Friday, March 10, 2006

Incident at Waterloo Station

Thomas M. Lindsay's biography of Luther has recently been republished by Christian Focus. We thought that Free St. George's readers might enjoy a couple of incidents from the lighter side of Lindsay's life (and perhaps time to recover from 35 Rainy days).

Just to put this first one in context, Lindsay was born in 1843 at Lesmahagow, where his father was Free Church minister. Although he trained for the Free Church ministry, he held no pastorate beyond a short stint as Alexander Whyte's assistant at Free St. George's. He was a brilliant student, and at the age of 29 he was appointed to take the classes of Dogmatics and Church History at the Free Church College, Glasgow. In 1872 he was appointed to the chair of Church History there. He was elected Principal of the now United Free Church College, Glasgow in 1902, a post he held until his death in 1914. Principal Lindsay wrote a number of books, the best-known of which are The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1902), A History of the Reformation (Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, vol. 1 1906, vol. 2 1907), Luther and the German Reformation (Edinburgh, T. &. T. Clark, 1908).
The only biographical work of any kind about Lindsay is Letters of Principal T. M. Lindsay to Janet Ross (London, Constable, 1923). It consists of letters that Lindsay sent to a learned lady who lived in Italy. At first she did not realise he was a minister - hence this letter. Now, before I fill a post with Lindsay's biography:

Incident at Waterloo Station
"I really ought to apologise for coming to you as a wolf in sheep's clothing; but I dislike uniform of all kinds, and never wear clerical dress out of Scotland. They are quite a nuisance in travelling. A clerical garb is a sort of placard, 'Enquire here for everything,' especially to ladies, who demand strings, paper, ink and pens, the names of hotels, the proper tips to give, etc. , etc. I remember once at Waterloo station, when I was in uniform, a very ecclesiastical lady accosting me. "Are you a Churchman, Sir?" I naturally said "Yes," forgetting for the moment that I was in a foreign land - then recollecting said: "I am a presbyterian." The poor thing was quite dismayed at contact with a schismatic and gasped out - "Bu- Bu- But perhaps you can tell me the way to the underground railway?" Apostolic succession was not needed to give correct information on that point at least."
Letters of Principal T. M. Lindsay to Janet Ross, P. 1



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