16 OCTOBER 1880, Page 23

A Short Biography of Robert Halley, D.D., late Principal of

New College. By R. Halley, M.A. (Hodder and Stoughton.)—It is diffi- cult for a son to speak of his father to the public. It is difficult to record, so as to make them permanently interesting, the facts of a life important to others, yet uneventful in itself. Both these diffi- culties beset the writer of this memoir, and were fully appreciated by him, and perhaps it is on this very account that we are able to congratulate him on his manner of surmounting them. There was an inherent truthfulness about the father which has descended to the son, and effectually helped him in his task. The "life " is not too lengthy, and the selections from the sermons are judiciously made ; though we can quite understand that they may not satisfy the selector himself, or the devoted friends who loved to hear his father. But many men's sermons serve their purpose best when heard and put in practice at once ; and this was pre-eminently the case with those of Dr. Halley, whose personality was impressive. Due prominence is rightly given to his life-long hatred of slavery and frequent exer- tions towards the accomplishment of its downfall. It was also well to record how this lover of truth was not afraid, as many good men were, when the facts now so generally received as to the age of the earth were first made kntwn, but in 1839-40 " fearlessly adopted the conclusions of science, thereby rather frightening some of the older Church members, who could not understand the giving-up of sundry traditional interpretations, which no one now would think of insisting upon." There is an anecdote on p. 49 which may be useful as a re- minder, now that there is some danger of a reactionary feeling on the

subject of Free-trade. It is also interesting as illustrating the place which may be rightly taken by a Christian minister as an admonisher of ignorance and promoter of peaceable behaviour. Thirty-six years ago, when Dr. Halley was a popular minister in Manchester, his biographer says of him :—

" My father's friend and deacon, Mr. Kershaw, was mayor ; a mob was assembled in Stevenson Square, the temper of which was not very easy to determine. Dr. Halley, coming into the square, found his friend uncertain whether to read the Riot Act or to try some other means. Let me see what I can do,' said my father. 'By all means,' said the Mayor. With his powerful voice he called to the crowd to hear him. Hear Dr. Halley !' shouted a friendly bystander. He began with a few sympathetic words lamenting the distress, and put himself en rapport with the audience. He then showed that the abolition of the Corn Laws was the true remedy for the wide-spread suffering, worked up his hearers to a strong anti- Corn-Law mood, and then urged upon them the necessity of petitioning and the folly of rioting, taking care to point out that the Mayor was a leader in the Free-trade movement, and that they ought to assist one so worthy in maintaining order in the town. His speech ended, the crowd (now good-humoured) gave forth cheers, whether for the Mayor or Dr. Halley, or the anti-Corn Law League or the People's Charter, or any or all of them, I am not quite sure. All danger of a riot- was now over ; a Chartist leader (I think Mr. Hunt) took the opportunity of addressing the assembly, and then they quietly dispersed."