Being a Record of the
Witness given by Members
of Churches of Christ in
Great Britain against Militarism
during the European War
: : : 1914-1918. : : :
W. Barker, Printer, Mansfield Road, Heanor
by R.M. Payne
1 Kenilworth Avenue
READING, RG30 3DL, ENGLAND
PREPARED FOR USE ON THE INTERNET BY:
ARCHES CHURCH OF CHRIST, BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND.
(As appeared in the original)
(As appeared in the original but ommitted from this internet version)
A Quaker Meeting in Prison ... ... ... ... frontispiece
A Typical Prison Hall ... ... ... ... ... ... facing page
Some of the Men sent to France ... ... ... facing page
Arthur Wilson ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... facing page
A Prison Cell ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... facing page
Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 are reproduced by kind permission of the No Conscription Fellowship and are taken from the 'N.C.F. Souvenir' which contains a review of every aspect of the C.O. movement, together with a large number of illustrations and articles by many of the best-known men and women in the Movement. The souvenir is published at 1s., and copies can be obtained from Ernest Hunter, 5 York Buildings, Adelphi, W.C.
'Do not be surprised at finding that that scorching flame of persecution is raging amongst you to put you to the test - as though some surprising thing were accidentally happening to you. On the contrary, in the degree that you share in the sufferings of the Christ, rejoice, so that at the unveiling of His glory, you may also rejoice with triumphant gladness. You are to be envied; if you are being reproached for bearing the name of Christ; for in that case the Spirit of glory - even the Spirit of God - is resting upon you.' 1 PETER IV. 12-14 (Dr. Weymouth's Translation.)
Truth never dies. The ages come and go;
The mountains wear away; the seas retire;
Destruction lays earth's mighty cities low;
And empires, states, and dynasties expire;
But, caught and handed onward by the wise,
Truth never dies.
Though unreceived and scoffed at through the year;
Though made the butt of ridicule and jest;
Though held aloft for mockery and jeers,
Denied by those of transient power possessed,
Insulted by the insolence of lies,
Truth never dies.
It answers not; it does not take offence,
But with a mighty silence bides its time;
As some great cliff that braves the elements,
And lifts through all the storms its head sublime,
And never dies.
As rests the Sphinx amid Egyptian sands;
As loom on high the snowy peak and crest;
As firm and patient as Gibraltar stands,
So truth, unwearied, waits the era blest,
When men shall turn to it with great surprise.
Truth never dies.
I. Attitude of Churches of Christ, Past and Present, towards War.
BY W. CROSTHWAITE.
THE writer's life has been spent under the influence and teaching of the 'Churches of Christ.' The antagonism between war and the principles of the Prince of Peace - the belief that 'God is forgotten in war, and every principle of Christianity is trampled underfoot' - were early and indelibly impressed on both mind and heart. The discipline and dismissal of members who joined the 'forces' by Churches of Christ, told of their uncompromising attitude towards war. The statements of representative Brethren were never called in question.
A. CAMPBELL: 'The precepts of Christianity positively inhibit war ... no wonder, then, that for two or three centuries after Christ all Christians refused to bear arms.'
DAVID KING: 'I have visited many Churches, conversed with Brethren, and received letters from many others, and their testimony is one ... that the only weapons which a Christian can use without offence to the Lord, are those which are not carnal ... Being followers of the Prince of Peace, we will not, because we dare not, deal out death and destruction - the work of slaughter cannot be ours ... And they would implore every one upon whom the name of the Lord has been called, as they value the favour of the Lord and eternal life, to stand with those who, in the past age and now, have proclaimed. 'We are Christians and cannot fight.' I am convinced that I express the mind of the brethren in this country. If it were called for, I would undertake to obtain a declaration from the Churches of the United Kingdom.' British Millenial Harbinger, Vol. XV. P.28.
It is said now, that if these Brethren had been living today they would have changed their attitude to war, and other questions, too. The point is, 'Were they right then?' Did they correctly interpret the mind of the Lord? If so, to what would they have changed? The following resolution passed by the Annual Meeting of 1900, during the Transvaal War, is clear and emphatic:
'As loyal subjects of the Prince of Peace, we, delegates and members of Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland, in Annual Meeting assembled in Liverpool, feel it to be our duty to record our solemn protest against the military spirit now so prevalent in British Society generally, and to express our deep grief and regret that this spirit so largely permeates many sections of the Churches professing to be Christian, and which spirit we believe to be out of harmony with and antagonistic to the teachings of our Lord.' Year Book, 1900, Bible Advocate, Aug. 17, 1900.
Certain it is that the teachings of our Lord do not change, however much His professed followers may. Still more recently, on the very outbreak of the great World War, the following resolution was passed:
'The Annual Conference of Churches of Christ assembled in Wigan thanks His Majesty's Government for their determined efforts to maintain the peace of Europe. Seeing that these efforts have unfortunately proved unavailing, we would now respectfully call upon the Government to maintain absolute neutrality in this deplorable war, as being in the highest and best interests of our national life.' Year Book, 1914, p.164.
What need of further testimony as to the attitude of the 'Churches of Christ' from their earliest days to the year 1914?
But what pen could describe the transformation of the following years? The military spirit, deplored by the Annual Meeting at Liverpool, soon permeated the Churches of Christ. Leaders urged our young men to enlist and fight for King and Country, and scant sympathy was given to those who stood for the old attitude. With the coming of conscription, we saw our young men turned down by tribunals of which leaders in their own Churches were chairmen. Brethren, some of whom were elders in the Churches, sat on magisterial benches and handed their own Brethren over to their persecutors. The words of the Master had almost a complete and literal fulfilment: 'And brother shall deliver up brother to death ... And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake.' (Mark xiii.12-13).
When Brethren appeared before the magistrates and stated they were members of the Church of Christ, and had always been taught that war was contrary to the teaching of the Master, letters, of which the following are samples, appeared in local papers, in different districts:
A LIBEL ON A CHURCH.
'Sir, - Will you allow me as a member of that Church to protest against a statement going forth from one who evidently thinks more of his own skin than of his duty to his King and Country, which is calculated to give the impression to your readers that these peculiar views are held and taught by that Church. As a matter of fact, the very opposite is the truth ... the Roll of Honour, containing the names of those who have gone to serve their country in its hour of need, is of sufficient length to justify pride on the part of the Church members.'
'Sir, - As Chairman-elect of the Conference of that body (the Church of Christ) may I be allowed to say that neither the publishers nor the contents of the Apostolic Messenger are representative of the views held by the great majority of our members. Our sons have offered themselves as freely in proportion as those of any other religious body, because like them, though we hate war as such, we hate injustice, tyranny, and inhumanity even more. Many of our men have already fallen, and our Roll of Honour would demonstrate that on the whole our patriotism and loyalty to be powers that be are beyond question.'
The Editor's comment is well worth quoting here:
'We find reprinted in the current issue of the Apostolic Messenger what is described as a leader from the Bible Advocate of November 8, 1901, stating, "The atmosphere of militarism, the demand made upon him who enlists in the army, make it impossible for a Christian to be a soldier ... When a man enlists he disowns the most precious qualities of manhood." Are we to understand that the official organ of the Churches of Christ has renounced this article of its creed?'
There was no answer to this poser.
The secretary of another District Committee wrote to the local paper stating that the attitude of the C.O. Brethren, who had just appeared before the tribunal
'Must not be taken as representing the position of the Churches whose general attitude to the war is more rightly interpreted by His Worship the Mayor, ... whom we are honoured in having as one of our esteemed leaders. We wish the young men who have gone from us at the call of their native land to feel that they certainly have our deepest affection and regard in the sacrifice they are making.'
The Official Organ, the Bible Advocate, Feb. 4, 1916, contained the following:
'"The Friends" have offered to lend help to churches that take the view that all war is objectionable. We as a people do not take that view, but we think individuals can secure alliance with them.'
After being trained up to the year 1914 by the Churches of Christ to believe that war is 'antagonistic to the teachings of our Lord,' when the time came for acting on those principles, we were directed for help to the Society of Friends! Comment is needless.
Enough has now been written on the attitude of the Churches towards war, past and present. I have done little else than give the facts. At the last Annual Meeting held at Liverpool, August, 1920, a resolution, as follows, was passed: 'That the Conference never has condoned and sanctioned war.' Again, we make no comment. All that we have written and know of the attitude of the Churches of Christ towards war, goes to prove the truth of Mr. J. Morgan Gibbon's statement at the meeting of the Congregational Union: 'The conscientious objector stands today where we all stood yesterday, and where we shall all be standing again tomorrow, or the day after.' History repeats itself; our trying experience during the past six years was no new thing, as J.R. Lowell has well shown:
Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause brings fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just,
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.
For humanity sweeps onward: where today the martyr stands;
On the morrow crouches Judas with the silver in his hands;
Far in front the cross stands ready, and the crackling faggots burn,
While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe return
To glean up the scattered ashes into History's golden urn.
The Changeless Mind.
Sonnet on the Castle of Chillon.
Eternal spirit of the changeless mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty, thou art!
For there they habitation is the heart -
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consigned -
To fetters, and the damp vaults dayless gloom -
Their country conquers in their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wing on every wind.
Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar, for 'twas trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if they cold pavement were a sod,
By Bounivard! May none these marks efface!
For they appeal from tyranny to God.
'The following prisons bear testimony to the moral courage and spiritual faith of these brethren:
Wormwood Scrubbs, Winchester, Wakefield, Knutsford, Hull, Shrewsbury, Dorchester, Dartmoor, Durham, Manchester, Liverpool, and Northallerton!
I visited numbers of them in some of these prisons, and the times spent together with these men in such circumstances were times of inspiration and spiritual power. They were lights in dark places; salt of the earth. We thank God for their witness.'
II. The Story of the Witness.
BY R.K. FRANCIS.
AS New Testament Christians we believe in the existence of a Higher Power, and we have a sense of dependence there upon. As 'new creatures' in Christ Jesus, we have a new standard of measurement for men and things. We believe that He only has the right to rule in our heart and life; consequently numbers of us could not, in 1914, accept the position then forced upon us, in which there was the abnegation of individual responsibility, the surrender of conscience and conduct to the will of another. We were then plunged suddenly and unexpectedly into a condition of things in which as Christians many of us knew not how to act. We ought to have been prepared, but we were not. An issue arose which engaged the minds and exercised the hearts of our Church members, and which, unfortunately, caused great estrangement within our ranks.
This horrible, barbarous thing plunged our churches into a confused, uncertain and distracted condition. Some among us had their faith shattered; and what is even more lamentable to me is the fact that, speaking generally, our preachers and church officers seemed either unable or unwilling to seek to restore such, or to lay the foundation of a more enduring faith. When midnight struck on Tuesday, August 4, 1914, it found England at war with Germany. The immense majority of British people were soon in no doubt as to the objects which the war, in their judgment, was to accomplish.
We were told that the war was a battle for spiritual ideals. We heard about 'fighting for hearth and home.' It is sadly amusing how women and children are always put into the firing line of pro-war argument. Commonsense says international arbitration would provide far better for our wives and families. Certain it is that the Christian faith is irrevocably opposed to war, and to all violence of man against man. But unfortunately many of the leaders and teachers in our own community had pinned their faith to our statesmen far more strongly than to the Lord Jesus Christ, with the result that, as Churches, we went back upon our faith.
Many of our young men went into this business not because they liked it, but because many, yea most, of them uneducated for it, had to solve the problem for themselves. Not one ray of New Testament light, on the question of Christianity and Militarism, was given them in the editorials or articles of our Magazines; and, with few striking exceptions, Church elders failed to give them any New Testament lead. Rather was it the reverse, some even handing C.O.'s over to prison instead of giving New Testament teaching on the question. Some of these lads we know yearned for New Testament teaching and guidance from their elders, but such was not forthcoming. We older ones may yet have to answer for this failure; as it is, we are already reaping what we have sown, in the apathy of our churches. Remember they were our own lads; our own sons; our Sunday School teachers, and church workers. They were lads of principles; show them the New Testament teaching on this question, and we believe they will follow it. They may need to be reminded that the right side of the question is not always the side of the crowd; nor the money side; nor even always the winning side. Neither victory nor defeat, however, change wrong into right, or right into wrong. But we believe our lads are anxious to do right and follow New Testament teaching on this as on other questions. Their sincerity I have never doubted, nor their bravery and self-sacrifice. I respect those lads who so went. I have, however, no respect for those who, while urging others to go, stayed at home themselves, and in some instances made capital out of the war.
We are, however, thankful and proud that throughout our Churches there were so many prepared to maintain the old position, who, believing that Christianity does not sanction war in general; that the whole genius of Christianity is antagonistic to the spirit and article of war; and being unable to find any warrant in our New Testament for Christians to go to war; were found ready to stand loyal to conscience, to what they believed to be the teaching of God's Word. These men made history in making the momentous decisions for themselves, some of them in the privacy of their closets, on bended knees; decisions which involved imprisonment, 'crucifixion' and death. They dared to stand against the majority and be unpopular rather than untrue to conscience. Hear what a man of the world thinks of such characters.
In the course of a short but brilliant defence of the conscientious objector, in the House of Commons, Captain Gwynn said:
'These people are not a blight upon the community: they may very probably prove to be, in my opinion, the very salt of the community. I am speaking now as one who has seen war. I think that every one who has seen war has one governing desire, and that is to see war abolished from the world. I am not at all sure that these people, who we propose to reject as outcasts of the State, may not be the best people to help in the fight to make an end of war.
There is one thing that nobody can deny them, and that is courage - the most difficult form of courage in the world, the courage of the individual against the crowd. That is the courage which every State would do well to protect and guard. That is the courage which, above all others, makes for freedom.'
But these men as disciples of the Christ knew that the doctrine of Peace was not a modern one. In their own minds and hearts, and by Him who called them, they were compelled to become conscientious objectors; and in His name they suffered. The following prisons bear testimony to the moral courage and spiritual faith of these brethren: Wormwood Scrubs, Winchester, Wakefield, Knutsford, Hull, Shrewsbury, Durham, Manchester, Liverpool, Northallerton, Dorchester, and Dartmoor. I visited numbers of them in some of these prisons, and the times spent together with these men in such circumstances were times of inspiration and spiritual power. They were light in dark places, the salt of the earth. We thank God for their witness. Others of our number were in detention camps and work centres; and one even unto death.
Who amongst us thought there would be such noble and stedfast examples during the cruel years of war? They were men of faith, drawn from the rank and file of the brotherhood. They showed that character is the one possession that is elevated above the vicissitudes of fortune.
In the light of events of the past seven years, I view Res. 11 of the 1914 Annual Meeting as recording one of the best pieces of work we did that week. We called 'upon the Government to maintain absolute neutrality in this deplorable war, as being in the highest and best interests of our national life.' True! it is a pious resolution, and we were not all strong enough to abide by it; but it expresses a high Christian sentiment, and I am thankful it is on the minutes of our representative assembly. And for those who took silently the hand of duty and followed her, believing:
'We owe allegiance to the State; but deeper, truer, more
To the sympathies that God hath set within our spirit's core,'
we thank our God.
The pacifist brethren do not believe the proposition that force is a remedy for evil; therefore when the State pressed a claim for personal service for war, we were compelled to object. The State's claim is not that its citizens fight for it - when the cause is just and right, but that they shall fight for it at any time when the State orders them. This we cannot do. We cannot be bound unconditionally to be obedient to the State. We believe that if the church has a function towards the nation, it is to lead the nation into a real, living faith in God. Here, in August, 1914, was an opportunity to do so, a magnificent opportunity, but the church, as a whole, lamentably failed. Yet not all. There were young men, throughout the churches, who were:
'To duty firm and conscience true
However tried and pressed.'
And well would it be for the Churches as a whole if they would learn the lesson of these witnesses - to diffuse through the communities the spirit of the Christ
'We need once more to catch the martyr-spirit, a belief in the absoluteness of the Christian faith translated into facts which shall make the Church "a peculiar people," whose strength does not lie in any false blending of light and darkness, but in her renunciation of and aloofness from the world, and in her defiance of all social systems, organised politics, and world interests which are antagonistic to the great laws of the Christian Commonwealth .... Our task is to win the Churches to that position. Who is sufficient for these things? Our sufficiency is of God.'
I rejoice in the good spirit and true appreciation which our soldier boys and our C.O.'s have shown the one to the other. There has been on each side a recognition of the others' courage and manliness. We only wish this right spirit had been more manifest amongst our 'stayed home' militarists.
Now let the love and spirit of our Lord bind us into one for service and sacrifice, 'keeping the home fires burning.'
We love no triumphs gained by force - they stain the brightest cause;
'Tis not in blood that liberty inscribes her sacred laws;
She writes them on the people's hearts, in language clear and plain;
True thoughts have moved the world before, and so they shall again.
We want no aid of barricade to show a front to wrong;
We have a fortress in the truth more durable and strong.
Calm words, great thoughts, unflinching faith, have never striven in vain,
They've won our victories many a time, and so they shall again.
LIBERTY WITHOUT MURDER.
We want no flag - no flaunting rag -
In Liberty's cause to fight;
We want no blaze of murderous guns
To struggle for the right;
Our spears and swords are printed words -
The mind's our battle plain;
We've won our victories thus before,
And so we shall again.
We yield to none in earnest love
Of Freedom's cause sublime;
We join the cry - 'Fraternity!'
We keep the march of Time.
And yet we grasp no spear or sword
Our victories to obtain;
We've won without such help before,
And so we shall again.
Peace, progress, knowledge, brotherhood,
The Ignorant may sneer -
The bad deny; but we rely
To see their triumph near.
No widow's groans shall mar our cause,
No blood of brethren slain;
Kindness and Love have won before,
And so they shall again.
III. Facts and Figures.
BY JACK LUCK.
THE first statistical data indicative of the number of members of the Church of Christ who still held opposition to carnal warfare as a vital principle of the faith was obtained as the result of a suggestion made by Bro. Ponting, of Swindon, to Bro. Entwistle in the early days of 1916. The suggestion was that a signed protest be presented to His Majesty's Government; a suggestion which Bro. Entwistle heartily endorsed, having already been in correspondence with the Premier and other heads of the Government on the question.
The wording of the protest is given, as are also the letters preceding same on account of their historical interest.
A PROTEST BY MEMBERS OF THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST AGAINST THE MILITARY SERVICE ACT.
The following Members of the Churches of Christ object on conscientious grounds to rendering Military Service of any kind, or to taking the Military Oath.
We beg, therefore, to protest against the suggested introduction of Compulsory Military Service, and if it is introduced we are prepared to resist it with all our powers, by the grace of God, in spite of fine, imprisonment, or, if need be, death.
We are prepared to help the country in any way not requiring us to take the Military Oath, and leaving us the freedom of conscience we claim as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The following letters will show what little was done to follow up the protest and help swell the chorus raised by others:
TO THE RIGHT HON. H.H. ASQUITH,
Dear Sir - The enclosed sheets are the first batch of signed protest forms that are coming in from our members of the community known as Churches of Christ.
We hope His Majesty's Government will see its way even at this late hour, to withhold or withdraw any proposed measure of compulsion, as such a measure can only divide the country at this critical time, seeing there are thousands of men who simply cannot render military service of any kind owing to religious convictions, and on other conscientious grounds.
TO THE RIGHT HON. H.H. ASQUITH,
Dear Sir - On behalf of those members of the Churches of Christ whose signed protest I forwarded last week, and many others still signing the same protest, I wish to say that we beg the Government to make the exemption clause for the conscientious objector a real and complete exemption from rendering military service of any kind, as that only can meet our need. We object on conscientious grounds, to taking the military oath, and therefore, the partial exemption of the Bill now before Parliament does not meet our need..
We are not anxious to clash with the powers that be, and, of course, we eschew all violence, but we cannot violate conscience in this matter. We must obey God rather than men.
Trusting a complete measure of exemption will be granted to all such as those described above,
I remain, yours, etc.,
TO THE RIGHT HON. H.H. ASQUITH,
Dear Sir - In sending on the additional signatures to protest forms enclosed, I wish to say, for myself, and on behalf of those who have signed, that whilst we appreciate the Government's recognition that the conscientious objector has some rights, we regret to say that from our point of view, the safeguards proposed afford no adequate protection, and we beg of the Government even yet to make such amendment of the Bill before Parliament (Military Service No. 2 Bill) as will make it certain that no man will be persecuted for obeying his conscience.
We still protest against the adoption of compulsion, and if the measure is passed, we will pray and labour for the speedy repeal of an Act containing so pernicious a principle.
The protest was signed by 323 male members of the Churches, while 28 names were appended of those who were 'in complete sympathy with those who signed the protest form, though unable, for various reasons, to sign themselves. In two or three cases, at least, they are names of brethren who have been compelled, by economic pressure, to attest against their own wish. Some three or four names are those of Baptist friends who desired to join in the protest.'
Taking into account the unequivocal terms in which the protest was couched, the response was considered encouraging.
The next step was the co-operation of those in different parts of the country who were endeavouring to tabulate statistics and to keep in touch with individuals and groups concerned. This was effected by the United Peace Conference of August, 1916, which asked the writer to act as correspondent secretary to those who were away from home on account of their resistance to the Military Service Acts.
Here one would gratefully tender thanks to those who have assisted in the execution of this duty.
Immediately succeeding the above mentioned Conference, The Apostolic Messenger, whose columns were always open for the advocacy of the cause of Peace, published a notice requesting those who were going through the fires of persecution, or friends of the same, to send names and particulars to the writer. The Editor of the Bible Advocate was good enough to publish a similar notice in the columns of that journal. These notices appeared in every issue of the two magazines until the trouble was past. A list was published every month in the Apostolic Messenger giving the whereabouts and movements of brethren in any way affected. In this way, we believe, 'they that were scattered abroad' were enabled to establish and sustain a rich spiritual fellowship.
When, at a later date, the Government permitted conscientious objectors who had served a period in prison to accept work of national importance providing that it was at least twenty miles from their homes (assuming that they were willing to accept same, which many were not), the Apostolic Messenger readily inserted a notice inviting any member of the Churches who has such work to offer to send particulars to the writer. Unfortunately, the response to this appeal was practically nil.
Drawn from the above sources, we publish the following statistics of cases of which we have personal and in some instances intimate cognisance. We would point out that there must be many isolated cases of which we were not advised.
Number of Brethren who were arrested as a result of resisting the Military Service Acts ... 61
Number of Brethren who were Court-Martialled:-
Once ... ... ... 49
Twice ... ... ... 5
Three times ... ... 2
Four times ... ... ... 4
Number of Brethren imprisoned:-
For less than 112 days ... ... 29
From 112 days to twelve months ... 19
From one to two years ... ... 10
Over two years ... ... ... 2
Number of Brethren released from prison on medical grounds:- ... ... ... 2
Number of Brethren who accepted alternative service after a term of imprisonment ... ... 43
Number of Brethren who were awarded alternative service by Tribunal and accepted same ... 18
In addition to the above, one brother entered the Non-Combatant Corps, afterwards withdrawing and suffering ten months imprisonment.
Also Bro. Arthur Wilson passed away whilst in Strangeways Gaol, Manchester, (see page 71), and Bro. Clifford Cartwright was sentenced to death in France, which sentence was afterwards commuted to ten years penal servitude (see page 65).
HOSEA BIGLOW CONSCIENTIOUSLY OBJECTS
Es fer war, I call it murder -
There you hev it, plain and flat;
I don't want to go no furder
Than my Testyment for that;
God hes said so, plump and fairly -
It's es long es it is broad -
An' you've got to git up airly
If you want to take in God.
'Taint your eppylets an' feathers
Make the thing a grain more right;
'Taint a-follering your bell-wethers
Will excuse ye in His sight.
Ef you take a sword an' dror it,
An go stick a feller thru,
Guv'ment aint to answer for it,
God'll send the bill to you.
Wut's the use of meetin'-goin,
Every Sabbath, wet or dry,
Ef it's right to go a-mowin
Feller-men - like oats and rye?
I dunno but wut it's pooty
Trainin' round in bobtail coats,
But it's curus Christian duty
This 'ere cutting' of folks' throats.
I'll return ye good for evil
Much es we frail mortils can;
But I won't go help the Devil
Making man the cus of man.
Call me coward, call me traitor,
Jest es suits your mean idees -
Here I stand a tyrant hater
An' the friend o' God an' Peace.
J. RUSSELL LOWELL.
IV. The Ground of Objection to Military Service
BY W.H. COOK.
I WELL remember that, as a boy at school, I occasionally asked myself the question, 'What should I do if I was called upon to be a soldier?' I cannot exactly say why that question presented itself, but I think it was due to one of the following causes: either it was because many of the lessons of history, poetry, reading and music were saturated with the martial spirit - war was continually eulogised; or it may have been because we were sometimes told that very probably every youth would have to submit to a period of compulsory military training. The question came to me in later years, and I felt that to be a soldier I should have to cast aside Christian principles. Never at any period of my life have I thought that the pursuit of a soldier was in keeping with the Christian ethic. I have, however, for a while, questioned as to whether I was right in my conclusions, owing to the fact of so many of my brethren joining the army. I thought it strange that they should all be wrong, and I was led to further serious consideration of the matter, only to be more convinced than ever that Christianity and war are as far apart as the poles.
May I suggest one or two reasons for our objections to military service?
In the first place I submit that the call to military service to the Christian is
NOT THE CALL OF DUTY
as is often asserted. We have acknowledged Jesus as Lord. He calls us to take up the cross daily and follow Him. Unless we are prepared to sacrifice all for Him we are not worthy of Him. He is Lord of all, and therefore it is our duty so to live that in all things He may have the pre-eminence. We have frequently been told that it is our duty to fight, but if to fight is not in harmony with the teaching of Jesus, then, as Christians, it is not our duty at all. I wish to emphasise that not only is military service out of harmony with the call of Christ, but it is in defiance of it because it sets itself up as imperative; everything must be set aside for military necessity. Because it exalts and opposes itself above all that is called God it shall be revealed in its wickedness and perish. It is not military leaders alone who set militarism upon such an exalted plane, but unfortunately many who have named the name of Jesus advocate the same cult. It is not an exaggeration to say that for a period war was exalted and the Cross was thrust into the background. I quote a statement made to me in reference to a debate that was taking place on spiritual matters. The opinion was given 'that it is ridiculous troubling about things like that when a great war is going on.' Then Scripture study must be despised when such an important thing as war is being waged! As Christians, our attitude to war should be one of absolute indifference, except when we turn to it with damning epithets upon our lips. Thus shall we pay to war its rightful tribute.
It is worthy of notice here that most of the people who uphold a war deny that they are in favour of war. Their position really is that they are against war in general but in agreement with every war in particular. Brethren, if war is wrong, let us not do evil in the hope that good may come. If those who call us to war emphasise the call as being so important that every other consideration must be cast aside, that fact alone proves that for us it is not the call of duty. Christ is Lord and if militarism claims the first place it usurps the position that is Christ's. Whatever happens in the world, even if leaders of nations launch upon war and conflict, it can have nothing to do with the course which we as Christians adopt. Our course has been marked out long ago. We must follow Jesus who said, 'My kingdom is not of this world; else would My servants fight!' We must follow in the train of His early disciples who said, 'We must obey God rather than men,' and who, for three hundred years, went to the stake rather than wield the carnal sword.
Another reason for our opposition to war is that while Christ is universal,
WAR IS DISTINCTLY NATIONAL.
Christ said to His disciples, 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature ...' Paul gave utterance to this sublime truth at Antioch, when he said: 'Be it known unto you that through this man (Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins and by Him all that believe are justified ...' John emphasised the same thought: 'He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.'
John Wesley, having learned that Christ died for all, looked upon the world as his parish. When America contemplated coming into the war, a minister in that country spoke thus to his congregation - and one thought how refreshing were the words amidst the rubbish that was continually being preached: 'So long as I am your minister, this church will answer no military summons. Other pulpits may preach recruiting sermons; mine will not. Other parish houses may be turned into drill halls and rifle ranges; ours will not. Other clergymen will pray to God for victory for our arms; I will not. In this church, if nowhere else in America, the Germans will still be included in the family of God's children!" These words do not merely express man's opinion, but they express a fact of the gospel. It is a fact to which many have blinded their eyes during the past years. It is a fact which must be acknowledged, if we read our New Testaments. So glorious is that fact of frontiers broken down that all nations should rejoice. Nationality may mean something to some people, but it will not bring favour with God. He is no respecter of persons. His salvation is as wide as the world. His message is 'Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.' How can this spirit breathe in the atmosphere of militarism?
Another reason for our opposition to war is that it is brutal, conceived in hatred, and
OPPOSED TO THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.
Unequivocally, does Jesus announce the test of discipleship: 'By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples; if ye have love one to another.' Christian principles are violated in war. Lord Fisher expressed the war spirit truly when he said, 'The essence of war is violence; moderation in war is imbecility. Hit first, hit hard, and hit anywhere.' The essence of war is violence, and if I believed in war I would be ruthless, doing all the harm that I possibly could. By such brutality I should exhibit the spirit of war.
Dr. Salter revealed the realities of war when he wrote: 'Look! Christ in khaki out in France thrusting his bayonet into the body of a German workman. See! the Son of God with a machine gun ambushing a column of German infantry, catching them unawares and mowing them down in their helplessness. Hark! The Man of Sorrows in a cavalry charge, cutting, hacking, thrusting, crushing, cheering. No! No! That picture is an impossible one, and we all know it.'
As followers of Jesus we rejoice because He requires no such methods in the interests of His Kingdom. Wielding the 'sword of the Spirit which is the word of God,' we are told to put up into its sheath the sword of steel, 'for they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.' 'Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart and with all thy mind and with all thy strength and thy neighbour as thyself.' The law of the new kingdom is, 'Resist not him that is evil; but whosoever smiteth thee on the right cheek turn to him the other also ... 'Love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you, that ye may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven, for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth the rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same?
We want no flag, no flaunting rag,
In liberty's cause to fight;
We want no din of murderous gun,
To battle for the right;
No widow's groans shall mar our cause,
No blood of brethren slain;
Kindness and love have won before,
And so they shall again.
Again, we oppose military service because it
REDUCES MEN TO MACHINES.
A man's individuality is obliterated. Paul Gillan, who died in Winchester gaol, in March, 1918, wrote to the Home Office six months before his decease thus:
'To submit to military discipline means to me the negation of all that is noble, all that is loving, all that is pure and kind; the negation of all that is divine; in short, the negation of all that constitutes a man.' Christ calls us to follow Him, to take upon us His yoke. No coercion is used: the choice is ours. 'Let us stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.'
Further, we oppose military service because it
and distinctions made by men are foreign to the spirit of Christ. Where do we see a greater display of caste than in the military system? The lack of friendliness between rank and rank, inherent in the system, has no support from the Church of Christ, but rather condemnation. All are one in Christ Jesus. 'There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.'
In conclusion, may I suggest that we oppose military service because the policy of militarists is
This seems a paradox to many. Fighting to annihilate their enemies they hope for peace but instead they
bequeath a legacy of hatred and unrest. Others love their enemies and dwell in safety. When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. In the light of Scripture, in the light of history, we see that not the force of arms but the power of righteousness exalteth a nation.
Brethren, if we have disowned the Lord, let us with sincere repentance seek the throne of grace. If we have walked in the law of the Lord, let us still stand in the 'old paths.' If we differ on certain matters, let us diligently search for the will of God, and, having found it, let us ask for strength to put it into practice. Let us strive to edify one another in love. So shall the world stand in awe of a living Church and
'No longer hosts encountering hosts
Shall crowds of slain deplore,
They'll hang the trumpet in the hall,
And study war no more.'
The writer earnestly desires to express his love for those who, though differing, were always considerate. Also be desires to convey his deep sympathy to those who have been saddened and prays that the God of all comfort will bless them. His admiration for those who, against intense opposition, have stood for the testimony of Jesus is no less sincere. 'Great is your reward in heaven.'
Old friend, I greet you! You are still the same:
You poisoned Socrates, you crucified
Christ; you have persecuted, mocked, denied,
Rejected God and cursed Him - in God's name.
You gave monotonously to the flame
All those (whom now you honour) when the new
Truth stung their lips - for fear it might be true:
Then reaped where they had sown and felt no shame.
LADY MARGARET SACKVILLE.
V. The Tribunals.
BY W. NORMAN NELMES.
THE Military Service No. 2 Bill, introduced by the Prime Minister on 5th January, 1916, saw the introduction of Compulsory Military Service. It applied only to single men and became law on 28th January. It was soon extended and applied to married men, and in its completed form received the Royal Assent on 25th May 1916.
In these measures, the Tribunals - Local, Appeal, and Central - were set up. Full and generous consideration was frankly promised in all cases of real hardship. The widow's only son was not to be taken, and the clergy of all denominations were exempt. Why this latter exemption we cannot guess, unless it was to leave them free to carry on their great work of national importance, which the great majority had so faithfully (?) been doing. The Government recognising their faithfulness kept faith with them and they were not taken. Not so, however, with the widow's only son, nor with the conscientious objector, concerning whom the Government's frank promises were as 'scraps of paper.'
In the Bill, however, the case of the conscientious objector was fairly met, and the proposed treatment was really generous. The clause was drafted without reference to Church or Creed. It simply ran 'on the ground of conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service' and provision was made for absolute, conditional, or temporary exemption according to circumstances. Not only was the sanctity of conscience recognised and respected by the Act, but the conscientious objector was promised fair play and a judicial and impartial hearing. In the official circulars issued by the Local Government Board for the guidance of Tribunals, it was said: 'The functions of the Local Tribunal will be of a judicial nature; persons will therefore be appointed who will consider the cases impartially.' And Again: 'The Local Authority, in making their appointments to the Tribunals, should bear in mind that the Tribunal will have to hear, among the applications, those made on the grounds of conscientious objections. Men who apply on this ground should be able to feel that they are being judged by a Tribunal that will deal fairly with their cases.' The fault was not with the Act so much as with its working, and the greatest weakness and fault lay with the men who composed the Tribunals. Instead of being made to feel that they were being judged by a Tribunal that would deal fairly with their cases, conscientious objectors were made to feel the very reverse. As for my own experience before the Local Tribunal, and it was one of many similar, I was made to feel that all the members of the Tribunal who spoke - and they all spoke but one, and he impressed me as being ashamed of his company - were quite decided as to their decision before the case was heard. The chairman was simply a bully, and did his level best to browbeat the conscientious objector, for whom he showed a very special antipathy. If one was not prepared to submit to the bullying, then there was a row in which the chairman's voice was very prominent. A more injudicial procedure could not well be imagined. The military representative, in this case, was a perfect gentleman. He pointed out to the Tribunal that the letter which he had on my behalf from the Church of which I was a member stated that, 'the Churches with which we are associated hold views in common with the Society of Friends and other strongly opposed to war in general,' but it was no use. Sound argument was at a serious discount, and the hot discussion was suddenly closed by the chairman peremptorily shouting the word 'dismissed.' The oracle had spoken, so the case was dismissed. Feeling it my duty to lodge my protest against such a travesty of justice, I rose and attempted to speak, whereupon there was a furious uproar and cries of 'sit down.' This I did not do, and managed in the end to get a quiet hearing to my protest against the injustice which had been done. A report of the proceedings was drawn up which, after having been signed by several witnesses, was sent to the Home Secretary for Scotland. On the following day, a deputation of four pacifists who heard the proceedings went to London to see the Home Secretary, with the result that further instructions were issued to Tribunals.
Further instructions indeed! Of what avail were further instructions to Tribunals which were a law unto themselves? Tribunals composed of men who were often, perhaps we should say generally, quite unsuited for the position, often unutterably void of logic and packed full of bitter prejudice to boot, were vested with a little brief authority, and exercised their powers with most tyrannical sway. It was part of their official instructions that 'the Tribunals must interpret the Act in an impartial and tolerant spirit. Difference of opinion must not bias judgment.' Tribunal after Tribunal in every part of the country declared that it had not power to give complete exemption. Pledges of the Prime Minister were quoted to them and reference made to official circulars from the Local Government Board and they said, as at Durham, 'We are not bound by any statement made by any Member of Parliament, or any circular issued by the Local Government Board.' Some Tribunals would not let conscientious objectors speak at all. The Clerk at one Tribunal openly declared that he did not believe in conscientious objectors. A military representative said he did not think they ought to waste any time on conscientious objectors. One magistrate stated that he could not deal with any question of conscience; he was there to 'stop that rot.' At Wirral, the chairman of the Tribunal candidly announced, 'I wish the Government had not put this clause about conscientious objectors into the Act at all. I do not agree with it myself.' At Girvan, a bailie on the Tribunal said, 'he would put all conscientious objectors in the very first line; it was all bunkum about conscientious objectors.' But the Tribunals 'must be impartially constituted.' Consequently Erith District Council, having ascertained that their representative on the Local Tribunal held views antagonistic to the Military Service Act and therefore could not exercise an impartial judgment, had him removed from the position and a new 'impartial' representative brought in, thus purging the Tribunal from all reproach of bias! A conscientious objector before the Liverpool Appeal Tribunal asked to be allowed to read certain letters giving evidence as to the sincerity of his objections.
Chairman: 'Anyone can produce evidence. If a friend comes to me and asks for evidence I try to please him.'
Applicant: 'Would you tell lies to please your friend?'
Applicant: 'The friends who have given me these letters are in just as responsible positions as you are, and they do not tell lies.'
Chairman: 'We will dismiss the case.'
What a noble way out of a difficulty! He just shouts 'dismissed,' and the chairman's troubles end.
An appellant known to the writer personally was told by a Scottish tribunal that he could not be a conscientious objector because he repaired boots for miners who went down the pit to dig coals which were used by the navy! With such logic his case was dismissed. He refused to obey military orders and was sent to prison, where I had the privilege of visiting him. Thus, instead of justice, they received insult, and in place of fair judgment were treated with scorn and derision. But we are pleased to be in honour bound to say that such unfair and cruel treatment was not always given to the conscientious objector. It was my honour to be chosen to fight the religious test case for the city of Glasgow at the appeal Tribunal, and despite the fact that a scurrilous anonymous letter had been received concerning me, I am pleased to testify that I was given a good hearing, and received splendid treatment from both the military representative and the tribunal. I had to make a special appearance six weeks later because of the anonymous letter. I wish the writer of the same, who wrote in a disguised hand as if with a match stick, had been present to see the righteous indignation of the sheriff who presided, and to hear his scathing remarks. It would have done him good. He had already received the pamphlet 'Peace' which I had published, and evidently saw through the shabby attempts to have me sent to prison. I have the most profound respect for him and for the military representative, both of whom were gentlemen of justice and honour.
... ... ... ...
The foregoing sounds like Alice in Wonderland. But no; it is British history concerning the first steps in the persecuting of Christians, during a war which was ostensibly fought for freedom. A war which had the almost unanimous support of nearly every Christian denomination in this alleged Christian land. Christians worked for it. Recruiting for it was encouraged from gospel platforms and pulpits all over the country. Public prayer was continually being offered for the success of the carnal weapons of warfare, and fervent thanksgivings ascended to God every time news came of great slaughter in the enemy ranks. Such prostitution of prayer aroused in some of us feelings of revulsion, which must have been akin to those which moved our Scottish national poet, Robert Burns, to pen the following lines concerning thanksgiving for victories over the French in his day:
'Ye hypocrites! Are these your pranks?
To murder men and give God thanks?
Desist for shame! Proceed no further!
God won't accept your thanks for murder!
Many of the individual members of the churches, and I say it to their shame, gloated over the newspaper stories of the persecution of Christian conscientious objectors, and joined in the vulgar laughter when the faith of these Christians was held up to derision. Many not only disregarded the Sermon on the Mount, but found that they hated not only their enemies but everyone who did not share their hatred. The conscientious objector was boycotted in Church and State; and some of us do not need to travel far to find a church where the conscientious objector is boycotted even to this late date. What a travesty of New Testament Christianity - Christian liberty, fraternity, and equality!
VI. 'Handed Over.'
BY EDWARD BONSER
ONLY those people who have experienced being 'handed over' can understand the meaning of such a phrase, more especially when the term only applies to that type of manhood which is looked upon with contempt and even derision.
'Handed over' is a crude, harsh, rough phrase, and to realise its meaning three parties are necessarily concerned. In this case, two mighty powers - the authorities of the civil law and the military on the one hand - and an innocent individual deemed to have transgressed, on the other.
As a preamble, I must mention the first 'handling.' It occurred in May, 1916, when 'calling-up' notices were delivered and one knew too well the consequences of ignoring the same. A few days having lapsed after the date due to report at the recruiting station, the police officer in charge of the town mutually arranged to effect an arrest and removal to County Court for trial. Fortunately, I had a friend similarly situated, and our dual 'arrest' was systematically carried out, both prisoners meeting the 'knight of the handcuffs' at the railway station on the morning of May 30th. There was no scene.
Arriving at the County Hall, we were immediately confronted by a magistrate, and as Tuesday was not trial day, we were remanded in custody for twenty-four hours. This particular day and succeeding night will never be erased from memory. Deposited in a cell 15 ft. by 10 ft., ample privilege was afforded for meditation. Thoughts too numerous to take note of, or even remember, flashed spasmodically through that chamber which at such times appears to be unlimited and equally receptive to all demands. Pensive moods were frequent and took one home again to those very near and dear, from whom such a sudden separation was keenly felt; to the ideals and principles, non-violation of which resulted in the present position; to the future, unknown to us, but implicit faith and confidence was in 'Him who held the key.'
At intervals we were allowed the use of the court yard for exercise. This was about twenty yards long by six yards wide. The boundary walls peered well into the sky, and occasionally the sight of the valueless sparrow created the spirit of jealousy and envy in our hearts. One was accustomed to palatable food, served in an appetising way, but the manner and distribution and quality of the prison diet caused one to allow hunger to predominate, rather than submit to a much lower type of feeding. Picture the fare. Bits of potato (some hot, some cold), small portions of meat and gravy, all mixed together on a soup plate. As a wooden table-spoon was the only utensil available, brushing thoughts away, I made one attempt, which was sufficient. Placing one spoonful in my mouth, the teeth marks of a previous user could be felt on the spoon, and I felt 'fed up' - but hungry. This was dinner-time and I was naturally anxious, wondering if something better would arrive for tea. This anxiety was not allayed when my attention was directed to the 'menu,' which was posted up in the passage.
Here it is word for word:-
ALLOWANCE OF DIET
'The following is the Allowance of Diet for all Prisoners
confined in the Lock-ups in the County of N----:
BREAKFAST AT 8 O'CLOCK
1/2 lb. of bread (best seconds); 1 pint of tea or coffee, with sugar.
DINNER AT 1 O'CLOCK
Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
1/2 lb. of bread, 1/2 lb. of potatoes, 4 ozs. cooked meat without bone.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
1/2 lb. of bread, 1/2 lb. potatoes, 1 pint soup containing 3 ozs. meat.
SUPPER AT 6 O'CLOCK
1/2 lb. of bread, 1 pint of tea or coffee with sugar.
The coffee or tea is to be made sufficiently strong, and the meat to be hot.
Any person not being supplied according to the above scale ought to complain to the Superintendent of the Station, who has strict orders to report the complaint to the Chief Constable.
Each meal had the same effect on the writer, but relief came next day when relatives supplied me with good things. However, day and night passed with leaden feet, moments were apparently taking the space of hours, and sleep was impossible. Think of the marvellous transformation; from a happy home and comfortable, easy bed to a cold white glazed brick chamber, whose furniture was wholly composed of a few boards roughly nailed together for a bed.
But trial day came, and before noon we were ushered into the presence of the 'powers that be.' Mine was the first case. Entering the dock, my eyes instantly rested on relatives in the court, and, since only a glance was permissible, my feelings at this point were indescribable. A solicitor, on my behalf, questioned his client very minutely, and then addressed the judge, challenging the faulty phraseology of the Military Service Act, and pleading for the prisoner to be allowed to continue his usual employment, which was specified as of National Importance. Although the verdict was premeditated, the judge sought his clerk's advice before announcing the universal verdict: Forty-shillings fine and 'handed over.'
Another visit to the cells ensued to await military escort. Our pre-conceived notions of army life received an awakening when we were introduced to our khaki host by the warder - one man for two prisoners, by the way. He was a real gentleman - no handcuffs, no bullying, no frowns, no jeers, nothing but welcome smiles, and words something like these, 'I hate this job, but I've got to do it.' Emerging into the street once more, one felt the shackles of confinement instantly loosed and forsaken, temporarily at any rate, and found fond greeting awaiting from one's nearest of kin. We had overcome one obstacle and were fully prepared for the next.
Under an hour's time, we were moving in the train en route for the barracks, and again coming events occupied too large a sphere of our horizon which, in a degree, brought us to a state of despondency. On arrival at barracks, among the busy stir of hundreds of recruits passing to and fro, with occasional bugle blasts and harsh voices here and there of 'Shun,' 'Halt,' 'Quick March,' 'About Turn,' etc., we were led before an army officer who required answers to a list of questions. 'Married or Single?' was one question, and my reply was the former. [Since the 'I will' was said after Nov. 2, 1915, I was deemed to be a single married man ]. 'Sign here for wife's allowance,' said he in a stern authoritative tone. 'That I cannot do.' I replied gently, and added that if I did, my wife absolutely refused to accept any army pay. Whereupon the storm of his language arose, the wind of his temper waxed strong, and after giving an exhibition of his innermost feelings and thoughts, he commanded the escort to confine me to the guard-room and to shoot me if he liked. The guard-room was reached, the door clanged, and the huge bolt shot home. I now realised that I had indeed been 'Handed Over.'
... ... ... ...
In such a record as this, I am constrained to mention those to whom we owe much and to extend to them heartfelt thanks and appreciation for invaluable advice, encouragement and assistance which extended over that period of exile from home for nearly three years, especially to Brethren T.E. Entwistle, Geo. Hassell, W. Crosthwaite, J. Luck, J. Barker, R. Price, E. Forsyth, and S. Jepson.
A VOW FOR FREEDOM.
God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good -
Not blow for blow.
That day will come all feud to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Until that year, day, hour arrive -
If life be given -
With head and heart and hand I'll strive
To break the rod, and rend the gyve;
The spoiler of his prey, deprive -
Go witness, Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate'er the peril; or the cost,
WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON.
VII. Court Martialled!
BY SLATER WILSON
WHAT are you in for?' Almost invariably this was the greeting one received as he entered the guard room.
'Refusing to obey orders!'
'Oh! You'll get a D.C.M. (District Court Martial).
'Yes, I know that.'
The calm reply astonishes most soldiers. 'Remanded for Court Martial,' were words a soldier hated and dreaded to hear. They meant, in most cases, weeks or months spent inside the walls of a military prison, with a more stringent discipline than in camp; drilling exercise at the double, less food, more work, and worst of all - loss of liberty.
For the Conscientious Objector it possessed no terrors. Rather it meant another opportunity to voice his convictions, of spreading the principles of the Prince of Peace, and now and then an interesting discussion on the merits of the war, and of its efficiency, or otherwise, as a means of settling the disputes between nations.
The award of a Court Martial never worried the Christian objector. He knew that no matter what defence he had to offer, the end was just the same - PRISON!
Courts-Martial, for the conscientious objector for that reason alone, were simply a farce.
The government would have saved themselves a great amount of worry and anxiety, if the C.O. had been left to be dealt with by the civil law. How much disaffection among the troops was caused by their witnessing the stand made by the C.O.'s against a whole nation in arms may never be known. For how much of the back-bone in many of the ex-service men's organisations they are responsible may never be estimated, but certain it is that they exerted a great influence for good on the rank and file, which the combined efforts of a world of force could not counteract.
There is nothing in all the proceedings, preceding and attending a Court Martial, which has a tendency to promote confidence in the prisoner. Suppression of individuality seems to be the one thing aimed at. At every step he is made to feel the ignominy of his position as keenly as possible. The whole camp seems to be full of officers. No wonder that, with such a weight of authority confronting him, the poor soldier feels that submission is wisdom's way.
Time after time, he is remanded until the day fixed for the Court Martial. (The writer was remanded seventeen times). But at last, the day arrives - all too soon for the soldier, but waited and wished for by the C.O., for after a C.O. has been in camp some time he is glad even to get back to prison.
The following defence made at the third Court Martial is similar to those made at previous ones:
'The position which I occupy today is not the result of the want of respect to properly constituted authority, but out of respect to that which I believe to be far above all principalities and powers - the authority of God himself; and I feel compelled to repeat the question asked by one of the disciples of Jesus in the earliest days of Christianity: 'Whether it be better to obey God or man; judge ye!'
God has said, and He whom God sent to be Saviour of the world, repeated it, 'Thou shalt not kill.' From my childhood I have been trained in the fear and knowledge of God. Eleven years ago, I became a Christian, and the Churches of Christ, of which I am a member, have always, up to the present war, consistently opposed all war, as their literature can testify. Many of these Churches separated members who became soldiers and who refused to be bought out of the Army. It is no wonder, therefore, that I feel compelled to refuse to participate - either directly or indirectly - in war.
I believe war to be the most inhuman expedient the world has ever used in settling disputes between nation and nation. War never dethroned power, it only enthrones one power in the place of another.
Science has prostituted her knowledge to the destruction of human life in devising and inventing weapons of war, so desolating in their effect that Europe, part of Asia and Egypt have been turned into one great field of slaughter, where millions of precious lives are being sacrificed. What profit then the material wisdom and power! A great responsibility lies at the door of the professing Christian churches. A Staff Captain in the Army, interviewed by the Daily News said, 'War is now so utterly unholy a business that, though we grant that the man of God should be where sins are thickest, yet in some obscure way, we feel that the Church is much to blame for the whole horrible affair. What in God's name has it been doing for centuries?' This is an assertion that if the Churches had been faithful to the Prince of Peace, whom they call Lord, war would be an impossibility. I believe this. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only power on earth which will remove this dreaded evil, for its one great design is to take possession of the heart of man, to transform him into the image in which God created him, pure, peaceful and loving. God, however, is able to make even the wrath of man to praise Him, and I rejoice in this, that the principles of the Prince of Peace are more known today than ever. The Government may permit the persecution of those who choose to follow in His footsteps, but the banner of Peace and Good Will still moves forward, and ultimately all men will be persuaded to beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. It is in this hope, and through the grace that is given to me in Christ, that I am cheerful and willing, for His sake, to face whatever the future may hold.
I have stated my conscientious reasons first, because had the Military Service Acts provided no exemption, my position would remain unaltered. The Act itself is a usurpation of authority. It usurps the authority of God and blatantly exalts a company of the created, above the Creator. It does what God has never done; demands that every man, with certain exemptions, shall deliver himself, body, soul and spirit into the hands of the Government, and if he fails to comply takes forcible bodily possession of him. For this reason, too, I could never consent to submit to such a demand. I have said that there were certain exemptions provided by the Military Service Act. One of these exemptions is that those who were acknowledged to be genuine Conscientious Objectors were to receive absolute exemption. Parliament clearly intended that such exemptions should be given, but the Tribunals, in the vast majority of cases, openly flouted the authority of the Acts.
I am one of those acknowledged to be genuine but refused the exemption claimed under the provisions of the Act. The Act itself exempted me through the administration of the Tribunals, and there I can never be deemed a soldier and consequently am not subject to military discipline. Therefore, though the evidence against me may be true, I deny that the commands given to me were lawful. Further, in my refusal to obey such commands, I only seek justice and that which the law allows. Again, I deny the authority of commands issued in this camp. This is a combatant camp and I am entitled to be placed in a non-combatant camp. If I had obeyed the orders given to me, I would have forfeited my title to the certificate of non-combatancy given to me by two tribunals. Therefore, the commands were illegal. The authorities in this camp knew that I was entitled to be sent to such a camp and ought to have transferred me as a matter of simple justice. However, in justice to the Court, I must say that I should have taken up the same position had I been placed in such camp.
In conclusion I cannot take part - either directly or indirectly - in the slaughter of my fellows and must, as often as I am returned to the Military Authorities, continue as I have begun, knowing that the ultimate victory lies with those who put their trust in Him who is greater than all..' *
Through camp and prison alike, I was sustained by the conviction that the course I was pursuing was the right one, and the one which would most surely bring, in its fullness, the Kingdom founded, not on force, but on the loving constraint of the meek and lowly Nazarene; the Kingdom for which he died.
Two days after the trial, the sentence was promulgated in public - on the sea shore. The Battalion was drawn up four square. I was placed in the centre and the commanding officer read out the sentence: 'Two years imprisonment with hard labour, for disobeying a lawful command given by his superior officer, when on active service.'
Amongst the audience was a Church of England minister. As he stood listening I could not help wondering what were the thoughts of the so called servant of the Prince of Peace. My thoughts then turned to the Churches of Christ, and I wondered still more.
* Reprinted from The Apostolic Messenger.
FETTERED YET FREE.
(Written on the day that Leigh Hunt left prison).
What though, for showing truth to flattered state,
King Hunt was shut in prison? Yet has he,
In his immortal spirit, been as free
As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.
Minion of grandeur; think you he did wait
Think you he naught but prison walls did see -
Till, so unwillingly, thou turnedst the key?
Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!
In Spencer's halls he strayed, and bowers fair,
Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew
With daring Milton, through the fields of air,
To regions of his own, his genius true
Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair
When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?
BY ROBERT PRICE.
AFTER vigorously protesting against my illegal arrest, trial by a Military Court, and being placed in a combatant regiment, whilst in possession of a non-combatant certificate - not, as I pointed out, that the latter mattered anything, for I had determined not to aid the war directly or indirectly, roundabout or square, at home or abroad - I was sentenced by a Military Court to six month's imprisonment.
I have never before so much as seen a prison, and looked forward to my new experience with great expectations. As a boy, I had read in my history books of the imprisonment of many reformers in the religious and political world. My father used to send my blood coursing warmly through my veins by stories of relatives, some of whom were either imprisoned or transported for taking part in the Chartist rising. These all contributed to sending me off on my new errand with buoyant spirits.
Any buoyance or enthusiasm I possessed was doomed to meet an early death, and something more solid and lasting was needed in its place. Prison was not what I expected it to be!
On my arrival at Wormwood Scrubbs, I was surprised to find there were no quarries there. This surprise was expressed to me by others also. Having entered, my first feeling was that of curiosity - a hasty glance round and a first impression. Then - of a sense of seclusion from the world without - for six long months!
I was soon introduced to my first cell. As I was marched by a warder along a corridor, there fell on my ears the rather uncanny sound of the warder's jingling keys and the tread of his heavy boots. Having passed into my cell, I was pierced through by the banging of the door and the turning of the key in the lock behind me. Thus began the two long years of my incarceration!
There was now no buoyancy left. The outlook was changed. One can wax warm when addressing his tens or his hundreds. But under these circumstances one grows cold. No encouraging eye can be seen, no approving nod, no ringing cheers to stimulate, no criticism to call forth all one's energies in reply. No! all is the reverse! You are driven within yourself. You ask yourself: 'Is it worth the candle? Whatever has made me take this step? To where will your sufferings lead?' So I stood still; looked round, ruminated a little; realised my isolation and well-nigh choked with emotion, for I thought of home. I knew that somewhere in that same building was my only brother. I longed to speak to him; to signal that I was there, if only I could convey the word by telepathy! But I hadn't faith in that. Could he be in the next cell? I tapped at the wall. There was no response. I tapped again. The only answer was the echo from the empty halls. How near was the next man? How far? Just then the corridors echoed with the tread of some unknown person. Who could it be? My cell door opened and the warder handed in my first prison meal, a pint of porridge and an eight ounce loaf of brown bread, but sans butter, sans sugar, sans tasty bits - and sans appetite also.
I then began to collect myself, and I realised that this was solitary confinement. In other words, I was deprived of my elementary rights, vouchsafed to all creation, of associating with my kind. I know no worse or more brutal form of punishment. I have seen men driven stark mad by it. On men with a highly strung nervous temperament it is disastrous. If a man has a moral weakness it drives his weakness within him and weakens what strong points he made have. It is no cure for criminality! It aggravates it. My varied experience of prison life amply bears out these statements.
The rigours of prison life are not confined to your cell, but extend over a much wider field. A most barbarous rule is the silence rule! Imagine yourself having to suffer the indignity of having your letters, which are already regulated in number and matter, postponed for a week, and your yourself placed on bread and water for a week, plus being kept in your cell for the same length of time - all because you were caught talking to a fellow prisoner. Or a similar punishment because you are caught looking through your cell window. Nothing dare be in your cell but by the warder's permission, and such things as are there are to be placed according to the idiosyncrasies of the Governor. This exactness re details serves only to make the prisoner concentrate his mind on obscure matters, which is the tendency of cell life itself, and harms him in concentrating on anything of moment. I have often found myself counting the number of bricks there were in the walls of my cell, or the number of knots in the floor, or else engaging in the most fantastic dreams. These things drive out clear thinking, and make sound judgment more difficult; whilst the strictness of the warders makes men cunning and crafty, aiming at all kinds of devices and petty deceptions.
I had, however, much chance for study, and read extensively. I read secular and sacred history, studied Latin, Greek, Euclid and Algebra, and when later we secured greater liberty, I taught logic to some fellow prisoners, whilst they tried to teach me Esperanto, etc., but without much success. I conversed much with Quakers, and read a number of their books, but ever failed to appreciate their standpoint. Whilst in Wandsworth prison, I addressed their meetings four times, with varied effects upon their members. They do not appreciate a New Testament stand.
My conclusion, after calmly studying my two years' experience, is that I fail to find anything that can be said in favour of our present prison system. It is no cure for crime, for it brings offenders together where they clandestinely compare notes. Rather than inducing them to look at their act with shame, it causes them to dwell unduly on the same. 'Familiarity breeds contempt' is a maxim which applies here also, and they become crime hardened. They realise they have lost their name, and they go on from crime to crime. I view with pity the juvenile offender, who is seldom cured by the system, but rather marked out by it to become a frequenter of these quarters.
The system requires to be uprooted and supplanted by another which shall rest not on force and punishment, but which shall give greater facilities for moral education and a persuasiveness to amend. At present, this side lacks fearfully. The predominant religious element is the Church of England, whose ministers have free access to every cell. They run three and four meetings a week, but the spirituality of these meetings and visits is, I regret to have to say, at a very low ebb. Nonconformity should rise to the occasion and demand an equal standing with the State Church, a free access to all cells, the same as these religious state hirelings. A system is required which will not drive a man within himself, but which will raise him up higher. There is a germ of good in the heart of every man if only we can find it, and it is so valuable it is worth the effort. A soul is at stake!
Brute force is the underlying principle of our prison system, whether civil or military. In the latter, you find it carried out to its utmost logical conclusion. My knowledge of this is based on a month's stay in France, the first fourteen days at Etaples, the remainder at Les Attaque No. 5 Military Prison. It was here I witnessed, and experienced, the most barbarous treatment. I will content myself by giving an extract from a letter written by me on my return to Wandsworth Prison:-
'On the "compound" at Etaples, we were horse-whipped, half-choked by sandbags slung round our necks, and thrown into dark cells. Later, for an hour and a half, ten or twelve of the army's biggest bullies set about five of us, for refusing to obey the order to "double" - and we were whipped, struck and kicked, with fists and boots, thrown down, kicked whilst down, thrown against the railings, shaken as a dog would shake a rat, pushed and dragged about until totally exhausted, and we were all on the point of collapse.
'We were then transported to No. 5 Prison, Les Attaque. There, for refusing to unload a boat we were sentenced by another military tyrant to "fourteen days confinement to cell, fourteen days No. 1 Field Punishment, fourteen days No. 1 Diet." The field punishment consisted in being handcuffed twenty-four hours per day. During the daytime our hands were behind us, during the night they were fastened in front.'
I am told harrowing tales of men being doomed to death for small offences. But, not to rely on hearsay, I have seen men, or rather youths in their teens, beaten mercilessly with the buckle end of officers' belts, on head and face. At Les Attaque, I saw a youth chained hands and feet, stripped naked, doubled over an officer's knees, and then thrashed by two or three others with their metal mounted belts. The shrieks of agony, which lasted long after the incident was over, I shall never forget. Again, I heard the cries of a man who was shot whilst trying to escape. He was brought back, thrust into a cold cell, whipped with officers' belts, and allowed to bleed all night, if needs be to death.
There is no torture too severe, no punishment too harsh, if done to maintain the morale of the army. And these things were done with the full knowledge and consent of the authorities. I indict the Government of the day with knowing these things - for reports were made to them on the return to England of many who thus suffered - and permitting them to continue. And similar things are done in the military prisons in this country. I indict the Government with knowing these things and hypocritically howling down others for doing the self-same things. The independent mind which asserted itself in the army was thrust into prison, there to be bullied, starved and tortured till all love of independence was gone, and nought was left but a fearful slavish obedience, be he volunteer, conscript or conscientious objector - a man robbed of manhood. I indict them with soliciting my services to end such and yet applying it to me. I indict them with making such the foundation of the army. I indict the Church with defending a system which must have this as one of its integral parts. He must be more than a bold Christian who will justify this business.
I challenge contradiction of my statements and am prepared to prove them up to the hilt. These things happened in the sixth month of the year 1917, on the compound at Etaples and in No. 5 Prison, Les Attaque, Calais.
The following extract from a letter written at the time sets forth the spirit in which we were enabled to endure and become more than conquerors through Him that loved us:-
I shall no doubt come out of this crisis, by God's help, a vessel shaped more like the Divine image, made perfect through suffering.'
And the words of Robert Browning, as follows, will fittingly express what we desired and aimed to be in all our witness for Christ:
'One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break;
Never dreamed though right were worsted, wrong would triumph;
Held we fail to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake.'
IX. The Death Sentence.
BY CLIFFORD CARTWRIGHT.
'Be what thou seemest; live thy creed;
Hold up to earth the torch divine;
Be what thou prayest to be made,
Let the great Master's steps be thine.
DURING the early stages of the great war, many who had been endeavouring to live up to the ideals of New Testament Christianity found themselves confronted with a grave problem which had perhaps never before obtained their serious thought. The attitude of those who decided that war was contrary to the teachings of the great Law-giver, has left its mark on the pages of history and, although small in number in comparison to those who rendered obedience to their earthly King, the history of the C.O. will live whilst the story of the world war is told.
It is not often that individuals are faced with that extreme sentence for endeavouring to do what is right, yet, such was the case of some who, realising the futility of war and its opposition to the teachings of Christ, decided to entirely oppose such, without fearing the probable consequences.
At Richmond (North Yorks.), on the 29th of May, 1916, a number of men, who had continually refused all orders were warned that the company to which they were attached was to proceed to France, and that they were to accompany it. This was hardly expected by five of us, who had already been court-martialled and were awaiting sentence. However, the sentence was read the same day, and we, along with the rest, had to journey to Southampton under escort. Many were the impressions on our way as we sang hymns at various stations, and although prisoners, people were surprised at our cheerful disposition. Having arrived at Southampton, we went on board ship and accompanied by two destroyers were landed at Le Havre. From here, we journeyed by train to Boulogne, orders having been continually refused, which we expected would lead to court-martial, but such did not happen until the party arrived at its destination.
Early one morning, at Boulogne, we were awakened by the Sergt.-Major for parade; this we ignored until we were told that the officer was down at the docks, and there we could state our objections to him. Under this agreement, we went to the docks, but found no officer on arrival but an order to unload ships. This being refused, we were taken back to camp under escort, and at night evidence was taken for a Field General Court Martial. Particulars having been taken, we were eventually taken to the Field Punishment Barracks at Boulogne, a disused fish-market near the Quay. There we were placed in dark and disgracefully crowded cells, eleven of us being in a cell about 11 feet square, pitch dark, with a stone floor and one blanket as a bed. Here we kept happy by discussing many of the topics of the day of a religious and political character, or as one said 'from the existence of a personal Devil to one on the merits of Esperanto.'
On June 11, 1916, our charge sheets were given us, and we were told our court-martial would take place the following day. Meanwhile, we had been fully noting the routine of the Military Prison, the treatment given to the soldiers, and occasionally exchanging a few words with them. The following day, an escort came to the Field Punishment Barracks to accompany us to the place of trial. As we climbed up the hill-side, we got a good view of the city and could see the channel with the white cliffs of Dover in the distance; many a glance was cast in that direction, and we wondered if ever we should tread those shores again. After being shut off from the world and in darkness for so long, it was good to view once more the glories of nature and God's handiwork, and one thought of the contrast with the destruction taking place not far away. At last, we reached our destination, and one by one our defence was given for the cause for which we individually stood. My turn came and the charge was read:
No. 871. Private C. Cartwright, 2nd Northern N.C.C.
Sec. 9(1) A.A. Disobeying, in such a manner as to show a wilful defiance of authority, a lawful command given personally by his superior officer, in the execution of his office, in that he, at Boulogne, on 6th June, 1916, when, as one of a working party at the docks, he was personally ordered by Sergt. ----, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the party to commence work, did not do so, saying 'My religious convictions won't allow me to do it' or words to that effect.
The question was then put, 'Guilty or not guilty,' to which the answer was given 'Not guilty.' This was then followed by the reading aloud of the history of the prisoner during his service with the colours, conduct, crimes committed, decorations awarded, etc.
Three N.C.O.'s were then called to give evidence respecting the charge, having themselves been present at the time of refusal. Opportunity was then given for cross questioning if the prisoner desired. The most important was the giving of the defence - one not prepared with the aid of a solicitor; with no great personal knowledge as regards Army law and regulations - but a defence based entirely on New Testament teaching. Such was the defence which was prepared whilst we sat on the prison yard floor at Boulogne. After being read, this was given to the court and attached to the court martial papers; and after a few formularies had been attended to, the trial ended. We were then taken by escort back to the Field Punishment Barracks.
One of the chief difficulties one met was that of suspense: awaiting trial, promulgation of sentence, and continual thought as to the future. One realised that in the ordinary course disobedience met with severe and extreme punishment, and this made everything so uncertain. However, we continued to cheer each other until the 24th June, when we were told that we were to hear our sentence. We were anxious to know this and were glad to feel that soon the verdict would be known. We turned into a huge military camp where soldiers formed themselves into three sides of a huge square, several hundreds being present. When silence had been obtained, the officer in charge read the sentence:
'Private ----, No. ---, of the 2nd Northern N.C.C., tried by Field General Court-Martial for disobedience, sentenced to death by being shot' [pause] 'confirmed, by General Sir Douglas Haig [another pause] 'and commuted to 10 years penal servitude.'
After all, the extreme sentence had been reduced to one of penal servitude and one could hardly realise one's feelings at such a time. Whilst many suffered bodily torture far more than we did, yet the separation from the outside world, the entire suspense, along with the possibility of what might have happened, demanded the existence of a principle with which to face it. One of the things which was prevalent in most minds during such a period of uncertainty, was the continual thought of events and circumstances in each of our past lives. The realisation of our own failures and what we each could have done.
I was glad, as a member of the Church of Christ, to represent those who were taking a similar stand, by being amongst the number who were able to prove their convictions on foreign shores, where war was raging. It was for each to prove that not only are the teachings of Jesus, which we tried to observe, not within the realm of ideality along, but also of practicability. Let us never feel satisfied with ourselves until such is accomplished and if necessary face 'The Death Sentence,' realising that 'all things work together for good, to them that love God,' and let us count the present sufferings unworthy to be compared with our future happiness, realising,
'That here and now, on earth some glimpse is given,
Of joys which wait us through the gates of heaven.'
X. 'Even unto Death.'
BY T.E. ENTWISTLE.
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. - Rev. 2:10.
ELSEWHERE in these records will be found the personal witness of many who listened to the voice of the Ever Living One, and were imprisoned or even sentenced to death for following in His steps.
My mournful privilege is to witness concerning one who became a victim, 'even unto death,' of what Prof. Peake (himself a supporter of the late war) described as 'the Satanic ingenuity of the machine for dealing with conscientious objectors.'
Our Bro. Arthur Wilson, of the Church of Christ at Hamilton St., Blackburn, along with three other brothers in the same family, refused absolutely to assist in any way the machinery of Moloch, for the massacre of mankind, devised by the rulers of this present evil age. And the consequence was he was called upon to endure two years and four months hard labour in various prisons before disease, seizing upon a body enfeebled by hard labour, under nourishment, and damp cells, hurried him into the embrace of death.
Prison! hard labour! disease! death! As Emerson says, 'It is said all martyrdoms looked mean when they were suffered.' And yet, generation after generation,
'Their blood is shed
In confirmation of the noblest claim, -
Our claim to feed upon immortal truth,
To walk with God, to be divinely free,
To soar, and to anticipate the skies.
Yet few remember them. They lived unknown
Till persecution dragged them into fame,
And chased them up to heaven.'
'TESTIMONY FROM THEM THAT ARE WITHOUT.'
There never was any question as to the sincerity of Arthur Wilson's convictions. The military representative said in open court, to Arthur's father, who was a witness, 'We are all convinced of the sincerity of your son.'
The Chairman of the Tribunal said, in giving their verdict, 'The Tribunal are of the opinion that you have established conscientious objections, and they will put the matter before the Central Tribunal.'
This decision was reported in the press, along with Arthur's declaration that 'He denied the right of any Government to make slaughter a bounden duty.'
Nevertheless, Arthur Wilson went to prison in due course, and ultimately to death, because he was unable to accept conditionally that to which the law gave him a right absolutely. 'The Satanic ingenuity of the machine' sent him back, again and again, to the rigours of the most cruel and vicious form of prison life, a form of life so terrible in its effects on the vitality of the prisoner, that the law forbids the vilest criminal to be sentenced to more than two years hard labour.
For two years and four months the savage machine of a brutal and debasing militarism slowly ground out the life of one of God's saints, and during this time he was winning the affection of scores of fellow-prisoners, of all creeds and of no creed, by his quiet, stedfast, inoffensive manifestation of Christian character. So that when his brother 'Jack' came from Strangeways Gaol, Manchester, to the funeral, he was able to bring the following message, which he received from a large body of fellow-prisoners there:
'Give the deep sympathy of us all to your father and mother. Try to go forward with a good courage. Your dear brother was, and is still, a great and noble soul, and his faithful life shines brighter above the dark sorrow which his death has caused us all. We shall draw near with you to the common Father of us all, and ask that you may be comforted and sustained.'
'HE BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH.'
The following extracts from his letters speak for themselves, and testify most eloquently on behalf of him who wrote them. They were not written by Arthur Wilson with any idea of publication, of course, but they reveal his character and belief much more clearly than anything I could write about him. Hence their inclusion here. Replying to a letter seeking advice, he wrote, after giving such advice as he could re the Tribunals.
'I have no further advice to give, except that you should continue to repose your whole trust in Him whom we call Master, for all things work together for good to them that love God.'
Attached to the same letter, as a postscript, was the following:
'We may be persecuted!
We have been scoffed at!
We have been and are held in contempt!
We may be spit upon!
We may be buffeted!
We may be put to death! -
So was the Master!
Writing to the Central Tribunal he says:-
'I am resolved at all costs not to render any service contributory to the prosecution of war. Believing my action to be in accordance with the law of Christ.'
'Whatever be the decision, I am prepared to suffer for my deep faith, of long standing, in the cause I have at heart, namely the cross of Christ and its purpose, for in Him I repose my trust, and I will not betray my loyalty by calling a truce to my Christian career when its influence is most needed.'
The foregoing statements were all made previous to arrest and imprisonment. Lack of space forbids too many details, but two or three extracts may be given to show that persecution and suffering never caused him to falter in his determination to serve the Prince of Peace.
At his first court-martial, he said:
'Believing that the principles of Jesus Christ are the best means of bringing Peace, I am compelled to refuse military service.'
After eighteen months hard labour in prison, at his fourth court-martial [for the one alleged offence], he said:-
'It is generally admitted that a return to Christianity as practised in the early days would make war impossible. I believe this! Therefore, it is incumbent upon me to do all in my power to attain this end.'
Six months later he writes to his sister and her husband.
'I can say after two years of imprisonment, that I would rather rot away for another ten than compromise my faith, and my only regret would be that I would be separated from loved and loving ones.'
A TRIBUTE OF LOVE.
I have said my writing of this article was a mournful privilege. I may add that it is also a source of pride, and joy, and comfort. As one who knew Arthur Wilson from the time when he was just a wee boy, and helped, in some small measure, to form his convictions and his character, in the Lord's-day school, the church, and in the friendly intercourse of home life, it was, and is, a matter of joy and pride to find that, when the time of trial came, his convictions stood the test, his character developed, and his stedfast faith clung to the things eternal. He was 'faithful unto death.' And when the end came:-
'I wondered not to hear so brave an end,
Because I knew who made it could contend
With death, and conquer, and in open chase
Would spit defiance in his conquered face -
And did! Dauntless he trod him underneath
To show the weakness of unarmed death.'
He died in Strangeways Gaol, Manchester, on December 11th, 1918, at the age of 27, and his body was interred on the 17th at Livesey, Blackburn. To myself, at the urgent request of the family, fell the sad duty of conducting the funeral service, and the services held in memory on the following Lord's day, and I can testify that the comfort of his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, and of us all who were present, was that he had died for the Faith; for the cause of Peace and Goodwill; for Liberty, for Conscience and for Christ.
And now, how does his death affect us? Dr. Guthrie tells a story of martyrdom some two hundred or more years ago, when Margaret Wilson and a companion were tied to stakes on the shore of Solway Firth, to be drowned by the incoming tide. As her companion, who was much nearer the advancing wave of death, succumbed, their murderers said to Margaret, 'What see you yonder?' And while the waters rose cold on her own limbs, she replied, 'I see Christ suffering in one of His own members.' Brave and glorious words, born of a living faith.
So may our faith see in Arthur Wilson the sufferings of Christ, and in the multiplication of such as he was the hope of the world for deliverance from the folly and insanity of militarism and the reign of brute force.
'BLESSED ARE THE DEAD THAT DIE IN THE LORD.'
'Captain and Saviour of the host
Of Christian chivalry,
We bless Thee for our comrade true,
Now called away by Thee.
We bless Thee for his every step
In faithful following Thee,
And for his good fight, fought so well,
And crowned with victory.'
LIBERTY AND WAR.
I Hate that noisy drum; it is the sound
That Tells of war, of bondage; and I blush
That Liberty had ever cause to rush
Into a warrior's arms; that Right e'er found
Asylum in the furious field. Not so
The holy crowns of genuine glory grow.
XI. Alternative Service.
BY R.B. SCOTT.
AMONG objectors to war, it is a much-debated question as to whether alternative service should be taken or not - some believing that acceptance involves a surrender of principle. We cannot go into the question here, however, but consider that the problem is such a difficult one that we should all agree to allow liberty of thought and action. The attitude of the C.O. taking alternative service may be briefly stated as follows: 'I cannot fight, because the law of Christ forbids it. I am willing to suffer whatever penalty the law of the country imposes on me for obedience to Christ in this respect. If, however, the State offers work, unconnected with the slaughter as an alternative, I am willing to do it.'
Alternative service was allowed quite frequently by the more enlightened of the Tribunals. They offered work of national importance to men whom they thought to be genuine, and whom they knew would not accept any military service. The work they offered generally entailed considerable inconvenience upon the man concerned, and in a great many cases a severe change of occupation and hardship.
Some are inclined to look upon those who obtained conditional exemption as the most fortunate class of C.O., but we should remember that one of the hardest things which we had to put up with was the persecution of our fellow-workmen. The 'alternativist' was more exposed than others in this respect, as a rule. We have no idea of talking of inequality or equality of sacrifice. Anything we may suffer is trifling in comparison with what our Lord suffered for us, and should be cause for rejoicing, but never for boasting.
With regard to the technical details of alternative service, men given the opportunity of this were usually referred to the Committee set up by the Government under the chairmanship of the Hon. T.W.H. Pelham, C.B. This committee, generally known as the Pelham Committee, was intended primarily to be of assistance to the Tribunals in the selection of suitable work. Naturally it was also of service to the C.O. himself. A list of occupations regarded as of national importance was drawn up by the Committee in conjunction with the Board of Trade, and this gave the puzzled seeker for work some idea as to what he should look for. Later on, still further help was given through a list of likely employers.
Like most Government concerns, the Pelham Committee was rather slow in action. Many questions had to be answered by the applicant before anything could be done, and an interview had often to be suffered in addition. When the man's capabilities had been considered he was usually advised to take up farm work or something equally laborious. Also the condition was generally imposed that the C.O. should be not less than 20 or 50 miles from home - the limit seeming to vary a bit. Reports were required from the employer to the Committee or the Tribunal about once in every three months, and the man was on no account to leave or change his job without permission from one or both of these authorities, who of course consulted the employer beforehand. This placed the C.O. very much at the mercy of his employer, and some took the opportunity of doing well out of it. To be just, however, it must be said that employers behaved fairly well as a rule, and in some cases the most cordial relations were established.
It might be wondered at that men could be found willing to take on objectors at such a time. In addition to the feelings of bitterness and contempt, most of the men concerned were quite new to manual labour and were physically unfitted for it. Quite a number of employers were found who were quite sympathetic, and some who were absolutely indifferent. Others were driven by the shortage of labour to swallow any feelings they had for the sake of their own prosperity. There were those, of course, who refused to have anything to do with us, and some feeble attempts were made at boycott. Some undoubtedly took advantage of their victims by paying them very low wages. Men previously employed as clerks found themselves much reduced in circumstances, the pay being only sufficient sometimes to pay for lodgings, and making the support of dependents an impossibility. My own experience has perhaps been rather fortunate, but it leads me to think that the conscientious industry and honesty of the C.O. - discovered by the employer, to some extent at least, to be part of his character - changed the attitude and eased the situation.
Of all forms of alternative service, I should think farm-work was the most common, and I therefore venture to give some personal impressions and experiences.
After serving for some time under the Home Office Scheme, I was able to take up farm-work under the same control. I packed up and removed from the Casual Ward, where His Majesty's Government had lodged me, and took up my humble lodgings in the country town near to which the farm was situated. Here I was well fed and looked after, and was quite free from the neighbours' taunts and ill-treatment, which so many in similar positions suffered. I put this down to the fact that the hours of labour (ten per day) made my time at home so short.
I then entered upon the new experience of getting up at 5 a. m. and starting work at 6. For the first time, perhaps, I learned to appreciate the beauty of the morning. This was not always a comfortable thing, for though the dew is much praised by the poet, it makes quite a different impression upon the farm-labourer, especially when he is gathering vegetables before breakfast.
There are some things which have made a deep impression. One certainly is the contempt of the 'country bumpkin' for the 'novice.' The old foreman - 75 summers - never seemed to forgive me for being new to the job. Whether I planted, hoed, digged or reaped, I inevitably won his disapproval. A month or two served to harden me to this, and my body to the hard labour of my new way of life. It was very strenuous work in comparison with clerking, and my back objected strongly to the extra strain put upon it.
The great compensation of farm-work is that it is in the open air. Thinking of it now in the 'durance vile' of indoor clerical work, makes me long for the sunshine, wind, and rain of my brief spell on the land; and I feel I should like to be back on it again. It is far from a holiday, and it would be foolish to neglect the seamy side. A few weeks of wet, chaff-cutting, the mud and cold of winter, some twelve-hour days of harvesting, and other trials of this kind, are by no means pleasant. At the harvest-time, when we were reaping the blown corn with reap-hooks, life just consisted of eating, sleeping, and working.
I found my fellow C.O.'s on the farm very pleasant mates. We were generally put to work together, and our tongues and brains had plenty of work, when the opportunity offered. Moreover, they were quite old hands by the time I joined them, and they could not have been more considerate than they were to the new-comer. I think permanent friendships have been formed in this way, and our mental and spiritual outlooks have been widened by the helpful discussions which ensue when people of widely different outlooks meet. We always had the one thing in common - the hatred of warfare and the determination to have nothing to do with it. This bond united us in a happy comradeship.
We had companions of widely different character. The staff was divided roughly into three equal parties - old men, soldiers, and C.O.s. The soldiers were certainly the more friendly, and seemed to feel very little bitterness against us. Some of the old men growled and cursed a bit, but we had very little real unfriendliness. Needless to say, some outbursts occurred, and one cannot be surprised at that - nay, we should expect it when we consider the position of comparative safety in which we were placed. The natural feeling is one of jealousy, and persecution is bound to take place under the circumstances.
Release of the alternative service men did not take place immediately upon the termination of the war in 1918, but the closing of the Tribunals made it impossible for the Committee to keep the men for long on the land. A circular was issued to the effect that those who left the work appointed them would do so at their own risk, but in a few months the Committee itself was dissolved and so the whole scheme gradually 'petered out.' The bolder a man was, the sooner he got back to his ordinary occupation. The lapse of the Military Service Acts brought final release and so ended a period of our lives which cannot be forgotten. We sometimes feel that calmer days of peace encourage a certain laxity, and have to recognise that many things which we do not like at the time are beneficial to our spiritual welfare. We may reasonably regard alternative service in this light, and he thankful for it.
In concluding, I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Bro. J. Shephard, of Hornsey, who supplied much useful information for this chapter.
WILL NATIONS LEARN?
Peace - shall the world, out-wearied, ever see
Its universal reign? Will states, will kings,
Put down these murderous and unholy things,
Which fill the earth with blood and misery?
Will nations learn that love, not enmity,
Is heaven's first lesson; which, beneath the wings
Of mercy, brooding over land and sea,
Fills earth with joy by its soft ministerings?
'Twere a sad prospect - 'twere a vista dark
As midnight - could this wearied, mortal eye,
Through the dim mists that veil futurity,
Discern not that heaven-bright, though distant, spark,
Lighted by prophecy, whose ray sublime
Sheds a soft gleam of hope o'er the full path of time.
SIR JOHN BOWRING.
XII. The Home Office Scheme.
BY E.C. GOULD.
ONE feels honoured to contribute to the pages of this little book, and glad to find a place amongst those who, from the conception of the mind of Christ, are constrained at all times to follow the path of non-resistance and to refrain in all circumstances from taking the lives of their fellow men.
From the previous chapters, the reader will have gained a knowledge of the course of events, and of the experiences of objectors to military service prior to and during the term or terms of imprisonment which they served, so that explanation of prior events is unnecessary here in dealing with one's experiences subsequent to release from prison in order to engage in work of National Importance.
When a man serving a term of imprisonment undertook, before the Central Tribunal, to perform work of National Importance he came under the control of the 'Home Office Committee for the employment of Conscientious Objectors.'
Except in a few instances, he was sent in company with others of his comrades who had given a similar undertaking to one of the Work Centres described elsewhere. In the few excepted instances, men were sent direct from prison to the place where they were to perform the work of National Importance.
The Work Centres, which were first commenced about October, 1916, and at which the ordinary prison duties and tasks were performed, may have been regarded from different points of view. By some, they may have been regarded as a sort of convalescent home where, after the weakening effects of prison life, the men might recuperate before going out to more strenuous labour under private employment; by others as a kind of purgatory where the men might expiate their 'crime' or 'crimes' of having worn the prison garb, whence at the expiration of this intermediate period they would be allowed to mingle once more, to an extent, with their fellows. Whether or not either of these was the official point of view, it was the official intention with regard to the practical working of the scheme, that the men should stay but temporarily at these Centres, while private employment was being found for them outside with individuals and firms, or at a Camp (where the number warranted the step) formed by the Home Office Committee, and of which an agent or agents were appointed to take control. It is the fact, however, that a large amount of the men's time was spent at the Centres, and a good number were there without having been sent at all to work outside.
Men were sent to 'outside' employment at places in all parts of Great Britain, and where the larger numbers were employed an agent was, or agents were, appointed to supervise the work, as at the Camps. Where only a small number was employed, a Home Office agent paid visits of enquiry and inspection. The number of men employed at any particular place varied from time to time; the conditions also under which the men lived and worked at the different places varied considerably, being very bad indeed in some instances. The larger Camps were those engaged on quarrying, timber cutting and hauling, building, roadmaking, waterworks schemes, etc. Whether at Dyce (Aberdeenshire), Llangadock (S. Wales), Ditton Priors (Salop), Sunk Island, nr. Hull (Yorks), Ballachulish (Argyllshire), or elsewhere in comparatively small numbers, these Camps had something in common, and that was an absence of the monotony and gloom inseparable from a prison building and institution. Too much space would be required to give a description of all the Camps which were formed or to tabulate the Scheme, if one were able. It must, therefore, suffice to describe one's own experiences in Camp, under this 'outside' employment section of the Scheme.
Leaving the ancient cathedral city in Yorkshire, where, from the time of the commencement of the Work Centres, five months had been spent, in company with about forty comrades, one journeyed by rail to a destination far North, up into the Highlands of Scotland. One remembers, just before leaving the Centre, casting a surreptitious glance at a Scotch comrade's baggage, to see how the spell correctly the name of one's destination! It was at the end of March, and as the journey continued through the night, probably one's first real glimpses of 'Bonnie Scotland' were had as the train proceeded somewhere in the vicinity of Callander in Perthshire. These first glimpses from the carriage window leave now upon the mind a picture of God's handiwork, untrammelled and unmarred; of fine, tall trees in dense profusion, and in the background, standing out against a sky of blue, the snow-covered peak of some lofty and majestic mountain. The journey from here to Ballachulish, a small village at the entrance to Loch Leven, has largely passed from memory, but leaving the village (which is the railway terminus) we proceeded up the Loch by steamer. As the atmosphere was cold and damp, and the bare mountain ranges on either side were half enveloped in cloud, we were glad when the boat slowed down and came to a halt at a newly constructed landing stage. Seeing comrades on land (the Camp having been formed some months previously), one knew that 'H.M. Road Board Camp' had at last been reached. Coalasnacon, the scene of the Camp, consisted of one home-stead only, and was situated midway between Ballachulish, with its slate quarries, and Kinlochleven, the small town situated farther on at the head of the Loch.
The work in hand at the Camp here was the construction of a roadway the whole length of Loch Leven, from Ballachulish to Kinlockleven, and, as has already been indicated, the Loch is hemmed in on either side by mountains, some close at hand and some more distant from the water's edge. The reader will thus readily see that as the road was to be constructed on one side of the Loch, between it and the mountains, a great deal of hard work was necessary to make it level, on account of the very uneven nature of the ground. Rising early and washing in ice-cold water, one went to breakfast at 7 a.m. At 7.30, the head ganger (a man who had reached the allotted span, yet who was straight as a rod and could swing the hammer with anyone) blew his whistle, and with pick and shovel one made off towards the road with one's comrades. Some were engaged with pick or mattock, clearing away heather, grass and soil, some with picks were breaking away rocks and stones, and others were filling wheelbarrows with the soil and stones. Others were wheeling the barrows away over planks laid down as far as the road was built and tipping the refuse over at the end. So the roadway was gradually built up and extended, to meet another section being similarly constructed by another party of men from the opposite direction. The level of the road could, of course, only be maintained by either digging out or filling in, and so one either wielded pick or mattock, hammer or crowbar, or contrived (at the start) to wheel the barrows down the narrow planks. Sometimes large boulders blocked the progress of the work, and this necessitated the boring of holes in the rock and the insertion of dynamite so that the obstacle might be removed. Fuses were inserted in the holes, and on hearing a cry of 'Fire!' all in the vicinity would cease work and, seeing the retreating figure of the head ganger, would scramble away to a safe distance. When the fragments of rock had returned to earth, work was resumed and in course of time all signs of the offending boulder were removed. All this may not have been accomplished before lunch time, but it constituted the daily routine, except for a few men such as the camp orderlies, cook's assistants, tailor, carpenters, blacksmith, etc. Lunch was partaken of at 12.30, and during the hour's interval letters were eagerly looked for. The day's work closed at 5.30, and dinner was ready soon afterwards. There were eight or nine huts for the men, in addition to the dining room, reading room, stores, carpenter's shop, cook-house, hospital, and living accommodation for the agent and sub-agent.
During the earlier days of one's stay here, the weather was intensely cold, and heavy snowstorms were not infrequent, so that on some days no work was done at all on the road. Later on, work was suspended on account of heavy and continuous rain, but during the latter period of our stay the weather was ideal. We were very fortunate in seeing this part of the country both in winter garb and in all the beauty of spring array, and before we left the summer season had arrived. One cannot attempt to portray the great beauties of nature seen here during the different seasons, but they were such that one had little or no conception of previously, and they made a lasting impression on the mind. It is not within the purview of these pages to tell of visits to Oban, Fort William, and an ascent of Ben Nevis, in company with Bro. T.H. Haynes.
With faces deeply tanned by wind and sun, we returned, at the end of the following June, to the Centre at Wakefield. There we resumed our position in the stoker's squad. While at Wakefield, about the commencement of 1918, the Home Office Committee made it known that men who had been employed under them for twelve months and whose conduct during that period had been satisfactory might take up 'exceptional employment.' This was to be found by the Committee or approved by them if found by the men themselves. The work permitted to be taken up under this new provision was (with very few exceptions) of a manual character only, and was to be not less than 20 miles from a man's home. He was entitled to receive the full wages paid by his employer in respect of his labour, instead of the 4s.8d. per week as heretofore, and if for any reason the employment ceased, the man was to hold himself at the disposal of the Committee. Men found it very difficult to find work under this new scheme, and it was many months before some were able to do so. At the beginning of 1919, a circular letter was issued by the Committee stating that a man might take up employment mentioned in a schedule attached thereto, without previously consulting the Committee, but he should notify them immediately after taking up such employment. This seemed to be an indication that the Committee was probably about to cease its operations, which was in fact the case, for in a short time the remaining Work Centre was closed and the men were disbanded.
The man is thought a knave or fool,
Or bigot plotting crime,
Who, for the advancement of his kind,
Is wiser than his time.
For him the hemlock shall distil -
For him the axe be bared -
For him the gibbet shall be built,
For him the stake prepared!
Him shall the scorn and wrath of man
Pursue with deadly aim,
And malice, envy, spite and lies
Shall desecrate his name:
But truth shall conquer at the last,
As round and round we run -
The right shall yet come uppermost,
And justice shall be done.
Pace through thy cell, old Socrates,
Cheerily to and fro;
Trust to the impulse of thy soul,
And let the poison flow.
They may shatter to earth the lamp of clay
That holds a light divine,
But they cannot quench the fire of thought
By any such deadly wine.
They cannot blot thy spoken words
From the memory of man
By all the poison ever was brew'd,
Since time its course began.
Today abhorr'd, tomorrow adored,
So round and round we run;
And ever the truth comes uppermost,
And ever is justice done.
Plod in thy cave, gray anchorite;
Be wiser than thy peers;
Augment the range of human power,
And trust to coming years.
They may call thee wizard, and monk accursed,
And load thee with dispraise;
Thou wert born five hundred years too soon
For the comfort of thy days;
But not too soon for humankind,
Time hath reward in store;
And the demons of our sires become
The saints that we adore.
The blind can see, the salve is lord,
So round and round we run;
And ever the wrong is proved to be wrong
And ever is justice done.
Keep, Galileo, to thy thought,
And nerve thy soul to bear:
They may gloat o'er the senseless words they wring
From the pangs of thy despair;
They may veil their eyes, but they cannot hide
The sun's meridian glow;
The heel of a priest may tread thee down,
And a tyrant work thee woe;
But never a truth has been destroy'd;
They may curse it and call it a crime;
Pervert and betray, or slander and slay
Its teacher for a time;
But the sunshine aye shall light the sky,
As round and round we run;
And the truth shall ever come uppermost,
And justice shall be done.
And live there now such men as these -
With thoughts like the great of old?
Many have died in their misery,
And left their thoughts untold;
And many live, and are rank'd as mad,
And placed in the cold world's ban,
For sending their bright far-seeing souls
Three centuries in the van,
They toil in penury and grief;
Unknown, if not malign'd;
Forlorn, forlorn, hearing the scorn
Of the meanest of mankind!
But yet the world goes round and round
And the genial seasons run;
And ever the truth comes uppermost,
And ever is justice done.
XIII. Home Office Camps.
BY J. HOLMES.
ON the morning of 8th November, 1917, the door of cell A4/72, at Wormwood Scrubbs prison was thrown open and its occupant ordered by the warder in charge to accompany him down to the basement. Having delivered up books, brush and comb, etc., he was marched with other eighteen prisoners, garbed in grey with the white broad arrow, to the reception cells, there to change into the fit-out provided for men accepting the Home Office scheme. Coarse tweed coat and vest, corduroy trousers, hob-nailed boots - which dragged very heavily after the light (odd) shoes worn in prison - cloth cap, and muffler.
Thus arrayed in our new glory, we were paraded before the deputy governor, and after receiving various instructions, written and verbal, the great gate of the prison was opened to us, and we were driven in war-time conveyances to Euston Station. Having said goodbye to the warder, who had accompanied us from 'Scrubbs,' we entrained for Knutsford, Cheshire, the county gaol there having been converted into a work-centre for C.O.s.
The special carriage reserved for us attracted much attention, both before we left London station, and on the journey North, for on the windows, printed in the blackest of ink, was the very interesting information:- 'Nineteen Prisoners'!
The journey was much enjoyed by the men, who for varying periods had been used to the drab of prison, and our partial freedom from the restraint of the past months was deeply appreciated. The sun shone brilliantly as we sped along, and nature in her autumnal dress compensated somewhat for the dreariness of gaol and its surroundings.
Reaching Knutsford, about 8 p.m., we were welcomed to our new home by the 'advance guard' - men who had preceded us to prepare the place. We were soon safely within the gloomy walls of the prison; our names called, like so many schoolboys; and each billeted to his own room, an ordinary cell, but with wood floor instead of the waxed composition floor of 'Scrubbs.'
For six months this was to be our residence, partial freedom being allowed, with unbarred doors at night, and the privilege of leaving the prison betwixt the hour of 5.30 and 9.30 p.m., Saturdays at 12 noon, and Sundays during the day. Every man, however, had to be in by 9.30 p.m. prompt or, in default, receive punishment by way of fine, out of his 8d. per day allowance.
Bro. Herbert Harrington, of Ilford, London (whom we had learned to love in the Lord while at 'Scrubbs'), had arrived in an earlier batch. We were very soon enjoying each other's company and fellowship, in a larger degree than had been possible at the latter place, where we had met weekly for a brief half-hour at the little meeting of members of Churches of Christ, conducted by Bro. W. Mander, Evangelist, of Twynholm.
For quite a while the chief work at Knutsford centre was that of general cleaning. The place was in a dirty condition, and day after day we were to be seen scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. Apart from the office, kitchen and postal staffs, all men had their allotted tasks, some washing the cell walls and floors, others the floors of halls and offices, while a few did good service with the whitewash brush. The writer, having served a good apprenticeship 'on his knees' while at 'Scrubbs' was able to get through a decent share of work at Knutsford with the floor cloth and scrubbing brush.
This went on until the prison assumed a fairly respectable appearance, and then new work was given out to us, the chief occupation being mail-bag making. Imagine a group of men in one of the disused hospital wards, busy with needle and canvas, turning out a specified number of bags per day. Not all adept, by any means, at sewing, and any who could not turn out the number had rather an uncomfortable time. Uniformed warders, mostly ex-soldiers, superintended the work, calling us to task if our stitches were too big, and keeping a general guard over us.
The group with which the writer found himself was made up as follows:- The majority Socialists, some of the revolutionary type - a young Baptist Minister, a Theosophist, a Swedenborgian, a Plymouth Brother, and two of us members of Churches of Christ. Each day was occupied with work, of course, but also with debate and argument, and if an accurate account could be written of the proceedings, during the months spent in that dilapidated hospital ward, it would make both amusing, educative, and sometimes tragic reading. Lack of space forbids the introduction of such matter.
Meals were served in the hall of the prison by the kitchen staff, the communal system being in operation. Life within the Centre was varied. For those who preferred staying in after work, there was a reading and writing room provided, and, in one of the outer buildings, meetings and socials were occasionally held. As the weeks passed, the little group of Disciples grew, eventually about ten of us being in residence. We kept in close touch with each other, and enjoyed that communion which only those in the Lord can understand and appreciate. We held a very helpful meeting for the reading and study of the Scriptures during the week, and for eleven consecutive Friday evenings we met with a group of Anglican friends in Bro. Harrington's cell to discuss matters of faith and practice. Generally, the discussion was carried on in a very good spirit, although at times some of our friends, finding themselves in tight corners when considering the subject of Baptism, momentarily lost control. Howbeit, we always parted as comrades. We hope that the seed sown took root in some hearts at least.
We had not been at Knutsford many days before we introduced ourselves to the little church there, and from that time, on Lord's Days and Wednesday evenings, we enjoyed Christian fellowship and social intercourse with those of 'like precious faith.' We would make special mention of Brother and Sister Turner, also Brother and Sister Fryer, who showed us great kindness, at a time when friendliness to men who had taken our attitude towards war was liable to bring criticism, and even persecution, upon them. However, we look back with gratitude to those days, and thank God for the joy and blessing that came to us in these Christian homes, and for the spiritual help and stimulus received from the gatherings of the Church. If, in a small measure, we were enabled to give help in the meetings, we render praise to Him in whose strength we served. It might be of interest to state that more than once we wended our way to Bro. Turner's home, where some of the meetings were held, followed by youths - and stones or sods. However, we came through unharmed. Shortly after the riot at Knutsford, for which hooliganism was responsible, the writer was transferred, with a batch of 50 men, to Wakefield, where under similar circumstances about three months were spent. With the exception of the first few days of the period spent here, we were interned, owing to the riot which took place on Whit Monday, 1918. At Wakefield, we found a few Brethren with whom much helpful fellowship was enjoyed. Not being allowed out, we met each Lord's Day for a time to 'break bread' and to strengthen ourselves in the Faith. Here, the work of the Centre was more varied. Besides mail-bag making, there were weaving, and cocoa mat making. After the first week, the writer was transferred to the kitchen staff, and was thus engaged in attending the needs of the outer man. Much more satisfaction was felt in this capacity than was experienced when using the needle; at any rate the service seemed more real and useful. During the period spent here, one could only leave the centre with special permission from the manager. Attempts were made by the interned men through their committee to have this restriction removed, but the gates remained closed and locked. In the evenings, Saturday afternoons and Sundays, however, between the outer and inner gates of the gaol, friends were allowed to visit the men for a certain period, but the inconvenience can be imagined, especially when a good number of visitors were present together. However, this was better than nothing, and many a pleasant half-hour was spent with dear ones, and Brethren in the Lord.
Eventually the Government - probably under pressure from the local authorities, who felt it an indignity to have men of such character in their midst! - decided to remove us in batches to Princetown, where Dartmoor convict prison is situate. The writer went with the second batch. We left Wakefield on 13th August, at 9.30 p.m., and arrived at our destination, after an interesting though somewhat tiring journey of 15 hours. One had read and heard much of this 'dreadful place,' with its moors and mists. In boyhood's days, one was filled with awe at the mere mention of Dartmoor. However, though the prison and its surroundings when actually seen did not lessen the feeling of repugnance, one has many pleasant memories of the four months spent there. What has been written of Knutsford and Wakefield, regarding the life within, could also serve when writing of Dartmoor, only the facilities for meetings and recreation were better than at the former places. One soon came across Brethren here also, and as the weeks passed our fellowship was increasingly precious. We came into closer contact also with other believers, and endeavoured to use our influence in leading them into 'the more excellent way.' In one case, our efforts were rewarded. A young Scotchman who had long loved his Lord decided to obey Him, and was immersed in one of the prison baths, 'the same hour of the night.' At 11 o'clock, a little group was present to hear the good confession, and to witness the act of obedience. The latest news of this Brother informs us that he is still rejoicing in his Lord.
It will be of interest to state that, previous to this event, Leslie Copleston, the son of Bro. Copleston, of Sheffield, 'put on the Lord' in one of the Dartmoor streams.
Brief reference to the places where the Work Centres were situated must close this account. Knutsford is 15 miles from Manchester, and is the residence of many Manchester business men. They are wise, for Knutsford itself is a lovely place. Why a gloomy gaol has been dumped down here, however, one has often wondered. It seems to be the one blot on the place. With its old-world thatched houses, of which there any many, its heath, its beautiful houses, gardens, woods, roads and meres, it presents a picture of loveliness to those who are fortunate enough to visit it in spring, summer or autumn, while winter's mantle of snow adds to its beauty.
Wakefield is a Cathedral city, about eight miles from Leeds. There is no beauty about it. Its interest lies in its being an old historical city. Its chancel on the bridge, under which flows the river Calder, is quaint and ancient. Near this place during the Wars of the Roses, a royal prince was murdered. Here, a Church of New Testament Order has been in existence about sixty years.
Princetown, 15 miles from Plymouth, is supposed to be the highest town in England, it being about 1,400 feet above sea level. It is situated right on the moor. It has won repute for the rare and healthful qualities of its air. C.O.'s while in residence here, could only go within a three-mile limit, but even with this restriction, they were able to see much beauty. The views gained from the tors are magnificent. Hill and dale, and moorland heath, and in the far distance - but on a clear day seen quite distinctly - the waters of the English Channel.
The original prison was built for the Army of Frenchmen captured in 1806, while later it was used for the incarceration of American prisoners taken during the war of 1812-14. The French and American burial grounds, with their monuments to the dead soldiers of these countries who passed away during their imprisonment, are adjacent to the prison. At the suggestion of the Prince Consort, the old prison was afterwards used for convicts. These men worked on the farm and in the quarry on the extensive grounds, while the sanitary work of Princetown itself is also done by them. With the exception of business people, the warders are about the only residents. The prison has been rebuilt, but 'ugliness' is the only appropriate term to apply to it even now.
In winter time especially, to be imprisoned within its walls, either with cell door barred or unbarred, is far from pleasant. One is often filled with pity for life-sentence men who have to languish there. While the C.O.'s were at Princetown, they did the ordinary work of the convicts on the farms and in the fields. Some of the men were engaged in reclamation work.
In writing of the Work Centres one has tried to dwell upon the best side of our life. Much could be written on the other side, but we forbear. It is so much better to remember and to tell the happier things.
The writer left Princetown in the afternoon of 24th December, 1918, and arrived home the following morning just in time to spend Christmas amongst dear ones. The rest of the men, with the exception of those who, like myself, had been granted the new scheme, remained until about the following Easter when they were disbanded.
XIV. 'In Prison and Ye Visited Me.'
BY J. SCOULLER.
IN prison! - what a vile institution! What a hateful place; yet how many of the Saints of God have been incarcerated there - Peter, James, John, Paul, Bunyan, and a host of others! Loyalty to the Master led them there; yet what an influence has issued from that 'durance vile' they had to undergo.
One had come to imagine that such conditions were the result of the heathenism and barbarism of the early and the darker ages, and could not under any conceivable circumstances be repeated amid the enlightenment and civilisation of the Twentieth Century. Yet the unexpected - the unthinkable - has occurred - not only so, but has been endorsed and applauded by the great majority of professing Christians, and the people of this freedom- loving land, during the years 1916-17-18.
The forbidding aspect of these gloomy piles of stone produces a shiver of apprehension as one rings the bell at the gate. Presently a warder appears with his keys. Our mission is stated and card of admission produced and inspected. We are ushered into a gloomy waiting-room furnished only with bare wooden forms. A young woman is already there with a toddling baby at her feet, and in her hand a pathetic-looking small bunch of flowers, which she asks may be given to her husband, whom she may not see, as visits are only permitted once in three months. The warder goes off to ask whether the husband may be permitted to have them, but returns with a curt and chilly refusal, and she goes out from the dismal chamber with a sob in her throat. Why might he not be permitted a glimpse of the flowers with which God has brightened the world, and which the love of a lonely little woman had brought? Why, what evil had he done? He is a conscientious objector to slaughter of his fellow-men. His treatment, which might surely for a political offence have been more lenient, is that of the ordinary criminal. He has no right to see the beauties of God's creation; and the little woman turns away with a heavy heart and dull despair in her breast.
Those privileged to see prisoners are ushered into a whitewashed room, lit only from the ceiling, divided into different stalls, while up the centre (longitudinally) runs a barrier of wood about three feet high, surmounted by a double guard of wire gauze of so close a mesh and so placed that it is impossible to push a pin through to the prisoner's side, much less to pass food, sweets, flowers or anything else. Over the head of the prisoner is a board which darkens down the portion of the stall in which he stands, and his face cannot be distinctly seen. There for the space of thirty minutes one may talk through this screen, while a warder paces up and down at the back. Our hearts burn with shame and indignation against a Government and system which permits the indignities and starvation these men have to undergo; yet amid all the hardships of having to herd with the vilest criminals, of threatenings and, in some instances, of evil entreatings, one found Conscientious Objectors without any bitterness in their hearts either against the Government, their jailors, or even the system that had sent them there. Many experienced, and told of, the keen sense of the nearness of God; of the quiet time for contemplation and prayer, which was theirs in the cell where no sights and few sounds were around to distract their thoughts and meditations. Amid such surroundings many of them warmed up, strange though it may seem, to an enthusiasm for God and the extension of His Kingdom, that subsequently found vent in energetic Gospel and preaching services, though they had formerly not been inspired with the vision of usefulness in the Master's service.
An unforgettable experience was ours on returning from the Leicester Annual Meeting of 1917. With the relaxation then of the hardships they had formerly to endure, we were privileged to visit the boys in Wakefield Prison. We had the pleasure with two of our Scottish brethren to have tea in the prison cell occupied by one of them. Towards this little prison tea-party, contributions of seats, table cover, etc., etc., had been levied from the cells of other brethren who were also undergoing imprisonment. It was an experience that can never fade from our memories, and the eagerness of all to have news of what had passed at the Annual Meeting was indicative of their keen interest in the affairs of a Church which had shown them in their hours of trial little sympathy, and afforded them, and their dependents, less support. One could not help but be impressed with the deep spirituality of these lads; and it would have been a profitable time, for anyone, even if opposed to their whole outlook, to converse with them and hear them relate their experiences.
They hold a high place in our esteem; and, though we have seen few of them since, they will always live in our memory as those who endured hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ; whose faith and stedfastness will count for righteousness in the great battle that must yet be fought for the overthrow of all war.
WHAT IS THE SERVICE?
What is the service the benignant Father
Requireth at His earthly children's hands?
Not the poor offerings of vain rites, but rather
The simple duty man from man demands.
For he whom Jesus loved hath truly spoken:
The holier worship which he deigns to bless
Restores the lost, and binds the spirit broken,
And feeds the widow and the fatherless.
O, brother man! fold to thy heart thy brother,
Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.
Follow with reverent steps the great example
Of Him whose holy work was 'doing good,'
So shall the wide earth seem our Father's temple,
Each loving life a psalm of gratitude.
Then shall all shackles fall: the stormy clangour
Of wild war music o'er the earth shall cease;
Love shall tread out the baleful fire of anger,
And in its ashes plant the tree of peace.
XV. Practical Sympathy.
BY GEORGE HASSELL.
THIS article only covers what was known as the 'Central Fund,' which was brought into being to deal with cases out of touch with groups of Churches or in cases of isolation.
The kind of response by many to the regular appeals for the above fund reminds one of the old saying: 'Sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef,' and also James ii. 15-16: 'If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?'
The financial side of a movement is generally considered a good indication of its popularity. Apply this rule to the C.O. movement within the community known as 'Churches of Christ' in Great Britain and Ireland, and it was certainly very unpopular.
The amount received in all for this 'Fund' was £154 9s. 11d., and it may be tabulated as follows:-
£. s. d.
From Individuals ... ... 115-17-11
From Groups ... ... ... 17- 1 - 6
The Church at B. ... ... 1- 0 - 0
The Church at P. ... ... 8- 0 - 0
The Church at K. ... ... 7- 10 - 0
The Church at H. ... ... 4- 10 - 0
TOTAL ... ... ... ... £154- 9 - 11
An analysis of the contributions for the dependents of those brethren who refused 'Military Service' was a painful surprise, and reflected the spirit that prevailed amongst the Churches of Christ.
One would have thought, in view of the fact that the fund was not for the benefit of the brethren who refused to 'bear arms,' but for their dependents, that there would have been a ready and liberal response. Instead, there was a time when very real distress prevailed, even to the extent of being destitute of the bare necessities of life.
In looking over the list of subscribers, one is painfully aware that there were very few outside of those who allied themselves with the C.O. movement, but we must gladly acknowledge that there were a few who contributed, though not agreeing with the attitude some of our brethren had taken. It is a greater pleasure to record that several Churches, though not unanimous in their attitude towards the war, sent on several substantial amounts.
It will be of interest to some to know that several sums were sent representing the contributions taken at the Lord's table in one of 'His Majesty's Penal Settlements' of this country. A Church meeting in a house has been immortalised by being recorded on the page of 'Holy Writ.' The Church in a prison, mentioned above, in its act of worship in giving to such a fund will, without doubt, have been registered in Heaven.
There were times of anxiety in the work, when needs were pressing and had to be met, but it had its compensations, for it has been counted an honour by the writer to have been associated with the movement in any way whatever.
N.B. - The first paragraph of this article needs to be kept very clearly in mind when considering the financial figures presented. Very much more was done, of course, for the dependents of our brethren who resisted militarism, by the various groups, in their own districts, than is here recorded. The above was additional to the work of groups and individuals locally.
O LOVE THAT WILT NOT LET ME GO.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my wearied soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
'We had to come to the conclusion that the way to deep and abiding joy is just the same as that traversed by the Master: the way of the Cross.'
From 'Correspondence,' next article.
BY JACK LUCK.
MY official correspondence with the members of Churches of Christ who were suffering for conscience' sake commenced as a result of the request of the Peace Conference held in Annual Meeting week, 1917, at Leicester. With a certain amount of hesitancy I responded to this request knowing that others might have been chosen who would have discharged this responsibility far better. Looking back today, however conscious of failure, one can unhesitatingly say that the labour which was thus spent has been more than repaid by the contribution made to one's life by this pen-friendship, welded in the fires of the world conflagration.
That you may realise how fierce those fires burned and yet how there emerged a new conception of the practicalness of the Christian ethic, exemplified in the conduct of these men, I will stand aside that they may tell in their inimitable way of the problems and the passions which stormed their hearts.
First let them tell of their resolute
FAITH IN JEHOVAH
as the deliverer of His people.
'Sufficient is Thine arm alone
And our defence is sure!'
The following confident note comes from the guard-room at G--- P---:
'We are all standing solid as a rock. I feel very strong and confident, putting all my trust in the Omnipotent. Our message to you is: "Hold fast to that which is good."
This also from the guard-room at F---:
'As for myself, I trust that the Lord will so bless and strengthen me that, like the apostles of old, I may be able to rejoice that I am counted worthy to suffer for His sake.'
At a time of peculiar uncertainty for the C.O. one of them wrote:
'I do not think we need fear the future, as God is the same as He was to the faithful people of old, "the same yesterday, today and for ever," so whom should we fear? Men may be against us but God will be for us.'
Writing from Princetown, after having suffered four months' imprisonment, another thus expresses the realisation of the presence of the Almighty:
'It was always a great comfort to me to feel while I was in prison the continued presence of the Holy Spirit, God's Comforter. I never felt so near to God before, and it has left an impression on me which no power on earth will wipe away.'
As one listens to this recurring melody ringing now sweet and clear above the rhythm of marching feet and the curses of the barrack-square, now richer and fuller, as a trumpet sounding through the miserere of a world, one feels that these men have indeed caught the spirit of the sweet singer who said, 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.'
Secondly, let these men tell of the
SOURCE OF THEIR INSPIRATION,
the ever-running spring at which they imbibed the principles which are now being put to the test, and the influence which, under God, kept them stedfast through it all.
'O light that on my way hast shone
Still lead me on, still lead me on!'
While L--- K--- was awaiting escort at M--- police station the burden of his heart was:
'I have been greatly troubled, perhaps nothing has troubled me more, at having to be separated from my aged parents who are both in ill-health. My dear, old mother was especially distressed, me being the last boy left at home, two others having died away from home. I feel deeply grateful to them: to my mother especially for instilling into me, both by precept and example, the great value of an upright life and of being consistent in all things and to my father for restraining me in my youthful impetuosity and for teaching me to manifest the Christian virtues. I am sure we cannot set too high a value on such a legacy.'
Later from the guard-room, writing cheerfully of an improvement which he learns has come about in his parents' health:
'From what my sister says, it has done them good to know that they have been able to instil into me the great principles of life to the extent that I am prepared to die rather than to forego them. I thank God for this most priceless of gifts, the gift of a good father and mother.'
As I re-read these words, my mind goes back to the first week-end I was privileged to spend in this home. I see the poor old father, his body wearied with the burden and the heat of the day, resting against a gate-post that he may regain his breath as he wends his faltering way up to the house of the Lord. Of how, upon a later visit, when the sheaf ripe with years had been gathered to the eternal harvesting, the writer of the above letter, with his young wife, spoke of the father's beneficient influence, left as a subtle presence with them. I see again the wondrous light in their eyes as they speak of the glory of his passing,. Again, these words call up a memory of a curtained bed upon which the bereaved widow lay, wracked with pain, yet looking intently for the summons home. What a trinity of hallowed memories for one who is but an outsider; what a veritable temple of remembrance for the son who, in God's grace, was restored to minister to them before they were called home!
From the father who was called upon to pay the extreme price, when his son Arthur passed away in M--- prison, as a result of the rigour of continued imprisonment, the following gem was received:
'I thank God for the grace given me to so train my lads from childhood to hate militarism that when the time of testing came they were ready to offer their lives rather than participate in the unholy cause. Yea, I bless God for the honour of fatherhood to four such lads. We mourn, indeed, for the loss of Arthur, but there is joy unspeakable in the knowledge that he is amongst that glorious throng, who wavered not in the presence of death in their loyalty to Jesus Christ. Theirs of a surety is the martyr's crown.'
Again my mind goes back to an early autumn night of 1917, when we walked home with the writer of the above, under a glorious sky studded with glittering stars and crescent moon. Again I see him, dignified of mien and deliberate of speech, talking as he goes of the stand which his four sons are taking and of the glory of it.
A mother in one of our great industrial cities, who already had two sons in prison, wrote of another:
'My son Arthur was arrested last Thursday and is awaiting court-martial. He is only eighteen, but has made a fine witness for the teaching of Christ ... I am very anxious; but not a sparrow falls to the ground but our Father knows. He will not forget His children.'
'He was court-martialled on Friday morning. He expects to go to Wormwood Scrubbs on Tuesday or Wednesday. I have three boys in prison and one in France. These things press us very hard; so few understand, but our Father understands us. We are trying to live up to Christ's teaching. He was the last sent by God to speak to us and that is final.'
'Arthur's sentence is two years with hard labour ... He has worked hard in the Sunday School and has been a faithful member for six years. I have just received a letter from Jack. He has got two years hard labour also. I have looked in vain for help to save these lads. We have a Father who will not see us tried more than we can bear. Our only hope is in Him.'
[After having served a period in the Non-Combatant Corps in France, 'Jack' withdrew, choosing rather to stand entirely free of the military machine and take his stand with his brothers, with the resultant two year's hard labour].
It was my privilege in May, 1920, to visit the home of the writer of the above letters. As I looked round upon my almost severe surroundings, as I looked at this mother (whose half family of little boys were trooping in from school) upon whose countenance was written indomitable faith and almost stoical endurance, I was not surprised at the tone of her letters. And when the three elder lads came in from their day's toil, one could realise something of the power which would go with them into prison cell and barrack-square, from such a home and such a mother.
Of the influence of the Church, the following must suffice as typical of a whole sheaf of letters. It was written by a member of the Church in M--, acquainting me of the arrest of their secretary:
'Our brother had strong convictions of the righteousness of the cause of Peace for which he is prepared to suffer. When arrested, and since, he has shown a strong faith and trust in God ... It has been a severe blow to his wife, who is left with a couple of little ones to be provided for. Our little meeting is now very small and we suffer a great loss through our brother being taken from us.'
To realise where that determination to suffer for the cause of peace led; to realise how the influence of home and the 'little meeting' buoyed him up under persecution, the following extract from the Labour Leader of that time must be read:
RECRUDESCENCE OF TRIAL BY TORTURE.
During this week the columns of the daily press have revealed yet another case of the brutal and illegal treatment of a conscientious objector. Cecil Foster, of 3, Pickering Street, Moss Side, Manchester, was court-martialled at Cleethorpes on Friday for refusing to obey a military order. In his statement he said that because of his refusal to put on his uniform he had been subjected to gross ill-treatment at Ashton. He was forcibly stripped and dressed in khaki, and much knocked about in the process. His court-martial friend, who examined his arms, reports that they are both badly bruised from well below the elbows right up to the shoulders. He was also made to walk about two miles to the station with a kit bag tied round his neck with a cord that chafed his neck, and nearly choked him.
We have now followed these men through police-station, guard-room, detention cell and court-martial into prison; let them, now tell of their
COMPOSURE UNDER PERSECUTION;
of how the prison cell became not only a Bethel but a Mission Hall!
The man who went through the above, writing from the guard-room, C---, on Sept. 17th, 1817, says:
'I entered into something of the experiences and feelings of David, which he gives expression to in Psalm cxl, 1-6 when I was at A---, but I thank God that as He delivered David, so also has He delivered me from my strong enemy. Are not verses 1, 2, 16 and 18 in Psalm xviii a true expression of what the Lord does for His people to this day? May the Lord Jesus bless these experiences which we are being called upon to undergo in these days, so that we may endure and receive the crown of life which he has promised to them that love Him.'
Speaking for a group of brethren incarcerated at Wakefield, one writes:
'We are not despondent but happy, conscious of the fact that iron bars never made a prison, for the soul can ascend to realms far above the iron gates.'
Not that their path was always easy or their burden light. Sometimes the blinding tears would well up in their eyes, obscuring for a moment the path before them. What more pathetic human document can be found than the following, written after regaining partial freedom?
'It (the experience in prison) brings one into the position of knowing, to some slight extent, the agony of the Saviour when, with the consciousness of the burden of all our sins and iniquities lying upon His innocent head, He perforce must cry: "If it be possible let this cup pass from Me." Yes, we were numbered with the transgressors, pressed in a suit of broad arrows and every indignity heaped upon us, standing among the criminals of the land. The very first time we went into the prison chapel we were asked to sing as our first hymn:
'Through all the changing scenes of life
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still,
My heart and tongue employ.'
Could I sing? No! I felt like the captives in Babylon when they were demanded a song in a strange land. "There we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion." I burst into tears as a child, and noticed also W--- and A--- with their faces bowed and the tears streaming from their eyes ... Oh! what an inward struggle it was to bring me into the frame of mind of finishing our Lord's prayer: "Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done." However, let me divert the subject into the present and possible future.'
Neither were these men self-seeking martyrs looking everywhere for the inquisitorial chamber. Listen to this lad's joy at freedom:
'Just a few hurried lines to pass on to you the glad news of our release, of which we were informed today. The joy of this day was not even surpassed by the day we left "Scrubbs." Truly the Lord is good!'
Let them now tell of their earnestness for
THE WORK OF THE LORD
even within prison walls, of their hopes and aspirations when they had regained their freedom. Writing from the guard-room at C---, R. P--- says:
'One thing this war will do is to cause men to overhaul their ideas; there must be a general stocktaking. Following this, there will be a redistribution or rather a substitution of this set of principles for that set of principles. And the time was never more opportune than now for the Christian to put forward his system, with all its splendour, while men are looking for fresh ideas and a better and more peaceful way. May God give His children that strength and courage requisite for such an occasion.'
E.C. G---, writing ten months before the armistice was signed, says:
'It does seem that, today, there appears to be a ray of light in the darkness, and oh! that it may prove to be the dawn of Peace, the first glimpse of a new era, in which we shall find abundant joy in the Master's service, in the winning of many souls for Him ... We are all keeping well and busy with our classes, preaching appointments, etc. Two or three of us are attending a Greek class and hope as a result to be able to make ourselves more efficient in the Master's service.'
As David, fleeing from Jesusalem on account of the rebellion of Absalom, looked down from the heights which surrounded the Holy City, and there arose before him the memory of all those spiritual privileges, precious as living waters, which he had enjoyed in the sanctuary, so these men, cut off from the fellowship of the saints, tell of their longing in wistful terms. One lad, labouring on a farm, says:
'One of the things I miss more than any is the fellowship of my brethren, which is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.'
Another, isolated in a seaport town:
'I had long felt the need of a regular place at which to worship, and so last Sunday evening I was received into the fellowship at the Church of Christ here ...'
Others many miles from home:
'We often much regret that circumstances have separated us for so long from a Church, this being our chief concern, but we are fortunate in having Bro. S. T--- from the Church at B--- living with us, and we purpose setting up the table of the Lord for the first time this evening. We are all looking forward with joy to this and expect to be much blessed knowing that where two or three are met together there He will be ...'
'The Home Office has refused us permission to meet with the outside Churches, so we meet in Bro. H---'s cell to break bread every Lord's day. We are spending some happy times together, as we have all things in common.'
Thus, in the twentieth century, we find history repeating itself. We find men, scattered by the wind of persecution, spreading the truth and setting up the Lord's table in the prison cell. Further, the joyful report was received that, following on conversations with the brethren at Princetown, one of the men there was immersed in one of the many rivulets which traverse the moor.
Finally, let the men tell of the
INFLUENCE OF THE STAND
upon themselves; let them speak of the effectiveness or otherwise of that 'way they have in the army'; how that, rather than breaking them and destroying their faith in the principles they held dear, the menace of the iron rod but served to strengthen their assurance of the ultimate triumph of Right and the power of Love.
After working in a mill for twelve hours per day for many months, P. C--- writes:
'Is it not splendid to think that at last all the unprecedented slaughter has come to a close. Reflecting, one is astounded at the positively barren results of all the havoc that has been wrought. Even from a political point of view, which all, including religious people, have been so fond of expounding throughout the war, the gain of so-called victory is nil. We can only hope that the suffering and spiritual blindness of the people of all nations may prove a solid foundation upon which to build up the Church of our Master. I think suffering makes people feel a need of God more than anything else could do, and it is upon that assumption that we, who have stood for what we know to be Truth and Right and the liberty to make Christ's precepts our only authority, must work to inspire all with whom we come in contact with like faith.'
One, working in snow, sleet and rain on a market garden, writes:
'Recently I sank into a deep retrospective meditation of my doings since leaving home and after experiencing joys and sorrows, pleasure and pain, sunshine and storm, I can readily exclaim "Hitherto hath the Lord helped me," "all things have worked for good and we are truly thankful."'
The following expresses the thoughts of Clifford Cartwright, upon whom the death sentence was passed in France:
'It is two years last Friday since I was first arrested, and when one looks back one can agree with the words of the poet when he said:
"Looking back, we praise the way
God has led us day by day."
Certainly our efforts have not been useless, for we have accomplished much. Yes! I am pleased that the Churches of Christ were represented amongst those who went overseas although I think too much praise has already been rendered ...'
The following letter speaks for itself, from the man whom the authorities did all in their power to break, who suffered at their hands for more than two years and eventually obtained his release through hunger-striking. Writing from the guard-room, C---, on 10th May, 1918, he says:
'I am now awaiting the promulgation of my court-martial sentence. This, of course, will be two years at the least. This court-martial constitutes my third. You see I am getting quite used to courts-martial, guard-rooms, lock-ups and prisons. I have been in six police stations, ten guard-rooms, four prisons (one a military prison, Les Attaque) court-martialled three times, two terms of detention, thirteen and a half months actual imprisonment. So you see I'm doing my bit! Now I am going to do, not a bit, but a lump'.
There is one way and only one way of securing a just and lasting peace, that is by a general application of the principles of the Prince of Peace. Christianity is the panacea for all social and moral ills. It is the last weapon to which, when men have found all others too weak to rest upon, they will turn. I have no doubt in my own mind but that seed sown two thousand years ago will one day cover the whole earth. Then that kingdom will absorb all other kingdoms.
Let the following noble utterance be the note upon which this chapter concludes:
'We had to come to the conclusion that the way to deep and abiding joy is just the same as that traversed by the Master, the way of the Cross. And just as He, in order to attain to His glory, had to suffer crucifixion, even so must we be ever ready to crucify ourselves each day; yea, each hour, and ours must be the spirit spoken of by Paul; in reference to Jesus, "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame."'
As one looks at the way in which these men trod this path of suffering, of their cheerful mien under persecution, of their dignified composure under railing and abuse, of their undimmed faith in Jehovah and in the ideals for which they were suffering, and of the joy which they undoubtedly realised, even through pain, the Miltonic commendation instinctively recurs to the mind:
'Servant of God, well done! Well hast thou fought
The better fight, who single hast maintained
Against revolted multitudes the cause
Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms,
And for the testimony of truth has borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear
Than violence; for this was all thy care -
To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds
Judged thee perverse.'
Praise for the fellowship that here we find-
The fellowship of heart, and soul, and mind;
Praise for the bonds of love and brotherhood,
Bonds wrought by Thee, who makest all things good.
Here has dull care been banished from our thought,
Here has glad comradeship our spirits caught
To heights undreamt of 'midst the busy maze,
The toil and worry of our working days.
Yet must these come again; for while we wait
High on the mount, in sight of heaven's gate,
Breaks there upon our ears the sound of strife,
The noise and clamour of our daily life.
Lord, make us strong, for Thou alone dost know
How oft we turn our faces from the foe;
How oft, when claimed by dark temptation's hour,
We lose our hold of Thee, and of Thy power.
Go with us, Lord, from hence; we only ask
That Thou be sharer in our daily task;
So, side by side with Thee; shall each one know
The blessedness of Heaven begun below.
W. VAUGHAN JENKINS.
XVII. The Conferences.
BY ARTHUR E. SMITH.
AT the above place on April 22nd, 1916, a Conference of Lancashire brethren associated with Churches of Christ, opposed to rendering military service of any kind, was held. It was resolved to recommend to brethren of like mind in other districts that they organise themselves into local working committees, to gather information concerning brethren who were suffering, or likely to suffer, for their opposition to the Military Service Act; the object being to encourage them spiritually and to assist materially where necessary. It was arranged that the information so collected be sent to Bro. R. Price, Wigan. It was also suggested that representative brethren from each of the committees thus formed be asked to meet at a United Conference, to be held at Wigan, on June 10th, of that same year. Accordingly, a Conference representing those members of the Churches of Christ who were opposed to the European war, on the grounds that all wars are a violation of the spirit of New Testament Christianity, met at Total Abstinence Hall, Greenough Street, Wigan, under the chairmanship of Bro. T.E. Entwistle. The delegates represented upwards of 30 districts and were drawn from a wide area - Glasgow in the North, Swindon, Bristol and Merthyr in the South, and also from Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, and Nottingham districts. Besides these, the proceedings were watched by three detectives, one of whom stated that the meetings were the best and most level-headed of the kind he had attended.
The following resolutions were passed -
(1) That this Conference of disciples of Jesus Christ, believing that some of our brethren are suffering wrongfully for objecting to take military service, on religious grounds, earnestly calls upon the A.M., assembled at Nottingham, to pass a Resolution requesting the Government to release all those who are confined or being punished because they cannot obey on account of their belief in Jesus Christ as Lord. And also that we suggest that the A.M. advise the Churches in the co-operation to pass similar resolutions, and forward the same to the Government, specifying any known cases of local brethren,
(2) That this Conference expressed its strongest opposition to the saddling of this country with compulsory military service. It especially expresses its utmost abhorrence to the compulsion of those who are objectors to rendering military service on grounds of conscience. It further calls upon the Government to take immediate steps to end this bitter persecution, such treatment being an outrage on the individual conscience, and a menace to the best interests of the nation. That it also records its stoutest opposition to the conscription of immature boys of 18 years of age. It also records its strong protest at the transhipment of conscientious objectors to France or elsewhere, and demands the immediate withdrawal of such and that such transhipment cease. That it further pledges itself to support morally and financially (the latter restricted to members of the Church of Christ, as far as possible) all those who, owing to conscience are obliged to resist the operations of the Military Service Act,
(3) That this meeting petition His Majesty's Government to immediately put into operation the understanding given by the late Lord Kitchener, and established by an Army Order, that a soldier pleading conscientious objection as an excuse for disobeying orders shall upon his sentence being announced be forthwith transferred into the hands of the Civil power.
The Secretary's statement showed that the Churches were affected as follows:- Number of brethren prepared to resist the Military Service Act, 125. Of these 57 were single, and 68 married with a total of 101 children; while 35 stated that they would require financial assistance. Nineteen were already in the hands of the military authorities, and five had been released. The number of Lord's Day School and Church workers was 80 and 86 respectively. The Conference was overflowing with enthusiasm, and the number present far surpassed the most sanguine expectations. At the public meeting in the evening, Brethren W. Crosthwaite and T.E. Entwistle gave inspiring addresses.
The next Conference was held at Victoria Hall, Mill Hill Lane, London Road, Leicester, on August 6th, 1917, the chair being taken by Bro. George Hassell, Leicester. The recording secretary, Bro. Jack Luck, Leicester, read letters of fraternal greeting, etc. from the following:- Bro. P. Mann, on behalf of the brethren meeting as a Church of Christ in 'The Settlement,' Dartmoor Prison, Princetown; a group of eleven brethren at the Work Centre, Wakefield; Bro. W. Murphy, on behalf of the Church of Christ, Mapplewell; and Bro. C. Foster, on behalf of the Pacifist brethren, Manchester. These communications manifested strong faith in the ultimate triumph of the 'Prince of Peace,' of appreciation for help and sympathy received, and the hope that under the Divine blessing the Conference would further the cause of peace. After the address of welcome from the Chairman to visiting brethren from various parts of the country, Bro. T.E. Entwistle read a much appreciated paper entitled: 'What must be the attitude of Churches of Christ in the future towards those participating in, or condoning, war?' A healthy discussion ensued, and Bro. Entwistle briefly replied to the questions asked. The following are some of the resolutions which were carried unanimously by the Conference:-
'That this meeting of members of Churches of Christ, calls upon the Government to declare definitely for the policy of "no annexations and no indemnities as the result of conquest," and further calls upon them to seek to enter into negotiations at once on this basis.'
'That this meeting of members of Churches of Christ regards with abhorrence the brutal treatment meted out to some of the Conscientious Objectors, and calls upon the Government to release all such, both from military control and from prison, as the only way in which the constant repetition of such brutalities can be avoided. And we further express our dissatisfaction at the manner in which even the Home Office Scheme is being worked in many cases, and suggest that the only satisfactory way in which all these cases can be met is to grant the total exemption the law provides for them.'
'That the foregoing resolutions to the Government also be sent to the Reference Committee asking them to place the same before the annual meeting' (assembled in Leicester).
To the Annual Meeting:-
'That this meeting of members of Churches of Christ strongly resents the action of the Committee responsible for investing money in War Loan as per page 53 of Year Book, and demands the withdrawal of same and the avoidance of any such investment in the future.'
That we endorse the two following resolutions from the Church at Heanor sent to the Annual Meeting:-
(A) 'That this Conference of Churches of Christ of Great Britain and Ireland calls upon the Government to state its war aims in clear and definite terms, and demands that it shall avow its continued adherence to the policy of "no conquest" with which it entered into the war. And, further, in view of the awful slaughter of human life and of the terrible suffering and distress now taking place on the fields of battle and elsewhere, it demands that an immediate attempt be made to enter into negotiations to secure a righteous and durable peace.'
(B) 'That this Conference views with approval the attempt now being made at the instance of the Friends' Yearly Meeting, to convene a Conference of the Christian Churches of Europe and America, to consider the best means of bringing the war to an end, and securing a durable and righteous peace, and that this meeting appoints and instructs representatives to take such steps as the development of events may require.'
'That this Conference, whilst recognising the seriousness of division, realises that there are circumstances justifying that course, and desires to express its warmest sympathy with our Wigan and Manchester pacifist brethren in the stand they have been compelled to take, and trusts that the day is not far distant when the principles of the Prince of Peace, as taught in the New Testament, may permeate the Churches of Christ, so that all may be able to unite on the only real foundation the teaching of the Lord Jesus and His inspired Apostles.'
The following suggestions contained in the letter of greeting from the C.O. brethren at Wakefield Work Centre were read and adopted by the meeting:
(A) 'That some brother be asked to act as secretary on behalf of the "Peace" brethren, so that they might be able to keep in touch with one another and know just how each one is faring. This applies particularly to the brethren employed by the Home Office Committee, and to those engaged on work of National Importance in various parts of the country under the Pelham Committee.'
(B) 'That we communicate with the brethren in other lands who are making a similar stand during this great world conflict.'
'That this Conference sends a message of encouragement to all brethren who are suffering for conscience sake, either in prison or engaged in work under the Home Office Scheme.'
A successful Conference was closed by a sincere vote of thanks to all brethren who had taken part.
The third united Conference took place on the 31st March, 1918, at the Sunday School Memorial Hall, Leicester, with Bro. J.T. Taylor in the chair. After the usual preliminaries Bro. W. Crosthwaite read letters of apology and encouragement from absent brethren, and it was resolved that the secretary reply to the kind sentiments expressed. The chairman welcomes to the conference visiting brethren from Nuncargate, Birmingham, Bristol, Swindon, Dewsbury, Dalton-in-Furness, and Glasgow.
Bro. Jack Luck's report concerning the correspondence with brethren suffering for conscience sake was adopted and he was requested to convey the gratitude of the conference to all brethren concerned for the noble stand they had taken.
A highly appreciated Conference Paper was read by Bro. R.K. Francis, entitled: 'What should be the immediate attitude of the Anti-War brethren to the present Co-operation of Churches of Christ?'
A dozen brethren took part in an animated discussion and Bro. Francis replied to the questions raised.
Included in the resolutions carried unanimously by the Conference were the following, the first of which was sent to the Prime Minister and local Members of Parliament.
'That this meeting of members of Churches of Christ in Great Britain desires to impress upon His Majesty's Government the importance and urgency of entering into Peace negotiations, in the name and cause of humanity and Christianity.'
'That a Peace Conference be held during the Annual Meeting week and that a Committee of four brethren be invested with full powers to arrange for the Conference.
Accordingly, the fourth Conference was held in the Central Hall, Corporation Street, Birmingham, on August 5th, 1918, when Bro. F.J. Gould presided over an interested and enthusiastic gathering. Bro. B.S. Clissold (now residing in Canada) was adopted as recording secretary. Addresses of a vigorous and outspoken character relating to the Church's message and mission for today with regard to: 'The great ideals of Jesus of individual duty and public policy' were delivered by Brethren T.E. Entwistle and W. Crosthwaite. The causes and consequences of war, and the folly and futility of expecting to solve the problems created by any other method than the method of Christ, were faithfully set forth.
The remainder of the time was devoted to consideration of reports from Bro. Jack Luck, as to the work being carried out in the interests of brethren who were steadfastly opposing the spirit of war, and refusing to participate in military service; from Bro. G. Hassell as to the administration of the Central Fund for relief of dependants of C.O.'s; from Bro. A.E. Smith (secretary of the Birmingham Group) concerning the many and varied activities conducted from that centre: and other brethren as to work in various directions, all with the one object in view, namely, the supporting of those who were already making the great sacrifice in endeavouring to overcome the war spirit which possessed both the world and Churches, so that others may be encouraged to fight the good fight in like manner, if, and when called upon.
The principal resolutions which were carried with acclamation were as follows:-
'That the Secretary be asked to write a letter of thanks to Bro. Jack Luck for the valuable help he had rendered by corresponding and keeping in touch with brethren in different parts of the country who were suffering for their loyalty to their Lord in refusing military service.'
The next resolution was sent to the Prime Minister, The Home Secretary, and the Local Members of Parliament:
'That this Conference of Peace brethren associated with the Churches of Christ who have met in Birmingham, calls upon His Majesty's Government to release the men who are serving sentences with hard labour in prison, because of their allegiance to a higher law than that of the State. Many of them are serving their third or fourth sentence because they have remained true to their convictions that all war is wrong. This should be sufficient proof of the sincerity of their conscientious objection and should entitle them to the absolute exemption which the law provides.'
The conference closed with fervent prayers on behalf of our absent brethren in prison and work centre, for the many sufferers in the belligerent countries and for the rulers of the nations that they might be brought to realise their responsibility to the Great Father of mankind so that peace might be restored to this distracted world.
Thus ended the last Conference held under war conditions by those who, not being called upon personally to suffer publicly, tried in those meetings of delegates drawn from groups in various parts of Great Britain to do what they could constitutionally to lighten and shorten the period of persecution for those of our brethren who made the great venture and risked all for 'The Way' they believed right. How far they were successful will never be known but the remembrance of what these Conferences meant to the participants in those terrible times; the loving fellowship with kindred spirits in the midst of so much that was antagonistic to Christian ideals will remain as long as memory lasts.
'For all the blessings life has brought,
For all its sorrowing hours have taught,
For all we mourn, for all we keep,
The hands we clasp, the loved that sleep;
We thank Thee, Father! let Thy grace
Our loving circle still embrace,
Thy mercy shed its heavenly store,
Thy peace be with us evermore!'
THE ARSENAL AT SPRINGFIELD.
This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villagers with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus -
The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which through the ages that have gone before us
In long reverberations reach our own.
Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
With such accursed instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature's sweet and kindly voices,
And jarrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
There were no need of arsenals nor forts.
The warrior's name would be a name abhorred:
And every nation that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
Would wear for evermore the curse of Cain!
Down the dark future, through long generations,
The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say, 'Peace!'
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals,
The blast of war's great organ shakes the skies!
But, beautiful as songs of the immortals,
The holy melodies of love arise.
XVIII. The Future.
BY GEORGE HASSELL.
IT would have been a far easier task upon the declaration of peace, to have written something concerning the future policy of those who adhered to the original and scriptural position once occupied by the Churches of Christ with respect to war. The further we are removed from actual hostilities the more difficult the task.
I have no wish to arouse unnecessary feeling by reviewing the condition of the Churches just prior to and during the days of conscription; but it is necessary to recall certain facts which have a bearing upon the future.
The war had not been waged very long before addresses were delivered from some of our platforms which were little less than recruiting addresses. Anti-war brethren followed on, and thus feeling ran high in the Churches. The climax was reached when conscription came into force, the consequences of which made fellowship almost impossible. It was at this period (as far as a number of Churches were concerned) that both sides could see that something must be done. So, without any formal understanding, a compromise was arrived at and considerable restraint exercised. This, for the time being, was the only solution of the difficulty and the only means of retaining a fellowship worthy of the name. When this understanding was reached, some of the brethren declared, and emphatically too (the writer amongst them), that as soon as the war was over they should have no hesitation in teaching from the platform and in the Lord's Day School the principles of peace as taught in the New Testament. Consequences following upon such action we were willing to take. We declared this as our future policy, because we were conscious that we had neglected our duty, and were pained beyond measure to see the uninstructed and doubting young members of our Churches going forth to shed the blood of their fellows. We vowed, as far as we were concerned, that we would in the future be guiltless in this matter. As far as the writer is concerned, our present policy of well-nigh silence is a most inconsistent position to occupy, and will, if continued, bring sure condemnation. No doubt, the following question is uppermost in the minds of some who read these lines: 'What reason or reasons have you for not giving effect to your declaration?' The answer, as far as we are concerned, is not far to seek, and we have a shrewd suspicion that others would give similar reasons. We have already stated that during the war fellowship in some Churches was almost impossible. When the armistice was signed, the atmosphere began to clear a little and by the time peace was declared the spirit of the Churches had undergone a change, speaking generally. Just emerging from a state of agony of mind and spirit, the partial return to a better fellowship came as a relief. In this atmosphere, even to mention our avowed intentions was sufficient to arouse the old conflict. Be it said here, that we were not moved to partial silence by any arguments from the other side; they were too weak to be considered. We shall have occasion to refer to them later.
There are times in the history of movements when to remain silent is criminal, and in the light of New Testament teaching, together with the present condition of the Churches of Christ relative to the subject before us, and the effect of our past experiences still upon us, we should be moved to action. To remain silent much longer will indeed be criminal. The writer frankly confesses that a mistake has been made, and it would have been far better to have carried out our good intentions at the time. The arguments for remaining silent advanced by the other side have proved themselves to be wrong. We were solemnly assured that the late war would be the last war. A number of brethren with whom I conversed said that when it was over we should be in complete agreement; therefore there would be no need for some of us to advocate the principles of peace. The fallacy of this position has been proved over and over again, and on the very morning of the writing of these notes, we read in our daily papers of the movements of thousands of troops, and at the same moment human lives are being sacrificed.
Another argument for not teaching peace was to this effect: 'Now that the war is over, and the bitter feeling somewhat abated for the sake of even partial peace and fellowship, it would be wiser and kinder to hold such views in abeyance.' As I have already stated, this argument, so plausible on the face of it, has influenced some, but we are convinced it has been a mistake. A glance at the condition of the Churches may perhaps bring home to us the difficulty of the task before us, but should at the same time urge us to action. It is a painful fact that the attitude of the Churches of Christ towards the late war justified war! At least tacitly! In the event of another war breaking out, involving this country, what would those of our brethren, who supported the last war, have to say? They would have no argument against war as such, all they could do would be either to justify or condemn their country's share in it. The Churches of Christ today have no message for our boys in the Lord's Day Schools. They have been shorn of their strength. They have rendered themselves impotent. Our anxiety for the future is not for those who stood the test. We can trust them for the future should they be called upon. We would as readily again follow them from tribunal to tribunal, on to their court martial and if needs be to prison. Our concern is for those who today are in our Lord's Day Schools but tomorrow may be called upon to give an answer. We have seen the guiding hand is not with those who supported the carnal weapon. The attitude we have taken up places upon us the task of leading the rising generation into the paths of peace. The task is no easy one. I am not overlooking the fact that in a few Churches we have freedom to pursue our course; all honour to such assemblies!
We are reminded in surveying the Churches of Christ as a whole in this matter, and the kind of reception such teaching may expect to receive, of Tyndale's efforts in translation work. Anticipating being granted room in the Palace to execute this noble task, he approached the Bishop of London, but found little sympathy awaiting him. Later, he was in the house of a wealthy cloth merchant, but seeing that, even there, he was not wanted, this conviction was forced upon him: 'not only that there was no room in my Lord of London's Palace to translate the New Testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England.' In order to accomplish his noble work he perforce had to exile himself.
The conviction is forced upon some of us that there is only a solitary Church here and there in the land where one could find sympathy in one's efforts to teach peace. Thus, if we are to remain faithful to our conviction, there is only one of two courses left to us, either to teach within the Churches or voluntarily to exile ourselves. Far better to adopt the latter course than to prove unfaithful! Loyalty to Christ must be our first concern. God will see to the rest.
'Backward look across the ages and the beacon moments see,
That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through oblivion's sea;
Not an ear in court or market for the low foreboding cry
Of those crises, God's stern winnowers, from whose feet earth's chaff must fly,
Never shows the choice momentous till the judgment hath passed by.
Careless seems the great Avenger: history's pages but record
One death grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth for ever on the scaffold, wrong for ever on the throne -
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
We see dimly in the present what is small and what is great;
Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate,
But the soul is still oracular; amid the market's din,
List the ominous stern whisper from the Delphic cave within -
"They enslave their children's children who make compromise with sin."'
J .R . LOWELL.