SAUL-STREET PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL.
There is nothing very time-worn about Methodism; it is only 140 years old; but during that period its admirers have contrived to split numerous hairs, and have extended very fairly what is known as "the dissidence of dissent." The ring of Methodism includes many sections: it embraces, amongst others, ordinary Wesleyans, Bryanites, New Connectionists, Primitives, United Free Church men, and Independent Methodists. They can't all be right; but they think they are; and that is enough. They have as yet requested nobody to be responsible for them; and weighing that over well, the fairest plan is to let the creed of each alone—to condemn none, to give all legitimate chance, and permit them to "go on." Antique simplicity seems to be the virtue of those whom we have now to describe. And yet there is nothing very ancient about them. There is more in the sound than in the name of primitive Methodists. They are a comparatively young people with a somewhat venerable name. It was not until 1810 that they were formed into a society. Originally they were connected with the Wesleyan Methodists; but they disagreed with them in the course of time, and left them eventually. The immediate cause of separation was, we are informed, a dispute as to the propriety of camp meetings, and the utility of female preaching. The Wesleyans couldn't see the wisdom of such meetings nor the fun of such preaching: probably they thought that people could get as much good as they would reasonably digest in regular chapel gatherings, and that it was quite enough to hear women talk at home without extending the business to pulpits. The Primitives believed otherwise—fancied that camp meetings would be productive of much Christian blissfulness, and thought that females had as much right to give pulpit as caudle lectures. With a chivalry nearly knightly they came to the rescue, and gave woman a free pass into the regions of language and theology. A third point of difference had reference to the representative character of Wesleyan conferences; but into that question we need not enter.
The first regular quarters of Preston Primitive Methodism were in Friargate, in a yard facing Lune-street—in a small building there, where a few men with strong lungs and earnest minds had many seasons of rejoicing. The thermometer afterwards rose; and for some time a building which they erected in Lawson-street, and which is now used as the Weavers' Institute, was occupied by them. Often did they get far up the dreamy ladder of religious joy, and many a time did they revel with a rich and deafening delightfulness in the regions of zeal there. They were determined to "keep the thing warm," and to let outsiders know that if they were not a large, they were a lively, body. Primitive Methodism does not profess to be a fine, but an earnest, thing—not a trimmed-up, lackadaisical arrangement, but a strong, sincere, simple, enthusiastic species of religion. It has largely to do with the heart and the feelings; is warm-natured, full of strong, straightforward, devotional vigour; combines homeliness of soul with intensity of imagination; links a great dash of honest turbulence with an infinitude of deep earnestness; tells a man that if he is happy he may shout, that if under a shower of grace he may fly off at a tangent and sing; makes a sinner wince awfully when under the pang of repentance, and orders him to jump right out of his skin for joy the moment he finds peace; gives him a fierce cathartic during conversion, and a rapturous cataplasm in his "reconciliation." Primitive Methodism occupies the same place in religion as the ballad does in poetry. It has an untamed, blithesome, healthy ring with it; harmonises well with the common instincts and the broad, common intuitions of common life; can't hurt a prince, and will improve a peasant; won't teach a king wrong things; is sure to infuse happiness amongst men of humbler mould. Its exuberance is necessary on account of the materials it has to deal with; its spiritual ebullitions and esctacies are required so that they may accord with, and set all a-blaze, the strong, vehement spirits who bend the knee under its aegis. Primitive Methodism has reached deeper depths than many other creeds—has touched harder, wilder, ruder souls than nearly "all the isms" put together. It may not have made much numeric progress, may not have grown big in figures nor loud in facts, but it has done good—has gone down in the diving bell of hope to the low levels of sin, and brought up to the clear rippling surface of life and light many a pearl which would have been lost without it. Primitive Methodism is just the religion for a certain class of beings just the exact article for thousands who can't see far ahead, and who wouldn't be able to make much out if they could. There are people adoring it who would be stupid, reticent, and recalcitrant under any other banner, who would "wonder what it all meant" if they were in a calmer, clearer atmosphere—who would be muddy-mottled and careless in a more classical and ambrosial arena. After this learned morsel of theorising, we shall return to the subject.
In 1836 the Primitive Methodists left their Lawson-street seminary and pitched their tent eastwards—on a piece of land facing Saul- street and flanking Lamb-street. Its situation is pretty good, and as it stands right opposite, only about eight yards from, the Baths and Washhouses, we would suggest to the Saul-street brethren the propriety of putting up some sign, or getting some inscription made in front of their chapel, to the effect that "cleanliness is next to godliness," and that both can be obtained on easy terms. The chapel is a very ordinary looking building, having a plain brick front, with sides of similar material, and a roof of Welsh slate, which would look monotonous if it were not relieved on the western side by 19 bricks and two stones, and on the eastern by four stones, one brick, and a piece of rod-iron tacked on to keep a contiguous chimney straight. The chapel has a somewhat spacious interior; and has a large gallery fixed on six rather slender iron pillars. The pews have at some time had one or more coats of light delicate green paint—the worst colour which could be chosen for endurance—put upon them, and many are now curiously black at the rear, through people leaning back against them. A glance round shows the various sombre places, and their relative darkness gives a fair clue as to the extent of their use.
At one end there is a small gallery for the choir and the organ, and in front of it the pulpit, a plain moderately-subtantial affair, is located. The organ is a very poor one. It has a tolerably good appearance; but it is a serious sinner with reference to its internal arrangements. We quietly examined it very recently, and should have gone away with a determination not to be comforted if an intimation had not been made to the effect that "the organist was organising a plan for a new organ," and that there was some probability of a better instrument being fit up before very long. The members of the choir are of a brisk, warbling turn of mind, and can push through their work blithely. The singing is thoroughly congregational—permeates the whole place, is shot out in a quick, cheerful strain, is always strong and merry, is periodically excellent, is often jolly and funny, has sometimes a sort of chorus to it, and altogether is a strong, virtuously-jocund, free and easy piece of ecstacy which the people enjoy much. It would stagger a man fond of "linked sweetness long drawn out," it might superinduce a mortal ague in one too enamoured of Handel and Mozart; but to those who regularly attend the place, who have got fairly upon the lines of Primitive action, it is a simple process of pious refreshment and exhileration.
The chapel will hold between 700 and 800 persons; if hydraulicised 1000 might be got into it; but such a number is rarely seen in the place; and the average attendance may be set down at about 600. There are about 400 members in connection with the place, and they respectively contribute 1d. per week towards the expenses. We may here remark that in Preston there are two Primitive Methodist chapels, that in Saul-street being the principal one. The "circuit" runs mainly westward, its utmost limit in that direction being Fleetwood. Formerly three ministers were stationed at Saul-street chapel; but two are now considered sufficient; and they are, as a rule, married men, the circuit being considered sufficiently large to keep parties in the "olive branch" category. In the whole circuit there are between 700 and 800 "members." The congregation of Saul- street chapel is almost entirely of a working-class character. In the front and on each side of the body of the building there are a few free seats, which are mainly used by very poor humble-looking people.
The ministers are the Rev. J. Judson, who is the superintendent, and the Rev. W. Graham. They are paid on a systematic and considerate plan. Money is given to them to accordance with the number of their family. They get so much per head—the more numerous the family and the larger the pay becomes. But it is not very extraordinary at the best of times; and if even a preacher happened to have a complete houseful of children, if his quiver were absolutely full of them, he would not be pecuniarly rich. The bulk of Primitive Methodist preachers are taken from the working classes, and the pay they receive is not more than they could earn if they kept out of the ministry altogether. They become parsons for the love of "the cause," and not for loaves and fishes. Reverting to Mr. Judson, it may be said that he is a quiet, earnest, elderly, close-shaven, clerical looking gentleman—has a well-defined, keen solemnity on his countenance, looks rather like a Catholic priest in facial and habilimental cut, is one of the old school of Primitive preachers, is devout but not luminous, good but not erudite, is slow and long- drawn in his utterances, but he can effervesce on a high key at intervals, and can occasionally "draw out" the brethren to a hot pitch of exuberance. His general style is sincere; he means well; but his words, like cold-drawn castor oil, don't go down with overmuch gusto.
The junior preacher—Mr. Graham—is more modernised in manner and matter. He is an earnest, thoughtful, plodding man, can preach a fair sermon tears a little sometimes, and can "bring down the house" in tolerably good style. Both of them are hard workers, both are doing good, and neither must be despised on account of humility of position. Primitive, like Wesleyan, preachers are changed periodically; superintendents can, under certain conditions, stay at one place for three years, but no longer; junior men have to cut their straps every two years. Since this description was first published both the ministers named have gone; the Rev. Thomas Doody having succeeded as superintendent, and the Rev. John Hall as junior. Mr. Doody is a middle-aged gentleman, is a pretty good preacher, has considerable zeal in him, and fires up more energetically than his predecessor. Mr. Hall is a young man with a rather elderly look. His style is discursive, his lucid intervals not as electrical as those of some Primitive parsons, but he is a good fellow, and if he had more physical force and more mental condensation be would "go down" better.
There are numerous collections, some fixed, and some incidental, at Saul-street, and on special occasions they can raise sums of money which would put to the blush the bulk of loftier and more "respectable" congregations. Not much time is lost by the Saul- street Primitives: every Monday evening they have preaching at the place; on Tuesday evening three or four class meetings, in which singing, praying, and talking are carried on; on Wednesday ditto; on Thursday evening the singers work up their exercises; on Friday evening there is a meeting of leaders, or committee men; on Saturday evening a band of hope meeting; and on Sundays they are throng from morning till night. Their prayer meetings are pious and gleeful affairs. Throughout the whole of such gatherings, and in fact generally when prayer is being gone on with, the steam is kept well up, and the safety valve often lifts to let off the extra pressure. Sharp shouts, breezy "Amens," tenderly-attenuated groans, deep sighs, sudden "Hallelujahs," and vivacious cries of "Just now," "Aye," "Glory," "Yes," "Praise the Lord," &c.—all well meant— characterise them. But prayer meetings are not half so stormy as they used to be; twenty or thirty years since they were tremendously boisterous; now, whilst a fair amount of ejaculatory talk is done at them, they are becoming comparatively quiet, and on Sundays only a few of the old-fashioned and more passionately devoted members make noises. Love feasts are held occasionally at Saul-street as at all other Primitive Methodist chapels. The "members" give their "experience" at these gatherings—tell with a bitter sorrow how sinful they once were, mention with a fervid minuteness the exact moment of their conversion, allude to the temptations they meet and overcome, the quantity of grace bestowed upon them, the sorrows they pass through, and the bliss they participate in. We have heard men romance most terribly at some of these love feasts; but we are not prepared to say that anybody does so at Saul-street Chapel.
Immediately adjoining the chapel there is a large and well made building, which has only been erected about two years. The lower portion of it is used for class rooms; the upper part is appropriated for Sunday school purposes. The average attendance of scholars is 350. Belonging the school there is a good library. The building cost about 1,000 pounds and is entirely free from debt. Considering everything the Saul-street Primitives are doing a praiseworthy work; they may lack the spiciness and finish of more fashionable bodies; they may have little of that wealthiness about them which gives power and position to many; but they are a class of earnest, useful, humble souls, drawing to them from the lowly walks of life men and women who would be repelled by the processes of a more aesthetic and learned creed. We have a considerable regard for Primitive Methodism; in some respects we admire its operations; and for the good it does we are quite willing to tolerate all the erratic earnestness, musical effervescence, and prayerful boisterousness it is so enamoured of.
ST. IGNATIUS'S CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Catholicism owes much to the Jesuits; and, casuistically speaking, the Jesuits owe their existence to a broken leg. Ignatius of Loyola was their founder. He was at first a page, then a soldier, then got one of his legs broken in battle, was captured and confined as an invalid, had his immortal leg set and re-set, whiled away his time whilst it was mending in reading romances, got through all within his reach, could at last find nothing but the Lives of the Saints, had his latent religious feelings stirred during their perusal, travelled to different places afterwards, and at last established the order of Jesuits—an order which has more learning within its circle than perhaps any other section of men, which has sent out its missionaries to every clime, has been subjected to every kind of vicissitude, has been suppressed by kings and emperors, ostracised by at least one Pope, and shouted down often by excited peoples in the heated moments of revolution; but which has somehow managed to live through it all and progress. The men fighting under the standard of Ignatius have a tenacity, a mysterious irrepressibleness about them which dumfounds the orthodox and staggers the processes of ordinary calculators. In Preston we have three churches, besides an auxiliary chapel, wherein priests of the Jesuit order labour. By far the largest number of Preston Catholics are in charge of those priests, and the generality of them don't seem to suffer anything from the "tyranny"—that is the phrase some of us Protestants delight to honour—of their supervision. They can breathe, and walk about, laugh, and grow fat without any difficulty, and they are sanguine of being landed in ultimate ecstacy if they conduct themselves fairly.
In a former article we referred to one of the Catholic churches in this town—St Wilfrid's—which is looked after by Jesuit priests—on this occasion we purposely alluding to another—St. Ignatius's. The Catholics in the district of this church are very strong; they number about 6,000; are mainly of a working-class complexion; and are conveniently and compactly located for educational and religious purposes. Catholics are so numerous in the neighbourhood—are so woven and interwoven amongst the denizens of it—that it is a good and a safe plan never to begin running down the Pope in any part of it. Murphyites and patent Christians fond of immolating Rome, &c., would have a very poor chance of success in this district. The church of St. Ignatius stands in the square which bears its name. The first stone of the edifice was laid on the 27th of May, 1833: to 1858 the church was enlarged, and in the course of the re-opening services the famous Dr. Manning (now Archbishop of Westminster) preached a sermon. The building is erected in the "perpendicular English" style of architecture—literally, a very general thing, the horizontal style being yet unworkable; is railed round; and has a dim, quiet elegance about its exterior. At the southern end there is a tower, with a spire, (surmounted by a cross) above it; the total height being 120 feet, It may be information to some people when we state that the first spire attached to any place of worship in Preston, was that we now see at St. Ignatius's. Indeed, up to 1836, it was the only spire which could be found between the Ribble and the Lune. Spires have since sprang up pretty numerously in Preston; but there was a time, and not very long since either, when the line in the well known doggrel verse "High church and LOW STEEPLE" was descriptively correct. The original cost of St. Ignatius's church, with the adjoining priests' house, was about 8,000 pounds and of that sum upwards of 1,000 pounds was raised by small weekly offerings from the poor. The church has got an outside clock with three faces, and they would sustain no injury whatever if they were either washed or re-gilt. We don't think the clock would "strike" against such a thing. The enlargement of the church, which was at the chancel end, cost about 3,000 pounds, and the money was quite ready when the job was finished.
The building is cruciform in shape, and has a fine interior—is lofty, capacious, and cathedral-like. The high altar is very choice and beautiful; and the contiguous decorations are profuse and exquisite. The painting is rich and elaborate, and the most frigid soul, if blessed with even a morsel of artistic taste, would be inclined to admire it. There is a large window behind the altar, and it is a very handsome affair; but it is rather too bright—flashes and crystalises a little too strongly; and needs a deeper tone somewhere to make it properly effective. Not very far from the pulpit, which is massive, elegant, and calculated to hold the stoutest priest in the country, there are two large statues, standing on tall stone columns—opposite each other—at the sides of the nave. One of them represents St. Joseph, and the other, we believe, St. Ignatius. Not very far from this part of the building there used to be a statue of St. Patrick; but it was removed to one side, awhile since, either to make room for some other ornament, or to edify those belonging "ould Ireland" who may happen to sit near its present position. Towards the higher end, and on each side of the church, there is an opening, projecting back several yards. A gallery occupies each of these spaces, and beneath there are seats. The roof of the nave, which is finely decorated, depends upon parallel stone columns; but they are rather heavy—are massive and numerous enough to support another church, if ever one should be erected above the present edifice. The seats are of plain stained wood, and the doors are gradually disappearing. Open seats are desiderated and whenever the opportunity occurs, the doors are attacked. Some of the pews have doors to them, and so long as the present occupiers hold their sittings in them they will not, unless it is requested, be disturbed; but as soon as they leave, the doors will be quietly taken off and either sold, or judiciously split up, or quietly buried.
Adjoining the chancel there are four of those mystic places called confessionals. The other evening we were in every one of them, viewed them round from head to foot, asked a priest who was with us the meaning of everything visible, and left without noticing in any of them anything to particularly fret at. "Confession is good for the soul," we are told; and by all means let those who honestly believe in it "go the entire figure" without molestation or insult. Every morning, on week days, there is mass in the church at seven, half-past seven, and eight o'clock; every Friday evening there is benediction; and on Sundays a great business is done—at eight, nine, ten, and eleven, in the forenoon, at three in the afternoon, and at half-past six in the evening, there are masses, combined more or less with other ceremonies. The "proper services" are understood to be at eleven and half-past six. The nine and ten o'clock masses are by far the best attended; partly because they appear to be more convenient than the others, and partly because the work is cut comparatively short at them. Human nature, as a rule, can't stand a very long fire of anything, doesn't like to have even too much goodness pushed upon it for too long a time, believes in a very short and very sweet thing. It may have to pay more for it, as it has at the ten o'clock mass on a Sunday, at St. Ignatius's—for the price of seats at that time is just double what it is at any other; only the work is got through sharply, and that is something to be thankful for. School children have the best seats allotted to them at the mass just named, and the wealthiest man in the place occupying the most convenient seat in it has to beat a mild retreat and take his hat with him when they appear. The more fashionable, and solemnly-balanced Catholics attend the services at eleven and half-past six. They are made of respectable metal which will stand a good deal of calm hammering, and absorb a considerable quantity of virtuous moisture. At this, as at all other Catholic chapels, the usual aqueous and genuflecting movements are made; and they are all done very devotedly. More water, we think, is spilled at the entrance, than is necessary; and we would recommend the observance of a quiet, even, calm dip—not too long as if the hand were going into molasses, nor too fleetingly as if it had got hold of a piece of hot iron by mistake.
At ten and three on Sundays the music is sung by a number of girls, occupying one of the small galleries, wherein there is an organ which is played by a nun. The singing is sweet, and the nun gets through her work pleasantly. The Catholic soldiers stationed at Fulwood Barracks make St. Ignatius's their place of devotional resort. They attend the nine o'clock Sunday morning mass, and muster sometimes as many as 200. One of the finest sights in the church is that which the guilds of the place periodically make. On the first Sunday in every month the girls' and women's guilds, numbering about 600 members, attend one of the morning masses; on the third Sunday in each month the members of the boys' and men's guilds, numbering between 400 and 500, do like-wise. Fine order prevails amongst them; numerous captains are in command; special dresses are worn by many of the members; some of the girls are in white; all the members wear sashes, crosses, &c.; and, after entering, their bright golden-hued banners, are planted in lines at the ends of the seats, giving a rare and imposing beauty to the general scene. The church will hold about 1,000 persons; and the complete attendance on a Sunday is about 3,500. The congregation is principally made up of working- class people, and they have got a spirit of devotion and generosity within them which many a richer and more rose-watered assembly would do well to cultivate.
There are four priests at St. Ignatius's, and in addition to the duties discharged by them in the church, they have special departments of labour to look after outside it. Father J. Walker, the principal priest, superintends the female guilds, and visits the soldiers at the Barracks; Father R. Brindle attends to the male guilds; Father Boardman hangs out an educational banner, and has the management of the various schools; the fourth priest officiates as auxiliary. Wonders used to be worked in this district by the Rev. Father Cooper—an indefatigable, far-seeing, mild-moving man, in very plain clothes, who could any time get more money for religious and educational purposes than half a score of other priests. He was always planning something for the improvement of the district; was always looking after the vital end—the money; and was always bringing in substantial specimens of the current coin. He included Protestants among his supporters; people who in nine cases out of ten would give to nobody else—were always calmly tickled and trotted into a generous mood by him. St. Ignatius's district was stirred into full and active life by Father Cooper; he extended and elaborated the church; improved the schools greatly; touched with the wand of progress everything belonging the mission; and the Catholics of the neighbourhood may thank all their stars in one lot for his 15 years residence amongst them. A man like Father Cooper was bad to follow; it was no easy matter putting his shoes on and walking in them regularly through the district; but his successor— Father Walker, who has seen something of the world, has done service in the West Indies, has fought with mosquitoes, confronted black and yellow fever, preached to dark men and soldiers, and made himself moderately acquainted with the hues and habits of butterflies, centipedes, and snakes, if the museum at Stonyhurst College is anything to go by, was not the priest to be either disheartened or ignored.
Father Walker is a locomotive, wiry, fibrous man—full of energy, wide awake,—tenacious, keenly perceptive; could pass his sharp eye round you in a second and tell your age, weight, and habits; could nearly look round a corner and say how many people were in the next street; has a touch of shrewd, sudden-working humour to him; can stand a joke but won't be played with; has a strong sense of straightforwardness; is tall, dark complexioned, weird-looking, wears bushy hair, which is becoming iron grey, and uses a thin penetrating pair of spectacles. He has been at St. Ignatius's for two-and-a-half years; the decorations in the church are mainly due to him; and he has earned the respect and affection of the people. His style of preaching is clear, sonorously-sounding, and vigorous— is not rhetorically flashy, but strong, impetuous, and full of energy. The ardour of his nature makes his utterances rapid; but they are always distinct, and there is nothing extravagant or tragic in his action. He is a clear-headed, determined, sagacious man, and would be formidable, if put to it, with either his logic or fists.
Father Brindle, who has been at the church about ten years, is a quiet, mildly-flowing, gently-breathing man; has nothing vituperative or declamatory in his nature; works hard and regularly; has an easy, gentle, subdued style of preaching; but knows what common sense means, and can infuse it into his discourses. If he had a little more force he would be able to knock down sinners better. The oracle can't always be worked with tranquillity; delinquents need bruising and smashing sometimes. Father Boardman—an active, unassuming sort of gentleman—has been at the church for about a year. He is quick in the regions of education and literature; knows much about old and new books; has a lively regard for ancient classical and religions works; is perhaps better acquainted with the 26,000 volumes in Stonyhurst College library than anybody else; likes to preach on tuitional questions; has a mortal dislike of secular education. He is plodding, intelligent, up to the mark in his business, and if 50 changes were made it is quite probable no improvement would be made upon him.
Father Baron comes next. When we visited St. Ignatius's he had only been there a few weeks, and since then he has gone to some place near London. For a long time Father Baron was at Wakefield, and during his stay there he officiated as Catholic chaplain of the gaol. He was the first priest in the kingdom who made application, under the Prison Ministers Act, for permission to hold regular gaol services. In Wakefield he earned the respect of all classes; and there was general regret expressed when it became known he had to leave. Protestants as well as Catholics liked him, and, if he had stayed in Preston, the very same feeling would have been created. He is just about the most fatherly and genial man we have seen; has a venerated, rubicund, cozy look; seems like the descendant of some festive abbot or blithesome friar; makes religion agree with him— some people are never happy unless they are being tortured by it; has hit upon the golden mean—is neither too ascetical nor too jocund; is simply good and jolly; has ever so much vivacity, sprightliness, and poetic warmth in his constitution; can preach a lively, earnest, sermon; has a strong imitative faculty; is brisk in action; can tell a good tale; is fine company; would'nt hurt anybody; would step over a fly rather than kill it unkindly; and is just such a man as we should like for a confessor if we were a believer in his Church. He has been succeeded by Father Pope, who is no relative of the old gentleman at Rome, but is we believe, a nephew of the celebrated Archbishop Whately.
All the priests at St. Ignatius's avoid in their discourses that which is now-a-days very fashionable—attacking other people's creeds. A person who has regularly attended the church for twenty years, said to us the other day that he had never heard one sermon wherein a single word against other folks creeds had been uttered. The great object of the priests is to teach those who listen to them to mind their own business; and that isn't a bad thing at any time. The music at St. Ignatius's is of a high order. It is not nice and easy, but rich and vigorous—fine and fierce, comes out warm, and has with it a strong compact harmony indicative of both ability and earnestness. The conductor is energetic and efficient, wields his baton in a lively manner, but hits nobody with it. There is a very fair organ in the church, and it is pleasantly played. The blowers also do their duty commendably.
Adjoining the church there is the priests' house—a rather labrynthal, commodious place with plain, ancient furniture. Beyond, is a very excellent school for girls as well as infants of the gentler sex. It is supervised by nuns, some of whom are wonderfully clever. They are "Sisters of the Holy Child;" are most painstaking, sincere, and useful; never dream about sweethearts; devote their whole time to religion and education. All of them are well educated; two or three of them are smart. The school, which has an average attendance of 550, is in a high state of efficiency; is, in fact, one of the best to the country. The sceptical can refer to Government reports if they wish for absolute proof. Still further on there is another school, set apart for the instruction of middle class boys, and in charge of three Xavierian brothers. About 90 boys attend it, and they are well disciplined. At the rear of the school there is a fine playground for the boys—it is about the largest in Preston; and close to it we have the old graveyard of the church, which is in a tolerably fair state of order. Brothers of the Xavierian type have been in charge of the school for about nine years. The three now at it are mild, obliging, quiet-looking men. They live in a house hard by, and do all the household work themselves, Well done, Xavierians! you will never be aggravated with the great difficulty of domestic life—servant-maidism; will never have to solve the solemn question as to when it is "Susan's Sunday out;" will never be crossed by a ribbon-wearing Jemima, nor harrowed up in absent moments by pictures of hungry "followers" fond of cold joints and pastry. In addition to looking after the school, the Xavierians in question give religious instruction at nights, and on Sundays, to the children attending St. Ignatius's school in Walker- street. The Sunday after we visited the church, about fifty whom they had been training, received their "first communion," and in addition, got a medal and their breakfast given,—two things which nobody despises as a rule, whether on the borders of religious bliss or several miles therefrom. The school in Walker-street is attended, every day, by about 400 boys and infants, and is in an improving condition. The Sunday schools are in a very flourishing state; the girls attending them numbering about 650, and the boys about 500. Taking all into account, a great educational work is being carried on in the district of St. Ignatius. The importance of secular and religious instruction is fully appreciated by the priests; they know that such instruction moulds the character, and tells its tale in after life; they are active and alive to the exigences of the hour; are on the move daily and nightly for the sake of the mind and the soul; and they, like the rest of their brethren, set many of our Protestant parsons an example of tireless industry, which it would be well for them to imitate, if they wish to maintain their own, and spread the principles they believe in.
VAUXHALL-ROAD PARTICULAR BAPTIST CHAPEL.
"Don't be so particular" is a particularly popular phrase. It comes up constantly from the rough quarry of human nature—is a part of life's untamed protest against punctilliousness and mathematical virtue. Particular people are never very popular people, just because they are particular. The world isn't sufficiently ripe for niceties; it likes a lot, and pouts at eclectical squeamishness; it believes in a big, vigorous, rough-hewn medley, is choice in some of its items, but free and easy in the bulk; and it can't masticate anything too severely didactic, too purely logical, too strongly distinct, or too acutely exact. But it does not follow, etymologically, that a man is right because he is particular. He may be very good or very bad, and yet be only such because he is particularly so. Singularity, eccentricity, speciality, isolation, oddity, and hundreds of other things which might be mentioned, all involve particularity. But we do not intend, to "grammar-out" the question, nor to disengage and waste our gas in definitions. The particular enters into all sorts of things, and it has even a local habitation and a name in religion. What could be more particular than Particular Baptism? Certain followers of a man belonging the great Smith family constituted the first congregation of English Baptists. These were of the General type. The Particular Baptists trace their origin to a coterie of men and women who had an idea that their grace was of a special type, and who met in London as far back as 1616. The doctrines of the Particular Baptists are of the Calvinistic hue. They believe in eternal election, free justification, ultimate glorification; they have a firm notion that they are a special people, known before all time; that not one of them will be lost; and they differ from the General Baptists, so far as discipline is concerned, in this—they reject "open communion," will allow no membership prior to dipping; or,—to quote the exact words of one of them, who wrote to us the other day on the subject, and who paled our ineffectual fire very considerably with his definition—"All who enter our pail must be baptised." If there is any water in the "pail" they will; if not, it will be a simple question of dryness.
The chapel used by the Particular-Baptists, in Vauxhall-road, Preston, has a curious history. It beats Plato's theory of transmigration; and is a modern edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The building was erected by Mr. George Smith (father of the late Alderman G. Smith, of this town), and he preached to it for a short time. Afterwards it was occupied by a section of Methodists connected with the "Round Preachers." Then it was purchased by a gentleman of the General Baptist persuasion, who let it to the late Mr. Moses Holden—a pious, astronomical person, who held forth in it for a season with characteristic force. Subsequently it was taken possession of by the Episcopalians, the Rev. Mr. Pearson, late of Tockholes, being the minister. He, along with some of his flock, was in the habit of holding prayer meetings, &c., in different parts of the town; the Vauxhall-road building being their central depot. But when the Rev. Carus Wilson was appointed Vicar of Preston an end was put to both their praying and preaching. When the Episcopalians made their exit, a section of religious people called the Fieldingites obtained the building. They drove a moderately thriving business at the place until permission was unwittingly given for a Mormon preacher to occupy the pulpit just once—a circumstance which resulted in a thorough break-up; many of the body liking neither Joe Smith nor his polygamising followers. After the Mormon fiasco and the evaporation of the Fieldingites, another denomination took it. The Particular Baptists—some people call them Gadsbyites—were at this period working the virtues of their creed in a small room towards the bottom of Cannon-street; and on hearing that Vauxhall- road Chapel was on sale, they smiled, made a bid at it, and bought it. Their first minister, after the removal, was a certain Mr. Mc.Kenzie, who stimulated the elect with many good things, and eventually died. The question as to who should be his successor next presented itself; "supplies" were tried; various men from various parts were invited into the pulpit, looked at, and listened to; the object being to get "the right man in the right place."
There was considerable difference of opinion as to that said "right man;" one portion of "the church" wanting a smart, well-starched, polished individual, and the other desiring a plain, straightforward "gospel preacher"—a man of the Gadsby kidney, capable of hitting people hard, and telling the truth without any fear. This was in 1848, and about this time a plain, homely, broad-hearted "Lancashire chap," named Thomas Haworth, a block printer by trade, and living in the neighbourhood of Accrington, who had taken to preaching in his spare time, was "invited" to supply the Vauxhall-road pulpit. "Tommy"—that's his recognized name, and he'll not be offended at us for using it—came, saw, and conquered. He made his appearance in a plain coat, a plain waist-coat, and a pair of plain blue-coloured corduroy trousers; and as he went up the steps of the pulpit, people not only wondered where he came from, but who his tailor was. And if they had seen his hat, they would have been solicitous as to its manufacturer. The more elaborate portion of the "church" pulled uncongenial features at the young block-printer's appearance, thought him too rough, too unreclaimed, too outspoken, and too vehement; the plain people, the humble, hard-working, unfashionable folk liked him, and said he was "just the man" for them. Time kept moving, Tommy was asked to officiate in the pulpit for 52 Sundays; he consented; kept up his fire well and in a good Gadsbyfied style; and when settling day came a majority of the members decided that he should remain with them. The "non-contents" moved off, said that it would not do; was too much of a good thing; escaped to Zoar; and, in the course of this retreat, somebody took—what!—not the pulpit, nor its Bible, nor the hymn books, nor the collecting boxes, nor the unpaid bills belonging the chapel, but—the title deeds of the old place! and to this day they have not been returned. This was indeed a sharp thing. How Shylock—how the old Jew with his inexorable pound of flesh-worship, creeps up in every section of human society! Vauxhall-road Chapel, which has passed through more denominational agony than any twenty modern places of worship put together, is situated in a poor locality—in a district where pure air, and less drink, and more of "the Christ that is to be," as Tennyson would say, are needed than the majority of places in the town.
Architecturally the chapel is nothing; and if it were not for a few tall front rails, painted green, a good gable end pointed up, and a fairly cut inscription thereon, it would, ecclesiastically speaking, seem less than nothing. It has just been re-painted internally, and necessarily looks somewhat smart on that account; but there is no pretension to architecture in the general building. Between 500 and 600 persons might be accomodation in it; but the average attendance is below 200. People are not "particular" about what church or chapel they belong to in its locality; and some of them who belong to no place seem most wickedly comfortable. There is a great deal of heathenish contentment in Vauxhall-road district, and how to make the people living there feel properly miserable until they get into a Christian groove of thought is a mystery which we leave for the solution of parsons. The interior of Vauxhall-road Particular Baptist Chapel is specially plain and quiet looking, has nothing ornamental in it and at present having been newly cleaned, it smells more of paint than of anything else. The pews are of various dimensions—some long, some square, all high—and, whilst grained without, they are all green within. This is not intended as a reflection upon the occupants, but is done as a simple matter of taste. The "members" of the chapel at present are neither increasing nor decreasing—are stationary; and they wilt number altogether between 50 and 60. Either the chapel is too near the street, or the street too near the chapel, or the children in the neighbourhood too numerous and noisy; for on Sundays, mainly during the latter part of the day, there is an incessant, half-shouting, half-singing din, from troops of youngsters adjoining, who play all sorts of chorusing games, which must seriously annoy the worshippers.
The music at the chapel is strong, lively, and congregational. Sometimes there is more cry than wool in it; but taken altogether, and considering the place, it is creditable. There is neither an organ, nor a fiddle, nor a musical instrument of any sort that we have been able to notice, in the place. All is done directly and without equivocation from the mouth. The members of the choir sit downstairs, in a square place fronting the pulpit; the young men—in their quiet moments—looking very pleasantly at the young women, the older members maintaining a mild equillibrium at the same time, and all going off stiffly when singing periods arrive. The hymn books used contain, principally, pieces selected by the celebrated William Gadsby, and nobody in the chapel need ever be harassed for either length or variety of spiritual verse. They have above 1,100 hymns to choose from, and in length these hymns range from three to twenty- three verses. Whilst inspecting one of the books recently we came to a hymn of thirteen verses, and thought that wasn't so bad—was partly long enough for anybody; but we grew suddenly pale on directly afterwards finding one nearly twice the size—one with twenty-three mortal verses in it. It is to be hoped the choir and the congregation will never he called upon to sing right through any hymn extending to that disheartening and elastic length. We have heard a chapel choir sing a hymn of twelve verses, and felt ready for a stimulant afterwards to revive our exhausted energies; if twenty-three verses had to be fought through at one standing, in our hearing, we should smile with a musical ghastliness and perish.
At the back of the chapel there is a Sunday-school. It was built in 1849. The number of scholars "on the books" is 120, and the average attendance will be about 90. In connection with the school there is a nice little library, and if the children read the books in it, and legitimately digest their contents, they will be brighter than some of their parents. There are two Sunday services at the chapel—one in the morning, and the other in the evening. No religious meetings are held in it during weekdays; the minister couldn't stand them; he is getting old and rotund; and, constitutionally, finds it quite hard enough to preach on Sundays. "He would be killed," said one of the deacons to us the other day, in a very earnest and sympathetic manner, "if he had to preach on week days—he's so stout, you know, and weighs so heavy." We hardly think he would be killed by it. Standing in a narrow pulpit for a length of time must necessarily be fatiguing to him; but why can't things be made easy? If a high seat- -a tall, broad, easy, elastic-bottomed chair—were procured and fixed in the pulpit, he could sit and preach comfortably; or a swing might be procured for him. Such a contrivance would save his feet, check his perspiration, and console his dorsal vertebra. We suggest the propriety of securing a chair or a swing. It would be grand preaching and swinging.
The congregation at Vauxhall-road Chapel is pre-eminently of a working-class character. Nearly the whole of the pew holders are factory people; not above six or seven of them find employment outside of mills. They are a plain, honest, enthusiastic, home-spun class of folk. A few there may be amongst the lot who are authoritative, or saucy, or ill-naturedly solemn; but the generality are simple-dealing, quaintly-exhuberant, oddly-straightforward, and primitively-pious people—distinctly sincere, periodically eccentric, and fond of a good religious outburst, a shining spiritual fandango now, and then.
As we have before intimated the minister of the Chapel is Mr. Thomas Haworth. During the first 18 years of his ministry he received 20s. a week for his services; for three years afterwards he got 25s.; during the last two he has had 30s. per week; and his temporal consolation is involved in a sovereign and a half at present. Be is 54 years of age, has had very little education, believes in telling the truth as far as he knows it, and cares for nobody. He has a strongly intuitive mind; is full of human nature; is broad-faced, very fat and thoroughly English in look: has a chin which is neither of the nutmeg nor the cucumber order, but simply double; weighs heavier than any other parson in Preston; couldn't run; gets out of breath and pants when he goes up the pulpit stairs; has his own ideas, and likes sticking to them, about everything; has neither cunning nor deception in him; is rough but honest; is without polish but full of common sense; would have been a good companion for Tim Bobbin in his better moments, and for Sam Slick in his unctuous periods; cares more for thoughts than grammar; likes to rush out in a buster when the spell is upon him; can either shout you into fits or whisper you to sleep—is, in a word, a virtuous and venerable "caution." He is the right kind of man for humble, queer-thinking; determined, sincerely-singular Christians; is just the sort of person you should hear when the "blues" are on you; has much pathos, much fire, much uncurbed virtue in him; is a sort of theological Bailey's Dictionary—rough, ready, outspoken, unconventional, and funny; is a second Gadsby in oddness, and force, and sincerity, but lacks Gadsby's learning. Unlike the bulk of parsons, Mr. Haworth does his own marketing. You may see him almost any Saturday in the market, with a huge orthodox basket in his hand—a basket bulky, and made not for show, but for holding things. He has no pride in him, and thinks that a man shouldn't be ashamed of buying what he has to eat, and needn't blush if he has to carry home what he wants to digest. His sermons in both manner and matter are essentially Haworthian. There is no gilt, no mock modesty in his style; there is to vapid sentimentalism in the ideas he expounds. A broad, unshaven, every-day Lancashire vigour pervades both; and what he can't make out he guesses at. In the pulpit he seems earnest but uneasy— honest, but fidgetty about his eyes, and legs. Watch him: he preaches extemporaneously, but often peers up and winks, and often looks down at his bible and squeezes his eyes. He has a great predilection for turning to the left—that he apparently thinks is the right side for small appeals of a special character; and when he gets back again, for the purpose of either looking at his book or sending out a new idea, he makes a short oscillating waddle—a sharp, whimsical, wavy motion, as if he either wanted to get his feet out of something or stir forward about half an inch. He pitches his hands about with considerable activity, and often flings himself suddenly into a white-heat, tantrum of virtue, and the brethren like him when be does this. He is original when stormy; is refreshing when his temper is up. His style is natural—is a reflection of himself—is warm with life, is odd, and at times fierce through the power of his sincerity. His illustrations are all homely; his theories most original; his expressions most honest and quaint. He has a fondness for the Old Testament—likes to get into the company of Isaiah, Jeremiah, &c.; sometimes touches the hem of Habakkuk's garment; and nods at a distance occasionally at Joel and the other minor prophets. We should like to see a Biblical Commentary from his pen; it, would be immortal on account of its straightforwardnsss and oddity. Adam Clarke and Matthew Henry must sometimes turn over in their graves when he expounds the more mysterious passages of sacred writ. To no one does Mr. Haworth hold the candle; he is candid to all, and pitches into the entire confraternity of his hearers sometimes. He said one Sunday "None of you are ower much to be trusted—none of us are ower good, are we? A, bless ya, I sometimes think if I were to lay my head on a deacon's breast—one of our own lot—may be there would be a nettle in't or summut at sooart." He is partial to long "Oh's," and "Ah's" and solemn breathings; and sometimes tells you more by a look or a subdued, calmly-moulded groan than by dozens of sentences. He spices his sermons considerably with the Lancashire dialect; isn't at all nice about aspirates, inflection, or pronunciation; thinks that if you have got hold of a good thing the best plan is to out with it, and to out with it any way, rough or smooth, so that it is understood. He never stood at philological trifles in his life, and never will do. Those who listen to him regularly think nothing of his singularities of gesture and expression; but strangers are bothered with him. Occasionally the ordinary worshippers look in different directions and smile rather slyly when he is budding and blossoming in his own peculiar style; but they never make much ado about the business, and swallow all that comes very quietly and good-naturedly. Strangers prick their ears directly, and would laugh right out sometimes if they durst. There are not many collections at the chapel, but those which are made are out of the ordinary run. Two were made on the Sunday we were there, and they realised what?—not 5 pounds, nor 10 pounds, nor 12 pounds, as is the custom at some of our fashionable places of worship,—no, they just brought in 63 pounds 3s. 9d. At the request of the minister, who announced the sum, the congregation set to and sung over it for a short time. Simplicity and liberality, mingled with much earnestness and a fair amount of self- righteousness, are the leading traits of the "elect" at Vauxhall- road chapel; whilst their minister is a curious compilation of eccentricity, sagacity, waddlement, winking, straightforwardness, and thorough honesty.
About 33 years since there was a conquest somewhat Norman in Preston and the neighbourhood; and the "William" of it was an industrious ex-joiner. In 1836, and during the next two years, four churches— three in Preston and one in Ashton—were erected through the exertions of the Rev. Carus Wilson, who was vicar here at that time; each of them was built in the Norman style; and the general of them was a plodding man who had burst through the bonds of joinerdom and winged his way into the purer and more lucrative atmosphere of architectural constructiveness. One of the sacred edifices whose form passed through his alembic was Christ Church and to this complexion of a building we have now come. There is so much and so little to be said about Christ Church that we neither know where to begin nor how to end. Nobody has yet said that Christ Church, architecturally, is a very nice place; and we are not going to say so. It is a piece of calm sanctity in-buckram, is a stout mass of undiluted lime stone, has been made ornate with pepper castors, looks sweetly-clean after a summer shower, is devoid of a steeple, will never be blown over, couldn't be lifted in one piece, and will nearly stand forever. It is as strong as a fortress; has walls thick enough for a castle; is severely plain but full of weft; has no sympathy with elaboration, and is a standing protest against masonic gingerbread. It rests on the northern side of Fishergate-hill; between Bow-lane and Jordan-street, is surrounded with houses, has two entrances with gateposts which might, owing to their solidity, have descended lineally from the pillars of Hercules; is entirely out of sight on the eastern side; and from the other points of the compass can be seen better a mile off with a magnifying glass than 20 yards off without one. There is something venerable and monastic, something substantial and coldly powerful about the front; but the general building lacks beauty of outline and gracefulness of detail. Christ Church is the only place of worship in Preston built of limestone; and if it has not the prettiest, it has the cleanest exterior. There is no "matter in its wrong place" (Palmerston's definition of dirt) about it. If you had to run your hand all round the building—climbing the rails at the end to do so—you might get scratched, but wouldn't get dirtied. The foundation stone of Christ Church was laid in 1836, and in the following year the place was opened. Adjoining the church there is a graveyard, which is kept in excellent condition. Some burial grounds are graced with old hats, broken pots, ancient cans, and dead cats; but this has no such ornaments; it is clean and neat, properly levelled, nicely green- swarded, and well-cared for. The first person interred in the ground was the wife of the first incumbent—the Rev. T. Clark. Outside and in front of the building there is a large blue-featured clock with a cast-iron inside. It was fixed in 1857, and there was considerable newspaper discussion at the time as to what it would do. Time has proved how well it can keep time. It is looked after by a gentleman learned in the deep mysteries of horology, who won't allow its fingers to get wrong one single second, who used to make his own solar calculations in his own observatory, on the other side of Jordan (street), who gets his time now from Greenwich, who has drilled the clock into a groove of action the most perfect, and who would have just cause to find fault with the sun if antagonising with its indications. He his thoroughly master of the clock, and could almost make it stop or go by simply shouting or putting up his finger at it. It is a good clock, however blue it may look; it has gone well constantly; and, if we may credit the words of one of the clock manager's sanguine brethren, "is likely to do so." At the entrance doors there are two curious pieces of wood exactly like spout heads. Some people say they are for money; but we hardly think so, for during our visits to the church we have seen no one go too near them with their hands.
The interior of Christ Church is plain, and rather heavy-looking. But it is very clean and orderly. The chancel of the building is circular, tastefully painted, with a calm subdued light, and looks rich. The ceiling of the church is lofty, and very woody—is crossed by four or five unpoetical-looking beams which deprive the building of that airiness and capaciousness it would otherwise possess. Contiguous to the chancel there is a galleried transept; a large gallery also runs along the sides and at the front end of the general building. The seats below are substantial and high; very small people when they sit down in them go right out of sight—if you are sitting behind you can't see them at all; people less diminutive show their occiput moderately; ordinarily-sized folk keep their heads and a portion of their shoulders just fairly in sight. About 560 people can be accommodated below and 440 in the galleries. There are several free sittings in front of the pulpit—good seats for hearing, but rather too conspicuous; just within each entrance on the ground floor there are more free sittings; and all the pews in the galleries except the two bottom rows—let at a low figure— are, we believe, also free. Altogether there are about 400 seats free and tolerably easy in the building. There are many pretty stained glass memorial windows in the church; indeed, if it were not for these the building would have a very cold and unpleasantly Normanised look. They tone down its severity of style, and cast gently into it a mellowed light akin to that of the "dim religious" order. They are narrow, circular-headed; and occupy the front, the sides, the transept, and the chancel. All the lower windows in the building, except two or three, are filled in with stained glass. The windows were put in by the following parties:- Four by Mr. Edward Gorst (afterwards Lowndes), one in memory of his wife and two children, another in memory of Mr. Septimus Gorst, his wife and only child, and two in commemoration of the 20 years services of the late Rev T. Clark at the church; five by the late Mr. J. Bairstow—two of them being in memory of his sisters, Miss Bairstow and Mrs. Levy; two in memory of the late Mr. J. Horrocks, sen., and Mrs. Horrocks his wife, by their children; one in memory of the late Mr. John Horrocks, jun., by his widow and two sisters; one to the memory of Mr. Lowndes by his son; two by the late Mrs. Clark, one, we believe, being in memory of her mother, whilst the other does not appear to have any personal reference; one by the Rev. Raywood Firth, the present incumbent, in memory of Miss Buck, who remembered him kindly in her will; and one by the Rev. Mr. Firth and his wife, which was put up when the Rev. T. Clark relinquished the incumbency, and gave way for his son-in-law. This "in memoriam" act was done out of affection and not because the incumbency was changing hands. The pulpit in the Church is tall and somewhat handsome. It occupies a central position, in front of the chancel, and is flanked by two reading desks, one being used for prayers and the other for lessons. There is no clerk at this church; and there were never but two connected with the place; one being the late Mr. Stephen Wilson, of the firm of Wilson and Lawson; and the other the late Mr. John Brewer, of the firm of Bannister and Brewer of this town. The responses are now said by the choir; and everything appertaining to the serious problems of surplice and gown arranging, pulpit door opening and shutting, is solved by black rod in waiting—the beadle.
The first incumbent of Christ Church was the Rev. T. Clark—a kindly-exact, sincere, quiet-moving gentleman, who did much good in his district, visited poor people regularly, wasn't afraid of going down on his knees in their houses, gave away much of that which parsons and other sinners generally like to keep—money, and was greatly respected. We shall always remember him—remember him for his quaint, virtuous preciseness, his humble, kindly plodding ways, his love of writing with quill pens and spelling words in the old- fashioned style, his generosity and mild, maidenly fidgetiness, his veneration for everything evangelical, his dislike of having e put after his name, and his courteous, accomplished, affable manners. For 27 years—having previously been curate at the Parish Church in this town—Mr. Clark was incumbent of Christ Church.
He was succeeded by his son-in-law, the Rev. Raywood Firth, who has worked through Longfellow's excelsior gamut rapidly and successfully. The father of Mr. Firth was a Wesleyan Methedist minister, and, singular to say, was at one time—in some Yorkshire circuit we believe—the superintendent of a gentlemen who is now, and has been for some years, the incumbent of a Preston church. A few years ago Mr. Firth visited Preston as secretary of a society in connection with the Church of England; then got married to the daughter of the Rev. T. Clark; subsequently became curate of that gentlemen's church; and in 1864 was made its incumbent. Well done! The ascent is good. We like the transition. Mr. Firth is a minute, russet-featured gentleman; is precise in dress, neat in taste; gets over the ground quietly and quickly; has a full, clear, dark eye; has a youthful clerical countenance; has given way a little to facial sadness; is sharp and serious; has a healthy biliary duct, and has carried dark hair on his head ever since we knew him; is clear-sighted, shy unless spoken to, and cautious; is free and generous in expression if trotted out a little; is no bigot; dislikes fierce judgments and creed-reviling; likes visiting folk who are well off; wouldn't object to tea, crumpet, and conversation with the better end of his flock any day; visits fairly in his district, and says many a good word to folk in poverty, but would look at a floor before going down upon it like his predecessor; thinks that flags and boards should be either very clean or carpeted before good trousers touch them; minds his own business; is moderately benevolent, but doesn't phlebotomise himself too painfully; never sets his district on fire with either phrensied lectures or polemical tomahawking; takes things easily and respectably; believes in his own views rather strongly at times; loves putting the sacred kibosh upon things occasionally; is well educated, can think out his own divinity; need never buy sermons; has a clear, quiet-working, fairly-developed brain; is inclined to thoughtfulness and taciturnity; might advantageously mix up with the poor of his district a little more; needn't care over much for the nods of rich folk, or the green tea and toast of antique Spinsters; might be a little heartier, and less reserved; is a sincere man; believes in what he teaches; and is thoroughly evangelical; is more enlightened than three-fourths of our Preston Church of England parsons, and doesn't brag over his ability. His salary is about 400 pounds a year, and that is a sum which the generality of people would not object to. He is a good reader, is clear and energetic, but shakes his head a little too much. In the pulpit he never gets either fast asleep or hysterical. He can preach good original sermons—carefully worked out, well-balanced, neatly arranged; and he can give birth to some which are rather dull and mediocre. His action is easy, yet earnest—his style quiet yet dignified; his matter often scholarly, and never stolen. He is not a, "gatherer and disposer of other men's stuff," like some clerical greengrocers: what he says is his own, and he sticks to it.
There are two full services, morning and evening, and prayers in an afternoon, on Sundays, at the church; and on a Tuesday evening there is another service,—attended only slenderly, and patronised principally, we are afraid, by elderly females, whose sands have run down, and who couldn't do much harm now if they were very solicitous on the subject. The attendance on Sundays is pretty large— particularly in a morning. The adult congregation used to be very select and high in the instep—was a kind of second edition of St. George's, in three volumes. It is still numerous, but not so choice; still proud but not so well bred; still stiff, serene, lofty-minded, and elanish, but not so wealthy as is formerly was. The superior members of the congregation, as a rule, gravitate downwards, have seats on the ground floor,—it is vulgar to sit in the galleries. They are all excellently attired; the "latest thing" may be seen in hair, and bonnets, and dresses; the best of coats and the cleanest of waistcoats are also observable. A cold tone of gentle-blooded, high-middle-class respectability prevails. Much special adhesiveness exists amongst them. Small charmed circles, little isolated coteries, fond of exclusive devotional dealing, and "keeping themselves to themselves," are rather numerous. Many good and some very inquisitive and gossipy people attend—individuals who know all your concerns, can tell how many glasses you had last week and where you had them at, and like to make quiet hints on the subject to others. The congregation is substantial in look, and possesses many excellent qualities; but there is a great amount of what Dr. Johnson would call "immiscibility" in it. Nearly every part of it has a very strong notion that it is better than any other part. As in the grocer's shop pictured by one of our best wits, so is it here—the tenpenny nail looks upon the tin tack and calmly snubs it; the long sixes eye the farthing dips and say they are poor lights; the bigger articles seem cross and potent in the face of the smaller; the little look big in the face of the less; and the infinitessimal clap their wings when they make a comparison with nothing. The congregation at Christ Church won't mix itself up; is fond of "distance"; says, in a genteely pious tone, "keep off"; can't be approached beyond a certain point; isn't sociable; won't stand any hand-shaking except is its own peculiar circles. We know a person who has gone for above 20 years to one of our Methodist chapels, and yet nobody has ever said, on either entering or leaving the place, "How are you?" The very same thing would have happened if that same person had gone to Christ Church, unless there had been some connection with a special circle. In all our churches and chapels there is sadly too much of this rigid isolation, this frigid "Don't know you" business. Clanishness and cleanliness occupy front ranks at Christ Church, and if the Scotch tartans were worn in it, the theory of distinction would be consummated. We would advise Mr. Firth to write northward—beyond the Firth of Forth (oh!)—for samples of plaids. The congregation on the whole is pretty liberal; can subscribe fair sums of money; but the collections are not now what they once were; the main reason being that there is not the same wealth in the place as there used to be.
The music at Christ Church was, until lately, very good; it now seems to be degenerating a little. There is a splendid organ in the building. It cost about 1,000 pounds, and, with the exception of that at St. George's, is about the best in the town. The late Mr. J. Horrocks, jun., contributed handsomely towards the organ; played it gratuitously; gave liberally towards the choir expenses; and Christ Church is under a lasting debt of gratitude to him for his excellent services. The organ is blown by two small engines, driven by water; so that its music literally resolves itself into a question of wind and water. The tones of the instrument are good, and they are very fairly brought out by the present organist. The services are well got through, and whilst Puritanism is on the one hand avoided in them, Ritualism is on the other distinctly discarded. A medium course, which is the best, is observed in the church, and so long as Mr. Firth remains at the place there will be nothing bedizened or foolish in its ceremonies. A small memorial place of worship, which will operate as a "chapel of ease" for Christ Church, has been built in Bird-street. Belonging to Christ Church there are some good day and Sunday schools. They are numerously attended, and well supervised. Adults have a room to themselves on a Sunday, and they go through the processes of instruction patiently, benignly, and without thrashing. At one time there was a school connected with the church in Wellfield-road; but when St. Mark's was erected the building and the scholars were transferred to its care. Viewing everything right round, it may be said that Christ Church is a good substantial building, but is rather too plain and weighs too much for its size; that its minister is a mildly-toned, well-educated, devout gentleman, with no cant in him, with a tender bias to the side of gentility, and born to be luckier than three-fourths of the sons of Wesleyan parsons; that its congregation is influential, rose-coloured, good-looking, numerous, thinks that everybody is not composed exactly of the same materials, believes that familiarity is a flower which must be cautiously cultivated; that its religious and educational operations are extensive; and that if all who are influenced by them would only carry out what they are taught—none of us do this over well—they would be models from which plaster casts might be taken either for artistic purposes or the edification of heathens generally.
WESLEY AND MOOR PARK METHODIST CHAPELS.
These two places of worship must constitute one dose. They are in the same circuit, are looked after by the same ministers, and if we gave a separate description of each we should only be guilty of that unpleasant "iteration" which Shakspere names so forcibly in one of his plays. Wesley Chapel is the older of the two, and, therefore, must be first mentioned. It is situated in North-road, at the corner of Upper Walker-street, and we dare say that those who christened it thought they were doing a very hand-some thing—charming the building with a name, and graciously currying favour with the Wesley family. People have a particular liking for whoever or whatever may be called after them, and good old John may sometimes look down approvingly upon the place and tell Charles that he likes it. The chapel, which was built in 1838, enjoys the usual society of all pious buildings: it has two public houses and a beershop within thirty yards of its entrance, and they often seem to be doing a brisker business than it can drive, except during portions of the Sunday when they are shut up, and, consequently, have not a fair chance of competing with it. The chapel is square in form, has more brick than stone in its composition, and has a pretty respectable front, approached by steps, and duly guarded by iron railings. Neither inside nor outside the building is there anything architecturally fine. A decent mediocrity generally pervades it. The entrances are narrow, and there is often a good deal of pushing and patient squeezing at the neck of them. But nobody is ever hurt, and not much bad temper is manifested when even the collateral pew doors mix themselves up with the crowd, and prevent people from getting in or out too suddenly. The chapel, although simple in style, is clean, lofty, and light. A gallery of the horse shoe pattern runs round the greater portion of it. Thin iron pillars support the gallery and the "chancel" end, which is arched and recessed for orchestral accomodation, is flanked by fluted imitation columns.
There is accomodation in the place for between 800 and 900 persons; but it is not often that all the seats are filled. The average attendance will be about 800; and nearly every one making up that number belongs to the working-class section of life. Amongst the body are many genial good-hearted folk-people who believe is doing right without telling everybody about it, in obliging you without pulling a face over it; and there are also individuals in the rank and file of worshippers who are very Pecksniffian and dismal, cranky, windy, authoritative, who would look sour if eating sugar, would call a "church meeting" if you wore a lively suit of clothes, and would tell you that they were entitled to more grace than anybody else, and had got more. The better washed and more respectably dressed portion of the congregation sit at the back of the central range of seats on the ground floor, also along portions of the sides, and in front of the gallery. Towards the front of the central seats there is a confraternity of humble earnest-looking beings, including several aged persons, who are true types in form, manner, and dress, of unsophisticated Methodists. Here, as elsewhere, there are very few people in the chapel ten minutes "before the train starts." Those present at that time are mainly middle-aged, unpretentious, and very seriously inclined; others of a higher type follow; and then comes the rush, which lasts for about five minutes. Worship is conducted in the chapel with considerable quietness. You may hear the long-drawn gelatinous sigh, the subdued, quiet, unctuous "amen," and if the thing gets hot a few lively half- innate exclamations are thrown into the proceedings. But there is nothing in any of them of a turbulent or riotous character. The parsons can draw out none of the worshippers into a very ungovernable frame of mind; and we believe none of the people have for some time been very violent in either their verbal expressions or physical contortions. They are beginning to take things quietly, and to work inwardly during periods of bliss. There are about 400 "members" in connection with Wesley Chapel, and we hope they are nearly half as good as such like people usually profess to be. The rule in life is for people to be about one-third as virtuous as they say they are; and if they can be got a trifle beyond that point by any legitimate process, it is something to be thankful for.
There is a very fair organ at Wesley Chapel, and the person who plays it does the requisite manipulative business with good ordinary skill. The choir is a sort of family compact; the members of one household preponderate in it; but its arrangements are well worked, and the music, taking everything into account, is pretty fair. It is far from being classical; but it will do. The singing in the galleries and below is full, if not very sweet; is spirited and generously expressed if not so melodious. Quite the old style of vocalising prevails in some quarters of the place, and it is mainly patronised by old people; they swing backwards and forwards gently and they sing, get into all kinds of keys, experimentally, put their hands on the pew sides or fronts, beating time with the music as the business proceeds, and like singing hymn ends over again. There is a school beneath the chapel. On week-days its average attendance is about 115; and on Sundays 450.
We must now for a moment pass on to Moor Park Chapel. This is a new, and somewhat genteel-looking building—has a rather "taking" outside, and is inclined to be smart within. It was opened on the 26th of June, 1862. A style of architecture closely resembling that of Lancaster-road Congregational Chapel has been followed in its construction. There is much circular work in its ornamental details; its general arrangements are neat, and well finished; nothing cold or sulkily Puritanical presents itself; a degree of even taste and polish has been observed in its make. This is a more "respectable" chapel than its companion at the top of Walker-street; its patrons are supposed to be a somewhat richer class. It will accommodate about 900 people; but, as at Wesley Chapel, so here—there are more sittings than sitters. "It has been known to hold 1,300, on an excursion," said a quiet-minded young man to us when we were at the chapel; but we didn't understand the young man, couldn't fathom his "excursion" sentiments, and afterwards threw ourselves into the arms of one of the ministers for numeric protection. There is a good gallery in the building, and the pillars which support it prop up a sort of arched canopy, like an oblong umbrella, which is too low, too near the head, and must consequently both confine the air, and develope sweating when the place is filled. There is a neat pulpit in the chapel, and it is ornamented with what seem to be panels of opaque glass. We were rather distressed on first seeing them, being apprehensive that one of the preachers might, some very fine Sunday, when in a mood more rapturous than usual, send the points of his shoes right through them; but our mind was eased when an explanation was made to the effect: that the "glass" was ornamental zinc, and that the feet of the preachers couldn't get near it. Behind the pulpit there is a circular niche for the members of the choir, who, aided and abetted in musical matters by a pretty good harmonium, acquit themselves respectably.
The congregation, as hinted, is more "fashionable" than that at Wesley Chapel: it is more select, has more pride in it, sighs more gently, moans less audibly, turns up its eyes more delicately, hardly ever gets into a "religious spree," and is inclined to think that piety should be genteel as well as vital. The members here number 280. Immediately adjoining the chapel there is good school accomodation; and the attendance appears to be very creditable. On week days the average is two hundred; and on Sundays it reaches about four hundred. At both Wesley and Moor Park Chapels there are week-night services and class meetings. The former are rather dull and badly attended; and a special effort on the part of both those who talk and those who listen is required to get up the proceedings into a state of pleasant activity; the latter are fairly managed, and are somewhat like "experiences meetings;" talking, singing, and praying are done at them; there is a constant fluctuation, whilst they are going on, between bliss and contrition; and you are sometimes puzzled to find out—taking the sounds made as a criterion—whether the attendants are preparing to fight, or fling themselves into a fit of crying, or hug and pet each other.
The circuit embraces the two chapels named, also Kirkham, Freckleton, Bamber Bridge, Longridge, Moon's Mill, Wrea Green, and Ashton; it has now about 795 members; and all of them, with the exception of 115, as figures previously given show, are in Preston. The circuit, so far as members go, is slightly decreasing in power; but it may recruit its forces by and bye; There has been a species of duality in it during the past three years; its energies have been a little divided; faction has reigned in it; there have been too many Raynerites and Adamites and sadly too few Christians in it; pious snarling and godly backbiting have been too industriously exercised; and one consequence has been weakened power and a declension of progress. But the brethren are getting more cheerful, much old spleen has subsided, and, we hope, they will all kiss and get kind again soon.
When this sketch was first printed the Rev. T. A. Rayner was the superintendent minister; the Rev. J. Adams being second in command; and they worked the different sections alternately. Mr. Rayner is an elderly gentleman, with a strong osseous frame, which is well covered with muscle and adipose matter; he has been about 34 years in the ministry, and should, therefore, be either very smart or very dull by this time; he has a portly, grave, reverential look; carries with him both spectacles and an eye-glass; is slow and coldly-keen in his mental processes; thinks that he can speak with authority; and that all minor dogs must cease barking when he mounts the oracular tripod; he is sincere; works well, for his years, and in his own way does his best; he is a man of much experience, and has fair intellectual powers; but his temperament is very icy and flatulent; his humours heavy and watery, and a phlegmagog purge would do him good. He is a rigid methodical man; believes in original rules and ancient prerogatives; is a Wesleyan of the antique type, but is devoid of force and enthusiasm; he never sets you on fire with declamation, nor melts you with pathos; he had rather freeze than burn sinners; he thinks the harrier principle of catching a hare is the surest, and that travelling on a theological canal is the safest plan in the long run. He is more cut out for a country rectory, where the main duties are nodding at the squire and stunning the bucolic mind with platitudes, than for a large circuit of active Methodists; he would be more at home at a rural deanery, surrounded by rookeries and placid fish ponds, than in a town mission environed by smoke and made up of screaming children and thin-skinned Christians. Mr. Rayner has many good properties; but short sermon preaching is not one of them. Some of the descendants of that man who, according to "Drunken Barnaby," slaughtered his cat on a Monday, because it killed a mouse on the Sunday, were in the bait of preaching for three hours at one stretch. Mr. Rayner never yet preached that length of time, and we hope he never will do; but he can, like the east wind, blow a long while in one direction. One Sunday evening; when we heard him, be preached just one hour, and at the conclusion intimated that he had been requested to give a short sermon, but had drifted into a rather prolix one. We should like to know what length he would have run out his rhetoric if be had been requested to give a long discourse. By the powers! it would have "tickled the catastrophe" of each listener finely—doctors would have had to be called in, a vast amount of physic would have been required, and it would never have got paid for in these hard times so that bad debts would have been added to the general calamity. We could never see any good in long sermons and nobody else ever could except those giving them. Neither could we ever see much fun in a parson saying—"And now lastly" more than once. In the 60 minutes discourse to which we have alluded, the preacher got into the lastly part of the business five times. If that other conclusive phrase— "And now, finally brethren"—had been taken advantage of, and similarly worked, we might never have got home till morning. Summarising Mr. Rayner, it may be stated that he is calm, phlegmatic, earnest but too prolix, likes to wield the rod of authority and occupy one of the uppermost seats in the synagogue, is an industrious minister but adheres to a programme antique and chilling, is a real Wesleyan in his conceptions, but behind the times in spirit and mental brilliance, is in a word good, grim, imperial, cold as ice, steady, and soundly orthodox.
Mr. Adams, the junior minister, is quite of a different mould; he is sprightly, gamey, wide awake, full of courage, with a smack of Yankee audacity in his manner, and a fair share of conceit in his general make up. There is much determination in him, much of the lively bantam element about him. He has a sharp round face which has not been spoiled by sanctimoniousness. He is sanguine, combative, go ahead, and would like a good fight if he got fairly into one. He cares little for forms and ceremonies; is a good mower; wears a billycock which has passed through much tribulation —we believe it was once the subject of a church meeting; can play cricket pretty well, and enjoys the game; is frank, candid, and speaks straight out; can say a good thing and knows when he has said it; has an above-board, clear, decisive style; is not a great scholar, and would be puzzled, like the generality of parsons, if asked how many teeth he had in his head, or who was the grandfather of his mother's first uncle; knows little of Latin and less of Greek, but understands human nature, and that, says the Clockmaker, beats scholarship; has been in America, which accounts for the nasal ring in his talk; is active, sanguine, free, and easy, and would enjoy either a ridotto or a fast; can utter lively, merry things in his sermons, and does not object sometimes to recognise the wisdom of Shakspere. Mr. Adams is a good platform speaker, and he can give straight shots as a preacher. Sometimes his discourses are only common-place, wordy, and featherless; but in the general run he is much above the average of sermonisers. He has good action, can put out considerable canvas when very warm, smacks the pulpit sides with his hands when, particularly earnest, and occasionally makes a direct aim at the Bible before him, and hits it. We rather like his style; it is free, but not coarse; spirited, but not crazy; determined, but not bigoted; and it is in no way spice with either cant or hallowed humbug. Mr. Adams was five years in America, and he is now completing the tenth year of his career as a regular Wesleyan minister. He has a large veneration for his own powers and thinks there are few sons of Adam like him in the Methodist world; still he is a hard-working, shrewd, clear-headed little man, a good preacher, with a deal of every day fun and sunshine in his heart, and calculated to take a considerably higher post than that which he now occupies.