Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Boreham Blogsite: Treasury for Preachers

It is great to discover that this Official F W Boreham Blog Site is the Link of the Week on the popular preacher’s resource site, Preaching.Com.

Welcome to those who have reached this site from Preaching.Com.

That site in its introduction says:

The March-April issue of Preaching will contain a Past Masters feature on the great Australian preacher (by way of Britain and New Zealand) F.W. Boreham. If you'd like to dig a bit deeper into all things Boreham, a good starting point is The Official F.W. Boreham Blog Site managed by Geoff Pound, an Australian preacher and Boreham scholar. You'll find the site at:

Some popular postings from this site for preachers include:
Jeff Cranston’s (10 short installment) overview entitled So, This is Boreham. Start with the Introduction to Jeff Cranston.
List of Books by F W Boreham
Boreham’s Call to Connect with Ordinary Life
An example of F W Boreham’s popular biographical sermons is Adoniram Judson’s Text
Warren Wiersbe’s Rap on Boreham

Geoff Pound

Image: Preaching.Com Banner

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Boreham on The News

In this era when newspapers are declining because readers are finding their news on the Internet, I wonder how F W Boreham would have viewed the trend of reading the news online.

Boreham had an aversion to his personal use of technology. His biographer reports that in 1906 he did have a try on a new item of technology:

“Christmas brought a welcome break after the past few months' exertions, and also one of the most remarkable innovations that ever invaded the Boreham study. It was a strange black device on the table, known as a portable typewriter. Induced largely by the facility with which the machine could produce carbon copies, he had laid aside a strong prejudice against writing with anything but his trusty pen and bought himself this "Buck" as a Christmas present, and after a little practice was soon turning out neatly typed manuscripts and letters.”

Two pages later, however, Howard Crago reports:

“Meanwhile, that typewriter had been causing him considerable concern. He had struggled with it for weeks. Although the thing turned out readable copies, preoccupation with the keyboard stultified the flow of thought that used to drive his pen with such effortless ease. So the "Buck" went among the household effects that were offered for sale. And never again would such a machine cast its shadow upon the desk of F. W. Boreham. From now on every line he wrote would flow from his faithful pen.”

F W Boreham wrote for many newspapers and magazines, many of which like the Argus, have gone under.

Wherever people got their news from, F W Boreham was aware of people’s hunger:

“No feature of modern life is more arresting than the hunger for news….The great event of the day is the arrival of the newspaper.”

“The individual wants the world, and his appetite for the world expresses itself in his insatiable thirst for news. The Australian bushman sits outside his lonely humpy and hungers for Europe, Asia, America, Africa, and all the scattered islands of the rolling seas. He wants the equator and he wants the poles. He must have the Atlantic and he cannot do without the Pacific. He must feel the throb of every revolution and upheaval. He must know of every invention and discovery. He must be kept abreast of sport and politics. He must peep into every Court and every Cabinet. He must follow the movements of all earth's travelers and explorers. He must be kept in touch with the fluctuations of commerce and industry. He must peruse the lists of births, marriages, and deaths. He hates to feel that any scrap of gossip has eluded him.”

“Our hunger for news is one of the sublimest things about us. It is one of humanity's master-passions.

Sources: T H Crago, The Story of F W Boreham, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 111, 113.
F W Boreham, ‘The Hunger for the News’, Hobart Mercury, 14 June, 1941; Melbourne Age, 15 October, 1949.

Image: Not the exact brand but a 1908 portable typewriter.

Boreham on the Value of Mess

Cleanliness Next to Godliness?
We have all been exasperated by the people who tell us with wearisome reiteration that cleanliness is next to godliness. They seem to think that their favorite aphorism was inscribed upon the Decalogue or included among the pearl-like phrases of the Sermon on the Mount. They must learn that the proposition boasts no such sublime authority. It may or may not have figured among the millions of sagacious observations that Confucius is supposed to have made, or that he intended to make, or that he would have made if it had been his good fortune to think of them. However that may be, the Bible is not responsible.

Admiration of Grime
Cleanliness, we are told, is next to godliness. It sometimes is. And sometimes, on the contrary, it is as far from godliness as Pole is from Pole. Those who fancy that the familiar quotation is to be found in the pages of Holy Writ should reflect that, so far from chanting a psalm in praise of cleanliness, the inspired writers have a good deal to say in admiration of the grimy hands of the tired toiler, the stains and smudges on the person and apparel of a healthy child, and the flurry of dust necessarily created by the busy housewife. One of the old prophets picturesquely describes the horrors of famine as a time of cleanness of teeth, whilst another formulates the striking epigram: Where no oxen are, the crib is clean.

No Ox, Crib Clean
The ox is the dynamo of an oriental farm. With his oxen the husbandman ploughs his fields, leads in his harvest, and transports his produce to market. If, through some tragic loss or devastating pestilence, the farmer is left without oxen, the cattle sheds may be a model of cleanliness—the harness and the gear all in their proper places, and the floor impeccably speckles—but look at the farm! Everything is going to rack and ruin. With no oxen, the crib is clean; but it is the cleanness of a dire and terrible catastrophe.

Deathly Orderliness
A home in which everything is in apple-pie order is not of necessity a matter for congratulation. The rooms are silent; there are no signs of childish romp and revelry. In the nursery, the toys are all in their proper places; everything is orderly and shipshape; all is spick and span. But the father and mother are heartbroken; their child is dead.

Confusing Office
When at the height of his renown, Sir Henry Hawkins, the most successful criminal advocate of all time, contrasted the bewildering confusion of his office in 1859 with the flawless tidiness of his official apartment in 1839. In 1839, when he was just starting, he took a tiny room in Elm Court. It was on the fifth floor. The papers were faultlessly arranged in the pigeonholes; a virgin sheet of white blotting paper adorned the brand-new desk; the pen nibs fairly glistened. In those days Hawkins spent most of his time in surveying the forest of chimney pots from the window and in listening at the top of the stairs in the frantic hope that one wonderful day, somebody would actually climb to the fifth floor. In his spacious rooms in 1859 there are piles of papers everywhere; messengers rush in and out; the waiting room is thronged with clients and witnesses; attorneys flit to and fro; clerks fly hither and thither; everything seems in a whirl and a flurry. But, with all its neatness, 1839 spelt worry and anxiety, whilst, with all its disorder, 1859 spelt prosperity and popularity. The upstairs office to which no client ever comes can readily be kept tidy.

Being Thankful for Mess
Let every minister be thankful that his study needs tidying; let every barrister be thankful for the confusion in his office; let every carpenter be thankful for the shavings on the floor; let every mother be thankful for the tumult in the nursery; let every farmer be thankful that the crib needs cleaning out. It all goes to show that there is something doing.

And, lifting the principle to a higher plane, let every man be thankful when his conscience cries out against him; the evil day is the day on which his conscience resolves to speak no more.

Coughing in the Cemetery
We have all heard of the old grave-digger whose terrible cough elicited the sympathy of a visitor to the cemetery. Straightening himself up, the sexton pointed with a sweeping gesture to the tombs around. `There's plenty here,' he tellingly observed, `who'd be glad of my cough!'

Catalyst for a Clean
But, although the cough is a sign of life, it must be cured or it will drag the old man down to a grave of his own. The litter in the office is suggestive of a prosperous business; but it is, at the same time, a clamant call for some tidying hand. The soiled stall is a wholesome spectacle; but it cries aloud to the farmer for water and broom. The torments of an aroused conscience are symptoms of spiritual vitality for which a wise man will give thanks on bonded knees; but they are useless and worse than useless unless they drive him, in his desperation, to the fountain open for all sin and for all uncleanness.

F W Boreham, ‘A Limited Virtue’, The Last Milestone (London: The Epworth Press, 1961), 62-64.

Image: “Be thankful for the tumult in the nursery.”

Boreham on Being Real

Desire to Taste Life’s Delicacies
The insatiable appetite to taste life’s delicacies was interpreted by F W Boreham as one of the drives behind the human capacity to realize its full expression. Moreover, it explained his passion for history which he regarded as “the reflection of real life”. He did not consider the lust for life as a selfish desire that resulted in a hoarding of life’s treasure. On the contrary, Boreham testified that the pursuit of life triggered a further desire to share life’s wealth, saying, “Life has been so sweet to me that I like to mark the relish with which others tell their enjoyment of it”.[1]

Intoxicated by Life’s Joys
This need to share and experience the joy of readers’ response may explain the motivation and the endurance that Boreham exhibited in his marathon literary career. Although rejoicing in the generosity of life that ensured there was always an abundant supply for all, it is surprising to find Boreham, the ardent teetotaler and prohibition campaigner, writing about the “intoxicating”[2] joy of life and declaring “the richest wine in the chalice of life still waits their thirsty lips”.[3]

Keep in Touch With Reality
One of the dominant notes in F W Boreham’s editorials was stimulated by the deeper theme of the magnetism of life. Announcing that “Drama can only hold the hearts so long as it keeps in touch with reality,”[4] Boreham then turned from the stage and sounded this call and warning to all the professions:

“If it be true, as it undoubtedly is, that the actor tends to become artificial, it is no less true that the poet tends to become fanciful, the philosopher hypothetical, the scientist chimerical, the schoolmaster theoretical, the artist technical, and the clergyman cloistral”.

Religion Must Deal With Realities
Reserving his harshest warning for the religious sphere, Boreham said, “The Church cannot afford to lose herself ... in a golden haze of nebulous speculation. Religion is of use to a real world only so far as it deals with realities”.

Concluding his editorial with an affirmation about life’s magnetism, Boreham said, “‘We were made by Thee and for Thee,’” cried Augustine, “‘and our hearts can only find rest when they find their rest in Thee’”.[5]

Geoff Pound

Image: “Drama can only hold the hearts so long as it keeps in touch with reality.”

[1] F W Boreham, The other side of the hill, 173.
[2] F W Boreham, Mercury, 21 May 1932.
[3] F W Boreham, Mushrooms on the moor (London: The Epworth Press, 1915), 105.
[4] F W Boreham, Mercury, 24 September 1955.
[5] F W Boreham, Mercury, 24 September 1955.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What F W Boreham and Mark Twain Had in Common

An interesting episode occurred in the life of F W Boreham soon after World War II had finished and Melbourne was still buzzing with people dancing, singing, and shouting in the streets.

Those celebrations in the streets were at their height as F.W.B. mounted the pulpit steps of Scots Church for the weekly midday service, to face the church packed with grateful worshippers. It was a memorable service as the vast congregation, led by the preacher they so highly esteemed, gave humble thanks to God.

That evening, only a few hours later, among the radio bulletins reporting the progress of the surrender negotiations, came the words:

'We regret to announce the death today of the Reverend Doctor Boreham, of Melbourne. Dr. Boreham was widely known for his long ministry at the Scots Church. A memorial service in his honor will be held at Scots tomorrow.'

F.W.B.'s vast company of friends could scarcely credit the news which came with such dramatic suddenness. And many of them had sent their condolences to Mrs. Boreham before learning that, as with Mark Twain, the report of her husband's death was greatly exaggerated.

A corrected announcement that evening explained that the obituary referred, not to Dr. Boreham, but to Dr. Borland, a former minister of Scots Church.

Source: T H Crago, The Story of F W Boreham (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 234-235.

Image: Mark Twain

Boreham on Life's Magnetism

Lust for Life
One of the ingredients in F W Boreham’s philosophy about ‘All the blessings of life’ involved the magnetism between human life and all living things. Boreham often wrote of this mutual attraction, saying, “It is only man’s quenchless lust of life that enables him to live.”[1] He discerned this persistence in the human capacity to “cling with amazing tenacity” to life, “to endure when all things band together for his destruction” and “to endure any torture to retain [life]”.[2]

Attraction to Life
Dr. Boreham recognized the human attraction towards life, in the “infatuation that we see so much beauty in the dawning of a new day and find so wealthy a romance in the unfolding of the Spring,”[3] the fascination with books[4] and delight in humor.[5]

Underlying Passion
Casting his mind about for other pursuits that captivated his attention, Boreham said, “The same hunger underlies my passion for biography and even my fondness for the Bible .… It appeals to my love of life”.[6]

New Forms of Life Startle
Recognizing humanity’s attraction towards all expressions of life, Boreham dilated, “We love the city because it swarms with life; we love the bush because new forms of life startle us everywhere; we love the play, the film, the novel and the art gallery because, by means of them, we are able to explore new twists and turns of the life we love.” Continuing on the same tack, Boreham explained the thrill with which people greet Easter, saying, “In celebrating Easter we are unconsciously giving three cheers for life itself”.[7]

Geoff Pound

Image: “We love the city because it swarms with life.” Taken on a recent visit to Kolkata: city of joy and life.

[1]F W Boreham, Mercury, 11 July 1936.
[2] Boreham, Mercury, 5 April 1947.
[3] Boreham, Mercury, 21 August 1948.
[4] Boreham, Mercury, 31 July 1920.
[5] F W Boreham, The other side of the hill (London: The Epworth Press, 1917), 173.
[6] Boreham, The other side of the hill, 173.
[7] Boreham, Mercury, 5 April 1947.

Boreham Plagiarized

In Detective Novel
“Among the popular detective novels published in 1942 was Angus MacVicar's Strangers from the Sea -a story of a Scottish minister who, whilst under suspicion of the murder of one of his elders, "laid down the exercise book in which he had been scribbling notes for a sermon-notes based on his reading of the latest book by Dr. F. W. Boreham -and prepared to light his pipe", for ‘the minister, like many another in Scotland, relied for his illustrations almost exclusively upon the books of Dr. F. W. Boreham, the great Australian preacher and writer.’”

Looking Boreham in the Eye
“Nor was it only by fictitious characters that F.W.B. was plagiarized. An American chaplain in World War I, on meeting an Australian chaplain who mentioned that he was a friend of F. W. Boreham's, exclaimed, ‘My, I'd hate to meet that man! I've plagiarized so many of his sermons, I couldn't bear to look him in the eye!’”

Boreham Broadcast Thief
“Perhaps one of the most flagrant instances of plagiarism had occurred in I932, in London, when a service was being broadcast over the B.B.C. from a well-known London church. Down in Tunbridge Wells, Francis Boreham, now too infirm to go to St. John's at night, sat listening to the radio with daughter Jeanie. As the sermon on The Building of the Bridge proceeded, Francis Boreham exclaimed, "I'm sure I've heard that before!" and stepping over to the bookcase, took down son Frank's book Mountains in the Mist, and opening it at page 108 followed the rest of the sermon word for word. He waited for the acknowledgement of its source, and when it did not come, the old gentleman was furious. Indignantly turning to his desk, he penned a straight letter to the preacher about the matter. Not only did the preacher reply to Mr. Boreham in apologetic terms, but also wrote to F.W.B. himself, explaining what he had done and justifying his action on the grounds that, if a sermon were worth printing in a book, surely it ought to be broadcast for all to hear!”

“Not only in the pulpit was he so plagiarized, but also by numerous authors-including some well-known essayists, who would lift whole paragraphs, and even his chapter headings, without acknowledgement. F.W.B. bore none of them any ill-will, but only strengthened his own invariable practice of giving credit for everything he borrowed from others.”

Copyright was passed to me by the Boreham family in the 1990s and I passed it on to Whitley College. Permission to reprint significant portions of Boreham material can be sought from Whitley College Principal, Dr. Frank Rees at

Source: T H Crago, The Story of F W Boreham (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 1961.

Image: Quotation marks

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Boreham on the 'Comrades of the Night'

A recent note from Boreham enthusiast, Les Nixon, who oversees Australia’s Outback Patrol, prompted the posting of this essay by F W Boreham in which he shares some truths he discovered on a trip to the outback.

Tea at the End of the World
We had come to the End of the World; at least, that is what they called it. In point of fact, it was an Australian sheep station, away in the Never-Never country. The nearest neighbors were twenty miles away. All through that golden autumn afternoon our car had been making its way as rapidly as the condition of the road would permit, between the barbed-wire fences that seemed to stretch from one end of the continent to the other. We had been assured, when we left the run at Seldom Seen, that, with luck, we could reach the End of the World by dusk. Perhaps the luck was lacking; at any rate, we were getting nervous about things. The mists were settling down upon the hills; the nip of evening was laying hold of our ears and finger-tips; yet still there was no sign of a settlement. We were gloomily speculating on our chances of getting back to Seldom Seen before mid-night when, all at once, we detected a suspicion of smoke curling up from behind a distant ridge. A moment later we distinctly heard the barking of dogs. Involuntarily we increased the speed of the car, and then, as we swept round the bend of the grassy road, the homestead broke suddenly upon us. We reached the End of the World in time for tea; and tea at the End of the World is a noble meal.

Whole Galaxy of Heaven
After tea we sat around the great log-fire. At the End of the World they build fires such as civilization never dreams of. We talked and laughed together for awhile; and then the experiences of the day began to tell upon me. The fierce glow of the huge fire and the genial atmosphere of the cosy room, following upon the long drive in the strong bracing air of the hills, proved too much for me, and I felt as drowsy as a tired child. Before retiring, however, I stepped out on to the verandah to have a look at the night. There is something very captivating about a lonely Australian scene by starlight. And this particular night seemed to have called out the whole galaxy of heaven. Every star was in its place. I stepped off the verandah in order to get a better view of the skies. Sauntering down towards the great white gate I discovered that I was not alone. The little governess whom they all called Grace was standing with her elbow resting on the top bar of the gate, and her chin resting on her hand. I hesitated to disturb her, but she turned on my approach, and we were soon engaged in conversation. And either the conversation or the night air made me forget my sleepiness. For she said a very interesting thing:

Cure for Homesickness
`I always come out here on a night like this,' she said. `It does me good, and cures my homesickness. My home is in Melbourne, and I have always been used to the city. But they wanted a governess at the End of the World. They pay well; I needed the money; and so it suited me to come. But, oh, it's so different from Melbourne in the daytime, and home seems an eternity away. But at night this gate seems just like the gate at home. Everything strange is wrapped up in the darkness, so that I shall not see it. And the stars come out, the very same stars that I used to watch from our dear old front garden. It is lovely to see them. They seem so companionable, and when I stand here and look at them I forget that I am at the End of the World. I sometimes think I could never stay here but for them!'

Odd Coincidence
I left her musing by the gate and went to my room. And then a strange thing happened, one of those odd coincidences that stamp truth as stranger far than fiction. At the last post-town through which we had passed I received a letter from a young fellow away at the war. He came out from England to these new lands five years ago; but, when the war broke out, he heard the call of the flag and marched away with the rest. I glanced over his letter in the car coming along, but in the quietude of my room I was able to read it more carefully. And, to my astonishment, I came upon this:

'It sometimes happens, 'he writes from Flanders, 'it sometimes happens that we really wonder if we are living on the same planet as that which we formerly inhabited. There is absolutely nothing here to connect us with the quiet life we once lived. But at night-time it is different. One by one the stars come out, and we trace the same constellations that we used to watch as we strolled up the old lane or trudged along the great high-road; and when we see them taking their old places in the skies above us, the link with the old land and the old life seems to have been suddenly restored.'

I rather wish I could introduce these two—our little governess at the End of the World and our young officer in Flanders. You never know what night come of it. They evidently have a good deal in common.

Excellent Medicine
But let neither of them suppose that they were the first to think along this line. It is thousands of years since it was first discovered that the stars make an excellent medicine for homesick hearts. Many an empire has risen and declined since one of the ancient prophets was commanded to direct the attention of an exiled and dejected people to the stars that circled peacefully above their heads.

Lift your eyes on high,' he exclaimed, 'and behold who hath created these things, that brings out their host by number; He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one, fails.' And when, lifting their downcast faces, the captives observed that the stars that looked down upon the land of their banishment were the same as those with which they had become familiar in the country from which they had been cruelly snatched, they instinctively felt that there were ties to the old land that no conqueror could break, and possibilities of restoration of which no tyrant could deprive them.

Eyes to the Skies
From time immemorial disconsolate men and women have turned their eyes to the skies at night and have felt precisely as our lonely little governess felt by the gate the other evening. The stars have always seemed to be speaking some consoling and heartening message to suffering nations and to distracted individuals. How they soothed the mental the mental anguish of Mark Rutherford! ‘The provision of infinity in Nature,' he says, 'is an immense help to me. No person can look up to the stars at night and reflect upon what lies behind them without feeling that the tyranny of the senses is loosened. The beyond and the beyond, turn it over as we may, is a constant visible warning not to make our minds the measure of the universe. This understanding of ours whose function it seems to be to imprison us, is manifestly limited.’ And, in his Autobiography, the stars appear to have been his comforters.

There is Room
On one occasion he is oppressed by his conviction—the most distressing and unmanning of all the convictions that sometimes seizes us—the conviction that there is nothing in him. He walks beneath the stars, and feels that, in a universe of such inconceivable immensity, there is room for every creature born, and, therefore, a place for him. `I sought refuge in the idea of God, the God of a starry night with its incomprehensible distances; and I was at peace, content to be the meanest worm of all the millions that crawl upon the earth.' Again, he is aflame with anger. He strolls beneath the stars, and, reflecting on the great idea of God, and on all that it implies, his animosities are softened and his heat against his brother is cooled.'

Stars Spoken Again
On a third occasion he is worried almost to death, and utterly disheartened. `But just before I reached home the clouds rolled off with the south-west wind into detached, fleecy masses, separated by liquid blue gulfs, in which were sowed the stars. The effect upon me was what that sight, thank God, always has been—a sense of the infinite, extinguishing all mean cares.' The stars had spoken, and his hurt was healed.

Linking the Ages
But standing beside the great white gate at the End of the World, our sad little governess did not see everything. When you turn your eyes starward you are apt to miss something. And both she and our young officer in Flanders missed the best part of the celestial vision. For the stars not only link the lonely station on which poor Grace now lives with the great city she has left behind; they not only link those trenches in Flanders with the tranquil English meadows; but they link up all the ages. Had our young officer who felt that the stars reunited him to his native village and his childhood's home given the matter a second thought, he would have seen that, along a similar line of reasoning, those same stars immediately related him to all the moving drama of the Empire's story. The stars that shine on the British regiments this evening are the selfsame stars that looked down upon the campaigns of Marlborough and Wellington. The stars that must seem to our people in the North Sea to be sharing with them their long and tedious vigil are the self-same stars that gazed upon the destruction of the Spanish Armada and upon Nelson's famous victory ill Trafalgar Bay. The stars link the reality of an age with the romance of all the ages; they unite the prose of the present with the poetry of the past. As Mr. Edward Shillito recently pointed out, the heavens upon whose wealth of wonder the average Londoner gazes with stolid indifference are:

The heavens, beneath which Alfred stood, when he
Built ramparts by the tide against his foes;
The skies men loved when in eternity
The dream-like Abbey rose;

The heavens whose glory has not known increase
Since Raleigh swaggered home by lantern-light,
And Shakespeare, looking upwards, knew the peace,
The cool deep peace of night.

Under those heavens brave Wesley rose betimes
To preach ere daybreak to the tender soul;
And in the heart of Keats the starry rhymes
Roll, and for ever roll.

Selfsame Stars
I fancy that this was the idea in the prophet's mind. It was not merely that the stars that looked down on Israel's captivity were the same that they had seen from the streets of Jerusalem; it was that the stars that they saw were the selfsame stars upon which Abraham gazed when lie received thee promise of the future glory of his race. 'Like the stars of the sky for multitude,' he repeated to himself as his eye scanned the radiant arch above him. And it was something for the stricken people in the day of their adversity to rest their eyes upon the selfsame spectacle that the father of their race had dwelt upon with such deep and mystic rapture.

When Napoleon's army, under Desaix, came within sight of the Pyramids, the men stood still in breathless admiration, and then, quite spontaneously, they rent the stillness of the desert with a shout of wonder and delight, Here was posterity cheering antiquity; the modern cheering the ancient; the world's newest today cheering the world's oldest yesterday. The fine deed was inspired by precisely the same emotions as those with which the captive Hebrews feasted their eyes upon the stars that had greeted the eyes of Abraham. It is good at times to catch sight of the things that abide, the things that filled the first person on this planet with wonder, and that will seem just as magnificent to the man who hears the crack of doom.

Life’s Immutabilities
Which things, besides being helpful and stimulating in themselves, are an allegory, a figure of things still greater. Life needs its fixed quantities, its immutabilities, its things that shine unchangingly. Was it for this reason that, in the Apocalypse, ministers are likened to the stars? `Coming home through the wood last night,' writes Dr. Andrew Bonar in his journal, 'I was refreshed and comforted in looking at the stars. Ministers, like those stars, are set to give light through the night. We shine on, whether travelers will make use of our light or not.' The Christian ministry passes on from age to age the things that abide. If a broken heart is comforted in a church today, it is because the minister gave a message that healed a stricken soul, long centuries ago. If into the broken and contrite spirit of some lowly penitent there flows tonight the rapture of sin forgiven, it is because the minister told an old, old story that has been the light of all the ages. .’I, Jesus, am the Bright and Morning Star,’ said the Risen Saviour, in the sentences with which the Bible closes; and tired eyes will rest steadily on Him until tie stunning tides and shifting scenes of time and sense have ceased for ever to confuse them.

F W Boreham, ‘Comrades of the Night’, The Silver Shadow (London: The Epworth Press, 1918), 77-86.

Image: ‘Comrades of the Night.’

Boreham and The Pull of Things

The people of Lochlee were very fond of Davie McPhail. The little lad was stone blind; yet, despite his heavy affliction, he showed as keen and as blithe a spirit as any on that Scottish country-side. The villagers said that there was a far-away look in his sightless eyes, as though, seeing nothing that they saw, he nevertheless peered into things that they were not permitted to behold.

When, in the summer of1871, Dr. Thomas Guthrie and Dr. John Ker were spending their holiday among the Grampians, they fell in love with Davie. They came upon him several times, and, each time, he furnished them with some fresh cause for wonder. They were tramping one afternoon across a rugged and romantic mountain-side. For hours they reveled in the varied panorama of crag and torrent, wood and waterfall, and saw no sign of life except the herds of red deer browsing down in the glen. All at once they were astonished at seeing, in the distance, a boy's kite. Their surprise was intensified when, on drawing near, they found Davie crouching among the fern on the hillside, holding the string. Clasping the twine firmly, he moved his hands to and fro, sometimes pressing them to his breast and sometimes holding them out at arm's length. His face shone as with secret ecstasy. 'Why, Davie lad,' exclaimed Dr. Ker, 'what's the good of your having a kite? You can't even see it!'
'No, sir,' replied Davie,' but I like to feel it pull!'

The incident has often struck me as being profoundly significant. We are affected more than we know by forces that we cannot see, but of which we feel the pull. It is by the pull of things that our destinies are shaped.

F W Boreham, ‘The Pull of Things,’ The Three Half-Moons (London: The Epworth Press, 1929), 216-217.

Image: Kite

Boreham Unforgettable

Writer Appreciated
At an age when so many prominent men drop into the background and are soon forgotten, it was no small satisfaction to know, at seventy-eight, that one's work was still not only being done, but appreciated.

Radio Tribute
In fact, a further appreciation was to come a few weeks later, which would move F.W.B. even more deeply than the tribute of the Mercury. An old friend, judge C. H. Book, of the Victorian County Court, had been invited, by radio station 3KZ in Melbourne, to deliver a 250-word contribution to a program of Christmas-night broadcast talks on The Most Unforgettable Character I Have Met. The judge now wrote saying that he proposed, if the subject himself approved, to speak about Dr. Boreham. To which, F.W.B. characteristically replied:

“I cannot adequately express my bewildered appreciation of the great honor that you so kindly propose for me. But, truth to tell, you completely took my breath away. Now, however, that I have to some extent regained my balance, let me say that, even if the 3KZ studio is burned down during the week, or a stroke of light­ning puts the station off the air on Christmas Day, I shall cherish to my last hour the thought that, for some reason entirely beyond my comprehension, you had accorded me so lofty a place in your esteem. I can only add that I know of no man living from whom so great a compliment would have meant so much to me....”

Christmas Around the Radio
On Christmas night, at Wroxton Lodge, the Boreham family was around the radio at 7.30 p.m. In his talk, Judge Book said

“It is not an easy task to select the most unforgettable character I have ever met. There are so many people to whom I could say, "I shall never forget you!" For example, there is my dear mother. I could never forget her; and there are others dearly loved: but to speak of any of them would be too personal and intimate for the present occasion.

So I have chosen one whom no one who has been privileged to meet him could possibly forget; someone I have known for many years and to whom I am much indebted.

He is the Rev. Dr. F. W. Boreham, preacher, poet and saint. Eloquent, friendly, a man with a gift of humour, humble with the divine humility of his Master, he is a great man in the best sense of the word.

I have read his essays, listened many times to his sermons, de­livered in that well-loved voice and in a manner all his own; and by these I have been uplifted, strengthened and inspired. But above all, I rejoice that I have often spoken with him face to face, and then he makes you feel that it is you who have his interest and his love.

It is a person's character which makes him unforgettable, be­cause it is character alone which is eternal.

And so, with a loving and a grateful heart, I salute Dr. Boreham, and I say to him, "You are a character I shall never forget!"

The next day, F.W.B, wrote:

“What can I possibly say? You have certainly set me something to live up to! Surrounded by Mrs. Boreham, the family, and one or two guests, I listened with incredulous emotion to all that you so kindly said. With heart overflowing, I then bade the company a silent farewell and slipped away to bed. I felt that I wanted to be, for awhile at least, alone.”

“In the nature of things, a day must soon come in which you will be aware that graceful and generous tributes are being paid to my memory. When that hour strikes, I trust that it will be a secret satisfaction to you that you spoke your beautiful piece whilst my hungry but astonished ears drank in every precious syllable ...”

No Turning Head
Such tributes of appreciation as he had been receiving might have turned the head of a smaller man. But although Dr. Boreham would not have been human had he not enjoyed every one of them, he still maintained that "divine humility" and that same unspoiled friendliness which "makes you feel that it is you who have his interest and his love".

Source: T H Crago, The Story of F W Boreham, (London” Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1961), 243-245.

Image: 'around the radio.'

Monday, February 19, 2007

Boreham and His Change of Mind

What do basket ball player Michael Jordan, tennis champ Martina Hingis, swimmer Jenny Thompson, cyclist Lance Armstrong and F W Boreham all have in common?

Scroll down when you’re ready for the answer.

Answer: They all made comebacks after announcing their retirement.

F W Boreham Retirement Announced
After writing thirty-six books, readers of the popular Boreham books, received The Passing of John Broadbanks and were horrified to read this foreword:


WITH the passing of John Broadbanks, I myself must pass.

It is just about a quarter of a century since, with my heart in my mouth, I daringly submitted the first of these manuscripts to a publisher. Since then, one by one, thirty volumes have trickled from my incontinent pen.

In writing thirty volumes a man has, or has not, delivered his message. If he has, why linger? If not, it is time that he recognized his failure and abandoned the futile adventure.

Were I to devote another thirty volumes to the task, I could not adequately express to my publishers, my critics and my readers my deep sense of obligation.

This Australian study of mine has sometimes oppressed me by its severe aloofness. And yet, as the years have come and gone, I have sensed the constant flow towards me of tides of generous friendliness emanating from away beyond the far horizon.

To that great host of kindred spirits with which I can never hope to mingle I wave my hand to-day in affectionate farewell.

Kew, Victoria, Australia.
Easter 1936.

Coming Out of Retirement
In 1939 Boreham readers had been successful in their protest for they were able to purchase another Boreham book, appropriately entitled, I Forgot to Say and subtitled, A Gust of Afterthought.

I Forgot to Say
He explained himself in the foreword of this book in these words:


WITH characteristic courtesy, my publishers urge me, in defiance of my leave-taking of three years since, to send them yet another volume. In a way, I am glad to comply. On retiring for the night, few of us plunge into instant oblivion. When the soft lamp beside the bed has been switched off and the great world is hushed into stillness, the mind obstinately insists upon a final flutter. The events of the busy day march past in grand review, and one is haunted by the things that he should have said, but didn't.

Since issuing the book that I believed to be my last, I have been the victim of some such insomnious experience. Reaching for my discarded pen, therefore, I have dotted down one or two wayward fancies that, in my earlier scribblings, I forgot to say.

Easter, 1939.

Some, like boxer Mohammed Ali, regretted making the return but F W Boreham and his readers hailed the new period as being gloriously productive.

Readers were glad he changed his mind for F W Boreham went on to write another fifteen books including his autobiography, My Pilgrimage, which Leslie Weatherhead described as “the most inspiring ministerial autobiography I have ever read.”

Geoff Pound

Image: Comeback champion, Martina Hingis.

F W Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 7.
F W Boreham, I Forgot to Say (London: The Epworth Press, 1936), 7.
T H Crago, The Story of F. W. Boreham, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 229-230.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Boreham on the Paralysis of Silence

In an article published by the Hobart Mercury on 19 February 1924 F W Boreham wrote about the plight of deafness. In ‘The Paralysis of Silence’ he speaks not only about living in a silent world but of the stigma that adds to the suffering.

He tells the story of Mr. E Abraham who conceived the idea that something might be done in Australia to render self-supporting and independent, those who were severely deaf and dumb.

In 1909 the Adult Deaf & Dumb Society (now the Adult Deaf Society of Victoria), purchased a 75 acre property which included the Lake, now called the Blackburn Lake.

[This was the bushland area, where in the 1890s, the artist Frederick McCubbin set up his easel and painted some of his best known works, e.g. "Down on his Luck" and "The Bush Burial"]

They cleared the land and cultivated a flower farm. The property became known as "Lake Park", and was a place for the "aged, infirm and feeble minded deaf mutes" to live and work, by growing flowers & vegetables, that were sold at the Victoria Market.

F W Boreham writes about the development of this dream as an ‘object lesson to the world.’ He says: “Australia has to her credit some very notable triumphs…. No country has done more to abolish the disability and the suffering due to being deaf and dumb.”

Sources: F W Boreham, ‘The Paralysis of Silence’, Hobart Mercury, 19 February, 1924.

‘Blackburn Lake Sanctuary’

Image: Black and white postcard of Blackburn Lake entitled 'Lake, Deaf Mutes' Farm, Blackburn.'