THE RELIGIOUS WORLD
THE FIRST BISHOP OF DUNEDIN.
The Rev. Dr Jehner, sometimes called Bishop Jenner, has just celebrated his golden wedding at Preston-oura-Wingham Vicarage, Kent, and received pleasing and übstantial recognition of his popularity with friends and parishioners. Some thirty years ago there was the intensest excitement in Anglican circles as to his resignation of the See of Dunedin almost before he entered on it, the General Synod holding that he was not properly elected. The bishop, a man of fine presence and a skilled musician, though he has been in episcopal orders for so long, has exercißed the functions of his office less than any other prelate. The «Church Review' of to-day (August 13) publishes an important letter from the Bishop of London (Dr Jackson) to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr Tait), dated May 30, 1874, which satisfactorily establishes the bishop's status. The letter, which has never before been published, gives the reasons of a committee, consisting of the Bishops of London, Winchester, and Lichfield, for determining that Bishop Jenner should be recognised as the first Bishop of Dunedin. The same paper published a verbatim report of a conversation on September 28, 1871, between Bishop Jenner and Bishop Wilberforce, as to what the bishops at Lambeth had said with regard to the matter.
The conversation began bv an inquiry on the part of Bishop Jenner: " I suppose that business of mine, when it came before you at Lambeth, did not take long to settle—Ave minutes at the outside ?" Bishop "Wilberforce: "On the contrary, we considered the matter most carefully, for we all felt how important it was." J.: " Well. I confess I could not feel satisfied with the decision, if decision it can be called." W.: "So 1 gathered from the letter you sent me. But what could we have done? You wished us to declare that you were iu the right and the New Zealand Church in the wrong, or vice versa. Suppose we had so decided—l mean in your favor —it would have been regarded as a challenge to the New Zealand bishops, who would certainly have sent an answer, to which we must have replied, and so an endless controversy would have arisen." ■I.: "I suppose that would have been so. Yet I could have wished for a more outspoken pronouncement ; nor do I believe it would have added to the difficulties of the case." W.: " Possibly you and others have failed to comprehend the import of the phraseology we employed." J.: ' I should be only too grateful for any explanation. W.: "Well, I can tell you all about in a very few words. The first draft of the resolution. I forget by what bishop proposed, had the words: We advise him, under the difficulties of the case, to resign his claim to tho bishopric.' On this I myself observed that a claim might be rightful or wrongful, and that something more definite was required. So I proposed the substitution of the words all right and title' for 'his claim'—an amendment which was unanimously accepted, as expressing the true state of the case; and, thus altered, the resolution was carried nem. con." J.: " Then you meant, I may assume, in advising me to resign all right and title to the See of Jmnedin, to express your opinion that I had such right and title?" W.: " Unquestionably. • How could we ask you to resign that which we did not believe you to possess?'' :.
J.:. Well, I hoped and trusted that such was your intention; but it is very satisfactory to have your assurance that you deliberately worded your resolution so as to recognise my title to the See." W.: "My dear fellow, you had as much right to your See as any of us have to ours ; and I am certain we all felt that."
J.: It is a huge comfort to hear you say so." W.: I still think that if you had -ignored the opposition, and taken possession of your diocese as if nothing had happened, you would soon have established yourself m your rightful position." /•: Possibly ; and that is just what the Bishop ot Cape Town said. But, remember, I should have had to fight all the New Zealand bishops and synods.
W.: Well, and you would have beaten tKeni, and I should have done so. Yet I can't blame you for choosing peace instead of war." J.: "My successor, Bishop Xevill, has come to England. In what light is he to be regarded ? If my view of the situation is correct, and you English bishops havt: confirmed it, his position is an extremely awkward one, for he \v»9 consecrated before my resignation." W.: "I was not aware of that. It was very wrong if it was so. They ought unquestionably to have waited until the See was void." J.: " And since they did not, Bishop Nevill's consecration was a schismatical proceeding ?" c uw' * s \ oul<i not Hke to say as much as that, buch things have happened in the church before now, and have been condoned. Factum valet, you see, licet fieri non debuisset. If I were you, I should condone this irregularity." J. :" Certainly I would, if it rested with me; though I cannot help feeling that the consecration was intended to be a deliberate aggression on my rights, or rather a denial that I had any rights. But then comes the question Who is to go down to posterity as the first Bishop of Dunedin ?' W.: " Why, you, of course. Nevill is your successor. J.: "So I contend. But the New Zealand bishops and synods ignore me altogether. They say I never was Bishop of Dunedin." W.: " Oh, that is simply ridiculous. They will never be able to maintain such a position." J.: "They will try. But what I wish you and the other bishops to understand is that although J have not the slightest objection to Nevill's being received and recognised a3 Bishop of Dunedin, I never can allow that he is so, except in succession to myself, and I do trust you will all support me in this. The fact is Nevill is not so much to be blamed as pitied. The blame belongs to those who have placed him in his false position, I consider the present Primate the chief culprit." W.: By-the-bye, what was the reason of his behaviour towards you? I never could make it out.
J,: "There was more than one motive. But you oan trace throughout the dogged obstinacy of one of the weakest of men." W.: " Yes, he is weak enough, and always was, as I have reason to know, for he was in my diocese before he went to New Zealand." , J - : "^ &t . do y ou tnink of his inhibiting me from officiating in my own diocese directly I arrived out?" . _ W.: " You don't mean to say that 1 Thi3 is the first I have heard of it. It was perfectly monstrous. What did you do ?" J.: "Oh! I simply obeyed, and during three months out of the four that I remained in the colony I never once ministered in public." W.: "There I think you wore wrong. I should most certainly have resisted such outrageous tyranny." J.: ' Yes, I can see now that that is what I ought to have done, and I have no doubt I made other false steps. But, you see, I had no one to advise me, and as I had on almost every occasion to act on the spur of the moment it was no wonder I made mistakes now and then." W.: " Well, there can be no doubt that you have been shamefully, infamously, iniquitously dealt with. As far as I can see, the matter has been mismanaged from the beginning, and you have been made the victim."
The Bishop of London (Dr Jackson), writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr Tait) on May 30, 1874, said : The Bishops of Winchester (Dr Wilberforce) aud Lichfield (Dr Selwyn) and myself, who were appointed at a meeting of bishops held at Lambeth in February, 1873, to consider a draft answer to the Bishop of Christchurch on the matter of Bishop Jenner, have had before us the various documents relating to the whole transaction, and beg to submit it to your Grace's judgment as an opinion that a reply should be returned- to the Primate of New Zealand in the tenor following ■ "Seeing that Dr Jenner was selected by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr Longley), with the consent of the Crown, to be Bishop of Dunedin; that he was recognised, as appears by the letter before us, as Bishop of Dunedin both by the Bishop of Christchurch and by the Ruridecanal Board of Otago ; that he made to the Archbishop of Canterbury the declaration required by tho Synod; that that declaration was received without remonstrance or objection by tho Standing Committee of the General Synod ; that an endowment fund to the amount of nearly £1,300 was raised in his name and for his use as Bishop of Dunedin iu the colony itself, and that the interest of the endowment fund was paid to Bishop Jenner from the day of his consecration to the time of his resignation of the See of Dunedin; the bishops of the Church of England do not see how they, can, consistently with the facts of the case, refuse to recognise Bishop Jenner as the first Bishop of Dunedin. "I return herewith the papers relating to the case, and remain, your Grace's faithful servant and brother in the Lord, "His Grace the Lord Archbishop' of Canterbury." It may be interesting to mention that last year Bishop Jenner sent a grandson to work in connection with the New Zealand province—the Rev. W. H. Edgell, ordained deacon at Norfolk Island last March by Bishop Wilson, of Melanesia, and now working under him among the islands.
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THE RELIGIOUS WORLD, Evening Star, Issue 10429, 25 September 1897, Supplement