Memorial Service for Mr. W.T. Stead: a Notable Tribute
The Times (April 26, 1912) p. 10
Mr. Stead’s restless and ardent nature aroused many antagonisms during his lifetime; but his death has made it abundantly plain that he had troops of friends. Many of those who differed most profoundly from his methods recognized the sincerity of his aims and the disinterestedness of his character, while the circumstances of his death have called forth universal sympathy.
The memorial service at Westminster Chapel last evening was a notable tribute to a striking personality. The building seats 2,500 people, and it was completely full. People of all classes attended to show respect for Mr. Stead’s memory. The Queen-Mother was represented; there were present representatives of foreign States, distinguished pro-Consuls, Cabinet Ministers, workers in many fields of social reform, political organizers, representative journalists, and sympathizers of almost every shade of religious and political opinion. Lord Grey, Lord Milner, Lord Haldane, Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. John Burns, and many others prominent in public life were to be seen in a congregation such as only a very real sense of personal loss could have caused to assemble.
The service was entirely in keeping with those traditions of Nonconformist worship in which Mr. Stead was brought up; and no one who knew the man could help feeling that it was just such a service as he himself would have approved. It was conducted by Dr. Campbell Morgan, the minister of Westminster Chapel, and was opened with the Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer. Then followed the hearty Congregational singing of Mr. Stead’s favourite hymn, “Begone, unbelief.” He has described this hymn as “a lifebuoy, keeping my head above the waves when the sea raged and was tempestuous and when all else failed.” It was followed by a prayer. After the prayer came Dr. Watts’s noble paraphrase of the 90th Psalm, “O God, our help in Ages Past.”
At the conclusion of the hymn Dr. Clifford delivered an address in which, from the standpoint of a friend of the standing of more than a quarter of a century, he reviewed the life of Mr. Stead. He spoke of his enthusiasm, his optimism, his restless and untiring zeal in all causes which appealed to his sympathies, and of his unfailing faith in God. His intimate sense of the presence of God was the dominating influence of his life; and it was borne witness to by the last letter written by him from the . In this letter he wrote, after speaking of his mission to America:—”What else I am to do, I don’t know. I am awaiting my marching orders, being assured that He who has called me will make known His good will and pleasure in due season.” Dr. Clifford read messages of sympathy from many quarters, among them being one from Queen Alexandra. He concluded his address with some appropriate lines from Matthew Arnold’s well-known poem, “Rugby Chapel.”
After the address the hymn “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” was sung, and the service ended with the Benediction. The organist then played the “Hallelujah Chorus” from the Messiah. It was explained that this was felt to be more appropriate than the “Dead March,” and that the choice had the approval of Mr. Stead’s family. All remained reverently standing till the music had ceased, and the large congregation then silently dispersed.
SOME OF THOSE PRESENT.
Queen Alexandra was represented by Major-General Brocklehurst.
The members of the family present included Dr. Wilson, representing Mrs. Stead, Mr. Henry Stead (son) and Mrs. Henry Stead. Mr. Alfred Stead (son), Miss Pearl Stead (daughter), the Rev. Herbert Stead (brother), and Mr. J. E. Stead (brother).
Among others present were:—
The Servian Minister, M. Constantin ,T. Mincoff (First Secretary of the Bulgarian Legation) representing the Bulgarian Minister, M. Triana (European Representative of the Colombian Republic), the Hon. Eric Drummond, representing the Prime Minister, Lord Esher, Lord Weardale, the Master of Elibank. M.P., Lady Warwick, Mr. Noel Buxton, M.P., Mr. Arnold Rowntree, M.P. Mr. Arthur Henderson, M.P., Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, M.P., Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Ottley, Miss Haldane, Lady Runciman, Sir T. Vezey Strong, Sir Henry Lunn, Mr. Moreton Frewen, M.P., Mr. Massingham, Mr. W. M. Crook, Mr. E. T. Cook, Mr. William Hill, Mr. J. A. Spender, Mme. Novikoff, Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, Mrs. T. P. Richter, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Brittain, Mr. Clement Shorter, Mr. Fisher Unwin, Mr. A. M. Carlisle, and Mr. Parton (West End manager of the White Star Line).
TRIBUTES FROM MANY LANDS.
A large number of messages of sympathy were announced. Queen Alexandra telegraphed:—
[“]Do in my name let family know how much I grieve for them all.[“]
The Convention at which Mr. Stead was to speak in the United States telegraphed:—”The whole Committee of the Men and Religion Movement and our great Convention send deepest, most profound sympathy. We are shocked beyond all expression. May God comfort you all.—FRED B. SMITH.”
Mr. William B. Howland telegraphed:—”Sincerest sympathy from Outlook staff.”
General Botha, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, telegraphed to Sir Richard Solomon:— “Please convey to Mrs. Stead our deepest sympathy with her in her terrible bereavement. South Africa mourns with her.”
Ex-President Steyn telegraphed from South Africa:—” Heartfelt sympathy. Boers deeply deplore the death of their good friend.”
From Johannesburg came the following message :— “Many friends and admirers here offer deep sympathy in your great loss.”
The Bulgarian Premier telegraphed from, Bulgaria :—”The Times brings me appalling news [of the] death of my old and dear friend. Please accept expression of my deepest sorrow and sympathy.— GUESHOFF.”
The following message came from Finland:—
“To H. Stead, Junior:—We the chairmen of Society of Old Finnish Journalists, Young Finnish Press Association, and Society of Swedish Journalists in Finland have learned with deepest regret and concern the untimely loss of William Stead, desire to express on behalf of the Finnish Press our sincerest sympathy with you in your great sorrow, and convey our tribute of esteem and gratitude to the memory of the deceased, who was the friend of Finland. His noble work confirms our hope that right and brotherhood will triumph, and assures even small nations of their right to existence.”
The following telegram was received by Mrs. Stead from Cairo:—”We. the members of the Egyptian Committee for succouring Tripoli, unanimously express our deep and sincere sympathy with you in the terrible loss you have sustained under circumstances thrilling humanity with pain and pity. The memory of your deeply regretted husband will long be cherished in Egypt and other countries of the near East, where a lasting debt of gratitude is due to him for his generous and unceasing efforts to serve the cause of peace, and we join in the universal expression of admiration for his love of justice and humanity. He was truly the champion of the oppressed nations of mankind, and his loss will be felt throughout the world.—The President, PRINCE OMAR TOUSSOUN.”
There was also a message from the Gaekwar of Baroda.
On a wreath of foliage and red flowers suspended in front of the pulpit was the inscription:—
” In loving memory of W. T. Stead, from the 40,000 members of the Lancashire and Cheshire Federation of Christian Endeavour and the International Brotherhood.
“He lived in the service of those who suffered; he died among them.”