THE BISHOP OF CAPETOWN AND THE DIOCESE OF NATAL.
[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."]
SIR,—The statement made by the Bishop of Capetown at the meeting of the English Church Union, on the 13th inst., that " about two-thirds of the clergy had desired that Mr. Butler should go out as Bishop, and about three hundred out of four hundred of the leading laity joined in the wish," cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. Of the clergy in the diocese little more need be said than that they are not free, receiving, as most of them do, a great portion of their pay from the Gospel Propagation Society, that imperium in imperio within the Church of England which has already dismissed from its service the Rev. Mr. Tonnesen, one of its best missionaries, on the alleged plea of his having left his station. What Mr. Tonnesen actually did was to obey the order of his lawful Bishop to come to his assistance at the Cathedral Church, Pieter-Maritzburg. Let it, however, be borne in mind that even after excluding Mr. Tonnesen and another clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Green, at his public meeting in October 1866, for the election of Mr. Butler, only succeeding in obtaining a majority by his own casting vote, there being then seven clergymen for and seven against the election. And further inquiry will show that a new Bishop is now still less desired by the clergy.
As to the laity, if the statement be taken as implying the accu- rate proportion in which the leading adherents of the Bishop of Natal are to be found, compared with those who desire a new Bishop, it would be the reverse of the fact. If, on the contrary, it means that 300 signatures throughout the colony in favour of a new Bishop have been obtained, while on the same list 100 persons have been permitted to express their dissent, this may be a correct account of a list which it is known has been going the round of the colony in the most secret fashion ; but while the statement may perhaps be justified, to those who do not know who the leading laity of the colony are, by the production of such a list, your readers will judge whether it is not (unintentionally, of course) very likely to mislead the public here.
The vast body of the laity in all classes warmly support the Bishop of Natal, and would resent the intrusion of a new Bishop as they recently did the intrusion of Bishop Twells.
At the meeting above alluded to, even in the city of Pieter- Maritzburg, only 31 laymen could be mustered as favourable to the election of Mr. Butler, while immediately afterwards a vestry meeting was held in the Cathedral crowded by some 250 persona to protest against the Rev. Mr. Green's proceedings.
Bishop Twells may be fairly asked to give his impressions as to the opinion of the leading laity in Natal. The receptions he met with both at Pieter-Maritzburg and Durban were eminently calcu- lated to make him understand that but the smallest portion of the laity were desirous of having a new Bishop thrust upon them. From Durban, the largest town in the colony, he received addresses signed by the clergymen and leading members of the Church of England, mostly heads of families, expressive of their determina- tion not to accept any Bishop appointed otherwise than by the Queen's authority. His words to the deputation were, that the address then presented to him " should have a proper interpre- tation in England—the number of names attached to it, their respectability, and the fact that the number might, if time had permitted, have been very much increased, should not be lost sight of." It is to be feared, however, that these things have been lost sight of.
From Pieter-Maritzburg, I have now in my possession an authenticated copy of the memorial to the Bishop of Oxford, signed by 239, very many coming under the term, " leading laity," complaining of the slanderous assertion given out by him in Convocation that " almost all those who went to hear the Bishop of Natal were professed infidels." I have also a copy of the letter addressed in May last to the Rev. Mr. Butler, and signed by two clergymen at Pieter-Maritzburg, the two Colonial Secretaries, Mr. Henderson, J.P. (recently one of the S. P. G. Committee in Natal), and some 450 respectable persons from all parts of the colony, including Government officials, resident magistrates, members of the medical and legal professions, mer- chants, and others, who would come distinctly under the term "leading laity ;" in which letter Mr. Butler is emphatically informed " that the true feeling of the great majority of the laity of the Church of England in Natal is decidedly adverse to the election, consecration, or appointment of a second Bishop of Natal purporting to be a Bishop in the Church of England."
It is to be earnestly hoped that the public in England will not be misled, nor give their subscriptione to the Bishop of Cape Town,
under the idea that a Bishop of the new South African Church, for such he would be, is either wanted or desired by the laity in Natal. Let them first ascertain, among other points and as one test, the relative numbers of the congregation regularly attending the Bishop's services in the Cathedral Church, and of that attend- ing the services recently held there by the Rev. James Green, who claims to be the Bishop of Cape Town's Vicar-General.—I am,.
No-I.E.—The Rev. Mr. Green, in communicating to the' Natal newspapers an extract from a letter from the Rev. W. Butler, dated the 24th January, 1867 (expressing hesitation as to accepting the offer of an appointment as Bishop), suppressed some important passages, and amongst the rest the following :—" I incline to think that the clergy of the various parishes should distinctly ascertain the names of those who will fairly pledge themselves to cast in their lot with the orthodox Bishop. Such people should be invited to make their adhesion sure by signing their names."
To show how Mr. Butler's suggestions were attended to, I give the following letter addressed to the Bishop of Natal, and could give more if space permitted :—
" Durban, Pore Natal, April 22, 1867.
"Mr LORD,—Although I differ widely with your theological views, yet I deem it but right I should make you acquainted with the pro- ceedings that have taken place during my late visit to the Umcomanzi and Umzinto.
" The Rev. — Barker has been canvassing for signatures on behalf of the proposed new Bishop, and though to give the document an impar- tial appearance there is a column left in favour of your Lordship, yet it had, when I saw it, but one signature against about forty on the other side.
"I know that many of the so-called ' Alexandra' district had refused to sign, that others were desirous of signing in favour of your Lordship, and that some of the signatures attached to the list ought not to have been there at all. Indeed, I was informed by two most respectable inhabitants that children's signatures were appended.
"Your Lordship knows the worthlessness of these documents, and the false impression they convey to parties at a distance, as well as how easy. it is to get names to any papers put forth by any one holding any posi- tion. When Mr. Barker produced his list, at the house where we met, he obtained but one signature from the nine present. I asked if he had called on one of the most influential residents in the neighbourhood, who, it was known, would have signed in favour of your Lordship, and ho admitted he had not called upon him. I write your Lordship on the subject, wishing that whatever is done may be, at least, done openly and fairly.
" I consider this touting of Mr. Barker's is indecorous, and I can say from my own personal knowledge, that the signatures so obtained do not represent the sentiments of the bulk of the population of that district, especially of the educated classes.—I am yours truly, (Signed) " F. J. Mammon, "One of the Churchwardens of St. Thomaa Brera.- " To the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Natal."
Lincoln's Inn, December 17, 1867.