« VorigeDoorgaan »
ART. V.-The Hope of the Navy; or the True Source of
3. The Church in the Navy and Army. Edinburgh: Innes.
4. A Reverie of a Retired Officer on the Naval and Military Bible Society; addressed to Red Coats and Blue Jackets. London: Simpkin.
5. An Appeal to the British Nation in behalf of our Sailors. By Sir JAHLEEL BRENTON. Nisbet.
WE noticed these Volumes in a former Number, as affording tokens of the increased interest which thinking people are beginning to take in the moral welfare of our soldiers and sailors; and desiring to impart to this interest a proper direction in favour of those for whom it had been awakened, we urged the necessity of something being immediately done to bring a system of spiritual superintendence to bear on both services with greater effect than under the present systems. We had shown the wants and necessities of the Army in this respect when our paper was cut short for want of further space. The case of the Navy next engages our attention.
The introduction of Chaplains to the establishments of our ships of war seems to have been first adopted* in the year 1626, as appears by a letter dated York House, July 29th, from George Duke of Buckingham to the University of Cambridge, in behalf of Daniel Ambrose, M.A. fellow of one of the colleges, who was appointed Chaplain to one of the King's ships, stating that his Majesty expected the University would not suffer him to experience any loss or inconvenience in the college to which he belonged from being so employed in the Navy; and it was accordingly ordered that Mr. Ambrose should have the benefit of his fellowship during the whole period of his service
From that time the service was more or less supplied with Chaplains until about fifty years ago, when the spiritual destitution of the Navy appears to have reached its lowest ebb. The very mention of religion was treated, for the most part, with
According to Falconer.
ridicule and contempt; and the services, if performed at all, were hurried over in the most disgraceful and slovenly manner. And where ships were provided with Chaplains, their conduct was too frequently anything but likely to gain them credit. Much of the want of proper deference due to them, where they deserved it, is to be laid at the door of the Captains of the ships in which they served. We are sorry to say that there are instances on record of not only Captains, but Commandersin-chief, at a later period than that to which we chiefly refer, being found the foremost to set an example of ridiculing and holding up to contempt the men whose sacred office is generally presumed to ensure them, at least common courtesy, if not respect. We copy the following anecdote in proof of this fact from Captain Brenton's Life of Earl St. Vincent :
"One Sunday, after divine service had been performed, whether or not his lordship thought the good' Dr. Morgan wanted brightening up, or that he had too little to do, I cannot say, but he called Mr. Moore, the signal-lieutenant, and inquired of him whether there was such a thing as a black flag on board? No, my lord,' said the officer; but we have a black and white one.' That will do, sir; make the signal for all lieutenants.' The signal was at the mast-head in an instant; and an order given that whenever the black-and-white flag was displayed, with a red pendent over it, it was the signal for all Chaplains. What followed was, I think, what the French call un peu malin. A few days after it blew great guns' from the W.S.W., which is directly into the Bay of Cadiz, so well known since by the battle of Trafalgar. The in-shore squadron lay six miles from the flag-ship, directly to leeward, and up went the signal for all Chaplains. It was a hard pull for the rowers, and no luxury for the sitters. When they reached the quarter-deck of the Ville de Paris, literally drenched with salt water, the Admiral presented them to Bishop Morgan,' as he called his Chaplain, and desired that they would go down into the wardroom and hold a conclave. I am afraid this freshener' for the Chaplains cost Dr. Morgan half-a-dozen of sherry to repel the humidity: and I do not think anything was gained by it in the cause of religion and virtue."-Vol. i. p. 380.
No wonder, then, that the coarse and ungentlemanlike treatment to which they were exposed should have constantly operated to restrain men who had any respect for themselves from going afloat.
Sir J. Brenton, indeed, observes ("Hope of the Navy," p. 276.) that he never remembers an instance in which a Chaplain has been treated with slight, or deprived of that deference to which he was entitled by his profession, unless he himself had departed from the becoming line of conduct. This is what, generally
speaking, might reasonably enough be expected. But while we pay all deference to the assertion of the gallant and excellent Admiral, he will allow us to remind him that it was difficult, almost impossible, for the reasons we have stated above, to get men to enter the service who were likely to conduct themselves in a becoming manner-or to get men, indeed, to embark in the service at all.
In Lord Exmouth's fleet, which consisted of upwards of 120 sail of various classes, there were not above three or four Chaplains, if so many, dispersed over the whole. We are happy to say, however, that since that period a gradual improvement has taken place; the duties are better understood and better performed, and the number of Chaplains afloat greatly increased. In proof of this we subjoin a list of the ships at present in commission which are provided with Chaplains, according to the latest published documents:
This greatly improved state of things is to be attributed,
Since appointed Chaplain to the British Church Establishment at Alexandria.
under providence, to various causes. The first and most prominent is probably the protracted peace; but there is likewise to be added an improvement in the civilization, for we may well so term it, of the Navy. Captains and Lieutenants are no longer the blustering sea-dogs, which too many of them were in former days, but elegant, polished, high-bred gentlemen. We believe that there is not an Admiral at present in the service, who would not feel heartily ashamed of deliberately insulting a body of clergymen in the manner recorded of Sir John Jervis. A clergyman now going afloat usually finds himself associated with companionable beings-with men, in fact, in all respects so agreeable, that the only danger is, that amidst the allurements of their society, he may be apt to forget that consistency which is so pre-eminently necessary in his profession of all others. Sir Jahleel Brenton has recorded an admirable example, however, of the manner in which a man may conduct himself, if he have only the force of mind combined with the grace to do so, and the instance is the more interesting, because it refers to a time when such cases were much rarer than, by the blessing of God, we believe them to be now. The case to which he alludes is that of the Rev. Evan Halliday, who was Chaplain of his Majesty's ship Cæsar when he commanded her in 1801-2, and who died a few years since Chaplain of the Dock-yard at Devonport :
"Mr. Halliday, in the first place, by his general conduct, secured to himself the respect and admiration of all the young men with whom, as a messmate, he was associated in the ward-room, who treated him with the utmost deference and attention; so much so, that upon his entrance to the ward-room, if any trifling or improper conversation was going on, it immediately ceased, and the same delicacy was observed as though a lady had been present.
"He was not satisfied with the bare performance of his Sunday duties: he endeavoured in any way to be useful to his flock. For instance, when any person was put upon the list of culprits, he became immediately an object of Mr. Halliday's solicitation. If confined, he was seen sitting by him for a considerable time, and making himself thoroughly acquainted with the circumstances of the offence committed, as well as with the character and habits of the offender. With this information he was frequently enabled, when the man was brought up for punishment, to intercede for him, and to obtain a mitigation, if not a remission of it, thus putting it in the power of the Captain to exercise lenity without injury to discipline. His discourses on the Sunday had always a particular reference to the events of the past week, the various circumstances or offences of which were commented on in such a manner as might be calculated to leave a deep impression upon the minds of his hearers, and a conviction that they had a friend to whom they might safely confide, not only their distresses, but their errors."
It is delightful to find such a testimony as this recorded upon such authority, but it must be borne in mind that Mr. Halliday possessed two advantages, which may not fall to the lot of every one, however good his intentions, or however anxious he may be, in all things, to fulfil the duties of his sacred profession. Mr. Halliday was, in the first place, clearly an individual of no common force of mind, which combined with his admirable piety to aid him in maintaining a sound consistency in all things; and in the second place, he knew himself to be fully and cordially supported in all he did by the Captain, without which no Chaplain can ever do his duty efficiently. The great object should be to place every Chaplain in such circumstances as may insure for him, at least so far as outward arrangement can, the means of imitating so bright an example.
The character of this excellent departed clergyman, to whom Sir Jahleel Brenton has reared so noble a monument of praise, appears to have much resembled that of St. Paul. Firm, stedfast, and enduring, he seems to have looked difficulties in the face only to overcome them. But there are many who approach nearer to the character of St. Peter; who, while they love much perhaps, are sadly wanting in that decision of character which enables them, by the merciful assistance of God's good Spirit, manfully to resist every temptation. The less, therefore, that such can be exposed to it, the brighter and the happier will be their course. Nothing is more difficult than to preserve the dignity of an ambassador for Christ amidst a constant association with a number of lively young men, whatever their profession, or however well-disposed. And if this be true generally, how much more does the truth hold good of the ward-room or gun-room of a man-of-war? The fact is, the Chaplain has ever been in a false position. We cannot conceive it possible for a man to be placed in one of greater difficulty. In the first place, the circumstance of his being a warrant officer, instead of bearing a commission, has something of the effect, where distinctions of ranks are so scrupulously observed, of pushing him below his proper station; and, in the next place, he is seldom provided with proper opportunities for retirement. Even in line-of-battle ships, where he ought, undoubtedly, to claim, as a right, one of the cabins in the ward-room, he is frequently compelled to put up with an inferior berth, nearer the region of the cock-pit, where he can only study by the wretched illumination of a purser's dip, and where he has the voices and laughter of the midshipmen to inspire and assist him in the preparation of his discourses. The naval regulations, as regards the Chaplain, are very good, as far as they go, and the