Distinguished Churchmen and Phases of Church Work/Richard Lewis
Distinguished Churchmen and
Phases of Church Work
THE BISHOP OF LLANDAFF
The Right Rev. Richard Lewis, D.D., Doyen of Welsh Bishops.
CHURCH EXTENSION IN WALES.
“Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land?”—SCOTT.
Troublous Times in Church and Country—Demise of Archbishop Tait and Bishop Ollivant—Dr Benson becomes Primate—Episcopal Vacancies at Truro and Llandaff—Archdeacon of St David's chosen for the Welsh See—New Bishop's Distinguished Welsh Ancestry—Welshmen's Pride in Choice of a Welshman—Their Testimony to His All-round Good Work—G.O.M. of the Church in Wales—Llandaff Palace—His Lordship's Views—Church in Wales no Alien Church—Great on Church Extension—Plain Spoken on Temperance and Education—Why the Bishop nearly resigned the See
“When Mr Gladstone offered me the Bishopric of Llandaff, in 1883, I can honestly say that I did not know he was aware of my existence.”
Such was the frank confession of the Right Rev. Richard Lewis, D.D., the Bishop of Llandaff. The date recalls troublous times, both in the Church and in the country. The Phœnix Park murders and Fenian plots in England, as well as in Ireland, had created one of those astounding sensations such as have all too often burst ruthlessly upon the peace of Europe. Mr Gladstone, in indifferent health as he was, had to submit to what he always regarded as the objectionable precaution of having his every movement closely watched, lest he, like his representatives in Dublin, should fall into the clutches of the assassin. At the same time, as the ordinary duties of the Premiership pressed heavily upon him, he was burdened with the additional responsibility of finding suitable men to fill important vacancies which the indiscriminating hand of death had wrought in the Church. Indeed, the Church was without its titular head. No less high a dignitary than Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, had been gathered unto his fathers, and Mr Gladstone, after protracted consideration, had gained the assent of the Crown to the nomination of Edward White Benson as successor to the throne of St Augustine. His translation from Truro, whence Dr Benson had successfully applied his energy and undoubted ability to the work of resuscitating the ancient Cornish Diocese, caused another vacancy, the call to which fell upon the Rev. G. H. Wilkinson.
But while Dr Benson's enthronement was still only a matter of anticipation, Dr Alfred Ollivant, the Bishop of Llandaff for a third of a century, had passed away, leaving the Prime Minister face to face with the most serious task of all. With regard to Bishops, at anyrate, Wales claims considerations which are not necessarily brought to bear on the motherland side of the border. The language in many parts, though not in all, is distinctly different, and the habits, feelings and modes of thought of a more emotional race than the English are all things to be reckoned with. What more natural than the demand for a Welshman to minister to the spiritual needs of the Welsh? As in all such cases, in the press at the time many names were put forward as fitting successors to a man of the greatest learning and highest attainments. For all that, by the sober-minded it was generally felt that Mr Gladstone might be relied on to appoint somebody who understood the Church in Wales, who knew its language, and who would be prepared to deal in a conciliatory rather than in a provocative spirit with the strong Nonconformist element, white firmly maintaining the just rights of his own Church. Taking a calm, retrospective view of the situation eighteen years after the event, it is safe to assume that a large proportion of the names advanced were never seriously entertained by Mr Gladstone. There is, however, reason to believe that the See of Llandaff was offered to the Bishop of Bangor—perhaps partly on the ground of his knowledge of Llandaff through his early parochial work there, and perhaps partly because of Llandaff's closer proximity to London and the more thickly-populated parts of Wales—and that he declined the opportunity to make an exchange of Sees.
Oddly enough, the suitability of Archdeacon Lewis, of St David's, occurred to very few; yet when it was announced that the Bishopric had been offered to him, the surprise was swallowed up in a concensus of opinion that this was the nominee who, though lost sight of for the moment, possessed all the desired qualifications, and very soon the Archdeacon was literally inundated with communications from enthusiastic Churchmen begging him to accept the vacant office. Many a man would have jumped at the offer. Not so the Archdeacon of St David's. It was like him to treat it with deliberation and circumspection, well knowing the serious responsibility which his acceptance of the high calling would entail—conscious, in fact, that such an office was worthy of only the best of his race, since it placed him in the forefront of those who seek to propagate the influence and emulate the example of the Divine Master. The question was not “Shall I go to Llandaff?” but “Ought I to go? Am I worthy of the call?” Of the Prime Minister's communication the Archdeacon remarked at the time, “No letter ever produced a week of more utter wretchedness. The mental pain and suffering which that letter caused me are known only to God and my own heart.” Mr Gladstone complied with the request for a week's consideration of the offer. Meanwhile, Divine guidance, coupled with the appeals from those in the Diocese of Llandaff to go over and help them, led the Archdeacon to the conviction that his duty in the future lay in shepherding the colliery district of South Wales, and that he must, distressing as it was to sever the ties, quit his “dear old Archdeaconry of St David's.” The decision was hailed with manifest satisfaction by Welsh folk. They were, after all, to have a Bishop after their own heart—a Welshman, speaking the Welsh tongue, habituated as much as any man to Welsh sympathies, and devoid of hankering after extreme ritual.
Welsh the new Bishop certainly was, to the finger-tips. The second son of the late Mr John Lewis, of Henllan, Pembrokeshire, and heir-presumptive to his elder brother, Mr J. L. G. P. Lewis, the then lord of Henllan, he could trace ancestry from Gwynfordd Dyfed, lord of Dyfed or Pembrokeshire, and a descendant of Meurig, the early King of Dyfed. This is tantamount to saying that the family has handed down, unsullied, some of the best Welsh traditions. Among other attributes, Gwynfordd is credited with being a poet, and a friend and contemporary of Howel Dda, who, by death, ceased to exercise an influence for good in his native land towards the close of the tenth century. On the maternal side the Bishop is the representative of an out-and-out loyalist family. He is descended from the distinguished General Poyer, who, in common with other brave men of the time, conspicuously identified himself with efforts to resist the invasion of Cromwell's forces in South Wales, only, as it afterwards transpired, to suffer the degradation of capture in Pembroke Castle—the last fortress held for the king in Wales—and to be shot, with much ostentatious and unnecessary display, in Covent Garden Market, London.
As to the Bishop's early career, the first point to be noted after his birth in Pembrokeshire, in March, 1821, is his education at Bromsgrove, whence he proceeded to Worcester College, Oxford, and became a scholar, taking his B.A. degree in 1843, and his M.A. in 1846. He was admitted to the Diaconate a year after taking the first-named degree, and two years later was ordained priest. With ambitions akin to those of most young men whose means do not restrict them, young Lewis yearned for an acquaintance with places of interest beyond our sea-girt island, a yearning which he to some extent gratified by visits to Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Sicily, a trip up the Nile to the second cataract, a voyage across the desert to Jerusalem, and peeps at Syria, Beyrout and Constantinople. Moreover, quite early in life he was no stranger to Spain. Done with the university as a training institution, the future Bishop proceeded to a curacy in the Diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, and then, in 1851, accepted the Lord Chancellor's gift of the Rectory of Lampeter Velfrey, Pembrokeshire, where he remained until nominated Bishop of Llandaff. During the interval, which was characterised by much earnest parochial work, the Rev. Lewis was called to the prebendal stall of Caerfarchell, in St David's Cathedral, and was subsequently appointed Archdeacon of St David's, Prebendary of Mydrim, and Chaplain to the Bishop of St David's. Coincident with his acceptance of the See of Llandaff, the Bishop received his D.D. degree.
The threefold Consecration of Bishops at St Paul's Cathedral, on April 25, 1883, will not soon be forgotten by those who take an intelligent interest in the affairs of the Church. Dr Benson had but recently been installed Archbishop of Canterbury, and, in the discharge of his responsible duties, he was watched with that critical eye which the public always specially reserves for men new to office. Let it be recorded that the Archbishop acquitted himself with credit, assisted by the Bishops of London, Bangor, Ely, Lichfield, St David's, Newcastle, Bedford and Bloemfontein, and the Archdeacons of London and Middlesex. First among the Bishops for consecration was the Ven. Archdeacon Lewis as Bishop of Llandaff, his presenters being the Bishop of Bangor and the Bishop of St David's. Then followed the Rev. G. H. Wilkinson, destined to take the place of the new Archbishop at Truro as second Bishop of that interesting Diocese, and the Rev. Fox-Sandford, who appeared in obedience to the summons to the Bishopric of Tasmania. There was an immense congregation, and, with regard to the home Bishops at least, there was discernible an endeavour to divide the opportunities of the occasion. For instance, the offertory was devoted to the fund for the erection of Truro Cathedral, the foundation stone of which had been well and truly laid a few years before by His Majesty the King in the dual capacity of Prince of Wales and (mark the appropriateness) Duke of Cornwall. Then, again, the special preacher was the Rev. Francis John Jayne, M.A., Principal of St David's College, Lampeter. Principal Jayne is, of course, better known to us to-day as Dr Jayne, the popular Bishop of Chester.
After paying homage to Queen Victoria at Osborne, the new Bishop in the following May was duly enthroned by the Suffragan Bishop of Dover and Archdeacon of Canterbury in the beautifully-restored parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul—Llandaff Cathedral, which cosily nestles in one of the prettiest of Welsh valleys. At the luncheon afterwards the Bishop happily inaugurated his reign over the See with this significant observation—“My prayer is that we shall all combine, both as Churchmen and Nonconformists, to work harmoniously together, for we have all the same end in view—viz., the salvation of mankind.” The idea—the prayer, properly speaking—struck deep root. It proved to demonstration the breadth of mind of the Bishop, particularly when taken in comparison with the fact that he had previously felt himself justified in signing the memorial to Archbishop Tait in favour of toleration in ritual. That the Bishop, however, was a sturdy defender of the Church and an equally sturdy patriot has always stood unchallenged. It is recalled that on one occasion, before his appointment to Llandaff, he expressed himself thus:—
As well at home as abroad there is growing up a spirit of discontent and unrest, of impatience of all authority, of indifference, if not open hostility, to all forms of religion a spirit which finds utterance in the words of the following stanza:—
Down with the Monarchy, down with the Crown,
Down with the Altar, and down with the Throne,
Down with all tyranny of kingcraft or priest,
And stand by the rights of the people—
which, unless by God's great mercy it be restrained, may ere long issue in a national calamity too terrible to contemplate.
Reverting to the Bishop's surprise on the receipt of Mr Gladstone's autograph letter offering him the See of Llandaff, there are two important events to be noted, which, on the one hand, prove that the people in the Diocese of St David's were convinced that Mr Gladstone had made a wise choice, and which, on the other hand, prove that the people of the Diocese of Llandaff are more than satisfied that the Bishop's labours in their midst have amply justified his appointment. It was not long after the Bishop had settled down to his work in his new Diocese—it happened to be Mr Gladstone's seventy-fourth birthday—that he was besought to attend at the Shirehall, Haverfordwest, to receive what was at once a happy and a sorrowful send-off from friends in Pembrokeshire, who had learned to love him during his thirty years of ministerial service there. The presentation took the form of handsome candelabra and episcopal ring, together with a beautiful illuminated address framed in black and gold, bearing the arms of the Henllan family and those of the Diocese of Llandaff. The text of the address constituted a weighty recognition of the Bishop's work as Archdeacon in Pembrokeshire, on the part of high and low, rich and poor, to whom he had endeared himself. The Bishop's reply revealed something of the diligence with which he had already applied himself to his episcopal duties, for he incidentally confessed to having traversed his Diocese from end to end within the first eight months. “The men of Glamorganshire and of Monmouthshire,” he added, “must have known of the terrible strain which leaving my old home caused me, and they determined that that strain should be felt as little as possible. Both clergy and laity seem to be determined not to be behind those of Pembrokeshire in kindness of heart and cordiality.”
For a moment let a veil be drawn over the important detail work of eighteen long years, in order to present the other picture of a delightful exhibition of gratitude which its results evoked. On March 27 of last year (1901) the Bishop attained his eightieth birthday, and the event synchronised with the completion of eighteen years' episcopal control of the Diocese of Llandaff. Here was fitting opportunity, thought the archdeacons, rural deans and others, to present his lordship with some permanent testimonial of their affectionate respect. Accordingly the Bishop was invited to attend at the Diocesan Registry in Cardiff, where he was made the recipient of a framed illuminated address and the object of congratulatory speeches by the Archdeacon of Llandaff and several of the rural deans, all bearing testimony to the Bishop's wonderful activity for his ripe age, his kindly sympathy, his tact and ready sense for grasping difficulties in a cheerful spirit. The address was really an eloquent tribute of love and esteem.
“The eighteen years of your lordship's episcopate,” wrote the subscribers, “have been years of continuous anxiety. The Church has had to meet persistent attack from within and without; to adapt herself to new conditions which made unforeseen demands on all her resources; and we are thankful that, during these times of stress and strain, the Diocese should have had the inestimable advantage of your lordship's counsel and guidance…. Your lordship has won more than our confidence and admiration. We believe that in your declining years, so blessed with undeclining power, it will be a comfort to you to be assured that you have won the best gift we can give you, that of our deep and respectful affection…. Most earnestly we pray that the ‘good hand of our God upon us’ may long preserve to your lordship the blessings of good health and undiminished powers, and, to the Diocese, the best gift it can ask—the continuance of your wise and fatherly rule.”
With every semblance of admiration people were wont to speak of Mr Gladstone as the G.O.M. of politics. Remembering that it was he who wisely called the Bishop of Llandaff into office, the introduction of a parallel seems not improper. With what material there has been at his command the author presents a pen-picture of the life of the G.O.M. of the Church in Wales, mindful of the influence he has exerted in its interests, and of the lasting good he is handing on to a presumably grateful posterity.
Approached for an interview on the story of the Church in Wales, the Bishop of Llandaff wrote from Henllan, Narberth, naming a day in the month of September for the purpose. At the time, the author recollects, the prevailing feeling in Wales was one of intense gloom, for but a few days before there had occurred, hard by Cardiff, one of those unfortunate colliery disasters which strike terror direct to the hearts of the pitmen, and mercilessly bring sadness, loss, and sometimes ruin, to the homes around. If anything were calculated to dissipate a sorrowful impression such as that, it was a peep at the beautiful grounds of Llandaff Palace on a bright September morning. In the best sense they constitute an earthly paradise, affording ample evidence of his lordship's love for floriculture (of his particular preference for the richly-coloured dahlia), and of the gardener's genius and improving hand. And then there is recalled, with a thirst for a further taste, how much the charm of the surroundings was enhanced by the dulcet notes of the Cathedral bells, wafted from the valley away to the north, as they bore their message of invitation to worshippers to attend matins. What a contrast this happy, peaceful retreat to the roar of traffic, the smoke-bedimmed and depressing conditions of commercial London, from which the author's mission had temporarily drawn him!
About the Bishop, one has to confess to a feeling of deception. The knowledge that his lordship had attained to fourscore years—ten years beyond the Psalmist's allotted span of man's life—had built up a curious anticipatory picture of the condition in which we are accustomed to find men of that age burdened with infirmities, dulled with mental lassitude and afflicted with general decrepitude. His lordship's appearance was indeed a revelation. In him was found a combination of all that cheerful disposition, mental vigour and agile movement characteristic of men full twenty years younger at their best. The fresh, frank features graced with silvery white side whiskers, above which the lofty brow towered, sparsely flanked with similar adornment, the bolt upright ness of a medium-sized frame, and the general indications of muscular strength were those of a wonderfully well-preserved man. In short, there was a complete absence of the hoariness of age and of waning power—mental and bodily.
In the course of the interview in the Palace library, the Bishop treated with marked incredulity the suggestion one so often hears, that the Church in Wales is an alien Church. “It is palpably false,” he observed, warming to the subject. “Why, we are the oldest branch of the Christian Church in Wales. Take the case of Llandaff, the list of Bishops of this Diocese began early in the sixth century, and Bishops have never ceased to be here since that date. The list or chain continues with unbroken links.” To lend weight to his argument, his lordship produced a recent number of the Llandaff Diocesan Magazine, in which some apparently well-informed correspondent deals at length with the early Church influence in Wales.
The effect of it is to show that the Christian religion in Wales owes much to the missionary zeal of particular families, and that the three “blessed families” were those of Cunedda Wledig, Brychan and Caw. Out of a total number of 600 Welsh saints, 150 traced their descent from one or other of these three families. The Brychans were of Irish extraction; the Cuneddas and Caws hailed from North Britain. One of the Cunedda family—St Teilo or St Teleian—became the second Bishop of Llandaff. Up to the end of the seventh century, the name of a church was the designation of the founder, and in most cases the founder, or his representative, was the priest of the church, and made it the centre of worship and teaching to a district not strictly defined. It is well known that of Christian families who so largely helped in founding the English Church, more than one were royal—six abbesses in the East Anglian royal family in two generations, seven grandchildren of the stout pagan Penda of Mercia, abbesses and saints—show how strongly Christian zeal ran in royal families in England. “A royal race in Monmouthshire,” continues the writer, “which vanishes early in the seventh century, dying out in saints, seems to have spread the Gospel and founded churches up as far as Llanwrted, in Breconshire, and, indeed, in the next generation up to Anglesey, and beyond the channel in Cornwall.” The writer had previously referred to the work of Dubricius, first Bishop of Llandaff, the reputed son or godson of Brychan. The mother of Dubricius was the daughter of Pepian, King of Ergyng (or Archenfield, in Hertfordshire), and Pepian's father, Zub, was a younger grandson of the founder of the race of kings who ruled over Gwent Tscoed and Morganwg for 500 years. Pepian's first cousin, Teithfalah, is credited with having built Llandaff Cathedral. St Dubricius resigned the See of Llandaff in 521, and Dr Lewis is his ninety-third successor.
“My own Diocese of Llandaff,” the Bishop observed, “is singular among the Welsh Dioceses in that the population has grown with enormous rapidity, owing to the discovery of coal, which, of course, brought other industries within its borders, such as iron, steel, and tin works. Another result of the discovery of coal is the growth of seaports for its exportation, and in this respect specially to be noted are places like Cardiff, Newport and Barry. You may perhaps know that the Diocese of Llandaff consists of the County of Monmouth and the whole of the County of Glamorgan, excepting the district of Gower, which is in the Diocese of St David's, and in which is situated the very large town of Swansea, also an important seaport. The County of Glamorgan contains 140 entire parishes, besides portions of five others; Monmouth, 120 entire parishes, besides portions of seven others. The area of the Diocese is 863,970 acres, and the population, roughly speaking, a million.”
“Your Cathedral is one of the most ancient in the country, is it not?”
“Yes,” was his lordship's prompt response, and, to show the changes which it has undergone, he straightway fetched from an adjacent apartment a series of interesting sketches representing the Cathedral first in a state of ruin, then with a church built within the original foundations, and, in the third place, the fully-restored Cathedral. “The Bishopric of Llandaff,” he proceeded, “is the oldest of all the Welsh Bishoprics, founded, as I have said, early in the sixth century. When I came into the Diocese, eighteen years ago, I found a terrible lack of church accommodation. My first work was to set on foot a fund, which was given the name of the Bishop of Llandaff's Fund, for the purpose of erecting inexpensive churches in the midst of the great coal populations, and for assisting in the provision of stipends for additional curates. I asked for £50,000, which sum has now been obtained.”
“But is it not a fact that your predecessor, Bishop Ollivant, raised large sums in the interest of the Church?”
The Bishop assented. “When Bishop Ollivant came into the Diocese, in 1849, one of his first works was to set on foot the Llandaff Church Extension Society, the object of which was similar to that of my fund. But that was moving too slowly to keep pace with the needs of the Diocese, and I started this supplementary fund in order to quicken the work. Of course, the Cathedral restoration was begun and completed in Bishop Ollivant's time. Prior to that it was a complete ruin, excepting the Lady Chapel.”
“What was the cost of that restoration?”
“Well, the partial restoration took place about 1788. That consisted of the introduction into the ruined Cathedral of a kind of Grecian temple, of which the architecture was wholly out of keeping with that of the original building. That was entirely removed before the beautiful restoration was commenced in 1851. During my predecessor's time over £30,000 were raised, chiefly in this Diocese.”
“It will be of interest to the public to know something more of this enormous growth of population, and of the way in which the Church has grappled with it?”
“The enormous growth of the population,” said the Bishop, “is sufficiently indicated when I tell you that, at the beginning of the century, there were 150,000 people in this Diocese, and there are very nearly 1,000,000 now. You see, the increased population largely came in from other parts of Wales, and consisted mainly of Nonconformists. The situation struck me so seriously and so forcibly that I was nearly giving up the Bishopric, because I could not see what good I could accomplish while thus badly handicapped. There was such a dearth of churches, affording such limited accommodation, that it seemed impossible to teach and retain those who were already resident Church people. What was to be done with those who were coming into the Diocese, especially the Church people? Take one instance. The Rhondda Valley is one of the great mining districts. At the beginning of the century it had a population of 501; to-day it has at least 100,000. When I came into the Diocese, eighteen years ago, the Church accommodation in that valley was for something like 4000 persons. There is to-day, I suppose, accommodation within it for certainly 15,000, if not more.”
Although his lordship, beyond the bare statement of his inclination, was dumb on the point, the public know that he did not resign his See, and that, to use an expression which has become popularised, he took the bull by the horns, and by so doing by no means found himself upon the horns of a dilemma. Questioned as to the encouragement he received in his determination to grapple with the difficulty, his lordship's face brightened as he replied, “Yes; I was very much encouraged by the response to my appeal for Church extension. The fact that I got the amount I asked for goes to prove that. It is interesting to note that the great coal-field is, for the most part, inside the border of eleven parishes. In 1801 there were eleven churches and eleven clergy. Those parishes have now multiplied into forty-five, and the clergy who minister in them are not less than one hundred. The churches and mission-rooms number 148 or thereabouts. That gives you some idea of the growth of the population on the one hand, and the needs that population represent, together with the efforts that have been made to supply them, on the other.
“In some Dioceses difficulty has been experienced in obtaining the requisite number of clergy. Does that apply to Llandaff?”
The Bishop reflected. “No,” he said, after a pause. “The difficulty is not so acute in Llandaff as in many Dioceses. For instance, next week I shall hold the September ordination, and I shall have no less than forty-four candidates—the largest number that has ever been ordained in this Diocese.”
“Since you have been at Llandaff you have shown yourself not unwilling to admit to ordination erstwhile Nonconformist ministers who have communicated their desire and proved their fitness for admission to the Church?”
“Oh, yes; I may say that since I have been here I have received certainly not less than eighty such applications from Nonconformist ministers, and of these I have accepted about fifteen, most of whom have been ordained, and have for the most part entirely justified my action. Several of them are among the most diligent and effective of my clergy at the present time. What happens is this. After receiving the applications and proofs of such men's bona-fides, I require them to become lay-readers in parishes under incumbents of my own selection, and if after twelve months service I get a good report of their life and ministry as lay-readers, I accept them as candidates for Holy Orders. Of course, they must have read, to my satisfaction, the works which at the outset I have requested them to study.”
“But you have a Theological Training College? Are not such Nonconformist ministers required to pass through that before being admitted to the Church?”
“We have a Theological College in the Diocese for the training of candidates for Holy Orders similar to those at Ely, Cuddesdon, Truro and Wells, which is doing extremely valuable work, but the Nonconformist ministers desiring to become Church of England clergymen are not passed through that. Yes; the Theological College has been established during my episcopate—nine years ago. The principal is Canon Johnson, brother of the Archdeacon of the Central African Mission. The College contains accommodation for twenty- four students, who are principally drawn from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and from St David's College, Lampeter. As regards lay-readers drawn direct from the ranks of Churchmen, they are examined by a chaplain appointed by me, and, on giving satisfaction in Holy Scripture and the Prayer-Book, I license them on the nomination of the clergymen who desire their services to work in particular parishes. That does not entitle them to preach in consecrated buildings. Their sphere of labour is confined to mission churches and school rooms.”
“May it be taken that what your lordship says with regard to the admission of Nonconformist ministers to Holy Orders applies to the Dioceses generally in Wales?”
“No; I don t think it does. I have ordained such men much more largely than any of my Episcopal brethren. Reverting to the mining population, you must not forget to notice a special difficulty that arises. A large proportion of the population is what is called bi-lingual—the people speak two languages—and the result is that in those parishes you require double machinery, as it were. Two churches and two clergy. I might mention that in colliery accidents like that which has just occurred we have had most noble instances of the self-sacrifice of the clergy in attending to the victims, and ministering to their comforts and the comfort of their families. There are men and men, but, take them as a body, our clergy are men most devoted to their work.”
The operation of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales presented a fresh field for inquiry, but his lordship was disinclined to say whether he was or was not convinced that the Act had proved a success. Of course, this is a very debatable subject in the Principality. A story has gone the rounds that the late Lord Aberdare, who was largely concerned in the passing through Parliament of the Welsh Sunday Closing Bill, was subsequently so moved by the results as reported to him as to declare that if he could have foreseen those results he would not have been a party to the promotion of the Bill.
On the question of temperance proper the Bishop of Llandaff holds decidedly rational views.
“I speak very strongly in advocacy of temperance,” he observed, “and I am President of the Diocesan Society for the Promotion of Temperance. I think in promoting the cause of temperance you want temperateness. Many temperance reformers are most intemperate men, and the consequence is that they throw back their cause a long way. The extremely rabid teetotalers are so intolerant that they think that every man who takes alcoholic drinks should be tabooed. The consequence is they put people's backs up. Although legislation may do much to promote temperance, I think it is by moral influence that the great work will be chiefly done, if it is ever done—such as providing healthy recreation for the young, and putting good opportunities in their way as much as possible. Through these means, I believe, more effective promotion of temperance work will be carried out than by legislation. At the same time, I am not opposed to rational legislation; I think it may do much to promote the good work.
On the question of education the Bishop was just as outspoken. “I should really like to have it registered as my opinion that the national schools in the country generally, but especially in Wales, should be dealt with more justly by the Government than they are at the present time, and that this should be done by the Government paying for the secular education in all schools without penalising, as they now do, those religious bodies that wish to have religious instruction introduced according to the beliefs and desires of the parents of the children. That is generally my view on the question. Our schools give the State what the State asks for—viz., efficient secular education. If that is so, why should they not be paid at the same rate as the Board Schools, leaving the religious question to be settled by the religious bodies? We ought to have full payment for that which we give the State. We want justice for the Church Schools. The religious instruction of the Board Schools satisfies the Nonconformists; but we—the Church—are forbidden to use our plan. I made a close study of the question during the thirty-two years I was in the same parish in Pembrokeshire, before coming to Llandaff.”
“But what to your mind is the most interesting phase of Church work in Wales?”
“Well, the Church has grown—in this Diocese enormously. Confirmations are supposed to be a very fair test of Church growth. In the three years preceding my advent to the Diocese, Bishop Ollivant confirmed, roughly speaking, 7000 candidates. In three years of my time I confirmed—in 1895, 4454; in 1896, 4066; in 1897, 4850. If you add those figures together you will observe the improvement. My confirmations for three years total rather less than 14,000 compared with the 7000, for three years, of my predecessor. Just about double, you see. Well, I think the most interesting phase of the work is really the tremendous struggle to grapple with this increase of population, which, on the whole, has been a very successful one. Take the grants made by my fund since its foundation. They amount to £26,672. The total cost of the churches to which those grants were made is £225,680, and the accommodation comprises 45,103 additional sittings. Those are very striking facts. That fund alone has supplied 45,000 sittings, and you may suppose the change that has been made. You observe that we are gradually overcoming that lack of accommodation for Church folk which almost frightened me away when first I came to the Diocese—a lack of accommodation which led me to feel that I could do no good unless I could get the people the necessary places in which to teach them the truth.”
At this stage, the Bishop was compelled to bid a hurried adieu because of the footman's warning that the carriage was waiting. There was, the author thought, something singularly in accord with the fitness of things that this hurried departure of his lordship should be to enable him to take part in a meeting of the Diocesan Church Extension Society at Cardiff.
The author had concluded this chapter when the Ven. Archdeacon Bevan, of the Diocese of St David's, was good enough to forward, by request, his interesting pamphlet on “The Church in the South Wales Coal-Field,” together with other small works bearing on the growth of the Church in Wales generally. The Archdeacon states: “The cases of St David's and Llandaff are, of course, very different. St David's has not much mining population—it is, for the bulk of it, an agricultural region—but it resembles the mining parts of Llandaff in having very large parishes, and from that cause has needed additional churches.” In concluding a series of able articles on the subject of “The Diocese of St David's in the Nineteenth Century,” which appeared in the St David's Diocesan Gazette, Archdeacon Bevan says:—“We feel justified in putting forth a modest claim that the Church has made healthy progress during the latter half of the nineteenth century…. We submit that it has been neither spasmodic nor superficial; but quiet, steady and equable in the various departments of Church work, and that it has been carried on in the face of much discouragement from the attempts of political opponents to displace her from her position as a National Church and cripple her activity in the future. We deny that these attacks prompted the activity which we have described; and affirm, on the contrary, that the motive power has come from within rather than from without, having as its mainspring a higher conception of the Church and her mission than prevailed in the preceding (the eighteenth) century. In these features we discern grounds for believing that the Divine blessing has attended her efforts, and in humble reliance on a continuance of that blessing we enter with hope and confidence on the new century.”