Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Boreham News Flash

Australasians can now purchase the new Boreham publication, Lover of Life: F.W. Boreham’s Tribute to His Mentor, from an online bookshop based in Brisbane, Australia.

More information about this development is available from the New Boreham Books web site.

Geoff Pound

Image: Cover of Boreham’s Book on Mentoring.

Boreham and the Straight Stick

On a beautiful Sunday evening in midsummer, I walked through St James's Park, past Buckingham Palace, to hear Dr John A. Hutton at Westminster Chapel. It was the only occasion on which I ever enjoyed that privilege. His text was: ‘I judge no one ... but if I judge.’

His point was that the gentle and gracious souls who would never dream of criticizing us are the very people whose silent and unconscious condemnation is the most devastating. A straight stick, lying beside a crooked one, does not judge its twisted neighbor, yet its very straightness is the crooked stick's most terrible exposure.

Dr Hutton employed a homely but singularly effective illustration. A man sits grimly in a crowded tram whilst a girl stands near him, clutching at the strap. He mutters to himself that he has paid his fare just as she has, that he is probably quite as tired as she is, and that he is in every way entitled to his seat. She, of course, neither utters a word nor casts a glance in his direction. Yet her very presence makes him thoroughly miserable and covers him with shame. ‘I judge no one ... but if I judge.’

…It seems to vindicate the contention of Francis of Assisi, who held that he who lives a beautiful Christian life has no need to resort to words in order to rebuke the iniquities that disfigure the Church and the world around him.

F W Boreham, The Tide Comes In (London: The Epworth Press, 1958), 21-22.

Image: Straight and crooked sticks.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Boreham and New Zealand

The transition from New Zealand to Australia helped to develop the writing ministry of F. W. Boreham.

J. J. North said, “He had to cross the Tasman to be fully appreciated and find a wider sphere for his spiritual gifts in his Master's vineyard—a service which God has owned and blest in the passing years.”

Although he has left New Zealand he did not forget his friends and the foundation that the New Zealand chapter had formed in his ministry. Here is a greeting that F.W. Boreham wrote on the occasion of the Jubilee of the NZ Baptist Union which reveals Boreham’s indebtedness:


Nearly 30 years have passed since, with a heavy heart, I left New Zealand. Why I should now be honoured with an invitation to greet the Baptists of the Dominion on the exalted occasion of their Jubilee, I cannot for the life of me imagine. And yet, perhaps, I may be qualified to say a modest word on behalf of those who, coming to New Zealand, have remained for a few memorable years, and then have sailed away, bearing the fragrant influence of the country with them.

Coming to Mosgiel nearly 40 years ago, a raw and callow youth, fresh from college, the new land captivated my whole soul, and I gave myself to it for good and all. That, however, was not to be. But I have lost no opportunity of bearing witness to the incalculable debt that I owe to New Zealand in general, and to Mosgiel in particular. I came out from the Homeland with an eager and a hungry mind, and New Zealand taught me much. I have since visited the Conferences of all the Australian States; but —tell it not in Gath!—I still find myself judging these dignified assemblies by the high standard of the Conferences that I attended in New Zealand long years ago!

To have lived and ministered in Mosgiel in the old days, when the earliest pioneers were still among us, and when one could catch the heroic spirit of their sublime adventure, was an experience so rich and so romantic that it has coloured all my days. I loved every stick and stone in Mosgiel—to say nothing of the sturdy souls who dwelt there—and my admiration and affection have deepened with the years.

Others, more competent than I, will testify to the invaluable contribution of the Baptists of New Zealand to the development of the vigorous young nationhood of a Dominion that occupies a place so singularly its own in the economy of the Empire and in the variegated life of the world. Those who, like Dr North, have spent the entire span of the 50 years in consecrated service within New Zealand's coasts, will be in a position to speak authoritatively of the thousands and thousands of lives that have been irradiated and transfigured through the instrumentality of our Churches and of their ministers. And representatives of the mission field will enlarge upon the story of the beautiful and fruitful impact of our New Zealand people upon the teeming millions of Bengal. To these eloquent testimonies this is merely a negligible postscript. For I, who simply came to New Zealand to be ordained, and then to spend a dozen happy years in an obscure country pastorate, can only speak for those who, leaving New Zealand, have carried New Zealand with them, and have felt its gracious and inspiring impress on the life of every subsequent day.

On behalf of those who cherish such choice memories, I send this heartfelt benediction. May the jubilee commemoration crown a glorious past and inaugurate a still more golden future! For, depend upon it, proud and grateful as you will be, in reviewing the 50 years that have slipped away, the best—God's very, very best—is yet to be!”[1]

At the 75th anniversary of the NZ Baptist Union, F. W. Boreham sent this final greeting to NZ Baptists:

Greetings from our Oldest Past President

THE BAPTIST UNION OF NEW ZEALAND was 13 years old when I joined the ranks of its ministers. And now, as it completes the 75th year of its history, I find peculiar satisfaction in sending my warmest felicitations and best wishes.

One of the outstanding pleasures of the years has been the gratification of marking the growth and prosperity of the New Zealand Churches. The churches that I knew have grown amazingly whilst many new churches have come into existence. I pray that such gratifying developments may continue to manifest themselves during the closing quarter of the first century.

It is a red letter day in each month when "The New Zealand Baptist" arrives. We read with deep interest the news that it brings and congratulate the Editor on the fact that the paper is generally regarded as one of the most readable of religious newspapers.
With warmest greetings and affectionate benedictions,


President, 1902.[2]

Geoff Pound

Image: FWB with some of his New Zealand Baptist friends.

New Zealand Baptist, October 1944, 227-228.
[1] New Zealand Baptist, October 1932, 294.
[2] New Zealand Baptist, November 1957, 225.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Best Boreham Book for a Beginner

Somebody recently asked me, “If I was to read one Boreham book, which one would you recommend?” I said this was like trying to nominate your favorite child, a practice I wasn’t wanting to commence. As I thought about this question further I thought this was more about suggesting a good place to begin.

My suggestion to this person was to begin with F.W. Boreham’s autobiography, My Pilgrimage (which was subsequently published after his death with the title, Pathway of Roses). One cannot separate the person from his style. Although sentimental in places (typical of his age), My Pilgrimage has passion and through the pages Boreham connects powerfully with his readers.

This is a good book for pastors to read. As I wrote in an earlier posting Leslie Weatherhead described My Pilgrimage as, “the most inspiring ministerial autobiography I have ever read.” But any person would find the reading of this book to be interesting and rewarding.

When the first draft reached his old friend, J.J. North in New Zealand, North identified Boreham’s propensity for linking, which occurs in the opening paragraph of the book:

“Dr F. W. Boreham is publishing an autobiography. His first chapter tells of his birthday. Salvoes of cannon (by chance) were fired in every capital in Europe. It was not, however, because of his birth, but because in Europe the Franco-German War end coincided with an interesting friend's arrival on this planet.”[1]

Six months later New Zealand Baptist editor, Dr. North, added this article entitled, ‘Dr. Boreham's Honour’:

“We are delighted to hear that a fresh honour has befallen Dr. F. W. Boreham. It will be remembered that having completed somewhere about 25 volumes [it was 36], each with a considerable circulation both in U.S.A. and in Britain, he concluded (rashly it seems) that he had nothing else to say to his world. His last book, he said, had been published. But ideas continued to visit his receptive mind, and last year he broke his vow with a volume called "I Forgot to Say." This "paraleipomena" has been a great success, and the Religious Book Clubs of Britain have selected it as their book for January, and they have ordered a special edition of 5000.”

North continues:
“Dr Boreham is now producing his autobiography, and it is appearing in A.C. World every fortnight, and is to be published both in U.S.A. and in Britain. The last chapter we read described his unusual courtship. His lady, his "Stella," caught his eye when she was fifteen. He kissed her on the wharf when she was seventeen as he was sailing for New Zealand. She came out to this country when she was barely nineteen, and has been his "star" ever since, a woman greatly beloved by all who have known her, and (if we may say so) by this writer also, who was "best man" at the wedding in Kaiapoi in 1896. What a career the past editor of the New Zealand Baptist has had!”[2]

Six months later, when the book had come off the presses, North writes this commendation:

“The old and much-remembered editor of the New Zealand Baptist, Dr F. W. Boreham, has published the most dangerous sort of book, an autobiography. In no region of literature is failure more easy. The dangers imposed by natural egoism and triviality threaten shipwreck. This is the more probable in the case of a minister, whose whole life is immersed in the comparative obscurity of pulpit and pastoral work. Yet Boreham has made a success. He has developed an unstrained and lucid style, and he tells the simple details of his life with unfailing charm.”[3]

The major New Zealand bookshop chain printed this advertisement:

"MY PILGRIMAGE"—By F. W. Boreham. An Autobiography.
This is a choice book that every Baptist should read, full of memories that stretch back into Victorian England with its Spurgeon and its F. B. Meyer, and brings us across the Seven Seas to Australia and New Zealand, whose life he has done so much to mould. 7s 6d.
——Postage Extra——

And another advertisement later in the year:

"MY PILGRIMAGE." By F. W. Boreham.
An autobiography full of irrestible inspiration. 7/6.

It is a pity this good book is no longer available for such a price.

Geoff Pound

Image: Stella, “a woman greatly beloved by all who have known her.”

[1] J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, August 1939, 234.
[2] J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, February 1940, 37.
[3] J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, August 1940, 247.
[4] New Zealand Baptist, July 1942, 206.
[5] New Zealand Baptist, December 1942, 325.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Republishing Boreham Books

I received a letter recently from a new F. W. Boreham fan whose enthusiasm for reading books by FWB has been stimulated by Ravi Zacharias.

He wrote: “Where can I get a copy of Boreham’s Boulevards of Paradise?

Michael Dalton and I have lots of ideas about reprinting Boreham books but would like to hear from you.

What Boreham book would you like to see reprinted and why?

Geoff Pound

F. W. Boreham and J. J. North

F. W. Boreham was a prolific letter writer and although he had friends in different parts of the world he sought to maintain these relationships through regular correspondence.

One of his friends was J. J. North, who served as the Principal of the New Zealand Baptist Theological College and trained an entire generation of pastors.

This first letter F.W. Boreham wrote to Dr. North on the occasion of North’s seventieth birthday. Although North was the editor of the
NZ Baptist, Boreham managed to get this letter printed in that magazine for all to see:

My Dear Dr North,—On the 26th of July you will be 70! Will you allow an old friend, who has himself attained that venerable age, to offer you affectionate felicitations and to wish you a wonderfully rich and radiant eventide? Lives like yours are capable of the most glorious sunsets. I extend these fond wishes not only on behalf of Mrs Boreham and myself, but in the name of thousands of people beyond the shores of New Zealand, who have been incalculably enriched by your brave and stimulating ministry.

The strands of our two lives are closely interwoven. We were born at about the same time. You were at my ordination at Mosgiel, in company with your honoured father, who delivered the charge to myself—a copy of which I still treasure. You were best man at my wedding. In my early days you were my cruellest, kindest critic, and during all the years we have preserved an inspiring sense of comradeship, which has been robbed of none of its charm by the physical fact that we have seldom seen each other's faces. It is particularly pleasant, too, to reflect that our wives, who were girls when they first formed each other's friendship, have been mercifully spared to us.

The good people of New Zealand, whom I still remember with gratitude and admiration, will deluge you with richly merited congratulations; but, whilst the crowd surges tumultuously around you on the great day, you must allow an old friend to press you hand, look into your eyes, and breathe upon you heaven's choicest benedictions.

The Lord bless thee and keep thee: the Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace!

On the fiftieth anniversary of J. J. North’s ordination, this snippet is found in the publication of North's reminiscences:

These Fifty Years.

In 1895 three men entered the ministry of the Church. F. W. Boreham, R. S. Gray and myself. It was given to all three of us to render long service. Boreham, after a ministry in the then remote township of Mosgiel, transferred his large literary talents to Australia. Gray, a very vital man, after two distinguished ministries became the first permanent secretary of the Union and Missionary Society. You have chosen at this Assembly to honour my poor doings, at which I shall be the first to throw a stone.

It was the good fortune of both Boreham and myself to live among pioneers, for the southern provinces were very young in our day. Boreham has written his romances on the old identities of the Taieri. I have failed the equally interesting folk among whom I settled on the Canterbury Plains.[2]

The final letter is written by F.W. Boreham on the occasion of the death of J. J. North:

It is in my heart to tell my old friends in New Zealand of our own deep sorrow at the passing of my dear old comrade, and of our intense sympathy with them in their irreparable loss. Dr. North, then a theological student, sat beside me on the platform at Mosgiel on the night of my induction, early in 1895. His father delivered the charge. A year later J. J. North officiated as best man at our wedding, assisting the Rev. J. J. Doke at that memorable service.

My wife feels as sad to-day as I do. Although we parted when we were both about five and thirty, he remaining in New Zealand and I crossing the Tasman, we corresponded regularly to the end. His last letter, written on Good Friday, is scarcely legible, but it told me, as clearly as though it were inscribed in copperplate, that my dear old friend was preparing to cross the stream and that the trumpets would soon be sounding for him on the other side.

Near my home in Melbourne is a lovely green bank sloping gently down to the river. Among the trees is a pleasant seat. When Dr. North was here a few years back, he and I sat chatting on that seat during the last hour that we were to spend on earth together. We still call it "Dr. North's seat," and, whenever I occupy it, he seems wonderfully near.

I wave my hand to him in loving and grateful farewell, and I wave my hand to any in New Zealand who remember me, in affectionate greeting and benediction.[3]

Geoff Pound

Image: A picture of FWB at sunset.

[1] F. W. Boreham, New Zealand Baptist, July, 1941, 199.
[2] J. J. North, New Zealand Baptist, December 1945, 303-304.
[3] F. W. Boreham, New Zealand Baptist, September 1950, 265.

Boreham and "Are you his daughter?"

When the Boreham family arrived in Hobart they spent a month in Ivy Lodge before moving to their first Hobart address in Jordan Hill Rd.

Howard Crago recounts a humorous incident:

“F.W.B. and his young wife had interviewed a solicitor in the city regarding this house, and received by the next mail a letter informing them that the place was available, which began, ‘With reference to the conversation which I had today with your daughter and yourself…’”

Crago says: “Nor would it be the last time the girls would chuckle over their mother being mistaken for their sister!”

Source: T Howard Crago, The Story of F.W. Boreham (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1961), 120.

Image: Stella, wife of F.W. Boreham, looking glamorous on the steps of their first home at Jordan Hill Road, Hobart.