THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE EPIPHANY
As the Oxford Mission's work moves forward in the new century it is good to look back now and then on those who started that work so long ago, and to recognise the gifts they brought to it. The story of Marsham Argles is a sad one.
The Revd. Marsham Frederick Argles (from his family archives) Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford and Principal of St. Stephen's House, Oxford (Theological College), he went out to the Oxford Mission to Calcutta in 1881.
Mr. Argles had scarcely been twelve months in Calcutta when his health gave way and he was ordered home for what it was hoped would only be a few months. But the illness was more serious than was supposed and he died in 1883, within a fortnight of his arrival in England.
His loss was a heavy one. His special gifts, the saintliness of his life, his keen enthusiasm for the work took away from the Mission one who could ill be spared. Mr. Gore in an article in The Guardian speaking of his death said:
"The Church of England from the point of view of her own apparent needs has reason to deplore deeply the untimely loss of the Revd. Marsham Frederick Argles. We have not too many men who combine with intelligence and ability an unwavering and persistent strength of conviction and purpose. The words in the Burial Service - 'steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord' - are the best description of his character.
"He was pre-eminently simple, gentle, truthful and at all times rigorously obedient to conscience. In faith and practice wholly catholic, he seemed to give himself specially among Christian duties to the cultivation of prayer and fasting. Wherever he was, he was for ever diffusing around him an atmosphere of steadiness, patience and happiness; he was intolerant of nothing but sin, indolence or unhopefulness in Christians. He was full of an affection strong and deep rather than demonstrative.
"Such he was, and as he grew without check from his first coming up to Oxford; and so there was steadily developed and matured in him that temper of cheerful discipline which made a 'religious life' seem natural to him and that vocation to missionary work the first consciousness of which dated from his boyhood. To this vocation he responded so loyally that it would have been, as he said just before he left England, 'a greater self-denial to him to stay at home than to go to India'; and to it he finally sacrificed his life.
"His friends would agree that they have never known a character which it is more easy to think of in the tranquil waiting state of Paradise".