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An Autobiography

were very interesting, but much too deep for me. I sat out a lecture on the Higher
Mathematics, by Professor Henry Smith, to whom Professor Pearson gave me an
introduction, in hopes that I might visit Oxford; but he was going abroad, and I could not
go to Oxford if I knew nobody--especially alone. I went, however, to Carr's Lane Chapel,
where a humble friend had begged me to go, because there she had been converted, and
there the Rev. R. W. Dale happened to preach on "Where prayer was wont to be made."
He said that consecration was not due to a Bishop or to any ecclesiastical ceremony, but
to the devout prayers and praise of the faithful souls within it--that thousands over
Scotland and England, and others in America, Australia, and New Zealand, look back to
words which they had heard and praises and prayers in which they had joined as the
holiest times in their lives. I thought of my good Mrs. Ludlow, and thanked God for her.
When Mr. Cowan took me to the church in Essex place where he and his friend Wren
used to hear Mr. W. J. Fox, M.P. for Oldham, preach, a stranger, a young American, was
there. I found out afterwards be was Moncure Conway, and he gave us a most striking
discourse. There was going on in Birmingham at this time a controversy between the old
Unitarians and the new. In the Church of the Messiah the old ministers gave a series of
sermons on the absolute truth of the New Testament miracles. The Old Testament he was
quite willing to give up, but he pinned his faith on those wrought by Christ and His
apostles. Some of the congregation told me they had never thought of doubting them
before, but the more Mr. B. defended them as the bulwarks of Christianity, the more they
felt that our religion rested on other foundations. I saw a good deal of the industrial life of
Birmingham, and had a sight of the Black Country by day and by night. Joseph
Chamberlain was then a young man; I believe he was a Sunday school teacher. The
Unitarian Sunday Schools taught writing and arithmetic as well as reading. In the terrible
lack of national day schools many of the poor had no teaching at all but what was given
on Sundays, and no time on other days of the week to learn anything. I could not help
contrasting the provision made by the parish schools of Scotland out of the beggarly
funds or tithes given for church and schools out of the spoils of the Ancient Church by
the Lords of the Congregation. Education was not free, but it was cheap, and it was
general. Scotchmen made their way all over the world better than Englishmen mainly
because they were better educated. The Sunday school was not so much needed, and was
much later in establishing itself in Scotland. Good Hannah More taught girls to read the
Bible under a spreading tree in her garden because no church would give her a place to
teach in. "If girls were taught to read where would we get servants?" It was an early cry.