Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boreham on Australia

England is an antique. In Australia we invariably speak of it, reverently and affectionately, as ‘the Old Country.’ And yet the thing that strikes every Australian who visits England is the fact that, side by side with so much that compels his veneration, there exists so much that is startlingly, sensationally, audaciously new. And from that antique realm, these young lands import the vast majority of their new ideas.

Australia, on the other hand, is new. An Australian in England feels that he is representing a land of novelties in a land of antiquities, a land of oddities in a land of orthodoxies, a land of impertinences in a land of dignities. Everything about Australia strikes an Englishman as novel. The fact that we have Christmas at midsummer and go for our annual holidays in January; the fact that we get up when an Englishman goes to bed, and go to bed when he gets up; the fact that we go north in winter if we wish to be warm and go south in summer if we wish to be cool; the facts that our trees shed their bark instead of their leaves, that our birds display vociferous hilarity and that our native animals are all fitted out with pockets; these things strike an Englishman as distinctly quaint.

And yet, whilst Australia is a land of novelties, it is essentially a land of antiquities. Geologically, Australia is immensely older than England. Our Australian aborigines are of much more remote origin that the early Britons. Sir Arthur Keith has shown that, long before Mr. Rudyard Kipling's first cockney ‘pushed through the forest that lined the Strand, with paint on his face and a club in his hand,’ our Australian aborigines had made history of a kind—and were growing weary of the monotony of the ages!

F W Boreham, The Drums of Dawn (London: The Epworth Press, 1933), 104-105.

Image: “our native animals are all fitted out with pockets.”

Friday, October 26, 2007

Boreham on Back to Front Generosity

George Moore reveled in giving his money away.

Every New Year’s Day, as he started a new pocket book, he inscribed upon the flyleaf these lines:

“What I spent, I had;
What I saved, I lost;
What I gave, I have.”

F W Boreham, A Casket of Cameos, (London: The Epworth Press, 1924), 14.

Image: New Pocket Book (Diary)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Boreham on Accepting Pardon

In the year 1547, Gonzalo Pizarro found himself confronted by fearful alternatives. He had led the great rebellion in Peru. One can picture him sitting in a tent with two friends. One is the young Cepeda, the other the aged Carbajal. Before them lies a paper. It is an offer of Royal pardon. They have to decide, or at least Pizarro has to decide, whether that offer is to be accepted or refused.

The Spanish authorities had resolved that, if he accepted the pardon, Pizarro should be given the very power that he was seeking by rebellion, but that, if he refused, he should be subdued and hanged.

The old warrior, Carbajal, urged him to accept. The fiery young Cepeda declared for its refusal. A sceptre and a gallows were the only alternatives. Pizzaro listened to the advice of the younger man and refused the pardon. Pizarro and Carbajal went to the gallows, and Cepeda died in prison.

F W Boreham, The Whisper of God and other sermons (London: Arthur H Stockwell, 1902), 69.

Image: Gonzalo Pizarro

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Boreham on Honesty in Business

‘In the beginning—God!’ It is a good motto for a person who is just setting up in business.

When Lord Hopetoun—afterwards Lord Linlithgow—lived in Melbourne as the first Governor-General of Australia, he told us that he cherished with pride an old brass-bound leather-covered ledger. It is the book with which John Hope, the founder of his lordship's family, began business in High Street, Edinburgh, nearly three centuries ago. And, on the front page of his ledger, old John Hope had inscribed this prayer: O Lord, keep me and this book honest! And the fact that his remote descendants rose to be peers of the realm, one of them becoming the first Governor-General of this great Commonwealth and another a Governor-General of India, speaks for itself.

F W Boreham, Boulevards of Paradise (London: The Epworth Press, 1944), 72.

Image: Lord Hopetoun

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boreham on Disappointments

Hamilton Hume was the first of that gallant band of ‘overlanders’ of whose splendid exploits Australians are so justly proud. He it was who led the first pathfinders from Sydney to Melbourne.

In the course of that tedious and historic pilgrimage, there were two great and memorable moments, one of exultation and one of depression. The first was when Hume, on ahead of the party, suddenly stopped, waved his hat in boyish glee and came running back to announce to his comrades his discovery of the Murray [River].

The other was when, exhausted and famished, they sighted the mountains that we know as the Hume Range. The party was worn out, and begged to be allowed to give up and return. Hume pointed to a mountain ahead of them. ‘From that summit,’ he assured them, ‘we shall see the ocean, and shall go back and tell of our success!’ The mountain was climbed; ‘but when, after a desperate struggle, they reached the top, nothing met their eyes but miles and miles of ridges and gullies covered with trees’; they named it ‘Mount Disappointment’' and, to their everlasting credit, pressed on and safely reached their goal.

It is not the only episode of the kind that glorifies those early days. What shall we say of Burke, and Wills, and King as they stagger into the camp at Cooper's Creek, after their long trudge across the dusty heart of the continent, only to find the camp forsaken and death staring them in the face?

Many of us have never crossed the Hume Range; but we have clambered up Mount Disappointment for all that…

This is the beauty of Mount Disappointment. Those first ‘overlanders’ did not see the ocean, as they had hoped to do from its summit, but, as they afterwards discovered, they were on the right road. They were never so near to their destination as when they stood on its blunted peak. Mount Disappointment lay in their track and brought them nearer to their goal. That, I say, is the beauty of our disappointments….

And so Mount Disappointment is a wonderful place. In its modesty and self-depreciation it tricks us simple-minded pilgrims into the impression that we are on the wrong road. But it is all right. Hume, travelling by way of Mount Disappointment, found the ocean after all…The fact is that the painful climb up the stony slopes of Mount Disappointment is God's own wonderful way of bringing us into His Promised Land.

F W Boreham, ‘Mount Disappointment’, Mountains in the Mist (London: Charles H Kelly, 1914), 254-255, 261-264.

Image: “nothing met their eyes but miles and miles of ridges.”

Monday, October 22, 2007

Boreham on Loneliness

I shall never forget the day when, at the age of sixteen, I left home and found my way to the roar and rattle and din of London. I had never seen such crowds anywhere, jostling and pushing for every inch of pavement. And yet I remember standing that day in the heart of the world's metropolis, under the very shadow of St. Paul's, and shivering in the thick of the crowd at my own utter loneliness.

Amid the hops and the clover and orchards of my Kentish home, one could often shout to his heart's content, and never a soul would hear him. Yet that was a delicious and tranquil loneliness that one loved and revelled in, but the loneliness of that awful surging crowd seemed an intolerable thing.

F W Boreham, ‘A Canary at the Pole’ Mountains in the Mist (London: Charles H Kelly, 1914), 221-222.

Image: F W Boreham—“I shall never forget the day when, at the age of sixteen..”

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Boreham on The Lord's Prayer

I am grateful to Bill Merriweather for suggesting the posting of this excerpt on a passage that is so familiar—The Lord’s Prayer:

“It is a wonderful prayer, a masterpiece of spiritual architecture. It reaches from earth to heaven, and stretches away through the eternities. It seems to begin at a little child's bedside. Our Father—Father —FATHER! It gradually climbs up until it achieves its climax in a blaze of that glory that no man can approach unto: ‘For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory.’ And then, like a river plunging into the ocean, it loses itself in the infinities: ‘For ever and ever.’

Within the compass of the Lord's Prayer one seems to meet with people of all kinds, classes, and conditions. I stand within the hush that its solemnity inspires, and, all at once, I hear the sound of many voices.

I hear a Child talking to his Father, a Worshipper offering homage to some hallowed Name; a Patriot sighing for the expansion of a kingdom, an Optimist expressing his confidence that all the earth shall become subject to the heavenly will, a Mendicant craving bread, a Penitent imploring pardon, and a Pilgrim feeling himself to be on a perilous path, and crying for direction and deliverance.

For the beauty of it is that the Lord's Prayer is Everybody's Prayer. The Master Himself taught it to His disciples; it was theirs. In Tissot's exquisite painting, ‘The Lord's Prayer,’ we seem to have seen Him, with His fishermen grouped around Him, as He teaches them, sentence by sentence, the noble petitions. The prayer became their prayer, the prayer of warm-hearted Peter and of the beloved John; but it was not theirs alone. It is the prayer of the devout, but it is also the prayer of the depraved. It is the prayer of the man who deplores the rebellion of his own heart: ‘Our Father, Thy will be done! Thy Kingdom come!’ It is the prayer of the man who realizes that his soul is defiled with an indelible stain: ‘Forgive our trespasses!’ It is the prayer of the man who feels himself to be shuddering on the brink of a terrible abyss, the sinner who is afraid of becoming a bigger sinner still: ‘Deliver us from evil!’

It fits us all. It may be lisped by the little child at his mother's knee; it may be groaned by the criminal in the condemned cell. Within the sanctuary of the Lord's Prayer there is a place for each of us, a place that we each feel to be peculiarly our own. For the Lord's Prayer is Everybody's Prayer.

That was the discovery which so surprised and delighted Thomas Carlyle. He is over seventy, tortured by insomnia. But, writing to his old friend, Thomas Erskine of Linlathen, he tells of an experience that has greatly refreshed him:

“The other night, in my sleepless tossings about, which were growing more and more miserable, that brief and grand prayer came strangely into my mind with an altogether new emphasis, as if written up and shining for me against the black bosom of the night, where I read it word by word, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy will be done.’ It brought a sudden check to my fevered wanderings, a sudden softness of composure which was completely unexpected. I had never felt before how intensely the voice of man's soul that prayer is; the inmost aspiration of all that is highest and best in poor human nature.”

“The voice of man's soul! The inmost aspiration of our nature! Carlyle is right.

The first instinct of our physical nature is to reach out blind hands in search of an earthly mother; the first instinct of our spiritual nature is to reach out blind hands in search of a Heavenly Father: ‘Our Father, which art in heaven.”

F.W.Boreham, A Temple of Topaz (London: Epworth Press, 1928), 37-39

Image: The Lord’s Prayer by Tissot, 1899.