PRESBYTERIAN AND FREE GOSPEL CHAPELS.
"Who are the Presbyterians?" we can imagine many curious, quietly- inquisitive people asking; and we can further imagine numbers of the same class coming to various solemn and inaccurate conclusions as to what the belief of the Presbyterians is. Shortly and sweetly, we may say that they believe in Calvinism, and profess to be the last sound link in the chain of olden Puritanism. They do not believe in knocking down May poles, nor in breaking off the finger and nose ends of sacred statues, nor in condemning as wicked the eating of mince pies, nor in having their hair cropped so that no man can get hold of it, like the ancient members of the Roundhead family; but in spiritual matters they have a distinct regard for the plain, unceremonious tenets of ancient Puritanism—for the simplicity, definitiveness, and absolutism of Calvinism. Some persons fond of spiritual christenings and mystic gossip have supposed that the Presbyterians who, during the past few years, have endeavoured to obtain a local habitation and a name in Preston, were connected with the Unitarians; others have classed them as a species of Independents; and many have come to the conclusion that their creed has much Scotch blood in it—has some affinity to the U.P. style of theology, and has a moderate amount of the "Holy Fair" business to it. The most ignorant are generally the most critically audacious; and men knowing no more about the peculiarities of creeds than of the capillary action of woolly horses are often the first to run the gauntlet of opinionism concerning them. The fact of the matter is, the Preston Presbyterians are no more and no less, in doctrine, than Calvinists. In discipline and doctrine they are on a par with the members of the Free Church of Scotland; but they are not connected with that church, and don't want to be, unless they can get something worth looking at and taking home.
Historically, the Presbyterians worshipping in Preston don't pretend to date as far back as some religious sects, but they do start ancestrally from the first epoch of British Presbyterianism. Their spiritual forefathers had a stern beginning in this country; they were cradled in fierce tomes, said their prayers often amid the smoke of cannons and the tumult of armies; and maintained their vitality through one of the sternest and most revolutionary periods of modern history. In the 17th century they were, for a few moments, paramount in England; in 1648 nearly all the parishes in the land were declared to be under their form of church government; but the tide of fortune eventually set in against them; at the Restoration Episcopacy superseded their faith; and since then they have had to fight up their way through a long, a circuitous, and an uneven track. Their creed, as before intimated, is Calvinistic, and that is a sufficient definition of it. They believe in a sort of universal suffrage, so far as the election of their pastors is concerned; and if they have grievances on hand they nurse them for a short time, then appeal to "the presbytery." and in case they can't get consolation from that body they go to "the synod." We could give the history of this sect, but in doing so we should have to quote many "figures" and numerous "facts"—things which, according to one British statesman, can never be relied upon—and on that account we shall avoid the dilemma into which we might be drifted. It will be sufficient for our purpose to state that in 1866 a few persons in Preston with a predilection for the ancient form of Presbyterianism held a consultation, and decided to start a "church." They had a sprinkling of serious blood in their arteries—a tincture of well- balanced, modernised Puritanism in their veins—and they honestly thought that if any balm had to come out of Gilead, it would first have to pass through Presbyterianism, and that if any physician had to appear he would have to be a Calvinistic preacher.
They, at first, met privately, and then engaged the theatre of Avenham Institution—a place which had previously been the nursery of Fishergate Baptism and Lancaster-road Congregationalism. From the early part of January, 1866, till September, 1867, they were regaled with "supplies" from different parts of the kingdom. When they met on the second Sunday—it would be unfair to criticise the first Curtian plunge they made—14 persons, including the preacher, put in an appearance; but the number gradually extended; courage slowly accumulated, and eventually—in September, 1867—the Rev. A. Bell, a gentleman young in years, and fresh from the green isle, who pleased the Preston Presbyterians considerably, was requested to stop with them and endeavour to make them comfortable. Mr. Bell thought out the question briefly, got a knowledge of the duties required, &c., and then consented to stay with the brethren. And he is still with them; hoping that they may multiply and replenish the earth, and spread Presbyterianism muchly. From the period of their denominational birth up to now the Preston Presbyterians have worshipped in the theatre of the Institution, Avenham—a place which everybody knows and which we need not describe. There is nothing ecclesiastical about it; the place is fit for the operations of either lecturers, or preachers, or conjurors; and it will do for the inculcation of Presbyterianism as well as for anything else. The leaders of the Presbyterian body are looking out for a site upon which a new chapel may be erected, but they have not yet found one. By-and-bye we hope they will see a site which will suit their vision, will come up to their ideal, and, in the words of Butler, be "Presbyterian true blue."
The members of "the church" number at present about 112; and the average congregation will be about 200. It includes Scotchmen, Irish Presbyterians, people who have turned over from Baptism, Independency, Catholicism, and several other creeds, and all of them seem to be theologically satisfied. There ought to be elders at the place; but the denomination seems too young for them; as it progresses and gets older it will get into the elder stage. There is no pulpit in the building, and the preacher gets on very well is the absence of one. If he has no pulpit he has at least this consolation that he can never fall over such a contrivance, as the South Staffordshire Methodist once did, when in a fit of fury, and nearly killed some of the singers below. The congregation consists principally of middle and working class people. Their demeanour is calm, their music moderate, and in neither mind nor body do they appear to be much agitated, like some people, during their moments of devotion.
The preacher, who has been about six years in the ministry, and gets 250 pounds a year for his duties here, is a dark-complexioned sharp- featured man—slender, serious-looking, energetic, earnest, with a sanguine-bilious temperament. He is a ready and rather eloquent preacher; is fervid, emphatic, determined; has moderate action; never damages his coat near the armpits by holding his arms too high; has a touch of the "ould Ireland" brogue in his talk; never loudly blows his own trumpet, but sometimes rings his own bell a little; means what he says; is pretty liberal towards other creeds, but is certain that his own views are by far the best; is a steady thinker, a sincere minister, a tolerably good scholar, and a warm- hearted man, who wouldn't torture an enemy if he could avoid it, but would struggle hard if "put to it." Like the rest of preachers he has his admirers as well as those who do not think him altogether immaculate; but taking him in toto—mind, body, and clothes—he is a fervent, candid, medium-sized, respectable-looking man, worth listening to as a speaker of the serious school, and calculated, if regularly heard, to distinctly inoculate you with Presbyterianism. It is as "clear as a bell" that he is advancing considerably the cause he is connected with, and that his "church" is making satisfactory progress. There is a Sabbath school attached to the denomination. The scholars meet every Sunday afternoon in the Institution; and their average attendance is about 90. As a denomination the Presbyterians are pushing onwards vigorously, though quietly, and their prospects are good.
To the Free Gospel people we next come. They don't occupy very fashionable quarters; Ashmoor-street, a long way down Adelphi- street, is the thoroughfare wherein their spiritual refuge is situated. If they were in a better locality, the probability is they would be denominationally stronger. In religion, as in everything else, "respectability" is the charm. We have heard many a laugh at the expense of these "Free Gospel" folk, but there is more in their creed, although it may have only Ashmoor-street for its blossoming ground, than the multitude of people think of. They were brought into existence through a dispute with a Primitive Methodist preacher at Saul-street chapel; although previously, men holding opinions somewhat similar to theirs, were in the town, and built, but through adverse circumstances had to give up, Vauxhall-road chapel. In the early stages of their existence the Free Gospellers were called Quaker Methodists, because they dressed somewhat like Quakers, and had ways of thinking rather like the followers of George Fox. In some places they are known as Christian Brethren; in other parts they are recognised as a kind of independent Ranters.
About ten years ago, the Preston Free Gospel people got Mr. James Toulmin to build a chapel for them in Ashmoor-street; they having worshipped up to that time, first at a place on Snow-Hill and then in Gorst-street. He did not give them the chapel; never said that he would; couldn't afford to be guilty of an act so curious; but he erected a place of worship for their pleasure, and they have paid him something in the shape of rent for it ever since. The chapel is a plain, small, humble-looking building—a rather respectably developed cottage, with only one apartment—and we should think that those who attend it must be in earnest. The place seems to have been arranged to hold 95 persons—a rather strange number; but upon a pinch, and by the aid of a few forms planted near the foot of the pulpit, perhaps 120 could be accommodated in it. There are just fourteen pews in the chapel, and they run up backwards to the end of the building, the highest altitude obtained being perhaps four yards. A good view can be obtained from the pulpit. Not only can the preacher eye instantaneously every member of his congregation, but he can get serene glimpses through the windows of eight chimney pots, five house roofs, and portions of two backyards. In a season of doubt and difficulty a scene like this must relieve him.
There are about 30 "members" of the chapel. The average attendance on a Sunday, including all ranks, will be about 50. The worshippers are humble people—artisans, operatives, small shopkeepers, &c. A few of the hottest original partisans were the first to leave the chapel after its opening. There is a Sunday school connected with the body, and between 40 and 50 children and youths attend it on the average. Voluntaryism in its most absolute form, is the predominant principle of the denomination. The sect is, in reality, a "free community." Their standard is the bible; they believe in both faith and good works, but place more reliance upon the latter than the former; they recognise a progressive Christianity, "harmonising," as we have been told, "with science and common sense;" they object to the Trinitarian dogma, as commonly accepted by the various churches, maintaining that both the Bible and reason teach the existence of but one God; they have no eucharistic sacrament, believing that as often as they eat and drink they should be imbued with a spirit of Christian remembrance and thankfulness; they argue that ministers should not be paid; they dispense with pew-rents; repudiate all money tests of membership—class-pence, &c.; make voluntary weekly contributions towards the general expenses, each giving according to his means; and all have a voice in the regulation of affairs, but direct executive work is done by a president and a committee. The independent volition of Quakerism is one of their prime peculiarities. If they have even a tea-party, no fixed charge for admission is made; the price paid for demolishing the tea and currant bread, and crackers being left to the individual ability and feelings of the participants.
Service is held in the chapel morning and evening every Sunday, and the business of religious edification is very peacefully conducted. There is a moderate choir in the chapel, and a small harmonium: The singing is conducted on the tonic sol fa principle, and it seems to suit Mr. William Toulmin, brother of the owner of the chapel, preaches every Sunday, and has done so, more or less, from its opening. He gets nothing for the job, contributes his share towards the church expenses as well, and is satisfied. Others going to the place might preach if they could, but they can't, so the lot constantly falls upon Jonah, who gives homely practical sermons, and is well thought of by his hearers. He is a quaint, cold, generous man; is original, humble, honest; cares little for appearances; wears neither white bands nor morocco shoes; looks sad, rough and ready, and unapproachable; works regularly as a shopkeeper on week days, and earnestly as a preacher on Sundays; passes his life away in a mild struggle with eggs, bacon, butter, and theology; isn't learned, nor classical, nor rhetorical, but possesses common sense; expresses himself so as to be understood—a thing which some regular parsons have a difficulty in doing; and has laboured Sunday after Sunday for years all for nothing—a thing which no regular parson ever did or ever will do. We somewhat respect a man who can preach for years without pocketing a single dime, and contribute regularly towards a church which gives him no salary, and never intends doing. The homilies of the preacher at Ashmoor-street Chapel may neither be luminous nor eloquent, neither pythonic in utterance nor refined in diction, but they are at least worth as much as he gets for them. Any man able to sermonise better, or rhapsodise more cheaply, or beat the bush of divinity more energetically, can occupy the pulpit tomorrow. It is open to all England, and possession of it can be obtained without a struggle. Who bids?
ST. JAMES'S CHURCH.
There is a touch of smooth piety and elegance in the name of St. James. It sounds refined, serious, precise. Two of the quietest and most devoted pioneers of Christianity were christened James; the most fashionable quarters in London are St. James's; the Spaniards have for ages recognised St. James as their patron saint; and on the whole whether referring to the "elder" or the "less" James, the name has a very good and Jamesly bearing. An old English poet says that "Saint James gives oysters" just as St. Swithin attends to the rain; but we are afraid that in these days he doesn't look very minutely after the bivalve part of creation: if he does he is determined to charge us enough for ingurgitation, and that isn't a very saintly thing. He may be an ichthyofagic benefactors only—we don't see the oysters as often as we could like. Not many churches are called after St. James, and very few people swear by him. We have a church in Preston dedicated to the saint; but it got the name whilst it was a kind of chapel. St. James's church is situated between Knowsley and Berry-streets, and directly faces the National school in Avenham-lane. "Who erected the building?" said we one day to a churchman, and the curt reply, with a neatly curled lip, was, "A parcel of Dissenters."
Very few people seem to have a really correct knowledge of the history of the place, and, for the satisfaction of all and the singular, we will give an account of it, in the exact words of the gentleman who had most to do with the building originally. Mr. James Fielding deposeth:- St. James's was erected by the Rev. James Fielding and his friends. The occasion of its erection was this— Vauxhall-road Chapel, in which Mr. Fielding had been preaching four or five years, had become too small for the accomodation of the congregation worshipping there, and it was thought advisable to open a subscription for a new and larger building. The first stone of St. James's was laid by Mr. Fielding, May 24th, 1837, and the place was opened for divine worship in January, 1838, under the denomination of "The Primitive Episcopal Church," [that beats the "Reformed Church,"—eh?] by the Rev. J. R. Matthews, of Bedford, who was a clergyman of the Established Church. The building was computed to seat about 1,300 people. The cost of the place was about 1,500 pounds. After the opening, Mr. Fielding commenced his ministry in the new church—the congregation removing from Vauxhall Chapel into that place of worship. Not long afterwards Mr. Fielding had a severe attack of illness, and was laid aside from his work. From this, together with the urgency of the contractors for the payment of their bills, it was thought advisable to sell the premises. The late vicar of Preston, Rev. Carus Wilson, in conjunction with his friends, offered 1,000 pounds for the building. This was believed to be considerably under its real value, being 500 pounds below the cost amount. However, under the circumstances it was decided to accept the offer. The transfer of the premises took place in April, 1838. Mr. Fielding continued his ministry in Preston in several other places for thirteen years after the erection of St. James's.
The late John Addison, Esq., of this town, says, in a document written by himself, which we have before us, and which is entitled "Some account of St. James's Church, in the parish of Preston"—"A body of Dissenters having erected a large building, capable of holding 1,100 persons, and having opened it for public worship under the name of St. James's Church, but, being unable to pay the expenses, offered it for sale. The building being situated directly opposite the Central National School, and in the immediate neighbourhood of the infant school and Church Sunday schools, a few of the committee of the National school thought it desirable that the building should be purchased and made into a church for the accomodation of the children of the schools and of the neighbourhood." And the result was the purchase of the Rev. James Fielding's "Primitive Episcopal Church."
The building is made mainly of brick, and looks very like a Dissenting place of worship. It is a tame, moderately tall, quadrangular edifice, flanked with stone buttresses, heavy enough to crush in its sides, fronted with a plain gable, pierced with a few prosaic windows, and surmounted with collateral turrets and a small bell fit for a school-house, and calculated to swivel whilst being worked quite as much as any other piece of sacred bell-metal in the Hundred of Amounderness. There is a small graveyard in front of the church containing a few flat tombstones and six young trees which have rather a struggling time of it in windy weather. The ground spaces at the sides of the church are decorated with ivy, thistles, chickweed, and a few venerable docks, The internal architecture of the building is as dull and modest as that of the exterior. The seats are stiff, between 30 and 40 inches high, and homely. Just at present they have a scraped care-worn look, as if they had been getting parish relief; but in time, when cash is more plentiful, their appearance will be improved. A considerable sum of money was once spent upon the cleaning and renovation of the church; but the paint which was put on during the work never suited; it was either brushed on too thickly or varnished too coarsely; it persisted in sticking to people rather too keenly at times; would hardly give way if struggled with; and taking into account its tenacity and ill- looks—it was finally decided to rub it off, make things easy with pumice stone, and agitate for fresh paint and varnish when the opportunity presented itself.
There is a large gallery in the church; but, like everything else, it is plain, The only striking ornament in the building is a sixteen-spoked circular window (at the chancel end), and until made to turn round it will never be popularly attractive. In 1846 the chancel, which isn't anything very prepossessing, was added to the church. The pulpit is high and rather elegant in design; the reading desk is a gothicised fabric, and, with its open sides, reminds one more of a genteel open gangway on which everything can be seen, than of a snug high box, like those in which old-fashioned clerks used to sup gin and go to sleep during the intervals. Until recently there were two wooden gas stands at the sides of the reading desk. They looked like candlesticks, and short-sighted people, with thin theological cuticles, and a horror of Puseyism, disliked them. Eventually the wood was gilded, and, seeing this, as well as knowing that candles were never gilded, and that, therefore, the stands couldn't be candles, the dissatisfied ones were appeased. There are about 400 free sittings in the church; but few people appear to care much for them. These seats are situated on each side of the building, at the rear, and in the gallery; and they will be dying of inanition by and bye if somebody doesn't come to the rescue. People don't seem to care about having a thing for nothing in the region of St. James's church. They would probably flock in greater numbers to the edifice if there were an abundance of those oysters which it is said "Saint James gives;" but they appear to have a sacred dread of free seats. Very recently we were at the church, and on the side we noticed seventeen free pews. How many people do you think there were in them? Just one delicious old woman, who wore a brightly-coloured old shawl, and a finely-spreading old bonnet, which in its weight and amplitude of trimmings seemed to frown into evanescence the sprightly half-ounce head gearing of today. Paying for what they get and giving a good price for it when they have a chance is evidently an axiom with the believers in St. James's. There is at present a demand for seats worth from 7s. to 10s. each; but those which can be obtained for 1s. are not much thought of, and nobody will look on one side at the pews which are offered for nothing. That which is not charged for is never cared for; and further, in respect to free pews, patronage of them is an indication of poverty, and people, as a rule, don't like to show the white feather in that department.
The congregation is thin, but select—is constituted of substantial burgeois people, and a few individuals who are comparatively wealthy. There is a smart elegance about the bonnets and toilettes of some of the females, and a studied precision in respect to the linen, vests, and gloves of several of the males. Nothing gloomy, nor acetose, nor piously-angular can be observed in them; nothing pre-eminently lustrous is seen in the halo of the respective worshippers; yet there is a finish about them which indicates that they have no connection with the canaille, and that they are in some instances approaching, and in others directly associated with, the "higher middle class." There are only two services a week—morning and evening, on a Sunday—at St. James's. Formerly there were more— one on a Sunday afternoon, and another on a Thursday evening; but as the former was only attended by about 30, and the latter by eight or ten, and as the fund for maintaining a curate who had the management of them was withdrawn, it was decided some time ago to drop the services. The Sunday congregation, although it does not on many occasions half fill the church, is gradually increasing, and it is hoped that during the next twenty-years it will swell into pretty large proportions.
The choral performances form the main item of attraction in the services. Without them, the business would be tame and flavourless. They give a warmth and charm to the proceedings. The members of the choir sit in collateral rows in the chancel; they are all surpliced; all very virtuous and clerical in look; seldom put their hands into their pockets whilst singing; and, whatever quantity of "linen" may be got out by them they invariably endeavour to obviate violence of expression. Their appearance reminds one of cathedral choristers. In precision and harmony they are good; and, as a body, they manage all their work—responses, psalm-singing, &c.—in a very satisfactory style. For their services they receive nothing, except, perhaps, an annual treat in the shape of a country trip or social supper. They wouldn't have money if it were offered to them. St. James's is the only Preston church in which surpliced choristers sing, and we believe they have tended materially to increase the congregation. The choral system now followed at St. James's was inaugurated in 1865, Originally, the choir consisted of 12 boys and 10 men, but, if anything, parties who are under the painful necessity of shaving now preponderate. In one corner at the chancel end there is a moderately well-made organ; but it is not an A1 affair, although it is played with ability by a gentleman who is perhaps second to none hereabouts in his knowledge of ecclesiastical music. Like the singers, the organist resolves his services into what may be termed a "labour of love." In other ways much may be fish which cometh to his net; but he is, ORGANICALLY, of a philanthropic turn of mind. The necessary expenses of the choir amount to about 25 pounds a-year, and they are met by private subscriptions from the congregation.
The lessons are read in the church by Mr. Gardner, who comes up to the lectern undismayed, with a calm, military cast of countenance, and goes through his articulative duties in a clear, distinct style, saying nothing to anybody near him which is not contained in the book before him, and making neither incidental comment nor studied criticism upon any of the verses be reads. The Rev. John Wilson, son-in-law of the present vicar of Preston, is the incumbent of St. James's. He is the seventh minister who has been at the place since its transference from the Primitive Episcopalians. The first of the seven was the Rev. W. Harrison; the next was the Rev. P. W. Copeman; afterwards came the Rev. W. Wailing, who was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Betts, whose mantle fell upon the Rev. J. Cousins. Then came the Rev A. T. Armstrong, and he was followed by the present incumbent. During the reign of Mr. Cousins there was a rupture at the place, and many combative letters were written with reference to it. Up to and for some time after his appointment the Sunday schools of the Parish and St. James's Churches were amalgamated—were considered as one lot; but through some misunderstanding a separation ensued. Mr. Cousins, who had no locus standi as to the possession of the schools, took with him some scholars, drilled them after his own fashion for a time, and eventually the present day and Sunday schools in Knowsley-street were built and opened on behalf of St. James's. The day school is at present in excellent condition, and has an average attendance, boys and girls included, of 400; the Sunday school has an average attendance of something like 200, the generality of the children being of a respectable, well-dressed character, although no more disposed, at times, than other juveniles, to be docile and peaceful.
The Rev. J. Wilson has been at St. James's upwards of 15 years. He was curate of the Parish Church from 1847 to 1850. In the latter year he left in order to take the sole charge of a parish in Norfolk. In 1854 he gravitated to Preston again, and in the course of a year was made incumbent of St. James's. For some time he had much to contend with in the district; and he has had up-hill work all along. He was one of the original agitators for an alteration of the Parish Church, and in one sense it may be said that the move he primarily made in the matter eventuated in the restoration of that building. The creation of St. Saviour's Church is also largely due to him, and owing to the building being in St. James's district, which is a "Blandsford parish," and the only one of the kind in Preston we may remark, he has the right of presentation to it. Mr. Wilson is a calm, middle-sized, rather eccentric looking gentleman, tasteful in big hirsute arrangements, and biased towards a small curl in the front of his forehead. He is light on his feet, has a forward bend in his walk, as if trying to find something but never able to get at it; has a passion for an umbrella, which he carries both in fine and wet weather; likes a dark, thin, closely-buttoned overcoat, and used to love a down-easter wide-awake hat. He is a frank, independent, educated man; has no sham in him; is liberal is far as his means will allow; works hard; has an odd, go-ahead way with him; cares little about bowing and scraping to people; often passes folk (unintentionally) without nodding; and has nothing of a polemically virulent character in his disposition. There is something genuine, honest, gentlemanly, and unreadable in him. He almost reminds one of Elia's inexplicable cousin. He has a special fondness for architecture; plans, specifications, &c., have a charm for him; he is a sort of clerical Inigo Jones; and ought to have been an architect. He is a rather polished reader; but he holds his teeth too tightly together, and there is a tremulousness in his voice which makes the utterances thereof rather too unctuous. As a preacher he is clear, calm, and methodical. His sermons, all written, are scholarly in style cool in tone, short, and, in the orthodox sense, practical. In their delivery he does not make much stir, he goes on evenly and rapidly, looking little to either the right hand or the left, broiling none, and foaming never. Occasionally, but it is quite an exception, he forgets his sermons— leaves them at home—and this is somewhat awkward when the mistake is only found out just before the preaching should be gone on with. But the company are kept serene by a little extra singing, or something of that kind, and in the meantime a rapid rush is made to the parsonage, and the missing manuscript is secured, conveyed to the church either in a basket or a pocket, taken into the pulpit, looked at rather fiercely, shook a little, and then read through. How would it be if the manuscript could not be found? Long official life appears to be the rule at St. James's. Mr. Wm. Relph, who died last year, was a churchwarden at the place for 21 years; Mr. Bannister has been in office as churchwarden for nearly as long; the person who was beadle up to last year had officiated in that capacity for nearly eleven years; the organist has been at the church above 15 years; the mistress of the school belonging the church has been at her post about as long; and the schoolmaster has been in office 13 or 14 years. If long service speaks well for a place, the facts we have given are creditable alike to the church and the officials. Mr. Wilson, who gets about 300 pounds a year, is well-respected by all; he manages to keep down unpleasant feuds; regulates the district peacefully, if slowly, deserves a handsomer church, and would be quite willing, we believe, to be its architect if one were ordered.
There are about 1,100 different religious creeds in the world, and amongst them all there is not one more energetic, more mysterious, or more wit-shaken than Mormonism. It is a mass of earnest "abysmal nonsense," an olla-podrida of theological whimsicalities, a saintly jumble of pious staff made up—if we may borrow an idea—of Hebraism, Persian Dualism, Brahminism, Buddhistic apotheosis, heterodox and orthodox Christianity, Mohammedanism, Drusism, Freemasonry, Methodism, Swedenborgianism, Mesmerism, and Spirit- rapping. We might go on in our elucidation; but what we have said will probably be sufficient for present purposes. There are some deep-swimming fish in the "waters of Mormon;" but the piscatorial shoal is sincere enough, though mortally odd-brained and dreamy. On the 22nd of September, 1827, a rough-spun American, named Joseph Smith, belonging to a family reputed to be fond of laziness, drink, and untruthfulness, and suspected of being somewhat disposed to sheep-stealing, had a visit from "the angel of the Lord." He had previously been told that his sins were forgiven; that he was a "chosen instrument," &c., and on the day named Joseph found, somewhere in Ontario, a number of gold plates, eight inches long and seven wide, nearly as thick as tin, fastened together by three rings, and bearing inscriptions, in "Reformed Egyptian," relative to the history of America "from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel at the confusion of tongues, to the beginning of the 5th century of the Christian era." These inscriptions were originally got up by a prophet named Mormon were, as before stated, found by Joseph Smith, were read off by him to a man rejoicing in the name of Oliver Cowdery, and they constitute the contents of what is now known as the Book of Mormon. Smith did not translate the "Reformed Egyptian" openly—if he had been asked to do so, he would have said, "not for Joe;" he got behind a blanket in order to do the job, considering that the plates would be defiled if seen by profane eyes; and deciphered them by two odd lapidistic transparencies, called "Urim and Thummin," which he found at the same time as he met with the records. Report hath it that Joe's "translation" of the sacred plates is substantially a paraphrase of a romance written by one Solomon Spalding; but the Mormons, or rather the members of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," deny this, and say that at least eleven persons saw the original plates after transcription. They may have seen them; but nobody else has, and Heaven only knows where they are now.
Did you ever, gentle reader, see the "Book of Mormon?" We have one before us, purchased from a real live Salt Lake missionary; but it is so dreadfully dry and intricate, and seems to be such a dodged-up paraphrase of our own Scriptures, that we are afraid it will never do us any good. It professes to be a "record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lumanites their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower." The Mormons think it equal in divine authority to, and a positive corollary of, the Old and New Testaments. It consists of several books, and many chapters; the books being those of Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Nephi, Mormon, Ether, and Moroni. The language is quaint and simple in syllabic construction; but the book altogether is a mass of dreamy, puzzling history—is either a sacred fiction plagiarised, or a useless and senile jumble of Christian and Red Indian tradition. Smith, the founder of Mormonism, had only a rough time of it. His Church was first organised in 1830, in the State of New York. Afterwards the Mormons went into Ohio, then established themselves in Missouri, were next driven into Clay County, subsequently look refuge in Illinois, and finally planted themselves in the valley of the great Salt Lake, where they may now be found. Smith came to grief in 1844, by a pistol shot, administered to him in Illinois by a number of roughs; and Brigham Young, a man said to be "very much married," and who will now be the father of perhaps 150 children, was appointed his successor. Mormonism is disliked by the bulk of people mainly on account of its fondness for wives. The generality of civilised folk think that one fairly matured creature, with a ring on one of her left-hand fingers, is sufficient for a single household—quite sufficient for all the fair purposes of existence, "lecturing" included; but the Latter-day Saints, who were originally monogamists, and whose "Book of Mormon" condemns polygamy, believe in a plurality of housekeepers. They contend that since the finding of the sacred record by Smith there has been a "divine" revelation on the subject, and that their dignity in heaven will be "in proportion to the number of their wives and children" in this.
Leaving the polygamic part of the business, we may observe that the Mormons believe that God was once a man, but is now perfect; that any man may rise into a species of deity if he is good enough; that mortals will not be punished for what Adam did, but for what they have done themselves; that there can be no salvation without repentance, faith, and baptism; that the sacrament—bread and water- -must be taken every week; that ministerial action must be preceded by inspiration; that Miraculous gifts have not ceased; that the soul of man "co-existed equal with God;" that the word of God is recorded in all good books; that there will be an actual gathering of Israel, including the Red Indians, whom they regard with much interest as being the descendants of an ancient tribe whose skins were coloured on account of disobedience in some part of America about 2,400 years ago; that the "New Zion" will be established in America; and that there will be a final resurrection of the flesh and bones—without the blood—of men. Some of their moral articles of belief are good, and if carried out, ought to make the Salt Lake Valley a decent, peaceable place, notwithstanding all the wives therein. In one of the said articles they express their belief in being "honest, true, chaste, temperate, benevolent, virtuous, and upright," and further on they come down with a crash upon idle and lazy persons, by saying that they can be neither Christians nor enjoy salvation.
In 1837, certain elders of the Mormon church, including Orson Hyde and Heber C. Kimball, were sent over to England as missionaries; the first town they commenced operations in, after their arrival, was— PRESTON; and the first shot they fired in Preston was from the pulpit of a building in Vauxhall-road, now occupied by the Particular Baptists. Things got hot in a few minutes here; it became speedily known that Hyde, Kimball, and Co. were of a sect fond of a multiplicity of wives; and the "missionaries" had to forthwith look out for fresh quarters. They secured the old Cock Pit, drove a great business in it, and at length actually got about 500 "members." Whilst this movement was going on in the town, the missionaries were pushing Mormonism in some of the surrounding country places. At Longton, nearly everybody went into raptures over the "new doctrine;" Mormonism fairly took the place by storm; it caught up and entranced old and young, married and single, pious and godless; it even spread like a sacred rinderpest amongst the Wesleyans, who at that time were very strong in Longton—captivating leaders, members, and some of the scholars in fine style; and the chapel of this body was so emptied by the Mormon crusade, that it was found expedient to reduce it internally and set apart some of it for school purposes. To this day the village has not entirely recovered the shock which Mormonism gave it 30 years ago. During the heat of the conflict many Longtonians went to the region of Mormondom in America, and several of them soon wished they were back again. In Preston, too, whilst the Cock Pit fever was raging numbers "went out." After the work of "conversion," &c., had been carried on for a period in the sacred Pit mentioned, the Mormons migrated to a building, which had been used as a joiners shop, in Park-road; subsequently they took for their tabernacle an old sizing house in Friargate; then they went to a building in Lawson-street now used as the Weavers' Institute, and originally occupied by the Ranters; and at a later date they made another move—transferred themselves to a room in the Temperance Hotel, Lime-street, which they continue to occupy, and in which, every Sunday morning and evening, they ideally drink of Mormondom's salt-water, and clap their hands gleefully over Joe Smith's impending millenium.
There are only about 70 members of the Mormon Church in Preston and the immediate neighbourhood at present; but they are all hopeful, and fancy that beatification is in store for them. We had recently a half-solemn, half-comic desire to see the very latest development of Preston Mormonism in its Lune-street home; but having an idea that strangers might be objected to whilst the "holding forth" was going on, that, in fact, the members had resolved themselves, through diminished numbers, into a species of secret conclave, we were rather puzzled to know how the business of seeing and hearing could be accomplished. Nevertheless we went to the Temperance Hotel, and after some conversation with a person there—not a Mormon—we decided to go right into the meeting-room, the idea being that, under any circumstances, we could only be pitched into, and then pitched out. And with this notion we entered the place, put our hat upon a table deliberately, took a seat upon a form quietly, and then looked round coolly in anticipation of a round of sauce or a trifle of fighting. But peace was preserved. There were just six living beings in the room—three well-dressed moustached young men, a thinly-fierce-looking woman, a very red-headed youth, and a quiet little girl. For about 30 seconds absolute silence prevailed. The thin woman then looked forward at the red-haired youth and in a clear voice said "Bin round there yet—eh?" which elicited the answer "Yea, and comed whoam." "Things are flat there as well as here aren't they—eh?" And the red-haired youth said "Yea." "Factories arn't doing much now, are they?" said she next, and the rejoinder was "They arn't; bin round by Bowton, and its aw alike." This slightly refreshing prelude was supplemented by sapient remarks as to the weather &c.; and we were beginning to wonder whether the general service was simply going to amount to this kind of conversation or be pushed on "properly" when in stepped a strong- built dark-complexioned man, who marched forward with the dignity of an elder, until he got to a small table surmounted by a desk, whence he drew a brown paper parcel, which he handed to one of the moustached young men, who undid it cautiously and carefully, "What is it going to be?" said we, mentally; when, lo! there appeared a white table cloth, which was duly spread. The strong built man then dived deeply into one of his coat pockets, and fetched out of it a small paper parcel, flung it upon a form close by, seized a soup plate into which he crumbled a slice of bread, then got a double- handled pewter pot, into which he poured some water, and afterwards sat down as generalissimo of the business. The individual who manipulated with the table cloth afterwards made a prayer, universal in several of its sentiments; but stiffened up tightly with Mormon notions towards the close.
Two elderly men and a lad entered the room when the orison was finished, and a discussion followed between the "general" and the young man who had been praying as to some hymn they should sing. "Can't find the first hymn," said the young man; and we thought that a pretty smart thing for a beginning. "Oh, never mind—go farther on—any—long meter," uttered his interlocutor, and he forthwith made a sanguine dash into the centre of the book, and gave out a hymn. The company got into a "peculiar metre" tune at once, and the singing was about the most comically wretched we ever heard. The lad who came in with the elderly men tried every range of voice in every verse, and thought that he had a right to do just as he liked with the music; the elderly men near him hammed out something in a weak and time-worn key; the woman got into a high strain and flourished considerably at the line ends; the little girl said nothing; the three young men seemed quite unable to get above a monotonous groan, and the general looked forward, then down, and then smiled a little, but uttered never a word, and seemed immensely relieved when the singing was over. The bread which had been broken into the soup plate was next handed round, and it was succeeded by the pewter pot measure of water. This was the sacrament, and it was partaken of by all—the young as well as the old. During the enactment of this part of the programme a gaily-dressed young female, sporting a Paisley shawl, ear-rings, a chignon, a small bonnet, and the other accoutrements of modern fashion, dropped in, and also took the sacrament. Another hymn was here given out, and the young woman with the Paisley shawl, &c., rushed straight into the work of singing without a moment's warning. She carried the others with her, and enabled them to get through the verses easily. Just when the singing was ended, a rubicund-featured and bosky female, who had, perhaps, seen five-and-forty summers, landed in the room, took a seat, and then took the sacrament. She was the last of the Mohicans, and after her appearance the door was closed, and the latch dropped.
Speaking succeeded, and the talkers got upon their feet in accordance with certain nods and memoes from the chairman. They all eulogised in a joyous strain the glories of Mormonism, but never a syllable was expressed about wives. A young moustached man led the way. He told the meeting that he had long been of a religious turn of mind; that he was a Wesleyan until 17 years of age; that afterwards he found peace in the Smithsonian church; that the only true creed was that of Mormonism; that it didn't matter what people said in condemnation of such creed; and that he should always stick to it. The thin woman, who seemed to have an awful tongue in her head, was the second speaker. She panegyrised "the church" in a phrensied, fierce-tempered, piping strain, talked rapidly about the "new dispensation," declared that she had accepted it voluntarily, hadn't been deceived by any one—we hope she never will be—and that she was happy. Her conclusion was sudden, and she appeared to break off just before reaching an agony-point. The third talker was one of the old men, and he commenced with things from "before the foundations of the world," and brought them down to the present day. His speech was earnest, florid, and rather argumentative in tone. After stating that he had a pious spell upon him before visiting the room, and that the afflatus was still upon him, he entered into a labyrinthal defence of "the church." "Mormonism," he said, "is more purer than any other doctrine that is," and "this here faith," he continued, "has to go on and win." He talked mystically about things being "resurrectioned," contended that the Solomon Spalding theory had been exploded, and quoting one of the elders, said that Mormonism began in a hamlet and got to a village, from a village to a town, thence to a city, thence to a territory, and that if it got "just another kick it would as sure as fate be kicked into a great and mighty nation." This "old man eloquent" seemed over head and ears in Mormonism, and almost shook with joy at certain points of his discourse.
The fourth, and the last, speaker was the chairman. He raised his brawny frame slowly, held a Bible in one hand, and started in this fashion—"Well I s'pose I've to say something; but I can't tell what it'll be." This declaration was followed up by a long, wandering mass of talk, full of repetition and hypothetical theology—a mixture of Judaism, Christianity, and Mormonism, and from the whole he endeavoured to distil this "fact" that both Isaiah and St. John had made certain prophetic statements as to the Book of Mormon and its transcription by Joe Smith. It did not, however, appear from what he said that either Isaiah or the seer of Patmos had named anything about the blanket trick which had to be adopted by Joe is translating "the Book." But that was perhaps unnecessary; and we shall not throw a "wet blanket" upon the matter by further alluding to it. When the chairman had done his speech, the doxology was sung, and this was supplemented by benediction, pronounced by a young man who shut his eyes, stretched his hands a quarter of a yard out of his coat sleeves, and in a most inspired and bishoply style, delivered the requisite blessing. Hand-shaking, in which we found it necessary to join, supervened, and then there was a general disappearance. The whole of the speakers at this meeting—which may be taken as a fair sample of the gatherings—were illiterate people, individuals with much zeal and little education; and the manner in which they crucified sentences, and maltreated the general principles of logic and common-sense, was really disheartening. They are very earnest folk; we also believe they are honest; but, after all, they are "gone coons," beyond the reach of both physic and argument. We knew none of the Mormons who attended the meeting described, and singular to say the proprietor of the establishment wherein they assembled had no knowledge of either their names or places of abode. They pay him his rent regularly, and he deems that enough. All that we really know of the sect is, that their chairman is either a mechanic or a blacksmith somewhere, is plain, muscular, solemn looking, bass-voiced, and dreamy; and that his flock are a small, earnest, and preciously-fashioned parcel of sincere, yet deluded, enthusiasts.
ST. WALBURGE'S CATHOLIC CHURCH.
This is a church in charge of the Jesuits, and by them and it we are reminded of what may fairly be termed the great leg question. The order of Jesuits, as we lately remarked, was originated by a damaged leg; and St. Walburge's church, Preston, owes its existence to the cure of one. Excellent, O legs! Tradition hath it that once upon a time—about 1160 years ago—a certain West Saxon King had a daughter born unto him, whose name was Walburge; that she went into Germany with two of her brothers, became abbess of a convent there, did marvellous things, was a wonder in her way, couldn't be bitten by dogs—they, used to snatch half a yard off and then run, that she died on the 25th February, 778, that her relics were transferred, on the 12th October following, to Eichstadt, at which place a convent was built to her memory, that the said relics were put into a bronze shrine, which was placed upon a table of marble, in the convent chapel; that every year since then, between the 12th of October and the 25th of February, the marble upon which the shrine is placed has "perspired" a liquid which is collected below in a vase of silver; and that this liquid, which is called "St. Walburge's oil," will cure, by its application, all manner of physical ailments. This is the end of our first lesson concerning St. Walburge and the wonderful oil. The second lesson runneth thus:- About five and twenty years ago there lived, as housemaid at St. Wilfrid's presbytery, in this town, one Alice Holderness. She was a comely woman and pious; but she fell one day on some steps leading to the presbytery, hurt one of her legs—broke the knee cap of it, we believe—and had to be carried straight to bed. Medical aid was obtained; but the injured knee was obstinate, wouldn't be mended, and when physic and hope alike had been abandoned, so far as the leg of Alice was concerned, the Rev. Father Norris, who, in conjunction with the Rev. Father Weston, was at that time stationed at St. Wilfrid's, was struck with a somewhat bright thought as to the potency of St. Walburge's oil. A little of that oil was procured, and this is what a sister of the injured woman says, in a letter which we have seen on the subject, viz.:—That Father Norris dipped a pen into the oil and dropped a morsel of it upon her knee, whereupon "the bones immediately snapped together and she was perfectly cured, having no longer the slightest weakness in the broken limb."
This is a strange tale, which people can either believe or disbelieve at their own pleasure. All Protestants—ourselves included—will necessarily be dubious; and if any polemical lecturer should happen to see the story he will go wild with delight, and consider that there is material enough in it for at least six good declamatory and paying discourses. Well, whether correct or false, the priests at St. Wilfrid's believed in the "miraculous cure," and decided forthwith to agitate for a church in honour of St. Walburge. That church is the one we now see on Maudlands—a vast and magnificent pile, larger in its proportions than any other Preston place of worship, and with a spire which can only be equalled for altitude by two others in the whole country. What a potent architectural charm was secreted in that mystic oil with which Father Norris touched the knee of Alice! In the "Walpurgis dance of globule and oblate spheroid," there may be something wonderful, but through this drop of oil from the Walpurgian shrine an obstreperous knee snapped up into compact health instantly, and then a large church, ornamental to Preston and creditable to the entire Catholic population, arose. There used to be a hospital, dedicated to Mary Magdalen, either actually upon or very near the site occupied by St. Walburge's Church; but that building disappeared long ago, and no one can tell the exact character of it. Prior to, and until the completion of, the erection of St. Walburge's Church, schools intended for it, and built mainly at the expense of the late Mr. W. Talbot, were raised on some adjoining land. Service in accordance with the Catholic ritual was held therein until the completion of the Church. Father Weston was the leading spirit in the construction of St. Walburge's, and to him—although well assisted by Father Williams—may be attributed the main honour of its development into reality. Father Cobb, of St. Wilfrid's, laid the foundation stone of St. Walburge's Church, on Whit-Monday, 1850; and on the 3rd of August, 1854, the building was opened, the ceremony being of a very grand and imposing description. The spire of the church was not completed until 1887. The entire cost of the place has been about 15,000 pounds.
St. Walburge's is built in the early decorated Gothic style of architecture, and it is beyond all controversy, a splendid looking building. At the eastern end there is a remarkably fine seven-light stained glass window. This is flanked by a couple of two-light windows; and the general effect is most imposing. The central window is 35 feet high. At the western end there is a beautifully-coloured circular window, 22 feet in diameter, which was given by Miss Roper; and beneath it there are small coloured lights, put in by Father Weston out of money left him by Miss Green. Nearly all the side windows in the church are coloured, and four of them are of the "presentation" stamp. The most prominent thing about the church is the spire, which, as well as the tower, is built of limestone, and surmounted by a cross, the distance from its apex to the ground being about 301 feet. We saw the weather vane fixed upon this spire, and how the man who did the job managed to keep his head from spinning right round, and then right off, was at the time an exciting mystery to us which we have not yet been able to properly solve. A little before the actual completion of the spire, we had a chance of ascending it, but we remained below. The man in charge wanted half-a-crown for the trip; and as we fancied that something like 5 pounds ought to be given to us for undertaking a journey so perilous, it was mutually decided that we should keep down. Why, it would be a sort of agony to ascend the spire under the most favourable circumstances; and as one might only tumble down if ascension were achieved, the safest plan is to keep down altogether. We have often philosophised on the question of punishment, and, locally speaking, we have come to this conclusion, that agony would be sufficiently piled in any case of crime, if the delinquent were just hoisted to the top of St. Walburge's spire and left there. From the summit of the tower, which is quite as high as safe-sided human beings need desire to get, there is a magnificent view: Preston lurches beneath like a hazy amphitheatre of houses and chimneys; to the east you have Pendle, Longridge, and the dark hills of Bowland; northwards, in the far distance, the undulating Lake hills; westward, the fertile Fylde, flanked by the Ribble, winding its way like a silver thread to the ocean; and southwards Rivington Pyke and Hoghton's wooded summit with a dim valley to the left thereof, in which Blackburn works and dreams out its vigorous existence. The general scenery from the tower is panoramic and charming. The view from the spire head must be immense and exquisite, but few people of this generation, unless a very safe plan of ascension is found out, will be able to enjoy it. In the tower there is a large bell, weighing 31 cwt.; and it can make a very considerable sound, drowning all the smaller ringing arrangements in the neighbourhood. Some time, but not yet, there will probably be a peal of twelve bells in the tower, for it has accomodation for that number.
Internally the church is very high and spacious; is decorated artistically in many places; and a sense of mingled solemnity and immensity comes over you on entering it. The roof is a tremendous affair; it is open, and supported by eleven huge Gothic-fashioned principals, each of which cost 100 pounds, and it is panelled above with stained timber. But we don't care very much for the roof. No doubt it is fine; but the whole of the wood work seems too, heavy and much too dark. There is a cimmerian massiveness about it; and on a dull day it looks quite bewildering. If it were stained in a lighter colour its proportions would come out better, and much of that gigantic gloom which now shadows it would be removed. There are canopied stands for two and twenty statues towards the base of the principals; but the whole of them, except about five, are empty. Saints, &c., will be looked after for these stands when money is more abundant, and when more essential work has been executed. What seems to be proximately wanted in the church is a good sanctuary— something in keeping with the general design of the building and really worthy of the place. It is intended, we believe, to have a magnificent sanctuary; but a proper design for one can't be exactly hit on; when it is, the past liberality of the congregation is a sufficient guarantee that the needful article—money—will be soon forthcoming. Notwithstanding the greatness of the church, it will not seat as many as some smaller places of worship. This is accounted for through its having no galleries. There is a small elevation in the shape of a gallery at the western end, which is seldom used; but the sides of the church are open, the windows running along them rendering this necessary. The church will comfortably seat about 1,000 persons; 1,700 have been seen in it; but there had to be much crushing, and all the aisles, &c., had to be filled with standing people to admit such a number. The seats are all well made and all open.
On a Sunday masses are said at eight, nine, ten, and eleven, and there is an afternoon service at three. The aggregate average attendance on a Sunday is about 3,000. There are three confessionals in the church, towards the south-eastern-corner; they stand out like small square boxes, and although made for everybody seem specially adapted for thin and Cassius-like people. Falstaff's theory was— more flesh more frailty. If this be so, then, there are either very few "great" sinners at St. Walburge's or the large ones confess somewhere else. The worshippers at this church are, in nine cases out of ten, working people. The better class of people sit at the higher end of the central benches; and if one had never seen them there no difficulty would be experienced in finding out their seats. You may always ascertain the character of worshippers by what they sit upon. Working-class people rest upon bare boards; middle-class individuals develop the cushion scheme to a moderate pitch; the upper species push it towards consummation-like ease, and therefore are the owners of good cushions. Very few cushions can be seen in St. Walburge's; those noticeable are at the higher end; and the logical inference, therefore, is that not many superb people attend the place, and that those who do go sit just in the quarter mentioned. At the doors of this church, as at those of other Catholic places of worship in the town, you may see men standing with boxes, asking for alms. These are brothers of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The object of this society is to visit and relieve the sick and the poor. The brothers are excellent auxiliaries of the clergy; and, further, do the work of the mendicity societies, like those now being established in London, by examing applications for relief, and so disappointing impostors. The conference of St. Vincent attached to St. Walburge's Church numbers 16 active members, who collected and distributed in food and clothing during last year 112 pounds. The brothers are deserving of all praise for spending their evenings in visiting the sick and distressed, in courts and alleys, after their day's work.
The singers at this church occupy a small balcony on the south side. They are a pretty musical body—got through their business ever so creditably; but they are rather short of that which most choirs are deficient in—tenor power. They would be heard far better if placed at the western end but a good deal of expense would have to be incurred in making orchestral arrangements for them there; so that for some time, at least, they will have to be content with their grated and curtained musical hoist on the southern side, singing right out as hard as they can at the pulpit, which exactly faces them, and at the preacher, if they like, when he gets into it. The organ, which is placed above the singers, and would crush them into irrecoverable atoms if it fell, is a fine instrument; but it is pushed too far into the wall, into the tower which backs it, and if there are any holes above, much of its music must necessarily escape up the steeple. The organ is played with taste and precision. The members of the choir sing gratuitously.
Since the opening of St. Walburge's there have been twelve different priests at it. Three are in charge of it now. Father Weston was the first priest, and, as already stated, was the mainspring of the church. He died on the 14th of November, 1867, and to his memory a stained glass window will by and bye be fixed in the church. This window is in Preston now; we have seen it—it is a most beautiful piece of workmanship; and as soon as the requisite money is "resubscribed," the original contributions having, through unfortunate financial circumstances, been more than half sacrificed, it will be fixed. Father Henry, late rector of Stonyhurst College, was for some time at St. Walburge's, and during his stay the work begun by Father Weston, and pushed on considerably by successive priests, was elaborated and finished. The three priests now at St. Walburge's are Fathers J. Johnson (principal), Payne, and Papall. Father Johnson, who has been at the church about fourteen months, is a spare, long-headed, warm-hearted, unostentatious man. He is between 50 and 60 years of age; has a practical, weather-beaten, shrewd look; would be bad to "take in;" has much latent force; is a kindly, fatherly preacher; is dry in humour till drawn out, and then can be very genial; is a sharp man, mentally and executively; has been provincial of the Jesuits and rector of Stonyhurst College; knows what's what, and knows that he knows it; is determined, but can be melted down; seems cold and sly, but has a kind spirit and an honest tongue in his bead; and is the right man for his position.
Father Payne has been at St. Walburge's about four years. He has passed 40 summers in single blessedness, and says he intends to "last it out." His preaching is serious and earnest in style. His eloquence may not be so captivating as that of some men; but it comes up freely, and involves utterances of import. Father Payne has not much action, but he has a good voice; he lifts his arms slowly and regularly, leans forward somewhat, occasionally seizes both his hands and shakes them a little; but beyond this there is not much motion observable in him. He has a keen, discreet sense of things, and, like the rest of his order, can see a long way. In private life—that is to say when he is out of the pulpit and off general duty—he is an affable, clear, merry, brisk-talking little gentleman, fond of a good joke, a blithe chat, and a hearty laugh. He is a pleasant Payne when in company, and if you knew him you would say so. The last Daniel who cometh up to judgment is Father Papall—the very embodiment of vivaciousness, linguistic activity, and dignity in a nut shell. Dark-haired, sharp-eyed, spectacled; diminutive, warm-blooded, he is about the most animated priest we know of. He has English and Italian blood in his veins, and that vascular mixture works him up beautifully. No man could stand such an amalgam without being determined, volatile, practical, and at times dreamy; and you have all these qualities developed in Father Papall. He is 40 years of age, and has seen more foreign life than many priests. He has been in Italy, where he resided for years, in Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, America, &c.; and he has been at St. Walburge's in this town, for 14 months. He is all animation when conversing with you; and in the pulpit he talks from head to foot— stirs all over, fights much with his sleeves, moves his arms, and hands, and fingers as if under some hot spell of galvanism, and fairly gets his "four feet" into the general subject, and revels with a delicious activity in it at intervals. He is an earnest preacher, has good intellectual constructiveness, and if he had not to battle so much with our English idioms and curious modes of pronunciation he would be a very potent speaker, and a racy homilist. He has a sweeping powerful voice; you could almost hear him if you were asleep, and this fact may account for the peculiarly contented movements of several parties we observed recently at the church whilst Father Papall was preaching. At least 20 near us went to sleep in about five minutes after he began talking, slept very well during the whole sermon, and at its conclusion woke up very refreshed, made brisk crosses, listened awhile to the succeeding music, &c., and then walked out quite cool and cheerful.
Most excellent schools are situated near and on the northern side of the church. The average daily attendance of boys is 200; that of the girls 260; that of the infants, 350. The boys seem well trained; the girls, who are in charge of nuns—called "Companions of the Holy Child Jesus"—are likewise industriously cared for; and the infants are a show in themselves. We saw these 350 babies, for many of them are nothing more, the other day, and the manner in which they conducted themselves was simply surprising. The utmost order prevailed amongst them, and how this was brought about we could not tell. One little pleasant-looking nun had charge of the whole confraternity, and she could say them at a word—make them as mute as mice with the mere lifting of her finger, and turn them into all sorts of merry moods by a similar motion, in a second. If this little nun could by some means convey her secret of managing children to about nineteen-twentieths of the mothers of the kingdom, who find it a dreadful business to regulate one or two, saying nothing of 350, babes and sucklings, she would confer a lasting benefit upon the householders of Britain. Night and Sunday schools— the latter being attended by about 700 boys and girls—are held in the same buildings. There are five nuns at St. Walburge's; they live in a convent hard by; and like the rest of their class they work hard every day, and sacrifice much of their own pleasure for the sake of that of other people—a thing which the generality of us have yet to take first lessons in.
There is something so severely mental, and so theologically daring in Unitarianism that many can't, whilst others won't, hold communion with it. Unbiased thinkers, willing to give all men freedom of conscience, admit the force of its logic in some things, the sincerity of its intentions in all, but deem it too dry and much too intellectual for popular digestion. The orthodox brand it as intolerably heretical and terribly unscriptural; the multitude of human beings;—like "Oyster Nan" who couldn't live without "running her vulgar rig"—consider it downright infidelity, the companion of rationalism, and the "stepping Stone to atheism." Still there are many good people who are Unitarians; many magnificent scholars who recognise its principles; and if "respectability" is any proof of correctness—this age, in the obliquity of its vision, and in the depth of its respect for simple "appearances," says it is—then Unitarianism ought to be a very proper article, for its congregations, though comparatively small, are highly seasoned with persons who wear capital clothes, take their time from the best of watches, and have ever so much of what lawyers call "real and personal" property. Men termed "Monarchians" were the first special professors of Unitarianism. They made their appearance between the second and third centuries, and, if Tertullian tells the truth, they consisted of "the simple and the unlearned." Directly after the Reformation Unitarianism spread considerably on the continent, and Transylvania, which now contains about 56,000 of its followers, became its great stronghold. Unitarianism got into England about the middle of the 16th century; and many of the Presbyterian divines who were ejected during the century which followed—in 1662—gradually became believers in it. In England the Unitarians have now about 314 chapels and emission stations; in Scotland there are only five congregations recognising Unitarianism; in Ireland about 40; in our colonies there are a few; in the United States of America the body has 256 societies; in France, Germany, Holland, &c., the principles of Unitarianism are pretty extensively believed in. Some of our greatest thinkers and writers have been Unitarians: Milton was one, so was John Locke, and so was Newton. In different ages there have been different classes of Unitarians; in these days there are at least two—the conservative and the progressive; but in the past the following points were generally believed, and in the present there is no diversity of opinion regarding them, viz., that the Godhead is single and absolute, not triune; that Christ was not God, but a perfect being inspired with divine wisdom; that there is no efficacy in His vicarious atonement, in the sense popularly recognised; and that original sin and eternal damnation are in accordance with neither the Scriptures nor common sense.
The origin of Unitarianism in Preston, as elsewhere, is mixed up with the early strivings and operations of emancipated Nonconformity. We can find no record of Nonconformists in Preston until the early part of the 18th century. At that period a chapel was erected at Walton-le-Dale, mainly, if not entirely, by Sir Henry de Hoghton—fifth baronet, and formerly member of parliament for Preston—who was one of the principal patrons of Nonconformity in this district. Very shortly afterwards, and under the same patronage, a Nonconformist congregation was established to Preston— meetings having previously been held in private houses—and the Rev. John Pilkington, great uncle of W. O. Pilkington, Esq., of the Willows, near this town, who is a Unitarian, was the minister of it, as well as of that in Walton. In 1718, a little building was erected for the Nonconformists of Preston on a piece of land near the bottom and on the north side of Church-street. This was the first Dissenting chapel raised in Preston, and in it the old Nonconformists—Presbyterians we ought to say—spent many a free and spiritually-happy hour. Eventually the generality of the congregation got into a "Monarchian" frame of mind, and from that time till this the chapel has been held by those whom we term Unitarians. The "parsonage house" of the Unitarian minister used to be in Church-street, near the chapel; but it has since been transmuted into a shop. One of the ministers at this place of worship towards the end of the last century, was a certain Mr. Walker, but he couldn't masticate the Unitarian theory which was being actively developed in it, so he walked away, and for him a building in Grimshaw-street—the predecessor of the present Independent Chapel there—was subsequently erected.
The edifice wherein our Unitarian friends assemble every Sunday, is an old-fashioned, homely-looking, little building—a tiny, Quakerised piece of architecture, simple to a degree, prosaic, diminutive, snug, dull. It is just such a place as you could imagine old primitive Non-conformists, fonder of strong principles and inherent virtue than of external embellishment and masonic finery, would build. It can be approached by two ways, but it is of no use trying to take advantage of both at once. You would never get to the place if you made such an effort. There is a road to it from Percy- street—this is the better entrance, but not much delight can be found in it; and there is another way to the chapel from Church- street—up a delicious little passage, edged on the right with a house-side, and on the left with a wall made fierce with broken glass, which will be sure to cut the sharpest of the worshippers if they ever attempt to get over it. What there really is behind that glass-topped wall we are at a loss to define; but it is evidently something which the occupier of the premises apprehends the Unitarians may have an illicit liking for? If they want to get to it we would recommend the use of some heavy, blunt instrument, by which they could easily break the glass, after which they might quietly lift each other over. Recently, a small sign has been fixed at the end of the passage, and from the letters upon it an inference may be safely drawn that the Unitarian Chapel is somewhere beyond it. To strangers this will be useful, for, prior to its exhibition, none except those familiar with the place, or gifted with an instinct for threading the mazes of mystery, could find out, with anything like comfort, the location of the chapel. Whether the people have or have not "sought for a sign," one has at any rate been given to them here. A small, and somewhat neat, graveyard is attached to the chapel; there are several tomb-stones laid flat upon the ground; and in the centre of it there is a rather elaborate one, substantially railed round, and surmounting the vault of the Ainsworth family. The remains of the late W. Ainsworth, Esq., a well-known and respected Preston gentleman, are interred here.
At the northern side of, and directly adjoining, the chapel there is a small Sunday school, It was erected about 15 years ago; the scholars previous to that time having met in a little building in Lord's-walk. The average attendance of scholars at present is about 60. The chapel, internally, is small, clean, plain, and ancient- looking. A central aisle runs directly up to the pulpit, and it is flanked with a range of high old-fashioned pews, some being plain, a few lined with a red-coloured material, and several with faded green baize, occasionally tacked back and elaborated with good old- fashioned brass nails. The seats vary in size, and include both the moderately narrow and the full square for family use. There are nine variously shaped windows in the building: through three of them you can see sundry things, ranging from the spire of the Parish Church to the before-mentioned wall with the broken glass top; through some of the others faint outlines of chimneys may be traced. The chapel is light and comfortable-looking. There seems to be nothing in the place having the least relationship to ornament except four small gas brackets, which are trimmed up a little, and surmounted with small crosses of the Greek pattern. At the west end, supported by two pillars, there is a small gallery, in which a few elderly people, the scholars, and the choir are deposited. The body of the chapel will accommodate about 200 persons. The average attendance, excluding the scholars, will be perhaps 60. When we visited the place there were 50 present—45 downstairs and five in the gallery; and of these, upwards of 30 were females.
The congregation is quite of a genteel and superior character. There are a few rather poor people embraced in it; but nine out of ten of the regular worshippers belong to either independent or prosperous middle class families. The congregation, although still "highly respectable," is not so influential in tone as it used to be. A few years ago, six or seven county magistrates might have been seen in the chapel on a Sunday, and they were all actual "members" of the body; but death and other causes have reduced the number of this class very considerably, and now not more than two are constant worshippers. There is neither sham, shoddy, nor rant amongst them. From one year end to another you will never hear any of them during any of the services rush into a florid yell or reduce their spiritual emotions to a dull groan. They abstain from everything in the contortional and ejaculative line; quiet contemplative intellectualism appears to reign amongst them; a dry, tranquil thoughtfulness, pervades the body. They are eclectical, optimic, cool; believe in taking things comfortably; never conjure up during their devotions the olden pictures of orthodoxy; never allow their nerves to be shattered with notions about the "devil," or the "burning lake" in which sinners have to be tortured for ever and ever; never hear of such things from the pulpit, wouldn't tolerate them if they did; think that they can get on well enough without them. They may be right or they may be very wrong; but, like all sections of Christians, they believe their own denominational child the best.
There are two services every Sunday in the Unitarian chapel—morning and evening—and both are very good in one sense because both are very short. There have been many ministers at the chapel since its transformation into a Unitarian place of worship; but we need not unearth musty records and name them all. Within modern memory there have been just a trinity of ministers at the chapel—the Rev. Joseph Ashton, an exceedingly quiet, unassuming, well learned man, who would have taken a higher stand in the town than he did if he had made more fuss about himself; the Rev. W. Croke Squier, who made too much fuss, who had too big a passion for Easter-due martyrdoms and the like, for Corn Exchange speeches, patriotic agony points, and virtuous fighting, but who was nevertheless a sharp-headed, quick- sighted, energetic little gentleman; and the Rev. R. J. Orr—the present minister—who came to Preston about a year and a half since. Mr. Orr is an Irishman, young in years, tall, cold, timid, quiet, yet excellently educated. He is critical, seems slightly cynical, and moves along as if he either knew nobody or didn't want to look at anybody. There is somewhat of the student, and somewhat of the college professor in his appearance. But he is a very sincere man; has neither show nor fussiness in him; and practices his duties with a strict, quiet regularity. He may have moods of mirth and high moments of sparkling glee, but he looks as if he had never only laughed right out about once in his life, and had repented of it directly afterwards. If he had more dash and less shyness in him, less learned coolness and much more humour in his composition, he would reap a better harvest in both pulpit and general life. Mr. Orr is no roaring will o' the wisp minister; what he says he means; and what he means he reads. His prayers and sermons are all read. He is not eloquent, but his language is scholarly, and if he had a freer and more genial expression he would be better appreciated. If he were livelier and smiled more he would be fatter and happier. His style is his own; is too Orrible, needs a little more sunshine and blithesomeness. He never allows himself to be led away by passion; sticks well to his text; invariably keeps his temper. He wears neither surplice nor black gown in the pulpit, and does quite as well without as with them. For his services he receives about 120 pounds a year and if the times mend he will probably get more. In the chapel there is a harmonium, which is played as well as the generality of such instruments are. The singing is only moderate, and if it were not for the good strong female voice, apparently owned by somebody in the gallery, it would be nearly inaudible— would have to be either gently whispered or "thought out." The services in the main are simple, free from all boisterous balderdash, and if not of such a character as would suit everybody, are evidently well liked by those participating in them.
ALL SAINTS' CHURCH.
The calendar of the canonised has come in handy for the christening of churches. Without it, we might have indulged in a poor and prosaic nomenclature; with it, the dullest, as well as the finest, architecture can get into the company of the beatified. Barring a few places, all our churches are associated with some particular saint; every edifice has cultivated the acquaintance of at least one; but that we have now to notice has made a direct move into the general constellation, and is dedicated to the aggregate body. We believe that in church-naming, as in common life, "ALL is for the best," and we commend, rather than censure, the judgment which recognised the full complement of saints when All Saints' was consecrated. A man maybe wrong in fixing upon one name, or upon fifty, or fifty hundred, but if he agglomerates the entire mass, condenses every name into one, and gives something respectable that particular name, he won't be far off the equinoctial of exactness. In this sense, the christeners of All Saints' were wise; they went in for the posse comitatus of saints—backed the favourites as well as "the field"—and their scheme, so far as naming goes, must win. There is, however, not much in a name, and less in a reverie of speculative comment, so we will descend to a lower, yet, perhaps, more healthy, atmosphere.
In 1841, the Rev. W. Walling, son of a yeoman living is Silverdale— one of the prettiest places we know of in the North of England—came to Preston, as minister of St. James's Church. He stayed at the place for about a year, then went to Carlton, in Nottinghamshire, and afterwards to Whitby. Mr. Walling was a man of quiet disposition; during his stay in Preston he was exceedingly well liked; and when he left the town, a vacuum seemed to have been created. He was a missed man; his value was not found out until he had gone; and it was determined—mainly amongst a pious, enthusiastic section of working people—to get him back again if possible. And they went about the business like sensible people— decided not to root out his predecessor at St. James's, nor to exterminate any of the sundry clerical beings in other parts of the town, but to build him a new church. They were only poor men; but they persevered; and in a short time their movement took a distinct shape, and the building, whose erection they had in view, was prospectively called "The Poor Man's Church." In time they raised about 200 pounds; but a sum like that goes only a little way in church building—sometimes doesn't cover those very refreshing things which contractors call "extras;" a number of wealthier men, who appreciated the earnestness of the original promoters, and saw the necessity, of such a church as they contemplated, came to the rescue, and what they and divers friends gave justified a start, on a plot of land between Walker-street and Elizabeth-street. On the 21st of September, 1846, the foundation-stone of the church—All Saints—was laid by the late Thomas German, Esq., who was mayor of Preston at that time. The building, which cost about 2,600 pounds, was not consecrated till December, 1856, but it was ministerially occupied by the Rev. W. Walling on the 23rd September, 1848, and he held his post, earning the respect and esteem of all in the discharge of its duties, till October 10th, 1863, when death suddenly ended his labours. When the church was consecrated there was a debt of about 750 pounds upon it; but in a few years, by the judicious and energetic action of the trustees, it was entirely cleared off. The present trustees of the church are Dr. Hall, Messrs. J. R. Ambler, F. Mitchell, and W. Fort. The successor of the Rev. W. Walling was the Rev. G. Beardsell, who still occupies the situation; but before saying anything to the point concerning him we must describe the church and its concomitants.