Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Boreham Writings into Chinese?

I have discovered this week through Read/WriteWeb that the Chinese web site, YeeYan, translates articles from English language blogs into Chinese so that Chinese language readers can enjoy and make comments.

The goal of YeeYan is “to discover valuable contents in foreign languages and to provide high quality Chinese translations for them.”

Calling Chinese Readers
I am aware that some of the readers of The Official F.W. Boreham Blogsite are from China, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. I wonder if there is a demand and an interest for articles on this web site to be translated into the Chinese language.

F. W. Boreham Publications into Chinese?
I haven’t had time to discuss this matter with my John Broadbanks Publishing partner, Michael Dalton (he is so busy responding to people’s orders for Lover of Life, which is hot off the press).

I wonder if translating Boreham's 55 books into the main Chinese languages might be the next step for taking Boreham into a new dimension?

Do let me know if you are interested in seeing (and helping to get!) Boreham books translated into Chinese.

Geoff Pound

Image: YeeYan logo

Boreham: 'One of the Best Preachers Ever'

Admirers of the preaching of F. W. Boreham might be interested to read a reference to him and other great preachers on Rowland Croucher's posting on this the birthday of FWB.

Click on this link:

Thanks Rowland for your stimulating and resourceful articles.

Geoff Pound

Image: A photo of F W Boreham in his early days of preaching when a preacher's coat was the order of the day.

Boreham: So It's Your Birthday!

Today, the 3rd March, is the birthday of F. W. Boreham. Without making any reference to the fact, Dr. Boreham, submitted this editorial to the Hobart Mercury, on one 3rd March and later it was published in a collection of his essays and sermons.

This is one of the essays that will be included in the forthcoming book of Boreham essays entitled The Chalice of Life, a collection in which F W Boreham deals with life at its various stages.

Every day is somebody's birthday. It is reasonable to suppose that, here in Australia, about twenty thousand people are celebrating the great event today. In every city, town and settlement in the Commonwealth:

This is somebody's birthday,
Just as sure as fate;
Some little twins are exactly two—
Some little girl is eight.
Someone is eating his birthday cake
And laughing over the plums;
Someone is counting her birthday dolls
On all her fingers and thumbs.
Someone is bouncing his birthday ball,
Or winding his birthday watch,
Someone is not too wise or tall
For birthday butter-scotch.

To all such, the birthday is a notable occasion. However long we live, we never quite lose the romance of the birthday fuss and frolic. And the very fact that each of us, of whatever age or rank, is susceptible to the birthday sentiment, forges a bond of sympathy between us all. One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin. A birthday represents that element of essential humanness which unites a monarch on her throne with the lowliest of her subjects. Each of us has a birthday once a year: each has but one; kings and queens can have no more.

Yet, when all is said and done, birthdays are mere records of time, not registers of distance. They are chronometers, not speedometers. They tell us how long we have been upon the road, not how far we have travelled.

The distinction is fundamental. It will never do to judge of our progress by the time we have taken. It will never do to suppose that because we have been many days on the highway, we have therefore covered an enormous stretch of country. It is possible, like the tortoise, to go a very short distance in a very long while.

The fact is that the soul has milestones of its own. It declines to measure its advance by any of our artificial standards. The importance that is attached to birthdays, for example, implies that my pilgrimage began at birth, and that all my progress is to be reckoned from that point. But that is ridiculous upon the face of it. The soul laughs at such an absurd method of calculation. We might as well tell a man to walk from London to Edinburgh, and begin to count his progress from York. For the soul reckons that it has got over the worst and most ticklish bit of the road by the time that birth comes about.

I am well on my way when I am born. Oh, the thrilling adventures and the hair-breadth escapes that befell me on that first stretch of the road! When I come to think of all the loves and the hates, the births and the deaths, the comedies and the tragedies, that had to take place through the long agony of the ages in order to produce me, I am astounded that I did not lose my way along that difficult and dangerous stretch of the road. When I think of what might have happened if some old forebear of mine, away back in the age of the cave-men, had taken it into his head to marry the woman whom he murdered, or to murder the women whom he married, it seems to me a perfect miracle that I got here.

When I read of the barbarous ages of slaughter and carnage and brutality through which my long line of ancestors threaded its fearsome way, it is perfectly astounding to me that not one of them got stabbed or clubbed or shot until they had duly taken their places in that long genealogical list. When I think of the wars and famines and pestilences through which those forebears of mine came unscathed, I catch my breath.

In view of all this, you will never convince me that birth was merely a starting-place. It was my first milestone; and I had got over by far the roughest and most perilous stretch of the road when I had safely passed it.

I cannot leave this subject of birthdays without reminding myself that life presents every person with two supreme and indispensable imperatives. It says: You must be born! and it says: You must be born again!
Unless he be born, he simply is not: there is nothing more to be said about him.

And, unless, having been born, he is born again, he cannot hope to see the Kingdom of God. It is the milestone that must be passed: there is no other way Home. To make the attempt would be to court the fate of poor Ignorance, who, from the heights of heaven, was hurled into the depths of hell. He had never been to the Cross; had never seen the three shining ones; had never known the rapture of being loosed of his burden. `Except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'

Paul never forgot the milestone that he passed on the road to Damascus. Augustine never forgot that wonderful day in his garden at Milan. Hugh Latimer never forgot that talk with little Bilney in the confessional box. Luther never forgot that scene on Pilate's staircase. Bunyan never forgot the four poor women sitting in the sun. Wesley never forgot how his heart was `strangely warmed' at Aldersgate Street. Mr Spurgeon never forgot the little chapel at Artillery Street, Colchester.

The man who has passed such a milestone is more than half-way Home, however many years he may yet spend upon the road.

F W Boreham, ‘So It’s Your Birthday!’ The Tide Comes In (London: The Epworth Press, 1958), 14-16.

Image: Birthday Blessing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Boreham Book Now Available!

Read the letter from Michael Dalton that so many of us have been longing for.

Click on the following link:

New Books of F. W. Boreham.

Geoff Pound

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thou Shalt Not Steal Boreham's Sermons

In an article in 1944, J J North, the New Zealand Baptist leader, proclaimed these thoughts about the stealing of sermons and other ‘intellectual property’.

"Thou Shalt Not Steal."
That was one of the ten precepts written on granite and intended to bind in social peace the chosen people. It is the commandment that defends private property. It confronts the cattle raider, the sneak thief, the commercial thief—thieves, in short, of every breed and brood. It is very lately, indeed, that another sort of property was declared by international law to be sacred against thieves. Shakespeare has his piece about the man who steals a purse and who steals trash. He suffered himself from literary thieves who pinched his plays and told the drolleries as though their own wit had begotten them. But at long last a preacher's sermon, a poet's hymn, an author's novel argument are all alike "property." So says the law.

The Victorian writers were shamefully robbed by the Yankees. America refused to recognise literary property as property at all. When Dickens went to America with not too much money in his pockets, he found that twenty publishers had printed "Pickwick Papers," and "Boz" and the rest of his prodigious novels, and had sold hundreds of thousands of them without paying him a dollar. He invoked Sinai and called them a pack of thieves—which they were. But the law has now been tightened up, and it is international. Look at your hymnbook and see that permission was given, or secured by payment, for the publication of the best and specially of the newest hymns. Look at recent books and remark that for every long quotation from another author permission to quote has been asked for and often paid for.

Ministers have been shameless thieves. C. H. Spurgeon's penny sermons circulated by the 100,000. But local preachers and bankrupt regular preachers read them from hundreds of pulpits without a thank you. That can't be done now. Occasionally it is done.

We remember when Morrison was the last pulpit sensation that a minister of a large church gave one of his sermons verbatim. One of his elders went home, reached down the book, and was too ashamed of his minister to look up.

We have heard of Boreham being actually used by a preacher who was detected by one who was fond of our gentle friend who actually read his books. This of course is a crime. Men have been unfrocked for it. We can't expect and never get absolute originality. All people borrow from other writers. What is expected is that they shall digest what they read and treat it from their own, and not from their neighbour's standpoint.

Tell me what I knew before
But paint the prospect from thy door.

A person preaching another person’s sermon is David waddling about in Saul's armour. It never fits.

Source: J.J.North, New Zealand Baptist, May 1944, 99

Image: J. J. North. This picture is from the front cover of the New Zealand Baptist, November 1949, the time of North's retirement as editor of the Baptist.

Ruth Graham Visits Borehamland

This is a photo of Ruth Graham visiting Mosgiel in 1969. Published in the New Zealand Baptist, here is the brief report:

MRS RUTH GRAHAM (right), wife of the American evangelist, Dr Billy Graham, paid a brief visit to Mosgiel on March 8, to inspect the Baptist Church. Mrs Graham is a reader of books by the late Dr F. W. Boreham, the first Baptist pastor at Mosgiel, and she expressed the wish to visit his old church while in Dunedin.

After spending some time at the church, Mrs Graham was taken for a drive around the town. Here she is shown with a member of the church, Mrs M. McLennan (left), and Mrs
Grady Wilson, wife of Dr Graham's associate minister.

Source: New Zealand Baptist, May 1969, 11.

Boreham's Embarrassment in the Desert

F W Boreham tells this story from his travels through the Arabian desert:

One incident of the drive across the desert comes forcefully to mind today. For its water supply Arabia is largely dependent upon sea water—salt water that has been condensed. Out beside the desert road we saw the great works in which the condensing is done, with the mountains of salt standing near by. I looked at those heaps of salt and wondered. Our driver was an Arab; but fortunately he could speak English well.

‘I suppose,' I said, leaning forward and addressing him, 'I suppose that this is salt of a crude kind to be used for agricultural purposes, or something of the kind?'

‘No,' he replied, looking quite pained, 'it's beautiful salt; what's wrong with it.’

I felt very humiliated and half resolved to drop the subject; but I was still puzzled, and decided to venture once more. ‘This salt,' I said, 'will probably have to go through several processes yet before it is ready to be shipped away as table salt?'

‘No,' he answered, looking even more hurt than before, 'it's perfect. What's wrong with it?'

I felt crushed but eventually made up my mind to make one more attempt to satisfy my curiosity. ‘You must really forgive me,’ I pleaded, humbly, ‘but if this salt is such beautiful salt, how do you account for its strange browny colour?’

And then my wife, whom I always carry with me to deliver me from such embarrassments, nudged me gently, and enquired, ‘Have you forgotten that you are wearing those amber glasses?’

Indeed I had! Before setting out across the desert a friend had warned me that the glare of the sun would blind me unless I wore coloured glasses. He gave me his. They fitted so perfectly that I had forgotten that they were there; and so the salt, that was really as white as driven snow, looked brown and unclean in my sight.

And ever since that drive across the desert, whenever I hear people complaining that there is something wrong with the world, or the _____________ (fill in the gap), I have remembered my own experience with the amber glasses, and have thought my own thoughts."

Source: F. W. Boreham, Arrows of Desire.

Image: Salt in the desert

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Boreham and His Ordination

The distinguished New Zealand Baptist leader, J. J. North, wrote this article about the ordination of F W Boreham on the fiftieth anniversary of the occasion. His article that appeared in the NZ Baptist is entitled, ‘Dunedin Fifty Years Ago and a Certain Event’:

Fifty to sixty years ago, Dunedin was the largest and most impressive city in what was then a colony. Most of the mercantile houses had their headquarters there. Earthquakes prevented their flitting to Wellington. Auckland was isolated and still stunned by Maori wars. Yet Dunedin was a small town of rough streets and horse trams and very dull street lamps, lit by men carrying poles, as R.L.S.'s Edinburgh also was.

On an afternoon in March 50 years ago there was a trek of Dunedin Baptists to their shabby railway station, en route for Mosgiel. In the group, and leading it, was the Hanover Street minister, Alfred North, that sage and evergreen H. H. Driver, a rising lawyer. A. S. Adams, and, we think, J. G. Fraser, George Calder, H. Fawcett, and William Ings were there.

The occasion was the induction of a "Spurgeon man" to the Mosgiel pastorate. He was the first Spurgeon man (we think) to invade the religious placidity of Otago. The ministers of the city were of other colleges. H.H., of course, had been a Spurgeon man. and he was very elated (we remember) by the occasion. It was a lovely autumn day, and the Taieri Plains were carpeted in the gold of harvest. The humble little church had never had a minister before. All sorts of folk drove out on Sunday mornings, behind a lamentable horse, to preach. But now a minister had come. C.H.S., the unmitred Bishop of the Baptist world, had sent F. W. Boreham, raw and untried, yet full of an adventurous faith.[1]

On the evening of March 15, 1895 the newcomer was ordained. The writer of these lines was a student in his last year, and a very curious spectator of the proceedings. We did not know, we could not know, that we were making history and that the neophyte, by reason of an adroit pencil and an observant curiosity was to write and preach his way into widespread fame. But such has been the case.

He saw what no one else saw, all sorts of poetry in Mosgiel and its folk and of course, in the Bible, and wrote it all into 20 volumes of very much appreciated essays.[2] Indeed, so popular did some of them become that wholesale thefts have occurred. We heard of an F.W.B. sermon given by an Auckland minister over IYA [radio station] without any acknowledgment at all. That, of course, might be argued as a compliment to our friend, but it was also shameless theft.

But to go back to March 15, 1895. We remember the vestry door opening and in the midst of a long array of the black-coated fraternity there strode the new man. He seemed to us to be very tall, for he was arrayed in a full dress coat, and he had a very unusual and very placid face, a face that became and becomes very animated in speech. We re-read in an old file the searching ordination address by the Rev. Alfred North, and a very competent word to the people by the Rev. M. J. B. Bennett. We still remember, though it is not in print, the eager and modest reply. People passed toward the station at the meeting's end feeling that the beginnings were most promising. So they were, and so they continued, till on an evil day for us the minister transported himself to the Continent, where the bulk of his ministry has been spent.

Our readers will be interested to know that the lady of his choice followed him from England and is still blooming. He has a son and four daughters, most of whom, naturally enough, are married. He has, therefore, grandchildren.

He sends affectionate greetings to New Zealand friends, but wrote us that John Dicker and John Outram were the only remaining officers of his first church. Alas, before the letter came, John Dicker had gone into the land o' the leal.

Dr Boreham was honoured by MacMaster University with his title. For six years now he has given dinner hour addresses to the business men of his city. We thank God at every remembrance of him. His heart has always lain in a pool of honey. Was he ever involved in a controversy? Once in Mosgiel with the Presbyterians, but never again so far as we know. He has a matchless courtesy and "wears without reproach the good old name of gentleman." We are not writing his obituary, and hope we never shall.

Source: J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, March 1945, 51

Image: A more recent aerial view of Mosgiel with the township in the foreground and Saddle Hill (often mentioned by FWB) in the background.

[1] In the next edition (April 1945, 75) of the NZ Baptist, the editor, J J North, makes this amendment: “In our last issue we credited C. H. S. with directing F. W. B. to New Zealand. But C. H. S. died in 1892, and F. W. B. sailed for New Zealand in 1895. It was under the impulse of Pastor Thomas Spurgeon that Boreham came. . .”
[2] The editor also notes (April 1945, 75) this change: “F. W. B. pleads guilty to writing 40, not a mere 20, books, as we said. A man who does that sort of thing has something to answer for. . .

Monday, February 26, 2007

Boreham on Surprise Power

In writing about a certain lack in many sermons, F W Boreham says:

"Half the art of life lies in possessing effective explosives and in knowing how to use them.

Surprise in the Wild
In the best of his books, Jack London tells us that the secret of White Fang's success in fighting other dogs was his power of surprise. `When dogs fight there are usually preliminaries—snarlings and bristlings, and stiff-legged struttings. But White Fang omitted these. He gave no warning of his intention. He rushed in and snapped and slashed on the instant, without notice, before his foe could prepare to meet him. Thus he exhibited the value of surprise. A dog taken off its guard, its shoulder slashed open, or its ear ripped in ribbons before it knew what was happening, was a dog half whipped.'

Power to Startle
Here is the strategy of surprise in the wild. Has it nothing to teach me? I think it has. I remember going for a walk one evening in New Zealand, many years ago, with a minister whose name was at one time famous throughout the world. I was just beginning then, and was hungry for ideas. I shall never forget that, towards the close of our conversation, my companion stopped, looked me full in the face, and exclaimed with tremendous emphasis, 'Keep up your surprise-power, my dear fellow; the pulpit must never, never lose its power of startling people!' I have very often since recalled that memorable walk; and the farther I leave the episode across the years behind me the more the truth of that fine saying gains upon my heart.

Lacking Sting
Let me suggest a really great question. Is it enough for a preacher to preach the truth? In a place where I was quite unknown, I turned into a church one day and enjoyed the rare luxury of hearing another man preach. But, much as I appreciated the experience, I found, when I came out, that the preacher had started a rather curious line of thought. He was a very gracious man; it was a genuine pleasure to have seen and heard him. And yet there seemed to be a something lacking. The sermon was absolutely without surprise. Every sentence was splendidly true, and yet not a single sentence startled me. There was no sting in it. I seemed to have heard it all over and over and over again; I could even see what was coming. Surely it is the preacher's duty to give the truth such a setting, and present it in such a way, that the oldest truths will appear newer than the latest sensations. He must arouse me from my torpor; he must compel me to open my eyes and pull myself together; he must make me sit up and think. `Keep up your surprise-power, my dear fellow,' said my companion that evening in the bush, speaking out of his long and rich experience. ‘The pulpit,' he said, 'must never, never lose its power of startling people!' The preacher, that is to say, must keep up his stock of explosives. The Bishop of London declared the other day that the Church is suffering from too much 'dearly beloved brethren.' She would be better judiciously to mix it with a few bombshells.

Recapturing Wonder
If only I can renew the romance of my childhood, and recapture that early sense of wonder, the world will suddenly become as marvellous as the prince's palace in the fairy stories, and the ministry of the Church will become life's most sensational sensation."

F W Boreham, ‘The Baby Among the Bombshells’, Faces in the Fire (London: Charles H Kelly, 1916), 20-23.

Image: Explosions.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Boreham the Romantic Minister

Contribution to the Boreham Biography
J J North was a contemporary of F W Boreham and they shared many things in common. Their personalities were very different. North could be caustic and cutting while Boreham was kindness and peace personified. J J North was never lavish in throwing out the bouquets and these reflections on F W Boreham are brimming with insight. They were published in the New Zealand Baptist newspaper in 1943:

Unknown Minister in Crude Colony
The late years of the nineteenth century are as far away from us as the flood. Three wars have intervened since our letter headings registered 1900. Hoary empires have crumbled. A hermit nation has become the pest of the East. Napoleon has been outmoded. All things are strangely different. They have undergone and are undergoing a "sea change." It was in those distant and somnulent years that an unknown minister landed at Port Chalmers, and looked with some astonishment at a very crude colony, scarcely out of its swaddling clothes. He had been sent from "Spurgeons" to be minister of an insignificant church situate on the margin of the Taieri Plain.

Request to Spurgeon’s College
It was rather a custom in those distant days for small churches to appeal to that unmitred bishop of the Baptists, C. H. S., for young and fervent ministers to lead them withal. [It was Charles Spurgeon’s son, Thomas, who received most of the requests for the NZ churches]. Spurgeon had encouraged "Son Tom" to settle in Auckland. He also sent Dallaston to Christchurch. Some of his sendings made no mark at all on Church life in the colony: but these made history, and to them must be added F. W. Boreham.

Crude Colonial Church
Mosgiel was a queer little rectangular church, on which not a penny had been spent for reasonable adornment—cottage windows, a square porch, and uncomfortable seats for 150 people at a squeeze. Its people were a mixture, basically Scotch, with a tincture from Yorkshire mill towns. They sang vociferously in their graceless synagogue, and they prayed the fervent prayers of saintly men. They put their faith in "Spurgeons" to find them a minister. They put down money enough to bring out a bachelor, and they provided £150 a year for his keep and asked help of no benevolent Union. In the providence of God their faith was honoured. The strange young man who stepped ashore did not turn up his nose, as some have done, at colonial crudity and poverty. He did not book a return passage to the Motherland, He brought with him a romantic mind.

"The poem hangs on the berry bush where comes the poet's eye,
And the whole street is a masquerade when Shakespeare passes by."

Possessing the Poet’s Eye
Boreham had the poet's eye. That is an endowment few share. We make no claims at all in such high matters. We were very well acquainted with Mosgiel before Boreham was heard of. Many a painful journey we made, as a raw student, in a one-horse dray, shared with the Methodist "local" to preach to its people. We never dreamed that romance lived on those plains. Nothing had ever happened at Mosgiel. There had been no Maori war. The natives had vanished before the Scotch pioneers drove in their stakes. The sturdy people had merely transferred Scotch farm life to the large freedom of the Presbyterian settlement. Life was simple, and as flat as the plains they ploughed. It was a New Zealand "Thrums," a New Zealand "Drumtochty." F. W. B. was an understudy of Barrie and Maclaren, from whom no doubt he learned his craft. Be that as it may, that obscure hamlet acquired fame both in the Mother Country and in the U.S.A. entirely through the penwork of this strange young minister.

Dud or Gem?
We happened on him, we seem to remember, on the day of his arrival, for he was a guest in the Dunedin Manse. We certainly went over the hill to his induction service. We marked his goodly stature, exaggerated by his clerical attire, and his very unusual eyes. We can still see that untried colt showing his paces to those farm folk. He lifted a soft, persuasive voice and said his first say to the people who had brought him over seven seas. They sat tight, appraising their import and reflecting that "Spurgeons" had played the game and sent, not a dud, but a gem to be ground and polished in a life of service in the very young colony.

Congregation Shaped Pastor
That certainly is what happened. They altered him. For they were angular and sometimes raspy. He transfigured them, as his quality shone out under the discipline of the pastorate. In a way, what happened in England in Spurgeon's early days happened there. His young preachers came to stodgy towns and into rutty churches as flashes of light and bearers of confidence. So was F. W. B. in his first adventure. Mosgiel was not used to such lithe preaching, it heard from him amazingly little about the old shibboleths, and a great deal about the living Christ and about the actualities of life. Conversions happened and baptisms, which sometimes perturbed the Presbyterians, with whom otherwise he was always on good terms. His ugly little church was made even more ungainly by an addition. It was something to hear a man fresh from London town who could preach on the inner meaning of test matches and hit your middle wicket, who, as the Boer war came on, could give a series on David's valiant men who slew bears in pits on snowy days.

Rumours of Romance
Then presently rumours were afoot that someone else was facing the seven seas, bound for Mosgiel. A very young, and, we always thought, a very beautiful English girl reached Wellington after a lonesome journey. Marriage followed almost at once. We very well remember a very frosty day on the Canterbury plains, when with J. J. Doke, who was afterwards a dear friend of Gandhi, whose life he saved, we drove in a high perched dogcart to Kaiapoi. There was no publicity, a handful of folk stood in a small drawing room. I stood at Boreham's right hand and found the ring, and J. J. Doke pronounced them man and wife. One of the romantic weddings was so consummated.

In the Making
To say that marriage made our friend might be exaggeration. It certainly released a great deal. We have recently glanced over one or two of his early literary ventures, and found them dull, and long-worded. The terse Boreham had not arrived. He soon did. He came to New Zealand very poorly equipped in scholarship. He brought one of the poorest collection of books we remember on a minister's shelves. But he felt a spur. Whether his lady applied it or not he may care to say. He began to read voraciously, and to collate what he read industriously.

Editor and Editorialist
The Denomination asked him to edit the New Zealand Baptist. High brows were more than a little concerned by his tone. They preferred heavy footed stuff that hides poverty in the robes of solemnity. But F. W. B. made hits in his chatty accounts of Union Conferences. Then he very astutely got on the literary staff of the "Daily Times," and wrote them leaders often fashioned on Gibbon, and on the anniversary of great men and great battles. It was Kipling's day of a fervent Imperialism.

Loss and Gain
His departure from New Zealand was a heavy loss to us. Certain churches which should have called him failed to call him, and as his term on the Taieri drew to a close he looked overseas and responded to Tasmania. What he has meant to Australian church life, Australians will be forward to say. He developed the essay habit with great zest additionally to fervent preaching and pastoral work. Mosgiel, seen across the Tasman waters, became increasingly romantic.

Artistic not Photographic
The figures drawn by him are artistic and not photographic. The blend of what ought to be with what actually was is often very pronounced. Bewildered people saw themselves "in a mirror darkly." They did not know themselves, and sometimes resented the publicity accorded them. John Broadbanks and the Silverstream manse have never been identified. They never actually existed, but they did ideally and have been welcomed accordingly. Fame and a competency came to him through his 25 books, but he has never lost his modesty. His welcome, both in England and Scotland, was astonishing, and specially in Scotland, for his Scotch was borrowed from his Mosgiel parishioners, and was not native to the soil of his life. Barrie could do it, Maclaren could do it, it was in their blood as it could not be in the blood of this Englishman.

Modest, Gentle and Courteous
In his early days he was famed for losing things. He was once at our manse in Christchurch, en route for a conference
and armed with his pencil and writing pad. He strode away to catch his tram. The lady of the manse found his pyjamas under the pillow, and his Sunday go-to-meetings in the wardrobe, and shaving apparatus in the bathroom. We understand that the guard in the Mosgiel train made regular collections of the left behinds. But whatever this embryo poet lost he certainly never lost his head. It has remained in its place and his hat is the old size. So modest and gentle, and so engagingly courteous is this great Australian figure, that we feel we shall never look on his likes again.

Source: J J North, NZ Baptist, April, 1943, 81.

Image: J J North.