Distinguished Churchmen and Phases of Church Work/William Marlborough Carter

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877439Distinguished Churchmen and Phases of Church Work — William Marlborough CarterCharles H. Dant

"The Bishop of Zululand"
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The Bishop of Zululand
Elliott & Fry



The Right Rev. William Marlborough Carter, D.D.


“O yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill.”—Tennyson.


Setting up the Church in the Home of Warriors—Century's History of Zululand—Early Religious Efforts—Formation of the See of Zululand—Bishop Mackenzie's Lasting Work—Bishop Carter: Out-and-Out Etonian—Aquatic Success at Oxford and Henley—In Charge of Eton Mission in the East End—Condition of the Diocese Eleven Years Ago—Scene of British Valour marked by a Central Church—Zulus and Ancestor Worship—Polygamy a Serious Difficulty—God never intended Blacks and Whites to Marry—Boers and Church Services—War a Hindrance to the Work of the Church—Bishop's Strange Experiences.

Among commercial folk it is not surprising that two distinct sets of opinion range round the question, “Whether war is rightly judged to be an unmitigated evil?” To some trades and professions undoubted blessings, culminating in longed-for prosperity, follow in its train; to others, war affords only the dreaded mantle of depression, seriously felt individually and collectively, it may be for many long, weary months—aye, perhaps years. 284 DISTINGUISHED CHURCHMEN

Socially, there is no question that it is responsible For unparalleled upheaval. Whatever the ulterior advantage derived, then, the immediate results of war certainly do not make for peace, and, sad to behold, its disturbing influences extend even to within the pale of the Church that most valuable of all pacific agencies.

During the last century South Africa has be come a well-known theatre of organised warfare. Tribal risings, often due to incomprehensible causes, have counted for much, and frequently Great Britain has had to interpose to suppress with a firm hand the insurrection movements of uncivilised peoples. More recently, of course, she has been engaged in the most costly war of modern times as the outcome of her endeavour to prevent the complete subjugation of white people to the power of the ambitious Boer race. Thus it may be said that for religious enterprise the field has not been a fair one ; but, in spite of all the attendant difficulties, a praiseworthy attempt has been made to carry on the work of the Church with something like continuity and success. Zululand affords a concrete example.

A fine stretch of land, rough and benefited by streams, containing something like 150 miles of sea board away to the north-east of Natal, Zululand is accounted more healthy than most parts of South Africa, probably because of its height and dryness. As is well known, it is the home of an important


branch of the Bantu family, race members are singularly free from many of the vices characteristic of uncivilised people. Early in the century they were united under a chief named Tshaka, and becoming a source of terror to surrounding peoples, they placed in subjection a good portion of the southern part of Africa. In the seventies Cetewayo that King of varying fortunes was the accepted chief. It will be remembered it was by Zulus under him that a section of the British Army sus tained defeat at Isandhlwana in 1879 ; but, after Rorke s Drift, he paid the penalty by being himself captured at Ulundi. Cetewayo s country was annexed by the British in 1887, and some years later, under Royal warrant, and in accordance with an Act of the Natal Parliament, Zululand was pro claimed a part of the Colony of Natal. How much Zululand has been affected by the present war may be further gathered from the fact that it is or at least was bounded on the west by the South African Republic and Swaziland.

The early religious history of the country forms an interesting story in The Spiritual Expansion of the Empire (published by the S.P.G.). " Bishop Colenso wished to resign his Diocese (Natal) and to head a Mission to Zululand," the author writes. " He paid his first visit to the country, by the aid of a grant from the Society (S.P.G.), in 1859, taking with him seven Kafirs, of whom four were Christians. A station was opened at


Kwamagwaza, which afterwards became famous. The Society now began to help by large grants, both for buildings and for stipends. In 1870 the See of Zululand was formed ; a new station was at once opened at Etaleni, and the Bishop, Douglas Mackenzie, who was consecrated in 1880, had an interview with Cetewayo, who soon afterwards gave great trouble to the whole region. Year after year, rumours of warlike preparations were heard, and much unrest prevailed, but the mission aries remained undismayed at their posts. At length war broke out, and the defence of Rorke s Drift brought out the heroic character of one of the Society s missionaries, the Rev. George Smith. Out of this arose the determination to erect a memorial church and to plant a mission at Isandhl- wana, a Basuto chief, Hlubi, who applied for teachers, erecting a school and residence at a cost of ^250. In 1884, another crisis culminated in the pillage and evacuation of the Mission of Kwamagwaza, St Paul s and Isandhlwana. In 1890 Bishop Mackenzie died, but not before he had made a journey beyond the limits of his Diocese, which led to the establishment of a Bishop and Missions in Delagoa Bay. Bishop Carter quickly filled the vacant place ; the Missions were re-occupied and the work extended. The annexation of Zululand by Great Britain in 1887 (which has been followed in 1899 by its incorpora tion with Natal) brought a large influx of Europeans,


and this has laid on the Church the responsibility of caring for the populations on the goldfields, and the Society has been mindful of its two-fold work and recognised its duty to our colonists."

Bishop Carter, whose address under ordinary circumstances is " Eshowe, Zululand," may be properly described as an out-and-out Etonian. In the first place, he was born at Eton, in 1850, the son of the late Rev. William Adolphus Carter, the well-known Fellow of the College. On the maternal side he could claim, as uncle, the Rev. William Rogers, for many years Rector of Bishops- gate. Born at Eton, it was but natural that he should receive his early education there, and he, doubtless, now regards with pride the fact that he found himself in the same division as three other men who were destined to shine in political, military and Church life respectively, viz., the late Lord Randolph Churchill, General Sir R. Pole- Carew and the late Bishop of Calcutta. As youths, Welldon was junior to Carter. While the present Bishop of Adelaide was Dr Carter s fag, it is interesting to note that the latter, in his turn, was fag to Mr Justice Kennedy. From Eton the Bishop of the future proceeded to Pembroke College, Oxford, where he combined hard study with aquatic exercise, rowing in his College eight, then head of the river, behind Robert Leslie, who distinguished himself as the stroke of the Oxford eight in the inter-University (Oxford


and Cambridge) contest on the Thames. The same two oarsmen, with two other Pembroke men, succeeded in carrying off the Visitors Plate at Henley Regatta. The result of Dr Carter s study at Oxford was that he graduated B.A. in 1873 and M.A. four years later, being ordained both deacon and priest during the interval. For four years he was curate at Christ Church, West Bromwich, and for two years, ending 1880, he occupied a similar position at Bakewell. It was about this time that the Eton boys established their Mission in the East End of London, and at their request Dr Carter assumed charge, continuing so to do (save for one short interval) for ten years. He was nominated Bishop of Zululand in 1891, and was consecrated in St Paul s Cathedral in September of the same year. Five years after wards, his old University conferred upon him the honorary degree of D.D.

��During his visit to this country, on furlough, Bishop Carter accorded an interview on the subject of his work in far-off Zululand, and disclosed some interesting information. His See he described as extending over Zululand, Tongaland, Swaziland, and that portion of the Transvaal including the districts of Utrecht, Vryheid, Piet Relief and, in a more limited sense, the districts of Wakker-


stroom and Ermelo. To make the position quite clear, he explained that the South African province is distinct from the provinces of Canterbury and York, and that, in his case, the oath of canonical obedience had to be taken to the Archbishop of Capetown.

"When I went out in 1891," the Bishop observed, "it was to follow two other Bishops Bishop T. E. Wilkinson, who was consecrated in 1870 and came home in 1874 or 1875 (afterwards to become, as he is now, Bishop Co-adjutor of London for Northern and Central Europe), and Bishop Mackenzie, who commenced his oversight of the Diocese in 1880 and died in 1890. I was Bishop Mackenzie s immediate successor."

" How did you find the country eleven years ago?"

"As regards Church work, I think there were about fifteen clergy and two native deacons. The work was very much on the Natal border of Zululand. The important part of the work now is really more or less on the Natal border. There was some work going on in the Transvaal at the small town of Vryheid, and there was also a mission station on the border of Swaziland. No work had been done in the Tonga country. We made a start there four years ago before Archdeacon Swabey s health broke down ; but we have not been able to restart it, partly because of the war. The country is chiefly inhabited by


Zulus and Swazis. We have got a certain number of white people not a large number- in Zululand ; but hitherto it has been reserved for natives. At the beginning of 1903 it may be thrown open to Europeans. There is religious work going on among Europeans at Ashway, where there is a priest, and at Vryheid and Utrecht. The clergy there at the present time are acting chaplains to the British troops engaged in the South African War. You might say that our endeavour hitherto has been for the most part among the natives."

"And were they quick to appreciate religious teaching ? "

"That is rather a difficult question to answer. In some districts for instance, the Rorke s Drift district there has been a tremendous response. Some 5,000 Christians have been gathered together under Archdeacon Johnson, and he told me only the other day that he had got about 1,000 in his class undergoing preparation for baptism. They would be mostly Zulus, and some, perhaps, from a Basuto tribe. The Zulus up there respond more readily than the Basutos."

It is interesting to note what the author of the S.P.G. book, previously quoted, has to say with reference to the district singled out by the Bishop : " Few more remarkable developments have been seen in our day than the growth of the mission of St Augustine at Rorke s Drift.


Twenty years ago there was not a native Christian in the district, and now there are about 5,000 who are ministered to by native catechists at more than ninety stations under the direction of the Rev. C. Johnson. The mission is dotted over with little chapels, but it was desired that a central church should be built at the historic spot where British valour had so distinguished itself in 1879. The Society (the S.P.G.) gave ^1,000, and every Christian in the mission contributed, and when the foundation stone was laid in 1898, twenty- two congregations came in with their banners from their outlying stations to join in the service. There were 358 communicants, and after the service 2 1 1 catechumens were baptized."

" What did you find were the faiths of these people, my lord ? "

" Practically, they had none. They were given to ancestor worship, or ancestor propitiation more than worship, I think. But they had not got what they called a religion only what you might call a superstition. Of course, polygamy is the greatest difficulty we have to contend against. The younger people certainly seem willing to accept Christianity and to give up the customs and superstitions common among the older people ; but their tendency to change meets with the resent ment of the latter. I don t think they quite realise what Christianity is. They believe there is some thing higher and better than they have been accus-


tomed to it is a sort of aspiration with them but at the same time they don t quite know what it is. Then civilisation comes in. The natives, it has been discovered, are very keen about learning to read and write. A good many of the younger boys are pupils at our training schools in Isandhlwana, where there are about forty boys being taught with a view to their becoming teachers, possibly clergymen."

" Then is the idea to build up a native church in Zululand in the future ? "

" Ah ! that would take a long time. However, I believe most firmly that the conversion of the people if they are to be won over for Christ will come largely through their own native teachers. We do use such teachers now under the name of native catechists. There are also two native priests. One of the great difficulties of the Church in the future, I believe, will be found in the distinction drawn between the white and black people. Let me make my meaning clear. I don t think we shall ever get the white people to worship with the black at any rate, the chances of such an event are very remote. Then I don t think God ever intended the black and white races to inter-marry, and, that being so, there can never be social equality. It is best so. In cases where white men have married black women, the men have been despised and looked down upon by both white and black


people. You see, the idea is repugnant to the black as well as to the white races. People can never mix socially if there is a tremendous barrier between them. That discovery was made long ago in India. Here we are confronted with an insurmountable difficulty. We are quite con scious of it ; but it is not a point upon which we can lay down the law."

"Has any effort been made to prevent such marriages ? "

" No ; you see there is no law against them."

" You spoke, first of all, of polygamy as con stituting a great difficulty. To what extent is that indulged in ? "

"The chief offenders are the Swazis, Zulus and Tongas. There is really no limit to the number of wives which a man can take to himself, except it be in his degree of wealth. It is the custom for the native man seeking marriage to give to the woman s father an agreed number of head of cattle. On that basis it is evident that the rich man can have more wives than the poor man. But there has been great difficulty experienced in that respect lately because of the cattle being affected by rinderpest."

" How many head of cattle is a coloured wife considered to be worth ? "

"The Government passed a law making ten head of cattle the recognised payment for each wife. But the original idea was very different. Formerly, the intending husband never paid to the prospective


father-in-law the whole of the cattle demanded, and, in the parental eye, that arrangement answered satisfactorily, because then the father-in-law had some sort of hold upon the man who took his daughter. But the Government made it clear that no marriage was legal unless the specified number of cattle were paid ; and such a stringent regulation naturally tended to keep down the number of wives of individuals. Only in that sense is polygamy undergoing suppression by the Govern ment. Some people think it would be a wise course on the part of the Government if it bestirred itself to greater activity with regard to the matter, and made polygamy a punishable offence. But I am not so sure about that. It would cause a big uproar for certain ; and I think, all circumstances considered, it is better for the custom to die out than for it to be forced out."

"What are your other difficulties? Are the natives addicted to drink ? "

" No ; I should not point to intemperance as one of the besetting sins. They have what are called Beer Drinks/ when a lot of them congregate, but that is generally only on occasions when there is some cause for rejoicing such, for instance, as a native marriage, or when they are harvesting the crops of Amabele the product of the land out of which they make their beer ( Ishwala ). Some of our clergy do try to stamp out these habits of drinking, and some of our native teachers are


particularly opposed to the touching of Ishwala under any circumstances. The authorities are very strict in Natal and Zululand about the sale of European liquor to the natives. The law is opposed to it, and, happily, the authorities are very strictly enforcing it."

" Do you find that the natives are friendly disposed towards spiritual work ? "

" Quite so, I think. There is a certain amount of opposition to be endured from the old chiefs. A large number of the natives, you may be in terested to know, go to work in big towns, such as Johannesburg, Durban, Maritzburg and Kimberley. The Zulus, as a rule, do not like work under ground ; they like being policemen, or occupying some positions above-ground. The main body of men who work underground in the mines at Johannesburg come from the East Coast. The Zulus, by the way, are very honest people, and are quick to imitate the habits of the whites. Wheat cultivation goes on at the mission centres ? As a rule, though, the ordinary natives do not grow much for themselves. The women do the work about the farms, homes, etc., and it follows that the more wives a man has the more work he can get done. At the mission centres, however, the men do much more, using ploughs and looking after the oxen. Some of the other natives are beginning to use ploughs that means the men work rather than the women. In the old days every Zulu was


a soldier, and fought under his own chief each regiment having a different name. All that organisation is destroyed, and the Zulus may not now carry arms. The Swazis are the only people to whom that privilege is granted. They have not been under British rule, but they will be now, I suppose, as the result of the war. They have hitherto been under the power of the Transvaal Government, from which they obtained their customs and laws. The future of our work depends very much upon our schools. Towards these the Government grant last year was ^"600 or thereabouts."

" Does slavery obtain in any form among the Zulus?"

" No ; Zulus have never been slaves, and they would never stand slavery in any degree. People from the West Indies are prone to argue erroneously with regard to the status of slavery in South Africa. To Zululand such arguments do not apply. In some parts of South Africa the Dutch have slaves, as they had at the beginning of last century, but the Zulus and Sjwazis have never been slaves, and that makes an enormous difference, and facilitates the progress of Christianity."

"You have spoken of the chiefs opposed to Christian work. Under what conditions do you enter their spheres of influence ? "

" In Zululand, for instance, the Government will not allow us to start work in a district if


the chief is opposed to it. The power of the chiefs in Zululand is still great, but it is being broken down a good deal by the fact of the young men going out to big centres to earn a livelihood, and returning more independent in character and position."

"You have been in Zululand eleven years. Will you say something about the progress of Christian work and sympathy ? "

" Well, in comparison with the statistics which I gave you earlier in the interview, I may tell you that we have now twenty-three clergy, two native priests and three native deacons. It is difficult to say exactly how the Church is growing. Since the war began the work has been unsettled in certain parts of the Diocese, and we have been unable to get into Swaziland. Every effort is being made to propagate scriptural knowledge. We have the Bible and the Prayer-book in the Zulu language, which would also be understood by the Swazis and by the Tonga men, though not by the Tonga women. The languages of the Zulus and Swazis are much the same in fact, there is not so much difference as between English as spoken in London and in Yorkshire. Already we have a print ing press, in the use of which native boys are being taught, and we issue a Zulu paper."

Invited to relate some of the direct effects of the present war on the work and influence of the Church in the Zululand Diocese, Bishop Carter mentioned


some remarkable incidents. Up to the time hostili ties commenced, it appeared the Boers had been very good to the English clergy, and even after the outbreak of war they displayed no marked antipathy towards them. A case in point was that of a Mr Mercer, one of the mission staff, who, on the Swazi land border at a place called Enblozona con tinued to labour until last March, when he was taken away by the British troops as they went East. Since then the place has been looted. More recently in the Rorke s Drift and Itala districts Church work has been terribly upset and hindered through the ravages of war. Fortunately, the Bishop himself has been preserved from personal injury and grave risk ; but on two occasions he has had unpleasant experiences, and suffered loss of pro perty in the shape of horses. On one occasion while in the neighbourhood of Vryheid the Boers decamped with his cart horses, and at another time while fulfilling diocesan engagements at Kwa- magwaza the enemy approached his quarters at night and again relieved him of his horses. How ever, the Bishop lightly passed the matter by with the philosophical observation, " Horses are fair game in time of war, I suppose ! We had to walk instead of ride, that was all ! " The Bishop saw a good deal of the British troops at places such as Utrecht, Vryheid, Itala, and Rorke s Drift. Of the pros and cons of the war he could not reasonably be expected to speak when due


regard is had to his capacity of Bishop of an affected Diocese ; but Dr Carter was frank in his expression of concern as to the result of the war on the faith of the Boers. Before the still waging conflict set up a barrier against even religious unity among the interested races, it was no un common thing to find Boers present at Church of England services, and it is somewhat touching to recall that Church services used regularly to be held at the house of Mrs Louis Botha, who was confessedly a member of the Church of England. The fact grows in importance, when the existence of the Dutch Reform Church is borne in mind.

In conclusion, the Bishop, who had taken care to acknowledge the help afforded his Diocese by the S. P.G., predicted vast future opportunities for the Church in Zululand. His conviction is that the country, with its wealth of minerals, etc., will develop very much, and that when war shall have given place to peace, there will commence a marked increase of European population.

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