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FROM TTIS FI;N]> OF 

CHARLES MIlSrOT 

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Received / 7 i.< i U . / 9 % f 



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WITH 

PUBLISHER'S 

COMPLIMENTS. 



ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 





KIOHT FMOTOOHAFH 



MEM ^ BKLt., fHOTOORAPHEMS TO THE ^UKKN. 



3 

Alexander Balfour. 



a Mtmoit 



R. H. ^UNDIE, M.A. 

LIVERPOOU 



" Thoughts of the marvellous progress of God's work in Liverpool 
afford me more comfort and rejoicing, than the perusal of any poem, 
or the reading <rf any novel." 

A. Balpoub. 



LONDON: 

JAMES NISBET & CO., 21 BERNERS STREET. 

LIVERPOOL: PHILIP. SON & NEPHEW. 

1888. 







A 



PREFACE. 



TN the following pages the aim has been to give, not 
^ an extended biography, but a sketch of Alexander 
Balfour. He was not an autobiographic man, either 
in his conversation or his letters. The latter, even 
when dealing with philanthropic or Christian effort, 
were generally brief and business-like, touching some 
practical matter of detail which required attention at 
the moment. From these, with some exceptions at 
the commencement and at the close of his life, little 
help can be got for the biographer. , Had it been 
otherwise, we should gladly have let him speak for 
himself. But those who knew him, know that to 
speak for himself was the last thing in the thought or 
practice of Alexander Balfour. We are constrained, 
therefore, to give some record of the deeds that speak 
for him, and to glean some of the impressions and 
recollections which remain in the minds of those who 
were associated with him. 



PREFACE. 



In doing this we have aimed at brevity, always 
welcome in a busy age. 

Throughout, we have been painfully reminded of 
the words of Lord Bacon, " The best part of beauty 
is that which the painter cannot express." Narrative 
is incapable of conveying any adequate idea of the 
enthusiasm, the affection, the humility, the gentleness, 
the magnetic influence that glowed in wonderful 
combination in his countenance, and in his whole 
person while prosecuting some loved cause. When 
we can in words describe the fragrance of the mountain 
thyme, we may with ink and pen depict the finer and 
the subtler charm which threw its fascination over his 
friends. When such a man passes away from us, 
much passes with him which may in part be recalled 
by those who knew him, but which can never be 
conveyed to those who knew him not Facts, in- 
cidents, narrative, and even impressions limited and 
hedged in by words, seem cold. Yet these, alas 1 are 
all we have to give. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. PACK 

I. PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD I 

II. EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE 17 

III. THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT 35 

IV. SERVICE 49 

V. FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN 89 

VL FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN ^(continued) . .121 

VII. COUNCIL OF EDUCATION 1 43 

VIIL MOUNT ALYN : HOME. LIFE 161 

IX. CONFLICT — LICENSE-LAW; ADMINISTRATIVE RE- 
FORM 187 

X. LICENSE-LAW— LEGISLATIVE REFORM . .211 

XI. VALPARAISO 237 

XII. PALESTINE 263 

XIIL JOTTINGS FROM JOURNALS 273 

XIV. CLOSING DAYS 285 

APPENDIX 321 



f^xw^m^^f^m^ 



CHAPTER I. 
PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD. 



'* I have lent him to the Lord ; as long as he liveth he shall be 
lent to the Lord."— i Sam. i. 28. 

" My heart 
Is little, and a little rain will fill 
The lily's cup, which hardly moists the field." 

—Edwin Arnold. 



CHAPTER L 
PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD. 

A LEXANDER BALFOUR was born at Leven- 
•^ ^ Bank, Leven, Fifeshire, on the 2nd of Septem- 
ber 1824. He was the eldest of three sons, of whom 
only one survives. His father was Henry Balfour 
and his mother Agnes Bisset. Henry Balfour was 
the owner of a foundry in Leven, which is still carried 
on. Leven-Bank is a pleasantly situated residence 
near the foundry, and not distant from the shore of 
Largo Bay. 

A venerable relation in her eighty-ninth year, who 
has spent her long life in the quaint Fifeshire town 
of Leven, is the repository of many family traditions, 
some of which may fitly find a place in these pages. 

A few years before his death, Alexander Balfour 
gathered together some statistics about the ancestry 
of his family. These he recorded on the fly-leaf of 
his own Bible, and of another which he presented 
to one of his kindred. On two of the worthies in 



4 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

his ancestral roll, he used to dwell with peculiar 
pleasure. 

James Wilson of Caskardy, a relation of the 
house, went to America and took part with George 
Washington and Franklin in laying the foundations 
of the American Republic. His portrait is in the 
great picture in the Capitol of Washington, as one 
of the worthies who signed the Deed of American 
Independence on the 4th of July 1776. 

When in the United States, a few years ago, Mr. 
Balfour was presented by an American citizen with a 
copy — said to be one of the hundred original copies 
— of the Declaration of Independence. On his return 
he had it hung up in the office of his firm, and he 
pointed out to his friends, with enthusiasm, the sig- 
nature of his kinsman, James Wilson. He believed 
the original Declaration to have been written by the 
hand of James Wilson ; and certainly there is a 
marked similarity between his signature and the 
body of the document. 

One of the most cherished incidents in the family 
record is the following: — When John Balfour of 
Brokley, in the olden time, lay on his death-bed, his 
cousin, James Balfour of Dron, came to see him. 
" Shall I offer prayer with you ? " he inquired. " Not 
prayer but praise," was the answer of the dying man. 



PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD. 5 

On this James began to sing from the time-honoured 
version of the 145th Psalm as sung in Scotland : — 

*' O Lord, Thou art my God and King ; 
Thee will I magnify and praise ; 
I will Thee bless and gladly sing 
Unto Thy holy name always. 
Each day I rise I will Thee bless, 
And praise Thy name time without end. 
Much to be praised and great God is ; 
His greatness none can comprehend. 
Good unto all men is the Lord, 
O'er all His works His mercy is. 
Thy works all praise to Thee afford ; 
Thy saints, O Lord. Thy name shall bless." 

Before James Balfour had finished singing, his 
cousin had passed into glory. These were bright 
thoughts to fill the heart of a dying saint. When 
Alexander's own summons came, it was much in the 
bright trustful spirit of his venerable ancestor that 
he passed away. One of his cousins tells us that he 
read to her the ancestral roll, containing the brief 
record given above, and then exclaimed, " I should 
rather have the blood of men like these flowing in 
my veins than the blood of kings." 

What subtle influence may have descended upon 
him from his remote ancestors, who shall say? 
There cannot, however, be any doubt that some of 
his marked characteristics came to him from his 
parents. His father was a man of great hospitality 
and readiness to give. His mother's heart was full 



6 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

of generous impulse, and her life abounded in deeds 
of kindness regulated by discrimination. She feared 
to injure when her aim was to bless. The same 
quality was conspicuous in the overflowing benefi- 
cence of her son. Those who knew him best know how 
eager he was to help such as helped themselves, and 
how resolute he could be in withholding assistance 
from those who were likely to squander or make a 
bad use of it. Of course, like others, he was some- 
times deceived and disappointed in those he sought 
to aid. 

A contemporary and playmate recalls a character- 
istic incident of his childish years. The two children 
were walking together along the road, having each 
got a penny to spend on sweetmeats. Meeting a 
poor old man, Alexander slipped the penny into his 
hand. To the inquiry why he had done this, the 
boy gravely replied, " Don't you remember, ' He that 
hath pity upon the poor lendeth to the Lord.'" 
Already this great principle, which exercised so power- 
ful an influence over his life, was beginning to take 
root in his young heart. He did not on this occasion 
quote the remainder of the text, but his after experi- 
ence proved it true, " and that which he hath given 
will He pay him again." 

It is still remembered by the same companion that 



PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD, 



when Alexander and he were sent with some deli- 
cacies to a patriarchal old Christian, he, looking at 
the boy's loving face, said, " That is a child of grace 
from the womb." 

He was very tender-hearted, and from early child- 
hood his emotions were easily excited by hearing 
of any act of self-sacrificing devotion. When a very 
small boy, his mother was one evening entertaining 
company at dinner; and his nurse being required 
to help in waiting at table, Alexander was allowed 
to remain in the dining-room on a high chair in a 
recess, with a little table before him, on which was 
placed the family-Bible, which he had chosen to amuse 
himself with. No attention had been paid to him, 
and he had kept quiet for some time, when the party 
was startled by a sudden outburst of sobs from his 
corner. On inquiry being made, when he was able 
to explain, it was found that he had been reading the 
history of Abraham, and when he came to the story 
of his taking his son Isaac to the mount to offer him 
as a sacrifice, his feelings could not be restrained. 
In after life he was always much affected in reading 
this instance of Abraham's obedience and confidence 
in God. 

The only years spent by Alexander under his 
father's roof were those of his childhood, and, like 



8 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 
1 

other children of his age on the coast of Fifeshire, 
he enjoyed a large measure of unrestricted liberty. 
This "wholesome neglect/' while it fostered the 
resourceful and independent spirit which has dis- 
tinguished many sons of the " Kingdom of Fife," in 
a larger world, was not without its dangers. On one 
occasion, when only six years of age, Alexander was 
amusing himself, along with a companion of equal 
years and experience, in a small boat moored to the 
shore. The boat in some way got loose, and the 
boys had drifted a mile or two out to sea before the 
position of matters attracted attention. The drifting 
boat was speedily captured, and the child-mariners 
were rescued from perils of which they were scarcely 
conscious. 

In his early boyhood Alexander attended the 
parish school of Leven, which was at that time under 
the care of the Rev. Thomas Cutler, a "licentiate" 
of the Church of Scotland. While a good teacher, 
Mr. Cutler fully shared his pupils' love of recreation, 
which had its part in developing manliness of char- 
acter as well as soundness of health. The prospect 
of a " foursome " of golf on the breezy links of Leven, 
which form the fringe of Largo Bay, had irresistible 
attractions for Mr. Cutler. The quaint old school- 
house still stands, though no longer devoted to 



PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD. 



its original purpose. In front of it lies a strip of 
sand and bent-grass, a portion of the Links, while 
beyond stretches the noble estuary of the Forth, 
with the bold Bass Rock of historic memory, and the 
picturesque " Law " of North Berwick, on the opposite 
shore. From the three windows of the school-house 
all this was visible to teacher and scholars. The 
memory still lingers with some of the old pupils, of 
certain occasions on which, when a passenger boat 
from Edinburgh came in view before the hour of 
closing, and showed symptoms of golf-clubs and 
golfers, the claims of arithmetic and " the rudiments " 
were overpowered, and the eager teacher wquld say, 
" Well, boys, you may shut your books, there will be 
no more schooling to-day." The word of command 
did not need to be spoken twice, and perhaps the 
bracing breezes and the free exercise of the links 
gave no indifferent compensation for what was lost 
by the curtailment of lessons. At least so it was in 
the estimation of the scholars. 

Alexander delighted in open-air exercise of all 
kinds. He was devotedly fond of his little shaggy 
Highland pony, and much of his spare time was spent 
in roaming about the country on its back. His love 
for riding continued with him throughout his life. 
And in all this we see one ground of his earnest 



lo LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

efforts, in later years, to furnish our city 3'ouths with 
such healthful exercise as lay within their reach. 

It is not without interest to recall that young 
Alexander paid many a visit to Kilmany, the parish, 
somewhat before that time, of Dr. Chalmers. He had 
an uncle there, who was an elder in Kilmany church. 

While still a boy he was sent to Dundee, where 
he enjoyed the advantage of a superior school. In 
Dundee he had the benefit of living with his grand- 
father, whose name-son he was, and whom he greatly 
resembled both physically and mentally. The "old 
Provost," as he is still familiarly called in the town, 
was a notable man at that period. He was a pros- 
perous merchant with large business connections, 
and was very fond of his grandson. The following 
brief inscription on a stone in the '* Howff " church- 
yard, in the centre of the town, marks the old man's 
resting place : " Alexander Balfour of Airlie Lodge, 
bom at Kilmany, Fifeshire, 30th November 1765, 
died at Dundee 8th November 1855, aged 89 years." 

Under his roof, in the pleasant mansion bearing 
the name of Airlie Lodge, which stood at a very short 
distance from the estuary of the Tay, and which was 
a Dower House of the Airlie family, Alexander found 
his home for some years. Airlie Lodge is now re- 
placed by modern houses, and few of those who 



PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD. ii 

were dwellers in Dundee at the time of which we 
speak, survive to tell what they knew of the old 
Provost's grandson. 

Those who remain speak of the boy in the warmest 
terms. One of them referring to his ardent tempera- 
ment says, " Balfour's youthful character — a character 
somewhat impetuous — foreshadowed the noble life 
he lived when he had come under the inspiration of 
a great love to God and man." He was naturally 
eager and hasty, but this temper was not overcome 
so much as regulated and utilised, so that when pro- 
secuting any good work, an impulse and energy were 
thrown into it which are given to few men. He was 
characterised in early life by great strength of will. 
This, too, was not conquered but controlled. With- 
out this quality, it would have been wholly impossible 
for him to have accomplished the work which in later 
life he carried out. Not unfrequently, in training 
what are called self-willed children, the mistake is 
made of endeavouring to "break their will." The 
truth is, that no life can be powerful and efficient 
among men without the presence of strong will. 
Happily in the educational and practical training of 
his early years, Alexander's will was not broken, but 
early yoked to noble purpose, and thus made avail- 
able for great achievements. 



12 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

While quick in temper as a youth, he seemed in- 
capable of cherishing animosity against any one. 
His lovable, generous character made many friends 
and no enemies. 

A faithful servant of old Provost Balfour still sur- 
vives. It is touching to hear her speak of Alexander. 
He seems to be the brightest figure in the memories 
of a long life ; and she wearies not in speaking of the 
golden-haired boy of Airlie Lodge. He was a " most 
lovable boy," says Elizabeth ; " I would have done 
anything for him." Her testimony agrees with that 
of others who remember his childhood, when she 
says, " I never heard Master Alec say a word that 
he might not have said before all the ministers of 
Dundee." Elizabeth's brother had gone to Cincinnati, 
where he became a prosperous man. In after years 
she was invited to go out to join him. The advice 
received from friends was conflicting, and she felt 
greatly at a loss. In the circumstances she said, 
" I will just write to Mr. Alec, and whatever he 
advises me I will do." His advice was that she 
should go to her brother. He invited her to go to 
see him at Mount Alyn, at that time his home, on her 
way to America. She did so, and she reports : " He 
loaded me with kindness, and said, ' Now, Elizabeth, 
if you find it does not suit you to stay in the States, 



PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD. 13 

just come back and live beside me at Mount Alyn, 
and I will see that you have all you need.' " She did 
return to this country after a time, but her brother 
had made all needful provision for her, and she 
dwells among her own people in Dundee. 

Airlie Lodge was on the whole a happy home for 
Alexander. The old Provost was greatly attached to 
him. It is curious to hear from contemporaries that 
Alexander's way of unconsciously but most effectively 
using his delicate tapering fingers, in any demonstra- 
tion or argument in which Tie was engaged, was 
almost exactly his grandfather's method. The old 
Provost's wife was not Alexander's own grandmother. 
She was in fact the third wife. She seems to have 
been a lady of quick temper, and to have kept 
the youthful inmate of her house under the bonds 
of a somewhat sharp discipline. It was altogether 
characteristic of his heart, that when some years 
afterwards he began to draw a salary for himself, 
one of his first presents was a handsome silk dress 
which he sent home to the old Provost's wife. It 
seemed to be his way of showing that he remembered 
her kindnesses to him and was forgetful of all else. 

Alexander, while living in Airlie Lodge, attended 
the Academy of Dundee for some time. From 
Dundee he passed to St. Andrews, where he attended 



14 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

*' Madras College/' and then took one or two sessions 
at the University. After this he entered his grand- 
father's office in Dundee, and served his business 
apprenticeship there. 

The religious life of Dundee, a little before the 
time of which we speak, had been feeble. Largely 
through the influence of Dr. Chalmers, the Rev. 
John Roxburgh (afterwards Dr. Roxburgh) was 
placed in the Cross Church, Dundee. His advent 
gave a great impulse to the spiritual life of the place. 
And some time after,* the saintly Robert Murray 
M'Cheyne was added to the labourers in that 
field. Alexander with his grandfather was under 
Mr. Roxburgh's ministry, but at the same time he 
attended Mr. M'Cheyne's Bible-class. These cir- 
cumstances, under the arrangement of Divine Pro- 
vidence, were much in favour of the highest interests 
of the youth. A surviving relative informs us that 
she distinctly remembers being told by him, that on 
one occasion Robert M'Cheyne put his hand upon 
his shoulder and said, "Alexander, how is it with 
your soul ? " The gentle look, the loving voice, and 
the all-important inquiry produced a deep impression 
on his sensitive nature, and left an influence which 
never passed away. 

In a pocket memorandum book, bearing date 1868, 



PARENTAGE AND BOYHOOD. 15 

we find copied the following words, which had pro- 
bably been brought under his eye when searching 
among old papers : — " On an exercise of mine on 
John X., verse 9, Mr. M'Cheyne wrote : ' Very good ; 
now you should seriously inquire whether you have 
entered at this door or not ; or whether you are still 
a lost sheep like that one in Luke xv. Are you in 
the fold? Are you saved? Does Jesus give you 
pasture? Can you sing the 23rd Psalm in your 
heart?— Signed, R. M. M'C" 

Thus do we find a link in early life, between one 
of Scotland's most saintly and winning ministers, and 
one of England's most large-hearted and generous 
merchants. 

We must not close this chapter without recording 
a family tradition of a dark and dismal character, 
which is deeply stamped on the memory of the 
venerable Leven relative above referred to. The 
incident takes us back to the days of persecution, 
when the murky moor and the heather-clad moun- 
tain were dyed with the blood of Scotland's noblest 
sons. For eighteen long years, largely at the in- 
stigation of Archbishop Sharp, suffering and death 
for conscience' sake were endured. But *'they that 
take the sword shall perish with the sword." The 
day of vengeance came. Driven to despair, and 



i6 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

determined to stop the career of the arch-persecutor, 
some of the people forgot their own principles, shut 
their ears to the pleadings of the gentle Hackston of 
Rathillet, and slew the guilty Sharp on Magus Moor, 
three miles from St. Andrews, on the 3rd of May 
1679. Janet Farmer, a direct ancestress of the 
Balfours, occupied the farm of Magus. She saw two 
of the murderers approach her horse-pond and wash 
the blood from their weapons. Weird and terrible 
was the sight. No eye beheld but hers. A large 
reward was offered for information that might lead 
to the detection of the assassins. But Janet, though 
doubtless condemning the deed with the general body 
of the Covenanters, kept her counsel, and would make 
no sign. She thought that too much blood had 
flowed already. 



CHAPTER II. 
EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 



" I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as 
in all riches." — Ps. cxix. 14. 

" Live while you live, the epicure would say, 
And seize thfi pleasures of the present day. 
Live while you live, the sacred preacher cries, 
And give to God each moment as it flies ; 
Lord, in my views let both united be, 
I live in pleasure when I live to Thee." 

—Doddridge. 



( 19 ) 



CHAPTER IL 

EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 

T N August 1844, in consequence of the lamentable 
-*" state of commerce in Dundee at the time, and of 
the business affairs of his much respected grandfather 
" the Provost," Alexander Balfour removed to Liver- 
pool, to push his fortune there. His path at first 
was by no means a path of roses, as appears from a 
number of letters written at that period, which he 
had never found in his heart to destroy. One of his 
most intimate friends in Dundee writes to him under 
date 3rd August 1844: "I know it is very hard to 
keep one's spirit up in a situation like yours. I 
scarcely like to speak of equanimity, lest it should 
seem as if I did not feel for you so deeply as I do. 
But still I hope you will be able to meet disappoint- 
ment, if it be before you, manfully, like yourself" 

He succeeded, however, in obtaining a situation as 
clerk, in the office of Mr. Manuel Blandin, a Spanish 
merchant in the Mexican trade. Under date 30th 



20 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

October 1844, he writes thus : " Getting a good berth 
here has been an exceedingly difBcuIt matter. I do 
not know that I should undergo the same ordeal to 
obt^n it again. The anxiety and trouble I had no 
idea of till I tried. I was struck with the coldness 
some folks I had letters to, showed, when they knew 
my errand : ' Would be glad to do anything that lay 
in their power, but, &c. &c.' Such was the usual 
reception ; not, however, in the case of Mr. I." 

It can hardly be doubted that the delay, disappoint- 
ment, and rebuff through which he passed at this 
time was a valuable discipline, and helped to produce 
the peculiar interest which he felt through life in 
young men coming as strangers to our large towns. 
He was kind and considerate to such youths to an 
extraordinary degree. His own sufferings turned to 
the solace of many. 

So much did Alexander Balfour commend himself 
to Mr. Blandin that the latter offered him a partner- 
ship before he quitted his office. But he preferred 
to enter the employ of Messrs. Graham, Kelly, and 
Co., where his services were highly appreciated, and 
where it was put in his power to go abroad, charged 
with responsible duties. Circumstances, however, did 
not permit him to avail himself of this offer. 

One of the closest companions of Mr. Balfour's 



r^"»iS"S?B:^C5» 



EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 21 

Liverpool life from its commencement to its close 
says that as a youth he was the brightest of the 
bright; happy, and always trying to make others 
happy. In his lodgings he was full of generous 
hospitality. Friends of his youth who survive, still 
speak of his joyous companionship, in long walks 
after office-hours on bright summer evenings, to Child- 
wall Abbey and other favourite resorts. He was 
then in the vigour of his early manhood — a manhood 
full of enthusiasm for whatsoever things are true, 
pure, and lovely, and which could not but com- 
municate its influence to his friends and associates. 
His delight was to have young men about him. His 
voice was fine and his musical taste delicate: and 
sometimes at this period he would enliven an evening 
with a cheerful song. 

Two events occurred in his early manhood which 
much affected him, the illness and death of his father, 
of which we shall by-and-by speak, and the death of 
his beloved brother Robert. He grew more serious 
and thoughtful. " What is life ? " he would ask, and 
" Why are we here ? " A visible change came over 
him. The great issues of our present condition seemed 
now to weigh upon him. The alteration in his habits 
grew naturally out of the deep, if almost insensible, 
change which had taken place within him. There was 



22 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

from that time a marked ripening of character, which 
was carried further, when troubles and perplexities 
overtook him some years later. But already he was 
a different man. His life had taken a new and final 
direction. He spoke little of his feelings, but his 
religious convictions were visible in all he did. 

The friend by whom these reminiscences are fur- 
nished was never separated from him, at that time, 
for a single day. And he is able to testify that he 
never heard from Mr. Balfour's lips, even in his 
merriest days, a story that was not absolutely pure 
and unobjectionable ; nor would Mr. Balfour ever join 
in merriment caused by any utterance unbecoming a 
Christian and a gentleman. 

Mr. Stephen Williamson, afterwards his partner in 
business, writes : " The first time I saw Alexander 
Balfour was in Fifeshire, at Leven, his native place. 
I was passing through, and went to Durie Foundry 
to see my school-fellow, his beloved brother Robert 
Alexander was our senior by several years. He had 
been on the links golfing and had broken his club. 
His visit to the foundry was to see his brother, then 
in the moulding shop, and to get him to mend the 
broken club. I remember most vividly his sunny, 
joyous manner ; but what struck me most of all was 
the tender affectionate bearing of the elder brother 



EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 23 

towards the younger. I had often seen a different 
course of action on the part of elder brothers : and 
Alexander's conduct at this first interview left an 
indelible impression on my mind. At that early age 
there had begun to flow through his whole being the 
deep current of tender human sympathy which never 
ceased during all his life, but which broadened and 
deepened to the very end. 

" I did not meet him again for several years. His 
brother, my old school-fellow, was learning his pro- 
fession of engineering in Liverpool. Alexander was 
in an office in the same town, and the two brothers 
lived together for a time in lodgings in Wilton Street. 
I had just come from Scotland to an office in Liver- 
pool My first visit was to my old school-fellow at 
his lodgings, when I again met his brother Alexander. 
From that hour, during my stay in Liverpool before 
going abroad, he was my dearest and best friend, the 
one whose society was most congenial to me, and 
gave me the greatest happiness. To my great satis- 
faction we seemed to be mutually drawn together, and 
not many months elapsed before we arrived at an 
agreement or understanding, that if ever we were 
permitted to begin business, we should do so as part- 
ners. To that understanding we remained faithful ; 
and I cherish with gratitude the recollection of the 



24 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

fact that, on more than one occasion, my dear friend 
set aside tempting oflFers, and remained faithful to our 
unwritten and even dimly conceived pledges to each 
other. The time arrived when in God's good pro- 
vidence we were permitted to embark in business 
together, in Liverpool. It was in February 185 1, 
the late Mr, David Duncan, afterwards M.P. for a 
Liverpool constituency, being associated with us from 
that time till 1863." 

A document is still preserved bearing date. Sabbath, 
20th October 1850, and signed A. B., which reveals 
to us some of the deep springs of his unselfish and 
elevated life. If we sometimes wonder at the un- 
worldly ways and the marvellous self-abnegation of 
the man, we find the root of these things here. A 
fine natural character was purified, deepened, sweetened 
by heavenly influences. Self-sacrifice and devotion 
to the good of others, fed from such a source, became 
natural, and, as it were, indispensable to him. In 
all the relations of life, his desire was to obey his 
God and bless his generation ; labour, cost, difficulty 
counted for little with him if these ends could be 
attained. 

The document to which we refer is a solemn 
covenant which the distinguished Thomas Boston of 
Etterick made with God " on the 2nd day of December 



EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 25 

1729/* This was copied out and apparently adopted 
as his own by Alexander Balfour. A portion of it is 
subjoined. The italics are Mr. Balfour's. 

"In obedience to Thy command and call, I, in 
myself a poor sinner, do now again fake hold of that 
Covenant of life and salvation to me, believing in the 
name of Christ crucified, who is ofiered to me as the 
Great High Priest, who by the sacrifice of Himself, 
hath made atonement, paid the ransom, and brought 
in everlasting righteousness for sinners. 

"I credtt His word of grace to me, and trust in 
Him, that He with His righteousness will be mine, 
and that in and through Him, God will be my God, 
and I shall be one of His people, to be made holy 
and happy for ever. 

" My God, I do by Thy grace acquiesce in that 
Covenant, as all my salvation, and all my desire, 
with my whole heart and soul. The Son incarnate 
is my only Priest, my Surety, my Intercessor, and my 
Redeemer; and in Him, His Father is my Father, 
the Holy Ghost is my sanctifier, God is my God. 

" I resign myself soul and body to Him, renouncing 
all confidence in my own righteousness, doings, and 
•sufferings. With my whole heart and soul, I take 
Him to be my very Head, and I am His only, wholly, 
and for ever, to live by Him, to Him, and for 



26 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Him. ... I am with my whole heart content, (Lord, 
Thou knowest), to part with and to renounce every 
known sin, lust, or idol, particularly that sin which 
most easily besets me, together with my own foolish 
will, and all other lords besides Him, without reserva- 
tion, and without exception, at His cross. 

"Let it be recorded in Heaven, O God, that I, 
though most unworthy, have this day taken hold of 
and come into Thy Covenant of Grace, offered to me, 
in Thy gospel, for time and eternity, that Thou art 
my God, and I am one of Thy people, from henceforth 
and for ever." 

Thus did Mr. Balfour, with the faith of a little child, 
accept the offer of the gospel, and cling to the Person 
of the Redeemer. In every duty he looked up to His 
loving eye for guidance, and leant on His strong arm 
for help. In the way of obedience he scarcely knew 
what difficulty was ; he went right onward, and often 
did the mountain before him become a plain. He 
found the paths of wisdom, paths of peace, and in 
them he seems to have been harassed with no doubts. 

On getting such glimpses into the inner life of Mr. 
Balfour, one can understand how it was that, on one 
occasion, when a busy merchant whom he frequently 
encountered parted with him in the street, he said of 



EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 27 

Mr. Balfour to a friend he met, *' that man makes me 
tremble with his religious earnestness." 

In 1854 Mr. Balfour's father was seized with 
alarming sickness. During his illness and convales- 
cence, Alexander showed the greatest solicitude on 
his behalf. A letter to his father which he penned 
at this time is remarkable as addressed by a son to a 
parent. It bears date, Grange Lane, Birkenhead, 2nd 
June 1854. After expressing his joy at the improve- 
ment in his father's health, he says : " I trust, my dear 
father, you have now been enabled by the help of 
God's own good Spirit, renouncing every other confi- 
dence or hope, to lay hold on the Lord Jesus Christ 
as your Saviour. I sincerely trust that no unbelieving 
doubts or hesitations keep you from cordially and 
truly obeying His injunction, ' Come unto Me, all ye 
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you 
rest.' I am sure that every possible encouragement 
that could be conceived of is employed to gain the 
confidence of those who are seeking salvation." After 
dwelling at some length on Rev. i. 5, 6, he concludes : 
" How we are struck dumb at the riches of His grace ; 
not only that He should love us, but should wash us 
from our sins in His own blood, and should make us 
kings and priests unto God and His Father ! Then 
let us sing, ' To Him be glory and dominion for ever 



28 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

and ever, Amen.' Let us seek that His most precious 
blood be indeed sprinkled on our souls — that we may 
be washed, may be clean, may be new creatures, and 
may have praise in our hearts to Him for ever and 
ever." 

When he went to Liverpool, Alexander Balfour 
was furnished with a letter of introduction from his 
mother to Mr. WiUiam Kay Coubrough. Mr. Cou- 
brough thus became his first friend in his new place of 
abode, and Alexander was much with him, spending 
his Sunday afternoons regularly in the congenial 
atmosphere of his family. Alexander never could 
forget kindnesses, and he retained the warmest regard 
for Mr. Coubrough, amid striking vicissitudes of 
prosperity and adversity, to the close of his own life. 
His aged friend, Mr. Coubrough, was among the truest 
mourners over his removal. His friendship helped to 
open the way to many other friends. 

Among these was Mr. Robert Gibson, a youth like 
himself, in lodgings in Liverpool. A warm and life- 
long friendship grew up between them, of which a 
few particulars may here be given. In May 1847 
they both crossed the Mersey to lodge in Birkenhead. 
Their opportunities for congenial intercourse were in- 
creased by the circumstance that they both belonged 
to Canning Street Presbyterian Church, Liverpool, 



EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 29 

then under the care of the Rev. Joseph R. Welsh, and 
for a considerable time continued to attend his ministry. 
They used to meet regularly in the Woodside boat on 
their way to church, and had pleasant converse as 
they walked up together to the house of God. On 
one occasion the two young friends visited the Sab- 
bath school of the Rev. James Towers, Grange Lane, 
Birkenhead, when they were enlisted as teachers, and 
became greatly interested in the work. 

Some years later, the materials for the great Mon- 
treal Bridge were being prepared at the Canada 
Engineering Works, Birkenhead, and a large number 
of artisans, of whom a considerable proportion were 
from Scotland, took up their abode in the "Dock 
Cottages," near the workshops. The district referred 
to is at some distance from town, and Mr. Balfour 
thought it would be of advantage to plant a Sabbath 
school in the heart of the Dock Cottages. This was 
done by the two young friends in 1855. A goodly 
number of children were gathered, and the assistance 
of several intelligent engineers was secured for the 
work of teaching. Two or three young gentlemen 
were also drawn in to give their help. Mr. Balfour 
and Mr. Gibson for the first year or two, before their 
engagements were too numerous to admit of such 
occupation, used to go on week days to visit the 



30 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

parents of the scholars. They also secured for the 
Dock Cottages, lectures on useful and popular subjects ; 
they gave the children treats in winter, and took 
them on pleasure excursions in summer. Mr. Balfour, 
it need not be said, prosecuted this work with all his 
natural enthusiasm; and while the effort benefited 
many, it was unquestionably of great value to himself, 
helping to educate him for the Christian work which 
lay before him in after life. 

In i860 business arrangements required Mr. 
Balfour to go abroad, and thus, among other things, 
to sever his connection with his loved labours in the 
Dock Cottages, to whose inhabitants he had greatly 
endeared himself. On the 8th of May i860 he wrote 
to his friend Mr. Gibson from on board the S.S. 
Europa, a letter which bears the stamp of his con- 
tinual tendency to take the lowest place, and to 
appraise at a high value whatever good was done by 
others. "For all the instances of your regard I 
would cherish grateful feelings : I feel how unworthy 
I am to receive them ; but this should not prevent 
my making acknowledgment to a gracious God who 
has provided the comfort and blessing I have had by 
your friendship, and the rich associations I am able 
to connect with it. How can I ever forget the 
pleasure, pure and full, which has been received in 



EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 31 

our walks on the Sabbath afternoons, home from ' the 
cottages,' when pleasant conversation occupied us, and 
the unveiling to one another of similar thoughts. 
How do such recollections cause the moments thus 
enjoyed to sparkle in the retrospect. ... I would 
thank you all for the forbearance which my weak- 
ness and thoughtlessness may at any time have called 
forth. I would desire to oflfer the prayer that of His 
mercy God may be pleased to keep us from all evil ; 
that we may cultivate humility and self-denial, and 
a desire for the welfare of others, and every grace ; 
that He may give us His peace and cause His face 
to shine on us.*' Thus did he school himself and 
make inquisition of his own heart. The foundations 
of an energetic, eager, unselfish character were being 
strengthened in this early sphere of modest but use- 
ful effort. 

It may be mentioned in this connection that in 
November 1850, Mr. Balfour, for the first time, sat 
down at the Lord's Table. It was a matter upon 
which the two young friends often had communication 
with one another. On this subject Mr. Balfour had 
shown hesitation, which arose from his lowly estimate 
of his own character and preparedness for the sacred 
ordinance. When at last he made up his mind to 
join with the Lord's people in the open confession of 



32 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Christ in Canning Street Presbyterian Church, it was 
a matter of great joy to his comrade, who had some 
years previously taken this step. Mr. Gibson wrote 
him a letter of earnest welcome on his decision being 
taken, and to this letter Mr. Balfour sent the following 
reply, conceived in his own spirit of lowliness, yet of 
humble trust in his Redeemer. 

" Birkenhead, and Ncvember 1850. 

" My dear Gibson, — I have just received your letter, 
and I accept, with the most cordial satisfaction, the 
right hand of fellowship stretched out to me, now that 
I am on the eve of sitting down with Christ's people 
at His Table. • . . Let us seek with our whole heart 
to do honour to ' Him that has loved us ; ' oh for 
firm faith to add, ' and washed us from our sins in 
His own blood : to Him be glory and dominion for 
ever and ever.' Let me entreat you to pray that the 
services of to-morrow may be blessed to us, and that we 
may feel individually, that partaking of those elements 
of bread and wine may be both a sign and a seal of the 
benefits of Christ's death to our otherwise ruined souls* 

" I am distressed by the prevalence of sin in every 
one thing. Accordingly I would tell all men, and 
would tell the Lord Jesus, I am not worthy to appear 
at this feast. I can only cry, 'God be merciful to 



EARLY LIVERPOOL LIFE. 33 

me a sinner/ Yet I go to Christ's Table to-morrow 
with something like joy. I desire to believe the 
testimony given, Christ came not to call the righteous 
but sinners to repentance ! Is there not encourage- 
ment to the vilest, if only there be belief in this 
gracious Saviour ? Let our cry then be, ' Increase 
our faith,' ' Help our unbelief.' 

"I hope for your friendly counsel, forbearance, and 
help, to avoid the danger of walking in a way un- 
worthy of my profession, and that we may go on to 
more sure acquaintance with the things that belong 
to our peace. And now, in expectation of the great 
feast, let Christ, with whom we are to hold communion, 
be all our salvation and all our desire. And think, 
think, O my soul I of the sacredness of to-morrow, 
which is to furnish a foretaste of the eternal joy of 
having fellowship with the Saviour in heaven." 



CHAPTER III, 
THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT. 



"The crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose 
trafRckers are the honourable of the earth." — Isaiah xxiii. 8. 

" We live in deeds not years ; in thoughts not breaths ; 
In feelings not in figures on a dial. 
We should count time by heart-throbs : he most lives 
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best" 

—Shakespeare. 

" Defer not charities till death ; for certainly, if a man weigh 
it rightly, he that doth so is rather liberal of another man*s than 
of his own."— Bacon. 



( yi ) 



CHAPTER III. 
THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT, 

WHEN he commenced business for himself, Mr. 
Balfour intended to succeed ; he felt that he 
had it in him to succeed. He knew that true success 
could only be realised with the blessing of God, and 
the proceeds of that success were to be consecrated to 
the service of God and of his fellow-men. One of his 
foremost subjects of concern was the application to a 
right use of the expected gains of the future. Those 
who knew him will feel that the picture drawn of him 
at the outset of his business career, by his partner Mr. 
Williamson, in the following simple touches, is alto- 
gether characteristic of the man. He says, " Before 
we began business, we had naturally to prepare and 
arrange articles of partnership. I remember with 
what earnestness he proposed that we should set 
aside a certain percentage of our profits for religious 
and benevolent purposes, before any division was 
made among the partners. His wish was cordially 



38 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

assented to, but the generous purpose originated with 
him. And to his dying day he never ceased to be 
thankful for having had so many opportunities of 
helping and furthering good objects, by means of that 
Benevolent Fund, It is unnecessary to say that his 
benefactions were not limited by the measure of this 
fund : for it is well known that out of his own in- 
dividual means, he was one of the most generous of 
givers." 

A business begun in a spirit like this, was not 
likely to lack the dew of Heaven's blessing. The 
large heart of the man was about to find wider scope 
for its beneficence, than when he wrote, in the year 
1843, the following characteristic note to his little 
brother : " My dear Henry, I enclose you one shilling 
for pocket money, of which you will please take no 
notice to anybody ; also half-a-dozen postage stamps 
to keep you from spending your pence. I daresay 
you are sometimes rather hard up for a little money. 
When you are in that unfortunate predicament, drop 
me a line, and I can always afford you sixpence at 
least." The boy was father of the man, both in the 
readiness to give according to his means, and in the 
wish that " no notice should be taken to anybody." 

Lord Bacon's wise words on the use of riches have 
never found more beautiful exemplification than in 



THB CHRISTIAN MERCHANT. 39 

Mr. Balfour's case. "Of great riches there is no 
real use, except it be in distribution : the rest is but 
conceit. There is a custody of them, or there is a 
power of dole and donative of them, or a fame of 
them : but no solid use to the owner. . . . Seek not 
proud riches, but such as thou may est get justly, use 
soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly." 

The aspirations and resolves of Mr. Balfour for his 
business life call to mind the words reported to have 
been spoken, not long before his death, by the famous 
Richard Whittington, who died in 1423. "The 
fervent desire and busy intention of a prudent, wise, 
and devout man shall be, to cast before and make sure 
the state and the end of this short life with deeds of 
mercy and of pity ; and specially to provide for those 
miserable persons whom the penury of poverty in- 
sulteth, and to whom the power of seeking the neces- 
sities of life by art or bodily labour is interdicted." * 

But there was more to be done than to " cast be- 
fore " and arrange for the conscientious and generous 
disposal of profits. The profits must first be made, 
and to this object the young merchant turned his 
powers. "During the first decade of our business 
life," says Mr. Williamson, " it was of course his duty 
to throw his energy into our business concerns ; and 
* "English Merchants," by H. R. Fox Bourne, p. 6a 



40 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

while I dare say we all did our best, I have no hesita- 
tion in saying that he, more than any of us, laid the 
foundations of our business. He was possessed of 
untiring energy and enthusiasm, qualities which, before 
the era of the electric telegraph and submarine cables, 
were perhaps of more importance in commercial affairs 
than they are now. That energy, it is true, nearly led 
us into trouble and disaster, for the crisis of 1857 
came upon us at a time when our operations were, 
perhaps, beyond what our means at that time war- 
ranted. The anxieties of that period made a deep 
impression upon him, and left a mark which was 
never completely effaced. He was full of self-reproach 
for what he considered to have been a grievous sin 
rather than an error of judgment ; and ever afterwards 
he was tremblingly solicitous that our business com- 
mitments should not exceed what prudence dictated. 
For some time the anxieties of 1 857-1 858 pressed 
heavily upon him, and the recollection of them brought 
him at times almost to the verge of despondency. But 
even in this, his singularly beautiful character shone 
out. It was not the burden which he had himself to 
carry that disquieted him, but the worry and distress 
which he imagined he had brought upon others. 

"... While his whole soul was fired with the desire 
to distribute with unstinted hand, yet in view of obliga- 



THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT. 41 

tions which necessarily arose out of a large and varied 
business, and which rested upon him and his firm, 
the necessity was laid upon him to permit a reason- 
able accumulation of capital. In his later days he 
frequently made use, both in speech and writing, of 
this expression, 'God helping me, I am now deter- 
mined, so far as I can, to preserve the root while 
seeking to make good use of the fruit.' ' It was well 
known that having acquired such an amount of capital 
as he considered adequate to his business obligations, 
he had for some years made up his mind to allow no 
further accumulation of his means, but to spend them, 
as God prospered him, for the promotion of Christian 
enterprises and social reforms. During one or two 
years of unremunerative business near the close of his 
life, he was greatly distressed to find himself unable, 
except by trenching on what he called the "roots," 
to give with so free a hand as he had done during 
many previous years. 

" He had not the remotest intention of retiring 
from business. It was his wish to die in harness ; 
and this he did, alas ! at an age and at a time when 
many of us thought the world could ill afford to lose 
him. When rallied by friends about the possibility 
of his some day becoming a large landed proprietor, 
he would break out, in his own manner, into derisive 



42 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

laughter at the very suggestion of such a thought. 
He was wont to say he would not exchange the proud 
position of a British merchant, with all its interests 
and opportunities of usefulness, for that of the richest 
landed proprietor of the realm. He frequently spoke 
with pity of men who had retired from business, and 
who had gone to the country to mope and wither and 
rust. His sole object in continuing to follow business 
pursuits in Liverpool was, that he might employ the 
position thus given him, as a fulcrum, by means of 
which to exercise a salutary influence on the town 
with which he had been so long and so closely 
associated. 

"... When I was abroad, his private letters, 
amid all the hurry and excitement of business, invari- 
ably gave expression to his interest in God's work in 
some quarter or other, and were constantly aimed at 
lifting us up to higher motives and considerdtions than 
the mere successful prosecution of business." 

And yet his letters aflFord little help in the delinea- 
tion of his character. They contain snatches of devout 
thought and Christian feeling ; but even those which 
deal with philanthropic questions are directed, for the 
most part, to some pressing practical point, the interest 
of which has now passed away. 

Suffice it to say, that the business of the firm was 



THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT. 43 

conducted on principles of the highest integrity and 
honour. Soon after Mr. Balfour had been called 
away from earth, the present writer met a merchant 
who said to him, " For a long course of years I have 
done business with Mr. Balfour. Shall I tell you 
why? It was because I saw that when an order 
was given to him, it was carried out exactly as if he 
were acting for himself. Of course I could not but 
stick to him." Happily the same thing may be said 
of many others. The principle on which he acted 
lies at the root of all honourable business. 

Many transactions which are of a questionable 
character are excused by the familiar saying, " Busi- 
ness is business." There was nothing on which Mr. 
Balfour looked with greater scorn, than the idea, that 
there was a mercantile code of morals and a Christian 
code. He believed it to be imperative on the man of 
business to be upright and fair under all competition 
and in all circumstances. On one occasion he entered 
into a written agreement with a merchant on certain 
terms. An uncomfortable conviction crept into his 
mind that it was too much to the advantage of his 
own firm. On reaching his office he said to one of 

his clerks, "Take back this agreement to Mr. , 

and tell him that I wish it cancelled : I think it ought 
to have been more in his favour than it is." 



44 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

The sensitively conscientious and self-forgetting 
character of Mr. Balfour at times manifested itself 
in peculiar ways. Mr. Williamson says : " Some- 
times his scrupulosity approached to business eccen- 
tricity. When at Valparaiso he perplexed the minds 
of his salesmen occasionally by insisting that, even 
for most saleable and well-bought goods, they should 
not charge beyond a low percentage of profit. And 
it was with ' difficulty he could be convinced that it 
was essential to secure a fair profit on fresh well- 
bought goods, in view of the losses which had to be 
faced on goods which had become difficult of sale. 

"At one time, in the realisation of produce at 
Liverpool, he set his face like a flint against selling 
to men who were merely ' speculators,' and insisted 
on sales being made only to dealers, manufacturers, 
and consumers. It was impossible to maintain that 
position. This became apparent to him on one 
occasion upon a serious fall in values, before which 
he had refused to take satisfactory prices because 
they were offered by a ' mere speculator.' Much to 
his discomfort, he had eventually to submit to a 
heavy loss. Such eccentricities or errors — if errors 
they be — had all a leaning to virtue's side, and 
testified to that scrupulous consideration for others 
which formed so strong a feature of his character." 



THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT. 45 

Certain it is that the man who could act thus was 
not likely to violate the rule of merchant life quoted 
above, viz., to seek only such riches as he might 
"get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and 
leave contentedly." To most of us the law is difficult 
which requires us to "love our neighbour as our- 
selves." To those who knew him well, it sometimes 
appeared as if his difficulty was to love himself as his 
neighbour. Not only in the transactions of business, 
but in many little ways in the home circle and among 
his friends, it seemed as if he were more sensibly 
affected by pleasures and advantages when given to 
others, than when they fell to his own lot. The idea 
of securing any benefit to himself, at the cost of loss 
or trouble to another, was a thing wholly alien to his 
generous nature. 

To be " not slothful in business," and at the same 
time " fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," is a task 
which many have found hard. Mr. Balfour acted on 
a rule which greatly helped him in the eflfort to com- 
bine diligence in his worldly affairs with the service 
of the Lord. He was always determined to keep 
business matters in their proper place, and to confine 
them to their proper hours. In Valparaiso it was 
customary for the heads of the English houses to 
have the young men from their offices living with 



46 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

them ; and there Mr. Balfour from the first made it 
a strict rule not to permit any reference to business 
to be made at table or in the house. Any breach of 
this rule greatly displeased him. It was his desire to 
cherish, in the minds of those associated with him, 
concern for higher and nobler interests. And even 
in the busiest seasons, his own spirit, dismissing 
office cares on the expiry of office hours, was free to 
expatiate in the fields of usefulness and beneficence 
in which he found his peculiar delight. 

We have seen what indomitable energy character- 
ised his early business life. In his later years he 
was more " restful " in business concerns, but never 
slack-handed. It cannot be doubted that the welcome 
change, from business to beneficence, served as a 
refreshing influence to his mind, and reacted favour- 
ably on his power for the discharge of his duties 
as a merchant. The man, who day and night has 
business on the brain, will not do even business 
so well as he who daily at the appointed time throws 
aside its cares, that he may advance the kingdom of 
God and the welfare of man ; 

" For blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds, 
And though a late, a sure reward succeeds." 

On the 23rd of March 1864 Mr. Balfour was married 
to Jessie, third daughter of the Rev. Dr. Roxburgh of 



THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT. 47 

Glasgow, whose ministry, in early life, he had attended 
in Dundee. The union was one in every way happy 
and helpful, and one for which Mr. Balfour never 
ceased to thank God. 

His letters at this time breathe a spirit of profound 
gratitude to the Giver of all his blessings. Writing 
to Mr. Williamson he says : " I wish to let you know 
how extremely grateful to myself and to my wife 
have been the hearty feelings you both cherish at the 
enormous addition which has now been brought to my 
happiness. I do not lose sight of the main element 
of congratulation afforded to my own mind, but I do 
sincerely rejoice that, in addition, I have the further 
gratification that such thorough satisfaction has been 
expressed regarding our marriage, on all hands. I am 
happy to believe the union to be thoroughly in 
harmony with Dr. and Mrs. Roxburgh's feelings. 
For one thing, it seems to link Mrs. Roxburgh to 
Fife again, and this is a happiness perhaps to her 
and her husband, but doubly so to all our connection. 
You cannot think how many different sources of 
congratulation exist around the union. Yesterday's 
post brought me perhaps the most valuable letters 
that I can remember having received : the West 
Coast matters all so satisfactory, things in Liverpool 
going on pleasantly : and then I had such a splendid 



48 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

letter from Dr. Roxburgh; I think it must be kept, 
and read on every anniversary of the happy 23rd." 

Again he writes in a merry vein : " I have not 
failed to point out to Dr. Roxburgh the coincidence 
you refer to, that you went to Free St. John's of 
Edinburgh for your wife, and I to Free St. John's of 
Glasgow. It is also odd we should each have selected 
the third daughter in the family, and that in both 
families the youngest girl is a bright-eyed lassie called 
'Nell.'" 

There was a vein of gaiety and mirth in Mr. 
Balfour which was not visible to all eyes. It was 
overgrown and overshadowed by the intensity with 
which he pursued the serious and solemn aims of his 
life. There were, however, times when the old bent 
asserted itself. Among children especially he was 
often free and frolicsome as one of themselves, enter- 
ing with his whole heart into their amusements, and 
rejoicing in their joys. He possessed in a peculiar 
degree the gift of mimicry ; but finding that it tended 
towards discourtesy, and sometimes gave pain, he 
deliberately abandoned its exercise. 



CHAPTER IV. 
SERVICE. 



" Oh, hearts are bruised and dead, 
And homes are bare and cold, 
And lambs, for whom the Shepherd bled. 
Are straying from the fold. 

To comfort and to bless, 

To find a balm for woe. 
To tend the lone and fatherless 

Is angels' work below."— Bishop How. 

"I do nothing. I am a chisel which cuts the wood. The 
Carpenter directs it. If I lose my edge, He must sharpen me. 
If He puts me aside and takes another, it is His own good will. 
None are indispensable to Him ; He will do His work with a 
straw equally well."— General Gordon. 

" Distributing to the necessity of saints ; given to hospitality." 
— Rom. xii. 13. 



( SI ) 



O 



CHAPTER IV. 
SERVICE. 
N one of the latest occasions when Mr. Balfour 



was permitted to attend public worship, he 
stepped into the vestry at the close and said to the 
present writer, with the light which sparkled in his 
eye when, his spirit was deeply stirred, and with the 
emphatic utterance which at such a time was insepar- 
able from his words, "Yes, service, service; that is 
the word for the Christian — service." His whole walk 
was governed by the principle of service. Every day 
of his life seemed to exemplify the counsel of the 
Apostle, " As we have therefore opportunity, let us do 
good unto all men ; especially unto them who are of 
the household of faith." And thus his footsteps were 
blessed. Wherever he trod, the grass grew greener. 
Leven, Liverpool, Valparaiso, San Francisco, can all 
testify to the truth of what we say. Yet, while ever 
ready in a good cause to help and to give, he had a 
quick eye for the detection of shams, and a certain 



52 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

power of making them shrivel up before him, more by 
his mamier than his words. 

Much of the service he rendered was doubtless 
known only to himself and the recipients. But if we 
examine his footsteps in any period of his life, or 
in any sphere of his activity, we find traces of his 
unquenchable generosity, his passion for doing good, 
for alleviating suffering, for ministering help. " I am 
my brother's keeper " seemed to be the motto of every 
day he lived. 

When he was but a youth and had little to give, it 
came to his knowledge that two ladies, whom he had 
known from his childhood in Fifeshire, had met with 
adverse circumstances : they were struggling with 
difficulties, and were in danger of having to leave 
their home. He immediately b^an to send them 
what help it lay in his power to give ; and in order 
that this help might be increased, he gave up smoking 
and put some special limitations upon his own daily 
diet. Self-denial in youth is the surest guarantee 
for beneficence in manhood. 

While speaking of kind deeds done in Fifeshire, it 
may be mentioned that in after years it was his joyful 
privilege to take a large share in the founding of the 
Greig Institute, which does an excellent work, especi- 
ally among young men, in his native Leven. 



SERVICE. S3 



As his means increased his benefactions increased. 
On one occasion, when business was very prosperous, 
he was restless at night. He rose and paced his bed- 
room with rapid stride. When the anxious question 
was put to him if anything were wrong, his answer 
was, " This will never do at all ; we are growing too 
rich : we must find new outlets for that with which 
God has so abundantly blessed us. I was just 
revolving in my mind what causes it would be best 
to help." 

A relation of Mr. Balfour died, leaving behind him 
four children who, he had reason to fear, might be 
but slenderly provided for. He travelled to the town 
in which the deceased had resided, to attend his 
funeral. At its close, he stepped into the bank with 
which his friend had dealt, and after some conversation 
with the banker, he wrote a cheque for a large sum 
of money, and said, " Just add that to the account : 
and nothing need be said about it" 

The following letter from the widow of a clergyman 
addressed to Mrs. Lundie illustrates the point of 
which we are speaking. It throws beautiful light, 
also, upon other features, such as the breadth and 
catholicity of his mind; but we do not choose to 
break up the letter into parts. 



54 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

" Vicarage, October z^ 1886. 

" My memories of dear Mr. Balfour are very bright 
and happy ones. It was at the time of the prepara- 
tions for Mr. Moody's visit to Liverpool in 1875 that 
my husband and Mr. Balfour were first drawn to- 
gether. A very warm friendship sprang up between 
them. They were one in their deep interest in things 
spiritual, and no differences in other matters ever 
seemed of any importance to either. I remember 
well on the occasion of an election in the town, when 
my husband's vote was recorded for the candidate 
who was being earnestly opposed by Mr. Balfour, 
our hearts were cheered by his calling at our house 
the evening of the Sunday he was spending in 
Liverpool, to bring Mrs. Balfour to our mission-room 
service. 

" The fact of their belonging to different Churches 
seemed to be scarcely recognised at times. I can 
recall a letter we received from Mr. Balfour in the 
summer of 1880, when there had been some anxiety 
as to the appointment of a first Bishop for Liverpool. 
In this letter he expressed his warm approval of the 
appointment made, adding that he wished to mark the 
event by a little thankoffering, and this was enclosed 
in a cheque for ;^ioo. 



SERVICE. 55 

" I can scarcely trust myself to speak of my own 
deep indebtedness to this dear friend. On two 
different occasions he sent my dear husband abroad 
in the hope of restoring his failing health. How 
sensibly impressed with Mr. Balfour's wondrous 
liberality he was may be best gathered, from a last 
message to him, from his dying bed at Marseilles. 
' Tell Mr. Balfour, I will be among the first to wel- 
come him to the everlasting habitations.' 

" But it was when I was about to leave Liverpool 
with my family that the most touching proof was 
given me of his loving remembrance of my husband. 
And now I love to recall it and love to tell it you. 
A letter was brought me enclosing the large sum of 
;£'500. I copy our dear friend's own words, because 
they show the spirit in which all his gifts were made. 
With kindest reference to the ministry of my dear 
husband, his gift is mentioned in the most delicate 
and beautiful way. He says, ' I am sure you will 
be pleased when I mention that the Lord has blessed 
us last year again with prosperity in business, and 
from the sum, which He has graciously committed to 
me as His steward, I wish to make a contribution to 

your and Mr. R 's children, which I am sure you 

will accept from Him.' " 

There was a touch of delicacy about all his gifts. 



56 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

which made it easy even for the sensitive to receive 
them. And though he loved his own Church, and 
repeatedly said to us that he would live and die in it, 
yet his heart went out to all of every name that loved 
his Master, as to brothers and sisters. 

What Mr. Balfour's warm heart was capable of 
doing, even in cases which might not seem to have 
a strong claim upon him, may be gathered from the 
following statement, which a friend has furnished. 
For obvious reasons names are not given. 

" I had the good fortune to make Mr. Balfour's 
acquaintance, when he went out to South America 
in 1866 with Mrs. Balfour and his little daughter. 
1 was going to the River Plate with my wife and 
two young daughters, and we were fellow-passengers. 
Owing to an accident which happened to the machinery, 
we were obliged to put back to Cork for repairs, and 
were detained there for a few days. We made up a 
party to visit Killarney and other places, and we were 
all charmed with the brightness, geniality, and gentle- 
ness of our newly-found friend. He was always on 
the alert to do any act of kindness to the ladies and 
the little ones. Self seemed forgotten or obliterated. 
On the voyage he visited the sailors a good deal, 
speaking to them, reading to them, and distributing 
interesting little books and tracts, of which he always 



SERVICE. 57 



carried a supply. We parted at Monte Video, and 
did not meet again till his return from Chile. 

" What always struck me in him was his quick and 
tender sympathy with the sorrowing and the sufTering. 
Inconvenience, discomfort, sacrifice, never seemed to 
weigh with him for a moment, where he thought his 
presence or his words would bring alleviation. 

" Personally, I was on two occasions the object of 
kindnesses and sacrifices which prominently set forth 
this beautiful phase of his character. In 1874 I was 
ordered by my doctor to go to St. Moritz, my wife 
being unable to accompany me. On informing him 
of my intended journey, and remarking on its lone- 
liness, he most kindly offered to accompany me. 
Arrived at our destination, we met several congenial 
friends, such as Mr. and Mrs. Donald Matheson, Mr. 
and Mrs. James E. Matheson ; and whether climbing 
the mountains or traversing the glaciers, his bright 
and cheery presence gave additional zest to every 
trip we made. I think I see him now starting with 
the above-named friends for the Morteratsch glacier, 
as we sang in chorus ' Safe in the arms of Jesus.' 

"During a drive one day, we passed through a 
village in the Albula Pass, the greater part of which 
had been burnt down a few days before. He stopped 
the carriage, made inquiries for the Curi^ and a few 



58 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

days later sent a handsome donation for the relief 
of the most destitute. In another small village he 
called on the Protestant Pastor, and gathering that his 
means were very straitened, he begged his acceptance 
of a considerable gift. 

" The crowning act of Mr. Balfour's kindness and 
generosity towards myself occurred under the follow- 
ing circumstances. In 1876, through a succession of 
unfortunate business transactions, I was brought into 
such a critical position, that unless I could obtain time 
and forbearance, I was threatened with the loss of a 
large fortune, or the greater part of it. I had never 
had any business relations with Mr. Balfour or his 
firm, which might have furnished me with a reason 
for invoking his advice or assistance. Moreover, at 
the time when my misfortunes were pressing on me, 
he was overwhelmed with grief at the loss of his 
eldest son, Alister, which had taken place the pre- 
vious week. Yet on receipt of a letter from me, he 
telegraphed that he would come up next day — it 
happened to be his birthday — and advise what he 
thought best to be done. He reached London in the 
afternoon, spent several hours in my office, went care- 
fully into the statement I laid before him, and advised 
me as to what he considered it necessary to do, in 
order to save my credit and my property. Expressing 



SERVICE. 59 



his deep sympathy and his earnest desire to help me, 
he returned that evening to Mount Alyn. In a few 
days he advised that his firm was prepared to assist 
me with a large sum of money under most favourable 
conditions, and that he had also induced another friend 
to come forward with assistance. The temporary 
strain was gradually relieved : my property was saved 
for my family. But for him it would have been sac- 
rificed. Although I and mine owed so much to him, 
he never in after years alluded to the subject, and 
seemed to object to my referring to all we owed to 
him. I have always reflected on this act of self- 
renouncing sympathy as an index of his generous 
and noble nature. ... He was always so bright in 
his sayings and doings, that I have often thought of 
him as one who was marching along, animated by 
the strain of celestial music which those around him 
did not hear. Surely there never was a nobler, 
braver, gentler. Christian gentleman than Alexander 
Balfour!'' 

The Rev. James Towers of Birkenhead, whose 
ministry he at one time attended and greatly valued, 
lost a daughter in 1859. Mr. Balfour wrote him a 
letter of warm sympathy and enclosed a cheque, 
adding: "I have reaped your spiritual things, and 
hope you will never refuse to share in my carnal 



6o LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

things." Mr. Towers did not fully realise the depth 
of the spring of gratitude which had been opened in 
Mr. Balfour's heart, till his retirement from the active 
work of the ministry in 1880. In a letter dated the 
13th of August in that year, Mr. Balfour says to him : 
" It was under your ministry that I was first led to 
that entire surrender of my heart to the Lord which 
marked an epoch in my existence, the gracious results 
of which will be imending. While we live on earth 
we can but faintly realise what is implied in the text, 
' A child of God by faith in Jesus Christ.* " 

Strokes of affliction fell fast and heavily on Mr. 
Towers year after year, till five of his daughters were 
committed to the grave. Mr. Towers narrates that, 
in consequence of the obligations connected with 
sickness and death, he felt himself constrained to 
depart, for a season, from his usual practice of dedicat- 
ing a fixed proportion of his income to the Lord's 
cause. At the close of this period, however, with his 
family greatly reduced, he felt warranted in resuming 
his old habit. He accordingly gave ;^50. "What 
was my surprise then," he says, "when about the 
New Year I received a cheque for £$0, the exact 
amount at which I had assessed myself. Next year 
the same favour was repeated, and I am quite assured 
in both cases it came from Mr. Balfour. This was 



SERVICE, 6i 



the Lord's doing, and perhaps it contained a reproof 
to myself for withholding, even at the worst of times, 
a portion so due to my Saviour. ... In a long life- 
time I have known many good men, and some of 
them as devout as Mr. Balfour, but I have never 
intimately known one who seemed so thoroughly, 
from the time he gave his whole heart to the Lord, 
to keep it fof the Lord, and to go from strength to 
strength without looking back." 

The simple incidents recorded above are narrated 
not because they were of an exceptional character, 
but as a specimen of the deeds of kindness with 
which all the path of Mr. Balfour was strewed 
through life. Often they were unknown save to the 
recipients, and sometimes those who were benefited 
were ignorant of the source from which kindnesses 
had come. 

We spoke lately of Mr. Balfour to a clergyman 
who holds a most important position in an institution 
that was dear to his heart. " Alexander Balfour ! " 
he exclaimed, his warm heart touched by his memory, 
" Alexander Balfour I If it had not been for him, I 
don't know that I should have been alive to-day. He 
used to come to me when I was run down by work 
that put a strain upon the heart as well as the body, 
and he would urge me to go to the country or the 



62 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

seaside for change, putting a cheque in my hand to 
enable me to do it : and here I am to this day." 

The following letter was addressed to us by the 
Rev. Charles Garrett, once President of the Wesleyan 
Conference. It is so graphic in its description of 
some leading features of the character of Mr. Balfour, 
and at the same time so characteristic of the writer 
himself, that we cannot do otherwise than present 
it in its entirety, as it flowed fresh from a loving 
and sorrowing heart. 

" My acquaintance with Mr. Balfour extended over 
about twelve years, and those years are studded with 
precious memories. He was the most princely man 
I have ever known. The good of man and the glory 
of God were his supreme ideas. It was his 'meat 
and his drink to do the will of his Father.' My first 
acquaintance with him was at Mr. Moody's meetings, 
and the wonderful success of those meetings was 
greatly the result of his influence. I especially re- 
member the eagerness with which, at the all-day con- 
vention, he grasped my proposal for the establish- 
ment of what are known as 'Cocoa Rooms.' As 
soon* as I had made the proposal, Mr. Moody turned 
to him and said, ' This is just the thing you want ; 
will you take hold of it?' and his hearty reply, 
' I will,' secured the success of the movement. My 



SERVICE. 63 



suggestion would have been useless but for his en- 
dorsement, and the British Workman Company is one 
of his monuments. 

" Soon after the establishment of the Company, the 
time arrived when, according to Wesleyan usage, I 
was to be removed from Liverpool. As soon as Mr. 
Balfour heard of this, he came to me and said, ' This 
must not be ; you are exerting an influence for good 
just where you are most needed, and you must re- 
main.* I told him that the rules of our Church 
were never relaxed on this point. With the impetu- 
osity which was one of his characteristics when his 
heart was set upon anything, he said, ' But they will 
have to be relaxed in your case.' I thought it 
impossible, but he set to work, memorialised the 
Conference, and brought such pressure to bear, that, 
to my own astonishment, the Conference gave way, and 
I was reappointed to Liverpool. This has changed 
my destiny and that of my children. I established 
the Liverpool Wesleyan Home Mission, which has 
now stations in various parts of the city, worked by 
a staff of two ministers, seven lay-agents, and a 
number of voluntary workers. This Mission is 
therefore another of his monuments. 

" As to personal kindnesses, they are almost innu- 
merable. In every imaginable way he cheered me on. 



64 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

and helped me in my work. He never met me with- 
out words of cheer, and when help was needed it was 
given, as he of all the men I have known knew 
how to give. When, ten years ago, under multiplied 
labours, my health gave way, and I fainted in the 
pulpit, he was at my house in a few hours, and every- 
thing that could be done to assist in my recovery was 
done, before most of the members of my own Church 
had heard of my illness. As soon as I could be 
moved he took me to his own residence at Mount 
Alyn, and there for many weeks he watched over me 
with more than a brother's care. My restoration was 
mainly the result of his kindness. My experience at 
Mount Alyn suggested to me the importance of some- 
thing being done to provide for the ministers of the 
Wesleyan Church who might be in sickness without 
a Mr. Balfour to assist them, and I set to work and 
raised a House of Rest at Colwyn Bay, where minis- 
ters and their families should have such a rest as I 
had enjoyed at Mount Alyn. A fund also has been 
established, by which other ministers can be sent to 
Hydropathic Institutions without charge. Thus our 
Wesleyan Ministers' Rest Fund is another of Mr. 
Balfour's monuments. Having said so much, do you 
wonder that to me his name is ' as ointment poured 
forth?' 'A prince and a great man' fell when 



SERVICE. 65 



Alexander Balfour passed away. He left a gap that 
can never be refilled." 

Side by side with this letter, may be placed one 
from the pen of the Rev. W. Hay M. H. Aitken, in 
whose remarkable evangelistic labours Mr. Balfour 
took the deepest interest : — 

" Alexander Balfour's life is written on the hearts of 
many of us, and will remain there aslongas memory lasts. 

" I made his acquaintance, I think, at the house of our 
common friend, the late Mr. Rowe, of the Dingle. He 
had been up till then an utter stranger to me, and I 
had no reason to suppose that he took any particular 
interest in my work. Great was my surprise, there- 
fore, when I received a letter from him, some little 
time afterwards, containing a cheque for £$0, to be 
employed in helping forward my parochial work. 
This, like so many of his gifts, was, if I remember 
rightly, entirely unsolicited, and it was the first of 
a long series of acts of benevolence, to which I was 
largely indebted for whatever of outward success 
seemed to attend my ministry in Everton. 

" The acquaintance thus commenced by unlooked-for 
kindness on his part, and natural gratitude on mine, 
soon ripened into the closest personal friendship, 
which did not by any means cease when my work 
at Liverpool came to an end. I had therefore 



66 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

abundant opportunities of observing, and, I may say, 
studying his character, and there are few whom I 
have thus closely observed who have left so happy 
an impression on my mind. Of his princely liberality 
it is scarcely necessary for me to speak ; for, though 
he was far from being ostentatious in his charity, it 
was known to all. But I may say he was one of the 
few men one meets — alas 1 that they should be few — 
who evidently felt giving to be one of the keenest 
pleasures of life. He would almost lead you to feel 
that you were doing the kindness in accepting, rather 
than he in bestowing, his munificent assistance. 

'' But to pass on to other characteristics, it used to 
do one distinct good to be thrown into contact with 
one who was so intensely, and, shall I say, resolutely 
sanguine. He lived at the dawn of a millennium, 
commencing already in his own enthusiastic antici- 
pations. You would never hear him talk nonsense 
about 'the good old times,' or find him casting a 
wistful, lingering look behind. Poor dear old grimy, 
drink -cursed Liverpool, with all its squalor and 
wretchedness, he not only loved, as Adam may have 
loved Eden, but would insist upon regarding as being 
within almost a measurable distance of a Utopian 
condition. And it was not only to the town of his 
election, that these sanguine anticipations were con- 



SERVICE. 67 



fined. He believed from his heart that God and good 
and right are stronger than the devil and evil and 
wrong, and therefore must carry the day. We should 
most of us add to this confession of faith, ' sooner or 
later;' but whereas a great many, perhaps a large 
majority, of Christian people would say ' later,' he most 
emphatically maintained ' sooner.' 

" But there was nothing fatalistic in this hope. He 
believed in bringing about the better state of things 
which he foresaw, and hence the breadth and warmth 
of his sympathy with every effort in the right 
direction. Though brought up amidst religious ^nd 
theological surroundings, that are usually, (whether 
rightly or wrongly), supposed to be narrowing, it 
was almost impossible for him to be narrow. The 
largeness of his heart expanded his mind, and rendered 
it possible for him to understand and appreciate what 
he did not endorse. 

"Like most sanguine people, he was impulsive almost 
to a fault, but then his impulses were generous ; and 
I observed, too, that he usually selected for his most 
trusted friends and counsellors, men of a cautious 
and prudent habit of mind, and that he allowed 
himself to be greatly influenced by their advice, 
while he supplied the enthusiasm that might other- 
wise have been lacking in their counsels. 



68 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

" His religion was that of acts rather than words, 
yet when he did speak on the subject of religion, one 
always felt that it lay nearer to his heart than any 
other. When in his normal condition, his religion 
was full of brightness, and in this respect he did 
indeed adorn the doctrine of Christ. Strange that 
he, to whom the joy of the Lord seemed his strength, 
should have been allowed to spend long weary months 
in the dungeon of Doubting Castle, and under the 
most merciless treatment of Giant Despair. Probably 
the causes of this trying passage in his experience, 
though he knew it not, were mainly physical. At 
the same time, it cannot be denied, that those, who 
enjoy the blessedness of an unusually sanguine tem- 
perament, are liable to sudden and violent reactions, 
and perhaps he may have been more affected by this 
than he knew. At any rate his name must be added 
to the list of the many great and good men — the best 
perhaps that earth has produced — who, at some point 
in their history, have been permitted to fall into 
despondency. Thank God the clouds were dean 
swept from his sky, ere the day closed, and at even- 
tide there was light. 

" Dear, grand, noble man ! his was one of the last 
figures that faded from my eyes as I started on my 
voyage to America in 1885. Little did I think that 



SERVICE. 69 

his voyage was so near its end. And when I returned 
in February 1886, he was again the first to greet me, 
as I stepped back on to the shore of my native land. 
Perhaps he will be amongst the first of the many 
dear ones to reach out a hand of greeting to his old 
friend, when my last mission has been closed, and a 
longer voyage comes to its end. Peace to his memory 
— we shall not see his like again ! " 

William Rathbone, Esq., M.P., whose name is a 
household word in Liverpool, was one of those who 
not only felt the magic of Mr. Balfour's indescribable 
influence, but sought to fathom the sources of his 
extraordinary wealth and fruitfulness of service. In 
a letter to us, written after his death, Mr. Rathbone 
speaks as follows : — 

" It is much more easy to feel than to express the 
loss that Liverpool has sustained, in Mr. Balfour's 
death. It is far greater than the loss of the direct 
influence of his generosity, great as that generosity 
was, or of his exertions to promote every good cause, 
unwearied as those exertions were. The influence he 
exercised over us all effected far more than his own 
means and time, devoted as they were to the service 
of his fellow-men, could have accomplished. 

" He united, in a degree I have rarely met with in 
any man, or even in any woman, the three Christian 



70 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, He never seemed 
to doubt that any good object he undertook could be 
accomplished, or that those whose help he sought 
would be less willing to aid, than he himself was. 
By his genial faith and hope, he often made people 
what he expected them to be; and even when he 
failed to make the selfish unselfish, or the sordid 
generous, this did not seem to excite anger or con- 
tempt for the individual. I do not remember ever to 
have heard him express a harsh or severe judgment 
of any one ; he had indignation for the offence, but 
not for the offender. He was always disposed to 
exaggerate the sacrifices and exertions of others 
while unconscious of his own. 

" It was this mixture of enthusiasm, geniality, and 
simplicity of character which enabled him to carry 
others with him, and exert so powerful an influence 
in Liverpool, in promoting education and those 
schemes for the enlightenment and healthy occupation 
and amusement of the people, by which he hoped to 
diminish intemperance and increase virtue and happi- 
ness amongst his fellow-men." 

In smaller matters, the following extract from a 
letter written by Mr. Balfour to Mrs. Lundie on the 
20th December 1879 shows how he carried out the 
Apostolic precept in reference to doing good to all 



SERVICE. 71 

men, but " especially to them that are 0/ the house- 
hold of faithP " I ordered a bale of twenty-five pairs 
of blankets to be forwarded to you. They are for 
distribution to godly poor, or to needy widows." 
Countless deeds of such thoughtful and comforting 
kindness were the work of the same hand. 

It was his habit to make his birthdays the occasion, 
not so much of receiving gifts, as of giving them. 

At a late period of his life, when the demands 
upon him were excessive, and, through the depression 
of business, his income was curtailed, he printed a 
circular postcard regretting that he was " Unable to 
respond to the appeal, owing to other numerous calls on 
his time and resources." But though this card passed 
through the printing-press, it did not go much further. 
There were very few cases in which he could bring 
himself to apply it. 

A sphere of service which Mr. Balfour found to 
be most congenial was the Liverpool Young Men's 
Christian Association. When he first became con- 
nected with it, the Association was housed in small 
and unsuitable premises ; It numbered but a scanty roll 
of members, and its influence in the town was very 
limited. He saw what a reserve of power was in the 
Association, and straightway set himself to the task 
of developing that reserve. 



72 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

He offered handsome prizes to successful students, 
he organised evening classes of various kinds for 
young men in business, and to make provision for 
these, additional rooms were secured. It was not 
long, however, before he became convinced that, if 
the work was to be done on a scale at all commen- 
surate with the requirements of a great city, it 
would be necessary to erect a large and commodi- 
ous building, furnished with convenient class-rooms, 
reading-room, lecture-hall, and all suitable appli- 
ances. A site was purchased in Mount Pleasant, 
and on it a stately and ample pile began to rise. Mr. 
Balfour was a constant visitor to the building in the 
course of its erection, keeping a careful eye on the 
quality of the work, and ready with suggestions for 
the perfecting of all arrangements. His desire was to 
make the structure a model building. He watched 
over it with a fond and unceasing interest, and after 
encountering some unlooked-for difficulties, he had 
the joy of seeing the work crowned with success. 
Before all was completed the cost did not fall much 
short of ;^30,ooo. His friend Mr. Samuel Smith* was 
closely associated with him in this labour of love, and 
both bestowed munificent gifts upon the Institution. 
The services of Mr. D. L. Moody, who was in England 

• At present M.P. for Flintshire. 



SERVICE, 73 



at the time, were secured to lay the foundation-stone ; 
and when the building was completed, the late Lord 
Shaftesbury formally opened it. 

Then followed the great work, of fitting the organi- 
sation of the Association, to its enlarged premises and 
its enlarged sphere of operation. This was undertaken 
with a devotion which esteemed no time too much 
to spend, no toil too great to undergo, if only the 
object could be furthered. Mr. Balfour was for 
fifteen years President of the Association, and, largely 
owing to his ceaseless fostering care, he had the 
joy of seeing his wishes in great measure realised. 
Mr. A. Ferguson, who was for seventeen years Chair- 
man of Committee, was ever ready to co-operate. 
The roll of members steadily increased, the advan- 
tages offered, material, intellectual, and moral, were 
multiplied year by year, the Institute made itself felt 
throughout the city, and the blessing of God manifestly 
rested upon it. A commencement also was made of a 
Branch Institution in the north end of the town, which 
is too distant from the central Institution, for easy 
access. Along with the able and zealous men who 
were associated with him in the work, he saw, 
ere he was called away, his plans carried out. 
Many young men have had the seeds of divine 
truth lodged in their hearts in these Institutions, 



74 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

many wanderers have been led back to the path firom 
which they had stra3'ed, and many sufferers have been 
helped and comforted. The young men of this great 
seaport form an exceptionally migratory class, and 
scattered on distant shores, not a few of the 
members of the Liverpool Association have carried 
with them, not only the desire to bless thdr fellow- 
men, but the knowledge of the likeliest means of 
attaining that end. Happily many remain in their 
own city, who are beginning to occupy positions 
of influence and honour, which they adorn in the 
fear of the Lord. 

It should be mentioned that Mr. Balfour placed 
much value on efforts to make the Association attrac- 
tive and improving on the social side. He delighted 
in inviting the members and their friends to laige 
social gatherings in the reading-room. And there, 
all aglow with animation, and in friendliest relation 
with all the guests, he moved among them, trusted 
and loved by everybody, himself appearing the 
happiest and brightest of all the company. Some- 
times, as is elsewhere stated, such gatherings on a 
still larger scale took place on the green sward of the 
fields of Mount Alyn. 

Mainly through the public spirit and the munificence 
of Mr. Samuel Smith, Mr. Balfour had the joy of 



SERVICE. 75 



seeing the magnificent Gymnasium in Myrtle Street 
acquired for the Young Men's Christian Association. 
There the young men, xmder the able management of 
Mr. Alexander, have the best opportunities for physical 
exercise and muscular development. 

At a large meeting of delegates from Young Men's 
Christian Associations throughout the country which 
was held in Liverpool, Mr. Balfour told what most 
endeared these Institutions to his heart. " I re- 
joice," he said, ''that this Association has got on 
its very front and forehead the word 'Christian.' 
We know very well that this word does not always, 
on earth, carry with it the honour it should carry. 
The world rejected Christ, and it will, reject His 
followers. Don't let there be any mistake on this 
point : but I am thankful there are so many young 
men in Liverpool and elsewhere who are not ashamed 
of the gospel of Christ. You see printed around the 
top of the hall of this Association the words, 'I 
determined not to know anything among you save 
Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' These words, from 
the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, lead my 
thoughts from Liverpool and this hall where they 
are inscribed, to Corinth where they were first read. 
Corinth was one of the greatest centres of commerce 
in the Apostles' days, and Liverpool is one of the 



76 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

greatest centres in our days. St. Paul thought it worth 
his while to address two of his principal Epistles, and 
to devote much toil, to Corinth : shall we grudge to 
give hearty labour to Liverpool ? St Paul knew that 
the seed sown in Corinth would be scattered with its 
commerce to many distant lands ; and we know that 
if Liverpool is largely blessed of God, that blessing 
will travel with merchandise, will float in ships, to far- 
off countries. Liverpool and Corinth, which I lately 
visited, are linked together in my mind. As the 
Apostle laboured for Corinth, may we labour for 
Liverpool ; and He who was Paul's Helper there will 
be our Helper here. If we learn to know Jesus 
Christ as Paul did, we shall find that salvation from 
sin is but the beginning of the business. What 
shall the end be ? With such a hope before us, we 
shall be able to bear reproach, labour, everything 
for Him." 

Mr. Balfour had a picture of Corinth hung in the 
reading-hall of the Association, which still reminds 
us of the sacred linking in his mind, of that city with 
the city he most loved. 

We must pause. We might go over a much wider 
range of charities in Liverpool and elsewhere, and 
still meet with Mr. Balfour. But enough has been 
said. He resembled the good King Hezekiah, of 



SERVICE. \ 77 



whom we read, "In every work that he began in 
the service of the house of God, and in the law and 
in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with 
all his heart, and prospered." With a Lord High 
Chancellor of England who was asked the secret of 
his multifarious achievements, he might have said, " I 
am a whole man to one thing at a time." 

As we thus dwell on the generous deeds of Mr. 
Balfour, and yet find that while he cared for others, 
God cared for him and his, we are reminded of 
another of Liverpool's citizens of bright memory, who 
was born so long ago as 1685. We refer to Bryan 
Blundell, the founder of a charity of which he him- 
self, writing in 1751, thus speaks: "The charity 
school has cost between ;f20CX) and ;£'300O, and 
was finished in 17 1 8, at which time I gave for the 
encouragement of the charity £7SO, being one tenth of 
what it pleased God to bless me with ; and did then 
purpose to give the same proportion of whatever He 
should indulge me with in time to come, for the benefit 
and encouragement of the same charity. So great has 
been the mercy and providence of God in prospering 
me in business, that I have made up the £7SO to 
;f 20CX), which I have paid to the use of the school ; 
and my children, six in, number, the youngest of 
them now near thirty years of age, are so far from 



78 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

wanting or being worse for what I have given to the 
school, that they are all benefactors to it, some of 
them more than j^ioo at a time. I may truly say, 
whilst I have been doing for the children of the 
school, the good providence of God hath been doing 
for mine." * 

It is the divine rule, " There is that scattereth and 
yet increaseth." God will be careful for the children 
of those who are careful for the interests of His 
children. May men like Bryan Blundell and Alexander 
Balfour who walk after this rule be multiplied in 
Liverpool and in our cities — 

" mi each man finds his own in all men's good, 
And all men work in noble brotherhood." 

Mr. Balfour had it for a guiding principle to give all 
he could while he lived. He held it little credit for 
a man to give, when he left the world, what he had 
no power to keep. Giving was one of the chief joys . 
of his life ; it made him radiant. Hence those who 
love and labour for their city are disposed to link him 
with Timothy, of whom the Apostle said, " I have no 
man like-minded who will naturally care for your 
state." 

Mr. Balfour kept before him in his desk, an extract, 
carefully copied by his own hand, from a paper by 

♦ •• English Merchants," by H. R. Fox Bourne, p. 6a 



SERVICE. 79 



Dr. DufF of Calcutta, on "Liberality as a Means of 
Sanctification." He evidently framed his giving on 
the principle it embodies. It is as follows : — " Men's 
tendency by nature being to trust in uncertain riches, 
so as to derive their contentment and serenity mainly 
from them, instead of from faith and confidence in 
the love and promise of Him who has at His com- 
mand the boundless stores of providence and grace, — 
the only effectual antidote of Divine appointment is 
freely, cheerfully, and liberally to part with them, for 
the benefit of the poor and ignorant; and thus to 
create and cherish a growing sense of perpetual 
dependence on God, a gradual, and ultimately com- 
plete, severance from all undue trust in the perish- 
able substance of earth, and a continued accumulation 
of treasure in heaven." Perhaps it was because Mr. 
Balfour so steadfastly followed this rule, that the 
" perishable substance of earth " had so slight a hold 
upon him. 

There exists in Liverpool a large class of chil- 
dren who are destitute, suffering, and in many cases 
neglected. They are early left orphans, or they find 
themselves from infancy in the slums of the city, 
amid an environment unfavourable alike to material 
and moral well-being. Attention had not been 
strongly directed to the condition of these poor 



8o LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

children, but some sixteen years ago the public 
mind began to be stirred in reference to the matter. 
Mr. Balfour, when calling on Miss Annie MTherson, 
so honourably known for her successful work in the 
rescue of waifs in London, met her sister Mrs. Birt. 
With quick discernment of eye and heart, he saw that 
one was before him, singularly fitted for carrying on 
a similar effort in Liverpool. He invited Mrs. Birt 
to Liverpool ; and in a meeting of half-a-dozen friends, 
the work of child-rescue was discussed. The thing 
was unfamiliar to the little company, and difHculties 
were foreseen, but the faith and enthusiasm of Mr. 
Balfour won the acquiescence of all who were present. 
Very modestly and quietly the enterprise began. A 
few Christian ladies met to work together and to 
pray for the perishing. Sympathisers came forward 
among the merchants of Liverpool, and none earlier 
or more cordially than Mr. Samuel Smith and Mr. 
S. Williamson, who has held the post of Chairman 
ever since the Association began its benevolent career 
in Liverpool. 

The movement has grown and prospered, under the 
blessing of God. Boys are sheltered in one Home, 
girls in another. The Committee are taking steps to 
erect a special building for the " Sheltering Home," 
as it is fittingly called. Meantime, every year, orphans 



SERVICE. . 8 1 



and imperilled little ones are gathered in by Mrs. 
Birt, are cared for, are trained, are instructed in the 
gospel. The change wrought upk)n them in a few 
brief weeks is almost magical. Drawn often from 
unclean and unkindly homes, their hearts open, as the 
daisy opens to the sun, under the influence of Christian 
love and the brightness of their new surroundings. 
Hope takes the place of gloom, and perhaps of fear. 

After preliminary training, the children are taken 
out to Canada by Mrs. Birt herself, or sent out in 
batches under suitable superintendents. Three thou- 
sand children have thus been rescued from want and 
danger, and placed in happy homes in Canada. The 
present writer has visited many of them there, and 
can bear testimony to the comfort and happiness 
which they almost invariably find, in the Christian 
homes of farmers and others selected for their re- 
ception. It is believed that not less than 95 per 
cent, of these children turn out good and useful citi- 
zens. For the present, this method of rescuing and 
providing for our city waifs seems the best and most 
effectual, as it is certainly the most economical, known 
to us. Mr. Balfour delighted in the work, turned a 
copious stream of his liberality into it, and in many 
ways encouraged Mrs. Birt and her fellow-labourers. 
He was often present among the little ones, and loved 



82 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

to watch their changing appearance, as the effects of 
shelter, food, instruction, and kindness made them- 
selves manifest He also visited the receiving Home 
at Knowlton, in the province of Quebec, and satisfied 
himself in regard to the condition of the children, 
when on the other side of the Atlantic. 

For the rescued little ones, the land to which they 
go is a veritable land of promise. When nearing 
the green and sunny shores of Canada on one of the 
trips, a little girl said, with wistful look, to the writer, 
" Is this the better land ? " As we looked into her 
bright wondering eyes, we seemed to read the 
thoughts which passed within. The squalor, the 
hunger, the poverty, the harshness in deed and 
coarseness in word of the slum, which she had called 
home, were all left behind. She had heard and had 
been taught, with other little ones, to sing of a 
" happy land, far, far away," where such things had no 
place. 

Bright sunshine bathed the beautiful shore of the St. 
Lawrence, peace rippled on the quiet glancing waters, 
kindness was round about the child like a garment. 
Was it strange if the enchantment of a change so 
sudden and so great was upon her, and if in her 
little mind the thought of the " land that is very far 
off" was sweetly blended with what she felt, when 



SERVICE. 83 



first she gazed upon the fair land that was to be 
her earthly home ? May the green fields of Canada 
prove to this simple child, and to many of our British 
waifs, the way to the country where the pastures are 
yet more green and the waters yet more still. 

Among the many objects which shared Mr. Balfour's 
interest, there was perhaps none which appealed more 
directly to his loving heart, none which he regarded 
with more confidence and thankfulness, than this work 
of child-emigration. 

At the annual meetings of the " Sheltering Home " 
and of the " Ragged School Union," Mr. Balfour ham- 
mered with persistent energy at strong drink, and 
the lavish facilities for obtaining it, as the main pro- 
ducers of destitution and crime. 

In Mr. Balfour's wanderings the world over, it was 
the same with him ; his heart was always devising 
liberal things for the causes he loved. No interest of 
travel, no novelty of scene, could repress his loving 
help. We give a brief extract from his diary in 1882, 
as a specimen of many such : — "Athens, May 18. — 
Devoted the day till four o'clock to writing. Wrote 
to Dr. Trumbull my sympathies with Mrs. Trumbull 
and himself, on the death of dear Mary. Made ofier, 
subject to approval of Mr. Williamson, Mr. Merwin, 
and himself, of founding a Training Institution at 



84 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Valparaiso, for Chflian school masters and mistresses, 
and of its maintenance for five years." 

His brother-in-law, Dr. R. Roxburgh, writes : " I 
remember one day in the autumn of 1883, when I 
was with Mr. Balfour in New York, he returned to 
our hotel from the American Board of Missions in 
great spirits, saying, ' I have found just the man 

for (a missionary station in Chile), and I shall 

have the pleasure of myself supporting him there.' " 

An example, like that on which we have been 
dwelling, teaches us where lie the real value of life 
and the true use of means. The weighty words of 
Canon Westcott on this theme are well worthy of 
being pondered. He says : " Life, then, we can see, 
consists not in abundance, in the overflowing richness 
of unemployed resources ; it springs not spontaneously 
from the things which we possess, from our original 
endowments, as the necessary product of natural gifts. 
It is the opportunity of the individual to win for God, 
by God's help, that which lies within his reach ; to 
accomplish, on a scale little or great, the destiny of 
humanity as it has been committed to him : to con- 
secrate, it may be, splendid wealth to common service ; 
to transfigure sordid cares by a divine vision." * 

There were some spheres in which Mr. Balfour 

♦ "Social Aspects of Christianity," Preface, pp. 6, 7. 



SERVICE. 85 



was asked, but did not consent, to serve. He was 
on more than one occasion invited to become a 
candidate for a seat in Parliament. The matter 
was carefully considered, and it was his deliberate 
judgment that that was not the field in which he 
could do best service. He used to say that his post 
was, to take a share in the great work of educating 
that public opinion, upon which all valuable legislation 
must be based. And doubtless he judged rightly. 
He was in full sympathy with the Liberal party in the 
state, but with his temperament and character, it 
would have been impossible for him to work on party 
lines. He would have found himself in frequent and 
perhaps impatient embarrassment, between the ideal 
at which he aimed, and the possibilities of practical 
legislation. The man who laboured most, and most 
practically, for the social and moral elevation of his 
countrymen was his man, whether Whig or Tory. The 
great questions bearing on the amelioration of the 
condition of the people, with which his head, heart, 
and hands were full, were better served by him out- 
side the House of Commons. 

He accepted a commission as Justice of the Peace 
for Denbighshire. In that capacity he did what he 
could to check crime, and abridge the sources of 
temptation in the county; but he felt, and perhaps 



86 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

chafed under, the limitations which a fair consideration 
of all the interests involved must impose on the action 
of every righteous magistrate, in administering the 
existing license-law. The rate of possible progress 
was painfully slow. This experience stimulated the 
desire for improved license legislation, of which we 
shall have by-and-by to speak. 

It is not possible for even the best of men to do 
the best of service in every department. God has 
not so distributed gifts to mankind. Mr. Balfour 
had, through life, to contend with the hastiness of 
temper which characterised him in childhood. But 
he had gained such mastery over it, especially in his 
later years, that many who were closely associated 
with him saw no traces of it. So much cannot be 
said in reference to the impetuosity which was natural ' 
to him. It had its uses, and helped to overbear many 
obstacles in his career of beneficence. But it had its 
drawbacks also, as his friends sometimes felt, if unable 
to arrive at the same conclusion with himself. From 
the intensity of his own convictions, he found it diffi- 
cult to comprehend or brook divergence of opinion, on 
points connected with what he deemed urgent duty, 
in the interest of his fellows. Yet it was a fine thing 
to watch the struggle which he maintained with his 
impetuous nature, and to see him at times, after days 



SERVICE. 87 



of reflection, entirely abandon some cherished position, 
and unconditionally lay down his arms. A certain 
sense of the danger arising from his eager impetuosity 
appears in the circumstance, that the trusted friends, 
to the test of whose criticism he was in the habit 
of submitting his own conclusions, were, men distin- 
guished for coolness and sobriety of judgment. And 
without unduly drawing aside the veil which conceals 
the sanctities of the home, it may be added, that no 
counsel was more valued by him, than that of his 
own wife ; nor could he find in his heart to persist 
in any plan or purpose, in which his eager impetu- 
osity was not buttressed by her calm and deliberate 
approval. 

He appears to have enjoyed almost entire freedom 
from speculative doubts, in religious matters. This 
immunity was favourable to the course of Christian 
activity, in which he delighted. But it unquestionably 
tended to disqualify him for some branches of service. 
He could not put himself in the position, nor under- 
stand the perplexities, of men of a speculative turn of 
mind. His grasp of " those things which are most 
surely believed " among Christians, never relaxed. If 
a side-glance rested for a moment on the agnostic or 
sceptical views of the day, he immediately plunged into 
useful work, and was satisfied. He could not, there- 



88 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

fore, be a helpful counsellor of young men whose faith 
was disturbed, or whose minds were unsettled by 
honest doubts. This task was for others, not for 
him ; unless, indeed, we recognise that a life like his, 
of pure motive and of lofty aim, contained in it, an 
argument, more potent than logic can formulate, for 
the reality of those principles which had made him 
what he was. 



CHAPTER V. 
FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 



" Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me 
come unto Thee on the water. And He said, Come." 

— Matt. xiv. 28, 29. 

" When hidden is each guiding-star. 
Flash out the beacon's light afar ; 
From mist and rock and shoal and spray 
Protect the sailor on his way ; 
Keep by Thy mighty hand, oh, keep 
The dwellers on the homeless deep." 

— HORATIUS BONAR. 



( 91 ) 



CHAPTER V. 
FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 

TOURING the whole of his business career, Mr. 
-^^ Balfour took the deepest interest in seamen. 
His success in life was built largely upon the services 
of sailors. For him it was impossible to receive a 
benefit, without an effort to repay it. Seamen in his 
view were not mere instruments for advancing the 
fortunes of shipowners and merchants; they were 
men with human bodies, with reasonable minds, with 
immortal souls. In all these respects they must be 
cared for. The improvement of the condition of the 
sailor became a passion with him. There was nothing 
about which he was more careful in reference to his 
own ships, than the accommodations and comfort of 
the forecastle. When at one period of his life he re- 
sided at Valparaiso, it was his delight to board his 
own and other ships, and enter into free converse with 
the men about all their interests, and especially about 
their spiritual welfare. Often might he be seen in 
the forecastle reading the Bible to or with the men. 



92 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

His love for sailors was hereditary. His mother 
before him took a very deep interest in their welfare, 
and scanned their movements with a discriminating 
eye. It is said that she minutely examined the 
shipping lists, and could tell fairly the whereabouts 
of every sailor and his ship, belonging to the Fifeshire 
district in which she dwelt. 

One morning in March 1873, Mr. Thomas Matheson 
received a message from Mr. Balfour that he wanted 
to see him. On repairing to the of&ce, Mr. Matheson 
found his friend bathed in tears, and evidently in the 
deepest sorrow. One of the ships of the firm, the 
Chacabuco, while off the Great Orme's Head the pre- 
vious night, had been run into by a coasting steamer, 
and had gone down with all hands but three. His 
kind heart pictured not only the struggles of the 
sinking sailors, but the sudden so^:row of their dar- 
kened homes. " Oh, my poor men I " exclaimed the 
heart-stricken merchant. To him the loss of property 
was of small concern compared with the loss of 
human lives. Among the drowned was Captain 
Ritchie, a thoroughly Christian man, who had been 
long in the employ, and exercised an excellent in- 
fluence over his crews. The sympathetic nature of 
Mr. Balfour mourned over "his men" almost as if 
each had been an intimate friend. 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 93 

He sent for Mr. Legge, the manager of the Appren- 
tices' Home, and commissioned him to go to Leam- 
ington, where dwelt the parents of one of the lost 
apprentices, who was their only child, their all : he 
was to break as gently as he could the tidings of 
unutterable woe. Selected messengers were sent to 
others of the bereaved on the same sad errand. 
Letters were written to the relatives of all the lost 
sailors who could not be reached personally; and 
all that kindness and sympathy could do was done, to 
alleviate the sorrows of the mourners. 

As in all such disasters, there were special cir- 
cumstances which gave peculiar poignancy to grief. 
Among the five lost apprentices was one fine lad 
from Scotland, who was bent on going to sea, his 
parents giving a reluctant consent. Before the time 
of which we speak, an appointment was secured for 
him on board of one of the ships of Messrs. Balfour, 
Williamson, & Co. Something distasteful at the start 
displeased him, and he left the ship at Cardiff. Cured 
of his liking for that vessel, he was not cured of his 
strong bent for the sea, and entreated the firm to give 
him another chance. A berth was found for him in 
the Chacabuco. The vessel he forsook reached its 
haven in safety; the vessel he chose was harboured 
in the bottom of the sea. Mr. Balfour testified the 



94 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

tenderest sympathy for the sorrowing parents of this 
cherished boy. Doubtless the trouble of his spirit, 
over his dead sailors and apprentices, stimulated him 
to still greater efforts for the temporal and spiritual 
interests of the living. 

One of the most practical and effective efforts for 
the benefit of sailors was the formation of the " Liver- 
pool Committee of Inquiry into the Condition of our 
Merchant Seamen." Of this Committee, which con- 
tinued its labours for ten years, he was one of the 
chief projectors. With his friends Mr. Christopher 
Bushell for chairman and Mr. John Williamson for 
honorary secretary, this Committee rendered most 
valuable aid in securing enlightened and beneficent 
legislation, in the interests alike of the seaman and 
the shipowner; for it was impossible to improve 
the condition of the former without conferring a 
benefit upon the latter. The most patent fruit of 
the Committee's labours was the passing in 1880, 
largely through its efforts, of the " Merchant Seamen 
Payment of Wages and Rating Act." Everything 
could not be achieved in a single Act, but a great 
step in advance was taken. The pernicious system 
of advance-notes was abolished, lodging-houses for 
seamen were licensed and superintended, the crimping 
system was effectually checked, arrest of sailors with- 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 95 

out warrant was abolished. Unhappily some of the 
provisions of the Act have proved effective only in 
part. The rating system was excellent, but it has 
proved practically inoperative from the omission in 
the Act to provide adequate machinery for putting 
it in force. The abolition of advance-notes, too, is 
evaded by the use of a system of bonuses, without 
which, shipowners complain that they cannot get men 
to go to sea. 

In spite of such drawbacks, however, a valuable 
gain has been achieved, especially through the in- 
direct effects of the Committee's action. Public atten- 
tion has been called to the subject; shipowners 
and others have been put on the track of inquiry as 
to the evils that require remedy, and the best methods 
of ameliorating the condition of seamen. Soon after 
the passing of the Act, a marked improvement 
was 'observable in the forecastles and in the dietary 
of the men ; plans were put in operation for the 
transmission of seamen's wages to their homes, thus 
enabling them to leave port promptly on arrival, and 
so to escape from many dangerous influences by which 
they were formerly surrounded. Thrift and sobriety 
have palpably grown under these and other beneficial 
influences ; and, as might have been anticipated, there 
has been improvement likewise in the physique of 



96 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

the men. Such changes have proved advantageous to 
shipowners, underwriters, and all connected with our 
mercantile marine. 

In 1876 Mr. Balfour and Mr. John Williamson, as 
representatives of the Committee, read papers on 
the subject of our seamen, before the Social Science 
Congress, held in Liverpool, which gave a further 
impulse to the cause ; and a resolution was passed 
calling on the Council of the Association to " memo- 
rialise Government to take into consideration the 
question of the condition of our seamen, and their 
deterioration, in its national and professional as* 
pects." This recommendation was acted upon, and 
had an important bearing upon the legislation which 
by and by followed. 

When the Act of 1880 had passed the Legislature, 
the work of the Committee of Inquiry was concluded, 
and the same year a meeting was summoned to dis- 
solve the Committee. In a speech made at that 
meeting Mr. Balfour said : " The condition of our 
seamen in 1870, and the condition of our seamen 
now, is one that demands the attention, not only of 
shipowners, but of the general community, and of 
our Government. Lord Sandon will bear me out, 
and there are a number of representatives of our 
leading insurance companies here who also will bear 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 97 

me out, in saying that the main cause of the loss of 
property and of life at sea is not the overloading of 
ships, as Mr. PlimsoU has so earnestly pointed out, 
is not the deficiency of hulls or defective rigging, 
but mainly arises from defective seamanship. We 
cannot be too thankful for the steps which were taken 
to establish the ' Conway ' training-ship, and to obtain 
a system of examination for our merchant captains 
and officers, previous to their being appointed to 
ships. But the further subject of the efficiency of 
seamen to discharge their duties is one that, till the 
preparation of this Bill, now happily an Act of the 
Legislature, had not been dealt with." 

At the same meeting, Mr. John Williamson, the 
able and indefatigable secretary, owing, in great 
measure, to whose labours the work of the Committee 
was carried to a successful issue, thus referred to a 
period of great difficulty and discouragement in the 
course of their operations : " It is only right to state 
that but for Mr. Balfour at this time, the Committee, 
disheartened, were almost disposed to cease further 
efforts." 

This circumstance is characteristic of Mr. Balfour. 
When once convinced that a cause was right, it 
was almost an impossibility to discourage him. No 
difficulty could daunt or deter him. He would say, 



98 LIFE OP ALEXAXDER BALFOUR. 

^It musi be done, and God will see us thiough«'' 
His hope in sudi a case was inextinguishable^ and 
was based on the conviction that God was on the 
side of truth and justice. Means flowed in, opposi- 
tion was overcome, and success was attained. One 
such man engaged in a noble enterprise will spread 
the contagion of his faith and hope to those who 
are ready to faint, and wiD suffice, in emergency, 
to save a cause from shipwreck. "All things are 
possible to him that believeth.'' 

The inspiring words, of a writer already quoted, 
were strikingly exemplified in the invincible hope of 
this man. " As Christians, we are not left, as other 
men, to quicken our impulses by noble abstractions or 
splendid guesses. As Christians, we are not con- 
strained, as other men, to acquiesce in the presence 
of unconquerable suffering. As Christians, we are 
not condemned, as other men, to gaze with stem 
resignation upon the spectacle of lost good. If the 
Word became flesh, the brotherhood of man is a 
reality for us. If the Son of God was crucified, the 
fall, and with it the redemption, are realities for us. 
If the Son of Man rose again from the dead, the 
eternal significance of our short space of labour is a 
reality for us." * 

• "Social Aspects of Christianity," p. 7. 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 99 

There were features in the condition of seamen 
which early arrested Mr. Balfour's attention. Of 
these, the want of continuous service is one of the 
most prejudicial. It lies very near the root of the 
disadvantages of their occupation. It has a most 
important bearing on the improvidence, recklessness, 
and dissipation which too largely characterise them 
as a class. We may invite them into "Sailors' 
Homes ; " we may shelter them in " Strangers' Rests ; " 
we may appeal to them by seamen's missionaries; 
but all this and much more will not make up for the 
want of that salutary bond, which ought to bind the 
employed to the employer. When shipowners are 
benevolent men, this bond, if it could be maintained, 
would be productive of the best results. It may 
be doubted whether much will ever be done, funda- 
mentally to improve the condition of our sailors, 
unless this end be secured. When it is remem- 
bered that we have to deal with the interests of 
some two hundred thousand British seamen, and with 
all who depend upon them, it will be seen that a 
question of this kind is of far-reaching concern. 

Mr. Balfour felt it to be so, and the subject caused 
him and his partner in business much thought and 
care. His servants, male and female, and his employes 
of various kinds on shore, were on a very different 



loo LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

footing from the sailors through whom he was, to 
some extent, laying the foundations of his fortunes. 
On the former it was possible to keep a kindly and 
interested eye, and to attempt at least to exert a 
healthful moral influence, from day to day and from 
year to year. His instinct for doing good to all 
about him, and especially to those who were closely 
connected with him in business or otherwise, was 
inextinguishable. Was the seaman to be left outside 
the wholesome influences which were available for 
the landsman ? The frequent termination of all rela- 
tion between shipowners and seamen at the close of a 
voyage, the brief and fugitive character of the connec- 
tion, placed almost insuperable barriers in the way. 
He made an effort to overcome these obstacles. His 
firm for a time paid the travelling expenses of their 
seamen, when they reached port, to and from their 
homes, if these were not in Liverpool; they paid 
them also a modified rate of wages between voyages. 
But these conditions proving too onerous, the generous 
plan had to be abandoned. 

Another method suggested itself. Could the sailors 
in their employ be housed in a respectable and com- 
fortable home, provided, on a moderate payment, by 
the firm ; and could they thus be kept together and 
made to feel the kindly influence of their employers ? 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. loi 

It was not found practicable to carry this scheme 
into effect ; and besides, the Liverpool Sailors' Home 
was doing an excellent work in the same direction, 
for the seamen of the port in general. 

One substantial result, however, grew out of these 
thoughts and plans. A Home was founded in Duke 
Street, for apprentices and junior officers. This Home, 
though intended in the first instance for the young 
sailors in their own employ, was not limited to these. 
A large outlay was involved in the founding of this 
Home, but there was. ample reward in the good 
accomplished. The youths were thus saved from the 
risks and temptations of such lodgings as many of 
them might have obtained ; they were surrounded by 
the kindly and Christian influences of the family who 
were at the head of the Home; their evenings were 
made pleasant and lively by congenial society, by 
music, games, &c. 

Numerous letters to Mr. Legge, the manager of the 
Apprentices' Home, from all parts of the world, bear 
testimony to the gratitude of the apprentices, for the 
provision thus made for them. In not a few cases, 
the letters tell of spiritual blessing received in the 
Home ; and the friends of some, who have lost their 
lives in their perilous calling, have had their sorrow 
brightened with thanksgiving when they have seen. 



zhrzc^ tre ziedi-izx cf lie csncspocoesce kept op 
wiih tie Hrrre, f^sz thei- j:s£ cues had been foand 
ere rbe ezd cazie. Wbsi tie sea grses a tiie dead 
wiiica are in fr. trsere wll be pracfccs te^Lznocj that 
this Kccae was ncc rearsti fn xaiz^ 

A g'lazce at lie ler-srs referred lo gfres tjoodung 
eTiience oc tbe haZcwed waj in wiich the Home is 
linked with the brpes and fears,, the jcjs and sorrows^ 
of the beys who have beea there, and their parents 
znd fiieodsL A tew brief extracts^ takea trcm letters 
writiea in 1S75, izaj be giTcn. 



" Our worst fears respecting mj dear brother Wfllie 
have unhappilj been realised. A idnd letto* m>m the 
second mate shuts cut all hope. He says that the 
vessel was out of sight nve minutes after she stmck^ 
and that dear Willie was in one of the boats; which 
time did not pennh them to unfasten. He was 
swallowed up by the suction of the sinking ship. I 
can write no further on this awful subject : it is too 
dreadfuL God give us grace to bear it with Christian 
resignation, and may He bless you for your loving- 
kindness to our dear lost sailor." 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 103 



• Vicarage, Afay 21, 1875. 



" I beg to thank you sincerely for your kindness to 
my son Basil when under your care. He was very 
much pleased with your letter to him, received yester- 
day, and so, I must add, were his father and I. You 
are indeed a kind friend to young sailors far away 
from their parents. I thank you also for the nice 
little books you so kindly forwarded to him. I mean 
to put them in his chest when he starts on his next 
voyage — when and where, we do not know yet. May 
it be his fortune to meet with such good friends as 
you have proved, in times of need." 

•*PoNTYPOoL,/«w 10^ 1875. 
"Now that we have again parted with our dear 
boy, I wish to thank you, and so does my husband, 
for the many acts of kindness rendered to him by you 
during his stay, as well as to Frank when he was at 
home. We beg to assure you that we deeply and 
gratefully appreciate your kind attention." 

"Fishguard, October 26, 1875. 

"I saw in the Gazette that La Escocessa was 

off Holyhead on Saturday. I should feel extremely 

obliged if you would kindly let me know if she has 

got up to Liverpool safely. We are very anxious, as 



104 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

last night was such a stormy night. I always feel 
so thankful when the boys arrive in Liverpool after a 
voyage, as I know they are well cared for when they 
are with you." 

" TwEEDMOUTH, December 3, 1875. 
" I hope you will excuse the liberty of Norman's 
sister writing to you. I am going to ask a favour of 
jnou, which would be too much to ask of a stranger ; 
but one who loved my brother can be no stranger to 
me, I opened your letter for papa this morning, but 
my parents have not seen it ; I feel afraid to let them 
see it, kind and sympathising as it is. Their hopes 
have been raised this week, and I cannot, oh ! I can- 
not bear to witness their fearful grief when hope is 
gone. • . . We were all so bound up in our precious 
Norman, and feel it almost too hard to give him up. 
We know, indeed, if he is gone, it is for some wise 
reason. The favour I would beg is this : will you, 
dear sir, who I know have prayed for our darling, 
tell me if you think he was brought into Christ's fold 
ere he left you ? He wrote a letter just before sailing, 
which now we prize beyond everything. He said he 
'hoped God would spare us all to meet again, and 
that we should see a great change for the better in 
him.' Dear boy, he had been thinking of little faults 
at home, which we could not think faults. I know 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. JoJ 

one of God's people will comfort one who is writing 
in deep sorrow, and longing for comfort on this point. 
It will comfort my parents, should they be forced to 
give up the hope we all yet cling to. I fear it will 
bring my father to the grave. 

*'P.S. — If you have heard bad tidings of the ship, 
please tell me ; it is better than doubt." 

It would be difficult to estimate the value to young 
sailors such as " Norman " of the pervading Christian 
influence of such a home as "Balfour House." It 
would be difficult to fathom the preciousness, to 
anxious or bereaved parents and relations, of the 
tidings and the sympathy which come back to them 
from such a home, in cases like that just cited. Were 
all our sailor-boys to be environed thus with loving 
Christian influence before they sail and after they 
return from sea, what untold benefits might be secured 
for themselves, for their families, and for the mer- 
cantile marine ! 

Instances are not wanting of spiritual good done 
in connection with the Apprentices' Home. A young 
sailor named Harold met, at San Francisco, with a 
Christian youth, whose acquaintance he made at the 
Home. The ships of the two young men lay side by 
side at San Francisco, and the two friends spent five 



io6 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

consecutive evenings in attending the meetings of 
Messrs. Moody and Sankey, then being held there, 
and with the most salutary effect. Soon after this, 
young Harold was killed by a fall from the mast, and 
his companion was able to tell his friend's parents 
of the faith he had in his Redeemer when they 
parted. The mourning father writes to Mr. Lcg^e : 
" I earnestly prayed that our dear boy might be kept 
from the evil all around him : this I could pray for 
without reservation ; and he has been kept, but not 
in our way." The tidings regarding this young sailor 
gave Mr. Balfour much joy, and all such incidents 
deepened his sense of the value of the Apprentices' 
Home. 

Of course such efforts for the good of others, as 
were involved in the founding of the Apprentices' 
Home, cannot be made without reflex benefit to those 
who make them. The officers and men of the firm 
have been of excellent quality. It may be doubted if 
any shipowners in Liverpool or elsewhere have been 
better served than Messrs. Balfour, Williamson, & Co. 

It could not be foreseen, when the Apprentices' 
Home was founded, that the capricious, or at least 
incalculable changes in trade should, within a short 
time, render it of little value to the firm which carried 
the plan into execution. But it so happens that the 



FOOTSTEPS A MONO SEA MEN. 107 

requirements of business have taken the ships of the 
firm to the Continent, to London, to the Tyne, to the 
Bristol Channel, and elsewhere, while seldom guiding 
them to Liverpool ; so that for the last two years none 
of them have come into this port. But happily the 
advantages which, during recent years they have failed 
to reap for their own young men, have fallen to the 
lot of others. 

Though the conditions have somewhat' altered in 
the lapse of years, this institution continues, under 
the admirable management of Mr. Legge, in whom 
Mr. Balfour justly reposed the greatest confidence* It 
now bears the name of " Balfour House," and con- 
tinues to provide great advantages to the class for 
whom it was designed. 

" Mr. Balfour," says Mr. Legge, " had the interest 
of apprentices very much at heart. He never paid us 
a visit without suggesting something which he thought 
would promote the comfort and happiness of the boys. 
It was characteristic of him to treat us, when he came 
to the Home, as if he were under an obligation to us 
for receiving him. Though a bedroom was always 
kept for his use, he invariably sent a messenger to 
inquire of Mrs. Legge if it would be quite convenient 
for him to use it." 

Among the means employed for improving their 



io8 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

sailors may be mentioned a plan adopted by the 
firm. A system of bonuses, in addition to the regu- 
lar wages, was established. Notices were posted in 
the forecastle intimating that where the character 
exhibited and the language employed warranted it, a 
" very good " conduct certificate would be given by 
the captain, carrying with it a reward at the end of 
the voyage. The system worked well at first, but, 
from various causes, it has of late become practically 
inoperative. 

Instances were occurring all through his life of 
Mr. .Balfour's concern about the personal welfare of 
sailors. In 1866 he went to Valparaiso in the S.S. 
Panama, In his memorandum-book, in which brief 
records of the voyage are contained, occurs the 
following : — " On board the Panama there are thirty- 
two sailors, firemen, and stokers, of whom only three 
possessed Bibles. One of them was a Roman Catho- 
lic. I distributed amongst them twenty-eight copies 
of the Scriptures and four religious books, as a 
memento of our voyage." Then follows a careful 
list of all the men, to which is appended a note of 
satisfaction that all of them now owned copies of the 
Word of God. 

At a later period, when on a voyage, he records 
his observations in the forecastle, which to him was 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 109 

perhaps the most attractive part of a vessel. **In 
the evening went with a friend to talk to the sea- 
men in the forecastle; tried to encourage them to 
look to God for help, and pressed on them the need 
of self-help ; counselled them to trust in the love of 
God, who has given His own Son to die for us in- 
dividually. All very thankful for the little books we 
distributed. The men represented to us very respect- 
fully the crowded state of the forecastle. They pointed 
out that the forecastle was not properly lined, and 
that the wet sometimes came down from the roof 
and sides, so that they could not keep dry, although 
they used all the sacks and canvas they could get. 
The forecastle had only one ventilator opening from 
the roof, and in bad weather, when it is closed, the 
air becomes so hot and bad that sleep is impossible. 
In hot weather the air is stifling. The men further 
represented the insecurity of the forecastle, which is 
the very foremost part of the ship, and is not separated 
by a bulkhead, from the bow. If the ship were to 
run into an iceberg, as the Arizona did, the conse- 
quences would be fatal. The men pointed out that 
there is only one stair, and that a narrow one, by 
which seamen, stokers, firemen, and others can get 
on deck, one at a time, and if an accident were to 
happen and confusion to occur, there would probably 



no LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

be loss of life in attempting to crush up to the deck. 
I am sure the builders have committed a great over- 
sight in neglecting to provide a proper and secure 

forecastle for the . I have the greatest difficulty 

myself, with regard to the building of ships in which 
our firm is interested, in securing that reasonable 
provision be made for the seamen. I always go to 
the forecastle of new ships, and take more care to 
inspect them, than I do to see to the arrangements 
of the cabins, as captains are well able, as a rule, to 
attend to the cabins." 

All this information, as the note-book tells us, was 
communicated by Mr. Balfour to the chairman of the 
company concerned in a letter which closed thus : " I 
hope you will pardon my drawing your attention to 

the forecastle of the , as I am sure you would 

not be satisfied were you to examine it. I am the 
more anxious to bring this matter before you, as you 
are building new steamers, whose forecastle arrange- 
ments you can readily control." 

Thus did Mr. Balfour's almost instinctive care for 
the interests of seamen find expression both as re- 
gards his own ships and the ships of others. His 
concern for the interests of the "men" slumbered 
not. Nor can it be doubted that it has communicated 
itself to others. If there is any class of our country- 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. in 

men whose personal safety, whose reasonable comfort 
and welfare should specially be regarded by England, 
surely it is the seamen upon whom her commerce 
and her safety so largely depend. That these men, 
by whose perilous exertions wealth and prosperity 
are attained by many, should have anything less than 
justice, anything less than kindly consideration, was a 
thought utterly distasteful to the heart of Mr. Balfour. 
It was the desire of his soul to guard their interests, 
for in the matter of self-protection they are feeble ; to 
shield them, for they are tempted ; to elevate them, for 
they are depressed. Our best shipowners sympathise 
in such aims ; but if sympathy were to pervade that 
class, and indeed all classes of citizens, and to embody 
itself in practical and operative endeavour, how bene- 
ficent a change might speedily be wrought in the 
condition of our British sailors I 

The banishing of grog as an article of daily use 
from pur ships has now become general, and has 
been of untold advantage to crews, passengers, and 
shipowners. Messrs. Balfour, Williamson, & Co. very 
early discerned the benefit of such a course and 
adopted it. This beneficent system is now also, to a 
certain extent, adopted in the Royal Navy, an allow- 
ance in lieu of strong drink being given to those who 
choose to avail themselves of it. This contrasts 



112 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

favourably with the time when grog was regularly 
served out to the men twice a day. 

It need scarcely be said that Mr. Balfour took the 
deepest interest in the Liverpool Sailors' Home. 
This large and excellent institution has for many 
years been under the careful and sympathetic super- 
intendence of Mr. Hanmer. The Home is capable of 
accommodating more than three hundred men, and 
has rendered most valuable service to both sailors 
and shipowners. The instincts of his heart drew 
Mr. Balfour very much to that centre, and he was 
ready to do anything that lay in his power, for the 
welfare of its ever-changing inmates. The following 
brief statement from the pen of Mr. Hanmer will 
indicate the nature of Mr. Balfour's relations with the 
institution :• — 

"It seems to me twenty-seven or twenty-eight 

years ago, since a tall gentleman came into the 

service-room at the Sailors' Home one Sunday even- 

« 
ing to worship. His devotion and earnestness drew 

my attention to him, and at the close of the service 

he came at once to me and asked if I was the 

secretary. Being answered in the affirmative, he 

introduced himself as Mr. Balfour, and expressed 

himself as highly pleased with the decorum and quiet 

attention of the seamen present Then turning round, 



FOOTSTEPS A MONO SEA MEN. 1 1 3 

he spoke a few words, in a gracious and winning 
way, to a number of the men. After walking up and 
down the great hall with me for a short time, he 
invited me to call at his office, and so bade me good 
night. 

" From that day to his death, he was one of the 
most frequent visitors to the institution, I expected 
a visit every two or three weeks, and was not often 
disappointed. When he had visitors at his office or 
residence, he would often bring them with him. He 
became so familiar with the place, that though, with 
his unfailing thoughtfulness and kindness, he always 
asked for me on entering, and wished me, if possible, 
to accompany him through the Home, yet I had nothing 
to tell him that he did not know. On these occasions 
he always spoke kind words to the seamen, as they sat 
in the great hall and in the sitting-rooms. He and 
his firm were among the first to subscribe handsomely 
whenever there was need. He was a life-governor, 
though he did not see his way, owing to a multi- 
tude of other engagements, to accede to the oft- 
repeated request that he should become a member 
of committee. 

" Many years ago, when it was proposed to form a 
Widows' Emigration Society, he entered warmly into 
the scheme, and became a liberal supporter of it. 

H 



114 ^^P^ OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

When a group of five or six widows and their families 
were ready to sail for Canada, he asked for the use 
of a room in the Sailors' Home, where a farewell 
meeting might be held ; and there, along with others, 
he addressed the emigrants in wise and affectionate 
terms. 

" My daughter used to visit some of the mission- 
rooms for seamen and others, in which he was 
interested, to conduct the praise. She met with many 
deserving cases which needed assistance, and he 
supplied her liberally with the means, and urged her 
to apply to him whenever she required help." 

It may be added, that when the Duke Street Home 
for Apprentices was in contemplation, Mr. Balfour went 
to Mr. Hanmer to assure him that there was no wish to 
do anything which could injuriously affect the Sailors' 
Home, which, indeed, was too firmly established to be in 
any danger. He consulted Mr. Hanmer as to methods 
and details. 

The loss sustained by our sailors, owing to their 
being to a great extent deprived of the opportunity of 
public worship, weighed heavily on Mr. Balfour's heart. 
It became one of his cherished aims, as far as possible, 
to remove this disadvantage. Accordingly the paper, 
to which we have already made reference, delivered by 
him in the Social Science Congress in Liverpool in 



FOOTSTEPS A MONO SEA MEN. 1 1 5 

1876, closed with the following words: "I cannot 
conclude this paper without expressing the hope, that 
my fellow-shipowners may join our firm, in requiring 
that religious worship on Sundays shall take place on 
board all their ships. It is impossible to overstate 
the injury and loss to seamen and boys, from their 
passing six or eight or ten months of an East Indian 
or Australian voyage, without being asked to join in 
the worship of Almighty God, or hearing His Word 
read or explained. This duty of holding a religious 
service on Sunday I trust may become, as stated a 
part of the discipline on board of merchant ships, as 
it has become on board of ships of Her Majesty's 
Navy." 

Mr. Balfour's eager desire for the spiritual welfare of 
our seamen deepened as years rolled on. He held 
frequent conferences with a friend who was concerned 
about the same object as to the best means of 
awakening or deepening the interest of shipowners, 
captains, and others in this great work. The result 
was that he resolved to convene a meeting in St. 
George's Hall, Liverpool Arrangements were made 
for a conversazione on a large and liberal scale, and 
some three thousand invitations were issued. The 
meeting was thoroughly representative of the great 
interests associated with shipping. Shipowners and 



Ii6 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

merchants, captains and officers, with a full com- 
plement of ladies, were gathered for social inter- 
course. 

After tea, addresses were delivered by the Bishop 
of Liverpool, Miss Weston of Devonport, Captain 
Ward, the President of the Mercantile Marine 
Service Association, Mr. Christopher Bushell, Mr. 
Edward Lawrence, and others. 

Towards the close of the meeting Mr. Balfour 
spoke to the following resolution — "That this meet- 
ing of shipowners, shipmasters, and others inte- 
rested in the mercantile marine of Great Britain, 
respectfully suggests to all who have influence on 
board ships, that they encourage the practice of 
having divine service on their ships every Sunday, 
and on other suitable occasions, during voyages at 
sea, and when in foreign ports. It is also recom- 
mended that a Bethel flag be hoisted whenever ser- 
vice is being held; and this meeting hopes that an 
invitation may be given to other seamen by captains 
who fly the Bethel flag, and that the holding of 
religious services may become general on all British 
ships.-' 

In supporting the resolution Mr. Balfour said — 
" What would be the effect upon us, if we were kept 
for six or eight months without worshipping God ? 



. FOOTSTEPS A MONO SEA MEN. 1 1 7 

We might be expected to get as hard as iron ; and 
if these men become so, who is to blame ? I feel 
strongly that these things are too much neglected. I 
was engaging a ship-master not long ago, and having 
satisfied myself as to his professional capability, I 
asked, 'Are you accustomed to have worship on 
board your ships ? ' He said ' No.' ' Well,' I said, 
'it is a very extraordinary thing. Did you have 
family worship at home, at your father's house?' 
The man was a Scotchman from Aberdeenshire, and 
he answered 'Yes.' 'And you have been all these 
years the captain of a ship, and have not had 
worship on board ? ' ' No,' he replied, ' I have not.' 
' And how long have you been at sea, from beginning 
to end ? ' I inquired. He said, ' I have been twelve 
years at sea.' ' And you have not held or attended 
service all that time?' 'No.' I told that man, 
' If you join this ship, service is to be conducted, 
as an act of discipline, while you hold the com- 
mand.' What has been done in the Royal Navy, 
in establishing worship on Sundays, can be done in 
the mercantile navy, if shipowners and shipmasters 
would but take the matter in hand. I shall altogether 
fail in my purpose if I do not impress upon you the 
importance of service of some kind in your ships, the 
very first Sunday it is practicable." 



ii8 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

The earnest pleading tones of Mr. Balfour as he 
advocated the spiritual interests of the sailor are still 
remembered, and the interest of the meeting deepened 
onward to the close. "Such a meeting," says Mr. 
Grylls, the secretary of the Mercantile Marine 
Service Association, "such a meeting, embracing all 
classes and all shades of opinion, could have been 
successfully convened only by a man of the large- 
hearted sympathies of Mr. Balfour, who thus gathered 
round him some of the leading citizens of Liverpool. 
Of the results of this and similar efforts it is not 
possible to speak definitely, or to gauge the influ- 
ences for good then set in motion. But the direct 
effect upon the hearts of the many hundreds present, 
and the distribution of a full report of the meeting 
by thousands over land and sea, cannot fail to be 
far-reaching and eternal." 

The spiritual refreshment of the sailor, through the 
Sunday service, when far off upon the sea, is some- 
times doubtless the result of the stimulus given 
to effort in this direction, at the remarkable meeting 
above referred to. 

A book of " Services for Seamen," including sermons 
by the late Rev. Robert Philip, D.D., of Maberley 
Chapel, London, the well-known friend of sailors, 
has been supplied. It contains suitable prayers for 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 119 

use on shipboard, drawn up by well-known ministers 
of Liverpool and other places. Mr. Balfour took much 
interest in the issue of this volume, which has proved 
admirably adapted for its purpose, and which offers 
welcome help to many a captain, who, without its aid, 
might have felt embarrassed or remained silent. 



CHAPTER VI. 

FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN 

— Continued, 



"The sea hath spoken."— Isaiah xxiii. 4. 

" We are oq^hans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows." 
-Lamen. v. 3. 

" In Thee the fatherless findeth mercy." — Hosea xiv. 3. 

"And there was no more sea." — Rev. xxi. i. 



( 123 ) 



CHAPliLK VI. 
FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN^Continued. 

"NJO one interested in seamen can fail to extend 
^ his interest to their orphans. Sailors' lives 

are exposed to exceptional risks. Of our 200,000 
British seamen, it is found that on the average, besides 
those whose deaths occur at home, more than 4000 
annually die abroad, and of these, much more than 
a half perish by drowning. The returns from the 
Board of Trade show that in the sixteen years fol- 
lowing the establishment of the Liverpool Seamen's 
Orphanage, no less than 66,667 sailors died in English 
ships abroad, of whom 40,551 were drowned. In 
what condition are their families left ? We give the 
answer in the words of Canon Drummond Anderson, 
chaplain of the Liverpool Seamen's Orphanage, than 
whom few persons, if any, have more frequent con- 
tact with the families of sailors whose lives have 
been lost at sea. " His experience with regard to 
common sailors was, that whenever poor Jack died. 



124 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

his family were left destitute. If there were any 
who were better oflF, or had anything to the fore for 
a dark and cloudy day, they did not come in his way. 
The cases with which he had to deal were those in 
which the loss of poor Jack was the loss of all the 
support of his family." * 

Allowing for the circumstance that the chaplain's 
duties call for his presence at the most distressful 
cases, his avowal reveals a state of things among 
British common sailors, which should never have 
existed, and which surely will not be permitted to 
continue. That expression, "if there were any who 
were better oflF," opens up a field for melancholy re- 
flection. That a large section of our fellow-citizens, 
subject to painful exposure, and incurring serious peril 
in their daily calling — men to whom all classes of the 
community are indebted every day of life — men on 
whose labours the fortunes of the shipowning and 
mercantile classes are built — that such men should 
make no provision for the future, should live literally 
from hand to mouth, and, when life is cut short, should, 
as a rule, leave their widows and children destitute, 
is a thought to touch and trouble the dullest heart. 
This state of matters cannot exist without something 

* From speech at the annual meeting of the Seamen's Orphanage in 
1875. 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 125 

being wrong in the system in which our sailor-citizens 
have to take their part, something which our sea- 
port communities would do well to search out, some- 
thing for which the Church of Christ is not without 
grave responsibility. To diminish a little the desola- 
tion, and to soften a little the sorrow of the ship- 
wrecked sailors' home, is but a small part of our 
duty. Destitution is not the uniform accompaniment 
of the bread-winner's death among toilers on the 
shore, why should it be so among toilers on the 
sea? This problem awaits solution. It demands 
the thought and effort of all good citizens. Who 
will arise and lead the way ? A compulsory system 
of life-assurance has been suggested, and might be 
of material value, but the whole condition of our 
seafaring population needs to be raised, and far 
more than hitherto leavened with Christian influence. 
Much valuable work is now done through special 
missions for seamen, but if the inquiry were made 
how many of them are members of any of our 
churches, a most disappointing answer would be 
the result 

In the meantime an imperative duty is incumbent 
upon us. The children who, by a single sweep of 
the hungry sea, are deprived at once of father and 
of food, must be cared for. They are England's 



126 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

orphans, and England must provide for them. One 
case out of hundreds which have come before the 
chaplain may be cited. He says : " I was sitting in 
my study reading one morning, when a visitor was 
shown in. It was a poor young woman with two 
little infants, twins, in her arms : she sat down in a 
chair and began to cry ; and oh, how she cried ! It 
was a sorrowful sight to see the pale wan face wet 
with tears. She had been decently brought up, and 
married a sailor who had gone on a long voyage. 
The children were born, and were maintained prin- 
cipally by his monthly money. 'Yesterday,' she 
said, ' I went down to the office, and was told 
there would be no money for me any more, for the 
news had just come that the ship was lost with 
all hands.' The widow and her children were at 
once assisted." 

Perhaps we may best convey an idea of the kind 
of cases admitted to the Orphanage if we transcribe 
from the register of children in the institution those 
occurring in the girls' department under one letter, 
viz., W, taken almost at random. 

IVest, Emily. — Father was engineer on board the 
Laconia, and died from pressure on the brain. 
Seven children dependent on the widow, who has 
since (with the infant,) died in childbirth. 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 127 



JVilliams, Mary, — Father was chief mate on board 
the Zephyr, and died at sea of fever. Five children 
dependent on the widow. 

Williams, Mary Ellen. — Father was a fireman on 
board the steam-tug Tartar, and was drowned. Six 
children dependent on the widow. 

Wooley, Ellen. — Father was steward on board the 
Palm, and died of fever on the coast of Africa. 
Three children dependent on the widow. 

Wylie, Jane. — Father was chief engineer on board 
the S.S. Virago, and died at sea of apoplexy. Five 
children dependent on the widow. 

In the case of those who are acquainted with the 
homes of the poor, imagination will have no hard 
task in picturing the desolation and dismay which 
fill such households as those above referred to. A 
family is living in quietness and modest comfort, 
when suddenly the brief dark message comes, " Lost 
at sea." The light of the house has gone out, the 
bread-winner wins bread no more, and the wan widow 
and her cheerless children have, unprovided and un- 
prepared, to face the cold world alone, and to fight 
their way through, as best they may. 

Mr. Balfour was one of those who could not con- 
template scenes like these without his whole nature 
being moved. The thought of alleviating sorrow so 



128 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

deep, and of making such provision as the sad cir- 
cumstances would permit, for the mourning and the 
destitute, laid firm hold upon his head and heart. To 
provide for the sailor s orphans, and to do it on a 
scale worthy of the great port of Liverpool, was his 
consuming desire. He was all aglow with this 
benevolent purpose when first it took tangible form. 
It was inspiring to meet him and to hear his fervent 
words. No business aim, no prospect of advantage 
for himself, ever took possession of him as this object 
did. He felt, and spoke as if his friends must sym- 
pathise with the seamen's orphans, and be ready 
to fling themselves into the scheme with an enthu- 
siasm like his own. It was almost impossible to 
escape the contagion of compassion like his. Embers 
of mercy, in some about him, were fanned into a 
flame. He loved to keep in the background, if 
only instruments were found and the work was done. 
Those most intimately acquainted with the history 
of the Orphanage know best, to how large an extent 
its inception and success were due to his burning 
zeal and unflagging perseverance. 

He had the joy of seeing men raised up able and 
willing to carry through this noble enterprise, men 
like Mr. Ralph Brocklebank, the president, whose 
mind and purse were at the service of the institution, 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 129 

and Mr. James Beazley, the honorary treasurer and 
chairman of the executive committee, who flung him- 
self with all the energy of his warm heart into the 
scheme, not to mention a host of fellow-workers. 

At an early stage the project was well-nigh ex- 
tinguished. " I remember," says his partner, *' the 
anxiety and trouble on his countenance when he 
told me that, by the narrowest chance, the idea was 
not rejected by the meeting. It was pointed out 
by some, that the town abounded with benevolent 
institutions ; feelings were expressed that another 
for the orphans of seamen could not be maintained. 
It was with difficulty he got the meeting adjourned, 
without there and then coming to an adverse deci- 
sion. He carefully prepared himself, with the aid 
of Mr. Hanmer of the Sailors' Home and others, 
for the adjourned meeting; and I remember with 
what joyous and triumphant tones he told me that 
in the end, it had been resolved to go on with the 
enterprise." 

When the stately building, which was to be the 
home of the fatherless, was approaching completion, 
Mr. Balfour claimed the privilege of placing a 
tablet over the porch, bearing the inscription which 
so strikingly tells the story of the Orphanage, "In 
Thee the fatherless findeth mercy." 



130 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

When it was completed and tenanted, Mr. Balfour 
would often spend the night at the home of the 
present writer, not distant from the institution, and 
would be oJBT about seven in the morning to refresh 
himself, before breakfast, with a sight of the healthy 
and happy faces of the children, to speak to them a 
word of counsel, and to leave behind him fresh en- 
couragement with chaplain, matron, and all who cared 
for the orphans. On such occasions he would return 
to the house radiant with thankfulness and joy, and 
prepared to start on the duties of a day, which was 
to be filled with words and works of thoughtful 
kindness. 

One who had the best opportunities of knowing 
Mr. Balfour's ways in the Orphanage writes to us : 
" When he was on the committee investigating appli- 
cations for help, often and often, as the widow turned 
away to leave the room with her children, have I 
seen him slip a gold coin into her hand." " When 
the ear heard me, then it blessed me, and when the 
eye saw me, it gave witness to me, because I deli- 
vered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him 
that had none to help him : the blessing of him that 
was ready to perish came upon me ; and I caused the 
widow's heart to sing for joy." 

Mr. Balfour was a strong advocate for supple- 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 131 

menting the aid given within the institution by a 
system of relief, in the homes of deceased sailors, 
which are found scattered through every district of 
Liverpool Thus, for example, he pleaded at one of 
the annual meetings : *' If it were necessary, I could 
convince the meeting that we require, in conducting 
this institution successfully, to attend both to cases 
of outdoor and cases of indoor relief. We meet with 
such an instance as this : a respectable Christian 
widow, the mother of a family, applies to us for relief. 
She would prefer to train her own children herself, 
and does not want to give them up to us. Surel}', 
for such a reason as strong maternal affection, a poor 
woman such as this ought not to be deprived of the 
benefits of our institution. Such is the mind of the 
committee, and I believe that it will be the mind of 
the general community. ... I entreat you, on behalf 
of myself and colleagues of the committee, not to put 
us in the position of being a responsible executive, 
without ample funds being given us to deal adequately, 
by means of outdoor and indoor relief, with this 
refuge of the orphan and the widow. Oh, the pain ! 
I declare it is heart-breaking to sit and hear the 
applications of those widows. I have pitied the 
chairman again and again in going through these 
cases, knowing all their sadness without being able 



132 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

adequately to relieve it. . . . We have only to do 
our duty, and I know we shall not be the poorer, but 
shall have the blessing of God on what we give and 
what we have. Oh, don't let us stint the widow and 
orphan in this community, I do beseech you." Power- 
ful was the pleading of this earnest man, backed as it 
was by open-handed generosity on his own part. 

One advantage, springing from this poble institution, 
is that it has called forth miscellaneous and wide- 
spread liberality. Scarcely an Atlantic steamer leaves 
or returns to Liverpool, without the claims of the 
Orphanage being brought before the passengers on 
Sunday, or on some other suitable occasion. Hearts, 
grateful for God's goodness in granting a safe pas- 
sage, go forth in ready sympathy with the orphans 
whose fathers have perished on the melancholy main. 
Commanders and officers of the vessels willingly give 
prominence to this subject. Englishmen, Americans, 
and foreigners from many lands respond, by casting 
their thank-offerings into the treasury of the institu- 
tion. The pilots of Liverpool, the employes of the 
Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, take a willing 
part in the annual contribution. Thus, while rivu- 
lets of kindness from many different quarters concen- 
trate themselves upon the Orphanage, multitudes of 
hearts are the better for having had tenderness stirred 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 133 

within them, by the tale of sorrow that comes from 
the drowned sailor's child. To stimulate this float- 
ing fountain of beneficence was the earnest aim of 
Mr. Balfour. 

The Orphanage has grown to goodly proportions. 
On the 1st of July 1887 there were 360 in the 
institution, and 372 on the outdoor list. The cost 
of the former for food, clothing, and education is ;{^I5 
per head per annum, and of the latter, or outdoor 
class, £S per head per annum. Since its first 
establishment 2660 children have been cared for in 
one or other of these ways. 

At the age of fourteen the boys are sent out to 
fight their way in the world, some to sea, some to 
trades, some to offices. It is a valuable testimony to 
the thoroughness of their instruction and the excel- 
lence of their training, that railway companies and 
great employers of labour are always ready to take 
the Orphanage boys. The girls are retained, if their 
mothers desire it, till they attain the age of fifteen. 
The last year is devoted mainly to training in all 
branches of household work. So equipped, the girls 
become useful in their own homes, or find employ- 
ment as domestic servants, &c. Results like these 
filled the warm and tender heart of Mr. Balfour with 
thankfulness and joy. 



134 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

The Church of Christ, in its various branches, was 
all too slow in awaking to a sense of its' duty to sea- 
men, and to the conviction that special agencies were 
required, to meet the necessities of their case. The 
character and habits of our sailors not only seriously 
affect their own condition, but influence the most dis- 
tant lands of earth to which they sail. The entrance 
of God's Word in distant and in heathen lands is 
helped or hindered by their conduct. A number of 
3'ears ago the Colonial Bishops were asked to give 
their opinion as to the influence of British seamen on 
the inhabitants of the ports they visited. They pro- 
nounced a unanimous judgment, "That tlje influence 
of British seamen was undoubtedly prejudicial to the 
people, and their conduct a sad obstacle to the recep- 
tion of the gospel." 

The Church of Christ has been awaking to her 
duty, and matters are improving. Sailors, like winged 
seed, are wafted from England to many a distant 
shore. Were they, speaking generally, to carry our 
good report, and not our evil report, were they to be 
won from the side of evil to the side of truth and 
righteousness, who can estimate the blessed effect 
which would be produced in colonial lands, and in 
fields of missionary effort among the heathen ? 

For the sake of the sailor, for the sake of England, 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 135 

and for the sake of the world, the cry is loud to make 
direct and sustained efforts for the spiritual welfare of 
seamen. To win them to the Saviour, and at the 
same time to help them toward all goodness, com- 
fort, and well-being, is what is needed. Among the 
societies which aim at this great result, there is one 
— the Mersey Mission to Seamen — with which Mr. 
Balfour was closely associated from its origin in 1857 
till his death. For many years he acted as Honorary 
Secretary. He attended its committee meetings with 
unfailing assiduity, and by the warmth of his enthu- 
siasm he won for it many a friend and supporter. On 
Sunday afternoons and week-day evenings, his visits 
were welcome alike to seamen and to Christian workers. 
At Christmas-tide, when the sailors assembled at tea 
or gathered round a Christmas-tr^e, he would give 
utterance to fervid heart-stirring addresses which are 
not forgotten. 

In addition to the liberal pecuniary support given 
by his firm to this Society, Mr. Balfour was person- 
ally a large contributor to special branches of the 
work. For many years he defrayed the entire cost 
of a mission-room to seamen at the north end of the 
town. He also paid the salary of a colporteur to 
circulate the Scriptures among seamen. 

The Society has extended its work to Birkenhead, 



136 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Garston, EUesmere Port, and Runcorn. It promotes 
wholesome reading for the men, carries on Temper- 
ance effort, aims at the elevation of the sailor in many 
ways, material and spiritual. In all of these spheres 
of agency Mr. Balfour took the deepest interest. 

Among the many objects contemplated by this 
Society, there was one on which he specially set his 
heart. It is thus referred to by Mr. Charles J. 
Bushell, the chairman of committee. "The hand- 
some and commodious Seamen's Institute in Hano- 
ver Street may be said to owe its existence to Mr. 
Balfour's munificence. For some years the com- 
mittee had been vainly seeking for a site on which 
to erect a suitable building. When the Corporation 
carried out their improvements in Paradise Street 
and Hanover Street, which necessitated the pulling 
down of a number of public-houses and beer-houses, 
an eligible site near the Sailors' Home was advertised 
for sale by public auction. Mr. Balfour, with his 
wonted ardour and enthusiasm, made up his mind 
that this site must be bought. Whatever its cost, he 
offered to guarantee the amount, not for a moment 
lacking the faith that the requisite funds would be 
forthcoming. 

"The site accordingly was purchased for £70$0, 
The half of the site sufficing for the Institute, the 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 137 

other half was sold to the British Workman Public- 
House Company for the erection of a 'Cocoa Room/ 
Funds for the half of the site which was retained 
were ere long subscribed, Mr. Balfour himself con- 
tributing ;^S00 in addition to a like sum from his 
firm. On this piece of land was erected a beautiful 
building, well adapted for the important work to be 
carried on therein, at a total cost of ;^8s8o. 'He 
being dead yet speaketh.' For countless years, as 
sailors meet for prayer, praise, and social converse, 
will the beneficent work commenced in his lifetime 
fructify and increase." 

The institute was opened on the lOth December 
1885, under the presidency of the Mayor, — the Bishop 
of Liverpool, Mr. Balfour himself and others taking 
part on the important occasion. 

The work which was thus accomplished was one 
after Mr. Balfour's own heart. There was a double 
blessing in it. It was the removal of a trap to catch 
poor "Jack" for his destruction, and the substitution 
of a house of shelter, of social fellowship, of prayer, 
to draw him upward for his deliverance. This was 
at one blow to destroy the works of the devil, and to 
replace them by works on which the Master smiles. 
It did one good to meet Mr. Balfour at this time, and 
to hear him on this topic. His thankfulness , and 



138 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

hopefulness were unbounded. A vast gin-palace de- 
molished and its place occupied by the twin agencies 
of a Seaman's Institute and a " Cocoa Room ! " It 
seemed to him a symbol of the dawn of better days 
for seamen and for his beloved Liverpool ; it pointed, 
in his sanguine view, to the triumph of Christianity 
and humanity over selfishness and rapacity. On 
these themes, the outpourings of his grateful and 
rejoicing heart did not fail to refresh the spirits of 
the friends among whom he moved. It was easy to 
discern that a boon to the people was a blessing to 
himself. 

There is in Liverpool an older Society which seeks 
the good of seamen. It is "The Seamen's Friend 
Society," and was established so far back as 1820. 
Though not so engrossingly employed in the work of 
this Society, Mr. Balfour was one of its committee, and 
was deeply interested in all its concerns. When times 
of difficulty occurred especially, he was ever ready both 
to plead and to give in its behalf. The Mersey Mission 
is mainly supported by the Church of England ; the 
Seamen's Friend Society mainly by Nonconformists. 
But wherever the welfare of the sailor was earnestly 
and faithfully promoted, Mr. Balfour's heart, hand, and 
purse were open. 

Among the agencies which are brought into play 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN. 139 

by the Seamen's Friend Society is one, long actively 
employed, which called forth the fullest sympathy of 
Mr. Balfour. A library of thirty books, deposited 
in a strong box, is supplied, as far as possible, to 
every captain leaving Liverpool who desires to receive 
it. The effect is found to be excellent Hours which 
otherwise would have been unoccupied, and therefore 
likely to be productive of evil, are in many cases 
pleasantly and usefully employed. Where the float- 
ing libraries are valued, they are sometimes ex- 
changed by passing vessels in mid-ocean, and so fresh 
reading is secured. A number of libraries are every 
year lost at sea, often, alas 1 together with the poor 
sailors, who used to while away their leisure- time 
in the pleasant company of the books. 

Numbers of useful magazines, like the Leisure Hour, 
Sunday at Hotne, &c., are put by considerate friends 
at the disposal of the committee. These are given 
to sailors as they embark, and often keep their minds 
helpfully employed, in the spare time which fine 
weather brings at sea. The value of such literature 
cannot easily be realised by dwellers in cities, where 
bookshops and free libraries are found. The barren 
ocean affords no such mental food to the unfor- 
tunate reader who has sailed on a long voyage, 
without «a book. On one occasion a sailor called at 



140 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

the '* South Bethel" to ask the chief agent of the 
Society to hear him his lesson, as he had been trying 
to improve himself, while at sea, in reading and com- 
mitting to memory. Mr, Wilkie willingly complied, 
but was taken aback to find that his " lesson " 
consisted of the first page of the Liverpool Mercury, a 
broad sheet of advertisements, which, in the absence 
of all other literature, the diligent Tar had learnt by 
heart. The cultivation of a taste for reading, and the 
supply of wholesome material, are most worthy aims 
of the Society. 

Various means and methods are employed, but the 
spiritual and moral elevation of the sailor is the 
object supremely kept in view. The room known as 
"The Forecastle," which has happily been secured 
close to the Sailors' Home, and therefore in the very 
centre of the haunts of the men, is greatly valued. 
There, newspapers and magazines may be read ; there, 
letters may be written, by or for the sailors, to distant 
friends ; and there, daily at noon, a brief and lively 
prayer-meeting is held, and the gospel invitation is 
proclaimed. Many a message of gratitude and praise 
has come back from the ends of the earth, for the glad 
tidings heard and the first step in repentance and 
amendment taken in " The Forecastle." In that room 
Mr. Balfour's was a familiar voice. 



FOOTSTEPS AMONG SEAMEN, 141 

The agents of this Society bear witness to the 
improvement which is manifested around the Sailors' 
Home, since a number of public-houses in the district 
have been improved out of existence. A former 
publican of that neighbourhood, speaking of one of 
the missionaries, said, "That man has ruined my 
trade, but thank God, he has saved my soul." And 
now the rescued publican is spreading the glad tidings 
which once he despised. 

Another Society contemplating the good of British 
and foreign sailors and emigrants, as well as foreigners 
of all kinds who choose to avail themselves of its help, 
owed much in its origin and growth, to the liberal 
support and kindly counsel of Mr. Balfour. It is 
called "The Stranger's Rest," and supplements the 
efforts of the Associations already described. A grate- 
ful shelter is provided for strangers, with reading and 
writing room. Christian meetings for the reading and 
the explanation of Scripture are held in the English, 
French, German, Italian, Spanish, Finnish, Norse, and 
other languages. The work is largely carried on by 
Christian ladies, to whom the sailor invariably gives 
ready and respectful hearing. In a quiet, unobtrusive 
way much good has been done, wanderers have been 
brought back to the fold, sinners have been converted, 
prodigals have been restored to sorrowing parents. 



142 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

good seed has been sown in hearts which have 
carried it to all lands. We may add that Mr. and 
Mrs. Reginald Radcliffe throw their zeal and their 
energies into this excellent movement. 

There is yet a great work before us, to be pro- 
secuted on the same lines. There are great deliver- 
ances to be wrought out for our city and our sailors. 
We need only more work, more prayer, and more 
faith. Then shall we see the hopes, by many thought 
illusory, of men like Mr. Balfour, converted into glad 
realities. 



CHAPTER VII. 
COUNCIL OF EDUCATION. 



'* I call a complete and generous education that which fits a 
man to perform justly, liberally, and magnanimously all the 
offices, both private and public, of peace and war." — Milton. 

"A man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he 
have lost no time ; but that happeneth rarely." — Bacon. 



( 145 ) 



CHAPTER VII. 
COUNCIL OP EDUCATION. 

OETWEEN the late Mr. Christopher Bushell and 
"*^ Mr. Balfour a friendship sprang up of singular 
depth and intensity — a friendship which gained a firmer 
hold of both, year by year, till interrupted by death. 
Two noble men could scarcely have been found more 
unlike one another; and to the bystander it might 
have seemed most improbable that, between them, 
affection profound and tender should have existed. 
Yet so it was. The calm judicial mind of Mr. 
Bushell, naturally clothing its utterances in dignity 
and stateliness, and the eager impetuous soul of Mr. 
Balfour, rushing into utterance and action in the form 
that came most readily to him, had a singular affinity 
for one another. We have heard each speak of the 
other in terms of unmeasured admiration and affection, 
and each attribute to the other the main merit of bene- 
ficent works in which they were jointly engaged. 
We cannot forget our meeting with Mr. Bushell on 



146 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

the way to the beautiful but desolated home of Mount 
Alyn, on the day on which Mr, Balfour fell asleep. 
Mr. Bushell's grief flowed from a fountain that was 
deep indeed. He had lost a brother and more than a 
brother, a man whose burning enthusiasm and con- 
quering faith and princely munificence had taken 
possession of his heart. Alas I that so soon, in the 
midst of noble and most fruitful work, Mr. Bushell too 
should have been taken from us, gently translated to a 
higher sphere of action. Rarely favoured is the city 
which has two such men to lose. 

Not long before his own death, Mr. Bushell sup- 
plied us with the following notes and extracts from 
Mr. Balfour's letters to him, from which something of 
the character of both men will appear. There are a 
few references in them which were supplied to us for 
guidance, and which might not perhaps have been 
allowed to remain if Mr. Bushell had continued with 
us ; but now that he is gone from us, there is no reason 
for suppressing them. We look on these memoranda 
about such a man, from such a man, with a certain 
feeling of sacredness, and prefer to present them sub- 
stantially as they were received. They relate mainly, 
but not exclusively, to the Council of Education, which 
has not only done an excellent work for Liverpool, but 
has set a noble example before all the country. Of 



COUNCIL OP EDUCATION. 147 

this movement Mr. Bushell was — as by his qualities 
of head and heart he was admirably fitted to be — the 
soul and centre. With his quick perception of any- 
thing that was destined to bless the community, Mr. 
Balfour threw into this cause both heart and trea- 
sure. When they read these extracts, some fellow- 
citizens will recall the tall figures of these two departed 
friends, as they were often seen together, in the pro- 
secution of schemes in which they took a common 
interest ; the one with his erect and noble form, and 
finely chiselled features, calm and self-restrained, the 
other with his bending, mobile, eager figure, his out- 
stretched hand, and ever-varying features — heaven- 
made friends, whose strangely differing powers and 
natures were absorbed in the effort to bless their city 
and their native land. 

Mr. Balfour became a member of the Liverpool 
Council of Education at the time of its formation in 
1874, and continued to be an active member of the 
executive committee until the time of his death. A 
few extracts from several letters written to Mr. Bushell, 
the president of the Council, by Mr. Balfour during a 
period of illness, and while absent from home on 
the Continent, will show the deep interest which he 
took in this work, and the thoughtful consideration 



148 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

which he gave to its details. These extracts also 
illustrate the estimation in which Mr. Balfour held 
many other good works in Liverpool, and the interest 
which he took in them. His pecuniary contributions 
to the work of the Council, as to many other local 
religious and philanthropic institutions, were simply 
munificent, and wherever there was need, his heart 
and hand were always open. Without Mr. Balfour's 
pecuniary help in the beginning of its work, the 
Council of Education could scarcely have reached 
the degree of efficiency and usefulness which it has 
been permitted to attain. 

The following is taken from the Report of the 
Council of Education for 1877-78 : — 

" Arcachon, near Bordeaux, 24M October 1877. 
" My dear Mr. Bushell, — It has been a source of 
sincere congratulation and comfort to me, that the 
scholarships founded by the Council of Education for 
the boys of the Liverpool elementary schools have 
proved such a very great success. Not only do 
they afford to the boys who gain them, an opportu- 
nity for improving their position in life, but it is plain 
that they give a general stimulus to educational 
work throughout the town. I consider the condi- 
tions on which the scholarships are granted to be 



COUNCIL OP EDUCATION. 149 

most excellent, and that their beneficial action has 
now been thoroughly tested and proved. 

" Believing as I do that the town at large would 
be prejudiced if these scholarships were by any 
chance now to fail, I beg to ask your kind considera- 
tion of some scheme whereby they can be perpetuated 
in the future, irrespective of the annual contributions 
received by the Council. 

"If you were to determine to raise a principal 
sum, the interest of which would serve for the main- 
tenance of these scholarships, I feel sure that not 
only would their permanence, so far as it is in our 
power, be thereby established, but the Council would, 
with the greater ease, be able to prosecute other 
departments of the work that lies before them. 

"To such a fund, should you decide to raise it, 
I desire to contribute; and anticipating that the 
suggestion I venture to make may commend itself to 
your judgment, I beg to enclose a cheque for ;^iooo 
to the fund, asking you will please to receive it as 
' A thank-offering.' Should you deem it better that 
my own name should appear, you can use it. With 
very kind regards, I remain, my dear Mr. Bushell, 
yours very sincerely, A. Balfour." 

Writing to the President of the Liverpool Council 



ISO LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

of Education, in reply to an acknowledgment of the 
letter just quoted, Mr. Balfour, under the date of 
Arcachon, Sth December 1877, says : — 

" I am certain that benefit is to be derived from 
what is now being done, in ways that cannot now 
be foreseen. A dignity is given to the subject of 
education such as was never given before, and the 
subject is at last being treated as of national import- 
ance, and not left to be a bone of contention to the 
religious denominations." 

In a letter to Mr. Bushel!, dated ist January 1878, 
and written from Arcachon, Mr. Balfour says : — 

"I told my bookseller to send you a copy of 
Archdeacon Hare's book * The Victory of Faith,' of 
which we have spoken together, and which I hope 
you have received. The fourth sermon I specially 
commend to your notice. One can imagine the tall, 
aged scholar and preacher delivering it to the lads 
sitting at his feet, and commending to heart and 
judgment, with all the persuasiveness in his power, 
the heavenly truths he was commissioned to declare. 

" I consider the condition of the town of Liverpool 
already furnishes an extraordinary instance of the 
conquering power of faith. Within the past three 
or four years several new enterprises have been 
begun in faith amongst us, and what are we now 



CO UNCIL OP ED UCA TION. 1 5 1 

permitted to see ? Take the work of the Council of 
Education. I have already told you the deep im- 
pression made on my mind, by the fact that the 
attendance of children at our elementary schools has 
increased within the past three years by nearly ten 
thousand children, a result largely due to the work 
of the Council, Each of these children has a history 
before it, which is certain to be affected for good by 
this work. Let us continue this work in faith, and 
who can tell the blessing it may bring. We are not 
straitened in God ; do not let us straiten ourselves. 

" The recent development of work amongst seamen 
is bringing about spiritual changes that are a perfect 
marvel. Think of an attendance of some eighty men 
often at the meetings for prayer at 2 p.m., and this 
in the face of all the temptations abounding, at Price 
Street. There is now a Mission-Room for foreign 
seamen, and it has become so overcrowded as to need 
enlargement. The Seamen's Orphanage is of older 
origin, but this year's report will only be the eighth, 
and yet its success is wonderful, as you can judge 
from the enclosed letter, which I hope I may, without 
breach of confidence, submit to your own eye. 

" The work amongst young men is most hopeful, 
and if these are influenced for good, what hopes may 
we not indulge in for the future I 



152 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

" And the remaining subject for special gratitude is 
the success of these cocoa-rooms, which are flourish- 
ing, and are the strongest teetotal fact that exists in 
our country. I feel certain their popularity furnishes 
a demonstration, that where reasonable provision is 
made for the wants of working-men, the public-house 
is passed by. What a reflection they cause on the 
reasonings and procedure of our magistrates ! The 
success of these cocoa-rooms is completely to over- 
throw the false theories that have done such mischief, 
and I am sure will do good far beyond the limits of 
our own neighbourhood. 

"The educational and other results I have now 
glanced at are unattainable by any merely human 
power. The Master Himself has brought them about 
by His own servants, whose work He has indeed 
greatly blessed. You must not wonder at my occupy- 
ing your time by these reflections, for thoughts of the 
marvellous progress of His work in Liverpool afford 
me more comfort and rejoicing than the perusal of any 
poem or the reading of any novel I " 

Referring to the demonstration on the delivery of 
the scholarships and prizes of the Council of Educa- 
tion in January 1878, on which occasion an address 
was delivered by the Right Honourable Dr. Lyon 
Playfair, Mr. Balfour writes : — 



COUNCIL OF EDUCATION. 153 

** The defined objects of the CouncU are now fairly 
before the public, and we may hope, as time goes on, 
will become more and more understood. Deficien- 
cies are now recognised in our system of elementary 
education, and an honest attempt is made to meet 
them, instead of shutting our eyes to them or passing 
them by. Well might Dean Howson say that the 
proceedings of the Council are likely to be for good, 
far beyond our own locality. It would really seem 
that a large experiment is being initiated by the 
Council, which may ultimately affect for good the whole 
nation. Oh, what need for Divine help and wisdom 
in the direction of its affairs ! 

" Our net must be cast wider and wider, so as to 
enclose many big fish that now swim at large in deep 
water. One word more about this collecting of money. 
Remember that if you ask any one for his money, you 
are doing him an honour thereby. Besides that, if 
you induce men to give what they can properly spare 
to this good object, a positive benefit to themselves 
will ensue. The words of the Apostle are (Eph. 
vi. 8), * Knowing that whatsoever good thing any 
man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, 
whether he be bond or free.' And I would also say 
there is plenty of loose money in Liverpool for all 
Christian requirements. I received a somewhat re- 



154 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

markable letter the other day from our dear friend 
Mr. . He writes : — 

'^'We have great reason to be thankful for many 
things, but have much work yet to do. There is 
much land yet to be possessed. I have great joy in 
helping in every good work. I cannot give so much 
labour as some from want of strength and time, but 
God has prospered my business much of late, and I 
can heartily help with money when needed, and 
with my prayers. God's claim is on every man, 
according to his several ability^ and I am anxious 
the coming year may be the most fruitful in His 
service.' 

*' So there are some amongst us, even now, who 
regard themselves as His stewards, and we must 
look forward to the time when all are so to regard 
themselves. 

" My heart sang for joy yesterday when we heard 
the news that there was peace. The tidings came 
just as we were going into the little new church that 
was about to be opened for the first time. I wish 
there had been an organ, and that Handel's music, 
'Smiling Peace,' could have been played. What a 
relief that the fearful carnage, suffering, and sorrow 
of these battlefields has ceased." 

Those who visited him, about that time, cannot 



COUNCIL OP EDUCA TION. 155 

forget the intense emphasis with which, at family 
worship, he used to pray — " Scatter Thou the people 
that delight in war." 

Mr. Balfour, in a letter dated Pau, 6th March 1878, 
characteristically remarks :^ 

"Moral forces are now at work in our town in 
a manner unparalleled in its history since I have 
known it, and my heart dances with joy as I find 
that the honest truth is more and more plainly 
announced and acted on. Just as we get Bible truth 
identified with elementary education, with temper- 
ance, with commercial business, and with politics, so 
shall we, as individuals and as a nation, become 
prosperous and happy. One has only to come to 
this country and see the industry, and thrift, and 
temperance, and comfort of the peasantry, to be made 
aware how greatly we need improvement and reform 
in our national laws, and in our personal thoughts 
and purposes at home." 

In the same letter, Mr. Balfour, speaking of the 
evil results of drunkenness and its attendant vice 
and poverty, asks — 

" Where are we to turn for the remedy of all this ? 
To the efforts of Christian men, who are seeking by 
God's blessing to extend His Kingdom. To Chris- 
tian men, labouring for a Christian, and not a party 



156 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

. c 

purpose, do I turn, and thank God with assured hope 
that the time of deliverance is drawing nigh." 

Referring again to the work of the Council of Educa- 
tion, and its method of influencing the pupils, as far 
as possible, by inducement with reward rather than 
compulsion under penalty, the writer continues : — 

" I like your unit of 420 punctual attendances 
extremely. Everybody can understand this, and 
simplicity is an immense thing to a child. Also that 
' Excelsior ' should ring in the pupil's mind, from the 
beginning to the end of his school course, regard- 
ing this matter of punctuality. I quite believe that 
this new principle, of acknowledging and rewarding 
punctual attendance at school, will by and by be 
adopted by Government. I congratulate you with 
my whole heart, on having been able to embody the 
principle in a scheme so practical and comprehensive 
as that just issued. It touches the weak points of 
our educational system, and strengthens and improves 
it all round. I am glad it is contemplated to have 
a field-day at Midsummer for the children. I believe 
that the stimulus, given by the hope of passing over 
the platform of St. George's Hall, would operate as 
strongly on a child's mind as any reward that could 
be proposed. Such a day in Liverpool will be like 
the Crystal Palace day in London, when the Bibles 



COUNCIL OF EDUCATION, 157 

have to be distributed — a red-letter day for the chil- 
dren and for their parents. What a change all this is 
to make in the condition of our system of elementary 
education — the attention of the town strongly con- 
centrated on it, and the sympathy of all classes drawn 
to it. No doubt, as you say, the requisite pecuniary 
support will also be forthcoming. I am very glad 
you are able to announce so excellent a beginning 
towards the ' Endowment Fund for the Scholarships 
of the Liverpool Council of Education,' the whole 
sum required for which I trust you may be able in 
due course to announce has been contributed." 
Reverting to other topics, Mr. Balfour writes : — 
"The opinion is gathering strength in my mind 
that Englishmen rapidly deteriorate abroad, and that 
they must return home from time to time, else they 
degenerate — such a butterfly life as a number of the 
English people here get into ! 

" Thank you for telling me about the Mersey Mission 
meeting, which I rejoice was so successful. What a 
good thing that the Bishop should be so loyal to this 
Society, and so regularly occupy the chair, although, 
no doubt, he has large claims on his time. I am 
very glad you kindly took in hand the difficult duty of 

representing to Mr. the views and feelings 

of Nonconformist friends, at the proposal of virtually 



158 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

making the Seamen's Orphanage into a Church of 
England institution. It has been Christian and 
undenominational, as far as possible, in its character 
hitherto, and so it ought certainly to remain. I now 
feel strong hopes that a satisfactory settlement of the 
difficulty will be come to." 

Writing from the Engadine in August 1880, Mr. 
Balfour says : — 

'•We are fast approaching the time* when the 
Council of Education will have completed its pre- 
paratory work, towards securing the attendance and 
punctuality of children at our elementary schools, and 
providing endowments for our scholarships. The 
greatest work remains to be undertaken, namely, that 
of improving the training of our pupil-teachers. We 
are to take the first step in this by opening the 
institution in Sandon Terrace. How would it answer 
that it should be managed by a committee, to consist 
of certain members of the Council of Education and 
of certain other friends ? While we are at first to 
provide for the training of female pupil-teachers, yet 
let us hope we shall be encouraged ere long to under- 
take an institution for male pupil-teachers." 

It may be mentioned that the School Board having 
established a college for the supplementary training 
and instruction of their pupil-teachers, the Council 



COUNCIL OP EDUCATION. 159 

deemed it desirable that similar advantages should be 
conferred upon the pupil-teachers of the voluntary 
schools. Towards this object Mr. Balfour became 
at once a most generous contributor, and during a 
considerable period of great pecuniary need, the latter 
college was maintained at his sole expense. 

He was very strong in his conviction that the Bible 
should be read in all elementary schools, and held that 
education was not worthy of the name, which did not 
take cognisance of the moral and religious side of a 
child's nature. Hence he was intensely desirous, that 
young teachers and pupil-teachers should be under 
moral influences of the most elevating kind, while 
their intellectual training was in progress. He believed, 
with, Hugh Miller, that " education without religion is 
the world's expedient for converting farthings into 
guineas by scouring." 

It need scarcely be added that when University 
College, Liverpool, was projected and commenced, Mr. 
Balfour took up the matter with enthusiasm, and was 
one of its thoughtful and munificent benefactors. The 
University was opened in 1882, its first Principal 
being Mr. G. H. Rendall, M.A., Trinity College, 
Cambridge, and its success from the commencement 
has demonstrated its necessity, and has amply justified 
the most sanguine anticipations of its founders. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE. 



" A glance of heaven to see 
To none on earth is given ; 
And yet a happy family 

Is but an earlier heaven."— John Bowring. 

"To Adam, Paradise was home. To the good among his 
descendants, home is Paradise." — Hare. 

" Send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared." — 
Neh. viii. lo. 



( i63 ) 



CHAPTER VIII. 
MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE, 

^T^HE intensity of the life, lived by Mr. Balfour 
-■* in Liverpool, could not fail to put his mental 
and physical energies under severe strain. We have 
sometimes found that a walk with him, through the 
streets of the city, gave curious evidence of the 
richness of his nature and the manifoldness of 
his interests. Meeting a benevolent shipowner, he 
would descant upon the claims and excellences of 
the Seamen's Orphanage, as though the orphans 
were the great object for which he lived; meeting 
a town-councillor, he would open fire upon some 
abuse that he was endeavouring to expose and ex- 
plode, with an energy that was at times tremendous ; 
meeting a citizen on his return from the noon prayer- 
meeting, he would utter fervent thanksgiving to God 
that all that was being attempted for the . good of 
Liverpool was guarded and blessed by the prayers 
of the Lord's people, and would pour out his soul on 



i64 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

the need of heavenly help as the basis of all suc- 
cessful endeavour ; meeting another whose heart was 
towards Temperance reform, he would rush into the 
heart of that subject, descanting on corner-men and 
corner-houses, and magisterial duties and licensing 
boards elected ad hoc, with a zeal and emphasis 
that might have made one suppose that he thought by 
day and dreamt by night of nothing else. Each man 
he met might have come to the same conclusion, and 
have gone away with zeal kindled anew on his own 
subject. Under the witchery of his blue " glittering 
eye," like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, he held each 
fast till he had delivered his soul. We have gone 
home from such a walk, with the conviction that 
torch after torch had been lighted or rekindled, by 
the fire of that intense nature. All causes were his 
that worked for the good of his beloved city; all 
who worked for any of these causes were his friends. 
And from the warmth of his gratitude to any one 
who was manfully struggling to right a wrong or to 
minister to the public well-being, one would have sup- 
posed that a personal obligation had been conferred on 
him, as well as a benefit secured for the community. 

It was a blessed but an exhausting life to him. 
The sun is ever giving out his rays without per- 
ceptible diminution of his heat and light ; but with 



p.:-. 



r ::^ .'. .r* -. ■ i- 






MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE, 165 

us it is not so. Mr. Balfour began to feel a desire to 
combine the repose of the country with the activity 
of the town. He thought he might thus husband 
his strength, for more effective use among the busy 
scenes he loved so well. 

In 1869 an opportunity occurred for purchasing 
a retreat such as he desired. The beauty of the 
scenery around Mount Alyn and its accessibility to 
Liverpool were great attractions to him. It lies 
among the hills of Denbighshire, a few miles beyond 
Chester. The house is commodious and convenient 
but unpretentious. It stands on a wooded slope, 
with an ample park before it, clothed with splendid 
old trees, and skirted at the bottom by the pretty 
little River Alyn, on its way to mingle with the waters 
of the Dee. The terraced walks around the house 
command a lovely view of the immediate valley, 
marked on the opposite side by the abrupt bank 
known as "The Roft," while beyond opens the rich 
and fertile Vale Royal, with the towers of old Chester 
rising grandly in the distance. 

It is a choice spot, and was from this time to be 
the home of the Balfour family. Mr.. Balfour was 
somewhat jealous over himself about the acquisition 
of this beautiful property. This state of mind is 
indicated by a conversation between him and his 



i66 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

friend Mr. John Fair, whom he invited to go over it 
with him, after its purchase, but before its occupation. 
Mr. Fair spoke of the loveliness of the spot, and said 
he supposed, after so many years of hard work, he 
would retire from the cares of business and the 
bustle of Liverpool, and enjoy the pleasures of a 
country-gentleman's life. " I shall never forget," 
says Mr. Fair, " the serious, almost solemn way in 
which he replied to my remark, to the effect that 
were there any chance, from his having selected this 
beautiful place for his home, of its drawing him away 
from Liverpool, and the work in which he was 
engaged in behalf of that city, he would part with it 
at once without a pang." 

It was with him a constant subject of regret, not 
to say indignation, sometimes expressed in language 
more plain than pleasant, that many who made their 
fortunes in Liverpool spent them elsewhere, retiring 
to a distance, and doing perhaps little or nothing for 
the community to which they owed so much. With 
him this was impossible. He loved Liverpool with 
a singular earnestness and unchangeableness of 
affection. It .sometimes struck his friends that his 
love for it resembled a larger family affection. He 
was irresistibly drawn to any one, rich or poor, who 
was honestly endeavouring to benefit his city in its 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE, 167 

material, but especially in its moral and spiritual 
interests ; and upon any one who, he thought, might 
render useful service in this work, he did not fail to 
exert the strange magnetic influence of his mind and 
eye, as, with bending figure and taper fingers out- 
stretched, he urged his plea with the earnest knightly 
grace which has left its unique and indelible picture 
stamped on the memory of those who witnessed it. 

Liverpool was graven on his heart. One was 
reminded of the Psalmist's love for the Holy City 
when he sang, " If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my 
right hand forget her cunning." And so it came 
that the removal of his residence to North Wales led 
to no slackening of his efforts in behalf of his beloved 
city; if possible, the reverse. His hope was, by 
economy of strength, to have it more in his power 
to help its people. 

Often might he be found, in the early morning 
before breakfast, in his quiet library, conducting 
varied correspondence, or drafting memorials or re- 
solutions for the benefit of a wide circle, of which, 
for him, Liverpool was the centre of intensity and 
impulse. The bent of his thoughts made itself 
apparent when, after such early occupation, his family 
gathered around the family altar. When, with a 
loved child upon his knee, he had read a portion of 



i68 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

God's Word with the emphatic realism, and the 
absorbed and startling pauses, which marked his 
utterance, he bowed his knee in prayer, there 
followed, oftentimes, a flood of pleading, plaintive 
supplication for " that great community ; " for the 
sinning and the sorrowing; for those that suffered 
wrong and those that did the wrong; and for all 
who loved and sought the welfare of the people. 
All was confided to his God. And so, with both 
hands filled with busy practical work, bis waiting 
eyes were ever toward God. 

Then the almost daily journey to Liverpool was 
undertaken, not without occasional misgivings about 
the length of time consumed, morning and evening, 
on the way. Then followed the rapid round of 
varying interests. It was his joy that, allied with 
able partners and assistants, the details of business 
did not now demand much of his time or energy. 
The welfare of Liverpool was his engrossing business. 
His day's work done, he returned to his peaceful 
nook, with surroundings as soothing and refreshing 
as heart could desire. 

As he was falling into the habits involved in his 
residing in Walesj a struggle arose in his mind. Was 
he justified in so far leaving Liverpool ? It seemed 
to him for a time like "deserting his post." My 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE. 169 

main work," he wrote at this time, " I more and more 
see, is to attend to spiritual and benevolent enter- 
prises in Liverpool." Temporary losses in business 
gave emphasis to his difficulties. His doubt about 
the path of duty was grave and embarrassing: he 
was prepared, if God so guided him, to leave his 
lovely home and return to the city, where most of 
all, his duties and his aflfections lay. The struggle 
was severe, but in the end he resolved to abide by 
the choice he had made. 

Though his life's passion was the improvement 
and elevation of Liverpool, the closer, quieter circle 
about him at Mount Alyn now claimed and received 
its share in his thoughts and plans. It was his 
delight to make every one happy around him, chil- 
dren, servants, farm-labourers, and all others. It was 
sometimes remarked that the governesses at Mount 
Alyn had "a good time." They were treated like 
members of the family. The servants, too, received 
all kindly consideration, and, for the most part, re- 
warded the kindness and confidence reposed in them, 
by fidelity and genuine attachment to the family. 
Very soon a " Cocoa Room " was established in the 
neighbouring village of Rossett, and various schemes 
were started to encourage sobriety, industry, and 
thrift. 



I70 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Mr. Balfour struck one, as rather grudging himself 
the enjoyment of so much beauty and ease, while 
others were not so favoured. One pleasure, however, 
seemed for him to have no alloy. It was that of 
sharing his advantages with others. One bright 
summer day, a relative sat beside him in the open 
air at Mount Alyn. As their eyes ranged over the 
lovely glades and woodlands which stretched before 
them, she exclaimed, "This place is just an earthly 
Paradise." "Ah I yes," he answered with a sigh, "if 
only the crowd of toilers in Liverpool could enjoy it 
too. But there are many shut out from such things." 
He had a strange power of making the interests of 
multitudes his own. 

Soon after he was settled in Mount Alyn, he was 
busy with plans for securing, to as many as possible 
of the faithful workers in the city, some share in the 
enjoyment of the beauty and repose of his own rural 
home. 

There were certain cottages on the property which 
he set apart for tired toilers of the town. Fresh 
adjustments and alterations, involving considerable 
outlay, fitted them admirably for the purpose to which 
they were devoted. City missionaries have an arduous 
and trying duty to discharge. They have to visit the 
poorest and the foulest homes in times of health, and 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE. 171 

especially of sickness. They have to encounter, among 
others, the drunken, the dissolute, the godless. It 
is not matter of surprise, if they sometimes become 
not only weary in body but jaded in spirit. For such, 
a temporary resting-place was prepared at Mount 
Alyn. A succession of them was to be found there, 
staying for two or three weeks at a time. We have 
often, when visiting Mount Alyn, looked in upon these 
good men, who, with their families, were enjoying the 
luxury of pure country air and lovely scenery, with 
verdure and flowers all about their doors. It did 
one's heart good to see the benefit they derived and 
the happiness they enjoyed. From these peaceful 
retreats they returned often with lighter hearts, and 
refreshed for a new stretch of difficult yet blessed 
work. 

During sumfmer, there was often high festival in 
the broad field above the house. Teachers and pupil- 
teachers from the city were there in scores. Games 
were organised, explorations were made among the 
woods. A large tent was spread under shadow of 
the trees that bordered the field; and there succes- 
sive parties were liberally regaled, while words of 
welcome were spoken by the generous host, and 
words of encouragement and counsel by ministers and 
others who were invited to meet the visitors. 



172 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

Members of the Young Men's Christian Association 
and groups of various kinds from the city found wel- 
come and refreshment there. To sweeten a little the 
lives of such was one of the chief joys of Mr. Balfour's 
life. The way was made easy for all the guests ; 
railway tickets were provided as well as hospitality on 
the spot. It was scarcely possible, on such occasions, 
to leave the beautiful scene and to watch the beaming 
countenance of the kind host, as with wife and chil- 
dren by his side he waved his farewells, without, the 
atmosphere breathed becoming more balmy, and the 
ills of life appearing less dark than before. 

The impressions produced on the mind of a dis- 
criminating friend, who had comparatively little oppor- 
tunity of seeing Mr. Balfour, will further illustrate his 
bearing at Mount Alyn and elsewhere. 

" There was something so individual, joyous, simple, 
inspiring in Mr. Balfour's manner and tone, that it is 
impossible to give an adequate impression of *the 
magic he used ' over one : the most self-less of 
magicians, who, when he came to us, made life seem 
better worth living, and heartened each stumbler to 
step out more cheerfully and pluckily on the road 
before him. Words do not represent him, for one 
misses the intense accent of conviction, the simplicity 
of a child, the manly directness of all that he said. I 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE. 173 

recall a sunny afternoon at Mount Alyn, when I sat 
with a friend in the park, where four hundred elemen- 
tary school teachers were being royally entertained, the 
host radiant amongst them all. I recall some grave 
talk with Mr. Christopher Bushell, about the problems 
of life and the struggle against evil. The host came 
gaily up. ' You two look grave ! ' ' We are talking 
about difficult things ; ' and then learning what turn 
the conversation had taken, gently, firmly, simply 
he said, ' There is no end to those questions ; I 
get no further ; I do not understand them. God has 
given me a little bit of work to do for Him; I try 
to do it; that I understand.' And how he did his 
' work ! ' 

"Late one winter day, my daughter and I were on' 
Mr. Balfour's door-step just as he and a friend were 
going out ; we proposed to come another day, but Mr. 
Balfoar would not hear of it. ' No, on no account ; we 
cannot let you off; we must take the chance now ; ' and 
then suddenly, with a burst of eagerness and convic- 
tion that penetrated, ' Don't you know there is no wealth 
but in the love we give and the love we receive? 
Friendship is the greatest gift we have amongst 
us.' As we came away, we wondered if he was con- 
scious how nearly he was reproducing Carlyle's words 
in ' Past and Present/ ' The wealth of a man is the 



174 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

number of things which he loves and blesses, which 
he is loved and blessed by 1 ' 

"A month or so later, sitting at dinner in the midst 
of a gay company, (he was always at home in innocent 
gaiety), the talk turned on Dante's great words, 'In 
la sua volontade b la nostra pace,' and again, with that 
eager conviction which he never lost, he exclaimed, 
* That is the secret of all true life.' If I were asked 
some of the special characteristics of the friend whose 
influence still seems to brighten life, I should say his 
joy in giving joy to others, in bettering the condition, 
bodily and mental, of every one, of every community 
he was brought in contact with, and his making re- 
ligion beautiful even to those who think they dislike 
' religious people.' " 

When friends visited Mr. Balfour, he sometimes 
invited them to examine one field in which he took 
great delight. He had found it sour and sullen, pro- 
ducing nothing but rushes and coarse grass. He 
thoroughly drained it, and made it one of the most 
fertile of all his fields. As we stood with other friends 
among its teaming furrows, we have heard him take 
up his parable concerning it with an earnestness 
which left its impress on all hearers. "The water," 
he would say, " which is held in the miserly soil, 
brings a curse and not a blessing. But if, when it 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE, 175 

falls from heaven, it is made to pass on to enrich 
other places, it leaves the brightest fertility behind. 
Just so it is with riches. Hoarded wealth, like 
hoarded water, sours and sickens the narrow soul 
that hoards it. But if wealth, when it flows in, is 
distributed through useful channels, it is blessed in 
the having and blessed in the giving." Such a 
parable, spoken on such a spot by such a man, was 
not likely to be without its good results. One power- 
ful principle, in the regulation of his own life, was 
thus set forth before his friends. It was not the 
possession, but the use, of wealth that made him 
happy. 

This principle guided him and Mrs. Balfour in 
small as well as in great things. His gardens and 
his greenhouses poured forth their lavish products 
wherever it was thought they were most needed 
or would bring most cheer. Among the sick and 
the suffering, the widowed and the wearied, many a 
languid eye has been made to sparkle with pleasure, 
when the well-filled basket has brought its message, 
not more of beauty and fragrance, than of the thought- 
ful love that lay behind. We recall an occasion on 
which Mr. Balfour walked up with us from the railway 
station to the house. It was a mellow autumn evening, 
and as we passed under the bending boughs of some 



176 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

damson trees, we remarked how good was the promise 
of fruit. '* Splendid ! " he replied, " splendid ! We 
must get a barrel of sugar and make jam for the 
Seamen's Orphans 1 " Just like himself. His mind 
was full of little plans of kindness as well as great 
schemes of philanthropy. 

His farmyard was put under contribution for the 
benefit of his friends. When Christmas approached, 
turkeys and geese were despatched right and left, as 
gifts. It sometimes happened that this process was 
carried to such an extent, that it was necessary to go 
to market, for a Christmas turkey for the Mount Alyn 
family. To him the dainties of the table did not 
count for much. Mrs. Balfour says, ** I cannot re- 
member his ever remarking that any of the food at 
table was not good, or not well cooked. But if there 
were delicacies presented, he would often regret that 
others were not there to share them." 

Mr. Balfour's love for children was great. Their 
simple ways found a quick response in his heart. He 
was ready, when he could, to take part in the games 
of the young, and found his joy in their enjoyment 
He derived the purest pleasure from his own chil- 
dren. It was the delight of the little nursery party 
to go out with their father, to gather flowers for 
their mother or for visitors under their roof. He 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE. 177 

was full of fun and gladness when he started his 
children on their ponies, and taught them how to 
guide and manage the little steeds. 

But children bring with them care and sorrow, as 
well as joy. On the 13th of August 1870 occurs this 
brief but touching memorandum in his note-book : — 
" My wife gave birth to a baby boy. Let it be our 
extreme desire to train him up in the nurture and 
admonition of the Lord, and to render back to Him 
with our whole hearts, the precious gift He has com- 
mitted to our care." It did please God, five and a 
half years afterwards, to remove from earth this, his 
eldest son, Alister. The sorrow of the parents was 
deep, but their hearts were resigned. Mr. Balfour 
would not have strangers bear the little coffin to its 
quiet resting-place in Rossett Churchyard. Two of 
his own friends — ministers — were asked by him to 
do this latest task of love for his dear child. The 
boy was singularly winsome and lovely, but was 
unmurmuringly "rendered back" at the call of Him 
who had given him. 

The minute thoughtfulness, which Mr. Balfour dis- 
played for young and old, was such as often to 
astonish those who knew him best. His mind might 
appear brimful of some public enterprise, when he 
would suddenly begin to make inquiries, which 

M 



178 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

showed that the most invisible concerns of those he 
loved concerned him. He seemed to forget nothing 
of that kind. We have often known him, when 
hurrying off to an important meeting that demanded 
concentrated thought and interest, leave behind him 
some discriminating message of kindness for one in 
need of it, or some gift curiously adapted to the 
unexpressed but conjectured wish of a child or a 
youth. The great movements of heart and mind did 
not seem to obliterate the most delicate traces that 
affection had stamped upon a sensitive nature. 



. . . "All other joys go less 

To the one joy of doing kindnesses." 



Mount Alyn House was simply though tastefully 
furnished. Mr. Balfour seemed to find it more diffi- 
cult to spend money upon himself than upon others. 
On his acquisition of the property and afterwards, 
various additions to the house had to be built, and 
improvements carried out, in the grounds. On these 
occasions his horror of extravagance and ostentation 
was conspicuous. His friends could not but be 
amused at the contrast between his grudging allow- 
ance to himself of any little luxury, and his lavish 
liberality in purchasing gifts and ornaments for them. 
When men give to others, they are apt to consider 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE, 179 

how such gifts may affect what they have to spend 
upon themselves. With him the position was re- 
versed. He kept a jealous eye upon expenditure on 
his own behalf. That seemed to him a kind of waste. 
Might it not limit his power to help others, which to 
him seemed the great use and joy of having means 
and money? He had an eye for art, which, if he 
had indulged it, might have led to considerable ex- 
penditure. The love for music which he manifested 
in early life continued with him to the end. His ear 
was very delicate. He took keen delight especially 
in Handel's works ; and the " Handel Festival " was 
one of his rare self-indulgences. But he did not 
allow these tastes to occupy much of his time. Life 
was too full for that, and the demands upon his 
energies too great, 

" His attitude towards painting and music," says 
a relative, " is illustrated by a dream which he had 
during his last illness. He dreamed that some 
friends, about to leave the town, asked him to 
accompany them to a performance of the ' Messiah ' 
before they left He replied that he had not time 
to go, and that he would wait till he could hear 
the angels sing the 'Hallelujah Chorus.' He could 
wait He recognised the mission of Art as a hand- 
maid of truth; but with him moral and spiritual 



i8o LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

questions came first." His own mission consisted 
in active efforts to benefit his fellows. Here lay his 
life-work, and the indulgence of tastes and preferences 
was willingly postponed to this. He cast no reflec- 
tion on tnose who pursued a different course, but 
for himself, his feeling was that he had not time ; 
like Him whom he followed, he must be about his 
Master's business. 

"While so employed, Mr. Balfour was not neglectful 
of the claims of the farm he kept in his own hand. 
He built a new farm-steading after the most approved 
models; he husbanded and applied manures with 
no small skill and success ; and his stirks and sheep 
carried off prizes, in competition with those reared by 
agriculturists to the manner born. Intelligence and 
energy made themselves felt in this, as in all else 
he did. Yet, after all, this was but the by-play of 
his life. 

We have been contemplating Mr. Balfour at home, 
in the enjoyment of health : we have also the oppor- 
tunity of seeing how he bore himself in the time of 
sickness. While at Mount Alyn he was attacked by 
alarming illness. It was in February 1877. The 
illness proved to be complicated and exhausting. In 
the first weeks of the attack, Mrs. Balfour noticed 
that some anxiety pressed upon his mind. It was 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE, 18 1 

not long before he explained the cause. He had been 
associated with Mr. Samuel Smith, in the scheme 
already described, for extending the usefulness of the 
Young Men's Christian Association, by the erection 
of new and ample premises. This scheme he then 
had very much at heart. Owing to the death of 
the architect and other causes, the cost proved to 
be much greater than had been anticipated. Mr. 
Balfour had given as largely as he felt justified in 
doing, and had applied for help to those who, he 
thought, would be likely to assist. And now, as he 
was planning how to meet the difiBculty, he was laid 
aside and the heavy burden fell upon his friend. 

This thought it was that burdened him. "Although," 
says Mrs. Balfour, " he was too ill to receive visits, 
our doctor consented to his seeing Mr. Smith, in the 
hope that his mind might be set at rest. Mr. Smith 
took the invalid's hand, and, after a few kind words, 
the anxious eyes of the patient sought the face of his 
friend, as he asked about the subject which weighed 
upon his mind. I shall never forget how kindly Mr. 
Smith responded, as he told him cheerfully that money 
was coming in, and that a friend had only that morning 
given a large sum to help the funds. Mr. Balfour would 
afterwards, if not at the moment, conjecture what was 
the origin of that impromptu donation. Meantime he 



i82 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

received this statement as a message from God that 
he was not to be disquieted, and when his visitor 
had left, he said, * Now I am quite happy,' 

"During the months of weariness and suffering 
which followed, a murmur never escaped him. He 
realised the promise, ' Thou shalt keep him in perfect 
peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he 
trusteth in Thee/ One day, when the cough was 
racking him, I expressed my distress that he should 
be so tried. He answered gently and almost cheer- 
fully, ' Oh, I don't feel that way. I put myself into 
God's hands long ago, and I am content to remain 
there. He knows what is best for us, and I don't 
trouble myself.' 

" No doubt the restful calmness of his spirit, at that 
time, was an important factor in his recovery. An 
eminent consulting physician came from London to 
see him, and gave it as his opinion that his lungs 
could never recover their tone, and that if he lived, 
he would always be a crippled man. Yet when re- 
covery began, it met with no hindrances, and by 
Christmas-time of that year he was as active and 
energetic as ever, and his lungs were in a perfectly 
healthy condition. Nor had he ever afterwards any- 
thing in his physical condition, to remind him of that 
illness. 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE. 183 

"We spent six months," continues Mrs. Balfour, 
" in France after his illness, first at Arcachon, and 
afterwards at Pau, when it was his delight to show 
kindness to other invalids, especially those who were 
not in good circumstances, and whom he could help 
to get little comforts which otherwise they must have 
lacked. Before our return to England, we spent a 
fortnight in driving among the Pyrenees. He often 
walked ahead of the carriage, his step active and light 
as of old, to the surprise of English friends who were 
with us, and who found it no easy matter to keep up 
with him." 

The Rev. George Brown of Pau thus speaks of 
Mr. Balfour's visit to that place : — " It was there 
and then that I had the privilege of making my first 
acquaintance with Mr. Balfour. An entire stranger 
in Pau, he at once attracted all who met him, by 
his singular geniality of character and brightness 
of disposition, ' sweetening the breath of society,' as 
Dr. Chalmers used to say, and never entering a room 
without bringing a gleam of sunshine along with him. 
This happy natural gift, however, had behind it some- 
thing still more important, for it soon became manifest 
that he was a man of purpose, and that the great aim 
of his life was to serve his own generation according 
to the will of God. 



1 84 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

"Though he had more than enough on his hands 
at home, he forthwith entered into the Christian work 
of his place of sojourn, in the most practical way, 
cheering those who were engaged in it with sympathy 
and help. 

" I mention one instance among many. The 
lamented M. Jean Bost addressed a large assembly 
of English and French people, at the residence of Mr. 
Oliphant of Pau, describing to them his unique group 
of * Asylums' at La Force. His conference was a 
simple summary of facts; but as soon as he sat 
down, Mr. Balfour, who had come only as a listener, 
unable to repress his feelings, rose and gave such 
an estimate of the importance of the work, and 
such a tribute to the devotedness of its founder, 
that in a few minutes he communicated his own 
enthusiasm to the whole meeting. It was in further- 
ing such works that Mr. Balfour was most truly in 
his element. 

"As my acquaintance with him deepened, partly 
under his own roof at Mount Alyn, and partly during 
his subsequent brief visits to Pau, I was only the 
more impressed with the nobleness of his character. 
Personal inconvenience, fatigue, physical discomfort 
scarcely ever seemed to interrupt his cheery equa- 
nimity, but the frauds and oppressions of trade, and 



MOUNT ALYN: HOME LIFE, 185 

the sins and sorrows of the people, stirred him up to 
a passionate vehemence of feeling and expression. 

" Underneath all his Christian activity, it was an 
open secret that he was enjoying the rest of faith, 
as a member of God's redeemed family; and his 
spiritual convictions, which he did not hesitate to 
express, were those of one who had tried the founda- 
tion for himself, and found it firm and true." 

Mr. Balfour's illness had for some time cast a shadow 
over his bright and beautiful home ; with his restora- 
tion, sunshine returned. He emerged from sickness 
fresh and thankful in spirit, and with his appetite 
whetted for the work he loved, by his lengthened 
season of seclusion and repose. It was an un- 
speakable joy to him to find himself again in the 
midst of his friends and fellow-workers in the busy 
city ; and by them his return was welcomed as a 
special gift from Heaven. We recall the first noon 
prayer-meeting he attended after his recovery, and the 
enthusiasm and gratitude with which he was received 
by many who for months had missed his genial and 
sympathetic presence. He presided, and his words 
were those of a man thankfully dedicating himself with 
fresh consecration to his God, after being tried as 
silver is tried. With special fervour he called on all 
his fellow-labourers to " work while it is to-day." It 



i86 LIFE OP ALEXASDER BALFOUR. 

was not difficult to see that the silent waidng-time of 
sickness was the source of much fruit unto holiness. 

His diary contains the following brief entry in 
reference to his restoration to health : — 
"Sunday, 26th May, 1878, 3 p.m. 
Meeting for praise to-day for my recovery at Y. M. 
C. A. buildings. 

Q>nfession of sin and unbelief. 
Praise for restored health and strength. 
Prayer for Self-consecration : 
„ Truth of heart : 
„ Purity of heart : 
„ Obedience of heart : 
„ Wisdom : 
„ Love: 
„ Unselfishness : 
„ Humility : 

„ Grace that I may not dishonour Christian 
profession." 



CHAPTER IX. 

CONFLICT— LICENSE-LAW; AD- 
MINISTRATIVE REFORM. 



" Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain 
of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the 
daughter of my people !" — Jer. ix. i. 

" Lascia dir le genti ; 
Sta, come torre, fermo." — Dante. 



( i89 ) 



CHAPTER IX. 

CONFLICT-^LICENSE-LA W-^ADMINISTRA TIVE 
REFORM. 

T T TE turn from these peaceful contemplations to 
^ ^ scenes of a different kind. Geptle as Mr. 
Balfour was, there was no lack of backbone within his 
gentleness. He was capable, on occasion, of over- 
powering severity. It is reported of him that he once 
witnessed a cowardly trick played upon a little child. 
His indignation was kindled, and the weight of his 
riding-whip left a sharp and long lesson on the memory 
of the offender. 

This element of indignation, even of wrath, at that 
which he considered wilful wrong, sometimes led him 
very far. In one instance, a journalist had taken up a 
position which he deemed not only baseless but mean. 
For years after, he could scarcely hear the name of the 
journal or the journalist without an explosion of keen 
displeasure. There were some instances in which 
an unfavourable judgment was too persistently ad- 
hered to ; but these cases were few and far between. 



IQO LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Now it was a statesman whose conduct he thought 
void of principle, now it was a town-councillor. Such 
impressions once made seemed all but indelible. The 
intensity of his nature asserted itself, whether the judg- 
ment he formed was right or wrong. If he believed 
the path of honour had been left, under the cloak 
of some fair semblance, his thoughts and words were 
anything but mild. But he was slow to be convinced 
of wrongdoing in any man. 

On one occasion a manservant in his household, 
who had been implicitly trusted, proved himself wholly 
and basely unworthy of such confidence. Mr. Balfour 
summoned him to his presence and gave him his 
dismissal. He made no charge, he said no word, 
but fixed his bright eye on the man with stern and 
withering condemnation. The culprit burst into tears, 
and left the room more abashed, than if ever so weighty 
a charge had been formulated against him. 

Another phase of the same characteristic may be 
mentioned here. When Mr. Balfour had formed a 
fixed judgment on a matter affecting the welfare of the 
people, and had come to his own conclusions about the 
right way of dealing with it, he seemed to find it difficult 
to understand how any one could fail to see the subject 
as he saw it. He would meet a friend and pour his 
views and convictions into his ear, holding him fast 



LICENSE-LA W-^ADMINISTRA TION, 191 

the while with his penetrating eye. It seemed as 
though he could not leave him till he had swept away 
his objections, carried his judgment, and won his 
sympathy. If there was fault in this commanding, 
almost intolerant impetuosity, it was the fault of a 
noble nature, and committed in a noble cause. 

When sallying forth on some errand which must 
bring him into conflict with fellow-citizens who, in 
his judgment, were the doers or the defenders of 
wrong, we have heard him nerve himself for the 
distasteful task, by quoting the words of the Apostle, 
" For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, 
that He might destroy the works of the devil." " We 
have got that to do too," he would say, " as well as to 
build up the cause of righteousness." And thus this 
man of peace prepared for war ; this man of tender 
heart found himself not infrequently in the thick of 
heated controversy, and amid the din of stern conflict. 
" Well," he would often repeat, " we are to destroy the 
works of the devil." 

" Christians are too mealy-mouthed now-a-days," he 
sometimes said. " Look at our Saviour ; He spoke 
right out, and told in plain words what He meant. 
See with what blighting words He condemned the 
subterfuges and pretences of the Pharisees. His ser- 
vants must have the courage to follow in His steps." 



jttn Z-iii'mr iit ss :iLe ^er:::c joe^ 3criiiir Siiz 

mr Si-iiiur: vz^ltt ne Trn-ii s jx r^e sacs ^ 3iw s. 
He "Jriulii le i£3ii iip. rr.^ ail lur pursiis. and be 

rciiHEiii JOT-?. r;aii7 ui ssmr arrrg jf rrestf jbc^ wiiir 



3c :';c iTTif iecsT^i bj zu i^mir^. He sesme-i ci^r 
-_- ]ie2r ize niinsei scirmr'TTir fn b.-s car. ** HiTc zo 
yLIjiiw^ 7 w:ri lie ^Lzjznfrf^ Tnncs if i.inmrss^ brr 

1:1 lie jesrs ifc:, iSf-i* ->^'5. a P^^^^- — rsiereacg 

tie iLLrlrCr^tr^s ^f Lzr'^r^ccL ±e iiisl cicaecraesioes cc" 
wbl'ii: are zizz£r.j filr anc 6fcl:rsd t: r^^ iij. Ii 
Tras :he pclfcj cc* iree-crsife in Ios!:s^ Tjh:? r*^^5cv 
wrsixit Soch iniic^i-ff izsi :i iras :':(.rji aeoessarj. in 
SLZjns-tT :.j :he pnc*scs cf an fz'ir^i anc izcZ^nani 
peccle, sz^ttdZj tc 3-r an ccc iz ii. B-:i: in U3e mciit- 
timje a l^rze ::.nnher cf z -bllc-hzcses Lad beca acv5e»i, 
in a U-am aineadj grzanizg unier an excessree sciw 
piv. Tne grants were niaie in a few ncnihs: the 
labours of rr.ar.y years Lave cnlv partiaZj s^ x ce coe vi 
ia car.celirr.g them. No ccubt ihe intentioa oc the 



LICENSE-LA W-^ADMINISTRA TION. 193 

Justices was good, but their ill-considered action 
brought a blight upon the city. Drunkenness in- 
creased, crime increased, mortality increased. The 
free- trade policy in licensing was not the only factor, 
but it was a powerful factor. The drink-interest 
gained a dangerous ascendency in the affairs of the 
town ; and the fears of a hundred and twenty-three 
medical men of the borough, who, in the crisis of 
the free-trade policy, had memorialised the Bench of 
Magistrates, were more than justified. The brief but 
weighty words they used were these : — " Your memo- 
rialists regard with alarm and regret the increase, of 
late years, in the number and magnitude of public- 
houses in the borough, believing, from personal obser- 
vation, that thereby disease and death are greatly 
increased." 

In the year 1874 matters had reached such a 
pitch that public indignation could no longer be re- 
pressed. At that period the Times referred to the 
state of the town in the following terms : — " The 
condition of Liverpool, whether from a sanitary or 
moral point of view, is as far as possible from satis- 
factory. The death-rate of the town has for many 
years past exceeded the average of English mortality, 
and by the last return of the Registrar-General it is 
absolutely thq highest of any of the eighteen large 



194 ^iPE. OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

English towns of which particulars are supplied . . . 
We should incline to infer that the increase in crimes 
of drunkenness has been very closely connected with 
the increase in crimes of violence. ... It would 
seem, upon a review of the whole evidence, that the 
criminal statistics and the health statistics of Liver- 
pool point to the same conclusion : Liverpool is a 
town whose leading inhabitants are negligent of their 

duties as citizens." I 

I 
This indictment was but the echo of what was i 

being said in Liverpool itself. It may be inferred I 

what were the convictions, and what the feelings, of i 

men like Mr. Balfour under such a state of things. 
It was felt that all veils and disguises must be torn 
aside, that daylight must be let in upon many in- 
defensible practices, and that the moral sentiment of 
the community must be invoked to overbear the self- 
interest of those — rich or poor — who were preying, 
like vultures, on the vitals of the community. His 
spirit was stirred within him, and along with like- 
minded citizens he resolved at all hazards and at 
any cost, " to battle against banded wrong." 

** Thrice blest is he to whom is given 
The instinct that can tell 
That God is in the field, when He 
Is most invisible. 

Blest too is he who can divine 
Where real right doth lie, 



LICENSE-LA W—ADMINISTRA TION. 195 

And dares to take the side that seems 
Wrong to man's blindfold eye." 

One autumn afternoon in 1874, when the present 
writer was riding in company with Mr. Balfour 
from Mount Alyn to Hawarden, this subject was 
the theme of conversation. The condition of our 
city was discussed; the degraded poverty of por- 
tions of it, to which we had been able to find no 
parallel on the continent of Europe, from Hammer- 
fest to Palermo, from Moscow to Madrid. We 
spoke of the crime and pauperism which have 
so largely their root in strong drink. We spoke 
of our jails and police-establishments, which, with 
the taxes they necessitate, might be reduced by 
one-half, if excessive drinking were restrained. We 
spoke of the children of the drunkard made orphans, 
or worse than orphans. We spoke of the weird 
fact that every year in our Christian city there is 
a sacrifice, to the god of strong drink, of infants 
whose number cannot be accurately ascertained, 
but the source of whose suffocation is clearly in- 
dicated by the fact that infants are "overlaid" by 
their mothers most freely on Saturday and Sunday 
nights, after wages are paid, and that they are less 
exposed to this peril on Thursday and Friday, when 
wages are exhausted: — the slaughter of the inno- 



196 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

cents. We spoke of the preparations which may be 
witnessed in certain charity-supported institutions in 
Liverpool, to receive the wounded and the bleeding who 
appear after the public-houses close, between eleven 
at night and one in the morning, especially on Satur- 
day nights, with as much certainty as if we lived on 
the edge of a battlefield ; — the row of bandages hung 
up in readiness, the lint to stanch the wounds, the 
surgeon waiting to minister to persons of either sex 
and every age, bruised with the fist of the drunkard, 
mauled with the poker of the city savage, or hacked 
with the broken bottle of the sunken sot, in the mid- 
night brawl. We spoke of the undeniable fact that 
the police, who are appointed to restrain drunkenness, 
crime, and violence, are too often tampered with, " free 
drinks" being copiously put at their disposal, by 
keepers of public-houses, where close inspection might 
lead to heavy penalties. 

We knew it ; we had seen it all. And we knew that 
the depths of the moral degradation of our brothers 
and sisters, fed from the same poisoned source, had 
never been penetrated by human eye. Were we to 
take our ease while all this was going on ? Were 
we to speak of such horrors with bated breath while 
a malign influence, which had gradually worked its 
way to power among us, was exerted to stifle in- 



LICENSE-LA W—A DMINISTRA TION. 197 

quiry and to gather godless gain from the headlong 
ruin of men, women, and children ? As we looked 
on Mr. Balfour's countenance, determined and intense, 
we were reminded of the words of the prophet : *' His 
word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in 
my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I 
could not stay." 

Our pace quickened and our blood quickened as we 
rode in the keen air and dwelt on the keen topic. 
What was to be done ? What step was to be taken ? 
Various schemes were suggested, and that evening, 
ere our horses were stabled, it was resolved that, with 
the concurrence of parties concerned, a Clerical Con- 
ference should be summoned in Liverpool to consider 
the whole position. A general Clerical Conference 
had recently been held in Manchester : that in Liver- 
pool was to be local. Such a Conference, consisting 
of ministers of religion of all denominations in Liver- 
pool, was speedily summoned. It proved to be a most 
influential meeting. Among other resolutions, one 
was adopted calling upon the Mayor, in view of the 
circumstances above adverted to, to summon a public 
meeting of the inhabitants " to consider the causes of 
these evils, and the remedies that may be applied." 

Such was the character of the dominant influence 
at that time, that the Mayor refused to call a town's 



198 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

meeting. As might have been anticipated, this 
attempt at repression only impelled the memorialists 
to take further steps in the same direction. Accord- 
ingly a careful canvass of Liverpool was undertaken. 
The householders were asked whether they were in 
favour of the effective control of public-houses and 
beer-houses by an adequate staif of inspectors; of 
lessening the number of houses, especiaUy by with- 
drawal of licenses after convictions; of shortening 
the hours of sale ; of entire Sunday closing. These 
questions were answered in the affirmative by varying 
but vast majorities.* 

A great meeting was held in the Philharmonic 

* The following table of questions and answers gives the precise results 
f the canvass : — 



of the canvass : — 
Are you in favour of — 



Votes. 
Yes. No. Majority. 



46.797 


4.087 


42.710 


43.857 


7.SI0 


36.347 


44.061 


8.542 


35.519 



1. Effective control of public-houses and 

beer-bouses by an adequate staff of in- 
spectors? 41.079 6,633 34.446 

2. Lessening the number of houses, espe- 

cially by withdrawal of licenses after 
convictions ? 

3. Shortening the hours of sale ? . 

4. Entire Sunday closing? . 

The number of voters, at that time on the Municipal Register, within the 
borough, was 68,879. There were about 2300 public-houses and beer- 
houses, many of whose managers and employes could not be expected to 
vote ; there were many persons at sea or absent from home. There were 
690 bad votes, from the papers being out of order. In these circumstances 
the 54,893 returns actually received must be considered as a very large 
proportion, and as giving a fair view of the opinions and wishes of the 
householders of Liverpool. 



LICENSE-LA W—ADMINISTRA TION. 199 

Hall, under the presidency of Thomas Matheson, 
Esq., to declare the result of the canvass, and to take 
action upon it. It was felt that the juncture de- 
manded the appointment of a Vigilance Committee 
to watch over the matter ; this accordingly was done. 

Mr. Balfour was made a member of the Vigilance 
Committee, and his whole soul went along with the 
movement. Results of the greatest value flowed from 
the action described ; and there can be no doubt that 
the Mayor's refusal to call a town's meeting supplied 
the necessary impulse to the movement 

The need for such an effort as that rapidly sketched 
may be inferred from the fact that in 1874 there were 
23,303 cases of drunkenness reported in the Chief- 
Constable's annual statement, while the number of 
publicans convicted for permitting drunkenness was 
only three. In 1875 the number of publicans con- 
victed for permitting drunkenness rose to fifty-seven. 
This is but one evidence of the necessity which 
existed, for demanding from the authorities, a firmer 
and more faithful administration of the laws bearing 
on intemperance. 

While others were labouring outside, Mr. Balfour 
felt compelled to carry on the battle in his place in 
the Town Council, of which he was at that time a 
member. The Watch Committee of the Council in 



200 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

particular, came in for severe criticism. A great 
point had been scored in the direction of sobriety 
and order by the town's canvass; and Mr. Balfour 
was not the man to leave the weapon furnished, 
unemployed. 

The following extracts may suffice to show the 
intensity of his convictions and the earnestness of 
his pleadings. He laid before the Watch Committee 
a "memorandum" bearing date the 24th June 1875. 
In it he says : — " The facts must be brought to light, 
and an honest judgment on these must be formed 
and expressed, however unpleasant the duty may be. 
The mind of the people of our town has now been 
ascertained, and it is declared against the abounding 
temptations to intemperance. Our authorities are 
bound to respect that expression of opinion and those 
wishes, and to take the necessary steps to have these 
abounding temptations diminished. 

" These temptations have been multiplied in Liver- 
pool to such an extent, as i$ on all hands admitted to 
be unjustifiable. Round the Sailors' Home, where my 
own men are paid their wages, within a radius of a 
hundred and fifty yards, the Magistrates have licensed 
forty-six public-houses. Now one would have thought 
that the Magistrates, both in their individual and 
corporate capacity, would have been anxious to en- 



LICENSE-LA W—ADMINISTRA TION. 201 

courage the establishment, near the Sailors' Home, 
only of places to promote temperance and sobriety 
and good conduct, and to discourage every enticement 
to immorality ; but, instead of this, house after house 
has been licensed for the sale of spirits, in most of 
which prostitutes are allowed to entice seamen to 
their ruin ; and at these houses not only is there 
drinking, but also' music, and in several of them, 
dancing. 

"As a shipowner, 1 feel bound to say, the 
•Magistrates in licensing such an undue number of 
public-houses round the Sailors' Home, and the Watch 
Committee in leaving these public-houses and music 
saloons practically uncontrolled, have betrayed the 
interests of my men ; and I must point out that we, 
as a firm, suffer grievous prejudice from the losses 
brought upon our seamen through these manifold 
temptations, as our men, instead of getting to their 
families with their money in their pockets, are 
entrapped in public-houses, where they too often 
spend all their hard-won earnings, and do not have a 
penny left for the purchase of their outfit for a new 
voyage. . . . 

"The present condition of matters is, I deeply 
grieve to say, fraught with disgrace to our authorities, 
and beyond all other evils is causing this most grave 



202 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

one, that the community feel distrust at the maimer 
in which the authorities have dealt, and are dealing, 
with the besetting evil and crime of our town, and 
that the weU-disposed inhabitants do not enjoy the 
protection which the law provides.'' 

After pleading for the appointment of a staff of 
weU-paid inspectors of public-houses, he continues : — 

''As matters now exist, the cost to the town of 
police and jails is enormous, and wholly unjustifiable, 
seeing that by energetic steps and effective execution 
of the Habitual Criminals Act, and of the Acts relating 
to public-houses, crime would be prevented, and a 
great saving effected in the sum now expended merely 
to punish crime. I cannot help saying that it is in- 
tolerable that the crime of causing people to become 
drunk, and of supplying drink to young children, 
should be committed every day with impunity by 
persons deriving pecuniary gain from the transaction, 
and that the whole weight of punishment should fall 
on the drunkard, who too often is merely the victim. 

" I ought not to conclude without expressing the 
gratification I feel that, as the result of an impartial 
canvass of the householders of Liverpool, 41,079 re- 
plies are given in favour of the effective control of 
public-houses and beer-houses by an adequate staff 
of inspectors, against 6633 who have expressed a 



LICENSE-LA W—A DMINISTRA TION, 203 

contrary opinion ; and it will be my hope that the 
representatives of the inhabitants may carry out the 
request, so generally and so earnestly made." 

At a subsequent meeting of the Town Council, 
when the same question was under discussion, Mr. 
Balfour spoke as follows : — 

"With reference to the extraordinary palliations 
urged by the Watch Committee for the frightful con- 
dition of our community, I will only remark that the 
Committee seem to make no account of the fact that 
at the last assizes there were seven persons tried for 
murder, all of whose offences arose more or less 
directly, from excessive drinking. I feel that if a 
record of agrarian crime equal to that had occurred 
in Ireland, the whole country would have been in 
agitation, and the Imperial Government would at 
once have interfered, and placed the districts where 
it occurred under something like martial law. . . . 
The Watch Committee dwell upon the importance 
of moral means towards reducing drunkenness, but 
those with whom I act point out, that moral means 
have no chance alongside of the immoral agencies 
which our authorities have planted and fostered in 
our town. ... I am a farmer, and know very well 
that before I can get a field to produce a proper crop 
of good grain, it is necessary for me to dig out the 



204 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

thistles and the thorns. ... I do most fervently desire 
that the authorities of Liverpool shall deal with the 
unparalleled condition of our town through drunken- 
ness, as the greatness of the evil demands, and that 
now, when we to some degree apprehend its extent, 
we shall apply remedies in due proportion to the 
exigencies of the case." 

The result of this controversy was the appointment 
of a staff of public-house inspectors, but not on a 
scale at all adequate, in the opinion of Mr. Balfour 
and his friends, nor under such conditions as to give 
security against the obvious danger of dthe inspectors 
being tampered with, by the men whom they are 
appointed to watch. 

We do not purp)ose entering further into detail on 
the questions raised above. Enough has been said 
to indicate the energy and fervour which Mr. Balfour 
threw into the discharge of his difficult duties. How 
difficult those duties were, and how much strain they 
threw upon his strength, may be imagined by those 
who consider the love of the man for all gentleness and 
goodness, and the delight he had in living in peace and 
harmony with those with whom he associated. But 
where duty called him he would go, and what prin- 
ciple demanded he would do. He translated into 
action the stirring words of the poet : — 



LICENSE-LA W—A DMINISTRA TION. 205 

" Perish policy and cunning. 
Perish all that fears the light, 
Whether losing, whether winning, 
I'nist in God and do the right. 

Some will hate thee, some will love thee. 

Some will flatter, some will slight ; 
Cease from man and look above thee, 

Trust in God and do the right." 

Many branches of the temperance reform, for 
which Mr. Balfour laboured, brought him into sharp 
conflict with some wealthy citizens interested in the 
traffic in strong drink. He made, for instance, a 
heavy onslaught upon a practice which prevailed 
on the sale of licensed premises, required for public 
improvements. A large price was paid for such pre- 
mises by the Corporation because they were licensed ; 
and then a demand was made for the removal to 
another district, of the license attached to such pre- 
mises. Men had grown rich on practices like these. 
Mr. Balfour's moral sense was outraged ; he took in 
hand some leading and notorious cases of the kind, 
and, with the dogged persistence and dauntless courage 
which were in him, he fought the battle. With a 
ruthless hand he tore away the disguises under which 
such proceedings had been veiled, and laid the com- 
munity under lasting obligation, for the work he did. 
Such a task cannot be achieved without incurring the 
enmity of some. But so evident was the righteous- 



2o6 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

ness of his purpose and the simplicity of his heart, 
that he was honoured for his work by his fellow- 
citizens in general, and credited with the purest motives 
even by those of his colleagues in the Council who 
differed from him. 

He would have been more than human if, amid the 
contendings of the Town Council, with a heart burn- 
ing with desire for the redress of the wrongs under 
which thousands in his own loved town were groan- 
ing, and with a lofty nature incapable of the faintest 
shadow of sympathy with meanness or unrighteous- 
ness, though perpetrated by men of wealth and posi- 
tion, he had always spoken with unruffled calmness, 
or preserved a temper in perfect balance, or proposed 
measures at once the wisest and most practical. 
We claim for him no such perfection; but this we 
venture to affirm, on the authority of some who have 
the best means of judging, that the unquestionable 
purity of his motives, and the unvarying loftiness 
of his aims, did not a little to elevate the tone of the 
Town Council, and in the most salutary way to affect 
the community at large. 

His diaries reveal him often bending in prayer for 
help and guidance in the difficult work to which, he 
believed, God had called him in the Town Council. 
With a faith that did not fail, and a courage that 



LICENSE-LA W—ADMINISTRA TION. 207 

knew no wavering, he addressed himself to his 
stern task. 

He was an active member, and for some years 
President, of "The Liverpool Popular Control and 
Sunday-Closing Association," whose chief aim was 
to secure "the effective control of the liquor-traffic 
by the ratepayers," and which sought meantime 
such objects as the following : viz., lessening the 
number of public-houses, shortening the hours of 
sale, Sunday-closing, thorough inspection, building up 
of back entrances to public-houses, and the like. 

The eminently practical aims of this Society were 
exactly to his mind. His desire was to do as much 
as could be safely done at once, and with this object 
to unite all who were the enemies of excessive 
drinking. 

A decided impulse was given to the cause in 
1883 by the issue, under the auspices of this Associa- 
tion, of the "Drink-Map of the city of Liverpool," 
in which each public-house was indicated by a red 
mark.* So blotted and blurred with scarlet spots weie 
certain portions of the city, frequented by sailors 
or inhabited by the very poor, that the map was 
humorously described as "Liverpool in scarlet 

* This map was carefully prepared by the Secretary, Mr. Nathaniel 
Smyth, a faithful and life-long worker in the temperance cause. 



ZIJZ ZI ALZZAJ^ZU 3alj: 



rssics imz zsc. ziic cac^rz^- 



Ziit s. cET-jcsrir^ ir sx* ir z::& zscz r~3t rzjij crw^r 

^yytzL cc ±e Ir-lnk-ilip Lis sic besi wiibzrcr ris 
;r.:T ntnot in tie zr^ar scrii^c rziT had ir be V3gcd. 
Ir Was r.vjsL e=Tj:T*d tv Mr. Balficr as an na- 



Ifr. Bilf:ur 5 viz{Iszcc. abo^t c i e i\:r : :r ^ bearing 
en Tcrrperznrc Rer'srrs, ccntinDed to the cod, aahd 
was cot abaicd wben he was szskii:^ under the 
Lifluence of a ccrtal inaladv. During his own last 
CIr.ess, the Recorder of Lnnerpool died. On the Sth 
of February iSS6 Mr. BaJfjur wrote to us as foOows : 
— "You will see that the Recorder has been taken 
away. I think we ought at once to appeal to the 
Mayor and Town Council, to ui^ that precautions 
be taken, respecting the appointment of his successor, 
so that he shall not practise as a barrister in the 
local courts, nor be a standing counsd for publicans. 
I would esteem it a favour if you would kindlj- con* 
sider the whole subject ... If you would arrange 
for the Committee of the Popular Control Association 
to meet some afternoon and consider a memorial, I 
should try to be present and give such aid as I can." 
The meeting was held accordingl}^ and the sick man 



LICBNSB'LA W—A DMINISTRA TION. 209 

was there, as eager as in the days of highest health, 
to sweep away an unquestionable and most mis- 
chievous abuse. On the 22nd of February, as Pre- 
sident of the Popular Control Association, he signed 
a memorial to the Town Council in which the evil 
is laid bare. The memorial contains these words : — 
" That the same person should, on one day, plead as 
a barrister, in favour of Publicans appealing from the 
City Bench to the County Bench, on the Transfer 
and Removal of Licenses, and should on another day, 
as Recorder, hear and adjudicate on appeals by 
Publicans (possibly his former clients), when con- 
victed by the City Bench of violations of the Licensing 
Law — is calculated, in the judgment of this Association, 
to prejudice the interests of justice, and to bring 
discredit on the administration of law." Mr. Balfour 
also signed an appeal to the Home Office on the 
same subject. The matter is of interest as showing 
with what tenacity the dying man pursued to the 
last, by every means in his power, the objects for 
which he lived. It may be mentioned that the end 
he sought has been practically attained. 

It is pleasant to be able to close this recital by 
the statement, that since Mr. Balfour and his friends 
began this conflict in Liverpool, with drunkenness 
and death, many influences have conspired to bring 



2IO LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

about a better state of things. The number of 
public-houses has sensibly diminished, crimes of 
violence have abated, and the death-rate has laiigely 
decreased, being, at the time we write, lower than 
it has ever been since health statistics began to 
be tabulated. 

An aged citizen who, in his boyhood, lived at the 
verge of " the old churchyard," tells us of a quaint 
inscription on a gravestone, which he often pondered 
with awe as a child, but which has long since been 
eflFaced. It ran thus : — 

" This town's a Corporation 

Full of crooked streets ; 
Death is the Market-place, 

Where all men meets. 
If life was merchandise 

That men could buy, 
The rich would surely live. 

The poor must die." 

If there ever was a time in Liverpool when the 
feelings of the rich toward the poor were such as are 
suggested in these lines, that time is passing, and 
must pass, away, as certainly as the old letters graven 
on the tombstone. The man we speak of in this 
volume — and he did not stand alone — spared neither 
pains nor fortune that he might elevate and bless the 
poor. 



CHAPTER X. 

LICENSE-LAW— LEGISLATIVE 
REFORM. 



" A Government should so legislate as to make it easy to do 
right and difficult to do wrong."— W. E. Gladstone. 

"As I looked at the Hospital wards to-day, and saw that 
seven out of ten owed their diseases to alcohol, I could but 
lament that the teaching about this question was not more 
direct, more decisive, more home-thrusting than ever it had 
been. . . . It is when I myself think of all this, that I am 
disposed to rush to the opposite extreme, to give up my pro- 
fession, to give up everything, and to go forth upon a holy 
crusade, preaching to all men — Beware of this enemy of the 
race."— Sir Andrew Clark, M.D., Physician in Ordinary 
to the Queen, Senior Physician at the London Hospital. 

"Ah Lord God ! there is nothing too hard for Thee."— Jer. 
xxxii. 17. 



■^^^^^^^'■9^?'?"?s^!'^>?(?S79i^nBa!B89BBBieB9S59QB99BS9RPilSRiBS!;5BBl!9!nRR<!^ 



( 213 ) 



CHAPTER X. 
LICENSE-LAW— LEGISLATIVE REFORM. 

T T JHILE largely engaged in the effort to secure the 
better administration of the existing licensing 
and other related laws, Mr. Balfour was deeply con- 
vinced that an entire change in the licensing system 
was essential Administrative reform, and legis- 
lative reform, were his two watchwords ; the former 
at once, the latter as soon as it could be obtained. 
He believed that temperance reform was absolutely 
essential to the good of the people, and that 
without it, no other reform would greatly avail 
for our country. Hence he spared no pains in 
examining the legislative experiments which had 
been tried. He visited Sweden, to inquire into the 
Gothenburg system. He visited Portland and other 
places in the State of Maine, to examine the working 
of the Maine Law. On these and similar subjects 
he made valuable contributions, by voice in the 



214 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Social Science Congress and Temperance Confer- 
ences, and by pen in pamphlets, articles in the 
Contemporary and other Reviews, a letter to the Duke 
of Westminster, &c. 

His ripest opim'on was in favour of popular 
control, in combination with Imperial control, and 
is thus presented in his own words : — '' As an indis- 
pensable preliminary to all license reform, I believe a 
change in the license authority must be made, trans- 
ferring it from the Magistrates to Boards expressly 
chosen for the purpose by the ratepayers. . . . But 
Licensing Boards would be only one part of the 
foundation of a right license-law. Another indis- 
pensable provision would be the control by Govern- 
ment, of the action of Local Licensing Boards, in the 
interests of morality and public order. It might 
happen that in some districts the state of public 
opinion was so degraded that the Boards, if un- 
fettered, would vote even for increased facilities for 
drinking. To meet this risk, a confirming autho- 
rity ought to be established, which might consist 
of, say, three or more License Commissioners, to 
be appointed by the Home Secretary. These would 
require to be persons of experience and responsi- 
bility, capable of organising, and able to take a part 
in reducing our drinking system within such limits 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION. 2 1 5 

as to be safe for the State and beneficial to the 
individual." * 

To show that a district might with perfect safety 
and with great advantage be closed against public- 
houses, he was fond of employing the following argu- 
ment, which, in the same article, he states thus : — 

" Take a case existing on a large scale in the town 
of Liverpool at this moment. The firm of Mr. John 
Roberts, M.P. for the Flintshire Boroughs, has had 
large dealings in land, in Liverpool. Mr. Roberts' 
firm has acted on the principle of prohibiting the 
erection of public-houses on the estates, large and 
small, which they purchase ; and Mr. Roberts believes 
that, indirectly at least, they have been gainers in 
each instance. The lands which have passed through 
the hands of Mr. Roberts' firm are in extent some- 
thing over 200 acres. The number of houses built 
or in course of erection thereon is about 6000, and 
the population directly affected may be set down as 
from 3S,ooo to 40,000. Mr. Roberts states that he 
never yet heard of a complaint being made of the 
want of a pubhc-house, either from the house-owners 
or the tenants, although some of the people living 
within the area to which the prohibition applies 

* "Intemperance and the Licensing System/' by Alexander Balfour; 
reprinted from the Contemporary Review, pp. 26, 37. 



2i6 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

would have to walk three-quarters of a mile to obtain 
a glass of beer. This testimony is the more striking, 
arising as it does among the people of a town so over- 
supplied with public-houses as Liverpool. 

" Here, then, is a crucial case, one upon a sufficient 
scale, showing how drink-shops can be, and actually 
are, absolutely prohibited, without any of the evil 
results ensuing which the Lords' Committee antici- 
pate. The prohibition of public-houses on Messrs. 
Roberts' estates is absolute, and yet this prohibition 
is neither ' inoperative nor mischievous,' as the Com- 
mittee deliberately state that it would be." 

Mr. Balfour was greatly interested in the Report of 
the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Intem- 
perance, and recognised in it the proof of an important 
advance in the education of the nation on this subject. 
He drew many of his weapons from the Blue-Books 
which contained this report, and made them the sub- 
ject of very close and repeated examination. When his 
portrait was painted by Long, he stipulated that this 
report should lie beside him. He first received the 
report when an invalid at Arcachon ; and the abun- 
dant notes and comments, with which he filled the 
margins, bear testimony to the intense interest with 
which he viewed the report. 

He was greatly attracted to the Church of England 



LICBNSE-LEGISLA flON. 2 1 7 

Temperance Society by the breadth of its platform 
and the comprehensiveness of its provisions. He saw 
that the drink problem in England was far too com- 
plex and difficult, to be solved by any one remedy 
or set of remedies. It had to be attacked all round, 
by moral suasion, by educational provisions, and by 
legislative measures of a comprehensive kind. 

This great subject brought Mr. Balfour into 
acquaintance with Canon Ellison, the chairman of 
the Church of England Temperance Society. He 
kept up a close correspondence with Canon Ellison 
almost to the day of his death, and a warm friend- 
ship sprang up between them. The letters which 
remain are full of interest, as regards the recent 
history of the temperance reform, but are too de- 
tailed and technical to be suitable for these pages. 

In one of these letters to Canon Ellison, Mr. 
Balfour gives brief and clear expression to that 
which was his constant object in all the agitation : — 
" My aim in taking part in the (Oxford) Legislative 
Conference is to assist in ascertaining what is morally 
right, with the view of insisting that our English law 
shall be in conformity with the Divine law." 

Again he says : — " It is not possible to overestimate 
the importance of securing for our laws a moral basis, 
seeing that the administration of such laws will bring 



2i8 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

about results that are salutary ; while, on the other 
hand, laws that are not regulated by a moral principle 
can only produce eflFects that are pernicious." And 
in illustrating this principle he points out how griev- 
ously it is violated : — " We may safely afGrm, that no 
country having regard to the welfare of the people, 
would begin a system of licensing such as now exists 
in England. It has grown up on imperfect informa- 
tion and in the course of many years, and it has 
been the means of placing in the hands of the few, a 
monopoly of enormous value, which unhappily is used 
most unscrupulously for selfish aims in the accumu- 
lation of wealth, regardless of the frightful cost to the 
community in pauperism, crime, and death." 

Mr. Balfour sought such reform in our laws from 
whatever party held the reins of government He 
was a steadfast Liberal, but many of the friends he 
loved and trusted most were found in the opposite 
camp. He was no party politician, and cared for no 
party ends or triumphs. The side of politics which 
faced towards the social and moral amelioration of the 
people was that which attracted him most. Just as 
in his ecclesiastical views he was an unwavering 
Presbyterian, sometimes saying to the present writer, 
" I will live and die a Presbyterian," and yet his 
was a spirit of the largest catholicity. He worked 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION, 219 

enthusiastically with men of various Churches when 
their end was good, and gave them princely help, 
though their Church banner was not his. He was as 
much above sectarianism in religion as he was above 
party in politics. In this question of temperance 
reform, as in other questions, he was united in the 
closest bonds with earnest men who agreed with him 
neither in creed nor in politics. It was not, therefore, 
surprising at his death to find, in a Church of England 
family paper, a notice of Mr. Balfour which claimed 
him as an attached Churchman. He was a Church- 
man in the highest sense. He worked with all those 
who worked for his Master, and loved all those who 
loved the Lord Jesus Christ. 

This characteristic is brought out in a letter to the 
present writer from the Bishop of Sodor and Man, 
formerly Archdeacon Bardsley of Liverpool, a most 
earnest promoter of Temperance reform. He says : 
— " I write a few lines, bearing chiefly upon our dear 
friend the late Alexander Balfour's connection with 
our Church of England Temperance work. Looking 
back upon the past, and intimately associated as I 
have been with that work from the first, I can con- 
fidently affirm that to no one man have we been so 
signally indebted, as to Mr. Balfour, for the develop- 
ment of our organisation, and the practical character 



220 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

of our operations. It was in 1873 that I first made 
his acquaintance. At that time the Rev. £. R. 
Wilberforce, Vicar of Seaforth, now the Bishop of 
Newcastle, and myself, were the honorary secretaries 
of a struggling local temperance society. We were 
alike deeply impressed with the necessity of some 
striking effort, which might, so far as the Church of 
England was concerned, arouse the slumbering con- 
science of the Liverpool public. Our device was to 
promote a round-robin to the Archbishop of York, 
signed by fifty of the Liverpool clergy, begging his 
grace to visit Liverpool, and to address the clergy, as 
well as a public meeting, upon the crying sin of 
intemperance, and the necessity of some special eflFort 
to counteract it. Our plan was marvellously success- 
ful. Two hundred of the clergy were addressed by 
the Archbishop, and were subsequently entertained at 
a dinner-tea, by the late Mr. John Torr, M.P. In the 
evening the Philharmonic Hall was packed by an 
enthusiastic audience, over which the late Bishop of 
Chester presided. The overflow crowded Hope Hall, 
and also the Institute Hall. The London as well as 
the local papers gave the fullest reports. In this 
great success no one rejoiced more heartily than Mr. 
Balfour, although he had had no part in it. He was 
at my door before ten the following morning to offer 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION. 22 1 

his congratulations, and to say that he recognised 
fully what an efficient instrument the Established 
Church might become, in the furtherance of dis- 
tinctively temperance work, and that for such an 
effort we might always rely upon his sympathy, his 
counsel, and his purse. From that day to the last 
week of his life, we were constantly receiving proofs 
that his promises were no vain words. 

" It is impossible for me to recall the steady help 
which he gave during many years, without paying the 
tribute of my admiration for the character of the man. 
The work was always undertaken by him on religious 
grounds, and again and again do I bring to mind the 
simple words of prayer with which he prefaced our 
discussions, when I asked his counsel on some 
pressing point His unstinted liberality was known 
to all, but only those who knew him best could 
realise the unselfishness of his disposition. He was 
always pressing others to the front, and claiming for 
them the praise which was really due to his own 
personal efforts. In temperance work, other men 
might have the credit which gathered round the 
Ellison testimonial, and the visit for conference on 
the Temperance question, of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, 
M.P., and a number of other incidents in connection 
with our special efforts ; but it was Mr. Balfour who 



222 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

suggested the ideas, and it was his unbounded 
generosity which made such efforts possible. 

" And not only did our friend thus unselfishly give 
prominence to his fellow-workers in the campaign. 
It was his kindly sympathy and tender consideration 
which first marked the failing strength of some among 
them, and supplied the needed rest and change by 
putting at their disposal his ' House of Rest ' at 
Mount Alyn, or by giving them the means for a 
Swiss tour. In such respects I never knew his 
equal." 

Mr. Balfour regarded the United Kingdom Alliance 
as a splendid aggressive organisation. He did not, 
indeed, entirely agree with all its modes of action 
or expression, nor did he think it was pursuing the 
wisest course, in seeking " to prosecute the total 
and immediate legislative suppression of the traffic 
in all strong drinks." His object was to put the 
control of the liquor-traffic into the hands of the 
ratepayers. His practical mind aimed at doings 
something for his own generation, at taking one 
step at a time, at securing every advantage which 
was attainable, though all this might be a very 
long way from the total legislative suppression of 
the liquor-traffic. 

Yet he saw that the Alliance sympathised with 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION. 223 

and helped all good movements in the direction of 
temperance reform, and he became one of its Vice- 
Presidents. He felt that there should be room in 
so admirable a Society, for earnest temperance men of 
various shades of opinion. But, as might have been 
expected, his own position was not always unassailed. 
Referring to such a difficulty which arose some years 
ago, he writes to Mr. Williamson as follows : — " I have 
a letter from A. G. this morning, telling me that there 
was a * rumpus ' at the annual meeting of the United 
Kingdom Alliance yesterday, over the retention of my 
name as a Vice-President. I am extremely sorry to see 
the animus of extreme men. But this is a small matter. 
They have introduced into one of the resolutions, 
bearing on the duty of voters in elections of members 
of Parliament, the clause, 'and for such candidates 
only/ which as it seems to me, would prevent 
members of the U. K. A. from voting for such men 
as our friend Mr. Samuel Smith I I fear I may not 
be able to remain a member of the U. K. A., which I 
should deeply regret" 

He did, however, continue at his post in the Alliance, 
and all his influence was employed in favour of the 
adoption of what he regarded, as wise and un- 
challengeable methods of opposing the tremendous 
evil of intemperance. He knew of no agency of like 



224 LIPB OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

power and momentum, and though sometimes in em- 
barrassment, he could never tear himself from it 

Mr. Balfour's attitude to those who did not go all 
lengths with himself, on the subject of temperance, was 
one of forbearance and charity. He was practically 
an abstainer, except when taking a little claret under 
medical advice, but he did not bind himself by any 
pledge. If his guests chose to take wine, it was pro- 
vided for them at his own table; he did not judge 
for them. His battle, as we have seen, was against 
the public-house system, with its bar-drinking and all 
the temptations and seductions by which it has ruined 
its tens of thousands. Yet as life advanced, he grew 
more and more apprehensive of possible harm from 
the use of alcoholic beverages of any quality, in any 
quantity, and in any quarter. This may be illustrated 
by reference to one of his innumerable kindly ways. 
At one time he was in the habit of sending supplies 
of claret at Christmas, to some of his clerical friends, 
under the impression that in their hard work of body 
and mind they would be the better of some stimulant. 
In later years, he sent to the same friends, boxes of 
good tea instead of wine. 

During the last two or three years of his life, Mr. 
Balfour was strongly impressed with the smallness of 
the consumption of milk in our large towns. He de- 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION. 22 5 

sired by means of " Revenue legislation " to discourage 
the use of beer, in the hope that its place would be 
largely filled, by the consumption of wholesome milk. 
Upon this subject he corresponded with Mr. Adam 
Young of the Inland Revenue Department. To this 
correspondence Mr. Young refers in the following 
terms : — " He was so animated by a single desire to 
promote the religious and physical well-being of the 
people, that it was always a deep pleasure to me to 
give him any information that lay in my power, in a 
private capacity. When he called at Somerset House, 
he was always most solicitous not to encroach on 
public time. For a man so full of the business he 
came to press, this considerateness was quite a strong 
feature in his character. In his correspondence also 
he was always the courteous gentleman, yet con- 
stantly fearing lest the earnestness of his convictions 
should impart too much force to his language. This 
gave a great charm to his correspondence, which, 
while it revealed the man and spoke his heart, was 
warm with kindly feeling and marked by gracious 
manner." 

Considerate always of the time and feelings of 
others, he was ever ready to acknowledge his error, 
if impetuosity had even seemed to carry him too far. 

The characteristics referred to by Mr. Young are 



226 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

illustrated, in a note addressed to him by Mr. Balfour, 
bearing date, Liverpool, 6th February 1886: — 

" I greatly fear I may have been hurried, in my 
last letter, to say things you may consider beyond 
my province. If so, may I beg you to forgive it, 
as I continually commit such mistakes. My humble 
hope is, that we may be permitted to assist in laying 
down principles for legislation affecting the sale of 
strong drink, and for our fiscal system, that may be 
beneficial to our country ever afterwards ; and these 
righteous principles are not usually discovered and 
applied without discussion. ... If children were 
instructed throughout the whole country, in a few 
elementary facts regarding diet, such as those supplied 
by Dr. Bell regarding milk versus beer, we should, 
I cannot doubt, be laying the foundations for temper- 
ance, in our nation. We must just go on, doing our 
best to fulfil the Scriptural injunction to 'work out 
our own salvation,' from intemperance and every 
evil thing." 

Mr. Balfour regarded as a great source of mischief, 
the disparity between the tax on alcohol in whisky 
and the tax on alcohol in beer. In a letter addressed 
to the Duke of Westminster he says — " The price of 
a glassful of Irish whisky in the public-houses here 
(Liverpool) is threepence ; but the price of the same 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION. 227 

quantity of alcohol in the beer commonly sold in the 
public-houses here, is not threepence, but only two- 
pence. If our wretchedly degraded men and women 
want to become intoxicated, this is readily attainable, 
both because public-houses so abound, and because 
strong beer is sold at such a low charge. I do not 
think that, either on fiscal or moral grounds, the 
inequality of the duty on beer, as compared with 
the duty on spirits, can be justified. The excessive 
consumption of spirits is, on moral grounds, dis- 
couraged by the imposition, by the Legislature, of a 
high duty, as high as Parliament dares to propose, 
without giving encouragement to illicit distillation. I 
venture to say that there exists an absolute necessity 
to deal with the duty on beer on the same principle, 
and so to arrange the incidence of taxation, that the 
brewing of strong beer shall be sharply checked, and 
that the beer brewed for and sold to working-people 
shall be of a light and unintoxicating character. I 
may be pardoned if I say that this department of 
the temperance question has received far too little 
consideration, at the hands both of Parliament and of 
those who seek to promote temperance." 

In a letter dated February 1886, to Mr. Adam 
Young, deploring the same evil, he says — " Knowing 
as we all do that a grievous anomaly exists, surely 



228 . LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Mr. Gladstone will take up the subject this year, and 
place it on a righteous basis. . . . Brewers ought not 
to be allowed to brew from deleterious materials, and 
thus poison people in their * tied-up houses.' There 
are many wrongs to remedy, but let us get begun, and 
one by one, in due time, they will be disposed of." 

It was his earnest wish to see strong beer replaced 
by lighter beer. When visiting Munich, he took the 
opportunity of making himself thoroughly acquainted 
with the processes by which the light Bavarian beer, 
universally used there, is brewed. He had samples 
sent home to be analysed, for comparison with 
English ales. A great advantage would be gained, 
by the substitution of Bavarian beer, for the strong 
beer which is so generally consumed in our public- 
houses. 

To supersede, so far as possible, beer by milk, was 
a still stronger desire, which occupied much of his 
thoughts in the closing weeks of his life. In a 
letter addressed to Mr. Adam Young, on the 1 2th of 
February 1 886, he quotes the following words of Sir 
Henry Thompson : — " There is a notable example of a 
single animal product, perhaps the best which can 
be applied as a complete food — one prepared by 
nature, furnished in great abundance, and which we 
are all well acquainted with — viz., milk. . . . Let us 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION. 229 

recall the fact that, excepting only the article of 
wheaten bread, milk is perhaps the most universally 
employed food in this country ; and I am not quite 
sure that the exception made above is correctly 
stated to be so." He then goes on to say : — " Can 
we believe, with Sir Henry's words before us, that 
the supply and use of milk have received adequate 
attention, from the upper and governing classes? 
May I be allowed earnestly to appeal to you to assist 
towards a remedy ? To the agricultural and landed 
interest this is, I believe, a vital question. Being 
a farmer, on a small scale, as well as a merchant, I 
may be excused for speaking in such positive terms." 
And after dwelling on the boundless sources of the 
supply of wheat in climates more adapted for its 
growth than our own, and also upon the severe 
competition encountered from America, New Zealand, 
&c., in the production of cattle and sheep, he con- 
tinues : — " From what source is relief to the farmer 
and landowner to come ? I answer, from the dis- 
placement of beer, by the greatly extended use of 
milk, amongst all classes of our population And I 
venture to say that the statistics which you have 
recently furnished show that, were this to occur, an 
enormous saving would be effected in the diet of 
poor people, while to farmers and landowners the 



230 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

increased use of mflk and vegetables would give the 
relief which, in their present distress, they require. 

" At page 5 of his book on British dairy-farming, 
Mr. Long quotes from the address of Professor 
Sheldon, who estimates the consumption of milk as 
an article of diet, including what is employed in 
cooking, as about fifteen gallons per annum per man, 
woman, and child in these islands. The consump- 
tion of milk in our Orphanages in this city is about 
six pints per child per week ; and it is remarkable 
that in the Seamen's Orphanage, with which I am 
connected, children on their admission are found not 
to like milk. When they discover that they have to 
take milk or nothing, they soon acquire a taste for it, 
and after a month they like it The simple food 
supplied to these children, along with other arrange- 
ments for their welfare, causes them to be remarkably 
healthy, as you can judge from the fact that last 
Sunday, and the previous Sunday, of 206 boys in the 
Orphanage, 205 attended chapel. 

"The consumption of beer in England you have 
shown to be four and a half pints per person per 
week. With the necessary instruction as to diet in 
our schools, and more general information on the 
subject among the people, and with better legislation 
and better fiscal arrangements, we may hope ere long 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TION. 23 r 

to see great changes in the consumption of beer. 
And my hope is, that a great increase in the use of 
milk is impending. 

"At page 4 of his book Mr. Long shows from 
Professor Sheldon's figures, that the value of milk, at 
the price paid to the farmer, of sevenpence per gallon, 
is ;^47,ooo,ooo a year ; this includes what is used in 
the production of butter and cheese. My hope is, that 
with the assistance of the Commissioners of Excise, 
we may soon see this milk product doubled in quantity. 
I believe it may be increased threefold, with the highest 
advantage to all classes of the community. But to 
obtain this, Mr. Gladstone must prepare his Budget 
on righteous foundation-principles, and in conformity 
with his utterances on the milk question in Birken- 
head,* as I am sure he will do, whereby the use of 
beer may be discouraged, and the use of milk not 
hindered or destroyed, in our large cities, as it now 
is. In short, the recommendations of the Commis- 
sioners of Excise must correspond with the teachings 
of the Minister of Education, and if so, cardinal 
changes and most beneficent results will come to the 
whole nation." 

In a letter written to Canon Ellison, in February 

* Speech delivered by Mr. Gladstone on the i6ih October 1884, on the 
occasion of his cutting the first sod of the Mersey Railway. 



232 



LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 



1886, Mr. Balfour says: — "I have been in corre- 
spondence with Mr. Young of the Inland Revenue 
Office, who has been most helpful in furnishing 
information. He sends the following most impor- 
tant figures, supplied by an eminent chemist, giving 
the constituents of milk as compared with beer : — 



Ordinary. 


Weight of Solid ; Albaminons ! Carbo- 
Matter per PinL Matters. 1 Hydrates. 


Fat. 


Ash. 


Milk 
Beer 


Ounces. 
2-5 

I.O 


a83 
aao 


a83 
0.74 


0.70 
none 


0.14 
ao6 



" The residue in milk is more than double that in 
ordinary beer. Milk is about four times richer than 
beer in albuminous or flesh-forming substance. It 
is twice as rich as beer in mineral matter. It con- 
tains fat, which is absent in beer. The general con- 
clusion is, that the solid matter in a pint of milk is 
upwards of five times as valuable, as an article of 
human food, as that in the same quantity of beer. 

" These facts and figures being reliable, it seems to 
me they would do to be published as wall-papers to 
be hung up in schools. Indeed I suggested this 
yesterday to our School Board, who, I am sure, would 
be willing to have them hung on the walls of our 
Board Schools, if the wall-papers were supplied. If 



LICENSE'LEGISLA TION. 233 

children are instructed in a few elementary facts 
respecting diet, I feel assured this would prove the 
great foundation of temperance in our nation." 

The need for restraining the national thirst for 
beer is illustrated by a letter from Mr. Balfour to 
Mr. Young at a somewhat earlier period. It bears 
date, Mount Alyn, i8th April 1883: — "The drink 
bill of 1882, which appeared in the Times of the 26th 
March, contained figures at which Dominie Sampson 
would have cried * Prodigious ! ' and at which I am 
struck with perfect dismay. The fourth item of con- 
sumption is beer, of which the quantity is reckoned 
at nearly i,ocx),ooo,ooo of gallons ! Now the popu- 
lation of the kingdom is about 35,ooo,ocx:). Deduct 
the number of total abstainers, said to be about 
4,000,000, the number of children and youths up to 
fifteen, say about one-third, or 10,000,000. This 
gives a consumption of one gallon a week for every 
person who drinks, and is above fifteen years of age, 
in the United Kingdom. 

" But were we to deduct from the number of beer- 
drinkers most of the population of Scotland and 
Ireland, who drink very little beer, and the numbers 
of English men and women who do not take beer, or 
who take very little, we should arrive at the con- 
clusion that the beer-drinking population is not more 



234 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

than perhaps ten or twelve millions, who consume 
the stupendous quantity of nearly I, OCX), 000,000 
gallons of beer. What the consequences are, to 
themselves and their families, of this annual waste 
of money, waste of time, incapacity for work, sorrow 
at home, and future degradation and ruin, I leave 
you to imagine." 

Mr. Adam Young writes to Mr. Balfour on this 
subject as follows : — " The amount of solid nourishing 
matter in the best of beer is so small that I never 
myself attached much importance to it. What there 
is seems rather inclined to choke the biliary ducts 
and determine the formation of fat, and not muscle 
or sinew ; so that I think nothing of beer as a food. 
I wish all drinkers of beer could be got to think of 
it as a sort of sauce, not to be taken without some 
solid to be qualified by it, even were that solid only 
a crust of bread." 

No one can seriously consider such facts with- 
out coming to the conclusion that Mr. Balfour's 
earnest effort, so far as possible, to supplant beer by 
milk, was one pointing in the direction of a great 
national benefit 

After reading these views, it will not be matter of 
surprise that Mr. Balfour, though aware that his life 
hung upon a thread, threw much of the energies of 



LICENSE-LEGISLA TIGN. 235 

his latest da^'s into an effort to give practical effect 
to his opinions. The mere proclamation of what he 
regarded as valuable truth never satisfied him, if it 
was possible to embody that truth in fruitful en- 
deavour. His desire was to found a company for 
the purpose of meeting the want he deplored. In a 
printed letter, dated the 9th April 1886, which was in 
the press at the time of his death, he says : — " Good 
fresh ' separated ' milk at twopence per quart would 
certainly supply an article of primary necessity, and 
we must believe that in time, it will obtain a large 
sale. To accomplish this it is proposed to erect milk- 
separating machinery in Liverpool, near a railway 
terminus, to import the best country milk, to separate 
the cream on arrival, and thus supply cream and 
fresh butter, as well as separated milk." 

This company was not intended to interfere with 
the already existing Dairy Company, in which also 
he took a deep interest. 

Soon after Mr. Balfour's removal by death, supphes 
of milk began to pour into the city from various fresh 
sources, so that it was found unnecessary to per- 
severe with the projected company for supplying milk 
" separated " by a new process. 



CHAPTER XI. 
VALPARAISO. 



" The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord ; and he 
delighteth in his way." — Psalm xxxvii. 23. 

" Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, 
So didst thou travel on life's common way, 
In cheerful godliness ; and yet thy heart 
The lowliest duties on herself did lay." 

—Wordsworth. 



( 239 ) 



CHAPTER XI. 
VALPARAISO. 

TN i860 Mr. Balfour paid his first visit to Chile, 
. remaining in Valparaiso for two or three years. 
Change of place to some extent changed the objects 
of his interest, but made no alteration in the bent of 
his soul. Wherever he was, his life seemed to carry 
out the apostolic precept, " To do good and to com- 
municate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is 
well pleased." Among those settled in Valparaiso 
before his arrival, he found Mr. Elliot W. Davidson, 
now of Liverpool, with whom he formed a warm and 
lasting friendship, and in whose family he was a 
constant and welcome guest. 

Mr. Davidson tells how at once, on his arrival, he 
plunged into beneficent Christian work. His instincts 
seemed to guide him to the right field of labour. 
Within a week of his setting foot in Valparaiso, he 
was to be found in the hospital, in which were placed 
sick and disabled sailors from both men-of-war and 
merchant-ships. Might he be allowed to bring fruit 



240 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

and flowers to the invalids ? The request was readily 
complied with ; and thus favourably introduced, his 
next request was, that he might be permitted to read 
to the men. This request too was granted. When the 
men became convalescent, he would inquire if they 
had written to their friends at home, and if not, he 
would get them to write, or failing their ability to do 
so, would write in their behalf. So, like a good angel, 
he went in and out among the sick sailors, smoothing 
the pillow of sickness, and pointing the sufferers to 
that Friend who would never fail them, at home or 
abroad. Here, as at home, he had assistants in the 
office well qualified to carry on the details of busi- 
ness, and was thus enabled to follow the leadings of 
his heart, and to occupy a considerable portion of his 
time in work like this. 

He was not long in finding his way to the Spanish 
Hospital, though not able at first to speak much 
Spanish. The hospital at that time was badly ad- 
ministered, and was altogether in a very poor con- 
dition. Mr. Balfour soon secured friendly relations 
with the hospital authorities, and was able quietly 
to get reform after reform introduced, till in a few 
months the whole aspect of the institution was altered. 
During all his stay in Valparaiso he continued his 
interest in and his visits to the hospital. 



VALPARAISO. 241 



Mr. Balfour found that a considerable number of 
English artisans were settled in Valparaiso, many of 
them engaged in railway work at the extreme end 
of the town. He at once interested himself, in the 
most lively and practical manner, in their welfare. 
The distance, from his own residence on the Cerro 
Alegre to the railway, did not prevent him from 
paying frequent visits to the men who laboured 
there. Some were serious, right-thinking men, but 
many were careless. Mr. Balfour lost no time in 
setting on foot efforts for their social and moral 
amelioration. He started a reading-room for the 
artisans, which was used for social and religious 
meetings. The men, speedily convinced that this 
new-comer was their true friend, gave heed to 
his counsels, and ere long the good wages earned 
were put to a good use, by many who before had 
squandered them, and a marked change took place 
among them, which made itself easily visible in their 
appearance and manners. The bond thus formed 
was a very salutary and a very endearing one. 
When, at length, the time for Mr. Balfour's return 
to England arrived, the men invited him to a fare- 
well tea-party, at which, in their own downright and 
simple way, they bore testimony to the gratitude they 
felt toward him. The speech of one working-man 

Q 



242 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

was this : " Mr. Balfour, we respect you : that is not 
it — we love you." 

Among other efforts made by him for the good of 
the people, Mr. Balfour initiated the idea, and was one 
of the founders, of a savings-bank. He also, along 
with the Rev. Dr. Trumbull, the excellent Protestant 
pastor in Valparaiso, and Mrs. Williamson, who with 
her husband, Mr. Balfour's partner, joined him in 
Valparaiso in February 1862, aided in the formation 
of a Temperance Society. This was probably the 
first society of the kind formed on the west coast of 
South America. 

When Mr. Balfour went to Valparaiso in i860, he 
went alone; when he returned to it in 1867, he was 
accompanied by his wife, and his home thus became 
the centre of still more genial influence and extensive 
usefulness. 

During both periods of Mr. Balfour's residence in 
Valparaiso, the Rev. Dr. Trumbull, still the much- 
respected senior minister of Union Church, was his 
pastor, and became his intimate friend. Dr. Trumbull, 
accordingly, had the best opportunities of knowing 
his "manner of life, purpose, faith." We cannot do 
better than avail ourselves of some of Dr. Trumbull's 
reminiscences of him. He says : — " During the quarter 
of a centiuy that has elapsed since Mr. Balfour first 



VALPARAISO. 243 



set foot in Valparaiso, he has been a leader and 
originator in many schemes for education, culture, and 
piety. It was delightful to hear him in prayer. He 
manifested such reverence, that it was always uplifting 
to unite with him in calling on the name of the Lord. 
Our climate here is unfavourable to activity in religion, 
as in other matters ; but it could not repress his zeal. 
He gave an impulse to Christian effort among us, the 
effect of which has not yet disappeared. There are 
working-men here to-day, who cherish the recollection 
of his visits to them at their rooms at the railway 
station, and who remember with what cordiality he 
provided for their singing-classes, soirees, and social 
diversions. He never lost sight of the aim of inviting 
them to the house of the Lord, and indeed of urging 
them to come personally and promptly to the Saviour. 
In subsequent years, as intelligence reached him of 
the death of one after another of those he knew here, 
his replies showed that during the long interval, he 
had borne them on his heart, and had remembered 
them at the throne of grace. 

"When, in 1861, Mr. Corfield came again to this 
coast as an agent of the British and Foreign Bible 
Society, Mr. Balfour had a warm welcome for him as 
a messenger of God; and when the proposal was, 
soon afterwards, made to organise a local society for 



244 LJP^ OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

the distribution of the Holy Scriptures in all tongues, 
and especially in Spanish, he instantly replied, ' Let 
us arise and build.' About a year after this, he left 
for England, but his interest in the Bible-work never 
flagged. Remittances were sent by him from England. 
His firm was requested to subscribe occasionally in 
solid sums, for him, here. And when he returned to 
Chile in 1867, he laid right hold of the work with 
redoubled zeal, presided at the annual meetings, be- 
came President of the Society, and in all places, and 
with all people, pleaded for the cause, obtaining for it 
both funds and friends. His interest in it was undi- 
minished to the day of his death. Thousands of dollars 
Mr. Balfour has placed in the treasury of this Society, 
which, since he helped to form it, has put into circu- 
lation sixty thousand copies of the Holy Scriptures, 
among the inhabitants of this Republic." 

As manifesting the spirit in which his Bible-work 
in Valparaiso was carried on, a few sentences may be 
introduced from a speech delivered by Mr. Balfour as 
President of the Valparaiso Bible Society in the year 
1868: — "It is cause for deep thankfulness that new 
openings for the exertions of the Committee have 
presented themselves, and the opportunities for use- 
fulness in this country, by distributing the Scriptures, 
are now undoubtedly greater than ever. Since 1865 



VALPARAISO. 245 



religious tolerance to all has become the law of this 
country. . . . Should it ever happen that those of the 
Roman Catholic persuasion dispute the propriety of 
our attempts to convey God's own Scriptures of truth 
to their fellow-countrymen now ignorant of them, we 
must bring before their minds the principle which has 
been accepted by us, and has determined our own 
conduct. This is, that, in circulating the Word of God, 
and calling the attention of individuals to its truths, we 
do no injury to any man, but, on the contrary, aim at 
distributing to others a source of light which, how- 
ever inadequately we ourselves may prize it, we are 
nevertheless persuaded, in this world of darkness, 
is of unspeakable, inestimable value. We entertain 
hostility to no one, but would seek to be helpful to 
persons of every class and of all forms of religious 
belief. . . . May I be allowed to impress on all 
members of this Society, the importance of aiming 
that the institution shall fulfil the very highest 
designs and purposes? These, primarily, are, that 
our fellow-men shall really know God as He is 
revealed in His Word, and that they be led to trust, 
love, and serve Him. Remembering that it is declared 
that the justification of the sinner, in God's sight, 
depends on the belief he cherishes in Jesus Christ our 
Saviour, of what unutterable importance is it that all 



246 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

shall learn of this great Saviour as He is revealed in 
the Bible ! Every new victory gained, in the strife 
that is waged, will aflFord, to all good men in all 
countries, a theme for rejoicing and thanksgiving. 
Let us animate ourselves to needed labour by the 
thought that, if we are faithful to our duty, victory 
in the end is sure." The conviction last expressed, 
that every good cause was on the way to victory, was 
deeply stamped on his soul, and was ever an inspira- 
tion to him, filling him with patience and courage. 

Dr. Trumbull continues: — "In 1867 he, with the 
Rev. Dr. Dennett, the Rev. Allen Gardiner, Messrs. 
George Jenkins, and Henry Birrell, sought to found 
in Valparaiso, a branch of the Young Men's Christian 
Association. Their efforts were not at the time car- 
ried to a successful issue. At a later period, how- 
ever, the Association was founded, and a spontaneous 
and general sentiment demanded that Mr. Balfour, 
though in Europe, should be appointed the Honorary 
President, since his name would give prestige to the 
work, and stimulate young men to a kindly sympathy 
with the Association. He at once accepted, and has 
every year since that time been re-elected to the Pre- 
sidency. It may be also mentioned that in Portland, 
Oregon, he addressed the members of the Young 
Men's Christian Association, pressing on their atten- 



VALPARAISO. 247 



tion their personal need of an interest in the Saviour 
as their King and Teacher. 

" He favoured schools, and gave lavishly to their 
initiation and maintenance, both here and in Co- 
quimbo. Thousands of pounds sterling he devoted 
to our educational institutions, of the humbler and 
of the higher sort. To him belongs the thought, 
and to him the first endowment, of the Theological 
and Training School now located in Santiago. The 
English Board School at Valparaiso was a special 
object of his attention and generosity, his great de- 
sire in regard to it being, that its pupils should be 
instructed in the way of the Lord. 

"For my own part, how often have I thought. 
What could we have done without Mr. Balfour's 
assistance? To me he was a brother. His gene- 
rous gifts went up to thousands of dollars for the 
church ; first, to build it ; second, to maintain it ; and 
finally, to sustain me in its ministrations. Almost 
never, when in town, was he absent from his place in 
the church. He took an active part in the devotional 
meetings ; in prayer he was most solemn, and some- 
times his words were so fraught with a spirit of 
seriousness, self-renunciation, and love to the Saviour, 
as to bear all hearts along with him in devotion and 
zeal. 



248 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

** Mr. Balfour in numerous ways advanced the 
doctrine of God our Saviour. His aim was unosten- 
tatiously to let his light shine, for the honour, not 
of himself, but of his Heavenly Master. Perhaps no 
man ever resided on this coast who left a more 
universally favourable impression in behalf of the 
Gospel. Men who did not accept his views esteemed 
him, spoke well of him, and when he had gone away, 
cherished a most honourable estimate of him. His 
charity and complete honesty of purpose, coupled with 
a deeply humble dependence on, and love to his Lord 
and Redeemer, impressed those who came at all into 
intimate contact with him. We bless the Lord that, as 
a living epistle, a working example of faith put into 
practice, he ever came among us. . . . One thing 
certainly has been shown to the young men of this 
city, namely, that Christian principle can be carried 
into the details of commercial life, and that it is not 
opposed to success, but tends directly and effectively 
to promote it." 

One fruitful friendship which Mr. Balfour formed 
in Chile had its origin in this wise. When about to 
proceed to Valparaiso he went to his bookseller's in 
search of books to read on the voyage. The book- 
seller produced the life of Captain Allen Gardiner, 
saying, "This, I think, will suit you." Like others 



VALPARAISO. 249 



who have read it, Mr. Balfour was captivated with 
the book. On arriving at his destination, one *of the 
first strangers with whom he met was another Allen 
Gardiner, the only son of the man whose life had so 
much called out his sympathies on the way. Mr. 
Gardiner was sent by the South American Missionary 
Society to the Indians of Southern Chile, but proposed 
first to go to Lota to look after the English and 
Scottish miners and their families whose spiritual need 
was urgent. A warm friendship sprang up at once 
between the two men ; and Mr. Balfour became a most 
generous supporter of the work in Lota, where Mr. 
Gardiner prosecuted his laborious work as pastor, 
physician, and teacher. 

In connection with Mr. Gardiner's work in Chile, it 
may be mentioned incidentally, that after the death of 
Mrs. Gardiner, Mr. Balfour expressed his sympathy 
for the bereaved husband and children, who were at 
that time in Australia, after his own manner. He 
said it was often the plan in Divine Providence to 
bring good out of such afflictive dispensations, and 
that in that respect we ought to be workers with God, 
for which reason he wished to aid in the education 
of such of the children as might be sent to England 
for the purpose. And aid he did, in his own princely 
way. He made no promise for the future, yet con- 



250 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

tinued his beneficent help for a period of ten years. 
Mr. Gardiner, by-and-by, was also cut off, which event 
was a great sorrow to his friend, and called forth 
still stronger tokens of sympathy with the orphaned 
children from Mr. and Mrs. Balfour. 

While occupying himself with the welfare of those 
around him in Chile, his interest in the progress of 
good work at home knew no abatement. In a letter 
to an aunt in Fifeshire, bearing date, Valparaiso, I2th 
October i860, he says :■: — " I am particularly happy to 
hear the good news you send, and am most thankful 
to learn that there is so much more earnestness 
regarding religious things in Leven, than heretofore. 
It is most excellent tidings, that a lay meeting for 
prayer has been begun on Saturdays, and I do trust 
this will be warmly supported, and yet call down a 
blessing on the whole community." And then he turns 
to matters in Chile, describing the various agencies 
at work, and adds : — " The heart of our worthy 
minister. Dr. Trumbull, is cheered from time to time 
by hearing that this one and that one has closed in 
faith, with the gracious offer of reconciliation through 
the death of the Saviour. What a blessing to 
enjoy the assistance of a godly minister like Dr. 
Trumbull!" 

Mr. Balfour's letters from Valparaiso to his friend 



VALPARAISO. 251 



Mr. Robert Gibson have been preserved, and breathe 
the same spirit, A few brief extracts are subjoined. 
In a letter dated 31st December i860 he lets us 
into the true and deep secret of his course of self- 
abnegation : — " You know the state of utter moral 
ruin and distress to which 1 was brought at one 
period, and the thought that such a creature should 
have had the comfort and solace which have been 
afforded to me, during recent months, leads to the 
conclusion that none need despair. I have been 
made to feel how utterly insignificant a life of sacrifice 
would be on my part, seeing mine is a life saved 
through mercy, from destruction. A few minutes 
more and the sands in the glass of the year i860 
will all have run out. . . . May we be prepared 
through grace, when our course is finished, to enter 
into the joy of our Lord." 

Again he writes : — " Oh for more grace I I hardly 
know what is meant by a life hid with Christ in 
God. 1 suppose if God enables me, and I get the 
will to trample down sin and self, I shall have more 
conception of it." 

He refers with thankfulness to the good work 
carried on by Mr. W. P. Lockhart and others, 
especially among the young men of Liverpool and 
Birkenhead : — " The awaking in men's hearts of 



252 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

love to Christ we must regard as tidings of the last 
importance, and as destined to be ultimately the 
great regenerating influence even in earthly govern- 
ments." 

On the 27th October 1 861 he writes : — " I am glad 
of your tidings respecting the school at the Dock 
Cottages. ... I had a very agreeable trip to the 
south of Chile last month, in company with the Rev. 
Dr, Trumbull. We went by steamer to Talcahuano, 
and thence to Lota, to pay Mr. Gardiner a visit for a 
few days. We found his wife and him very well, and 
both active. He hopes by-and-by to begin itinerat- 
ing amongst the Indians in Araucania. We came 
home by land, and our way led us within about ninety 
miles of a volcano which has recently burst forth in 
the Andes. At night, when perhaps a hundred and 
fifty miles from it, it looked like a watch-fire on a 
neighbouring hilL" 

During his residence at Valparaiso, Mr. Balfour 
continued, as we have already seen, to take a deep 
interest in sailors. He formed lasting friendships 
with many officers of Her Majesty's ships on the 
Pacific station. Among these may be mentioned the 
name of Commodore, now Admiral, Powell, who went 
to Valparaiso in 1867 as commander of the station, 
and was very often a welcome guest in the hospitable 



VALPARAISO. 253 



house of Mr. and Mrs. Balfour. He had excellent 
opportunities of knowing Mr. Balfour at sea and 
among seamen. Admiral Powell writes : — *' Mr. 
Balfour was often on board the Topaz, the ship I 
commanded, and occasionally took short trips up the 
coast with us. I don't think we could possibly have 
had a more welcome guest. His genial manner and 
readiness to oblige us all made him universally liked, 
not only on board, but wherever we went. He was 
known at every port, either personally or by name, 
and his energy and good nature in getting horses for 
the young officers, and conducting any expedition, 
were delightful to see. 

" He used, when he had time, to accompany me 
in my visits to the different ships in the harbour of 
Valparaiso, and his easy way of making friends with 
the sailors was quite wonderful. They appeared to 
know instinctively how true and sincere he was ; 
they found, to use their own language, that ' there 
was no humbug about him.' On board his own 
ships it was most pleasing to witness the respectful 
greetings with which the men met him, and the satis- 
faction they all had at seeing him. His firm were 
distinguished for the care they took, in many ways, 
of their people afloat ; and the captains, to my know- 
ledge, cordially followed the directions of their owners 



254 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

in keeping Sunday, to the best of their ability, as it 
should be kept, &c. 

" Often in the harbour we had a good deal of wind 
and sea to pull against, quite enough to discourage 
roost people not accustomed to a sea life ; but the 
more the sea washed over us, the more was Mr. 
Balfour, in his cheery way, bent upon going on. 
. The sailors, of course, admired this kind of spirit in 
a landsman. As he was a strict disciplinarian, the 
men were generally in good order, without any undue 
pressure;, and the few words of advice, which he 
always tendered to the men, were received with 
attention and respect. 

"Mr. Balfour's active benevolence afloat naturally 
came under my notice, more than what he did on 
shore. But in the foreign hospitals, I found that his 
name was a ready passport to any favour, which I 
might want for our men. In our own hospitals, his 
kindness in visiting the sick and reading to them was 
often spoken of by the men themselves, in a very 
touching manner. 

" My intimacy with Mr. Balfour and his family did 
not cease when they left Valparaiso ; and each year 
increased my estimation of his marvellous energy, 
charity, and self-denial. I remember well a man 
saying to me, 'Well, really I don*t think there is 



VALPARAISO. 255 



another raan like Mr. Balfour.' I can only say that I 
never met one." 

Another Valparaiso friend of Mr. Balfour, a mer- 
chant, writes regarding him : — " He was in Valparaiso 
just the same as in Liverpool, a universal, single- 
hearted, large-hearted philanthropist ; a splendid fel- 
low, that set us all a great example." 

Mr. Balfour was in Valparaiso on the occurrence 
of his thirty-eighth birthday. On that day he penned 
a paper of much interest as revealing the condition 
of his inner man. It records the heart-searching, the 
confession, the thanksgiving, the fresh consecration of 
that day. The greater portion of it is subjoined. 

** 2ncl September 1862, my Birthday: am thirty- 
eight years of age. 

Confession of my sins — 
Of youth. 
Of early manhood. 

Since I have known something of God's truth. 
Selfishness. 
Pride. 

Worship of the creature. 
Want of love. 

Thanksgiving — that 

God has manifested such patience. 



256 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

He touched my heart 

He bore with me when steeped in worldliness, 
after naming the name of Christ 

He had compassion upon me when in the 
land of darkness, and in the valley and 
shadow of death, and has gradually 
brought me out into light 

He has not only taught me His secret, but 
has solaced me with such love to my 
soul as I never dreamt to have ex- 
perienced. 

He has put me in the jxjsition I hold, sur- 
rounded with such elements of happi- 
ness. 

Supplication — 

That He would not lead me into temptation, 

but deliver me from evil, graciously 

subduing the pride, covetousness, high- 

mindedness, and evil tempers which 

dwell in my soul. 
That He will grant me such grace that I shall 

be led to hate what He hates and to love 

what He loves. 
That He will help me to deny myself as I am 

required to do. 



VALPARAISO. 



That He will bless all my relations and friends 
everywhere. 

That He will pour out His Spirit on my own 
land, and on my fellow-countrymen, and 
on natives of this land. 

That He will give wisdom to all in connection 
with the Church, the Bible Society, and 
the enterprise at Lota, causing them to 
pursue the very conduct agreeable to 
His will, and that He can bless. 

That He will lead me through life, so that I 
may live agreeably to His will, in the 
calling, and obeying the directions, He 
appoints. 

That He will prepare me for death, so that I 
may be ready and willing to go when 
He shall summon me. — A. Balfour." 

The seriousness of deep spiritual exercise, like that 
of which we have just given the birthday record, did 
not interfere with the bright and elastic joyousness 
that was natural to him ; nay, rather it lent intensity 
to that joyousness. " God has brought me out into 
light. He has solaced me with love to my soul." 
Why should he not be glad ? Who has such cause 
to rejoice as those who, like him, are living in hal- 



253 LIFE OF ALEXASDER BALFOUR. 

lowed friendship with God, and who, as they look on 
the beauty of His wonderful works, can say — 

" My Fisba made than aZ " ? 

It would be weU for the spread of heart-religion if 
we oftener saw, combined in the same man, the 
evidences of deep devotion and of overflowing glad- 
ness of hearL 

It was but a week or two after this memorable 
birthday that, in company with his firiends, Mr. and 
Mrs. Williamson, he set off on a visit to Santiago, 
the beautiful capital of Chile. This visit occurred a 
few months before his return to England. The part}' 
extended their journey southward through the fertile 
valley of Santiago, as far as San Fernando, spending 
a day with a Chilian gentleman and his wife, near 
the lovely lake of Aculeo. Mr. Balfour was in the 
highest spirits ; he revelled in the magnificent scenery 
through which their journey lay, both in going and 
returning, and the sunshine that gleamed along the 
heights and hollows of the broad mountain, or played 
on the surface of the dimpled lake, seemed to mingle 
with the sunshine of his own rejoicing heart. 

The .party had to pass over the " Cuesta " of the 
coast-range of the Cordilleras. There, on the return 
journey to Valparaiso, occurred an incident which 



VALPARAISO. 259 



brought into marked relief some features of his 
character. Observing some beautiful wild-flowers 
on a bank by the roadside, and desiring to pluck 
them for Mrs. Williamson, he sprang hastily from 
the carriage when it was in motion. Unfortunately 
his leg became entangled in the wheel, and received 
so severe a wrench, as to cause him great agony. He 
became faint and pallid, but as the carriage approached 
Casa Blanca, where Mrs. Beatty, an English lady 
whom they purposed to visit, was then residing, he 
somewhat recovered, and the pain was considerably 
relieved. He thereupon insisted that his fellow- 
travellers should not so much as mention the accident 
to their friend, and gave them clearly to understand, 
that if this were not agreed to, he would not go to 
Mrs. Beattys house. His condition being, per force, 
accepted, the intended visit was paid, and during the 
hour or two of its continuance, Mr. Balfour patiently 
endured the lessened, though still severe, pain result- 
ing from the wrench. He would not suffer any refer- 
ence to his physical distress to mar the pleasure of 
his friends. If there was self-will in his persistence, 
there was also that self-abnegation which, deeply 
seated in his nature, characterised him through all 
the course of his life. 

When in the capital, Mr. Balfour, as was his habit 



26o LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

everywhere, manifested a warm interest in the evan- 
gelical work that was carried on there. The visit 
occurred during the season of the national festival, 
the ^*diezy ocho'^ (i 8th September). On Sunday, which 
was the great day for military reviews and promenades, 
the party went to the humble little Protestant chapel 
in the Alameda, where they joined a very small com- 
pany of worshippers. As they returned to their 
hotel, they met a native lady with whom they were 
well acquainted, setting out in her carriage to the 
review ground, the Campo de Matte. She courteously 
invited them to accompany her. Mr. Balfour ex- 
plained that they were unable to accept her most 
kind invitation, it being Sunday. The lady drove off 
with a smile, saying in good-natured banter, as she 
waved her adieus, that they were " PuritanoSj frescos 
de EscociaJ^ In his conscientious practice of devoting 
the Lord's Day to its highest and most sacred pur- 
poses, Mr. Balfour wavered not, in any country or 
under any clime. Chile would not be the worse, nor 
would the world, of more Puritanos after the manner 
of Mr. Balfour. 

At the proper time and place, he could throw him- 
self with all his heart into the enjoyment of exercise, 
amidst blithe company, under the beautiful skies of 
Chile. The tastes he had acquired, in the days 



VALPARAISO. 261 



when he wandered about the bracing shores of Fife- 
shire on his shaggy pony, had not forsaken him. A 
correspondent speaks of the hearty enjoyment, with 
which he entered into what appears to be a common 
holiday amusement, among the English community in 
Valparaiso. Fifty or sixty ladies and gentlemen will 
start for a day's gallop with the hounds over the 
breezy hills, in the exhilarating air and under the 
brilliant climate of a Southern winter. In such 
expeditions Mr. Balfour used to take part, and as 
the cavalcade dashed forward he would say, "Ah, 
this is the thing to blow away the cobwebs ! 
The horses enjoy it, and the dogs enjoy it, and even 
the little fox — well, he is, perhaps, not much the 
worse for the fright we are giving him!" It must 
be confessed that the nature of the country about 
Valparaiso, and the dry air and herbage, which can- 
not long retain the scent, were favourable to the fox, 
who seldom had much more than a fright to com- 
plain of. 

Mr. Balfour's attitude towards sport may be in- 
ferred from an incident which occurred when he was, 
at one time, looking out for a summer residence for 
his family in the Highlands of Scotland with a shoot- 
ing attached to it. He had nearly decided on one 
place that was offered him, when a friend who knew 



262 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

it, called to warn him that he feared the moor was 
not over well stocked, and that he and his guests 
might find their exertions in pursuit of game, more 
notable than the size of their bag. "So much the 
better," he said, laughing, " so much the better," and 
decided to take the place. 

It may be mentioned that on his return from 
Valparaiso in 1868, Mr. Balfour, "on hospitable 
thoughts intent," took for the season, Islay House 
and its extensive shootings in the island of Islay, with 
the object of entertaining his numerous friends, and 
giving them a taste of Highland sport. Here, as 
elsewhere, his poorer neighbours had reason to re- 
joice at his advent, and many were the bales of 
blankets distributed amongst the crofters and cot- 
tagers on the Islay estate. Strong as was his relish 
for the moor and the stream, he had a still deeper 
delight in the company of his friends, and in glad- 
dening lives less favoured than his own. 



CHAPTER XII. 
PALESTINE. 



" By cool Siloam's shady rill 
How sweet the lily grows ; 
How sweet the breath beneath the hill 
Of Sharon's dewy rose ! " 

— Heber. 

" What was any scene on earth in comparison with the one 
which we were about to gaze on ! Every face was turned 
towards Jerusalem. The round hill dotted with trees, the 
dome beneath, the few minarets near it — there were Olivet and 
Jerusalem. No words were spoken, no exclamations heard, 
when we saw for the first time, the city of the Great King." 

—Norman Macleod. 



( 26s ) 



CHAPTER XII. 
PALESTINE. 

T N the spring of 1882 Mr. Balfour, in company 
with Mr. Bushell, Dr. Howson, the late Dean 
of Chester, Archdeacon Gore, the Rev. J, W. Diggle, 
and others, paid a visit to the Holy Land. His brief 
notes testify to his great enjoyment of the scenes in 
the midst of which our Lord and the apostles walked 
and worked, but they afford no continuous narrative. 
Yet, a few memoranda from his journal, and reminis- 
cences from the pens of fellow-travellers, will not be 
without interest. 

" Beyrouth May 8. To Mrs. Mott's, to gathering of 
the children attending the Syrian schools, at nine in 
the morning. About nine hundred and twenty children 
present, seated on benches along the walks. . . • I 
gave Mrs. Mott £iQO for the schools, for which she 
was most grateful. Then, with the Bishop (of Gib- 
raltar) and Mr. Bushell, went to German Hospital, 
which is under charge of the Kaiserswerth sisters. 



266 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

It is a fine building, a model of comfort and order. 
The Doctor accompanied us to the American College, 
where Dr. Bliss was ready to receive us. He took 
us over the three buildings, in the fine grounds pos- 
sessed by the College : all are simple in their character, 
but sufficient and effective. The lads are almost all 
from the humbler classes. The cost of maintaining a 
student is fifteen or sixteen pounds a year. I asked 
Dr. Bliss the capital sum required to endow a scholar- 
ship, and finding that ;£"250 would suffice, I decided 
to found one as a thank-offering for recent great 
mercies; and I decided to give ;f lOO to Dr. Jessup, 
toward the work of the American Mission to the 
Syrians. At the hotel found Dr. Bliss waiting for 
me, to whom I gave cheques. Felt thankful for the 
opportunity of thus helping Christian workers." 

The following brief memorandum of the journey is 
from the pen of the Venerable Archdeacon Gore : — 

" Mr. Balfour was one, and in some ways the 
chief one, in a party of eight, who journeyed via 
Cairo to and through Palestine. What is desired 
here, is not to record anything like an account of 
the tour, but to mention some incidents characteristic 
of the man. 

''Generally speaking, his companions all noticed 
two attributes conspicuously — his absolutely un- 



PALESTINE. 267 



wavering faith and his perfect unselfishness. Both 
qualities were on one occasion illustrated in a re- 
markable way. At Bethlehem, on the last night in 
March, a very violent storm occurred. The tents 
gave way under the severity of the wind — ^the rain 
fell in torrents; but Mr, Balfour was, though not 
the youngest, certainly the foremost, to encounter 
the elements in their fury. Regardless of his own 
comfort, he was everywhere to be found labouring to 
strengthen the tent-pegs himself, and by his presence 
of mind he steadied and guided the exertions of 
others. The Syrian servants especially were re- 
covered from panic, by his perfect coolness. But all 
the while, his confidence was not in man's strength 
or labour. At the first moment possible, he sum- 
moned all to prayer, and when the storm abated he 
failed not to add the word of thanksgiving. There 
was no doubt on his mind, that the winds and the 
waves were obedient to the God who heareth and 
answereth prayer. 

"He did not seem to have the eager desire for 
seeing the usual objects and places of interest, which 
possesses ordinary travellers. His first inquiry was 
invariably for schools or other institutions, where 
anything was being done or attempted for the welfare, 
particularly the spiritual welfare, of the people. More 



268 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

interesting than mosques or dervishes, than the 
Church of the Nativity, or of the Holy Sepulchre, 
or of the Annunciation, were, in his view, Miss 
Whately's school at Cairo, and Bishop Gobat's at 
Jerusalem, and Miss Dickson's Orphanage for Syrian 
girls at Nazareth. And there can be no doubt, that 
the whole party owed much to him, for persistently 
bringing into notice this element of real and abiding 
interest, wherever it was to be found. He was not 
indiscriminate in his approval of all that he saw. He 
had a clear head and sound judgment, as well as a 
warm heart. He could see defects as well as merits ; 
but when he did approve, he gave practical effect 
to his approval by rendering most substantial help. 
Thus at Nazareth, he provided permanently for the 
education of one orphan, and he connected his gift 
with the name of his own daughter, that she might 
hear of, and be interested always, in her far-away 
sister. At Beyrout, he founded a scholarship in the 
American College or University, after he had ac- 
curately investigated the character of the education 
given. And, in like manner, wherever a Bible DepOt 
or mission work of any kind was found, he had a 
ready ear to listen and an anxious desire to under- 
stand, and a bountiful hand to promote the good 
work. Indeed he was abroad just the same man as 



PALESTINE. 269 



at home. He seemed rather the steward and dispenser, 
than the personal possessor of his wealth. 

** Two of the party were young men, one recently 
ordained, the other preparing for the ministry of the 
Church of England. Though not himself a member 
of their Church, Mr. Balfour became their warmest 
friend, and won their respect and admiration in a 
remarkable way. He spoke to them with the utmost 
freedom and with the deepest earnestness. His 
anxiety was manifest, to promote the value and suc- 
cess of their ministry. The writer has often heard 
them both express deep thankfulness, that they had 
been brought to familiar acquaintance with such a 
single-minded servant of God. 

" The attribute of unselfishness, of which mention 
has been made, was plainly the result of Christian 
grace. It was self-sacrifice. Self was nowhere in his 
esteem. His only thought was how, by word and 
deed, he might serve others." 

The young clergyman above referred to writes : — 
" His whole life was bound up with his religion, 
and yet no life could have been brighter or more 
cheerful. His religion was his life ; his life was his 
religion. Almost his last words to me, as he shook 
me by the hand, were ' Preach Christ.* " 

A pencil jotting in Mr. Balfour's journal is as 



270 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

follows : — " Athens, May 1 8, 1882. I entreated young 

and to preach Christ; they were 

very kind and nice indeed." 

The following brief but graphic sketches are from 
the pen of the Rev. J. W. Diggle of Liverpool : — 

'* There were not many remarkable incidents dur- 
ing the tour ; it was a season of sacred refreshment, 
rather than of remarkable events. Two incidents, how- 
ever, remain clear in my memory. 

" The first is connected with our visit to the Jordan. 
I can never forget how he stood in the rushing stream, 
and with intense solemnity dipped himself seven times, 
saying, ' I have a leprosy worse than the leprosy of 
Naaman : Lord, wash me and make me clean.' 

" The second incident is connected with our visit to 
the Garden of Gethsemane, upon the Thursday night 
in Passion Week. It was about ten o'clock at night, 
and the Paschal moon was shining in silver glory, 
from out a cloudless sky, while we held a memorial 
service beneath one of the olive-trees, upon the slope 
sacred to the redeeming agony. The scripture was 
read : ' O my Father, if this cup may not pass away 
from me except I drink it, Thy will be done.' It is 
impossible to describe the look which shone through 
his face as these words were read : it seemed like the 
splendour of self-submission." 



PALESTINE. 271 



Mr. Diggle thus writes to Mr. Bushell of their 
fellow-traveller : — ** Sympathy was amazingly deve- 
loped in him. He was also intense. To me it often 
seemed remarkable that, with all his intensity and 
concentration of energy, he was yet so broad and 
manifold in his interests. To most men, manifoldness 
of interest brings with it superficiality of interest. It 
was not so with our friend. His tremendous intensity 
enabled him to have many irons in the fire, and yet 
to keep them every one from burning. 

" And his sympathy was not emotion ; it was 
action. What he felt he did. It was this habit of 
converting emotion into action which made him the 
practical man he was. He was not a mere visionary. 
He was an instance of character very rarely found : 
he was an enthusiast, yet a practical man. 

" Above all things, ' his life was hid in God.' ' He 
set the Lord always before him.* This was the secret 
of his fearlessness. He did not fear man at all, 
because he altogether feared God. This was the 
secret of his devotion to temperance, to education, to 
missions among seamen, &c., &c. ' He did all to the 
glory of God.' This, too, was the secret spring of 
his munificence. He felt his money was not his but 
God's. ... He was overpowered with the hallowed 
associations of Bethlehem, of Nazareth, of the Sea of 



272 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Galilee. His whole nature seemed to be penetrated 
with God. ' He walked with God/ ' God was in all 
his thoughts/ 

" It was this devotion to the Divine, which made him 
so strong and sweet an influence, to those who were 
privileged to come into contact with him. Sometimes 
his very face seemed to me to shine with a supernal 
light" 



CHAPTER XIII. 
JOTTINGS FROM JOURNALS. 



" A life is formed in solitude ; a character in the stream of 
the world."— Goethe. 

"Jesus, Master, whom I serve, 
Though so feebly and so ill, 
Strengthen hand and heart and ner\'e 

All Thy bidding to fulfil ; 
Open Thou mine eyes to see 
All the work Thou hast for me." 

—Frances Ridley Havergal. 

" Charge them that are rich in this present world . . . that 
they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be 
ready to distribute, willing to communicate ; laying up in store 
for themselves, a good foundation against the time to come, 
that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed." 

—I Tim. vi. 17-19. R. V. 



( 27S ) 



M 



CHAPTER XIII. 
JOTTINGS FROM JOURNALS. 

R. BALFOUR, as we have seen, was little 
given to speaking about his motives or the 
springs of his actions. We saw the life and we 
inferred the source. In such a case, however, any 
written revelations of what passed within him, are of 
value, especially for the sake of those who did not 
know the man. Mr. Balfour did not keep any regular 
or extended journal ; but a number of little annual 
volumes remain, giving his pencil-jottings, so far as 
he made them, from day to day. Occasionally these 
jottings swell into some fulness, but generally they 
are very brief, and they are often intermitted for 
a length of time. When journeying by land or sea 
he was usually more careful, briefly to note passing 
events and passing thoughts. From these jottings, 
where not of a nature too private for publication, we 
cull a few extracts which illustrate his character and 



276 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

indicate his motives. The years are mentioned, not 
always the day or month. 

" 1863. Urged Mr. to ask direction and 

help in business from the Lord." " told me 

that he had this night found rest to his soul in 
believing." 

*' Waited with deputation on the Earl of Ellesmere, 
regarding Sunday work at Bridgewater Canal." 

** September 5, Sunday. At Westward-Ho. Most 
precious reading of Scripture (2 Cor. v.) with 

and on the rise of hill near top ; 

prayed that Jesus might seal instruction with His 
blessing." 

1 87 1. Diary supplies touching details of visits paid 
with the Rev. Drummond Anderson, chaplain of the 
Seamen's Orphanage, to the homes of widows whose 
husbands had lately perished at sea. Incidents like 
the following are given : — " Dinner of potatoes and 
dripping; the dresses of the girls and the mother 
in pawn for food." "Sold an eight-day clock and 
bought a few groceries : all house clean." Thus 
visiting the fatherless and the widow in their afflic- 
tion, he was spurred on to ever-increasing effort in 
behalf of the Seamen's Orphanage. 

This year he sailed to Spain, and during the 
passage the following entries occur: — "Prayer for 



^ JOTTINGS FROM JOURNALS. 277 

mind of Jesus Christ (Psalm xxv. 6, 7). Prayer for 
family blessings ; prayer for help for seamen, for 

Mr. , for Chile, for Spain, for personal friends." 

" Rose at six in the morning ; have tried to lay all 
(oh how many many they are ! ) my sins on Jesus." 
'* Spoke to second-class passengers ; went to fore- 
castle." 

" 1872. Prayer that heart of be led to 

give. Prayer for Mrs. Birt's work. Prayer for 

consolation to Mr. and Mrs. in their trial. 

Prayer regarding Sunday closing of public-houses. 
Prayer for acceptance by Christian friends of proposal 
for united prayer." Thus were all his doings mingled 
with prayer. One page contains a long list of gifts, 
from 20CX) dollars and downwards, for beneficent and 
Christian efforts chiefly in Chile, such as " Union 
Church," " Escuela Popular," " Valparaiso Bible 
Society," " Hospital," &c. 

1873. On April 20th he has a list of topics of 
prayer which indicate the subjects of his constant 
thoughts, and show how all were humbly brought to 
the throne of grace. " Prayer for Orphanage, — that 
out-door relief may be continued. Prayer for Ragged 
School Union. Prayer for Y. M. C. A. Prayer for 
grace to consecrate money." It were well if the last 
of these petitions were widely offered through the 



278 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Church of Christ. Then would the treasury of the 
Lord be full, and He would surely pour us out a 
blessing. 

In a letter to his mother, written from the 
Engadine, 26th September 1873, Mr. Balfour gives 
a description of his journey by the Julier Pass. In 
it he says: — "Leaving Bovia, which is 5800 feet 
above the level of the sea, the road still ascends till 
you reach the summit of the Pass, which is 7500 
feet above sea-level, and where you find two round 
pillars standing, which, it is said, one of the Roman 
generals placed there. By the time I had got there — 
for I walked on before the carriage — the sun had set, 
and the snow-summits all round were being faintly 
lighted by the new moon, which appeared as a slender 
crescent. There was scarcely a breath of wind, and 
the whole scene was comforting and inspiring. I 
was glad to think that the Saviour, who had formed 
these mountains, was near to bless me and each of 
His people. At what I thought was the highest 
point of the Pass, I knelt to thank God for His good- 
ness, and to beseech Him for His grace to myself and 
others." 

With this extract may be fittingly associated a 
jotting from his diary, in which he describes his 
descent on another occasion from the Piz Julier by 



JOTTINGS FROM JOURNALS, 279 

a steep and rugged path : — " Leaning always to the 
rock, not away from it, and taking support from the 
alpenstock, I was much reminded of the Psalmist's 
words, ' Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me ; ' 
and so I reached the bottom safely." 

" 1874. Sunday, June 21. Thanks for ;^iOO to 

Council of Education by . Thanks for Report 

by Royal Commission on Shipping." Often was 
the desire of his heart granted him, and it would 
seem never without his grateful acknowledgment to 
the Giver of all good things. 

^^ September 13. Confession of unbelief and dis- 
obedience. Prayer for contrition and forgiveness. 
Prayer for consecration of all I have to the Lord. 
Prayer for denial of self, and sin, and world. Prayer 

that and may make the surrender of 

themselves to the Lord, and that their voyage may 
be blest." 

^^ September 30. Seamen's Orphanage opened by 
H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh. The ceremony a 
great success, for which thanks to God." 

^^ October ii. Prayer for help for meeting re- 
garding plurality of licenses to-morrow. Prayer for 
help for Permissive Bill Anniversary at Manchester 
on Tuesday. Prayer for help for Y. M. C. A. with 
Lord Shaftesbury." 



2So LIFE OF ALEXASDER BALFOUIL 

On November 3rd we find the solitary entry, 
" Prav-er for wisdom and strength to testify at Town 
Council to-morrow, against electing publicans to be 
Aldermen." WTien on such subjects Mr. Balfour 
came into sharp collision with opponents, it would 
scarcely be conjectured by them, from what source 
this fearless man had drawn his courage and power. 
Again, "Thanksgiving for progress towards getting 
Messrs. Moody and Sankey for Liverpool. Thanks- 
giving for our chfldren's behaviour." So were public 
and private matters blended in his thoughts and 
prayers. 

1875. On his way to Gothenburg with his friend, 
Mr. Clarke Aspinall, the Coroner of Liverpool : " Oh 
that from this day my life may be one of abso- 
lute trust in, and obedience to my Lord and Saviour. 
Alas ! my unbelief and disobedience, which I de- 
plore, and the consequences of which I must ever 
mourn." 

Throughout the year there are brief references to 
a variety of matters which greatly engrossed him. 
Discussion ran high in the Town Council on ques- 
tions of temperance and social order, and Mr. Balfour 
found the closet the best preparation for public con- 
flict. One of his earliest and dearest friends was 
involved to a frightful extent, in the crash occasioned 



JOTTINGS FROM JOURNALS. 281 

by the collapse in the affairs of Messrs. A. C & Co. 

He offered princely financial help, and week after 
week breathed earnest prayers and "entreaties" for his 
friend in the midst of his disasters. Messrs. Moody 
and Sankey, at the invitation of himself and other 
Christian men, were brought to Liverpool ; he watched 
over their efforts with intense solicitude, and hope, and 
gratitude as the time went on. We well remember 
a prayer offered by Mr. Balfour at the opening of the 
great wooden structure erected for Mr. Moody, and 
known as Victoria Hall, in which he besought the 
Lord that, "as Liverpool had been known as 
the ' Black Spot on the Mersey,' it might, through 
the concentration of Christian effort upon it, become 
the Bright Spot on the Mersey; and that, as it 
had been a by-word because of prevailing evil, it 
might become an example of good among cities, and 
a praise in the land." His whole soul was poured 
into that prayer. 

Such entries as the following are scattered through 
the diary of 1875 • — 

** May 30, Sunday. Entreaty that honey may be 
eaten out of the slain lion of disobedience and un- 
belief. Prayer for state of mind such that God can 
use me to speak in Council on 2d June." 

'* May 31. Went with and to visit 



ri2 LZFE :F ALEXASrER BALFCTIL 

zuLlIr-hieses ia Wllismsc^ 5q::2re aad rz-znd Sailors' 
K-=:e- Inspcciir sajs that fee tw^enry years there has 
been no s;;ch izzemzzlczi to drinkizg, as there has 
been since Mr. Mjccv's =«ftTT:gs began.* 

" Prayer for wisczzi oa Tuesday at deputatkxi to 
Ho=e 05cc* 

*'Junr i3. awaidng me in the office 

with tidings of his fearful initJveinent with A. C 

and Co. ... I wnoce letter oSering to pay ultimately 
£ to the dendt.* 

**June 20, SunJjtw Prayer that God would maxi- 

fuUy interfere in ^*s behalf (the friend named 

above), " and in soise way deliver him, to the piaise 
of His name." 

*^Jiine 27, Su9:da\\ Entreaty for direction regard- 
ing ^s affairs " (the same friend). " Prayer for 

direction and help regarding Victoria HalL* Thanks 
for word of the Saviour, so realised to-day at com- 
munion ; heard His still kind whisper, ' Tis for iktt,* " 

**Jufy 4, Sunday. Thanks for help to purchasing 
Victoria HalL Prayer for help to get money for 

Victoria HalL Prayer for direction regarding 

^'s whole concerns, personal and business." 

"July 23. Victoria HaU paid for." 

♦ The great wooden hall, erected in Liverpool for Messrs. Moodjr and 
Sankey. 



JOTTINGS FROM JOURNALS. 283 

** August II, Sunday. Thanks for funds for pur- 
chase of Victoria Hall ; for Convention and farewell 
address in Victoria Hall on the 3rd." 

" November 7. Prayer for help from God to' pre- 
pare for meeting of temperance friends, Magistrates, 
and others, at the Adelphi Hotel to-morrow, for pre- 
paration of their hearts and mine from God Himself ; 
entreaty for His great blessing on the gathering. 
Prayer for help for Y. M. C. A. affairs ; for direction 
as to going to Liverpool for winter." 

^* November 21. Prayer for God's own Spirit to 
fill me, that I may be able to write pamphlet,* entirely 
according to His will. O God, give me facts and 
opinions, and power to express them." 

^* December 19. Prayer for God's Spirit that I 
may write the thoughts He gives me, and these only. 
O God, for Thy help ! " 

" 1877. January 14. Prayer that the heart of Mr. 

" (the opulent owner of numerous licensed places), 

" may be turnecl to close public-houses on Sundays ; 
that God may guide and help meetings of Church 
of England Temperance Society. Prayer for Mrs. 
Birt. Thanksgiving for successful meetings of Council 
of Education, of Temperance Society, of Cocoa-room 
opening. Prayer for blessing on words spoken at 

* On temperance-reform. 



284 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 



above meetings. Prayer for help regarding Mersey 
Mission, Y. M. C. A., Apprentices* Home." 

*' 1882. Bucharest, May 29. Fine and tasteful 
city ; no squalor, no appearance of poverty. What a 
contrast to our own ! " 

'* Bonn, June 4. Dr. Christlieb told me of oppor- 
tunity to buy Presbyterian church, as Dr. Graham is 
retiring. Promised Dr. Christlieb £100 toward the 
purchase." 



CHAPTER XIV. 
CLOSING DAYS. 



" Yes, the bright things which gild earth's lowering day 
Still shine the brighter ere they fade away : 
As if, when verging on a lovelier sphere, 
Some portion of its radiance reached them here." 

— L. Evans. 

" Life's short enough for labour, 
By which the world is blest ; 
Eternity is peaceful 
And long enough, for rest." 

—Old Poem. 

" Life is the Christian's in a far higher and fuller sense than 
it is the worldly man's, since he enjoys it on a far higher level 
of blessedness, and uses it in a much nobler cause. Even death 
is his, since, though for a moment it triumphs over him, in the 
end he triumphs over it, and while he seems to yield to it, he 
treads it under his feet."— Bishop Thorold. 



( 287 ) 



CHAPTER XIV. 
CLOSING DAYS. 

in* OR most of what is contained in this chapter we 
"*" are indebted to Dr. Robert Roxburgh, brother- 
in-law of Mr. Balfour, who, being with him, had special 
opportunities of knowing his mind and bearing, during 
his closing days. He says : — " Sanguine and impetu- 
ous natures sometimes, under special strain, become 
clouded over with a gloom that is all the deeper 
because it is unwonted. According to the size and 
wealth of a man's soul, are his capacities for joy and 
grief, for hope and discouragement. So also the most 
saintly and faithful of mankind are permitted at times 
to pass through depths of spiritual conflict and sorrow, 
to which those whose devotion is less real and ardent 
are strangers. Religious biography abounds in illus- 
trations of this, and experiences such as Bunyan has 
recorded of himself are not without parallel, in the 
history of all to whom spiritual things have been as 
vividly real as they were to Bunyan. 



288 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

"In 1885 Mr. Balfour underweat such a period of 
eclipse. The general commercial depression of that 
and the immediately preceding years had obliged him 
to limit the number of benefactions, which it was his 
delight to bestow on multitudinous objects dear to 
him, and seemed to his eager mind to hamper the 
development of those large schemes of benevolence 
which he loved to plan or to help. Probably he 
exaggerated to himself the fear that his usefulness 
might be seriously impaired, and his enthusiasm 
suffered a check. Other obscure influences may also 
have been at work, in giving his mind a morbid set. 
He began to lose the filial confidence and sense of 
the Divine favour, which were indispensable to him. 
With painful probings of conscience, he searched his 
heart for the sin which he thought must be lurking 
there, and averting from him the countenance of his 
Father in heaven. 

"In this connection it may be noted that Mr. 
Balfour's faith was of a peculiarly realistic type. He 
was quite untouched by those present-day tendencies 
which minimise the conception of a personal Deity, 
and under the domination of scientific ideas of force, 
create one that is vague and far distant. As in the 
saints of patriarchal times, reference to the will of God 
was a daily, hourly habit with him. He was wont 



CLOSING DAYS, 289 



to read the Divine purposes in the every-day circum- 
stances of life, and perhaps he fell into the error of 
a too great readiness, to connect external events with 
inferences as to God's favour or displeasure. When, 
therefore, the bright vision which was his constant 
inspiration, became veiled, and 'the heavens,' as he 
then expressed it, ' became as brass,' he was plunged 
into the deepest. dejection. Conversing with him, I 
suggested that physical conditions probably underlay 
the mental troubles he was enduring. He strenuously 
opposed this view, declaring that, so far as bodily 
well-being was concerned, he was absolutely free 
from any trace of ill-health. The sequel hardly bore 
out this opinion, but he maintained it unchanged till 
the last. While repudiating the shallow materialism, 
which would attempt to explain all such mysterious 
moral conditions, by a reference to physical fact alone, 
and while convinced that Heaven-taught natures are 
the scene of moral conflicts, surprises, defeats, and 
victories which lie beyond the horizon of the un- 
regenerate and earthly man, we have yet to acknow- 
ledge that in the strange interworkings of body and 
mind, these very struggles may take origin, which are 
pregnant with moral results to the individual soul. 

" In September of the same year, Mr. Balfour became 
affected with symptoms which gave rise to anxiety in 



290 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

regard to his health. It was considered advisable 
that he should consult Sir Henry Thompson in Lx>n- 
don ; and a characteristic episode occurred during 
that gentleman's visit to him. Mr. Balfour was at 
that time much engrossed with the subject of a 
cheap and pure milk-supply for the poorer inhabitants 
of our large towns. Sir Henry is a well-known 
authority on matters of diet. He had to put Mr. 
Balfour under chloroform, in order to make the 
requisite exploration for what, it was feared, might be 
a dangerous source of mischief. His astonishment 
may be pictured when, on recovering from the 
anaesthetic, his patient did not stop to ask one 
question about the complaint, or the surgeon's dis- 
coveries, but at once launched forth on the subject 
of milk, eagerly seizing the opportunity to enlist the 
medical man's interest in the matter, and to secure 
his authority for his own views I The assistant 
who stood by whispered to Mrs. Balfour, 'Not out 
of the chloroform yet ; ' — he was not accustomed to 
the sight of patients who treated their ailments with 
such serene indifference. 

" It will be observed that the spiritual depression, 
under which Mr. Balfour was then labouring, did not 
hinder him in his continuous plans and efforts for the 
benefit of others, nor could he bear to think that business 



CLOSING DAYS. 291 



depression should cripple the many institutions which 
depended on his pecuniary support. Though at times 
walking in utter darkness of soul, he would not give 
way to self-absorption, nor relax his vigilance over 
the wants of his fellows. He still accounted himself 
but the steward of his possessions, and if current 
income did not meet the extent of his benevolent 
impulses, he still had capital to fall back upon." 

His condition of mind is portrayed by himself, in a 
letter addressed to his partner, Mr. Williamson, bearing 
date. Mount Alyn, isth February 1885 : — 

" You have rendered me another true kindness in 
having written me as you have done, when sending me 
the reflection of Thomas k Kempis. The distress and 
suflFering I endure, from a sense of the withdrawment of 
God's favour and help, I cannot find language to express, 
and my inability to be helpful to others ; it is beyond 
my power to portray. You write as if other people 
had suffered as I do, and that from their minds God 
had been pleased to lift the cloud after a time. Will 
you pray for me that this may occur to me. In 
God's grace and mercy is my only hope. The lines 
are continually coming into my mind — 

• Where is the blessedness I knew 
When first I saw the Lord?' 

and I can only trust that former convictions may 



292 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

come back to me. Like the Psalmist, I most earnestly 
desire to wait on the Lord. Of His goodness and 
righteousness I am fully aware in all His dealings 
with myself, but His mercy is what I absolutely 
stand in need of. I shall do my best to put away 
from my mind moodiness and doubt. I cannot believe 
I have cherished these from mere mental speculations, 
but wave on wave of trouble has come on me, and I 
have been obliged to reflect as to what all this can 
mean. I shall do my best to follow your advice. 
Excuse these sad thoughts from your affectionate 
friend, A. Balfour." 

Often the darkest hour is just before the dawn of 
day. By-and-by a change set in, which Mr. Balfour 
received with thankful heart, as a precious and un- 
deserved gift from his Heavenly Father. 

" In a letter dated 28th November 1885," continues 
Dr. Roxburgh, " after referring to the announcement 
that his friend, Mr. Samuel Smith, had lost his seat 
for Liverpool, an event which he describes as 'a 
calamity to the town, and a great discouragement,' as 
' he was doing a work in Parliament on behalf of poor 
children, and in favour of social reform generally, that 
was unique of its kind,' he goes on to say : — ' I know 
that you will join with me in deep thankfulness that 



CLOSING DAYS. 293 



the dark cloud under which for so many months I h'ved, 
is, through God's mercy, I humbly believe, passing 
away, and that I am again allowed to take my place at 
the feet of the Saviour, a sinner — a forgiven sinner. 
Everything is beginning to be different, and I never 
can be grateful enough to sovereign goodness and 
grace.' Again, on the 31st December he writes: — 
' . . . Meanwhile I want to write a line or two 
which may serve as conveying our benedictions on 
your mother and the household, as one year closes 
and another opens. Please thank your mother 
warmly for writing me as she has done, and assure 
her that her words and her example give the strongest 
support to some of us, who have not had such full 
experience of the sufficiency of God's grace for every 
circumstance of our lives, as she has had. I wish 
you all to know, that the sympathy and prayers I 
know I had during my dark days from you all, were 
of incalculable value to me. I trust the affliction I 
passed through had, as one effect, the breaking down 
to the ground much in me that was displeasing to 
God. I have sought to lie at His feet, in the dust, 
and to remain there. 1 too would now "sing of 
mercy " as well as " of judgment." ' These touching 
utterances from one who was both lion-hearted and 
transparently sincere in every word, are surely 



294 ^^^J2 OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

evidence of high attainment in that very 'growth 
in grace ' for which he so earnestly longed. Cheered 
by new revelations of the sufficiency of God for every 
need, he threw himself into the winter's work, and as 
the doctors disapproved of the daily journey from the 
country, he took a house in town, to be near the 
friends and the labours most congenial to him." 

One interesting circumstance should be mentioned, 
in connection with the removal of the cloud of 
spiritual depression which hung so darkly over him. 
Years before, he had been in the habit of attending 
the annual meetings of the Mildmay Conference. He 
greatly valued them, and wished others to participate 
in the benefit. Accordingly, at a fitting time, he put 
a cheque into the hands of various ministers and 
friends, and warmly invited them to go to London 
to attend the Conference, in the hope that they might 
catch something of the Christian warmth and enthu- 
siasm which prevailed. On their return, he proposed 
the establishing of a Liverpool " Christian Conven- 
tion," founded somewhat on the same model. The plan 
was cordially entered into and carried out. A Con- 
vention is held each October in Hope Hall, Liverpool, 
Mr. Balfour's friend, Mr. Thomas Matheson, being 
chairman of the Committee of Arrangement. Mr. 
Balfour delighted in these meetings. He was present 



CLOSING DAYS. 295 



at the Convention in October 1885, and it seems to 
have been there and then that the dark cloud rifted, 
and the smile of his Heavenly Father's countenance 
was seen again. Thus did that Convention, of which 
he was the chief promoter, for the good of the com- 
munity, become a well-spring of water to his own 
thirsty soul. The burden fell from his shoulders. 
For what he had done for others, the Lord rewarded 
him into His own bosom. He sta3'ed, on the occasion 
referred to, with the present writer, and it was 
delightful to see refreshment fall upon him, like rain 
upon the mown grass. The joy and blessing of 
restoration to peace, and to a lively sense of his 
Redeemer's favour, were to him beyond all price. 
They returned to him gradually, but the first dawn 
was now. 

<' Henceforth," Dr. Roxburgh continues, " his 
mental peace was unclouded, and his useful activity 
unceasing ; and no one who looked upon his lithe, 
agile figure, and came under the spell of his inspiring 
presence and genial smile, could have guessed that 
his earthly course was nearly run, and that, while to 
outward seeming, he was instinct with bodily energy, 
the seeds were already germinating of the disease 
which was to lay its swift arrest upon his beneficent 
career. 



296 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

" In the beginning of March of the following year, 
1886, while staying in bed for a slight cold, he was 
discovered by the medical man in attendance to be 
the subject of an internal growth, which had already 
assumed very serious dimensions, and which was of 
a peculiarly threatening character. This insidious 
malady, as was now clearly proved, had given rise to 
the symptoms before alluded to, although its presence 
had not been suspected. A consultation was immedi- 
ately decided on. Four medical men were present, 
and the spokesman having candidly pronounced what 
was almost equivalent to a sentence of death, Mr. 
Balfour received the statement in silence, and without 
the slightest disquietude. After a moment's pause, 
he said, ' Well, Doctor, that is an announcement 
that must come to each of us sooner or later. The 
great thing is, that it should find us resting on the 
Rock of our salvation.' When the doctors were 
gone, and he was left alone with his wife, whose 
distress was too deep for speech, after a time of 
silent and deep emotion, he recovered himself, and 
said, 'I must communicate at once with Samuel 
Smith about the Y. M. C. A. They may need 
another trustee.' Even at that solemn crisis the 
service of God and of man was uppermost in his 
thoughts. 



CLOSING DAYS, 297 



" Those only, who have lived through similar expe- 
riences, can imagine the crushing weight of anxiety 
which now fell upon those nearest and dearest to 
Mr. Balfour, or can picture their intense desire to 
cling to every shred of hope, and appeal to every 
human resource which pointed even to the possibility 
of recovery. The tidings soon spread to those with 
whom he had been specially associated in good 
works, and came upon many with the weight of a 
stunning blow. ' We could spare any one better 
than him/ was the ejaculation of hearts wrung with 
grief and astonishment. Then it was that those who 
had been leaning on him, as on a rock, who had been 
cheered on by the sunshine of his smile, and moved 
by the talisman of his deep and warm sympathy, 
began to realise how much he was to them, and how 
unspeakably poorer the world would be without him. 
Special meetings were held in many quarters for 
intercession that a life so precious might yet be pre- 
served. Private prayers of deep earnestness were 
offered up in many a household throughout the 
country where his name was revered, though in some 
he was personally unknown, and hope, bred of desire, 
began to be entertained, that something might yet be 
done to avert the impending blow. 

" The result of the consultation already referred to 



298 LIFE OP ALEXASDER BALFOUR. 

was a resolution to obtain the opinion of Dr. Thomas 
Keith, the eminent Edinburgh surgeon, as to the 
possibility of a remedial operation, and a journey to 
Edinburgh was accordingly undertaken. Most happily, 
the malady was wholly unattended with suffering, and 
interfered in a very slight degree with Mr. Balfour's 
customary activity. This was a cause of special 
thankfulness, as he was of peculiarly sensitive organ- 
isation, and could hardly bear either to suffer severe 
physical pain himself, or to hear about it in others. 
He had, indeed, an exceptional dislike to all subjects 
of conversation bearing, however distantly, on bodily 
suffering, a fact which rendered the more remarkable 
his perfect composure in the prospect of a dangerous 
operation. When in Edinburgh, he unburdened him- 
self daily to God in prayer, seeking only that His will 
should be done, and that a right decision should be 
arrived at ; and having thus cast his care upon God, 
he seemed to take no further thought on the matter. 
Those who then enjoyed the privilege of very inti- 
mate communion with him can never forget that 
spectacle of childlike faith and Christian heroism. 
His thoughtfulness for others, even in the minutest 
details, and his entire unconsciousness of self, were 
associated with a docility and gentleness which, in 
one of such forcible and commanding will, were 



CLOSING DAYS. 299 



singularly lovely. A divine peace seemed to possess 
the man, and the glory of heaven was already irradi- 
ating his brow. 

"After several anxious interviews, Dr. Keith pro- 
nounced that the risk of operating would be so serious 
that, on his own responsibility, he could not incur it. 
While fully convinced that without an operation death 
was inevitable, he yet hesitated to plunge such a man 
as he saw before him into extreme and immediate 
danger. His advice was, that the greatest surgical 
authority in the country, Sir James Paget, should be 
asked to give the final decision. Dr. Keith agreeing 
to abide by it, whatever it might be. This counsel, 
though it prolonged the period of suspense, was so 
manifestly generous and wise, that it was at once 
followed. 

" A circumstance clings to my memory in connection 
with the journey to London. When we left Edin- 
burgh, Dr. Keith happened to be travelling by the 
same train to Cumberland. Mr. Balfour had observed 
him drive up to the station, and immediately invited 
him to travel in our carriage. "Just look at Alex- 
ander ! " exclaimed my sister ; and there I saw him, 
as if in the days of full health, carrying Dr. Keith's 
valise to the railway carriage. His old instinct for 
giving help would take no denial. 



3CO LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

" The result of our visit to London was that, after 
careful deliberation, Sir James Paget advised the 
operation, as offering the only alternative to certain, 
and probably painful, death. On the receipt of this 
judgment, Dr. Keith wrote to me : — ' Now that I am 
away from the personal influence of Mr. Balfour, I 
quite agree that it should be done.' The integrity 
and kindness of both these distinguished men were 
deeply felt by Mr. Balfour, and their agreeing in 
opinion was a source of much satisfaction to him. 

" From this time forward he preserved the habitual 
calm and cheerfulness of ordinary life. A few 
minutes after the crucial judgment had been given by 
Sir. J. Paget, he accompanied one or two near friends 
to the exhibition of Holman Hunt's pictures then 
being held in Bond Street. One of the party after- 
wards said, ' I remember how he stood before " The 
Light of the World," with the light of another world 
reflected on his face. I felt that heaven was very 
near.' The day was stormy and cold, and he was 
repeatedly heard to deplore that a friend, who was to 
cross the Channel that day from the Continent, should 
have such trying weather. His friend's welfare ap- 
peared to be present to his mind much more than 
his own destiny." 

The following brief extracts from letters written by 



CLOSING DAYS. 301 



Mr. Balfour during his illness, and some of them on 
the very brink of eternity, to Mr. Christopher Bushell, 
will serve to illustrate the unruffled tranquillity of his 
spirit and his unwavering trust in his Saviour. 

" Bellevue, Prince's Park, Liverpool, 
January 2, 1886. 

" Having been out of sorts for a little while back, 
I have not been regularly at business, and have not 
been across to see you ; but you know how much I 
desire that you should both be well and in the enjoy- 
ment of every blessing, now and always. We have 
had the boys at home from school, which has kept 
the house lively, and we have had a quiet and happy 
Christmas with them and the little ones, who, I am 
thankful to say, are all well. I often look back on 
our Christmas last year, with the illnesses which our 
children then had, and contrast that dark time with 
the brightness and tranquillity we now enjoy, so that 
if any one should sing a new song, I am the person." 

** Bellevue, March 22, 1886. 

" My DEAR Mr. Bushell, — How very kind of you to 

think of me as you do. I almost grudge to use those 

beautiful grapes, as they might be more useful to some 

other person. Do accept our earnest, best thanks, and 



302 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

understand that by your prayers, you do me a greater 
service than can be rendered by the angels in heaven. 
I continue carefully to follow out the orders of the 
doctor. Yesterday afternoon I attended church with 
my wife." 

" Bellevue, A/arcA 26, 1886. 
" I send a line or two that you may know that 
Dr. Dobie and Mr. Bickersteth were here yesterday 
evening. They, as well as my brother-in-law, Dr. 
Roxburgh, examined me, and they agree, I am sorry 
to tell you, that a tumour has been formed, on which 
Mr. Bickersteth refuses to operate. Dr. Dobie and 
Dr. Roxburgh recommend us to go to Edinburgh, 
that Dr. Keith may see me, and we think of going 
to-day at 1.45. We hope to return soon. Dr. 
Roxburgh goes with us, which is a great comfort. 
May I hope for your continued prayers that God's 
will may be my will. His will is best, whatever we 
poor mortals may think." 

•* Brunswick House, Hanover Square, London, 
A/arck 31, 1886. 

"You and others are overwhelming me by your 
kindness ; and all I can say is, I am deeply conscious 
how unworthy of it I am. Thank you indeed for 
having written my wife as 3'ou have done. Yesterday 



CLOSING DAYS, 303 



morning we left Edinburgh for this, and Dr. Keith, 
having professional duties at Penrith, accompanied us 
so far ; and as Dr. Roxburgh is with us, you will say 
I am well attended. Sir James Paget was here this 
morning, and has given it as his opinion that an 
operation should be performed. We therefore place 
the whole subject in Dr. Keith's hands, and have left 
him to decide regarding everything. No doubt we 
shall hear the result on Friday. Meantime, we go to 
Bellevue to-morrow morning, all being well. We 
hear Mr. Williamson may cross the Channel to-day, 
and I am sorry the weather is likely to be rough. I 
am glad he is returning so much benefited by his stay 
at Cannes. My wife joins me in loving messages to 
Mrs. Bushell and yourself; and I wish you always to 
believe me your grateful, affectionate friend, 

"A. Balfour." 

So ends the correspondence between these two 
friends, of whom it would be difficult to say which 
admired and loved the other most. Sickness did not 
interrupt, it rather deepened, this fellowship of heart 
and mind ; and death itself suspended it only for a 
little season. During this waiting time Mr. Balfour's 
thoughts were bent as eagerly as ever on the welfare 
of his beloved city. Shortly before the operation 



3Ci LIFE CF ALEXASZER EALFZZS^ 

"Rzs decided -jpin, in iljljz.^ iezTe cc zis cii nier.d. 
the Rer- Thizias M-Piers-^i: cf LiTcrpocI, fce saic, 
-oi/kLig or: h.'-z wiiii his eaniesc e\^e5, -Uverpool is 
better, ar.d wIH be better ; ar-d if h be God's wiZ that 
i shcu'd g:». He will raise -^p ethers fee the troct* 

Af^er church, on the Sundav crenh-^ befcre the 
cperation, the present writer called upon h:3L His 
iBmd was full of the old fairiliar thezaes ; the good of 
Liveqxx/I, the repression of istecperancc. the milk- 
supply, the conciijcn of the sailors, and the like. 
Then he spcke of the great go»:<:r.ess of the Saviour 
to himself. When we had prayed ar.d given thanks 
together, his anxious wife kneeling beside us, he ac- 
companied us to the door, poured out the expresaon 
of gratitude for kindness which " he could never, while 
he lived, forget," though to us it seemed that all the 
kindnesses had been on the other side. He took his 
hat, and, late as it was, would fain have walked with 
us part of the way, with the old warm-hearted 
courtesy which was inseparable from his nature. It 
was with difficulty that he was restrained on the plea 
of prudence. He spoke the word " farewell," and we 
saw his face no more. 

The notes of engagements, &c., in his pocket diary, 
during the closing weeks of his life, indicate that his 
accustomed thoughts kept their ordinary channel, and 



CLOSING DAYS. 305 

that his accustomed employments, though necessarily 
restricted, were not given up. 

In March 1886 we find such entries as the follow- 
ing : — 

'^ March 12. Strangers' Rest at 3.30 and 7 p.m. 

** March 18. Committee of Orphanage; Mersey 
Mission annual meeting." 

The closing memoranda in the beginning of April, 
as entered in his firm unaltered handwriting, are 
these : — 

** April I. Home to Liverpool. 

" April 2. Resting quietly. 

** April 3. Dr. Keith writes he is willing to come to 
Mount Alyn to perform operation about 12th or 13th. 

" April 4. Sunday. Had a Bible-reading with my 
wife — I Pet. i. 1-12. Thankful for truths. Dr. Dobie 
came about 5 p.m." 

And there the record ceases, with the expression 

of thankfulness to the last, and thankfulness for truths 

of unutterable preciousness to the living and the 

dying man : — " That the trial of your faith, being more 

precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be 

tried with fire, might be found unto praise and 

honour and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 

whom having not seen ye love ; in whom, though now 

ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy 

u 



3o6 LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of 
your faith, even the salvation of your souls." 

"Christianity/' continues Dr. Roxburgh, "as ex- 
emplified in Alexander Balfour's career, was essentially 
a practical religion, whose issues did not exist only 
in futurity. His whole life had borne conspicuous 
testimony to the fact that the faith of Christ, when 
accompanied by the Spirit of Christ, instead of im- 
poverishing, greatly enriches the natural resources of 
a man's being. It was through it that he bad been 
able to become at once, an accomplished man of the 
world, and the most unworldly of men. As in the 
case of the heroic General Gordon, who predeceased 
him, and with whose character his had many affinities, 
constant communion with Heaven rendered him a 
better citizen of earth. To him secular activities 
were not inconsistent with sacred aspirations. An 
entire submission to the will of God implied no ascetic 
withdrawal from social occupations and duties. Nay, 
rather it enforced the doing of these, with the authority 
of Divine sanction. This striking characteristic now 
shone out with singular beauty. The fact that he 
stood so near the brink of death made no appreciable 
difference, either in his demeanour or his interests. 
He pursued his accustomed avocations with the same 
hearty zeal as before; interested himself keenly in 



CLOSING DAYS. 307 



political questions, those especially which concerned 
the moral well-being of the people; threw himself 
with his habitual freshness of sympathy into the 
plans for ameliorating the lot of his fellow-creatures, 
which were never absent from his mind ; and in 
private converse at home, was as full of wholesome 
content and happiness of spirit, as if he had not a 
care. The milk question still greatly occupied his 
mind, his desire being that an adequate scheme should 
be launched, although he might be unable to co-operate. 
Early in the morning his happy laugh could be heard, 
as he paid his nursery visits to the children, and only 
by a painful effort, could those who saw him then, 
grasp the fact that a perilous ordeal lay in his 
immediate future, and that in a very few days his 
voice might be hushed for ever. 

"A lady who visited him at this time, and only 
two days before the portentous operation, wrote im- 
mediately after seeing him : — ' I cannot help saying 
that on Sunday I felt that there was a grandeur, even 
a glory, about Mr. Balfour in his utter self-forgetful- 
ness. I really felt that in his presence, I understood 
the nature of our Saviour as 1 had never done before.' . 

" His prayers in family worship, at this time, were 
very beautiful in their simplicity. He would pray for 
the children separately by name ; for the boys, that 



3oS LIFE OP ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

they might be attentive to their lessons, and grow up 
to be true and Christian men ; that the medical men 
might be guided and make no mistake ; and that ac- 
quiescence in all God's will might be granted. Tben, 
having unburdened himself, he was just as natural, 
as bright, and as interested in all practical afiairs, 
and all that related to social improvement, as if he 
had not a thought or a trouble on his own account 
During all the time I was with him, he was neither 
gloomy nor exalted, but just his natural self. He 
spoke little about himself. I noticed a wonderful 
gentleness about him during these last weeks, as if 
the land that is afar off were in view. His affectionate 
devotion to his friends, whose prayers, he said, ' were 
his best cordial,' and stil) more to those united to 
him by the dearest ties, was now more tender than 
ever. 

*'His character seemed daily ripening into com- 
pleteness, and even his denunciations of what he 
considered grievous wrong were free from all asperity 
and haste, as if he were in sight of the Eternal and 
the Unchangeable. 

"It was decided that the operation should take place 
in his own house, Mount Alyn. On the evening 
preceding it, Mr. Balfour was in the drawing-room, 
and his discussion of the Irish question, then pro- 



CLOSING DAYS, 309 



minently brought to the front by Mr. Gladstone's 
Home Rule measurei was as animated as if no other 
subject preoccupied his thoughts. The following 
morning found him walking with me among the 
spring flowers of his garden, talking of his plans for 
the future, should life be spared. He said that he 
would have to give up journeying to and from Liver- 
pool. ' Under existing circumstances,' he said, ' there 
is no question at all in my mind as to the course to 
be pursued. My heart is in Liverpool ; my dearest 
friends are there, people whose friendship I value 
above everything. My work and interest are there. 
In Liverpool I wish to live and die.' At family 
worship that morning, he read the passage which tells 
of the communion in spirit between the dying thief 
and the dying Saviour. When he came to the words, 
' Lord, remember me, when Thou comest into Th}' 
Kingdom,' and the Redeemer's answer, " Verily I say 
unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise," 
he paused over them, and repeated them, remarking, 
' How kind it was in Jesus, when asked by the thief 
to remember him, to give so much more than he 
asked : " To-day shalt thou be with Me, in Paradise " I ' 
When he spoke these words, there were thoughts in 
his heart too deep for speech. He then prayed with ' 
touching simplicity for each member of his family by 



310 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

name, and with especial earnestness for his youngest 
little boy, whose birthday it was. One sentence of 
his prayer still lingers in the recollection of those 
present — ' We commit ourselves to Thee, body, soul, 
and spirit, desiring to acquiesce in Thy will, whatever 
that may be/ With deep fervour, too, he pleaded 
for the town whose interests lay so near his heart 
— ' Lord, remember that great community.' How 
profound was his desire for personal holiness was 
evidenced by a remark made that morning in private 
converse with his wife — ' I wish sin to be eradicated 
from my being, just as the doctors are going to cut 
this disease out of my body.' 

" He had already provided for every contingency in 
the disposal of his affairs, and while awaiting the 
arrival of the surgeons, he wrote several letters of 
friendship, the last of which was one of kindly 
counsel to a young clerical friend, enclosing a cheque 
for him to use in enjoying a holiday change. After 
giving some final directions to his dear wife, he 
retired with her to their room, and tenderly, on 
bended knee, commended her and her children to 
the care of their Father in heaven. When the 
surgeons drove up, accompanied by his valued friend 
and medical adviser. Dr. Dobie of Chester, he met 
them at the door with his usual hearty greeting, and 



CLOSING DAYS. 311 



in a few minutes had prepared himself for the fateful 
ordeal. As the anaesthetic was about to be adminis- 
tered, he asked for one minute's delay, ' to get his 
mind into a right state/ and then said, ' Now I am 
ready.' He had been strengthening himself with 
thoughts of his Divine Master, and His prayer, John 
xii. 27, 28, and as he became anaesthetised, he several 
times called out in a clear^voice, ' Father, glorify Thy 
name.' 

" The terrible task of the surgeons occupied an hour 
and a half. When it was over, a time of great weak- 
ness, but of comparative immunity from suffering, 
ensued, and for the first two days all went well. No 
expressions but those of thankfulness and considera- 
tion for others escaped his lips. Though extremely 
feeble, he rewarded every trifling service with a 
grateful smile, and a courteous word of thanks. He 
besought his devoted nurse, who would not leave 
him by night or day, to go out and enjoy the sun- 
shine and air, and lay in his darkened room in 
perfect tranquillity. High hopes began to be enter- 
tained that, as he had been safely brought through a 
dangerous illness before, he might weather even this 
violent storm. These hopes were doomed to dis- 
appointment. Towards the evening of the third day 
grave symptoms showed themselves, and deepened in 



312 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 



severity as night came on. It was a night of mudh 
distress and weariness, but there was no impatieiice. 
His lips often moved in prayer, and it was sometimes 
possible to distinguish the words, ' For Jesus Christ's 
sake. Amen.' At last he gradually sank into uncon- 
sciousness, and at four o'clock in the peaceful spring 
morning, as the song-birds began to usher in another 
day to the toilers of earth, his spirit awoke to the 
light of a day that has no ending, to the tearless life 
where he shall be 'for ever with the Lord/ whom 
he had loved and served so faithfully. 

"Those who now gazed for the last time on the 
form of him, who during life had been as an inspira- 
tion to them, cannot forget how placid and how grand 
he was in death. Like a warrior he lay, taking his 
rest, no mark of illness or pain upon his brow. To 
speak of "death" in conaection with him seemed 
impossible. The limbs so active in loving service, 
the hands so bounteous in generous deeds, seemed 
only resting, not dead. 

* O strong soul, by what shore 
Tarriest thou now? For that force 
Surely has not been left vain I 
Somewhere, surely, afar. 
In the sounding labour-house vast 
Of being, is practised that strength, 
Zealous, beneficent, firm 1 ' 

To those left behind it was as if a dream, from whose 



CLOSING DAYS. 313 



bands one had to shake oneself free, were closing a 
great chapter of life, and veiling the beginning of a 
new epoch, when all should be changed, and that 
radiant presence should no more be seen to help, to 
stimulate, to sympathise. After a time they learned 
to thank God for that sudden transition, for the short 
and painless interval between the fulness of earthly 
life and the glories of the Heavenly life, and for the 
fresh conviction gained, of the reality of that 'con- 
tinuing City,' to whose very gates they seemed to 
have followed their beloved one. 

" The news that this good man had passed away 
produced a profound impression wherever his name 
was known. Signs of public mourning were at once 
visible in Liverpool, where the daily press gave 
warmly appreciative expression to the prevailing 
feeling. The multitudes of letters which now, in 
increasing volume, poured in from all quarters upon 
the bereaved wife and family, from individuals of 
every degree of social influence, spoke but one voice 
of deep personal loss and sorrow. Some of these 
were from public men engaged in the work of 
legislation ; others from humble friends, to whom, all 
unknown even to those in his closest confidence, he 
had been a benefactor ; others again from Christian 
workers in many spheres." 



314 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Let a few sentences from letters of sorrow and 
sympathy suffice. 

The Bishop of Sodor and Man writes : — " Hy last 
interview with him was but a few days before his 
death. He wrote to ask Mr. Clarke AspinaO and 
myself to lunch quietly with him, to discuss some 
question of temperance legislative reform — but in 
truth to say good-bye. To each of us was present 
the knowledge, that in a few days he might be called 
to pass within the veil. To the fact no reference, 
however, was made ; and it was only the prolonged 
clasp of the hand, at bidding farewell, which revealed 
the mutually conscious truth. 

"It is a privilege and a responsibility to have 
known the inner life of such a man. It is the life 
of such a man which, as it can be read by all, is one 
of the strongest evidences of the truth of the Chris- 
tian religion, and it is well that for many years to 
come, the proposed statue should testify that Liver- 
pool is not unmindful of the good gift, which God 
bestowed upon her in the person of Alexander 
Balfour." 

Mr. Clarke Aspinall, who shared with Mr. Balfour 
some of his delightful summer tours to Sweden and 
elsewhere, and not a few of his beneficent and self- 
denying labours, in a letter to us thus refers to " our 



— I 



CLOSING DAYS. 315 



most valued friend, the good Alexander Balfour, one 
of the most remarkable men I ever knew : " — " So 
lion-hearted, and yet so sweet and gentle; so full 
of energy, and yet so patient ; in a word, so Christ- 
like in his many-sided Christian benevolences ; — his 
friendship did very much to brighten and strengthen 
many years of my own life. And now, ' the sweet 
memory of the past' often gives me comfort and 
encouragement. May God grant us more men like 
him in Liverpool; and in His own good time He 
will." 

Mrs. Josephine Butler, with whose difficult and 
often distressing work Mr. Balfour warmly sympa- 
thised, says of him, " He was one of those men who 
seem to shed a radiance all around them." 

The following lines by a mourning fellow-citizen 
appeared at this time : — 



ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

Finish'd his work on earth, his life of love 
And Christian sympathy. Ours, ours the grief, 
The sorrow, and the void ; but his the joy — 
The joy unspeakable and full of bliss. 
Finish'd the struggle here, the mortal pain. 
We wonder and are still, because we see 
Darkly, as through the glass of earthly sight. 
We miss the heart so full of sympathy. 
So touched by tender love for human-kind, 
The wealth of Christian charity, the deep 
Unchang'd devotion of his life and means 






IT 1 r-1 3" 






- . ^'- .*: i-.ri ~«^ ■^•i-i: ::=n .1 in; .~t*~. 



•B'tr*: i-^-zTi-t'^i 1; lire etn:u '■~.r~es5ei a iDeizijrcalxc 
S't!^!.-:* M^i-r.dies :c frl-trjis siii ii=i:rcrs Lxicd to 
Mv-r.t AI;.-i: frin d_zcrezr c--2r:*rs cf ih^ crurinr. to 
y/ir, b: a I^^t trfi jte t:: ih-e nenzry cf a * r-s-r greatly 
beloved-' A sp^en^ trsln fr:zi Liverpool brought 
hundrecs cf I^^Hil^ citizens, as well as deputations 
and represer*:a::ves of innunierable instimtions and 
charities which had counted him as their unfailing 
frier.d, a hundred of the orphans from the Seamen's 
Orphanage being among the number. The Young 
Men's Christian Association had written, asking that 
they might bear the bod\' of their beloved President 



CLOSING DAYS, 317 



to the churchyard, but that was considered imprac- 
ticable. A large number of the members, however, 
followed on foot. The day was bright with sunshine 
and the twitter of birds. It was on such days as this 
that the genial host had often delighted to welcome 
his friends to his ever-hospitable country-house, and 
as the cortege slowly wended its way to the village 
of Rossett, every shady tree, every peep of the 
beautiful prospect of hill, and dale, and river, brought 
vividly to memory the man with whom the whole 
was so indissolubly associated. The Parish Church 
of Rossett was thronged with hushed and reverent 
mourners of every degree and of many creeds. At 
the churchyard gates the procession was met by the 
Bishop of Liverpool, the Vicar of Rossett, Rev. T. V. 
Wickham, and other clergymen ; and thence to the 
church door, the Bishop, with the Rev. R. H. Lundie 
(Presbyterian) on his right, led the procession, and 
recited the opening sentences. Within the church the 
burial service was conducted by the Bishop and the 
Vicar, the Rev. R. H. Lundie reading the lesson, in 
happy harmony with what had ever been the desire 
of the departed, to sink ecclesiastical distinctions, in 
promoting the fraternal union of Christians for all 
holy purposes. At the grave the Bishop requested 
Mr. Lundie to say a few words. After he had 



3i8 LIFE OF ALEXANDER BALFOUR. 

spoken, the service concluded with the singing, by 
the deeply-moved gathering, which filled the church- 
yard and the adjacent roads, of Mr. Balfour's favourite 
hymn : — 

• Peace, perfect peace in this dark world of sin ? 
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within. 

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed ? 
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest. 

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round ? 
On Jesus' bosom nought but calm is found. 

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away? 
In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they. 

Peace, [)erfect peace, our future all unknown ? 
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne. 

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours? 
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers. 

It is enough : earth's struggles soon shall cease, 
And Jesus call us to Heaven's perfect peace.' 

" It was a scene of tears and sighing, but the note 
of triumph was almost as loud as that of grief. With 
the mourning was mingled a thankful joy, that God 
had given such a man to bless and to ennoble the 
world, and that he had so victoriously faced death, 
and passed to his reward. 

" A few words remain to be said on the manner in 
which Mr. Balfour disposed of his property. True to 
a favourite principle of his, he left no bequests to 
public charities. He had throughout life consistently 



CLOSING DAYS. 319 



opposed posthumous liberality, asserting that, as a 
general rule, there was neither wisdom nor virtue in 
hoarding money during life, and then bestowing it on 
charities, when the donor could not help leaving it 
behind him, and when he could not interest himself 
either in its administration or its good fruits. He 
frequently urged that those who thus saved their 
possessions, that they might bequeath large sums to 
benevolent objects, were depriving themselves of the 
chief happiness possible to men, that of seeing their 
fellow-creatures benefited, and their burdens lightened, 
and of sympathising with, as well as pecuniarily aiding, 
them. He also desired that the members of his 
family should enjoy this great privilege ; and in view 
of his repeated declaration that he wished to give in 
his own life-time all that he intended thus to bestow, 
it was no surprise to his friends, to find that his will 
contained no other provisions than those of a private 
nature. He left a legacy far more precious and 
enduring than gold, in innumerable lives stirred to 
self-sacrifice, and kindled to warmer love and brighter 
faith." 

Soon after his death, it was resolved that a statue 
of Mr. Balfour should be erected in a public posi- 
tion, if possible, near the river and the sailors for 
whom he toiled so earnestly. Great, alas ! as must 



320 CLOSISG DAYS. 



be the disparity between the active form, the rscbile 
features, the ever-changing expression of the departei 
and the most skilful portraiture in marble or in brczze. 
the citizens as they pass, will be reminded of the ocble 
character and the devoted life of one, than whcm ccnc 
ever loved their city more. 



APPENDIX. 



LIFE: 

A SERMON PREACHED, AFTER THE DEATH OF 

ALEXANDER BALFOUR, BY THE 

REV. R. H. LUNDIE, M.A. 



ALEXANDER BALFOUR, 

DIED AT MOUNT ALYN. ON FRIDAY, i6TH APRIL, 1886, 

IN HIS SIXTY-SECOND YEAR, 

AND WAS INTERRED AT ROSSETT, DENBIGHSHIRE, 

ON TUESDAY. 20TH APRIL. 



The following Sermon was preached in Fairfield Presbyterian Church, 
Liverpool, on Sabbath the 25/^ April, 



LIFE. 



" He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it him, even length of days 
for ever and ever."— Psalm xxi. 4. 

I DOUBT whether more prayer or more earnest prayer 
was ever offered in Liverpool for any life than for that 
of Alexander Balfour, I doubt if ever with better reason, 
the Heaven-taught plea for life was pressed at the Throne 
of Grace, " Blessed is he that considereth the poor : the Lord 
will deliver him in time of trouble : the Lord will preserve 
him, and keep him alive." When illness first threatened he 
himself asked for recovery, if it were the Lord's will, and 
sought it, as he was bound to do, by taking the best advice 
and using the prescribed means. His family, his kindred, 
in private asked life; his fellow-workers — and they were 
many — ^gathered in groups, and with hushed earnestness 
asked life. Friends to whom he was dear, young men 
whose prospects he had furthered, sailors whose interests 
he had guarded, widows whose store he had replenished, 
orphans to whom he had been as a father, joined in one deep 
though trembling utterance : they asked life for him. The 
day appointed for his serious operation came and went, the 
next day the report was favourable, and the next; with 
brightening hope we continued our plea, we asked for his 
life. And yet he died. In many hearts the shock of grief 
is mingled with the dull pain of disappointment 



324 SERMON. 



What then ? Hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious ? 
Were these prayers unheard? Hearken to our text and 
judge whether a broader, fuller answer has not been 
vouchsafed to these prayets than we desired when we 
uttered them : ** He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it 
him, even length of days for ever and ever." 

These words, if applicable in a sense to David, only 
reach their fulfilment in the Son of David. We have His 
experience depicted here ; and in Him the experience of 
His children. " Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass 
from Me." To this conflict the Apostle refers when he 
says, in Hebrews v. 7 : " In the days of His flesh, when He 
had oflered up prayers and supplications with strong crying 
and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, 
He was heard in that He feared." He was heard when He 
asked life, and yet He died. Through death He reached 
the "endless life," "even length of days for ever and 
ever." 

Let us consider how, in the experience of His servant, 
the life we asked was given. Life was peculiarly character- 
istic of our friend. Some men vegetate; he lived, In- 
tense, eager, sanguine, enthusiastic, his copious life flowed 
over into the beings of those he met His presence often 
proved as a tonic or restorative to them. 

But in sickness, and with the shadow darkening over him 
of what he well knew to be a terrible and perilous ordeal, 
did this life continue? I shall never forget the impression 
made upon my mind by his bearing an hour or two after 
the critical visit and consultation of four surgeons. The 
spokesman among them had frankly stated the true and grave 
nature of the case. I mentioned at his grave, but will repeat 
it now, that his reply was this, " Well, Doctor, that is an 
announcement that must come to each of us sooner or later, 



SERMON. 325 



the great thing is, that it should find us resting on the 
Rock of our salvation." When left alone with the partner 
of his joys and sorrows, his first word was this, "Then Mr. 
Samuel Smith must be communicated with at once about 
the Y. M. C. A. ; they may need another trustee." All this 
had taken place in the evening. At ten o'clock that night 
I went with a heavy heart to his bedside, and started to see 
his countenance not peaceful only, almost radiant. Even 
then his life knew no abatement "We asked life, and 
God gave it him." He said to me, " You know that a year 
ago I passed under a time of darkness. But God has 
chased that all away: and this (he added), Ms is only 
physical. If you want to know my experience, you will find 
it in the ii6th Psalm, verse by verse, step by step : *I love 
the Lord because He hath heard my voice and my supplica- 
tions.' " And he repeated from memory the verses till he 
came to this, which he uttered with peculiar tenderness and 
delight, " I was brought low, and He helped me. Return 
unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully 
with thee." "He helped me," he repeated, " and now it is 
all peace." 

I came away marvelling at his quiet fortitude and joy, yet 
thinking perhaps that the excitement of that evening had 
thrown him into an abnormal condition of mind which would 
pass away. It never passed away as long as he lived. He 
was full of keen interest in the themes that occupied his 
mind About himself he spoke little, and that always with 
tranquil, happy trustfulness. But when he touched upon 
the young men of Liverpool, or the Sheltering Home for 
our city arabs, or the Bible in the elementary schools of the 
city, or his desire to have the new Gordon Institution for 
Boys based on a thoroughly Christian foundation, or a subject 
which occupied him much in his later weeks, the provision 



326 SERMON. 



of a far ampler supply of milk for the working-classes, he 
glowed with all his old enthusiasm. So was it if the con- 
versation turned on matters of public policy or the welfare 
of India, from which his friend, Mr. S. Smith, returned 
during his illness, and about which they talked together. I 
may mention, as singularly characteristic of the man, that 
when Mr. and Mrs. Smith left him on one of these occasions, 
he remarked, " I thought they would have come home in 
high spirits ; did you not think them very much subdued 
to-day ? " The weight that pressed upon their spirits when 
they saw their friend, did not seem to burden his own mind. 
A near relative, whose presence was an unspeakable solace 
to the family in the closing period of Mr. Balfour's life, 
writes to me thus : " I was struck with his happiness during 
these last weeks. Every morning his jovial, cheery voice 
could be heard, as he played with the children ; and he was 
in all points so completely natural, so entirely himself, that 
one could not fail to see that the near prospect of death 
made no appreciable change in his thought or conduct He 
had lived so long in the unseen, that its near approach 
involved no sudden transition." When his first warning 
came, no abrupt change was needed ; no laying down of 
accustomed occupations or substitution of others, more 
fitting for the borders of eternity. He just pursued the 
work he was doing, and the thoughts he was thinking : he 
went on as he had done ; he delighted, as was his wont, 
with singular relish in the society of his friends, he discussed 
his favourite plans — sometimes with a far-off look in his eye 
— he asked God's blessing on all. Living as he had lived, 
the call found him watching. Here too we can say, " He 
asked life, and Thou gavest it him." 

The glory of God was the prevailing thought in his mind 
when the operation was about to be performed. The morn- 



SERMON. 327 



ing of the operation found him walking among the spring 
flowers of his garden, with a loved relative, and then writ- 
ing letters to his friends. When all was prepared, in few 
and simple words, he bade his wife farewell. A surgeon — 
it was the same relative with whom he had just been walk- 
ing in the garden — was about to administer an anaesthetic. 
" Wait a moment," he said, " till my mind is in a right state." 
After a solemn silence of a minute or two, " Now I am ready," 
he said. And after he had begun to inhale the anaesthetic, 
in a loud voice he exclaimed, " Father, glorify Thy Name," 
and again, and once again, repeated the same prayer. After 
the operation, feeble as he was, his words were sometimes 
words of prayer to his Father in heaven, sometimes words, 
of love to his friends on earth. On any service rendered he 
would say, " Thank you, thank you ; how kind you all are ! " 
With his dying voice he begged his faithful nurse, who 
would not leave him day or night, to go out to get the fresh 
air. His last night was one of great weariness and distress. 
" This body of humiliation ! " he was once heard to whisper ; 
and often he was seen to be in prayer, though no more was 
distinctly heard than "for Jesus Christ's sake," repeated 
many times. He was not taken by surprise : in love to God 
and man he fell asleep. He was not, for God took him. 

The influence of a good life does not pass away with the 
mortal breath. Alexander Balfour lives to-day in the many 
lives over which he exerted his magnetic influence ; in many 
Christians who were quickened, encouraged, impelled by his 
holy enthusiasm ; in not a few, I believe, of all ranks who 
are now doing good work for God and man in various 
departments, who were first started in the course of Chris- 
tian philanthropy through him; in young men scattered 
over the land and the world, of whom we hear from time 
to time, who trace their serious impressions to the Y. M. C. A. 



328 SERMON. 



of Liverpool, and sometimes directly to its President And 
may it not be that God, who gave him the especial task of 
kindling other souls, may have seen fit to order his removal 
as He did — direct from the conflict to the crown, without 
pause, without decline, without sensible change, till the 
great change came — to intensify the influence of that potent 
life ? May not the electric touch of love, of sympathy, of 
sorrow, which passed from this man, greatly beloved, to a 
wide circle of friends, have been just what was needed to 
"perfect that which concemeth Him," and to crown that 
fruitful life ? " We asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it 
him." 

Our friend is gone, but he lives in the institutions he 
founded or sustained, he lives in good men who have risen 
up to call him blessed, and who will spread their life in 
wider and ever wider circles in our day, and long after we 
too shall have passed away. Good deeds and generous 
purposes do not die. 

We prayed for life and our brother died. But when 
we prayed, did we sufficiently realise that there are two 
sides to this matter of living? To "abide in the flesh 
seemed more needful for us ; " did we also remember that 
"to depart and be with Christ was far better" for him? 
The good Lord saw all sides, while we looked most at one. 
We must not forget that over against our prayer for life 
stands recorded our Redeemer's prayer, " Father, I will that 
they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where 
I am, that they may behold My glory." The hour comes 
when that will of Jesus must prevail ; and the remembrance 
of this should ever lead us to lay beneath all such prayer for 
life a basis of submission : " Nevertheless, not as I will, but 
as Thou wilt." Our friend was taught this lesson by the 
Spirit of the Lord. As the weeks of waiting rolled away, he 



SERMON. 329 



said to his wife, " We need not any longer ask for acquies- 
cence in God's will, whatever that may be, for we have got 
that ; let us ask for the glory of God." In such falling in 
with the will of the Living God, is there not more than the 
life we asked for him? I had the privilege of spending 
with him the late evening hours of his last Sunday upon 
earth. With his usual courtesy and elasticity, he came 
with me to the door when I was leaving. I expressed my 
delight at seeing him so bright and cheerful, adding, " That 
is gready in your favour." I dare say something of surprise 
was in my tone, for he said, " Well, it is just this way, I have 
put it all into the Lord's hands, and I take no burden of 
the morrow ; He will take care of that ; I just go on from 
step to step, one at a time." His manner seemed to mean, 
" No credit to me ; the Lord has seen to all that." 

Once more, a ripe soul has gone to the inheritance of 
the saints in light, for which, through God's goodness, it 
was made meet. Of that heavenly life we shall not speak. 
He knows far more of it, in all its freedom from sin, and 
sorrow, and suffering, in all the fulness of blessing which 
the presence of the King commands, than we shall know 
till — if we take his Saviour to be our Saviour — we are 
called to join him. " Thou hast made known to me the 
ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of joy with Thy 
countenance." "In the way of righteousness is life, and 
in the pathway thereof there is no death." " We asked 
life of Thee, and Thou gavest it him, even length of days 
for ever and everJ^ 

Our beloved friend's own view on the Christian limitations 
of prayer is so beautifully expressed in the following simple 
incident, that I will venture to narrate it : — A life-long friend 
wrote to him that his boy of six had been listening to his 
evening lesson read to him by his teacher. It contained 



330 SERMON. 



the words addressed to Solomon, " Ask what I shall give 

thee." The nature of prayer was explained to the child, 

who quietly whispered, " I know what I am going to pray 

for to-night." To the question, "What will you ask for?" 

he answered, " That Mr. Balfour may get better, and I'm 

going to ask it every day till he is well." A letter from 

Mr. Balfour's pen, which bears date the loth of April, 

contains these words : " Dear little Bay's action is a lesson 

for us all. I am truly grateful to him, and shall ask that 

the Lord Himself may reward and bless the honest, kindly 

heart that has been thinking of me in my trouble. I can 

never be grateful enough to friends for their prayers, which 

God mus^ answer ; not, perhaps, in the way we desire, but 

in the way He knows to be best for us. So my own prayer 

would be that His will may be my wilL Madame Guion 

wrote : — 

' Upon God's will I lay me down 
As child upon its mother's breast ; 
No silken couch, nor softest bed, 
Could ever give me such deep rest.' 

And her position I desire may be mine." The lines just 
quoted he had in his later weeks fastened upon his desk, 
where his eye continually rested upon them. Need I add 
that the child was startled and surprised when he heard 
that the good man for whose recovery he prayed was 
dead ! Are we not all children in such matters ? The boy 
did not understand, and we find it hard to understand 
that still it is true, "We asked life of Thee, and Thou 
gavest it him." 

I have dwelt long on the closing weeks of our friend's 
life. The truth is, that the impression made on my mind, 
and on the minds of those nearest him in that crisis, is 
profound and indelible. It was almost awe-inspiring to 
find him, on the very brink of the unseen world, living his 



SERMON. 331 



accustomed life, seizing every opportunity to do good ; joy- 
ful among his friends, playful with the children, unruffled 
and undisturbed. The breath of the next world was already 
breathing on his brow ; and something more than the love, 
and gentleness, and joy of this world were in his heart. 
There was a majestic peace and self-possession in the man. 
I was reminded of what I was told by one who had known 
him from boyhood ; he said, " He always looked on him, 
even when a lad, as formed of the stuff of which martyrs are 
made : he would not have hesitated two minutes to go to 
the stake, had duty required it." 

Of his life I need say little to you among whom he lived. 
I cannot here stay even to mention all the Christian and 
philanthropic institutions with which his name is identified, 
and some of which owe their existence to his simple faith, 
his burning enthusiasm, and his indomitable perseverance. 
Not once nor twice did he appear to his friends and fel- 
low-workers a Utopian in the large plans he sketched, and 
the heavy burdens he took, and encouraged them to take. 
His projects seemed the visions of an excited brain ; yet 
he lived to realise them in full development and splendid 
usefulness. "Impracticable," his own best friends have 
sometimes whispered in such cases. Yes, impracticable to 
men of common mould, but not to faith and zeal like his. 
" All things are possible to him that believeth." 

Seamen were early the objects of his care. It was not 
in his nature to climb by their help to fortune, and to leave 
themselves unconsidered. His conviction was, that the tie 
between sailors and their employers ought to be much 
stronger and more permanent than it is. This view — not 
he only, but in thorough union with him — his firm en- 
deavoured to carry out in practice. The Apprentices' 
Home in Duke Street was one valuable expression of this 



332 SERMON. 



conviction, for which many have had reason to give thanks 
to God. Then, if, in his perilous calling, the sailor, as he 
held on to his sinking ship, thought with agony of the 
children who were to be written fatherless, was nothing 
adequate to be attempted to assuage that grief, and provide 
a home for the desolate? Such thoughts, seething in his 
heart, and the hearts of a few like-minded men, translated 
themselves into the noble institution known as the Seamen's 
Orphanage. The Mersey Mission and the Seamen's Friend 
Society formed additional outlets for generous effort in the 
sailor's highest interest. 

The young men of Liverpool occupied a sacred place in 
his heart He thought of them, he planned for them, he 
worked for them, he prayed for them continually. Get the 
young men of Liverpool, he would say, imbued with Christian 
principle, and adequately taught and trained, and the Liver- 
pool of the future will be a new Liverpool. None but those 
nearest him can know how he bore the young men on his 
heart without ceasing. That the Y. M. C. A. — deep-rooted 
in Mount Pleasant, and already beginning to spread forth 
its branches to other parts — is what it is, is largely due to 
its President He, with his friend, Mr. S. Smith, rejoiced 
in the acquisition of the Gymnasium, as a kind of annex to 
the Y. M. C. A. Thus the necessities of the physical frame 
were not overlooked. 

Were we to traverse the whole circle of Liverpool's best 
charities, we should find his footsteps everywhere. Where 
was help needed ? Where could the substance which God 
had given him be best employed for the good of his fellow- 
men? These were questions continually in his mind. 
No one can tell the multifarious channels in which his 
beneficence flowed : homes of rest near his own country 
mansion, for toil-worn city missionaries, and other Christian 



SERAfON. 333 



workers; quiet encouragement to Christian ministers of 
various denominations who, in seeking to do good work in 
the city, became faint by the way ; timely counsel for young 
men needing a start in life ; bales of blankets in the cold 
winter for the poor and the needy. And what shall I more 
say ? There are hundreds in our great city who could add 
indefinitely to a catalogue like this, and who can say to-day, 
" Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strength- 
ened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that 
was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees." 
The record of his often-hidden deeds is on high. 

One branch of his work must not be left untouched — 
temperance. He held with Cobden, that " the temperance 
movement lies at the root of all social and political reform." 
He saw in drunkenness the most powerful among the causes 
that produce the poverty, degradation, and crime which pre- 
vail around us. 

His spirit was moved with compassion for those perishing * 
from strong drink, and he sought to diminish the abounding 
temptations. He pitied the overburdened public-house 
managers, barmen, and barmaids, whose hours are more 
protracted, and whose task is more deadly, than those of 
any other trade in England; and he sought their relief. 
But, besides all this, he perceived, as he believed, law per- 
verted and wrong done in ways which this is not the 
place to specify, in the interest of a powerful trade, or of 
unscrupulous traffickers outside said trade, to the ruin of 
thousands. Could such a man see such things and hold 
his peace ? He buckled on his armour, and in the town 
and its Council set himself to the task of exposing, and, if 
possible, removing these evils. No venerable abuses would 
he spare. No combination of opponents and no amount 
of contumely could silence his voice. A tremendous indig- 



334 SERMON. 



nation burnt like fire within his breast. I do not allege 
that, with a spirit goaded by a sense of intolerable wrong 
done to thousands of his fellow-citizens, his proposals were 
always wise, or his words always measured ; but I dare 
affirm that, as the result of the rough task assigned to him, 
and discharged with a courage that knew not how to flinch, 
our city has been in part delivered from abuses which 
skulked unseen, till his brave hand tore down the veil. 
Besides this, none can doubt that the tone which marks the 
conduct of our public affairs is sensibly elevated. To this 
result our departed friend made no slender contribution. 

In his position as President of the Popular Control 
and Sunday-closing Association, he laboured with ceaseless 
energy for two objects, viz., the better administration of 
existing License-law, and reform in Imperial License 
legislation. In reference to the latter, he worked largely 
on the lines of the Church of England Temperance Society, 
so ably presided over by his warm friend. Canon Ellison. 

As a part of the great temperance reform, the Cocoa- 
Room movement and the " separated milk " movement en- 
gaged his warmest sympathies. The recent conversion, 
in the blighted corner near the Sailors' Home, of a huge 
gin-palace into the Institute of the Mersey Mission, com- 
bined with a flourishing Cocoa-Room, made him radiant 
with joy. No accession to his personal possessions could 
have gladdened him as did the change of hands — from evil 
to good — of this fortress, which, better than any other, com- 
mands the haunts of our seamen. 

In work like this it has been my privilege to be long and 
closely associated with him, and to know the grandeur and 
purity of his aims. 

We have spoken of his Christian work among ourselves. 
But its sphere was much wider. Valparaiso can testify to 



SERMON. 335 



his long-continued and enlightened efforts. The opening 
fields of the Dark Continent occupied his heart : yea, and to 
have all the world won for Christ was his intense desire. 
But Liverpool, "that great community," for which he so 
pathetically pleaded daily till the day when he lay do^n to 
die — Liverpool was graven on his heart, like Jerusalem on 
the heart of the exiled Jews. To succour, to elevate, to 
bless Liverpool, was the consuming passion of his life. 

As a man of business, how did this Christian philan- 
thropist stand? The commercial world around us with 
one voice bears testimony to his high and unblemished 
reputation. I am permitted to quote a few sentences from 
a letter written by his partner, Mr. Stephen Williamson, to 
Mrs. Balfour on the 17th April : — " Liverpool and the world 
little know what they have lost Only those who knew 
him, as an inner circle did, can form a right conception of 
his nobility of character, his purity and unselfishness, his 
Christian faith and heroism. During thirty-five years' 
association with him, I never heard him utter a word or 
saw him do an act that he might not, as it seems to me, 
have said and done in the presence of Infinite Holiness." 
A better testimony words could not frame. 

Your hearts, brethren, as we have been contemplating 
this noble character, have been asking, From what source 
did it take its rise ? Have we any clear means of knowing ? 
Happily we have access to materials that will not mislead 
us. Let himself unveil the spring of his own life and motive. 
On the 15th of August 1880, he thus wrote to our venerable 
father, the Rev. James Towers of Birkenhead, to whose 
congregation he used, as a young man, to belong : " It was 
under your ministry that I first was led to that entire 
surrender of my heart to the Lord, which marked an era 
in my existence, unending in its gracious results. We can 



336 SERMON. 



only faintly, while we live here, realise what is implied in 
the text, 'A child of God by faith in Jesus Christ'" Mr. 
Towers tells me that till he received this letter, he did not 
fully understand what Mr. Balfour meant when he used to 
say to him that " coming to Birkenhead had been worth 
more to him than thousands of gold and silver." There is 
reason to think that what Mr. Balfour here refers to, was 
not his first reception of the truth as it is in Jesus, but a 
season of new consecration and great enlargement of soul. 

Another unquestionable guide in this matter lies before 
me. It contains the deliberate and carefully expressed de- 
claration of his faith. I quote from his will. " In conclu- 
sion, I wish to testify to the goodness and mercy shown to me, 
who am less than the least of all saints, by Almighty God, 
and I gratefully recognise His wonderful kindness and 
indulgence during my whole life. I have no merits of my 
own, and I put my hope and assured confidence, in this 
life and for another, solely in the merits of my Redeemer. 
I commend my wife and children to the care and blessing 
of our Heavenly Father, in whose love and fear, and in 
obedience to whose blessed will, I desire that they may 
live; and I seek to leave this world in charity with all 
men." 

His pronounced personality was all his own. TAaf we 
could not, and should not try, to imitate. But the fountain 
from which he drew his deep gratitude, pure motive, 
elevated pulpose, is not exhausted. Let us too drink of it, 
and our lives also shall grow noble. It was good to weep 
around his grave, as many of us did last Tuesday, in that 
wonderful gathering of devout men, of every name and rank, 
who carried him to his burial ; it will be better to cluster 
round his Lord, and, like him, to sit at the feet of Jesus. If 
we desire to follow him we must begin where he began, by 



SERMON. 337 



"the entire surrender of our hearts to the Lord** We 
" must be born agaiiL" 

Time will not permit me to enlarge upon his character. 
In the view we have taken of his life and death we have 
seen everywhere proofs of his faith, his unselfishness, his 
purity. On two or three characteristics suffer a brief 
word. 

His humility was such that he tended to disclaim all 
credit for his noble acts, and often spoke as if the recipient 
were conferring a favour upon him in accepting his kindness. 
He reminds me of the Centurion who asked the Lord for 
the healing of his servant. The elders pressed the petition, 
saying that *' he was worthy for whom He should do this ; 
for he loveth our nation, and hath built us a synagogue." 
The Centurion would not endorse their testimony, but said, 
" Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my 
roo£" Just like our friend, who sensitively shrank from 
praise, and passed it on to others, whatever he had built or 
done. " He is worthy," said his colleagues in effort, and 
the receivers of his benefits ; " I am not worthy," was the 
constant answer of his humble bearing. His whole life 
seemed to carry out the Apostle's precept, "Be kindly 
affectioned one to another, in honour preferring one 
another." 

His catholicity was a marked feature. No man more 
conscientiously adhered to the truth he held, and yet none 
was more ready to appreciate all that was good in those 
who differed from him in minor things. It does not need 
to be said that his princely benefactions, though beginning 
in his own Church, welled over to the refreshment of un- 
counted good causes in other branches of the Church of 
Christ, and in the community at large. 

This leads me to mention that strange magnetic sympathy 

Y 



338 SERMON. 



in him which fastened, as by instinct, on that which was 
best in other men. He credited them with all they had and 
more. Such men he drew into beneficent work, who are 
now doing excellent service — men some of whom seemed 
to others unlikely instruments, and who, but for him, might 
never have learnt to put life to such good account. He 
made them first wonderingly admit to themselves that their 
lives might be made useful ; and then he gradually inflamed 
them with the fires of his irrepressible enthusiasm and 
hope. Work must be done for God and man, and men 
must be found to do it. He found them sometimes where 
no one else could find them. He touched the latent good 
that was in them, and at his sympathetic touch that good 
grew greater. They found that the paths of beneficence 
were pleasant paths, and they followed where he led. This 
power of influencing others was, perhaps, the most marked 
of all his characteristics. 

There was a certain manifoldness about his character. 
Most enthusiastic men get absorbed in one main enterprise. 
He carried on many at a time. He would lay hold of one 
man, and pour out his soul on temperance as if he could 
think of nothing else ; he met another, and education was 
his theme ; another, and with a zeal as impetuous he would 
launch forth on what must be done for the waifs of our 
streets. He held them all in hand at once, and apparently, 
with equal firmness. 

His courage rose to fearlessness. It was the boldness of 
a man who knew that in his cause he had Heaven behind 
him. Our conflicts in this great community are not over 
yet ; and the day may come ere long when the thought of 
him shall call to mind the inscription graven by the Cartha- 
ginians on the tomb of Hannibal, " We greatly desired him 
in the day of battle." 



SERMON. 339 



I well remember a prayer of his in the vast Victoria Hall, 
when Moody and Sankey were here — in no small measure 
through his influence. He prayed that the Gospel might so 
illuminate our town that the " dark spot on the Mersey " 
might be changed into the bright spot on the Mersey ; and 
that, as it had been conspicuous for drunkenness and vice, 
it might become an example among cities, of righteousness 
and godliness. For this end he lived. It seemed as if a 
charge from Heaven had been given him over the highest 
interests of our city. As he stood, with nervous energy, 
holding me fast with his penetrating eye, and pouring out 
his projects for the rescue of the perishing and the blessing 
of all, he has often reminded me of the prophet of the 
wilderness, or of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, with the "burden 
of the Lord " upon his soul. 

A rare man is taken from us. Long and deeply will 
Alexander Balfour be missed by our city, which he loved so 
well. On whom shall his mantle fall ? 

Of the loss to his family of such a husband and father 
I need not speak. Of the loss to myself of one who was 
more than a friend I will say little. I felt some compensation 
for his residence of late years so far from us, in the circum- 
stance that frequently after meetings in town he would spend 
the night under our roof. These brief bright visits were 
times of impulse and of gladness. His joy over improve- 
ments already attained in the condition of his city, and his 
confident hope that these improvements would make rapid 
advance, furnished strong impetus hopefully to persevere 
in all Christian effort. And his too generous appreciation 
of what his friends endeavoured to accomplish, if it was felt 
to spring more firom the love of his heart than the quality of 
the work done, yet served to lighten labour and to brace for 
further service. 



340 SERMON. 



And for our congregation, in whose origin he took a large 
share, and to which he clung with singular attachment even 
when he resided twenty miles away from us, what shall I 
say ? A great gap is left among us. Brethren, let us dress 
our ranks ; — closer together now, nearer and more helpful 
to one another, thankful for this, that there remaineth One 
who will never leave us nor forsake us. Let every life be 
loftier, let every heart be kinder, let every hand be more 
diligent, because the good Lord lent us such a man, and 
spared him to us for the space of twenty years. 

For himself we will not weep. Can he not say to-day 
with still deeper meaning than when on earth, "Thou hast 
delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and 
my feet from falling " ? Shall we mourn because, when we 
asked life for him, God gave him length of days for ever 
and ever? 



" He that bdieveth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live : and 
whosoever liveth and believeth in Me» shall never die." — John ». 25, 26. 

We ask the Lord, on bended knee. 

One guerdon to bestow — 
To give us back a flickering life, 

If it should please Him so. 

The trembling wife, the tender child, 

Together seek the throne ; 
The widow whom his hand had helped 

Pours the same plea, alone. 

The wanderer sheltered by his love, 

The orphan child, his care. 
The grateful sailor cries to God 

That precious life to spare. 



SERMON. 341 



In groups, with accent hushed and low, 
They meet, and moistened eye, — 

The young, the old, he loved to shield ; 
" Give, Lord, his life," they cry. 

Won by the heavenly voice that said, 

" But ask and I will give ; 
But seek and ye shall find," they plead, 

" We ask that he may live." 

The day of trial comes : " He lives ; " 
The next, " He lives, he sleeps ; " 

The next, "All well : he sweetly sleeps ;" 
Next dawn his widow weeps. 

And many widows weep with her, 

And many fatherless. 
And eyes, unused to dim, run o'er 

With tears of bitterness. 

The hardy tar, the hoary sire, 
.The boy hushed in his play ; — 

All, all have lost a faithful friend : 
A city weeps to-day. 

Our hearts, who prayed for life, are struck 

With sorrow to the core ; 
Yet God Aas heard and given him life. 

Even life for evermore. 

He toiled for all, his blessed quest 

To sweeten every lot ; 
Of others ever mindful, he 

Himself alone forgot 

We'll miss his fearless hand in fight 

With evil and with wrong ; 
And in our aim to help the weak 

We'll miss him oft and long. 



342 SERMON, 



But, Lord, we still ask life for him 

To Thine eternal praise, 
In hearts enkindled, lives inspired — 

An endless length of days. 

He did not tire, or faint, or fade, 

His life knew no decline ; 
At noon his lamp from earth to heaven 

Was taken, there to shine. 

He hath not ceased to live, to work, 
With eager soul and bright, 

But now, before the throne of God, 
He serves Him day and night 

We will not mourn that he is glad. 
Nor weep that life is given, 

Nor sorrow that his gentle heart 
Finds gentle rest in heaven. 



THE END. 



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