[Taken from Manx Wesleyan Church Record ]
vol 8 April 1900 pp28/9
METHODISM has lost during the past month several of its members, all of whom will be much missed from their own circles, and it will be generally admitted that the most prominent figure amongst the recently departed, and the one whose loss will be felt most keenly by the Wesleyan Methodists of Douglas, and the Island as a whole, is the late Mr. Robert Archer.
To his family we extend our heartfelt sympathy, and assure them of our earnest prayers for their support and comfort to their great loss. At the same time, we cannot help saying that our loss is "his great gain," as, undoubtedly, he, for very many years, notably since the decease of his dearly-loved, and most devoted, wife, was constantly looking towards "the westernĄ sky," in sure and certain hope of a blessed re-union with loved ones gone before. Death, to him, was but an emancipation, crowning men with fuller life, where no parting is.
Mr Archer's whole life, from his youth, was spent in Douglas, and during his lengthened career he saw wondrous changes in the town, and was ever actively engaged in philanthropic works-which it would be impossible to enumerate; a few may, however, be briefly touched upon, to show his cosmopolitan spirit.
It is unnecessary to do more than say that when Messrs Quine & Archer succeeded to the business of the late Mr Thos. Wilson, as drapers and silk mercers, they took over the largest drapery concern on the island, which they successfully conducted for many years. On the retirement of Mr Quine, Mr Archer not only carried on the same business, but extended and increased its volume, in the newly-erected premises in Victoria Street, which adjoin the old premises. Mr David Evans was taken into partnership, and afterwards, Mr Frank Archer, the style of the firm being Archer, Evans & Co.; thus it remains, but Mr Evans retired some two years ago. During this long period, Mr Archer ever took the warmest interest in the intellectual and physical welfare of his employees, and in the provision of an excellent supply of good readable books (before the development of the Free Library), tried to encourage habits of mental culture amongst his young people. He was much interested in starting a branch of the Y.M.C. A., and provided material for gymnastic exercises, which was a success for some time, but like many new things in the Isle of Man, it died through lack of support by the young people in whose interest it was inaugurated. Mr Archer was great on acquatic exercise, and was an ardent advocate of young people of both sexes learning to swim. Port Skillion and the lovely bath at Peel will remain as mementoes of his zeal in this direction, and thousands of visitors and residents wail bless his memory for the comfort and plea sure they enjoy at these popular places.
He very considerately helped to brim about early closing, and the now established weekly half-holiday.
In fact, his place will be hard to fill as a friend of young people. Though not of robust constitution, he was in spirit younger than his years, and as full of humour and fun as a youth. This, to those who knew him, was his chiefest charm, though many people thought him diffident and retiring.
Mr Archer was appointed treasurer of the central relief fund, started some years since to endeavour to stave off a poor-rate, but at the same time provide suitably for the poor of the town. this voluntary committee did admirable service, until it was found that a considerable section of the larger hotels, and other people who could and should have contributed to its funds, failed to do so; consequently, the present compulsory system was enacted, and Mr Archer still continued to act in the capacity of honorary treasurer until his decease.
He was an enthusiastic believer in education, and took the liveliest interest in the Wesleyan Day Schools, being treasurer of Thomas Street School until it was taken over by the School Board, and continued until the end as treasurer and secretary of the Well Road Day School.
In earlier days, he was a Sunday School worker, as well; and throughout his entire life he might be seen showing his sympathy with Sunday School workers, by his presence at the various Sunday School Anniversaries in the town. For many years, he was secretary, and, latterly, treasurer of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and one of the acts of the last week of his life was to send a beautifully-worded letter to the secretary, along with the balance-sheet for the public meeting of the society.
As a Methodist, it would, indeed, be difficult to give an adequate picture of his spirit and manner. His was not the demonstrative style. He believed that "actions speak louder than words." He was was no bigot. He believed that religion was to live Christ's life, and this led him to deeds of beneficence which were unostentatious, yet of such a character as to stimulate other good works. There was no cant or clap-trap about him, rather a religious tone, like a golden. thread in a pattern enriching, mellowing, and causing to shine out his gentle nature.
He took the keenest interest in the building of Rose Mount Chapel and School; also in the erection of Salisbury Street Mission Chapel, and the renovation of the historic Thomas Street (now called by :he name of Victoria Street) Chapel. To all these schemes he was a liberal contributor, and often had he expressed the hope that he might see the spire and clock erected at Rose Mount, thereby completing that magnificent pile of buildings. He did live to see a scheme launched to effect this, but its consummation is not yet realised.
He was called upon to fill the highest lay official position in Methodism, and right loyally he responded to the call, and helped in many ways to add to the home comforts of the ministers, and to promote the interests of the Circuit.
His was a life to be imitated. Though dead, he yet speaketh. He was a man to be loved, and though he has gone from us, we are conscious of a deep faith in the fact of a fuller and more perfect life. where we shall know each other. Luther's translation of "give rest" quicken afresh-is too often overlooked, and our friend certainly looked to a rest which meant fresh life, fresh faith, fresh enthusiasm fresh powers for more work, and we have a sure and certain hope that our departed brother is now iii the enjoyment of this rest.
Our desire is that the great Head of the Church will allow his mantle to fall upon our young men, causing them to be willing to fight the battles of the Church, and to live lives of self-immolation, so that Christ may be all in all.
" Lives of good men should remind us
We may make our lives sublime."
The funeral took place on March 19th, at Braddan Cemetery, and was largely attended. The services in the chapel and at the graveside were conducted by the Rev. C. H. Floyd and the Rev H. J. Sugden, Wesleyan ministers, the ceremony being of an impressive nature throughout.
The Rev C. H. Floyd said: Before we go to the grave-side to pay out tribute of affectionate respect to our departed friend, I will say a few words As you all know he was an uncommonly modest man, and I know that I shall be acting according to the wishes of the family if I say very little. indeed about him this morning. He was a very unostentatious man, and, as far as I can judge, did not wish in any respect to be brought to the front; and yet you know that he did not live to himself. He was a generous supporter of his own religious community, he sympathised thoroughly with the work of other Christian churches; he took a prominent part in philanthropic work in the town in which he lived so long; and we are all quite sure of one thing-if he were here this morning to speak for himself, he would ascribe whatever good was in him to the grace of God; and we say it was through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that he gained the power to maintain a good reputatation and to serve God in the every-day occupations of of life. He has gone now where bereavement does not come. unless I am mistaken, he never quite got over the loss of his wife some years ago. He was, on the whole, a very reserved man, but I knew enough of him in the very brief period of acquaintance which we have had to know that he was quite a humble man, and we must be thankful now that he has gone to his rest. Some of us hoped that he would be spared to us a little longer, but he lived to a good age, and we must all try, by the grace of God, so to live that, by and bye, we may join him and other dear friends who have gone before to the world of light and purity, to the world of everlasting blessedness.
(By James Redpath.)
To write the "In Memoriam" of a friend to whom one is closely endeared by the sympathy of principles and pursuits is, indeed, a melancholy task; and any animating reflection is as welcome to the bereaved heart as the dew-drop to the thirsty grass. Happily, those inspiring reflections are to hand in this case. The painter who is trying to brow on the canvas a scene that embodies a great principle or principles, is inspired, as each combination of colours produces the desired effect. And, in like manner, the writer of this sketch finds inspiration and blessing in recording-even in an imperfect way-some of those noble features which characterised one whose life was an impersonation of those principles which, by their nature, are eternal.
Mr John Thomas Garrett was born in 1869, on the slopes of that popular and picturesque glen known as Little London. His parents were exemplary Methodists. From their precepts he got his first religious instruction, and from their example he imbibed those high principles which he ever exercised in all the details of life. Brought up in a truly ideal home, where he breathed the purest moral atmosphere, we wonder not that he early sought and found salvation. He soon became a Sunday-School teacher, where he, by his kindness and patience, won for himself the respect and affection of his class. Some four years ago, he then having moved to Lambfell, his name was found on our Circuit plan-Peel Circuit. As a preacher, his manner was homely, and his sermons strictly practical. Without any pretensions to extraordinary erudition, he saw by a sublime emotion the bearing of a passage of Scripture. He saw the truth clearly, because he felt truly. His discourses were the result of careful thought and study. He was not one of those clever off-handed persons who could do a thing without touching it, but a steady plodding, patient servant of detail. His aim was not to be admired by men, but to be understood. Whilst disclaiming greatness, he unconsciously achieved the greatness of simplicity. He was no theoriser, or recounter of other men's opinions, but he believed, and therefore spoke. He had no "doubts" to air, but a living and joyous conviction to proclaim. He was not the one to analyse the heavenly manna; it was his policy to feed thereon, not grow strong in the Lord. He did not speculate as to the source of the " Water of Life," but rather "tasted" that the "Lord was gracious." Intimate as he was with some of the "questions" of higher criticism and scholarship, yet he was undisturbed, because he felt his feet upon the Rock of Ages. Important and noteworthy as are the above characteristics in any preacher, they did not constitute the chief merit of our deceased brother, as far as his pulpit work was concerned. It was the fervency and comprehensiveness of his prayers in the pulpit that rendered his public ministrations so profitable, and even effective. He was great in the highest things of the human soul-communion with God. And as his soul went out in that communion, he discovered to the minds of his hearers their many needs in the various relationships of human life and activity, and also pleaded for the Spirit's manifestation with an unction and faith that indicated his nearness to " The Secret of Power." He was a man who had no distance to travel from any mental occupation to the sanctuary of religious communion. "He prayeth best who loveth best." The earnestness with which he laboured in the cause of God in the capacities of local preacher and Sabbath-school teacher; the close attention he gave to the affairs of the Methodist Church-the regularity with which he attended our conventions and quarterly meetings is a rebuke to our indolence, and an incentive to duty. His death (in these particulars) will cause a vacancy which will be difficult to fill. But personality is above office, and if ever this was true in the case of any man, it was here. Our departed friend was far better than any of his best actions. His soul was greater than his noblest deeds. The deed is too often greater than the heart; the action nobler than the man. To know him, was to become attached to him. He could counsel without haughtiness, and reprove without scorn. Modesty and of a retiring nature, he never inveighed against the play of wit, or the music of laughter. He was kind, manly, genial, brotherly, full of sympathy with the frailties of men, mingling in the common sorrow and in the common cheerfulness of human life. Strength and gentleness combined in grandest harmony. Inflexible in his adhesion to the right, he won for himself a revenue of affection. His life and character is an eloquent testimony to the saving power of the truth, -as it is in Jesus.
" He in his heart was ever meek and humble,
And yet with royal grace his numbers ra i,
As he foresaw how all those false should crumble
Before the free uplifted soul of Man."
And now that he is "called home ties of affection being snapped by a separation which wrung our hearts with grief inexpressible-may it be our wisdom to improve the occasion in the name of his and our God by imitating his faith, his guilelessness, his transparent -goodness, and his hearty resignation to the will of God, whim he ever exemplified when in health, and which became truly beautiful when he felt the " hand of God was upon him." We extend our sympathy to those who live t) mourn his loss. And should we not weep?
" Jesus wept," and why ? Because he loved. Our firm hope in a personal immortality sends an illuminating ray of joyous expectation through the dark and dreary night of bereavement, and our anticipations of an early re-union on the resurrection morn leads us not to say-Farewell! but Good-Night, beloved!
Only good-night, beloved, not farewell, Until we meet again before His throne, Clothed in the spotless robes He gives His own,
'Until we know as we are known
Alderman W. Goldsmith, Lay Representative to Conference.
Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2006