lead ' a religious life.' And I had occasional fits of penitence and anxiety. But they were transient ; and their after-effect was to make me increasingly callous, the hardening process being intensified by the influence of that other doctrine that my eternal destiny depended entirely on whether I was ` elect,' and therefore nothing I could do would affect the issue.
Such was my condition in I86o. But in that memorable year of Revival new spiritual longings were awakened in me by the conversion of one of my sisters through attending services which J. Denham Smith was holding in Dublin. Owing, however, to my experience of such periods of anxiety I refused even to acknowledge a desire to go to a meeting. But on a certain evening when my sister very specially wished to be present her promised escort failed, and I got credit for unselfish kindness by offering to accompany her. The meeting only disappointed and vexed me. The sermon brought no comfort or help and some of then hymns me : for, owing possibly to my being ecclesiastically Scottish, certain popular hymns do not suit my spiritual digestion.
" The fact of my sisters conversion still held me, however, and I cherished the thought that the next Sunday services in the Kirk might bring me blessing. But the morning service left me more discouraged than ever ; and I made up my mind that if the evening one brought no relief I would give up the quest, and seek to enjoy life again as best I could.
"The evening preacher was Dr. John Hall, afterwards of New York. His sermon was of a type to which we are now accustomed, for he boldly proclaimed forgiveness of sins and eternal life as God's gift in grace, unreserved and unconditional, to be received as we sat in the pews. His sermon thrilled me. Yet I deemed his doctrine unscriptural, so I waylaid him as he left the vestry and on our homeward walk tackled him about his ` heresies.'
" My first point was that he had no warrant for saying that there was forgiveness for sinners without first ascertaining whether they had repented. This he met by quoting Scripture to prove that repentance was not contrition ; nor was it a work preparatory to coming to Christ, but a change produced by believing the Gospel as the Word of God. . . . At last he let go my arm, and facing me as we stood upon the pavement he repeated with great solemnity his message and appeal : ' I tell you as a minister of Christ and in His name that there is life for you here and now if you will accept Him. Will you accept Christ or will you reject Him ? ' After a pause-how prolonged I know not-I exclaimed, ` In God's name I will accept Christ. ' Not another word passed between us, but after another pause he wrung my hand and left me. And I turned homeward with the peace of God filling my heart."
A letter dated 9th October I860 gives the date of the great decision. Writing to one of my father's sisters, a friend-Henry Neilson-said : " Our walk home was indeed a happy one, for Bob told me that last Sabbath evening God the Spirit had opened his eyes to see Jesus as his Saviour. Glory be to Him Who ever is faithful to answer prayer." That other influences had been Preparing him for the crisis is indicated by a letter to his mother Some time later:
" I was very sorry not to have been at home when Mr. Parke was there. He was one of the few clergymen I knew in old times who seemed to care for souls. When he was with us before I was greatly struck by his speaking about the Lord Jesus constantly while at table. And I remember well the last words he said to you before leaving, ` Somehow I am sure that I shall hear of a blessing in your family.' We were then all unconverted."
It was not long before my father entered upon his lifelong ministry as a lay-preacher of the Gospel. He thus describes the occasion:
" One day soon after my conversion I received a letter from a friend telling me that he was unable to keep an engagement to address a Gospel meeting, and asking me to take his place. The messenger waited for an answer and I promptly replied that I could not take such a position. But then I fell a-thinking. I had been praying that God would give me work to do for Him ; might not this be the answer? So I hurried after the messenger to tell of my change of mind. And the next day I preached my first Gospel sermon."
He was certainly not unacquainted with sermons. Forty-five years afterwards, writing on " Preaching : Past and Present " in the Nottinghamshire Guardian he said:
`` The days of great preachers are past. In all the churches the men are but few who could rivet the attention of a congregation for an hour. Is there a preacher who could hold an audience for two ? Yet a sermon that lasted three full hours is one of the memories of my childhood. The preacher, I need not say, was a Scotsman, the great Dr. Duff, the Church of Scotland's first missionary to India. Child though I was, I remember how his hearers hung upon his words."
The effect of the revival was deepened by a series of annual conventions in Dublin, the " Believers' Meetings." Members of all denominations met simply as Christians. Amongst the leaders were the Rev. Marcus Rainsford, Rector of Dundalk and later incumbent of Belgrave Chapel, London, and the Rev. J. Denham Smith of Kingstown. Many years later Marcus Rainsford wrote to my father:
" It quite warmed my old heart to read your kind letter and your affectionate remembrance of myself. I have also long since made up my mind that it is full time we children of the Most High God gave up our `fads ' and were determined to know nothing, nothing, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, risen, ascended, and sitting at God's right hand, ` and we in him ' "
When sixty years had gone by, Mr. J. W. C. Fegan wrote:
" With the passing on before of Sir Robert Anderson we have lost the last surviving link with the notable group of Irish evangelists and teachers associated with the Revival of 1859 and the abounding spiritual activities of the 'sixties."
Nearly all the names mentioned by Mr. Fegan appear in my father's diaries and letters of that period or in later reminiscences Henry Bewley, Denham Smith, George F. Trench, F. C. Bland, c. H. Macintosh, J. Butler Stoney, R. J. Mahony, T. Shuldham; also Reginald Radcliffe, Richard Weaver and Harry Moorhouse, visitors from England.
Others to whom the diaries for I86o to 1865 refer as preaching in Dublin or visiting the family are the Revs. H. Grattan Guinness, William Haslam and Horatius Bonar. The Rev. Horatius Bonar, D.D., was the well-known Scottish Divine and hymn writer who wrote : " Here, 0 my Lord, I see Thee face to face " ; " I heard the voice of Jesus say " ; " A few more years shall roll." He preached both in Mary's Abbey Church and in Merrion Hall (the meeting-place of the brethren), and was a welcome guest at the Anderson home, then in Fitzwilliam Square. In a letter to my father from Kelso, dated 27th November 1864, Dr. Bonar wrote :
" MY DEAR FRIENDS Thanks for your letter and for those which accompanied it. They are deeply interesting and I should greatly like to have further accounts of God's work in those parts. . . . You use an expression which I do not fully understand, `failed in communion.' I think I see your meaning, but I do not find the words in Scripture, and I am afraid of using expressions-or at least of admitting them to constant use-which are not exactly Scriptural. According to the meaning of the original word, a believer cannot be out of communion any more than he can be out of salvation, but he may be out of a sense of communion. However this may be, I still question whether the phrase be a Scriptural one ; if not, its frequent use may imprint a wrong idea in the soul, even though there may be some truth wrapped up in it.
With my kind remembrances to your father and mother, your brothers and sisters, I am, my dear friend, yours faithfully, HORATIUS BONAR."
We still have a copy of Dr. Bonar's book, God's Way of Holiness, with the inscription : " Robert Anderson, Esq., with brotherly regards from H. B., Kelso, Nov. 28, 1864."
One of the leaders mentioned above, Mr. F. C. Bland, who was himself led to Christ by his friend Richard Mahony and C. H. Macintosh, became a man mighty in the Scriptures and a teacher of teachers. During Mr. D. L. Moody's great evangelistic meetings in the Opera House in London, it is said that scarcely a day passed without his spending an hour over the Bible with Mr. Bland.
A reference to the Dublin home came long afterwards when Professor Alexander Macalister of Cambridge University wrote to my mother after my father's death:
" Let me with sincere sorrow write a note of sympathy. . . . It is to me the breaking of the last tie with an early period of my life when we were members of the same Church and associates in our earliest intellectual and religious work. He was just two years my senior, and I remember looking up to him as an example of what I should wish to be. I owe the greatest debt of gratitude possible to the Anderson family, for it was in their home I first met my dear wife, to whose wisdom and saintly piety I am indebted for far more than I can express."
Professor and Mrs. Macalister and their family proved exceedingly kind and helpful friends to my brothers and myself in our Cambridge days, and my father was often a guest in their home.
GOSPEL COMMANDO OPERATIONS IN IRELAND
Oh, send me forth, my Saviour ;
Oh, send me for Thy glory, Thy glory.
Let not myself, my carnal self, self-seeking self,
Come 'twixt me and Thy glory. Oh, mortify it, mortify it ; put it down, my Saviour ;
Exalt Thyself alone. Lift high the banner of the Cross, and in its folds
Conceal Thy standard-bearer.
(A letter from Robert Anderson to his home in 1863 ends with this verse.)
If you give up your personality to Him, He will not conform it to your neighbour's. He prefers that it should be your own, for He has a niche for you which nobody else can fill.
IN the aftermath of the revival which spread through many parts of Ireland in the years 1859 and i86o lay-preaching became a regular practice. No one had heard of commando raids eighty years ago, but the term seems a not inapt one for the sudden incursions of teams of two or three laymen into towns and country districts with the one object of preaching the Gospel, attacking strongholds of evil or of apathy and indifference, and leading men and women into new life, light and liberty.
This sometimes entailed going where they were quite unknown and unheralded. They might receive the blessing and cooperation of the local clergy and ministers ; but not infrequently open or veiled hostility had to be faced. When the use of Church buildings was not granted, meetings were held in schoolrooms, court-houses or jury-rooms, in private houses, cottages or barns, once at least in a ballroom, at times in the open air.
In 1862, the year in which he took his degree at Trinity, my father first went on one of these preaching tours in the south of Ireland. George F. Trench, the friend who led him into the work, was a cousin of Townsend Trench, estate agent to the Marquess of Lansdowne. " Towny," himself one of the best-known men in the south, had recently been converted and was preaching with all the energy and originality of a striking personality. Incidentally, the Trenches were related to my mother, whom in those days my father did not yet know. George Trench was her cousin ; "I after years he married as his second wife, Edith Lee Anderson, my father's niece, a fresh link between the families being thus formed.
An unusual feature of the revival movement in County Kerry was that amongst the first to be influenced were some of the landed gentry. Trench and Anderson were welcomed by them, and life-long friendships were formed by my father with Richard Mahony of Dromore Castle, Lindsay Talbot-Crosbie of Ardfert Abbey, and F. C. Bland of Derryquin Castle.
Later on, through the preaching of Thomas Weldon Trench, the revival spread to Sligo, and George Trench went there to carry on the work, again asking my father to join him. The clergy and ministers were unsympathetic. Not only so, but the evangelists were treated to a crusade of abuse and ridicule in a local newspaper which accused them of being impostors preaching for filthy lucre's sake and getting their salaries from a committee in London. One issue published a letter, said to have been picked up on the road, in which they were taken to task for embezzling the contents of their money-boxes ! Worse still, there appeared a seemingly genuine account of their getting drunk at a picnic !
When Trench had to return home owing to ill-health some doggerel verses described the. quarrel which led " the Trencher " to desert his pal " Handy Andy." This is all mentioned to show how unbefriended they were. However, when my father returned to Sligo later in a professional capacity to conduct an election, that editor made an abject apology. But at the time no notice was taken of the attacks. They only served to advertise the meetings, so that not a few attended out of curiosity or looking for amusement. But no interruption or annoyance came from the people, and spiritual power was continually manifested in conversions.
" I confess, however," wrote my father long afterwards, " that I had some misgivings when my friend left me ; for he had a charming presence, a ` gift of song ' and a ` gift of prayer,' whereas I had none of these advantages." The meetings, indeed, were then almost entirely lacking in the attractions now deemed essential in an evangelistic mission. But the Gospel proved indeed " the power of God unto salvation." Everywhere in Sligo and later in Mayo the meetings were crowded, conversions and changed lives resulting. " It is grand the matter-of-fact way the people take it all," he wrote at the time ; " there is no excitement, but when asked, do they know the Lord, they say : 'No, I'm afraid not, but I want to.' They take the truth on the authority of the Word ; and the next thing is : `Would you speak to this person?' Some of them are working for the Lord before they have known Him an hour."
He wrote later from the north of Ireland: " I think nowhere is there so much to rejoice over as in Sligo and Mayo. It is astonishing when I think of the people who have been saved, among them some of the most influential men in the county. Sir Richard O'Donnell told me this about Colonel X, who is well known as one of the hardest, cleverest men of the world that could be found. At the last Assizes in Castlebar he said to my friend in the Grand Jury Room : ` O'Donnell, what a happy thing it is to know Christ ! ' Sir Richard was amazed and asked him how he knew anything about that, and Colonel X told him it was from the preaching of ` those gentlemen' as they call us. I have just got a letter from one of that circle in which he says : ` Do you remember the 9th October, 1864 ? It was the evening you first preached in Ballina ; what a time of blessing it was ! You were the first to bring us the message of a full and free salvation, and the way you preached that glorious truth we can never forget.' "
A notable feature of the work is shown by a letter from one who, after telling of his own conversion, goes on to say:
" My four sisters and brother, four cousins, and a number of my acquaintances are now rejoicing in the Lord. It does not seem so strange that persons who have made themselves infamous by a life of immorality should awaken to a consciousness of their lost state. But it is passing strange that those who are looked upon by their friends and perhaps by themselves as religious should be brought to thorough conviction that, with all their amiability, morality and religion, they were sinners in the sight of God, being without Christ."
A sidelight on the experiences met with at times is given in this Sligo story told by my father:
" Though we had good lodgings our comfort was neglected, for the landlady, who was English and the widow of a Frenchman had no Irish heartiness in her composition ; and she objected to serving meals at irregular hours. On the Saturday evening after my friend had left I had a meeting in a village 12 miles out ; and on my return after a cold drive on an outside car I found an empty grate, and no supper save some bread and butter and a jug of cold water. I went to bed hungry and shivering, feeling that in a humble way I was entitled to be reckoned among the martyrs ! " (Now for the sequel.) " The following Saturday night, when I got back from that same drive, great was my surprise and delight at finding a cheerful fire and a hot supper. And the stern ` landlady face was softened by blushes and a pleasing smile ! Madame Leger had been at my meeting the previous evening and had heard and received the Gospel."
The account thus far given relates to work which continued at intervals during the years 1862 to 1865, when my father was between twenty-one and twenty-four years of age. A few extracts from his diaries are of interest. In 1862 one finds:
"Went to Athy with George Trench. Dinner at 3.30. Croquet, tea and meeting in Corn Exchange. Spoke on i John iv. 17 as to position of a Christian. Caused great row among the Methodists. A lot of the young fellows came in for a grind on the Risen Life."
It appears, however, from his diary for that year that a few days later he " preached in Methodist House at Portarlington, and that during nine and a half weeks of the summer he held fifty-one meetings alone or with other speakers. Irish readers may like to know some of the places visited. These include Athy, Portarlington, Tullamore, Frankfort, Carlow, Mallow, Tralee, Tarbert, Kilkee, Kilrush, Mountmellick, Carbery, Edenderry, and a dozen others. The diary for 1863 has this note:
(June 20.) " At Court 11 to 3. About 40 of us dined at the Bewleys, Willow Park. Conference in the evening on the Lord's Supper."
He was called to the Irish Bar in 1863 on his twenty-second birthday, and went on the North-West Circuit. The diary has such notes as : Dined with judges . . . Dined with Bar . . . Judges dined with us." But there are also reports of meetings at some of the places already mentioned as well as at Moate, Ferbane, Ballinagore, Mullingar, Maryboro', Clonaslee, Clara and Mount Lucas. At Cookstown he addressed a large meeting on the lawnabout 500 present-and there was one in the Chapel at Stuart Hall at which the Earl of Castlestuart was present.
The 1864 diary, referring to the College Historical Society, notes:
" C.H.S. Swell debate ; emigration question. FitzGibbon, Plunket, Snagge and Chadwick ; Lawson in Chair. . . . Went to C.H.S. Was elected Auditor. Walked home with W. ; preached to him." A few weeks earlier : " Spoke timidly and unfaithfully of the Lord to . . ." However, shortly afterwards, he " went round the big shops leaving handbills for Thursday's meeting."
Soon after this he went on Circuit again, visiting Cavan, Longford, Enniskillen and Derry ; and there were more meetings in the north at Armagh, Newry, Rostrevor, Banbridge, Rathfryland, Castleblaney and Crossmaglen. Back in Dublin, the daily record is : " Court, 11 to 4 " ; with notes of meetings at places like Wicklow, Dalkey and Bray. In the summer he was away again with George Trench to Sligo for another series of meetings lasting about three months. Brief records in the diary are :
" To Boyle. Meeting in Court House. About 100 ; no singing and not much power. A success, but not a triumph. . . . The Devil was at me all day, but the Lord gave me grace and strength. . . . Not much power ; feared that I went beyond my message. . . . Meeting crammed. Great power of God and wonderful blessing. About 40 stayed ; could not speak to them all, but many received the truth."
Back to Dublin again in October ; at court every day. Then in December he was off to Boyle, Skreen, Ballina and other old haunts preaching and encouraging converts. Having to go to Sligo professionally the following year, he found opportunity for further meetings there, and afterwards in the north. One entry is : " Much power ; people clung to me ; sad at leaving them." More than sixty meetings are recorded during three months of that year.
A few more of my father's letters to his home now take up the story. This from Sligo:
" I never saw such continued uninterrupted blessing. Last evening at Ballymote I gave the people an opportunity of going, but all sat down for an after-meeting. Nothing outwardly remarkable, but a calm power with the truth that I never saw in Dublin meetings."
Again, at Collooney:
" Last night we had about 250 people, nearly the entire Protestant population, and many R.C.s. Many come from five miles around. This in a place where the Sunday evening congregation at Church is from 6 to 20. . A gentleman said that a week ago he was the vilest wretch in the county, but now saved. . . . Rochfort considers this the most remarkable work in Ireland. If the Lord-Lieutenant got converted and preached in Merrion Hall it would be nothing to Captain O. being converted and preaching in this county."
Another letter tells of a meeting at Cork held at a few hours' notice with 500 people who seemed unwilling to leave although they were " dismissed " several times. A week-end at Ballina in 1864 is described thus:
" Saturday, we started after breakfast for a country meeting at i i a.m. ; drove on to another at 2 ; back to dinner at 6 and a meeting in the Glen at 7. Sunday, I preached in the Glen at 11 ; then drove to Mullafany for a meeting at 3 ; back to dinner at 7, late for the evening meeting. Monday, we had two meetings in the Glen."
It is not surprising that the entry " very tired " occurs now and then in the diaries. There was, too, the inevitable reaction at times:
" I have recently been rather inclined to become weary and faint in my mind, and the Lord has reproved me by letting me hear of hitherto unknown blessing. Really one gets used to this and forgets what it is to be in a dry, cold place."
The way in which converts were watched and shepherded is shown in a letter to George Trench from Sligo:
"BELOVED GEORGE . . . I met Dr. M. and spoke to him, not knowing who he was ; he has been attending the meetings and found peace the other evening. W. is steady ; J. is doing well, reading his Bible, I think. N. I do believe is converted ; On Sunday last he dined at A.'s and refused to touch the whisky though on the table he has not tasted any for some days and has been very steady. Will you make it a matter of special prayer that I may be guided, that I may not let anything induce me to leave till the Lord says, ` Go'; and that I may hear Him at once and obey when he does say ` Go ' ? "
There had been much to encourage. Mr. Alfred Trench, another fellow-worker, in a kind and gracious letter to the mother in Dublin, told her of the way her son was being used and owned of God. He added : " Perhaps it will be a relief to you to know that he does not think of giving up the `tent-making,' " this, of course, a reference to Acts xviii. 3, and xx. 34.
That the thought of whole-time Christian service had come into his mind is shown by a letter more than thirty years later when my brother Alan told him he was thinking of entering the ministry of the Presbyterian Church of England. My father then wrote :
" Your news about your life-work thoughts is startling. On such a grave matter I would certainly not intervene save by putting the pros and cons fairly before you. The question is one to be settled with God, and I would not think of vetoing any purpose of the kind. Had I not had scruples about taking ordination in either the Presbyterian or Anglican Church, I myself would now be a Minister instead of a Peeler."
It is hardly to be wondered at that there had been some anxiety about his apparent disregard of both his health and his professional prospects. " You need not fret about me," he wrote to his mother ; " I am sure of mutton chops and beef steaks. What I said was contrasting this fare with that at Newport House, where there was fresh salmon daily, puddings, pies, melons, etc." And again : " Alfred and I have just returned from a walk and a bathe in the sea, and are going to have dinner before we start for Collooney ; so you see we are taking care of ourselves." To his sister he said, however : " I am all square, but getting very thin, as if I had been going up gas pipes ! " Another letter reported " We are living in pilgrim fashion. Tom Law brought down a fine ham which was a valuable acquisition. But plenty of open air keeps one all right."
Regarding the future he said to his mother:
" I am not surprised that Papa is disappointed at my going about as I am doing. I suppose he was expecting me to take a position at the Bar. No one knows as well as I do what I am losing for the sake of the Lord ; but it is not my will in the matter. I would stop preach ing if I could, for it is not pleasing to the flesh. I should be extremely unwilling to have to decide upon giving up the Bar. But if it came to the point of giving up the Lord's work or the Bar, I trust I should not hesitate."
" Surely you don't mean that you would have me return home before the Lord has done with me here? My desire would be to have grace to be willing never to return if He should want me else where. It is perfectly idle my thinking of leaving for any consideration or tie of the flesh. Thank the Lord that it is Sligo I am in, five and a half hours from Dublin, and that He does not want me in Spain or Timbuctoo or the backwoods of America ! "
My father evidently had the clearest conviction that he must await the moving of the pillar of cloud and fire as did the Israelites of old. " I can't see my movements ahead at all," he wrote ; "'I don't see that I can leave this just yet. The Lord has kept us hanging upon Him day by day. . . . He knows whether I want rest, and will give it when I need it." And to George Trench he said " It is all humbug staying at home from natural love and affection when there are so few to preach the Gospel and souls are longing for it."
A contemporary account said that no written statement could 1nake people realise the character of the work who had not actually seen such things as a meeting, remarkable at first only for levity and-unconcern awed and broken down by the manifested power of the Holy Spirit ; the very persons upon whose lips had curled the smile of ridicule or contempt remaining at the close in deep anxiety:
" Many have witnessed such scenes in recent years. Many know what it is to enter a parish or town which seems a spiritual sepulchre and in a few short weeks to be surrounded by a little church of saved ones exulting in their new-found joy."
That the evangelists were not concerned with mere numbers is shown by a letter from Sligo in which my father said:
" These places are quite outside the town and can't be taken care of from here. Besides it is new ground, and I would rather have a little schoolhouse full of people in ` the regions beyond ' than the Merrion Hall full. It is glorious to bring the Gospel into dark places where it is unknown."
And to his mother he wrote from Lurgan : " Tom Law is here now. We have constant work in visiting among the cottages besides meetings daily." And again : " In visiting among the poor I have heard of much blessing. Many have told me they were converted in '5g but had fallen back greatly, and that these meetings had been the means of restoring them."
In spite of his intense earnestness and sense of responsibility and vocation there are many humorous touches in his letters. That he was not too easily taken in by outward profession is shown in a letter to a sister : " I have come on two old buffers on this Circuit who say they're saved. They ought to say it on every opportunity, for no one would ever find it out ! " One of his favourite Irish stories may not be out of place here. Father Healy, parish priest of Bray and (the Protestant) Archbishop Plunket were on their way together to the railway station. The priest urged that they should hurry, but the prelate's appeal to his watch convinced him that they had ample time. They arrived to see the Dublin train disappearing. The Archbishop's apologies were lavish ; he pleaded that he had always had unbounded faith in his watch. " My dear Lord Plunket," was Father Healy's rejoinder, " faith won't do without the good works."
From the diary for 1866, the year before he left Ireland for London, it seems that there was only one visit to the west, with meetings in some of the old spots. There are a few entries on the lighter side, such as : " Riding party . . . drove to Enniscrone with Captain and Miss Jackson and Mrs. Pery. Great fun. . . . Row on Carramore Lake. . . . Picnic to Woodpark. Great romping." Writing to a sister who was paying a visit in the south of Ireland about this time, he said : " Why don't you go home ? They will be heartily sick of you. Are you aware that people don't wait to be turned out even in Kerry, where the fellow was asked to spend the night and stayed twenty years ? "
Opposition to the work on the part of clergy and ministers has already been mentioned. In a letter home in 1864 he tells of this : " Boyle is all in a stir. The Rector put his veto on laypreaching in general, and my preaching in particular, last Sunday. Captain R. has been at it for forty years and feels very much hurt. It has made him more interested in our work. Most of the people are very fond of him and take his side."
On the other hand a letter from Castierea records : " The Rector has acted with amazing grace. He is helping us in arranging meetings. He sees we have a way of working of our own, and leaves the meetings entirely to us." Again, from Kilbaha : " The Rev. W. Soresby, Presbyterian, is giving us his church ; I believe he is a regular brick." And from Cork : " The independent minister who has been hindering rather than helping hitherto and the second Presbyterian, Mr. Hunter, came and offered me their pulpits."
A curate, the Rev. Sidney Smith, was a warm supporter. Writing from Ballysokeery Vicarage, Ballina, he says:
" MY DEAR BOBBEE,-My rector has departed for -a tour of five weeks. I am lord of all I survey, with powers to issue letters of marque to any pirate friend to sojourn with me. I can collect a meeting for you of my own people, & I will ask the Presbyterian minister of Ballina to lend his schoolhouse. Also I could ride over & ask the next rector to allow a meeting in Crossmalina."
A few days later Mr. Smith wrote : " I am going in to Ballina to try and arrange about getting the disused Baptist Chapel. As I am a stranger there it will be hard, but if the Lord wills, difficulties vanish." The following letter from my father tells of the result " I felt very low about the meeting in Ballina on Sunday. But after a time alone with the Lord I was quite calm about it. I was posted through the town to preach in the Baptist Chapel. I didn't know anyone in the place, much less any Christian : and as Sidney couldn't come I was alone absolutely.
"Besides all this, summons had been issued to all the clergy to end a convention the Dean in the chair, to drive me out of the place. Well, I found the chapel crowded, and some could not get seats. I had no singing of course. But when the time came I rose and looked at the people ; they had an air that seemed to say, We are not going to be humbugged. I said a few words to any Christians present to say I was one of them, and why I had come, and asked them to join me in prayer for the meeting."
"I then preached the Gospel. The Lord gave great power and clearness, and I had breathless attention. Not one even of those who were standing left, though I spoke for an hour and a quarter. . . . After the meeting several came to ask for another. I had asked the Lord that if this were His will it should come from them."
Three days later he wrote : " The Rector is coming back, so I must clear out. Pray earnestly for Ballina. It is far harder to break down a meeting of the better-class than of poor people." That a great change came over the scene is shown by a letter two years later. Writing from Carramore House, Ballina, he said:
" I expected to be home before this, but every day makes me more unwilling to leave. It is not only that kindness could not do more to make my visit a happy one, but the meetings are most important just now. A set of people are beginning to come in who were never reached before, and there is great life in the Ballina meetings. I had a Bible Reading at Belleek Manor on Tuesday, and Col. Knox Gore, his wife and daughter, were in again at the Gospel meeting. . . . Do you remember Captain Jackson, with whom I am staying? I think he dined with us. The General [General Sir James Jackson, Colonel 6th Dragoon Guards] is away, and I have great exercise riding his chargers."
Sir Richard O'Donnell said that as a result of meetings at Newport there had been ten remarkable conversions ; but he added that owing to opposition from all the priests and parsons it was hard to reach the people. In this connection my father wrote in 1863 from Tullamore:
" I suppose Alfred has told you that there is most determined opposition. . . . The meetings have been stopped in the Barony of -, and Tom Trench now refuses to speak in the neighbourhood at all. He infers that from the etiquette of grouse shooting he is in honour prohibited. At Portarlington I found Mr. Stewart Trench at work. I spoke first and then he gave a pastoral. He said that he expected he would not again address them, as he wished to leave the work to younger men. But he had come to assert their right to meet in that way, as a large and influential body in the county were endeavouring to put an end to such gatherings. He took up all the objections and demolished them. The meeting was crammed, and the people seemed dying to cheer him, for they were determined mined to show that they won't stand priestcraft of this kind."
To this attitude of clergy and ministers in many places the most notable exception was the Rev. Edward Nangle, Rector of Skreen. Of the work in his parish my father wrote at the time:
" We had the school-house crammed with people who never went to Church. Mr. Nangle spoke first ; told them they were good, kind, everything he could wish, but most of them he feared had not Christ ; that his efforts appeared to have failed, and so he had asked me to come._ ` Dear, dear friends,' he said, ` I must see some of you converted.' . . . [Later] Mr. Nangle says that some weeks ago he was praying that God would take him out of the place, but now he would not leave for the fattest living in Ireland. . . . [And again] Mr. Nangle writes that last Sunday the communicants were three times the previous average number, and the parish filled with anxious or rejoicing souls. His joy is refreshing to see ; he says it is new life to him. Formerly his visiting was drudgery ; now it is his greatest pleasure. It is delightful to see how he owns the Lord's work and sets himself aside."
Another letter said that Mr. Nangle had been trying to get the evangelist into several other parishes, but in two cases, although the rectors were personal friends, he had met with peremptory refusals. About that time Dr. Horatius Bonar wrote to my father:
"I rejoice to see that some of the clergymen have thrown themselves into the work. I have observed that in such cases there is more of progress and stability. While God is showing that He can work through any instruments He does not set aside the Ministry, but continues to honour it. When the Minister is a faithful one I always exhort converts to gather round and uphold him. We have amongst us faithful and unfaithful Ministers."
There can be little doubt that in our own day one of the chief reasons for what is called failure and lack of results after evangelistic campaigns is the fact that those who have professed conversion may have to go back to churches where the atmosphere is cold and unsympathetic to the Gospel, and where the new-found joy and zeal of converts meet with discouragement.
Looking back on this story now after eighty years, it would seem that, -on the human side, there were certain definite factors making for permanence, and distinguishing the work from much of the evangelistic effort to which we are accustomed.
Amongst them were probably the entirely undenominational nature of it ; the fact that the financial element was not merely secondary but non-existent ; the absence of hard and fast arrangements as to the length of missions, so that the preachers were free to remain in one town or district as long as they felt led to do so. Then there was the way in which the friends were able to relieve one another when converts seemed in need of further teaching to establish them in the Faith. There were also the return visits time after time to scenes of blessing, just as the Apostles of old " went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the Churches."
Two notes may form an epilogue. The first was sent me by my aunt, Miss F. Lee Anderson, to whom so many of the letters which have been quoted were written:
" At the New Alliance Club last week I met a lady whom I had never seen before. On hearing her name I asked if she was related to a man whom I had known long ago in Ireland. She said he was her husband's uncle and knew Sir Robert Anderson well, and that her husband's father and her own father had both been converted through him."
And this is from my father's diary for 1917 (near the close of his life):
" Reading my old letters to Fanny from Sligo ; was amazed and greatly humbled by the record of the work there."