Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Friday, November 28, 2008

Boreham on Being Blessed

The blessed of the Beatitudes is suggestive of natural fruitfulness; it stands related to the roses round my lawn, to the corn in yonder valleys and to the autumnal harvest of the orchard. It has to do with joys that arise spontaneously and inevitably from certain fixed conditions.

It is the word Macaria, a name that was once given to the Island of Cyprus because that island was said to be so fertile as to be able to produce upon its own shores everything that its inhabitants could either require or desire. Such is the blessedness of the poor in spirit. The Kingdom of Heaven—the only true Macaria—is theirs; and, when they at last finish their long fight with self and sin, they shall inherit that happy land where all their chastened appetites shall be fully gratified and all their purified cravings be abundantly appeased.

Well may Sextus Rufus hint that Cyprus, the Isle of Macaria, famous for its fertility and wealth, presented a constant temptation to the Romans; they lusted to seize upon it and make so rich a prize their very own. The wonder is that the Kingdom of Heaven—the brighter, grander, fairer Macaria—does not entice all earth's knightliest spirits to venture along the lowly track that winds its way through the Valley of Humiliation in quest of such abounding and abiding felicity. Blessed are the lowly and the contrite, for the true Macaria shall be theirs!

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ It was the King of the Kingdom who said it; and, depend upon it, He knows the laws by which His happy subjects win their glorious victories and gain their glittering crowns.

F W Boreham, The Heavenly Octave (London: The Epworth Press, 1935), 23-24.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Blessed are the poor.”

Boreham on Believing, Loving, Obeying

When Samuel Rutherford was staying for a while at the house of James Guthrie, the maid was surprised at hearing a voice in his room. She had supposed he was alone. Moved by curiosity, she crept to his door. She then discovered that Rutherford was in prayer. He walked up and down the room, exclaiming,
‘O Lord, make me to believe in you!’ Then, after a pause, he moved to and fro again, crying,
‘O Lord, make me to love you!’ And, after a second rest, he rose again, praying, ‘O Lord, make me to keep all your commandments!’

Rutherford, … had grasped the spiritual significance of the divine order.
‘O Lord, make me to believe in you!’—the commandment that…includes all the commandments!
‘O Lord, make me to love you!’—for love, as Jesus told the rich young ruler, is the fulfillment of the whole law.
‘O Lord, make me to keep all your commandments!’ The person who learns the Ten Commandments … will see a shining path that runs from Mount Sinai right up to the Cross and on through the gates of pearl into the City of God.

F W Boreham, A Handful of Stars (London: The Epworth Press, 1922), 66-67.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Samuel Rutherford.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Boreham on Believing in People

The novelist Laurence Sterne was a member of an extraordinary family. They were incessantly on the move. They seem to have gone into a place; stayed there until a child had been born and a child buried; and then jogged on again. He would be a bold historian who would declare, with any approach to dogmatism, how many babies were born and buried in the course of these nomadic gipsyings. They seem to have lived for a year or so in all sorts of towns and villages, and, with pitiful monotony, we read of their regret at having to leave such-and-such a child sleeping in the churchyard. ‘My father's children,’ as Sterne himself observes, ‘were not made to last long.’ Lawrence himself, however, was one of the lucky ones.

At the age of ten, having survived the jaunts and jolts to which the wanderings of the family exposed him, he was ‘fixed’ in a school at Halifax, and was profoundly impressed by the conviction of his Yorkshire schoolmaster that he was destined to become a distinguished man.

… On one occasion the ceiling of the school room was being white-washed. The ladder was left against the wall. ‘One unlucky day,’ says Sterne, ‘I mounted that ladder, seized the brush, and wrote my name in large capital letters high up on the wall. For this offence the usher thrashed me severely. But the master was angry with him for doing so, and declared that the name on the wall should never be erased. For, he added, I was a boy of genius, and would one day become famous, and he should then look with pride on the letters on the schoolroom wall. These words made me forget the cruel blows that I had just received.’

The words did more. They implanted a glorious hope in the boy's breast: they inspired efforts that he would never otherwise have made: they account, in large measure, for his phenomenal success.

If the schoolmaster who welcomed the awkward little ten-year-old in 1723 lived, by any chance, until 1760, he must have felt that his handful of hopeseed had produced a most bounteous harvest. For, in 1760, Tristram Shandy took the country by storm. It was chaotic: it was incoherent: it was an audacious defiance of all the conventions: but it was irresistible. Its originality, its grotesque oddity, its rippling whimsicality set everybody chuckling.

Immediately after its publication, Sterne went up to London. He was the lion of the hour. His lodgings in Pall Mall were besieged from morning to night. ‘My rooms,’ he writes, ‘are filling every hour with great people of the first rank who vie with each other in heaping honors upon me.’ Never before had a literary venture elicited such homage. And when, a few months later, he crossed the Channel, a similar banquet of adulation awaited him in France.

F W Boreham, The Three Half-Moons (London: The Epworth Press, 1929), 89-91.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: ‘I mounted that ladder, seized the brush, and wrote my name in large capital letters high up on the wall.’

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Boreham on Befriending One’s Fears

I wish I could do for Cecil what a very eminent physician recently did for a young patient to whom he was called. It is Dr. H. E. Fosdick who tells the story. The boy's nerves were being frayed and lacerated by a terrible dream that came to him, night after night, with pitiless regularity. As soon as he dropped off to sleep he found himself confronted by a frightful tiger. At their wits' ends, his parents called in a specialist in child psychology. After thinking it over, the great man took the child on his knee.

‘See here, sonnie,’ he said, ‘they tell me that every night you meet a tiger. Now, really, he is a nice, kind, friendly tiger, and he wants you to like him, so, the next time you meet him, just put out your hand and say, "Hello, old chap!" and you will find that he will chum up to you and become a pet!'

That night, after a period of pleasant repose, the boy manifested all the symptoms of his former terror. He tossed about, ground his teeth, puckered his face, and broke into a violent perspiration. Then, all at once, we are told, his muscles relaxed. ‘He thrust a small hand out from under the bed-clothes and murmuring softly: ‘Hello, old chap!” his frightened breathing quietened into the perfect restfulness of natural sleep.’

He had discovered that the tiger, however terrible in aspect, was not necessarily hostile, after all!

F W Boreham, A Witch’s Brewing (London: The Epworth Press, 1932), 229.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “He is a nice, kind, friendly tiger…”

Boreham on Becoming Reconciled With Ones Lot

Life has a wonderful way of coaxing us into a frame of mind in which we not only become reconciled to our lot: we actually fall in love with it. No memory of my early days on this side of the world is more vivid than the recollection of a horrid terror, a cold paralyzing apprehension, that often made me start in the night. I, a young Englishman, loving every stick and stone in England, had come out to New Zealand. Suppose I were to die here! My bones to be buried in New Zealand soil! It was an appalling thought, and I broke into a clammy perspiration whenever it took possession of my mind!

Later on, another nightmare, just as dreadful, came to keep it company, and I was haunted by the two of them. I married: little children gladdened our home: and we were as happy as two people could be. But suppose, I would say to myself, suppose these children grow up to regard themselves as New Zealanders, totally destitute of the emotions that bring a tug at their parents' hearts and a tear to their parents' eyes at every mention of the dear Homeland! How those ugly thoughts tyrannized me, shadowing even the sunniest of our early days under the Southern Cross!

When, later on, we found ourselves once more in England, we made two startling discoveries: we discovered that England was even more lovely and more lovable than, in our most sentimental moments, we had pictured her. But we discovered, simultaneously, that our hearts insisted on turning wistfully back to the lands in which so many of our years had been spent. The visits home were, from first to last, a dream of unalloyed delight; we were overwhelmed and touched to tears by the most astonishing kindnesses and hospitalities, yet, in the midst of it all, we found that we had become citizens of the distant south. The wattle and the gum thrust their roots very deeply into one's heart in the course of the years. It is a way that life has, and a very wonderful way, of putting us on the happiest of terms with the place in which we are destined to live and with the work that we have been appointed to do.

F W Boreham, My Pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940), 137-138.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “The gum thrust their roots very deeply into one's heart in the course of the years.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Boreham on Becoming Alive

In his Priest of the Ideal Stephen Graham makes one of his characters rebuke another because of his failure to recognize the intrinsic splendour of life. ‘Why, man,’ he exclaims, ‘your opportunities are boundless! Your whole life should be a miracle! Instead of merely making a living, you can live! Instead of finding a calling, you can listen for the call! You are; but you have also to become! A wonderful world about you is beckoning you, enticing you to become!

To become! …. I am only in the making as yet.

F W Boreham, Home of the Echoes (London: The Epworth Press, 1921), 57.

Dr Geoff Pound

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Boreham on Being True to Yourself

John Constable’s name will always be held in honour on several grounds. His landscapes are admittedly incomparable. His cloud-effects and sky-effects have never been surpassed. The delicacy of his color-sense has been the admiration and the despair of all his disciples.

But the finest thing about him was his fidelity to his own ideal. He insisted on seeing every object through his own eyes and in depicting it as he himself saw it. As Sir Charles John Holmes says, ‘he hated painters who take their ideas from other painters instead of getting them direct from Nature’. It was the glory of Constable that he shattered, and shattered for ever, a particularly stubborn tradition. As the late E. V. Lucas said, ‘he brought the English people face to face with England—the delicious, fresh, rainy, blowy England that they could identify. Hitherto there had been landscape painters in abundance; but here was something else: here was weather!'

There is a famous story to the effect that Henry Fuseli, the historical painter, who, in Constable's time, was keeper of the Academy, was seen one day engrossed in the contemplation of one of Constable's paintings. It represented an English landscape in a drizzling rain. Lost to all the world, the old man became saturated in the spirit of the picture that he was so ardently admiring, and, to the astonishment of the onlookers, he suddenly put up his umbrella!

So triumphant a thing is truth! Let every person who is charged with the solemn responsibility of expressing his soul for the public good take notice! Let no painter paint in a certain way simply because he fancies that it is in that particular way that painters are expected to paint! Let no preacher preach in a certain way simply because he fancies that it is in that particular way that preachers are expected to preach!

I remember one evening standing at a street-corner listening to a chain of testimonies being given at an open-air meeting. They were all excellent; but—they were all exactly alike! I could see at once that each speaker was saying what he imagined that he was expected to say. Then there stepped into the ring a man whose lips were twitching with emotion: he said one or two things that sent a shudder down the spines of his hearers: but the force of his testimony was overwhelming. He had done, in his sphere, precisely what Constable did in his.

Let each painter, each preacher, each person whose duty it is to write a newspaper article or lead a Christian assembly to the Throne of Grace, realize that his view of God and of Humanity and of the Universe is essentially an individualistic view. He sees as nobody else sees. He must therefore paint or preach or pray or write as nobody else does. He must be himself: must see with his own eyes and utter that vision in the terms of his own personality. He must, as Rudyard Kipling would have said, paint the thing as he sees it for the God of things as they are. And, expressing his naked and transparent soul by means of his palette, his pulpit or his pen, he will find sooner or later—sooner rather than later—that truth, like wisdom, is justified of all her children.

F W Boreham, I Forgot To Say (London: The Epworth Press, 1939), 131-133.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “The delicacy of John Constable’s color-sense has been the admiration and the despair of all his disciples."