Explanation by the late Gawin Kirkham
[de tekst komt van
webpagina van Peter Millward]
The accompanying Explanation of "THE BROAD AND THE NARROW WAY" Picture
was translated from the original German, by Miss Marriott, a Mildmay
Deaconess. But as I have been twenty years in finding out what I now
know of the origin and history of the picture, it is but right that this
knowledge should be placed within the reach of others. Hence the
following narrative has been prepared.
A VISIT TO HOLLAND.
My first visit to the Continent was in August, 1867, when, in the
providence of God, I attended the Fifth General Conference of the
Evangelical Alliance, held for ten days in Amsterdam. This led to two
other visits in the two following years by invitation of Dutch friends,
so that altogether I spent ten weeks in Holland.
Two important results followed, viz.: the revival there of open-air
preaching; and the bringing to England of "My Dutch Picture."
THE DUTCH AND STREET PREACHING.
With reference to the first result, I need only say here that, though
threatened with imprisonment if I attempted street preaching, yet on my
second visit it was allowed by the authorities, and taken up by the
Dutch themselves, led by Mr.Isaac Esser, of the Hague. Such a complete
change was wrought thereby, under the blessing of God, in a bad street
in the Hague, that the Burgomaster declared, "One good street-Preacher
is worth ten policemen "—a saying which has since become famous.
WHERE I FOUND THE PICTURE.
The purpose of my second visit was to preach the Gospel, which I did by
interpretation, and with manifest blessing, having Robert Craig as my
fellow-labourer. We were the guests of Mr. H. de Hoogh, a kind
bookseller, at 76, Nieuwendijk, Amsterdam. Here we arrived on January 31st, 1868. Our host had a Dutch copy of this
Picture in his shop window. Next day I saw it for the first time, and
was at once attracted by it. Day by day I looked at, and tried to
understand its meaning; and I brought a copy to England on my return.
Friends to whom it was shown were deeply interested; and soon after, at
my request, the Dutch Explanation was translated into English, by
Frederick Emmighausen, a young Dutchman, residing in London, and
HOW I BECAME ITS EXPOUNDER.
It was soon evident that there was a living power in the Picture; and I
conceived the idea of expounding it in public. For this purpose I had an
enlarged copy painted, succeeded by three others, each larger than its
predecessor. The last—the one I now use—was painted by Henry Bevis,
scene painter, 140, Pentonville Hill, London, and is nine feet wide and
twelve feet long. It is painted in dulled oils, suspended on an
ingenious frame, and lighted by a "new quintuple dual illuminator "—five
duplex lamps in one - (both invented by Mr. Leonard Todd) placed at its
foot. From these copies I have lectured in public 909 times in eighteen
years to tens of thousands of people.
"IN JOURNEYINGS OFTEN."
The Picture has thus been exhibited and expounded, in-doors and out, in
the principal towns in England: and last year it travelled "from Land's
End to John O'Groat's House;" for I spent eighteen days in Devon and
Cornwall, and sixteen in Scotland, taking a fresh town almost every
night. The exposition is varied, according to the kind of audience, or
by the leading of the Spirit; and it has probably never been twice in
the same words during all these years. I am guided chiefly by the
original Explanation, but introduce many English incidents and
illustrations. I am deeply indebted to my dear friend, Charles L.Young,
of Mildmay, who, with unfailing devotion, has accompanied me hundreds of
times to point out the objects in the Picture while I explain it, and
has sometimes taken my place as expositor also.
A STRIKING COINCIDENCE.
I am comforted in these manifold journeyings, which necessarily often
keep me out late at night, by regarding this exposition as part of my
life-work.This is confirmed by the time when the Picture first attracted
my attention; for hardly had the grave closed over the earthly remains
of the designer when my eyes were directed to her work in the shop
window in Amsterdam. Thus the Picture fell from her hands into mine, and
began a new life by being turned into a new tongue, and so becoming
accessible to the whole English-Speaking world.
ENLIGHTENED AT LAST.
All my lecturing copies were painted with Dutch texts, and I
familiarized the public with the title, "My Dutch Picture." But the
words, "from the German," at the end of the Dutch "explanation," led me
to enquire about the original; for I found I had only a version of it.
For a while all enquiries were fruitless. The first light came on the 15th of August, 1882, from the
Rev.C.A.Gollmer, a German missionary, who had long laboured in Africa
for the Church Missionary Society, and who died December 23rd, 1886. He
informed me that Mrs. Charlotte Reihlen, of Stuttgart, was the original
designer, and secured me two copies of the Picture from the German
Evangelical Society, By whom it was published. These were accompanied by
the original German "explanation," which I then had translated and
published in English.
THE REAL STORY OF THE PICTURE.
At last I obtained the story of the Picture from the family of the
designer. It reached me on the 26th of January, 1887, through Baron
Julius von Gemmingen, of Gernsbach, to whom I had addressed a series of
questions on the subject the previous year.The story is from the pen of
Mr. Adolf Reihlen, of Stuttgart. Writing to the Baron, he says "It is a
matter of great joy to me to think that this noble picture, the
effluence of our memorable mother's deep piety of heart, today inspires
thousands so vividly, and with the same freshness for God's Kingdom as
it did twenty-five years ago. To my memory it was six years before her
death, which occurred on the 21st of January, 1868, at the age of
sixty-three, that our departed mother formed the idea of having a noble
engraving of THE BROAD AND THE NARROW WAY, that it might be circulated
freely among the people. "Our dear mother was, as you know, gifted with
very fine taste, but as she knew nothing whatever of the art of drawing,
she looked for a pious artist, who would be able to put her ideas on
paper with full understanding and inspiration. In this endeavour she
continued till she found in the person of Herr Schacher a really pious
artist. He was the son of an excellent and godly tutor at the Royal
Grammar School here. Dear mother now told him accurately what she
wanted; and he designed the chief parts of the Picture. These were again
criticised by our dear mother, and altered according to her own mind,
till she declared herself fully satisfied. My brother, Theodore,
assisted my mother, specially by visiting frequently Herr Schacher; and
he also did great service by his taste for the aesthetic in grouping.
Herr Schacher died soon after, still a young man. "A real picture in oil
or water colours never existed; but the lithograph originated from three
or four chief sketches. These original sketches are evidently not in
existence now. However, it does not matter much; for I remember
distinctly how at the time dear mother only used them as a kind of
framework to bring the picture at last into the perfect form. "As to 'an
earlier representation of the two ways,' mentioned in the EXPLANATION, I
remember from my childhood a picture which bore the title. But that
engraving was drawn with little spirit or life, and was rather roughly
executed. But it is indisputable that even thirty or forty years
previously, this rough engraving contained the principal idea of our
dear mother's Picture. However, it was just the endeavour of our dear
mother to create in her Picture a richer, a more perfect, and a
nobler illustration of the idea. "The 'Explanation of the Picture'
originated also from dear mother. In this dear Theodore (now deceased)
principally assisted her. It is natural that the Picture and Explanation
are from one mould,—I should like to say by inspiration of dear mother,
and the assistance of Theodore and the pious artist Schacher."
THE DAUGHTER'S STORY.
This is a charming tribute to a mother's gifts and graces, and is
invaluable as giving the true origin of the picture. It was supplemented
by a statement from one of Mrs. Reihlen's daughters,communicated in
October, 1887, to Mrs. Pooley, of Bath, by Mr.E. Millard, who has
laboured in Austria forty years for the British and Foreign Bible
Society "I succeeded only yesterday in getting an interview with Mrs.
Stammbach, the daughter of Mrs. Reihlen. It seems that the print,
roughly and imperfectly sketched, was found about seventy years ago by a
Mr. G. W. Hoffmann (the founder of Kornthal, a place near Stuttgart),
among some stray papers, of which no further account can be given. This
picture was shown to Mrs. Reihlen, of Stuttgart, as a curiosity. A year
or two later several copies of the same print casually fell into her
hands with some waste paper. She was impressed by this circumstance, and
eventually produced her own Picture, greatly improved and enlarged. A
Pastor Israel, still living at Stuttgart, travelling in Holland, took
some of these copies with him for circulation. He gave one to Jonkheer
A. M. C. van Asch van Wijck, a judge, residing in Utrecht."
THE DUTCH PUBLISHER'S STORY.
Mr.H.de Hoogh, the publisher of the Dutch Edition, supplements this
statement by saying he received a copy from this judge, translated it
into Dutch, published it in 1867, and sold 10,000 copies. We have thus a
clear account, not only of the German origin of the Picture, but of its
translation and publication into Dutch.
A PERSONAL INTERVIEW.
On the 24th of last April Mr. Adolf Reihlen, the writer of the first of
these two statements, called upon me at my office (Open-air Mission),
and gave me some additional particulars of his mother. She owed her
conversion to a German preacher, named Ludwig Hofacker. This change
made her husband furious, and he went off to America. There the Lord
convicted him of sin, and he returned home, saying, "I was in the wrong;
you are right," and henceforth had fellowship with her in the many good
works to which her life was devoted. One of them was a Deaconess House,
which she founded: another was a Middle-class School for Girls, founded
in 1841, in which between 500 and 600 have since been educated. These
were in Stuttgart, the capital of the kingdom of Württemberg. As they
were wealthy, and were now one in the Lord, they gave freely of their
substance to the Lord's work. It was not surprising to hear this good
son say of so honoured a mother, "I liked her immensely!" He added that
two of her favourite books were John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and
Richard Baxter's Saint's Rest.
THE ENGLISH EDITION.
Resuming my own narrative, I now come to the production of the English
edition of the Picture. After my lectures people naturally wanted the
Picture. So when 4,000 Dutch copies had been imported and sold, Messrs.
MORGAN AND SCOTT issued an English Shilling Edition, in October, 1883.
The size was the same as that of the German and Dutch, viz., nineteen
inches by twenty-four, and, like them, it was tinted only. But when a
pretty edition in six colours was produced, it became first favourite
with the public, and is now the only one printed. So great has been the
demand that 50,000 copies have been sold in five years; and it has been
carried to the ends of the earth. At the same time (October, 1883) a
miniature copy of the Picture was engraved and printed on the title page
of the Explanation. The present issue brings the total of this
explanation in English to 100,000.
THE POWER OF A PICTURE.
Such are some of the results arising from a casual look at a picture in
a shop window at Amsterdam by an English visitor more than twenty years
ago. But other results of far more importance have followed; for I
venture to hope that thousands have been influenced for good, and not a
few soundly converted to God by the lecture, the Picture, and the
Explanation. This is testified by a considerable number of letters,
which I gratefully treasure.
THE PICTURE CRITICISED
But, on the other hand, the Picture has been criticised. Some have found
fault because the Cross is introduced; and others that vice is
represented as well as virtue. These critics have also suggested several
alterations, all of which I have firmly opposed. I regard it as my
mission to expound the Picture, and to transmit it to posterity as near
the original as possible. It is easy to criticise an allegorical
Picture, as no two independent minds would form the same design. But as
this is on sound, evangelical, Scriptural lines, I prefer that it should
Admirable as is the arrangement of the hundred texts in the Explanation,
and clear as that Explanation generally is, yet some details are left
obscure. I am often asked why the Prodical Son is on ground included in
the Narrow Way. My own impression is that he is intended to represent a
backslider, and hence he is restored and welcomed by his father.
Otherwise he must return and come in by the STRAIT GATE. Another
unexplained point is the gap in the fence dividing the two ways. I have
seen another picture, in German, somewhat after the style of this, in
which all in the Narrow Way carried crosses, so that if any turned aside
into the Broad Way they were known by this emblem; and my impression is
that the preacher in the Broad Road was sent there to restore these
wanderers; and that the gap was made for them to return by. The Preacher in the foreground was intended to represent Samuel Hebich,
a successful missionary in the East Indies—so Mr. Adolf Reihlen told me.
But the one in the Narrow Way, Surrounded by a crowd, is not in the
original, but was added by the Dutch. The two colours on the guide-post
in the foreground are, as stated in the Explanation, indicative of TWO
DESTINIES, according to the decision made. Guide-posts in Württemberg
are painted by the Government, in the Württemberg colours, black and
red, and these suggested to Mrs. Reihlen the two DESTINIES of which she
THE DESIGNER AND THE EXPOUNDER.
The portraits in this edition have been specially engraved for it. Mrs.
Reihlen's is from a photograph taken in Stuttgart in 1865, and which was
presented to me this year by Mr. Adolf Reihlen. Although I can never
expect to create in others an enthusiasm in this subject equal to my
own; yet I have ventured to put on record this STORY OF A PICTURE in the
humble hope that it may deepen the interest of an ever-widening circle,
both in the Picture and its Explanation. I therefore commend it to Him
whose Spirit taught '' a vanish'd hand," and " a voice that is still,"
to write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that
readeth it." (Hab.2:2.)
GAWIN KIRKHAM. 14, Duke Street, Adelphi, London, October, 1888.
The beloved writer of the above sketch passed away to his eternal rest
and reward on Sunday, May 8th, 1892. His last work on earth was to
lecture on his Picture at Sheffield only six days before his death. Of
him it may be truly said—he fought a good fight; he finished his course;
he kept the faith.
This is an extract from Gawin Kirkham's "History and Explanation
of the picture "The Broad and The Narrow Way". [ca. 1885]
Also included in the booklet is Mrs. Charlotte Reihlen's
original German "explanation," translated and published in English.