Witley, March 18, 1917

Sunday     No church parade on a’c quarantine

NPG D46613; Vistors to Eltham Bazaar, Brighton or Sheffield by Hubert John Leslie

by Hubert John Leslie, cut paper silhouette, 1923-1924

The Herbert F. Tomkinson who is shown in this silhouette is probably the Herbert F. Tomkinson who compiled My Prayer Book (1916)  — one of several titles. There was one for Boy Scouts, and one for Girls’ Friendly Societies, as well as one for Girls and Women. The one Percy owned was directed to “the younger ‘sons of the Church of England'” (Preface). Though not intended specifically for men in khaki, the book concluded with some pages “for use on parade or in camp,” (page 73) and provided Tent Prayers, with the following instructions:

“Prayers may be read the last thing at night by a N.C.O. in his tent.
After appointing some one to hold a lantern for him, if he needs light, he shall say: ‘Company, silence for prayers.'” (page 75).

The book is in the spiritual tradition of the so-called muscular Christianity of manly Victorians like Charles Kingsley and Thomas Arnold. The first prayer in the book, on waking, includes a petition to “help me do my duty like a true man.” (11). A form of morning prayer provided “for those who have very little time” asks for help this day “to live like a man,” (12); the prayer is set out under the epigraph, “What is man? … Thou hast made him but little lower than God (Ps. viii).”

Death-Arthur-CarrickAnd in the evening, the man is reminded that “To miss your evening prayers is to settle to sleep like an animal. Try and end each day like a man.” (14) A footnote to this sentence directs the reader to King Arthur’s speech in Tennyson’s “Morte d’Arthur.”The passage intended is probably the following, when the dying Arthur bids Sir Bedivere:

Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend? (lines 247-253)

Marked “Secret,” notification arrives that the 54th and 81st Batteries are to be held “in readiness” to embark for France on March 20th. (1)

(1) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 2 March 1917. Appendix 3:5. Library and Archives of Canada.

The silhouette is part of an image in the National Portrait Gallery, London, of three visitors to St Luke’s Church Bazaar, Eltham Park. The artist is  Hubert John Leslie, and the silhouettes are dated November 15, 1923. Tomkinson’s preface to his little book associates him with Lambeth Church; my guess is that he was the parish priest there. Eltham Park is about ten miles east of Lambeth, both areas are south of the River Thames.

The painting of the death of King Arthur is by John Mulcaster Carrick and dates to 1861 or 1862.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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