THE LIFE OF BISHOP HANNINGTON.* WE cannot begin our review
of this memoir of Bishop Han. nington otherwise than by an expression of sincere gratitude to its writer for his vivid record of the life of one who, in an age which is often stigmatised as unheroic, vindicated the credibility of the noblest traditions of heroism. Intensely interesting as it is, it is not a book which merely interests use it is one of those rare volumes which quicken and enlarge our lives, by revealing to us new and ampler horizons of duty that make. our own performances seem poor and cramped and in.. effective, and which, by its sympathetically veracious portraiture of one who counted all things as loss but the service of his Master and his brethren, tends to make us more and more ashamed of "miserable aims that end with self." To any man or woman with a capacity for noble aspiration, such a book is not a mere narrative, but an awakening bugle-call summoning him or her to break .up " the camp of ease," and set forward on some-new march of dray,
Bishop Hannington was but thirty-eight years of age when he received the crown of martyrdom, and until the day when the news of his lonely and heroic death was received by thousands of his countrymen with a thrill of horror at the deed, of admira- tion for the viotim, his name had been known to comparatively few, The records of his previous, career which appeared in the public journals, and. in the reports of the Church Missionary Society, were necessarily scanty and inadequate, and there was ample room—indeed, we may say there was need—for such a biography as that which has now been supplied by Mr. Dawson. The book is valuable in many ways, but it has a special value as showing that the last scene in James Hannington's life was but a natural climax to all that had gone before it,—that Hannington the confessor had been the forerunner and herald of Hannington the martyr. His was not a life of shreds and patches, bat a thing of ordered and beautiful development ; first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear, and the ripening unto harvest. Some biographies of heroic souls are interesting because they record a conquest and suppression of the natural self ; but James Hannington's biography is less a record of self-conquest than of self-consecration ; the boy was father to the man, and to the last the boyish characteristics were all there, though they were moved by a new instinct and fired by a new enthusiasm.
This, at any rate, is our view of Hannington's life, though we cannot feel sure that it would be fully endorsed by his biographer. We think that Mr: Dawson, like many members of the school to which he obviously belongs, is inclined to place too wide a gulf between the years which preceded and those which succeeded Hannington's conscious conversion. In many cases, indeed, the etymological meaning of conversion is also the true-one,—it is a complete turning round, a forsaking of the things that are behind, and a pressing onwards to the things that are before. But surely there are other cases in which it may be best described as an awakening,—a springing into life and activity of faculties and sensibilities which have not been non-existent, bat simply dormant, waiting as the seed waits through the long, winter for the moisture of spring which calls it to swell and sprout. Hannington's nature in boyhood and youth was a nature of keen sensation, warm emotion, and quick- perception, not one of special reflectiveness, still less of fine spiritualsensibility; but such a youthful nature is not one °lentos Flemington, D.D., P.N.S.. F.E.G.S., First Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. A Hiskory -of his L fe and Work, 1857.85. Bi E. 0. Dawson, NIA. Landaus (Seeley and De.
to be spoken of in terms of even implied depreciation. We have the highest authority for the belief that the normal order of progress is "first that which is natural, then that which is spiritual ;" and the truly natural—that is, the sound and whole- some—organisation is the best nidus for the seed of the spiritual. The self-consciousness of spiritual precocity is, when it appears, a thing to be accepted and made the best of, but it is hardly a thing to be desired; and there is a wealth of suggestiveness in the sentence in Westward Ho! which describes Eustace Leigh feeling his spiritual muscles everyday, like a weak oarsman, to see if they were growing, and Amyas Leigh doing right without thinking about it, because the grace of God was with him. James Hannington was like Amyas Leigh ; he was a child of Nature rather than what would have been called a child of grace, but in his natural childhood the grace of God kept him sincere and truthful and pure. He had no tastes that were not human and wholesome, for even his love of practical joking had no trace of unfeelingness, and was born simply of the high spirits that are so generally the concomitant of exuberant health. On his seventeenth birthday, he records in his diary that he was 5 ft. 10 in. in height, and 11 st. 6 lb. in weight ; and he had become a proficient in all manly sports that came in his way, an ardent collector of the natural objects—principally beetles and mosses which for some reason specially appealed to him— and a keen lover of travel and adventure, particularly of such adventure as was seasoned -with a spice of danger. Even during these early years, however, his mind turned at times to subjects of deeper and more abiding interest than his sports and exploits. Various extracts in his diary testify in the simplest and sincerest manner to the occasional haunting of things unseen, and for a short time he seems to have been drawn to the Roman Catholic Church, and wore mourning after the death of Cardinal Wise- man ; but these more inward moods were transient, and even for some time after he had taken Orders it is clear that, though he worked conscientiously and won the enthusiastic love of those among whom he laboured, he worked without any consciousness of an inward spiritual life or of a message which he must deliver.
Mr. Dawson writes throughout with a beautiful and entirely unaffected self-repression, but it is abundantly clear that his was the human influence to which Hannington owed his spiritual awakening. The immediate agent was a little book, entitled Grace and Truth, by the late Dr. Mackay, of Hull, which we happen to remember as a singularly crude and dogmatic exposition of the peculiar form of Calvinism which has been popularised by Mr. Moody and other Revivalists. It was hardly a book which could have been calculated upon as one likely to attract Hannington ; indeed, at first it violently repelled him, but he read on mainly for the sake of his friend, and in a chapter on the forgiveness of sins, he found what was to him the word of illumination for which he had been waiting. Henceforward all was changed with him. To the best of his endeavour, he had ever since he had taken his ordination vows been pressing on to something that was still ahead of him ; but now his progress was in the sunshine, not in the twilight. In his first curacy at Martinhoe, in Devonshire, in his second curacy at Darlev Abbey, near Derby, and in his latest English ministrations in his father's proprietary chapel at Hurstpierpoint, which, though nominally a curacy, was really a sole charge, Hannington made himself a power not alone by what is generally called spiritual force—though there was plenty of this—but by the broad, quick human sympathy which made all who came in contact with him feel that they had found a friend, and not merely a friend who cared for them, but a friend who understood them. His activities were of the most multifarious order. He had given some attention to medicine and surgery, and in his diary we find such entries as these :—" Helped Dr. Smith to cut off .a man's finger—gangrene." "Assisted Drs. S. and H. to cut off Bristowe's arm, as mortification had gone further. After- wards performed duties of hospital nurse; carried off the arm and buried it." "Dr. Pearce summoned me to come and help at a post-mortem. Found two large stones in each kidney. Very bad subject. Dr. P. cut himself, and I had to sew him up again." Then, again, we find him nursing a case of small-pox from which all the neighbours had fled in terror, and it can easily-be imagined how his enthusiastic and fearless care for the bodies of his parishioners opened and prepared their hearts for the reception of his spiritual ministrations. Of less hazardous, but not less useful work, his mind and hands were always full. He organised industrial exhibitions which proved to be of immense educational value ; he took the lads and young men of the place on long rambling excursions, and inspired many of them with his own enthusiasm for beetles, mosses, and other "un- considered trifles" of Nature ; he organised a Christmas party for the men to keep them out of the public-house, and entertained them with books, microscope, and magic-lantern ;" indeed, his activities of all kinds were so numerous and so varied, that even a mere summary of them is here impossible, and it must suffice to say that be made himself the centre, the heart of the spiritual,. moral, and social life of the parish.
All this, though he knew it not at the time, was doubtless a Divine training for the work with which his name will now be always associated. Till close upon the time when be resolved to offer his services to the Central African Mission, there is no evidence that he had been specially interested in missionary work ; indeed, one remark of his, quoted by Mr. Dawson, is quite susceptible of a depreciatory interpretation ; but the news which came from Africa early in 1878 stirred his spirit within him. Mr. Dawson gives an extract from Hannington's diary, to which no date is attached, but which probably belongs to some part of the year just mentioned :—
"U. G. called to see me, and, to my surprise, told me that he longed to become a Missionary. I told him that I longed to be one too. Smith and O'Neill's death, and some papers I had read, had set me longing."
A noteworthy utterance, and now a memorable one, for it was not only characteristic but prophetic. To most it will seem strange that the one thing in the careers of the two men which fascinated Hannington was not the glory of their active work, but the crowning glory of their lonely death,—the " decease " they were privileged to " accomplish" for their Master. To others, this final scene would have been the one deterrent element in the heroic story ; to him, it was its chief attraction ; and sooner than he thought, he was to share their knowledge of life and of death in the Dark Continent. Early in 1882, his offered services for mission work in East Equatorial Africa were accepted by the Church Missionary Society ; and on May 17th in that year, he and five companions, of whom he was the accredited leader, set sail for Zanzibar, with instructions to reach II-Ganda by the old route, and Msalala, and thence to go by boat across the Victoria Nyanza to Rubaga. Fired as he was with high enthusiasm, the wrench of parting from his home was terrible. Those to whom he had ministered felt as if the sheet-anchor of their lives-was being torn away, and he could not fail to be harrowed by their grief. Even the roughest of some unmanageable roughs whom he-bad expected to rejoice at his departure, crowded round to express their sorrow. The simple account of it all, given in the.diary, is irresistibly touching. The terrible strain reaches its climax when he parts from those dearest to him :—
"Now my most bitter trial—an agony that still cleaves to RIO-- saying 'good-bye' to my little ones. Thank God that all the, pain was on one side. Over and over again I thank him for that. Come back soon, papa!' they cried. Then the servants, all attached to-inc. My wife, the bravest of all."
We have left ourselves but little space in which to speak of that part of Hannington's life which has encircled his-head-with the halo of a heroic heroism. The story of these last years -is, however, better known to the world at large than the story of the years which preceded them,—years whose ninths, though not so imaginatively impressive, were perhaps not less per- manently useful. The record of Hannington's first African expedition is one of ceaseless labour, or rather of labour which would have been ceaseless had he not again and again been laid prostrate by the malefic agencies, climatic and otherwise, which even his magnificent constitution was unable wholly to resist.
At the beginning of 1883, he found himself reduced to a mere wreck, and he was unwillingly compelled by friendly pressure to return to England. Here he slowly regained strength, bat for a long time the medical verdict against a return to Africa was too decisive to be combated. Then came the scheme for the establishment of a Bishopric in the Eastern Equatorial region of the Continent, and no other name could be thought of by the projectors until it was certain that James Hannington was per- manently incapacitated for the perilous but glorious work. The fire in his own heart burned with a more fervent heat than ever, and in what was to him a joyous hour, Sir James Fayrer, the climatolo- gist, pronounced the opinion-that he might now safely return to the field which he had come to love beyond all others. He was consecrated on June 24th, 1884—St. John the Baptist's Day--a singularly appropriate festival—and in November he set sail on his last voyage. When he arrived at his new diocese there was, of course, much to be done in the way of organisation and other- wise, and it was the middle of 1885 before he was able to set out on his last journey to U-Ganda which, it will be re- membered, had been part of the original programme. Concern- ing this journey, it must be borne in mind that its perilous nature was altogether unsuspected. Bishop Hannington, as we must now call him, was an enthusiast, but not a fanatic. He recognised the fact thxt, his life was his Master's,—a thing to be sacrificed, if need were, in the Master's work, but not a thing to be heedlessly thrown away. Here, however, the path seemed clear. The tribe through whose territory the party were to pass had been friendly, and were supposed to be still friendly ; but, unknown to the Bishop and his companions, events had occurred which had rendered them hostile, and in entering their terri- tory he was unwittingly advancing to his death. Some part of the story of those last days was known before this volume was published ; but all ascertainable details are given here, and we have, moreover, a series of most pathetically interesting extracts from a diary kept by the Bishop during his captivity, the last entry in which was probably made immediately before his death. To what the man was, these relics are a testimony written, as it were, in blood.
The volume as a whole is full of stimulus and inspiration. It is anything but a superfluous addition to those many books to the making of which there is no end. Even the earnest agnostic who believes that James Hannington followed a wandering fire and sacrificed his life to a dream, must admit that the life was
not a failure, for, as one of his own school has nobly said :— "The greatest gift the hero leaves his race Is to have been a hero. Say we fail !- We feed the high tradition of the world, And leave our spirits in our children's breasts."
Among Christian heroes, and among such feeders of high tradition, the name of James Hannington will always be numbered.