Windsor - D L Moody (1875)

NEVER since the American Evangelists landed on the shores of England has their visit attracted so much public attention as during the past week. All the London, and most of the country papers have had long leading articles upon them, and their proceedings have been the subject of animated debates in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The origin of all this great stir has been the simple circumstance of Mr Graham, ex M.P. for Glasgow, and r Hogg going down to Windsor and causing to be erected in a meadow at Eton, which is a suburb of that town, a pavilion tent, of which an engraving is given on our title page, showing Windsor Castle, the Queen's residence, in the distance.'

They ascertained from Dr Hornby, the headmaster of Eton College, which contains about a thousand boys, who belong in many cases to leading English families, that no objection would be made to Messrs. Moody and Sankey holding an afternoon service for the boys in the tent, and forthwith tickets of invitation were circulated among Etonian scholars. No sooner had this reached the ears of various members of Parliament, whose sons are at Eton, than they hastened to protest in the Houses of Parliament against the service being held on the ground that it would unduly excite and disturb the religious views and feelings of the boys 

In fact, if the harmless tent, which has now attained historical importance in the career of Messrs Moody and Sankey, had been one of the tents of an invading army encamped against Windsor Castle with the object of laying it in ashes and overthrowing the British empire, it could scarcely have excited a greater hubbub and commotion in the minds of certain legislators. The meeting was to be held on Tuesday afternoon of June 22nd and on Monday afternoon, Mr Knatchbull-Hugessen in the House of Commons and the Marquis of Bath in the House of Lords raised the note of alarm and protested against the meeting having any sanction or permission from the Eton College authorities. The same evening no less than seventy-four members of the House of Commons signed a written protest to Dr Horny against his countenancing the proposed service. It is needless to say that the foolish panic of the seventy-four senators is looked upon by many as most ridiculous, and the commotion they made, is regarded as a complete tempest in a teacup.

On Tuesday the excitement in Windsor and Eton with reference to the proposed visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey to the College, which had been daily increasing since the first announcement, rose to its highest pitch, and the greatest anxiety was evinced by the inhabitants to attend the service. By noon several members of the committee, including Mr Hogg, Mr J. Round, Mr P. M. Kinnaird, Mr Graham, and others, had arrived at Eton in order to complete the final arrangements. The result of their visit to the College was unsatisfactory, for finding much ridicule cast upon the movement, and that the protection of the Bucks police had been withdrawn, these gentlemen decided to abandon these services in the South Meadow, although the platform, rostrum, sounding board and seats had been constructed. 

Through the instrumentality of Mr Kelly, who has a place of business in the High Street, the mayor of Windsor gave permission for the service to be held in the Town Hall of the Royal Borough, but while the hall was being got in readiness the permission was suddenly withdrawn and the committee were again adrift. At first, it was resolved to abandon a public meeting altogether and finally, it was resolved to have a private service in Mr Caley's garden. Tither Mr Sankey's organ and a few chairs were at once transported. In the meanwhile it having been announced that Messrs Moody and Sankey would visit the town hall, crowds of people began to assemble about the building in anxious anticipation.

Messrs Hogg, Kinnaird and other gentlemen proceeded to the Great Western station at Windsor to meet Messrs Moody and Sankey, who, leaving Paddington by the 1:50 PM train, arrived at Windsor at 2:35 and were followed by a crowd of people from the terminus across Peascod St and through the narrow Acre passage to the back entrance of Mr Caley's garden. The centre of this is occupied by a grass plot and the walls partly covered with creepers, while at the West End were Acacia and chestnut trees, which provided the only shade from the hot rays of the summer sun. Near these trees were placed the organ and rostrum. Within an hour some 600 or 700 persons had assembled in the garden, including about 300 Eton boys and a number of ladies, together with ministers of various dissenting denominations.

While this open-air meeting, after the covenanters' style, was assembling, Mr Sankey, with a choir of ladies sang several hymns, the service opening with that of “Tell me the old old story,” being followed by “Rock of Ages,” “Come to the Saviour; make no delay,"  and ”There is a land that is fairer than day." These were very sweetly sung. Mr Moody then ascended the pulpit, which was shifted out of the bright sunshine beneath the shade of a small chestnut tree. He asked those around to sing the 109th Psalm while the congregation was yet assembling. The Earl of Cavan, at the request of Mr Moody, then led the meeting with a fervent prayer, standing in front of the evangelist in the little pulpit. Mr Sankey gave out the well-known htmn “There were Ninety and Nine.”

Mr Moody then, standing upon a chair under the shade of a large chestnut tree, and immediately surrounded by attentive groups of Eton boys, delivered a long address in which he dwelt with his usual earnestness on the value of the Gospel, which he said, had removed from his path the bitterest enemies with which he had ever had to contend, - the fear of death, judgement, sin, - and which he urged his audience to accept as containing the best tidings which had ever been conveyed to man. Some 20 years ago he had himself been saved by receiving the word of God and he hoped all those whom he addressed would devote their best efforts to seeking salvation, which to those who sought it was as free a gift of the Almighty as the air they breathed. Mr Moody departed little, if at all, in his discourse from the line of argument, exhortation and homely illustrations with which many of the readers are already familiar. There was nothing in the remarks which had special reference to the youths about him beyond the expression of a hope that, as many of them might occupy in the future high positions in the state, they should do their utmost by the early cultivation of Christian virtue, to qualify themselves to fill those positions worthily and to merit the glorious hereafter which was promised to all those who conform to the will of God. Let them make up their minds that beautiful afternoon to become reconciled to him, if they were not so already and from that moment they would become the heirs of eternal life. He did not know that he should see them again on the shores of time, but if they acted in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel they would all meet where there would be no partings.

'The Times' says: Mr Moody announced in the course of his remarks that he had a few minutes before he commenced received a telegram stating that several members of the governing body of Eton college had met in London that morning and had supported the headmaster in not prohibiting the service. It only remains to add that no speaker could desire to have a more attentive audience than Mr Moody had yesterday; that no meeting could have been more orderly than that which he addressed in the garden at Windsor and that it is impossible to see how, if what fell from him has failed to make any lasting impression on his youthful hearers, it can have had the effect of doing them the slightest harm.

'The London Record', the organ of the evangelical section of the Church of England, says: “The intention of Messrs Moody and Sankey to preach in the vicinity of Eton seems to have stirred up and ebullition of wrath which would be perfectly unaccountable, where we not told in Holy Scripture that ‘the carnal mind is emnity against God.’ Without any previous notice and in utter disregard of the standing orders, the Marquis of Bath, before the hour fixed for the commencement of public business, stood forth in the House of Lords and opened an attack on all concerned in promoting what he called ‘the revival meeting’ about to be held in Eton, close to the College grounds. Acting in concert with Lord Lyttleton and no doubt reckoning on that noble Lord's aversion to what he condescended to ridicule as ‘the performances’ of Messrs Moody and Sankey, the Marquis, with mock solemnity asked if his noble friend was aware of the course the headmaster of Eton was about to take and whether the governing body would not take steps to prevent meetings sure to be so fatal to the discipline of the school.

Lord Lyttleton had come down armed with a budget of letters containing his own correspondence with Mr Knatchbull-Hugessen and the correspondence of the headmaster with that same irrepressible busybody. He spoke of the emergency which took himself and the rest of the governing body by surprise as if it had been a great political event, portending revolution and anarchy. In a still more excited spirit Lord Overstone followed.

The proposal to give the Eton boys one opportunity of hearing the simple Gospel preached by the American evangelists found favour not only with Mr Gladstone and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Provost of Eton and the headmaster felt, like Sir Emilius Bayley and the old captain of the eleven, an Oxford first-class blue, that it could do the boys no harm and might with the Lord's blessing do them much good.

The letter of the headmaster, Dr Hornby, although replete with courtesy and conciliation, was a dignified answer to the 74 members of the House of Commons who signed a protest against any sanction being given to the American Evangelists.

On the whole the course adopted by the opponents of the Eaton mission has only served to increase the importance of Messrs Moody and Sankey. The scene in the House of Lords was, in the judgement of the most experienced peers on both sides of the House, alike disorderly and indecorous. To attack absent foreigners by reading letters insulting them as ‘vendors of religious wears, and doing so before the time for public business had arrived, was not only a breach of the orders of the House, but an uncalled for exhibition of virulent emnity against 'Evangelists' whose services have been recognised not merely by thronging multitudes, but the highest functionaries of both of the Church and the State. It seemed as if the approach of these remarkable men to Eton roused so much wrath and indignation amongst ‘the hinderers of the truth’ as to raise a panic, which culminated in the speech of the millionaire Lord Overstone as he spoke with a fervour which could hardly have been intensified had he been told that the nation was on the eve of bankruptcy.

'The Daily Telegraph' thus sketched the debate in the House of Lords:

The intention of Messrs Moody and Sankey to preach in the vicinity of Eton College this afternoon has reached the dignity of a political event; for it had a debate all to itself in the House of Lords and it was discussed with as much heat as if it had threatened the peace of Europe. The Marquis of Bath scarcely allowed the House to assemble before he asked with fervid earnestness whether the authorities of Eton College had given the boys leave to attend the services of the American Evangelists and whether steps could still be taken to prevent their young minds from coming into contact with the unlicensed vendors of religious wares. Lord Lyttleton, who is one of the governors, could do no more than read some further correspondence and promised that the question should be brought before the Board of Governors today. Lord Overstone broke a long silence by an eloquent protest against the idea of allowing the Eton boys to attend any service unauthorised by the Church of England. Gallantly rushing to the rescue of his evangelistic friends, Lord Shaftesbury vehemently insisted that so important a subject should not have been discussed without notice and it needed all the firmness and tact of the Duke of Richmond to bring the House back to the proper business of the evening. Altogether the scene was calculated to give the Eton lads a vivid idea of the interest which the House of Lords takes in the purity of their religious faith.

The Rev Emelius Bayley, Rector of Paddington, addressed to 'the Times' the following letter:

Sir, as an Old Etonian and the father of two boys now at Eton, I beg to state that I for one do not share Mr Knatchbull-Hugessen's feelings with reference to his proposal that Mr Moody should not address the Eton boys. An old Captain of the Eleven and Oxford first-class man writes to me to this effect: ’I think that Mr Moody can do the boys no harm and may with God's blessing do them much good.’ with this opinion I cordially agree.

A religious address given by a stranger carries with it no inference that the religious instruction afforded at Eton is unsatisfactory. All of us who are engaged in teaching religious truth are glad to have occasional aid from without and the vast majority I believe of those who have heard Mr Moody's simple and earnest addresses upon the great subject of personal religion recognises in him one who is likely to create a deep and lasting impression for good upon the minds of both young and old."

"Signs of Our Times," June 30th, 1875.

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