By early 1908 German militarism and the enlargement of the Kaiser's fleet were causing some disquiet to the British Government, and discreet moves were being made to prepare for any possible conflict. The creation of an integrated civil defence force to prepare for invasion was a step in this direction.
On New Year's Day 1908 the annual shooting competition for the 1st Cumberland Volunteer Battalion of the Border Regiment was held, and Hardwicke, who had been Chaplain to the Regiment since 1883, was as usual present with Edith at the Drill Hall, Keswick, for the prize-giving in the evening. It was a nostalgic occasion, since the Keswick Volunteers were shortly to be subsumed into a new nation-wide Territorial Force. This Force would be comprised of the combined Volunteer Forces, created 50 years earlier, and the Yeomanry regiments.
The existing Volunteer Battalions based in Keswick, Kendal, Carlisle, Appleby, Brampton and Ambleside were merged to form the new 4th Battalion of the Border Regiment, Territorial Force. The first Territorial Force Parade in Keswick was marked by a service at Crosthwaite on Sunday 5 April at which the Colours of the Skiddaw Greys, as the Keswick Volunteers were known locally, were laid up in St. Kentigern’s Church, where they are still displayed.
A new crusade now claimed Hardwicke’s attention. Early in 1908 there appears to have been a recrudescence of interest in the suppression of obscene literature. An international congress had been called in Paris to discuss how best to stamp out obscene publications, and in March the British Government convened a House of Commons Select Committee to consider ‘Lotteries, Indecent Literature and Advertisements’.
On 20 June, during the first Pan-Anglican Congress, attended by 17,000 clergy and laity, a full day at Kensington Town Hall was devoted to a discussion on ‘Religion and the Press’, chaired by the Bishop of Exeter, at which Canon Rawnsley gave the opening address. In his speech Hardwicke made a passing reference to vulgar postcards and offensive ‘mutoscope’ displays, but reserved most of his animus for the railway novels which were published ‘under the guise of a philosophical treatise on the sex problem’, but which he maintained would be, rather than of educational value, far more likely to corrupt the morals of the reader, particularly the young and impressionable.
As he may well have anticipated, Canon Rawnsley's fulminations at the Congress were widely reported in the Press and captured the headlines in most newspapers. Once again, as so often before, Hardwicke seems to have caught the mood of the nation, or, if not the nation as a whole, at least of the Anglican middle classes. The editorial columns were generally in agreement with the Canon that pernicious literature was a growing problem. At every opportunity thereafter he returned to the topic. He spoke on the subject at the Carlisle Diocesan Conference in September, at the Hereford Diocesan Conference in October, and again at the meeting of York Convocation in February of the following year. At the meeting of Convocation he moved a resolution that the Government should, at the earliest opportunity, promote legislation on the lines suggested by the Joint Select Committee, a plea he was to return to over and over again during the next years, and from that time on, the suppression of pernicious literature became for him an obsessive crusade.
As a priest it is understandable that Hardwicke found the material repugnant. He was not alone – his sentiments were shared by many other members of the clergy. Such publications, he believed, undermined those values that made Britain a great nation – love of Christ, family life, parental responsibility, empathy for one’s fellowmen, patriotic fervour and so on – these formed the foundation of society. He had become more and more convinced that the country was in decline, and indecent literature was just one symptom of that physical and mental decadence. In his attempt to stem the tide of degradation he seems, with a certain amount of hubris, to have taken upon himself the role of moral guardian of the nation.
To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of their move to Crosthwaite, Hardwicke and Edith purchased a viewpoint above the Manesty Wood near Brandelhow and donated it to the National Trust. This gift formed part of a jigsaw of new acquisitions and gifts of land designed to increase the National Trust's holdings around Brandelhow in order to preserve the foreshore of Derwentwater from further development. A syndicate of businessmen, including Rupert Potter had, with Rawnsley’s encouragement and assistance purchased Manesty, with its lake frontage and woodland; and at the same time, the Trust had raised the purchase price of land at Great Bay, the property bought three years earlier by Rawnsley and Stanwell Birkett, on which they had given the Trust an option to purchase.
The threat of war with Germany was still very much in the air, and in November 1908 Edith officially opened the Keswick and District Miniature Rifle Club, one of the rare occasions on which she spoke about political matters in public. These clubs had been established specifically to teach the civilian population the use of a rifle should it become necessary for defence in the case of a land invasion. She assured her audience that she knew perhaps better than most what the ‘trained hand and eye’ could achieve, and she expressed her conviction that training in the use of the rifle was essential for all citizens, women as much as men, so that if called upon to do so, they would be better defenders of their country. Although she hated the thought of war, she believed in the patriotic duty of self-sacrifice in such a cause. She pointed out that whilst a woman’s principal duty was to maintain the home, such a duty also involved the teaching of discipline, obedience and self-restraint to the children, characteristics equally essential in military service. This being so, perhaps the Rifle Club might consider recruiting a cadet corps and giving lessons in drill.
Rawnsley was frequently to return to the theme of the greater readiness of Germany for any future conflict. ‘The arms race’ and Germany's phenomenal rise as a leader of the new industrial world was causing apprehension not just to those in the British Government, but to many other concerned individuals around the country. However, the looming shadow of war did not affect Hardwicke’s usual whirlwind of activity. Attendance at meetings of the National Trust and the other organisations in which he was involved; giving lectures around the country; attending Musical Festivals as well as managing his parish commitments at Crosthwaite, kept him as fully occupied as ever. In the midst of all this, he still found time to dash off numerous letters to The Times and other newspapers on a wide variety of topics, including the sighting of luminous birds; Christian Unity; and revision of the Book of Common Prayer. In December he preached in Peterborough Cathedral to mark the tercentenary of Milton’s birth; a sermon which was later made available to a wider public as a booklet, printed by Arthur Knowles Sabin.
Entering his fifty-eighth year in 1909, Hardwicke showed no diminution of mental or physical energy. The newly formed C Company (Keswick) of the 4th Battalion of the Border Regiment, Territorial Force, held their first annual shooting competition on New Year’s Day 1909, and at the prize-giving Hardwicke made a patriotic appeal to the Keswick citizens, urging them to encourage their sons to join the Force. Joining the Territorials was not just patriotic, it also served to develop character and would benefit both the individual and the nation. A further way to cultivate the patriotic spirit was to join the Keswick Miniature Rifle Club, or indeed the Boy Scout movement. Later in the year Hardwicke was appointed Chaplain 1st Class to the new Battalion, with the rank of Colonel, and in that role found himself at Lowther Castle for the presentation, by the Earl and Countess of Lonsdale, of colours to the new 4th Border Regiment of the Territorials.
In June 1909 the Bishop of Carlisle, Dr. John Diggle, offered Hardwicke promotion to the vacancy of Second Canon Residentiary at Carlisle Cathedral. Given the hitherto rather conservative and stuffy atmosphere in the Cathedral Close and Rawnsley's reputation as a ‘mover and shaker’, this was a daring appointment. In order that Hardwicke might have more time to assist with the educational work of the Diocese, the Bishop authorised the appointment of a third curate to cover for him at Crosthwaite. The collation and installation of Hardwicke and the Revd. C. West Watson took place on 5 July, and at the end of the ceremony the two new Canons were conducted to their residences where the Rawnsleys' accommodation, rather inauspiciously as Edith reported, overlooked the Deanery windows and the graveyard. From this time on until his death Hardwicke was to devote considerable time and energy to the affairs of the Diocese, and, perhaps as the Bishop had foreseen, brought, if not a wind of change, at least a breath of fresh air into the Cathedral atmosphere.
On 8 August 1909 a dedicatory service was held at Crosthwaite Church to mark Hardwicke’s twenty-five years of service in the parish. Plans for such a dedication had started twelve months earlier around the time of the actual anniversary, but approval for, and construction of an appropriate commemoration had taken over a year. Hardwicke had been consulted as to the form this should take, and it was agreed that a relocated new baptistery in the church would be the most appropriate. The baptismal font, a gift to St. Kentigern’s in about 1396 to mark Sir Thomas de Eskhead’s thirty-four years’ service as Vicar, was one of the church’s great treasures. The existing baptistery was inconveniently situated, and as a result the font had suffered damage over the years. After some discussion it was decided to dispense with the vestry by the entrance to the building and to create a new baptistery in its place. Here the old font would be given pride of place and could be better protected. The design of the font cover was an exact replica of the long-since vanished original, of which by a happy chance there had survived a 17th century drawing, together with a small remaining fragment. The stone and marble for the baptistery floor and the base of the font were sourced from the Elterwater local quarry and from various quarries in Italy. The inscription, in old Gothic, on the wood panelling round the sides of the baptistery read:
In recognition of the life and work in this parish for twenty-five years of Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, A.D. MDCCCLXXXIII.—MDCCCCVIII. this Baptistery is dedicated to the Glory of God by parishioners and friends. Grant, Lord, that all who are here baptised may continue Christ’s faithful soldiers and servants unto their lives’ end.
It had been agreed that a brass or copper ewer for baptism, made at the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, would also be funded by friends, in recognition of Edith’s contribution to the church.
The issue of safeguarding public morals was more and more to engage Hardwicke’s attention. He made it his business to ferret out as many publications as possible: daily, weekly and monthly pictorials; lewd postcards; advertising posters; and suggestive pictures of actresses in newspapers – anything which he considered degrading to the morals of those who might read or view them.
Together with the inherent dangers posed by the penny slot-machines, these publications not only roused animal and criminal passions in those who looked at them but they also, he maintained, undermined the very pillars on which a well-ordered and Christian society was built, namely love and marriage. In numerous articles, letters to the newspapers and sermons, including an address delivered at Westminster Abbey on 9 May 1909, Hardwicke urged the public to recognise the dangers posed, and criticised the legislature in no uncertain terms for their failure to bring forward more effective laws.
He wrote countless letters lobbying the Government, the police, the magistrates and local Councils, as well as to the stakeholders in the publishing and distribution trades, and the directors of railway companies. He urged his fellow clergy to act as vigilantes and inspect shop windows, reporting to the police any indecent books, papers, and postcards they observed. He asked libraries, booksellers and distributors to remove ‘indecent’ books from their shelves. He recommended that Vigilance Committees be formed in every town. He called on Education Authorities to compile catalogues of ‘healthy literature’. The Canon persuaded York Convocation to set up a Committee on Moral Corruption in Social Life, of which he was appointed a member. An interim report was produced in May 1910. In his address recommending the findings, he suggested that Convocation form a Vigilance Committee to call attention to ‘hot stuff’ books and have them removed from libraries.
The culmination of the efforts by Hardwicke and others to deal with the problem of declining morality was a two-day ‘Public Morals Conference’ held on 14-15 July 1910 in London, attended by more than 500 delegates. Organised under the auspices of the National Social Purity Crusade the remit of the conference extended further than just pernicious literature. Speakers examined the moral issues facing society in general, trying to determine the root causes and to consider what measures should be taken to deal with them. Hardwicke led a discussion on the question of strengthening the laws along the lines recommended by the 1908 Joint Select Committee. The difficulty for the Government, and for social reformers such as Rawnsley, was that there was no agreed definition of what constituted indecency. Banning books and literature would involve some form of censorship and such an action would undoubtedly open a Pandora's Box. For this reason, for as many who advocated censorship on the one hand, there would be a similar number on the other hand who would oppose it. Although renowned for his thoroughness and determination, Hardwicke’s zealousness in tracking down material of an indecent or obscene nature and his drive towards eliminating the source of the problem, seem excessive. His motives as stated were his concern about the effect on children and vulnerable people. While this was certainly a contributory factor, it is possible that there was in addition some underlying psychological cause for this obsession. Freud would have had a field day.
Turning his attention from pornography to poetry, Hardwicke was most anxious that the centenary of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s birth on 6 August 1909 should be marked in some appropriate manner, and he wrote to The Times suggesting that the poet's anniversary might be suitably marked by making repairs to the church at Somersby, where the Laureate’s father had been Vicar and where the poet was baptised. Whether or not it was thanks to Hardwicke's initiative, a Tennyson Centenary Memorial Committee met shortly afterwards and instituted a fund-raising campaign. It took nearly twelve months to raise the necessary funds, and a further year for the restoration work to be carried out, but eventually, on 6 August 1911, the church was reopened, with Hardwicke as preacher at the evening service.
Hardwicke, his obsession with the suppression of pornographic literature notwithstanding, did not allow it to impinge on his conservation activities and the work of the National Trust. He wrote numerous letters to the Press drawing attention to disfigurement of the landscape caused by mining and quarrying. The mine and quarry owners took no responsibility for screening or landscaping the spoil-heaps resulting from their operations which continued with immunity to pollute streams and rivers. The destruction of roadside wasteland – a perfect haven for wildlife; and the rooting up of trees to make way for the widening of roads in order to accommodate the increasing motor traffic, were likewise targets for the conservation ‘watchdog’. He submitted a paper on ‘Highway Vandalism’ at the first British Road Conference organised by the County Councils’ Association. The internal combustion engine had become as much of a menace in the new century as the ‘steam dragon’ had been in the previous fifty years. A new sewerage works which would disfigure the shores of Windermere was yet another project to which Hardwicke orchestrated vigorous opposition.
Canon and Mrs. Rawnsley took up their first three months’ residence in Carlisle Cathedral in October 1909, hardly the most agreeable period of the year, but nonetheless, as at Crosthwaite, they kept ‘open house’ in their new home for friends, and for ecclesiastical functions. The Cathedral had a reputation among the townspeople for being insular and withdrawn from the teeming life of the city. So, true to form as a ‘new broom’, Hardwicke immediately set out to sweep away the stuffiness of the Close and to bring cathedral and city closer together. As a first symbolic gesture he suggested that the Abbey gates, hitherto always closed, be left open. This proposal was met with some resistance in Chapter, but a trial period of one year was eventually agreed upon.
Not only did Hardwicke try to bring Cathedral and City closer together by making the religious life of the Cathedral more relevant to the citizens of Carlisle but he was also instrumental in setting up informal meetings between the Anglican clergy and Free Church leaders.
In December 1909, the Bard not forgotten, Hardwicke attended a ‘Sonnets’ dinner at the Lyceum Club to celebrate the tercentenary of the publication of Shakespeare’s sonnets. True to form, he had the temerity to read one of his own sonnets, specially composed for the occasion. Although Canon Rawnsley's annual three-month residency at Carlisle officially did not end until 31 December, Hardwicke and Edith always tried to return to Crosthwaite every year for at least a day, in order to attend the Christmas services at St. Kentigern's; and again on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the arrival of the New Year, with Hardwicke’s parishioners.
Amongst all his other commitments, activities and preoccupations, Hardwicke still managed to publish two new books during 1909. Round the Lake Country, a further volume in his series on the Lake District, took the reader to parts of the area noted for their scenic beauty or historical and archaeological interests. Poems at Home and Abroad was a further collection of miscellaneous verses on a wide variety of topics, including ‘Poems of Italy and Abroad’, ‘Poems of the Months’ and ‘Memorial Sonnets’.
Whether at Crosthwaite or Carlisle, Hardwicke made time to attend meetings of York Convocation, and the campaign against ‘Pernicious Literature’ was not the only one that absorbed his time and energy as Proctor. In February 1910, in support of the Imperial Sunday Alliance movement, he proposed the setting up of a committee to investigate the religious and moral issues raised in connection with the non-observance of Sunday as a rest day. The physical welfare of the nation demanded a day of rest. Such rest from work was also necessary to strengthen people’s spiritual life.
Additional recommendations were that local branches of the Imperial Sunday Alliance might be formed in towns, and that committees of clergy and laity should be set up in every rural deanery, to consider on the question of Sunday observance. A motion, to establish such committees in the Carlisle diocese, was put forward by Hardwicke at the annual Diocesan Conference in September 1910 and carried unanimously. The promotion of the aims of the Imperial Sunday Alliance was to become yet another campaign demanding Hardwicke’s time and energy in the following years.
The Rawnsleys, despite all their other responsibilities and preoccupations, still found time each year to support a wide range of local initiatives benefiting Keswick and the surrounding districts. Hardwicke had been a trustee of the Keswick Savings Bank for twenty years. One of his responsibilities as trustee was to attend the bank on a small number of occasions each year, on a rota basis, to look after the customers, and in 1910, following the death of Colonel Spedding, he took on the additional commitment of the Presidency of the Trustees and Managers of the bank. He also prepared a lecture, with lantern slides, for the Keswick Town Improvement Association. Subsequently, in order to encourage tourism to the area, these lantern slides were to be loaned to institutions around the country to advertise the beauties of Keswick and the Lakes. Both Edith and Hardwicke were keen supporters of the Scout Movement, and in Edith’s absence, Hardwicke was happy to deputise for her and to address the participants at the first Boy Scouts’ Sports Day, held in Fitz Park, Keswick in May 1910. That same year Edith once again assisted in the arrangements for the Lake Artists’ Society local exhibition, this year held in Keswick, and she evidently showed at least one work herself, since a reviewer referred to a striking patch of colour in her unfinished sketch, ‘The Enchanted Garden’.
On 6 May 1910, Edward VII died, and 20 May was chosen as the day for Memorial Services for the King to be held. In August 1910 it was announced that Princess Louise, President of the National Trust, had decided to purchase, and present to the Trust, thirteen acres of the summit of Grange Fell in memory of her brother, Edward VII. Taking advantage of this Royal example, Hardwicke reminded the public that in the absence of the National Valhalla, which he had so often advocated, a gift of open space in the countryside would be as fitting a memorial as any to deceased friends and relatives.
Rawnsley’s relentless mental and physical energy remained undiminished. Indeed his increased workload as a residentiary Canon of Carlisle Cathedral, and his preoccupation with the campaign against pernicious literature, as well as his ongoing work for the National Trust and the other organisations in which he played a decisive role, meant that even the annual holidays in Switzerland were sacrificed, and Hardwicke only made time for one visit abroad, to Rome early in 1909, during these hectic years.
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