ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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{The Wandering Jew 1893}

 

“Is Christianity Played Out?” - The Wandering Jew Controversy - 6

 

Additional Material

The following items are not included in the collection from the Liverpool Record Office, but as they relate to the ‘Wandering Jew’ controversy I have placed them here.

 

The Era (21 January, 1893 - p.10)

     MR ROBERT BUCHANAN has always had the courage of his opinions. It is not so long since he succeeded in “drawing” the venerable philosopher—or, should we say, “belles-lettrist?”—Professor Huxley. They encountered in the columns of the Telegraph. The subject was Socialism, and one is bound to say that the Bard did not come off second-best. And now, in the Daily Chronicle, Mr Buchanan follows up his “Wandering Jew” by a series of letters under the startling heading, “Is Christianity Played Out/” On this occasion, however, our poet is hardly likely to have Professor Huxley for an opponent, and Mr Le Gallienne proves but a poor understudy for that belligerent man of science.

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Edinburgh Evening News (23 January, 1893 - p.3)

     From what I hear it appears probable that ninety per cent. of the sermons delivered in London yesterday referred to the furious fusillade that has been going on during the last few days in a London morning paper on the subject of “Is Christianity played out?” It is needless to say that the clericals bludgeoned the chief of the newspaper combatants, Mr Robert Buchanan, and perhaps he deserves it, while his opponent, Mr Le Gallienne, the clever young poet, was invariably described as crude in his views. That is the worst of being young and clever; you must be crude, or how can you be young and clever? The real truth is the clericals don’t admit Mr Le Gallienne’s claim that the socialism of to-day is merely Christianity up to date. But Mr Buchanan should stick to his melodrama.

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Northern Daily Mail (25 January, 1893 - p.2)

Robert Buchanan’s Little Kick.

A not too edifying controversy has been raging in one of the London dailies for some time on Mr Robert Buchanan’s little kick against Christianity. The question this omniscient sage asks a wondering world is whether Christianity is “played out.” He has written a poem, as many another man of limited vision has done—Shelley was arraigned for writing one—to prove that “there is no God.” Mr Buchanan hardly puts it so strongly as Shelley did, but that is practically what he means. Needless to say he has brought a hornet’s nest upon his head and shocked a great many people who were prepared, at a slight discount, to accept him pretty much at his own estimation. The unkindest cut that Mr Buchanan has received is a poetical satire, published the other evening, from perhaps his most caustic opponent, Mr Richard Le Gallienne. Mr Le Gallienne describes a tiny animalcule, who rose up and cried “There is no Man, and thumped the table with his fist, then died—his day was scarce a span—that microscopic Atheist.”

And so but yesterday I heard
     A man cry out, “There is no God!”
And as he spake the silly word,
     I saw the mighty Master nod.

Thereat, new-born, a million spheres
     Sprang up like daisies in the sod;
But still to ani-man-cule ears
     The ani-man-cule cried, “No God!”

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The Independent (26 January, 1893 - p.67)

Marginal Notes.
_____

THE WANDERING GENTILE.

THERE has been some bashful talk about the new era when every author will be his own critic. But so far such luck has not happened to all authors, though some have not come far short of such literary felicity through the amenities of a little generous log-rolling. Mr. Robert Buchanan, however, is the portentous harbinger of the new era. He has always been what the Americans call “a little previous,” and now under his own name and style he boldly gives us an appreciation of the “Wandering Jew,” in the columns of the Daily Chronicle. He tells us that the “pathetic image” he has given us of Christ is one that men “can never forget.” In a later letter he gives us some elegant extracts with accompanying elucidations.

_____

     ALL this is charmingly unconventional, and indeed the personality of the writer is quite as attractive as his rhetoric. By birth and early training, I believe, he is an unimpeachable Cockney, and by descent a Celt, half Welsh and half Scotch, as his name, Robert Williams Buchanan, implies. He represents all the restlessness and whimsicality of the Celtic genius. He is the “Thomas Maitland” of the “Fleshly School of Poetry,” the “Caliban” of the Spectator lampoons, the author also of “The Coming Terror” (some profanely held that, as the original title had it, he was himself the Coming Terror), and now a Wandering Gentile, as he is, he has written the “Wandering Jew,” as furious a piece of wrongheadedness as anything he has published. He essays to set forth and criticise the teaching of Jesus; but he has not qualified himself to read even the preface to the Book of Life. He can do some things supremely well. He has written one of the best ballads in existence, “The Wedding of Shon McLean.” It fitted his genius like a glove fits a hand. But his heart must be circumcised before he can read the Gospel of John and understand Christ.

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     ANY book that attacks the character of Jesus Christ has an assured vogue. Mr. Buchanan would say that his book does not attack Christ, but only the phantom Christ that men have created. Still, even with the aid of the author’s own Commentary, his portrait is a belittling of the great figure of the Saviour of men. He is morally irreproachable, but intellectually a mere dreamer; He was an anarchist, an optimist, and all the rest. Mr. Buchanan will require to write a great many more books to succeed in persuading us that this is praising the Christ in whom we have found life and light and peace. But his attack on Christ will sell the book, and give fresh notoriety to the name of the author. He has touched the most interesting character in history. He has pictured Him as “One with reverend silver beard and hair snow-white and sorrowful.” In his vision, He

“Loom’d like a comer from a far countrie
In ragged antique raiment, and around
His waist a rotting rope was loosely bound,
And in one feeble hand a lanthorn quaint
Hung lax and trembling, and the light was faint
Within it unto dying.”

But the facts are all the other way. The young manhood of Christ is stamped upon the Gospels—the teaching of Christ is buoyant with the aspirations of eternal youth. Mr. Buchanan sees and regrets that the heart of the world is still turning towards “this Jew.”

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     “LET us be explicit,” said Mr. Buchanan, the other day, in the columns of the Chronicle; but he forgot that a man cannot be explicit when he is writing about that which lies beyond his comprehension. For I assume that where the poet is guilty of contradiction he is simply not explicit; that, in fact, he always intends to be consistent, but that his logic limps through want of explication. Thus he scorns the renunciations of Christianity; how far they are part of the real teaching of Jesus is not clear, they have cast a sombre, joyless shadow across the innocent joys of the old pagan world. But he says he also admires Christian renunciation as exemplified in the world-famed case of Father Damien, and all those “who are devoting themselves to charitable work among the poor, ministering tenderly to the wants of their suffering brethren.” And with all his observation it has not occurred to him that only that “secularism” which is born of the Gospel produces such devoted men and women. In the district of the East End where Mansfield House stands there were formerly secularists, pure and simple. But their creed withered before the teaching of Jesus. When men discovered that Christianity meant brotherhood they flocked to its standard.

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     IT is evident that the “Wandering Jew” contains some colossal misreadings of the Gospel and of Christianity. It is evident that the author blames the doctrine for the death of the early martyrs. Because they refused to blaspheme the name of Christ as Mr. Buchanan does, because their lowly virtues made more scandalous the vices of their time, they were themselves to blame that the pagan populace of Rome hounded them to death with the cry “Ad leones.” It is the fault of Christ and Christianity that in our own day the simple, pure-living Stundists of Russia are sent to the horrors of Siberian exile. If instead of being loyal to “this Jew” they jigged away their lives merrily to the piping of the god Pan, they might live in peace under their own vine and their figtree. Loyalty to Christianity and Christ is the reason why they suffer; the ecclesiastics of the Greek Church, the Czar and minister Pobedionostseff are all innocent. Ecrasez l’infame! That kind of logic may suit the meridian of the Adelphi stage, but it is ill-suited for the discussion of the gravest theological issue in the world.

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     Of course there is an element of truth in the poem, perhaps we shall agree in saying a very important element. There is a long story of the papal caricature of Christianity which is enough to make anyone sick at heart, Christian or unbeliever. It is to me a very important evidence of the divine character of the truth of the Gospel that it has survived the dark reign of the priests, the scandals and lecheries of the Middle Ages, the rule of Pope Borgia (to mention no other), the Inquisition, the massacre of the Huguenots, and every State-church has a similar, if less fearful, story to place to its account. We have no interest in offering one syllable of defence for deeds like these. If he can bring the blush of shame to the cheeks of the priests his book will not have been written all in vain.

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     SURVEYING the book as a whole, and without criticising its literary aspects, which will, no doubt, be dealt with by some competent hand in these columns, one is astonished at any man entering the arena of Christian polemics in such a hurly-burly fashion. It is tumultuary, almost rowdy, in its headlong, screaming rush. One can hear the skirl of the bagpipes of Shon McLean right through it all. But all this beating of the big drum will not hinder the advent of that Kingdom which cometh not with observation. It has survived Popes Formosus, Sergius III., John XII., and Alexander VI., infamous as they were. It is a little matter that it should survive the confusion of Mr. Buchanan’s thought. It will live because of the Living Christ, and the pure and beautiful lives He inspires.
                                                                                                                                       CROSS-BENCHER.

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Religious Bits (28 January, 1893 - p.48-49)

Modern Divines

The first of a series of sermons on
“IS CHRISTIANITY PLAYED OUT?”
Preached at St. James’s Hall, London, January 22nd, 1893, by the
REV. HUGH PRICE HUGHES, M.A.
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(Reported for RELIGIOUS BITS.)
_____

     “He answered him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.” —Mark ix. 19.

     In the Wandering Jew—which has been the subject of an interesting discussion in the Daily Chronicle, Mr. Robert Buchanan represents himself as wandering through the streets of London—in the silent, snow-covered streets, on the night that precedes Christmas. In his wandering, he meets a very aged and a very wearied man, who proves to be the Wandering Jew, and the Wandering Jew proves to be, not Ahasuerus of the well-known legend, but Jesus Christ who, according to this poem, is condemned to endless and agonising wandering because God is disappointed in Him, and has turned a deaf ear to his prayers.
     Then the spirit of man, attended by Death, sits in judgment on Christ and charges him with having destroyed its old Home feeling and passion of life, and with having taken away the comfort of death, which man, under his influence, is no longer able to regard as the end of pain and misery. It is thus, the accuser speaks:—

“This Jew hath made the earth, that once was glad,
A lazar-house.”

     Then the long stream of witnesses appear, of every age, who have been victims of so-called Christian zeal, all the martyrs of truth who have been burnt, torn asunder, and otherwise done to death—all the Jews, all the Mohammedans, all the Buddhists, who have been slain in the name of Christ, all the ancient inhabitants of Mexico, and Peru, who have been butchered.
     When the fearful impeachment is over, Christ is represented as speaking and admitting that he is utterly disappointed, that they have rejected the life he offered them. He is represented as using these words:

“Woe to ye all; and endless woe to me,
Who deemed that I could save humanity.
I laboured and I laboured, last and first,
Within a barren vineyard God hath curst.”

     Then on the failure and the sorrow it involves the judgment dooms him to wander through the universe.
     You will observe from this brief outline the poem contains a two-fold attack, first, on Christ for exciting false hopes and endless strife, and, secondly, on the Eternal Father for allowing this world to be full of pain.
     It is impossible of course for us to say how far this double impeachment expresses Mr. Buchanan’s own view. Let me say that I think it would do all of you immense and endless good to read, ponder, and remember the facts of history and ecclesiastical Christianity which thus appear. It is well to see ourselves as others see us. It is well that we Christians should know how Christianity appears to outsiders. And no one who has ever grasped the horrid facts to which such vivid expression is given in this poem can be surprised at the violent hatred of Christianity exhibited by atheists at the way in which so-called Christians have treated the pure and noble Hypatia, the well-meaning Bruno, the truth-loving Servetus, the illustrious Galileo. And I am sorry to say we Christians have an interest in piously confessing these horrid facts, that we ourselves may beware of following in the same way. For the wickedness of ecclesiastical Christianity is not yet exhausted. The most hideous exhibitions of it have taken place within the life of you who are listening to me now. Mr. George Jacob Holyoake was in prison for many months because they imagined he was an atheist. I have the honour of knowing that venerable man, who is one of the most honourable of men, and exhibits some of the purest Christian  virtues. What was it that first of all alienated him from orthodox Christianity? His mother was a devout dissenter, and a very holy woman. She took him in his youth to hear one of the saintly ministers of the time, and he heard it said that there were little children in hell. And this so disgusted Mr. Holyoake that he was turned aside from Christianity altogether.
     And at this moment there is not a little that is utterly discreditable to Christianity—if Christianity is responsible for it. The Contagious Diseases Act—yes, but when Josephine Butler started at that scarcely anybody appreciated her. I myself was regarded as a sort of leper when I first associated with the noblest woman of her age. And at this very moment our degraded Government in India makes deliberate provision for the lusts of the flesh of the soldiers, and provide harlots for them. I say if this is Christianity, it is the falsest thing.
     And, again, we actually maintain the Opium Trade with China, and Lord Kimberley says we cannot afford to give it up. Just think of that. The richest nation in the world cannot afford to give up making revenue out of the damnation of men.
     Take again the question of the Liquor Traffic, as it is found at the corner of every street in London.
     These are the cases that cause the name of Christ to be cast out as vile. What shall I say, too, of the astonishing manner in which ministers of religion justify and even encourage war. These things excite many of the noblest of mankind to turn from ecclesiastical Christianity. And I say that nothing better can be done than that Mr. Buchanan should rub these facts well into our ecclesiastical skin. I freely admit that all through the centuries the name of Christ has been identified with every kind of devilry.
     But now—having admitted all that in the strongest terms—let me say that Jesus Christ is no more responsible for all that than Mr. Buchanan himself. In the height of the French Revolution Madame Roland exclaimed: “Oh, Liberty, what crimes are perpetrated in thy name!” “Oh, Christ, what horrible crimes are done in Thy name!”—in Thy name, but never with Thy authority! Jesus Christ is responsible only for His own life and His own creed. When did Jesus Christ utter a single word that under any circumstances could justify any of these infamies?
     Let us never forget that nothing in this terrible poem need give the Christian the least concern, because it does not touch the name of Christianity. The Church is not Christianity. Christians believe in the Christ who always said Believe in Me, Come to Me, Obey Me. My opinions of these things are not affected in the least degree by the inconsistencies of those who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ. Paul said, “We know Him in whom we have believed.” And even if the irresistible ecclesiastical history of Christianity leads us to turn away from everything else, and from everybody else, we are to find our only hope in the face of Jesus Christ. The strange course of events in this poem was foreseen by Jesus Christ and that the most deadly acts would be inflicted by so-called Christian hands.
     Let me point out that Mr. Buchanan has grossly exaggerated the extent of ecclesiastical apostacy. It is significant that he devotes 70 pages to fierce description, but to the record of the blissful deeds of Jesus Christ six pages. Only four witnesses does he allow to appear on behalf of Jesus Christ. Not one of that vast number which no man can number, more numerous than the stars of heaven, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Never was there a more unjust trial. The judge is called the spirit of man; his real name is Jeffries of the Bloody Assizes. I do not say that this represents Mr. Buchanan’s idea of justice.
     We have a picture of the social condition that was destroyed by Christianity. That is utterly false—as utterly false as it would be if I told you that every man in Whitechapel was living in a marble palace, and ate his dinner out of a golden plate. Life in Greece and Italy when Christ came, was foul and filthy, diseased and miserable, beyond description. So says Matthew Arnold with his exact knowledge; so says Tacitus, the historian of that period. Let any one read Juvenal, the satirical poet of that time. If you cannot read Latin read Archdeacon Farrar’s Seekers after God, or Darkness and Dawn; or, as the highest authority, the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. When Christ came, earth was on the very verge of hell.
     Mr. Buchanan grossly under-estimates what Christianity has done. Men are immeasurably better because Christ was born in Bethlehem. But perhaps we shall best realise the truth by dividing the human race into men, women, and children.
     Men are everything to Christ. When Christ came man as man was nothing. Rank, caste, privilege, were everything. The working-man was everywhere a slave. Democracy—it was the creation of Jesus Christ. But think, you say, of the Republic of Athens! Ha!—ha!—ha! It is really very amusing. A Republic in Athens?—I admit it. Let us look at it. A Republic in which three-fourths of the citizens were private property. Their greatest philosopher argues at length for slavery as the corner-stone of civilisation in order that a small number of—Republicans! may have a better opportunity of admiring beautiful statuary, of hearing beautiful poems, and of uttering eloquent orations on behalf of freedom. That is a republic before the Carpenter of Nazareth taught something better. W. Lloyd Garrison was moved by the spirit of Christ. The political economist thinks it does not pay to have slaves, but he did not think it at all till all the slaves were freed.
     We come now to woman. When Christ came they were despised, slaves and chattels. Divorce was universal. Husbands had the legal right to sell or kill their wives.
     Lastly, children as children, owe everything to Jesus Christ. Before Christ came, in civilized countries children were murdered wholesale. Now Christianity has produced Benjamin Waugh and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. For the first time in human history all the law of the land is used to defend helpless children against the cruelty of their parents.

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The Leeds Times (28 January, 1893 - p.4)

THE TATLER
ON
“THE WANDERING JEW.”
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     Is Christ a failure? The question is a startling one. It is one a man is not accustomed to put to himself? To very few, indeed, will it suggest itself. We do not ask, when we see a rose in bloom, whether its fragrance is sweet; nor, when the golden corn is falling beneath the sickle, whether it is ripe. Such questions would be superfluous. If, when the rose is in bloom, its breath is not sweet, it is surely sweet at no other time. And if the corn is not ripe when the sickle cuts it down it is surely ripe at no other time. So we argue. The fragrance is there because the rose is there; the sickle would not be in motion were the corn not ripe.
     So, when one is asked the question, “Is Christ a failure?” one is inclined to postulate that the questioner is either a blind man or a fool. But Mr. Robert Buchanan, in a recently published poem, “The Wandering Jew” asks it. He does more. He both asks and answers it. His Muse pictures Christ as “The Wandering Jew,” for ever wandering through the world complaining that He is disappointed, that His mission is a failure, and that God does nothing to purge the world of its misery. Christ stands arraigned before the Spirit of Man and the Spirit of Death. All the martyrs who have perished before the blood-red sword of Christianity—Jews, Mahommedans, and Bhuddists—accuse Him of turning the world into a lazar house, banishing peace, and denying even to man the comfort of death—no longer the cessation of life, but the entrance into another kingdom. And Christ, standing face to face with this clamorous throng, admits that He had too much faith in humankind, that He did not make sufficient allowance for the imperfections of human nature, and that He has been unable to fulfil his promises to man. Mr. Buchanan, in fact, accuses Christ of exciting false hopes and raising strife. And he attacks God, all powerful and all wise, because, adored and worshipped as the Beneficent, He does not stem the tide of suffering and sorrow in the world. In fine, Mr. Buchanan complains that the kingdom of God on earth is yet afar off. It was promised eighteen hundred years ago. And the flush of its dawn has not tinted the hill tops yet.
     Poetry has its license. But this is license run mad. Somebody has well stated that Mr. Buchanan is a man who goes through the world raving because God has not made him a genius. But even in his most pitiable moments of hysteria he has never, until now, so lost his sense of the fitness of things as to scramble into the judgment seat of Almighty God, and lecture, with the whole universe of worlds as his audience, on “The Mistaken Ideas of the Creator.” Had he been a greater man, he would have written with greater modesty and better wisdom. God’s law may not be Mr. Buchanan’s, but then Mr. Buchanan is not God. It is a common fallacy of the School of the Superior Person, in discussing problems touching both the world of spirit and that of matter, to suppose a proposition stated to be a proposition proved. To assert, as Mr. Buchanan does, that Christ makes it a grievance against God because He has refused to save the world from its misery, is not to prove that God ever has refused, or that he does refuse. What if it should be replied that man refuses to be saved from his misery? What if the sorrow and suffering and strife in the world are the inevitable consequence of rebellion against spiritual law? What if it should be answered that, just as the performance of every physical function is to be placed upon the plane of moral obligation, so the exercise of the spiritual functions, latent, as I believe, in every man, is to be placed upon the plane of obligation to God? And if the argument be further driven home—that if man will not perform his obligation to God—if he opposes his will against that of his Maker—if he neglects or refuses to exercise those spiritual functions of his—he must and ought to suffer the consequences of his acts—on what sort of ground does Mr. Buchanan stand then? If God were to dry up the world’s tears and blot out the world’s misery to-morrow, the miracle would require performing the day after. Where there is even a limited free agency there will be suffering and sorrow, sin and evil. In a world of Godly men these things would be incongruous, out of place, dissonant. Its peoples would have been born again, where previously they were dead in life. They would have entered into the spiritual sphere, and become citizens of the kingdom of the Father.
     But Mr. Buchanan ventures further. Because earth is not “cram’d with heaven,” nor “every bush afire with God,” Christ, forsooth, is a failure, and Christianity “played out.” I will grant our poet this: Much of professing Christianity stinks to heaven with hypocrisies and cant. Peter still worships Christ as one of His disciples, but denies him in the mart—with his heart as with his lips. Judas still jingles the pieces of silver. The Cross is still standing on Golgotha, and the executioners are ready. Round the Cross indecent crowds are waiting to cast lots for His vesture. The worship of Christ has grown into the worship of symbols, priests, and clerical millinery. Priestcraft is often a profession to be practised for a salary. The world, in fine, is scorning, deriding, rejecting, and crucifying its Christ every day. But even so. Does this make Christ a failure, or ought it to be accepted as evidence that Christianity is played out? Surely not.
     What Mr. Buchanan really proves, where he proves anything at all, is, not that Christ and Christianity are a failure, but that the absence of Christ and Christianity, or, if you will, the mere profession of them, is a failure. The love of Christ and His teaching have inspired many noble and beautiful lives. There is that in Christianity which would establish the kingdom of God upon earth if men would only practise it instead of merely profess it—if they would be Christians as well as seem Christians. Let men take as their rule of conduct in the world the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, and Christianity is no failure. It is not a failure, because the world has not tried it.
     Nearly 1900 years, and Christianity has not dawned for us yet. Not all the oppression and cruelty practised in its name prove that it is a failure. A religion is not to be judged by its professors as such. It is to be accepted for its ideals. It is not necessarily a matter of church, or chapel, or meeting-house, or temple. It is a matter of conscience. Did Christianity prove itself a failure, to quote a very modern instance, when it inspired Damian to a life and a death among lepers? And among real Christians there have been and are many Damians. When Mr. Buchanan speaks of eighteen hundred years of Christianity, this is his way of stating the historical commonplace that it is eighteen hundred years since Christ voiced his message to men. We build churches to a name. But it is idle to talk of eighteen hundred years of Christianity, when now and here man has adopted only an infinitesimal and ungrudging fraction of the teaching of Christ. The nations still seek the arbitrament of the sword. But Christ was a man of peace. War was no part of the ethics of Jesus. It has no place in the Christianity preached by Christ.
     The fact that the kingdom of God upon earth is yet afar off is another demonstration of this argument. That kingdom manifestly can only come when man is ready for it. That man is not ready for it is not due to the failure of Christianity. Where Christianity has been real its “success” has always been writ large in the lives of men. As Christ is the highest ideal, so to be a real Christian is to attain the highest ideal. And to say that an ideal is a failure is a misuse of terms.

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The Bedfordshire Times and Independent (28 January, 1893 - p.6)

     The Daily Chronicle has for a week or more been publishing two or three columns daily of letters called forth by Mr. Robert Buchanan’s new poem entitled “The Wandering Jew.” This poem represents Jesus as wandering about the earth mourning over the utter failure of his work. The controversy in the Daily Chronicle has been headed “Is Christianity Played out?” Men—known and unknown—of all creeds and no creed have taken part in the controversy, which is specially interesting as an evidence of the extent of the breaking-up of the old beliefs which marks the age. What are perhaps some of the most vital questions of the day are,—How many of the frequenters of places of worship have already given up their belief in what used to be considered the fundamentals of Christianity? And if they have given up their belief, why do they still conform? If a man believes let him say so; if he does not believe, also let him say so. Scarcely any greater calamity can happen to a people than that of general public insincerity.

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The Echo (30 January, 1893)

MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN AND HIS ASSAILANTS.

     SIR,—Mr. Robert Buchanan has been made the object of opprobrium in the discussion which has been taking place on his last published poem, “The Wandering Jew”; but if, in the eyes of those who assert that we are a highly Christianised community, he has sinned in maintaining that divine precepts do not find favour with the world, or influence its conduct in any great degree, he has at least sinned in good company. Arthur Hugh Clough was a man of undoubted and genuine piety; a man who won the affection of all who knew him during his life, and who still is, as the representative poet of his University, beloved of many a highly orthodox Oxford parson. Yet he was guilty of paraphrasing the Ten Commandments in the following bitter satire on the spirit in which they are commonly received:—

THE LATEST DECALOGUE.

Thou shalt have one God only; who
Would be at the expense of two?
No graven images may be
Worshipped, except the currency.
Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
Thine enemy is none the worse:
At Church on Sunday to attend
Will serve to keep the world thy friend;
Honour thy parents; that is, all
From whom advancement may befall:
Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive
Officiously to keep alive;
Do not adultery commit,
Advantage rarely comes of it.
Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
When it’s so lucrative to cheat.
Bear not false witness, let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly.
Thou shalt not covet, but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.

—Yours, &c.,                                                                                                                               W. C. J.
     Jan. 27.

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The Leeds Mercury (31 January, 1893 - p.5)

     Mr. Robert Buchanan’s cheaply original book, “The Wandering Jew,” is occasioning a discussion in which frequent reference is made to the author’s Scottish nationality. Mr. Buchanan’s nationality is of no great import; but if it is to be mentioned at all, it should be mentioned correctly. By blood he is half Scottish and half Welsh, and by birth and upbringing he is wholly English. What his nationality is cannot therefore be easily said. The belief that he is a Scotsman is based upon the facts that he bears a Scottish surname and that he spent a session or two at the University of Glasgow. But this does not mean that the belief is based upon anything very substantial.

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The Dundee Evening Telegraph (1 February, 1893 - p.3)

THE CHURCH AND THE STAGE.

     Mr Robert Buchanan, writing in The Morning on the Church and stage, says:—It is a case of two rival shows. The astrologer who tells fortunes and casts horoscopes is angry to see crowds flocking to the booth where Mr Merryman proclaims that the play is “Just going to begin.” It is the boast of many clergymen that they “Know nothing, thank God,” about the theatre. A few with whom I am privileged to be acquainted do know something about it, and heartily approve its best manifestations. But the mass of churchmen execrate the stage because it furnishes better entertainment than they themselves are able to supply. And how can they visit the theatre? how can they enjoy the drama of life with the old gnome of superstition still riding on their backs? It is not the business of the stage to conciliate the Church in any way, but it is the business of the Church, or it soon will be its business, to apologise to the stage for its persecutions, its misrepresentations, its cowardly and unchristian antagonism. Jesus of Nazareth, whose name has been taken in vain so long, loved life in all its fulness, in all its happiness. If He were alive now He might possibly give His blessing to the Church, but I am certain He would give it to the Theatre.

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Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle (4 February, 1893)

IS CHRISTIANITY PLAYED OUT?”
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SERMONS AT PORTSMOUTH.

     The debate of the important question “Is Christianity Played Out?” passes from the Press to the pulpit, and three sermons were delivered upon it in Portsmouth on Sunday evening.

A VOICE FOR THE AFFIRMATIVE.

     At St. Paul’s Church, Southsea, the Vicar (the Rev. W. H. Donovan) preached on the question, basing his discourse on Acts xv., 14th and following verses. Personally, he said, he had very little confidence in a discussion of the kind that had been raging in the Daily Chronicle, but Mr. Buchanan had said that Christ’s mission had failed. Well, his Bible told him that, as a system, Christianity was very nearly played out. God had introduced different dispensations—a dispensation was God’s method of revealing himself to man. There had been six of these dispensations—those under Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Judaism, and Christ. Adam and Eve were “played out” of Eden, Noah was a failure, so was Abraham, so was Moses, and so was Judaism. Now, was Christianity “played out”? Yes, very nearly. Each of the successive dispensations that preceded it had failed, and so would Christianity. But God would introduce a dispensation which would make the coming age have all the features of social life and so on which modern visionists were calling for at the present time; and then the Millennium or Golden Age would also be played out, and then would come the end of the world. All these dealings of God with man began with mercy and ended in wrath. By all these distinct tests it would be proven that no possible circumstances could give man the power of recovering himself from sin, that he must either cry out for the help of the Lord or perish from His presence forever. It had been asked what Christianity had done. He gave the answer of the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes. That answer was a partially representative answer, and Mr. Hughes might have drawn up a long list of hospitals and charities and missionary societies, but there still remained the fact that there were hundreds of millions of people who had never heard the name of Jesus Christ, and many more who were only nominal Christians; hundreds were born in other faiths to every one converted to Christianity; hundreds of millions of pounds were spent every year in drink, and only five millions were raised for missionary purposes. Sceptics said “Look at the state of London, look even at the state of Portsmouth in some of the back streets.” Yes, but did God intend the conversion and redemption of the world by Christianity? God was certainly working out His own plans in regard to this chaos of evil, and there was no such word as failure in Heaven’s dictionary. Man was the huge failure. Christianity was very nearly played out because man had rejected it. But God would not fail, and man—who was to be saved—could not work out his own salvation.

NOT CHRISTIANITY, BUT DOGMAS.

     At Christ Church (Congregational), Kent-road, Southsea, the Rev. John Oates, preaching on the same subject, took as his text the following words from the 1st of Timothy, chap i., verse 11:—“The glorious Gospel of the blessed God.” In the course of his sermon Mr. Oates said that to-day there were many writers who did not hesitate to say that Christianity was played out, that it had exhausted its mandate, that the facts of physical science were opposed to the Christian religion, and that the Church was unpopular with the masses. Such objectors did not sufficiently discriminate between theology and Christianity, between the ascertained facts of science and mere assumptions. The constructive dogmas representing the human element in Christianity were doubtless played out, but the vital realities, the great essentials of Christ’s teaching, remained. Assumptions and theories there might be which antagonised the truths of revealed religion, but there were no ascertained scientific facts that antagonised the great truths revealed in the Bible as interpreted by the true light of historical criticism. It was only too true that the Church was unpopular with the masses, but the measure of its unpopularity was the measure of the extent to which it had departed from the teachings of Christ. So long as Christianity was paraded in cast-iron dogmas, so long as the Church failed to recognise the cardinal teachings of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, so long as it was a Church of sect, and caste, and creed, so long as Christian people refused in their selfishness to visit and minister to the poor and needy in their sufferings, so long the Church would be unpopular with the masses. But such was not the Christianity of Christ. That was still found to retain all its old efficacy and power in such Christ-like work as the social work in the East End of London and elsewhere. Again, a great deal of opposition to Christianity was founded upon the caricatures of Christianity which had been presented to mankind in the name of Christ. In that connection they had the poem entitled “The Wandering Jew,” and the letters by its gifted author further expounding his position. The speaker believed that the general tone and aim of the poem was great and good, but it was vitiated by its author’s fundamental misconception of what Christianity really was. The writer stated that Christ taught a policy of stagnation and quiescence. Why, the very opposite was the truth. Christ taught that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and sent forth His disciples to preach His Gospel to every living creature. The speaker contended that the Christianity of Christ had rarely had a fair opportunity, but that when such an opportunity had been vouchsafed its progress had been wonderful. Christianity played out? Christianity a failure? When were their hospitals and infirmaries and asylums for the maimed and the blind built? They did not find such things in heathen Rome. What but the power of Christianity had set free the slave, and raised the status of woman, and given stimulus to philanthropy and the work of social regeneration? John Stuart Mill affirmed that the secret of the success of the Christian gospel was to be found in the fact that it presented humanity with the picture of Christ. Buddha had come with a pure loving soul, and Confucius with his wise sayings, but the heart of man was unsatisfied, for flaws were detected; but when Christ came there came perfection. They might take Buddha out of Buddhism or Confucius out of Confucianism, and their systems would remain; but take Christ out of Christianity and what would remain? It was His great personality that formed the charm of Christianity. Abstract ideas dogmas, and creeds were cold and dead, but in Christ humanity had found that human sympathy, that loving personality it so much needed. To the agonised queries of the human heart: Is the Great Spirit good? Is God a moral being? Is He the infinite expression of all that is best in human fatherhood and motherhood, love, truth, and justice? To such questions as these nature and science could give no answer; but Christ—God manifest in the flesh—gave them that answer and revealed to them the Godhead.

AN EMPHATIC “NO.”

     The Rev. Charles Joseph also preached a sermon on the subject, to a congregation that filled every available space, in Lake-road Chapel, Landport. The preacher took for his text the 11th chapter of S. Matthew, the second to the sixth verse, and commenced his discourse by a reference to the poem recently written by Mr. Robert Buchanan, entitled “The Wandering Jew,” in which Christ was depicted as the Wandering Jew, weeping bitter and useless tears because the kingdom He had attempted to set up, and the work He hoped to accomplish, had ended in a dismal failure. Mr. Joseph continued that he had not the time to enter into or meet the arguments of the poem, but he thought it was a very great compliment to the work of Jesus Christ, for the very standard by which Mr. Buchanan judged the Church was the standard of Christianity, and was to be found wherever the Gospel of Jesus Christ was known. He also dwelt at some length on the correspondence that had arisen in the Daily Chronicle, on the subject he had chosen for his sermon. It had been one of the most remarkable of newspaper correspondences, for some of the best writers on both sides of the question had lent their assistance, and on the whole he thought that every Christian thinker who had read the long and brilliant series of letters would say that Christianity had come out of the ordeal very well indeed. Voltaire said that a hundred years from the time he made the prophecy Christianity would cease to be, and the Bible would be ab obsolete book. It was now more than a hundred years since Voltaire uttered those words, and, by a strange irony of fate, the house in which the statement was made was the depôt of the Bible Society, and was crammed with copies of Holy Scripture, written in no less than 200 languages. Mr. Joseph then proceeded to criticise a letter that appeared among the correspondence in the Daily Chronicle written by Mr. G. W. Foote, President of the Secularist Society. That gentleman, he said, had fallen into the common error of confounding the Christian Church with the nations in which that Church was living and labouring. It was quite true that drunkenness, gambling, and licentiousness were the characteristic sins of the Saxon races, and of the Latin races also, but the Christian Church had protested again and again against them, and the Church itself was a standing protest against those sins. Mr. Foote had also said that civilisation was the result of scientific discovery. Luckily, the great discoverers and inventors had been Christians, and civilising agencies had been developed in great Christian centres. Christians were the very people who turned their discoveries into living powers for the purposes of civilisation. Civilisation, perhaps, did not come in with Christianity, but it began to come in with Christianity. It came in with the first Christian, and the extent of that man’s influence was a civilising influence, and wherever Christianity increased civilisation grew, and the clouds and darkness of savagery were driven away. Christianity was not played out, and Christ’s answer to John the Baptist was the Church’s answer to every earnest inquirer and to every candid critic. At the close of the service a collection was taken on behalf of the Portsmouth Eye and Ear Infirmary.

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Punch, or the London Charivari (4 February, 1893)

NEXT, PLEASE!—Suggested subject for the next Newspaper Controversy:—“Is ROBERT BUCHANAN played out?”

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Edinburgh Evening News (8 February, 1893 - p.4)

JESUS ONLY A GREAT DREAMER.

     Mr Robert Buchanan again writes to the Daily Chronicle on Christianity, this time in reply to criticisms made by a Mr Horton on his former utterances. He delivers himself of the following passages: My sympathy and reverence for Jesus of Nazareth is purely secular. I altogether reject the idea of his godhead and moral perfection. Until I have put together, as I am now doing, my whole argument on this question, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I class Jesus with the other dreamers of the world, with each of whom, and with all of whom, I deeply sympathise. But my contention from the beginning has been that Christianity is the deadly enemy of human progress, and that for much of its continuous misdoings the transcendental empiricism of its founder is responsible. It is quite true, as Mr Horton affirms, that I believe in the permanence of personal consciousness; but that belief is the common property of both religion and philosophy, and must be founded, if it is to be maintained, on absolute science, not on shadowy documents with as much claim to inspiration as Zadkiel’s Almanack. It is a pity that Mr Horton grows so enthusiastic over the long discredited Gospel according to St. John—a book which no rational inquirer now believes to have been John’s work at all, and which is darkened through and through with the obscurities of Neo-Platonism. This gospel contains, as I shall show in due course, one of the most powerful arguments against the physical Reusurrection. But the whole Christian evidences are too “nebulous” for words. Little wonder that Christianity, relying on such inspiration, has travelled along so slowly.

[Note: This letter from Buchanan to The Daily Chronicle is not included in the Liverpool Record Office collection. It would seem that the debate continued after the Editor declared the discussion closed on 31st January.]

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Blackheath Gazette (10 February, 1893 - p.3)

The Society Papers.
_____

(From TRUTH.)
_____

...

     Mr. Robert Buchanan, having succeeded, in his own estimation, in demolishing Christianity, has been making public in an evening contemporary, the articles—or perhaps one should say the leading articles—of the creed with which he proposes to fill the void he has created. The essential and fundamental doctrine of “Buch-inanity”—as it may fairly be spelt—is, of course, an unlimited belief in its founder. As he characteristically puts it, “I have absolute or comparatively absolute, knowledge of only one thing in the Universe—myself.” This I can most readily and fervently believe for I have certainly never thought that Mr. Buchanan did possess an absolute knowledge of anything else.
     Then the Bard goes on to say that, metaphysically speaking, he is God—a statement which appears to have very much shocked Dr. Parker, but which is hardly worth comment. When, however, the author of that skilfully-boomed book, “The Wandering Jew,” adds that “he sickens at the sight of human suffering,” he exposes himself to the obvious retort that, if this be a sincere expression of commiseration for humanity, he cannot for very shame publish any more poems or plays.
     Unfortunately for Christianity, Mr. Buchanan’s crude and claptrap attack upon it has moved the Pastor of the City Temple to come forward in its defence. At the same time, the spectacle of the Bard Buchanan and Dr. Joseph Parker exchanging pistol-shots in the columns of a newspaper has been by no means devoid of amusement to the onlooker. It is to be regretted, though, that a more suitable choice of weapons was not made for the duel between these two enterprising showmen. They ought, of course, to have fought with big-drums, and the one who rub-a-dubbed the loudest should have been adjudged the victor.

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Pall Mall Gazette (10 February, 1893 -  pp.1-2)

christiankingdomp102
christiankingdomp2

The Dundee Evening Telegraph (11 February, 1893 - p.3)

ROBERT BUCHANAN AND HIS CRITICS.
HIS VIEWS ON RELIGION.

     Mr Robert Buchanan, replying in the Daily Chronicle to certain attacks upon him, says:—I am neither a trickster nor an infidel nor an Atheist. All my life I have upheld the beautiful verities of natural religion, and have clung to the belief that the only solution of this strange life will be found in another. I have always maintained, however, that to seek for that solution at the cost of self-knowledge and self-respect—to lose oneself in the obscurities of other worldliness—is a simple waste of time. If I am an infidel and an Atheist, then Jesus of Nazareth, who taught that men are to be saved by the conscience within, and who struck with all His strength at established religion, was also an Atheist and an infidel. I have dared to say, while admitting the beauty of His teaching, that it was mingled with errors which have borne terrible fruit. This I believe, and shall attempt to prove; but it is possible to live and sympathise with Jesus of Nazareth without admitting the infallibility of His knowledge. That is my position.

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The Yorkshire Evening Post (11 February. 1893 - p.3)

     As a publicist Mr. Robert Buchanan is about equal to Mr. Stead; but this posing before the public has its disadvantages. His smashing letters on the question “Is Christianity played out?” have brought him letters not of a complimentary nature. He says he is in “daily receipt of Christian letters informing me that God will punish me for my unbelief, and that I shall burn in eternal Hell,” and this he takes as proof “that Christianity, although moribund, is still strong enough to curse and threaten in the old manner.” Which is nonsense. It is simply proof that the public is tired of Mr. Buchanan as a poseur, and takes this gentle method of telling him so.

[Note: This was a particularly bad scan, so my ‘best guesses are in a different colour.]

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The Surrey Mirror and General County Advertiser (11 February, 1893 - p.6)

[A report of a sermon preached at the Redhill Congregational Church on Sunday, 5th February, by the Rev. J. Gardner, on the subject of “Is Christianity played out?” is available here.]

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Reynolds’s Newspaper (12 February, 1893 - 2)

PUBLIC AND SOCIAL LETTERS.
No. CCXIX.
TO OUR PRETENDING CHRISTIANS.

     GOOD HYPOCRITES,—If, as Mr. Robert Buchanan says, Christianity, as it is interpreted and practised by its modern professors, is the greatest bar to progress, then it becomes a question of supreme momentousness to the Democracy to inquire as to the relationship of religion to life. The intense interest which the query “Is Christianity Played Out?” excited when raised in the columns of the Daily Chronicle, shows that there has been much serious thought on this subject in recent years. Has Christianity—not that of Christ, but of the hundreds of Churches—become a cloak for oppression and selfishness, for sweating and swindling? Does it retard that brotherhood of man which is the ideal of every earnest reformer? Is it the parent of falsehood, hypocrisy, and deceit? In a word, is it being exploited by the classes and their imitators in the middle ranks of life? These are the charges brought against the end-of-the-century Christianity. Let us consider them a moment.
     In the first place we find that all the rich profess to be Christians. When they visit their country houses they make a point of attending the parish church. But these are the same persons who are rack-renters, who appear in the Divorce Court, who are the patrons of gambling hells and betting courses, who have had their little seductions, and have been invariably opposed to granting the people their rights. Their foregoers have treated the Democracy worse than the ancient slaves were treated. They are distinguished by no great charity towards the poor, or feeling for the suffering, by any generosity or public spirit. The State parson dines with them, and they have a high pew in the parish church. It pays; the simple people take the cover for the book, the show for the reality. They believe there is good in the man or woman who makes the pretence of goodness.
     When we pass to the prosperous middle class in the towns, we find them professing chiefly some species of Nonconformity. Their religion they regard as superior to that of the Established Church, themselves as persons of greater piety and virtue. Now it is somewhat remarkable that the Dissenting Churches, notwithstanding their assumption of superiority, have very few of the really poor among their congregations. It seems as if they were not encouraged. The Nonconformist minister is generally a man with a comfortable salary. He is not frequently to be found on the platforms of the unemployed. He does not descend into the slums. He hammers away about the glories of kingdom come; his efforts on behalf of kingdom here are not particularly striking. Nor do the wealthy Nonconformists quite live up to their superior religious professions. They are reported, in many cases, to be hard masters; to be narrow in their views; to sympathize but slightly with the aspirations of the working Democracy. As for the female Nonconformists, they certainly contrive to hide their light under a bushel. The Methodists, perhaps, contrive to give a better account of themselves than most of the other Dissenting sects. But here again, it is curious that while we have so many millions of heathen at home, the Methodists are content to spend enormous sums upon fruitless missionary enterprises. With slight modifications, these remarks apply equally to the Presbyterian sects of Scotland and the North of Ireland.
     With the single exception of the Roman Catholic Church, the Gospel of Christ has been transfigured into the Gospel of Selfishness. To make the best of both worlds is the sacred aim of the other Christian Churches. Hence, so far as they are concerned, the faith of Social Democracy taught by the great Jew has no longer any meaning for them. They have forsaken Christ for the worship of Mammon. And, worst of all, they have put over the bestial figure of Mammon the simple vestments of the Christ.
     It was with some satisfaction I read the sermon preached by the Rev. Alfred Rowland to the merchants of the City of London on Tuesday last. He boldly took for his text the famous exhortation of Christ, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt.” If there was more of the plain-speaking which characterized this sermon we should have a greater respect for the Churches and their professors. He told these men that the prevailing vice of the day was Worldliness—he might have added that the clergy are the worst examples of it. Mothers laid themselves out to win for their daughters suitors who had nothing to recommend them but the purse. The men in  business, not content with a legitimate income, speculated in a manner not to be distinguished from the gambler on the turf. It had come to pass that men were weighed for their possessions, and not for their merit. A man, said the preacher, was now deferred to, if he had money, not only in the outside world, but even in the Church; his friendship was courted, and his family got into Society. From these expressions it will be seen that we in this journal have been taking no exaggerated view of the horrible hypocrisy existing among those classes who, while making Mammon their God, continue to attend the services of various Churches. “It would be better,” concluded Mr. Rowland, “to worship one of those beautiful statues which once adorned the Acropolis of Athens; better to fall prostrate before the sun, the moon, and the stars, than to live for money and make it our God.” These are brave and worthy words, and as we are fearless in criticizing the faults of the clergy, so we freely recognise their merits when we find them.
     But I contend that it is the worldliness of the clergy that is responsible for the present divorce of religion from Christianity. None is so anxious about this world as your ordinary clergyman; none is more fearful of denouncing worldliness in others, knowing well the full share of it he himself possesses. There is little, if any, real religion. Our churches are closed every day of the week except one. Yet if there be eternal life, what is of more importance than constant incentives to holiness? And, consequently, why should it be taken in homœopathic doses at stated intervals? Whence this dread of death, if death only be the gate of immortal joy? “For a Pagan there may be some motives to be in love with life,” says Sir Thomas Browne. “But for a Christian to be amazed at death I see not how he can escape this dilemma—that he is too sensible of this life or hopeless of the life to come.”
     Yet religion, so-called, is one of the most powerful weapons in the armoury of the classes. Call off people’s attention from the injustices of the existing state; trade on their ignorance by promising them a world of felicity hereafter, and you may count upon them being for ever your obedient slaves. Remove the dust of superstition from their eyes, and they become men. Let me conclude with a pertinent extract from Landor: “The emoluments of the Bishopric of London are greater than the united revenues of twelve cardinals; that they are amply sufficient for the board, lodging, and education of 300 young men destined to the ministry; and that they might relieve from famine, rescue from sin, and save perhaps from eternal punishment 3,000 fellow creatures yearly. On a narrow inspection of one manufacturing town in England, I deliver it as my firm opinion that it contains more crime and wretchedness than all the four continents of our globe. If these enormous masses of wealth had been fairly sub-divided and carefully expended, if a more numerous and more efficient clergy had been appointed, how very much of sin an d sorrow had been obviated and allayed!”

                                                                                                                                                     W. M. T.

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The Nottingham Evening Post (13 February, 1893 - p.3)

[A report of a sermon preached at the Friar-lane Congregational Chapel on Sunday, 12th February, by the Rev. J. A. Mitchell, on the subject of “Is Christianity played out?” is available here.]

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The Nottingham Evening Post (15 February, 1893 - p.2)

MR. ROBERT BUCHANAN’S POEM.

     Mr. Robert Buchanan prefaces an “author’s note” to a second edition of his “Wandering Jew” which Messrs. Chatto and Windus are to issue in a day or two. Mr. Buchanan declares that he does not “say a few words to my readers” with the view of protesting against the attacks made on the book. He simply wishes—if he can—to save himself from further misconstruction, and to the question, what is the message of “The Wandering Jew?” he answers—“It was meant to picture the absolute and simple trouble as I see it—the presence in the world of a supreme and suffering Spirit who has been and is outcast from all human habitations, and most of all from the churches built in his name. It is not a polemic against Jesus of Nazareth; it is an expression of love for his personality, and of sympathy with his unrealised Dream.”

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The Independent (16 February,1893 - p.123)

Table Talk.
_____

...

     “SOME men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” says Shakespeare, and this is true of books as well as men. Some few of our classics make an immediate mark when first published, and there are others that only attain an enduring reputation after a long period of neglect. But what shall we say of a book like Mr. R. Buchanan’s Wandering Jew? Verily, this is a book that has had greatness thrust upon it. Floated on the high tide of the Great Controversy, it has become one of the most popular books of the season. For the moment it enjoys a reputation which puts to the blush that reached by Milton’s Paradise Lost or Shakespeare’s Hamlet after many years of semi-oblivion. But how long will it last?

_____

     AFTER a careful perusal, we have no hesitation in saying that when the occasion which gave it the factitious fame it now enjoys has once passed away from the public mind, we shall hear no more of the Wandering Jew, except with a smile and a shrug. Pretending to be a work of art, it has almost all the characteristics and faults which a work ought not to have, being hastily written, totally lacking in a sense of symmetry and proportion, and full of lapses into the supremest bad taste. Pretending to be a contribution to serious thought, it is really one of the flimsiest and cheapest tirades against the most sacred of all subjects which we have ever had the misfortune to wade through in the vain hope of at last coming to a redeeming feature. Let us allow at once that there are here and there some fine poetical passages, as we might well have expected from the author of Balder the Beautiful. But taken from the point of view that the author clearly aimed at, it is an unredeemed and hopeless failure, unless, indeed, he has reached his entire purpose in the notoriety which the book has undeniably attained? But anyone may gain that object without the prolonged ravings of the Wandering Jew, and at far less expenditure of talent and energy than Mr. Buchanan has wasted in showing his incapacity to understand and demolish Christianity.

_____

     BUT rumour speaks of worse to follow, for Mr. Buchanan is said to be at work translating the burden of the Wandering Jew into prose. He has already committed himself to the positive statement that no one whose judgment is worth knowing imagines the Gospel of John to be written by the apostle of that name. We shall probably be diverted with some more original and modest deliverances of this kind before he has done with us, but we cannot help expressing a hope that our poet’s excursions into the field of prose apologetics will be more successful than his latest “poetical” effusion in that direction.

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(p.137)

From Far and Near.
_____

     WHILST Mr. Robert Buchanan has been laughing in his sleeve—and really he must have been so laughing—at the magnificent and cheap “booming” of his “A Wandering Jew” by means of the “Is Christianity Played Out” discussion, one smart journalist, at least, has raised a big laugh against the Scottish Bard. In the interview with himself, published in the Echo, Mr. Buchanan told us that he cannot bear to see human suffering. The smart journalist in question has stepped in, and in a beseeching tone advises Mr. Buchanan for mercy’s sake, if sincere in that sentiment, to write no more plays and publish no more books.

...

     THE wordy duel between Dr. Parker and Mr. Buchanan in the columns of the Echo has found a sarcastic referee in Truth. Dr. Parker, we know, can laugh back at such an attack as this which appeared ion an editorial of Mr. Labouchere’s weekly. “Unfortunately for Christianity, Mr. Buchanan’s crude and claptrap attack upon it has moved the Pastor of the City Temple to come forward in its defence. At the same time, the spectacle of the Bard Buchanan and Dr. Joseph Parker exchanging pistol-shots in the columns of a newspaper has been by no means devoid of amusement to the onlooker. It is to be regretted, though, that a more suitable choice of weapons was not made for the duel between these two enterprising showmen. They ought, of course, to have fought with big drums, and the one who rub-a-dubbed the loudest should have been adjudged the victor.”

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The Gloucester Citizen (6 March, 1893 - p.4)

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The Derby Daily Telegraph (4 January, 1894 - p.2)

[A report of an address by the Rev. Thomas Waugh at King-street Wesleyan Chapel, on the subject of “Christianity and Her Critics” is available here.]

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Punch, or the London Charivari (17 February, 1894)

punchwandjewpoem

And here’s a curious thing, unrelated to the Wandering Jew controversy, but possibly of interest. The Internet Archive has Richard Le Gallienne’s copy of Buchanan’s 1872 pamphlet, The Fleshly School of Poetry and Other Phenomena of the Day. According to the inside back cover it is now the property of Stanford University and there is this catalogue clipping attached to a blank page at the end of the book:

fspamphletgalliennecutting

And here’s the ‘poetical book-label’:

fspamphletgalliennelabel

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