Sir,—In the presence of the grievous scandal caused by a Bishop applying to a creed of the Church an epithet which I could not allow my pen to repeat, except in drawing up a formal presentment against him, it may seem out of place to write of any mere personal topic, but the Bishop of Argyll’s treatment of my letter is so very strange—in the case of any other person I should say so disingenuous—that I must ask you to let me make a few remarks upon it.
Let me begin by assuring the Bishop that I never meant to say that he had made a personal attack upon me. No one who knows his kindliness of disposition would suppose so. But it is equally true that words have often a meaning which they were not intended by the speaker to convey, and such has been the case in the present instance.
This, however, is a mere trifle, nor will I discuss with the Bishop why he should not class me with those who call themselves Anglo-Catholics. It is the title which, by common consent, has been given for many years to those with whose opinions I sympathise, in so far as they are Catholics in their veneration for the primitive Church, and their dislike of the principles of the Reformation; and also Anglicans, in their loyalty to the particular branch of the Church in which they are placed, and in their dislike to the novelties by which Rome has so sadly changed our common faith.’ It is to the Bishop’s comments on the aid rendered to the Highlanders by what is commonly called the Anglo-Catholic party that I wish to call your readers’ attention.
He first says that the Incumbent of Duror accepted a sum of £150 towards the erection of a church, coupled with the introduction of a Scotch Communion Office. ‘It could not be so introduced, and the money was returned.’ The Bishop does not explain that the sole reason why, after it had actually been introduced (for such was the case) it was given up, was because he himself threw the whole weight of his personal and official influence into the scale against it. But what he goes on to say is still more surprising.
‘Probably other assistance of a similar character would have been obtained; but that which was wanted was aid for the ordinary needs of an ordinary flock,—additional clergy, schools and schoolmasters, and better maintenance for those we had, who ministered under extreme difficulties midst a very interesting but impoverished people.’
Any one who read this sentence would suppose that the case of Duror was the only instance I had alleged of aid offered to the Highland Episcopalians by the AngloCatholic party. Yet any one who looked at my letter for a moment must see that I assert that every description of aid ‘for the ordinary needs of an ordinary flock’ had been more or less supplied. The training of clergy and schoolmasters, the supplementing their stipends, the supplying them with a vernacular edition of the Prayer Book and Liturgy, the providing them with sound religious reading, to say nothing of actual alms in a time of dearth, what else could have ljeen needed, and what are we to say of the Bishop’s treatment of the facts mentioned in my letter, when he simply ignores what I say? More especially when I showed that, in the case of the Gaelic Tract Society, it was himself who formally prohibited us from endeavouring to supply one of ‘the ordinary needs of an ordinary flock,’ without alleging a single fault in any of its publications?
I leave the matter to the judgment of your readers, and shall not return to it again.
January 8, 1873.
P.S.—I regret that owing to illness this letter has been considerably delayed.
From The Scottish Guardian, January 11, 1873, p. 53.