Sunday, 17 October 2021

John Lawrence Whitaker (born July 12th 1864 and died March 1st 1911)

 John Lawrence Whitaker

(July 12th 1864 - March 1st 1911)


"Below we have the reports gathered from old newspapers, mainly the Haslingden Gazette which give a full account of the funeral of Mr. Whitaker which was a very grand affair and possibly the largest funeral procession ever seen within Haslingden. They also give account to his many services throughout his life he gave to our town. The read is very detailed and written in a way compatable to the period with lots of warmth offered through its author/s. We are sure you will enjoy the reporting

There is so much going on here and it offers up far more than a "obituary" and it is a brilliant social history lesson to learn, it is mentioned about the poor Irish families of Pleasant Street who had all come out to respect Mr. Whitaker. It mentions how the shops in the town had shut for the day and that the shutters had been pulled down. There are so many interesting social history topics to be found within these reports.

May I recommend that the "sermons" are read fully, it is special to be able to read this fine sermon and gives an idea of how sermons were prepared back in the early 1900's


The death took place suddenly on Wednesday night at Haslingden in his 46th year, of Mr. John Lawrence Whitaker, head of Whitaker, Hibbert and Evans, solicitors of Haslingden and Bacup.  Mr. Whitaker who leaves a widow and two children was admitted in 1886 and was probably the best known advocate in Rossendale. He underwent an operation for appendicitis. (extract taken from the Rochdale Times on 4th March 1911)

Death of J.L. Whitaker

"An irreparable loss to Haslingden"

(Extract taken from the Haslingden Gazette - 4th March 1911)

Haslingden and district is feeling deep pain and mourns over the irreparable loss it has sustained by the death, which occurred about seven o'clock on Wednesday evening, of Mr. John Lawrence Whitaker, of West Cliff, and of the firm of Messrs. Whitaker, Hibber, and Evans, solicitors.

Only 46 years of age - the study and work of a restless energy made him look older, and this view was assisted by his ripened judgment - Mr. Whitaker has been stricken down in what should have been the prime of his life, the prime of a life capable o' rendering service of the highest possible quality to his fellow men, and he loved well his fellow men of all sorts and conditions. To Haslingden and to the district his death is no ordinary loss.  Even the word calamity barely describes it.  One can form but a vague idea of what it involves to those who stood nearest and dearest to him.  To these sympathy and condolence seem poor things to offer, but a whole community is unitedly sympathising and condoling with them over the loss of one whom the community itself had long held in highest affection.


Mr. Whitaker was the only son of the late Mr. Lawrence Whitaker of Devonshire-place, who was a member of Haslingden Town Council, and he was thus a member of an old and prominent Haslingden family.  He was educated at Ashbourne Grammar School, Derbyshire and afterwards, we believe at Leyburn, Yorkshire.  He served his articles as a solicitor with Messrs. J. R. Radcliffe, of Blackburn and after leaving them remained on the closest terms of friendship with the members of that firm. 

At the age of 23 Mr. Whitaker commenced pratice in Haslingden and Bacup in partnership with Mr. Hibbert under the syle of Whitaker and Hibbert. Circumstances so turned out that Mr. Whitaker became the active member of the firm, and so it was largely due to him that the firm quickly became established, and developed a practice of ever increasing importance.  In chamber work his rare judgement was of great value.  As an advocate he held a very high reputation both among the legal profession and among the general public.  The very fact that a man of such integrity as Mr. Whitaker was associated with a case came to imply that there was something about his side of it that demanded consideration.  He never troubled to make use of trivial technical objections, but relied on his case as a whole, and invested it with all the strength he could impart to it.  He did not much care what weight of evidence or argument was arrayed against him. He pursued his course calmly and with determination that never flinched or wavered.  His knowledge of the law and its byeways was singularly compete.  He seemed never to be taken by surprise by a learned friend's quotation of a decision affecting a point at issue. He seemed to know all about the decision quoted, and in what circumstances it was given.  Any man who had him as an advocate knew that whatever the result, when Mr. Whitaker had left his case with the decision of the Court the best had been done for him that could be done.  A little over three years ago Mr. Oswald C. Evans a relative of Mr. Whitaker, who had served his articles with him, was taken into the firm, which then took the name of Whitaker, Hibbert, and Evans.

Just after he commenced to practice (about the age of 23) Mr. Whitaker married a daughter of the late Mr. Lawrence Whitaker, J.P., of Highfield, Haslingden, who was uncle to his (deceased's father.) He is survived by his widow, one daughter of 20 years and one son of 11 years.


It is a most remarkable thing that Mr. Whitaker touched life at many points and wielded influences in many directions, but that connected with him there are so comparively few things that usually go to the making of a biography.  The simple explanation is that although public positions and offices might have been heaped on him he accepted very few.  This by no means implies that he avoided responsibilities. Few men could have a higher regard for the responsibilities of a citizen than he had; none could have discharged those duties with greater conscientioness or distinction than he did.

Bury Road Baptist Chapel and Sunday School probably stood with him next nearest to his home and his office, and for some years he had been the teacher of the men's class at that school, and in that capacity rendering service o'characteristic value. He did much for local Nonconfirmity - for Nonconformity as religion rather than as Non-confirmity. He was legal adviser to the Free Church Council.  He gave evidence of his broad mindedness and of his strong desire to see religious organisations doing more effective work when at the annual Sunday School Conference of the Haslingden Free Church Council in 1908, he urged that Sunday Schools should, during the week days, be utilised for such recreations as draughts, dominoes, billiards, and cards, and maintained his opinion in face of a strong opposition led by Mr. Alfred Smethurst, J.P., The Rev. T.C. Showell had to admit that Mr. Whitaker argued with "relentless logic," and that phrase well summed up Mr. Whitaker's position in any argument or debate into which he threw himself.


Mr. Whitaker's devotion to Liberalism can have been little if any less than his devotion to religious work.  We can recall only one instance of his having any official connection with the party, that being when some years ago he was chairman of the Haslingden Liberal Association, but in politics no local man has counted so much as he did.  He was deeply imbued with the principles of Liberalism.  No one could for one moment doubt his sincerity in politics.  No doubt this was assisted because he never hesitated to admit a weak point with the utmost willingness; when he had done that he would rely on the strength of general principles. He was an asset of particular value to the party when either in Imperial or in municipal politics they had some unusually knotty question to face, for on such occasions he was ready to respond to invitations to put the Liberal case before the public from the platform.  At a meeting addressed by Mr. L. Harcourt at Haslingden Public Hall in November, and attended by Mrs. Pankhurst and other leading spirits of the Womens Social and Political Union, he showed a courteous resource in dealing with the suffragettes that had not been equalled in other parts of the country.  He, before the meeting, firmly opposed any of the suffragettes being ejected from the meeting.  When the interruptions began he appealed to the audience to allow them to pass without response, and in that way he thought they would get through the meeting without difficulty.

That method was the stroke of a master mind, and it came very near to vanquishing any tendency to disturbance. Mr. Whitaker was a weighty speaker and keen in debate, but through all political differences he preserved a friendly feeling.  He furnished a good instance of how courteousness can be maintained amid political fighting in the municipal election of a few years ago when he opposed the proposal of the Conservative party to elect the late Ald. W.H. Baxter, Mayor of the borough, for he paid a very high tribute to Alderman Baxter as a man and as a member of the Town Council.

Mr. Whitaker was held in very high regard by the Irish party of Haslingden, and it was largely due to him that the Liberal party have generally received material assistance from the Irish people of the town and of the Rossendale Division.

Of other organisations with which Mr. Whitaker was connected may be mentioned his vice-presidency of the Haslingden Social Club, of the Haslingden Blue Ribbon Club, and of the Haslingden Cricket Club. 


There is a tragic parallel in the death of Mr. Whitaker and of his father. A municipal contest in which he was the Liberal candidate undoubtedly contributed to the death of the father.  The serious collapse of the health of their son dates from the General Election of January of last year. In that campaign Mr. Whitaker did a good deal of speaking on behalf of Mr. Harcourt, M.P., of whom he was a great admirer, in parts of the division outside Haslingden.  This work amid severe weather led to his contracting cold, and appendicitis supervened and laid him aside for six weeks. This prevented him from registering his vote for Mr. Harcourt.  Mr. Whitaker never really recovered from that illness, but during last year he entered into a long newspaper controversy - published in the "Gazette" with Mr. J.R. Kebty-Fletcher, former Conservative candidate for Rossendale, now M.P. for Altrincham and he did this in defence of Nonconfirmity.

Since January of last year Mr. Whitaker has had several short spells of ill health, which led him to realise the risks of and to take precautions against a recureence of appendicitis.  His medical adviser, Dr. Harrison, prohibited him from taking active part in the General Election of last December, but Mr. Whitaker spoke briefly at Stonefold, and he followed the course of the fight throughout the country with unabated interest.  His last and most serious illness commenced a week ago last Saturday, and appendicitis returned. On Monday of this week a specilst, Dr. Telford of Manchester, was called in.  He ordered an immediate operation to make use of the last chance, but it was known that it was a remote chance.  The critical thing was that Mr. Whitaker had been so much reduced in strength that there was unlikelihood of his rallying after an operation, and this was the known position last January.  The day after the operation any hope of recovery that might have existed became fainter, and on Wednesday afternoon it was known  that he was passing away.  Death occurred about seven o'clock, and as the news passed through the town it caused unutterable sadness.


It was his persoanlity that made Mr. Whitaker so highly popular with the large number of people who came in contact with him, and even with those who had not had this contact.  He possessed a rare integrity, was cast in an unusual mould.  He made full allowance for human frailty in others, but he himself seemed singularly free from these frailties.  He combined candour with kindness. He had an unmeasurable generosity, and his help for any good cause was always sure.  He had a warm and genial nature, and had always a cheery word of greeting. In moments of leisure he was most companionable.  Fishing was his principal recreation, and on what he reckoned real holidays he had his rod and line.  Those holidays were generally spent at Hawes. He was an omnivorsis reader and a close thinker, and kept himself abreast of current thought. Instead of talking trivialities with a friend or acquaintance he would recall some out of the way incident or opinion, or some expression on current topics, that he had come across in his reading, and by this he would straightaway strike up an interesting conversation. Solely by his personality, without any initiative effort on his own part, he led people to place before him their inmost thoughts because they were sure of kindly consideration and helpful words.

Among the flags at half-mast as a token of regard are those at the Haslingden Liberal Club, Haslingden Conservative Club, Haslingden Irish Nationalist Club, Haslingden Blue Ribbon Club, the Albert Buildings (Pleasant Street), and the Haslingden Cricket Ground.

The funeral will take place this afternoon (Saturday) at half-past two, and the internment will be at the family vault at Bury Road Baptist graveyard.


Although the family are issuing no invitations the funeral this afternoon is to be a public one, and will be attended by various bodies.


At a social held at the Haslingden Social Club on Wednesday night, Councillor J.S. Turner, the president, said that in some respects they met under happy circumstances.  Their gathering was however inexpressibly darkened by the news that Mr. J.L. Whitaker was in a most critical condition. Their hearts went out in sympathy to the troubled family and relatives, and they hoped devoutly that Mr. Whitaker might be restored to those and to the town.  Mr. Whitaker was an old member of the Institute, the predecessor of the Social Club.  He showed a deep interest in the formation of the newer club, and in that work gave much helpful and valuable advice.  They were proud to count him one of their vice presidents.


A meeting of the Haslingden branch of the League of Young Liberals should have been held on Thursday evening, but was disbanded after the carrying of a resolution offering condolence with the family of the late of the late Mr. J.L. Whitaker.  The Haslingden Liberal Association also passed a resolution of sympathy.


At the Accrington County Court, on Thursday, when Judge Hans Hamilton took his seat in the public court his Honour made a reference to the lamented death of Mr. J.L. Whitaker, He said he desired, on behalf of himself, the learned Registrar, and all the officers of the Court, to express their very deep sympathy with the widow and children of the late Mr. John Lawrence Whitaker.  Mr. Whitaker by his manner and ability, endeared himself to all with whom he came in contact.  Everyone about the Court trusted anything he said, and there was no doubt that Court and the Court, attached to it at Haslingden had suffered a serious loss. He desired to express his deep sympathy and the sympathy of all connected with the Court, and he was sure the advocates who had practised with him for so many years would join with him in his expression of sorrow.

Mr. G.N. Slinger said that, on behalf of the members of the Bar practising at that Court, he wished to associate himself with the expressions his Honour had given utterance to.  The late Mr. Whitaker had practised at that Court for about 22 or 23 years, and as the Judge had said he had endeared himself to all his professional brethren.  He was honourable and straightforward representative in his profession, and was always just and honourable in all his dealings. His friends felt most deeply the loss they had sustained.


"An Impressive Funeral"
The Tribute Of a Town

(Extract taken from the Haslingden Gazette - 11th March 1911)

The funeral of the late Mr. John Lawrence Whitaker, solicitor, whose death, due to appendicitis, at the early age of 46, last week came upon Haslingden people with great shock, took place on Saturday afternoon, the internment being in the family vault at Ebenezer Baptist Chapel, the place of worship with which Mr. Whitaker was so closely connected.  The occasion brought forth a public testimony unparelleled in Haslingden so far as living memory can go, and formed a high tribute to Mr. Whitaker's fine, manly character, his unswerving devotion to the people, and the high ideals he maintained in his profession, in politics as a Liberal, and in religion as a Non conformist. 
Invitations were not issued.  The public were allowed to take their own course, and spontaneously representatives of almost every public and semi-public body presented themselves in their strong desire to have some part, however small, in the last rites.  Some of the bodies represented were bodies with which Mr. Whitaker had been associated, but others were bodies to which he had been in opposition.
A vast number of people, composed of all grades, lined the route, and it was evident that all of these were deeply touched.  Flags were at half-mast. Shops were closed and shuttered.  House blinds were drawn.  Perhaps the most touching tribute was that in Pleasant Street, through which the procession passed - a street largely inhabited by poorer classes of Irish descent.  The Irish and the poor of any nationality had always a true friend in Mr. Whitaker, and every blind in Pleasant street was drawn.
The distance from West Cliffe to the Bury Road Chapel is comparively short, and the direct route was taken - Victoria Street, Blackburn road, and Bury road.  The only conveyances were two containing the immediate relatives - Mrs. Whitaker, the daughter (Miss Rose Whitaker), the son (Master Lawrence Whitaker), and Mr. and Mrs. Whipp (brother in-law and sister-in-law, of St. Annes), in the first carriage; and Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Whitaker, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and Miss Rose and Mis Dora Whitaker (sisters).
The order of procession was as follows: - Police;, public bodies; general mourners; professional men; members of the Town Council and Corporation officials; magistrates; Men's Class at Bury road Baptist Sunday School; several of the young women's classes; deacons of the chapel; ministers, and Dr. Harrison, deceased's medical attendant; two carriages containing wreaths; the bearers (members and former members of the deceased's Men's Class), with the coffin; the two carriages containing the immediate relatives; relatives on foot; personal friends; the office staff of Messrs. Whitaker, Hibbert, and Evans.  The bearers were Messrs John Heys, John Grindrod, Edward Barlow, Ralph Hargreaves, Tom Woods, R.H. Warburton, Jas. Willan, W.T. Rishton, Geo. Thorne; Jas. Ramsbottom, Chas. Pickup, Jas. Ashworth.
Among relatives and personal friends on foot were Mr. Wm Whitaker and Mr. Thos Whitaker J.P. (uncles), Mr.L.C. Evans, Mr. Richard Whitaker Evans (Llanelly), Dr. James Smith Whitaker (Hendon), Mr. Harold Whitaker, Mr. Edgar Whipp, Mr. J. Oswald Whitaker (Cousins) (Streatham), Dr. Leonard Youall (Prescott), Rev Mitchell, Mr. Keighley Whitaker, Mr. R.K. Whitaker, Mr. A.K. Whitaker, Mr. Frank Whitaker, Mr. James Harrison, Mr. Arnold Harrison, Master Harold Whitaker, M. Oswald, C. Evans, Mr. J.A. Risque (Manchester) and Mr. Richard Evans, Mr. J.W. Marsden, solicitor Blackburn; Mr. Martin Stanesby, Accrington.


It is possible to give only an indication of how the representative part of the procession was made up.  Messrs. J. Law, J.G. Dean, A. Smethurst, and H. Halstead were among the magistrates present. Mr. G. Baron of the firm of Wright and Baron, solicitors, represented Mr. A. Wright, Clerk to the Magistrates. From Messrs. Woodcock and Sons, solicitors, there were Mr. Jno head of the firm, Mr. Wm Woodcock, and Mr. R.W. Bugler.  Among representatives of the municipal life were Mr. Musgrove (Town Clerk), Mr. J.S. Green (Borough Surveyor), and Alderman Cartin.  The last named also represented the Catholic body.  From the Haslingden Liberal Club and Liberal Association there were Mr. Joe ..twood (president), Councillor J.T. Warburton, Mr.Cephas Spencer, Mr. G. Hindle, Mr. G. Cunliffe, and many of the club members. Mr. R. Cotton (president), Councillor Waddington, Coun Bailey, Mr. H. Hargreaves, Mr. Hartley, Mr.W. H. Thompson represented the Conservative Club; and Councillor J.S. Turner (president), the Haslingden Social Club, of which Mr. Whitaker was a vice president. The Tradesmen's Association had a very large representation, which included Mr. S. Kay (president) and Mr. E. Russell (secretary). 
Others present included Mr. W. Goodhall, president of the Haslingden branch of the National Union of Teachers, Mr. H.A. Collinge, Haslingden Secretary of Education; Councillor Hoyle, chairman of the Free Library Committee, together with Councillor J. Barnes, Mr. W. Cowpe, Mr. J.A. Oates, and Mr. W.M. Whitaker, representing the Book Selection Committee, with the Borough Librarian, Mr. J.W. Whittaker; Councillor Anderton, Mr. W. H. Lonsdale and Mr. Walter Holt, representing the Haslingden Cricket Club of which the deceased was a vice-president and the hon. solicitor; Mr. James McGee and Mr. John Leonard, representing the Haslingden branch of the United Irish League; Inspector Lycett, of the local branc of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, of which branch the deceased gentleman was the hon. solicitor and a generous supporter; the Rev. W. Johnson and Rev J.C. Williams (Wesleyan Methodist Church); the Rev D.B. Davies, the Rev J. Fox; and the Rev J.M. McKeracher (Baptist), the Rev. J.W. Naian (Congregationalist), the Rev. J.W. Clatyon (C.M.C), the Rev. J. Dodd (vicar of Laneside St. Peter's, and the Rev. M. Gledhill of Ansdell, formerly pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church; Dr. Rawsthorne and Mr. R. Isherwood, representing the New Jerusalem Church; Mr. Monks, Liberal agent for Rossendale. Councillor Warburton and Mr. E. Russ... marshalled the procession, which reached almost from the house to the chapel.
The Rev. D.B. Davies, pastor of Bury Road Chapel, conducted service at the house, in the chapel, and at the graveside.  In the church prayers were offered by the Rev. Morton Gledhill and the Rev. J.W. Nairn.  The church was crowded with a congregation representation of every church and denomination in the town.  The hymn, "O God, our Help in Ages Past", was sung.
The coffin was of panelled oak, with brass mountings and was engraved: - John Lawrence Whitaker, born July 12th 1864, died March 1st 1911. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. Cockerill of Blackburn-road.


The floral tributes were from the follow:-
Members of the family,
Mr. and Mrs. Whipp and family,
Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Whitaker and family,
Uncle Tom, Rose, Hannah and Frank, 
Robert and Ruth.
Aunt Maggie and her girls,
Dr. and Mrs. J.A. Harrison,
Jim and Nellie,
Will and Emily,
Belle and Arthur Rothwell,
Eddie and Will,
Alfred and Mary,
Oswald, Ethel and Dick,
Mr., Mrs., and miss Dean.
Mrs. W. E. Codling, Maud and Adeline
Moray and Milicent,
Stella Nairn,
Mr. Stanesby and family,
Mr. Heyworth and family,
Mr. and Misses Chappell,
Mr. Davis and family,
The Mayor and Mayoress,
Mr. and Mrs. Stewart,
Mr and Mrs. Hubert Rawsthorne,
Mr. F. Rowland, Accrington,
Mr. and Mrs. Robertshaw,
Mr and Mrs. Lord, Bacup,
Mr and Mrs Albert Warburton,
Mr. and Mrs Harry Fielding,
Miss Lees and Maggie.
The Office Staff,
The Men's Class, Bury Road.
The Teachers and Scholars of the Intermediate
Department, Bury Road Sunday School.
The Teachers and Scholars of the Junior Department,
Bury Road School.
The Teachers and Scholars of the Primary Department,
Bury Road School.
Ebenezer Baptist Recreation Club.
Hoyle, Hoyle and Co. Rawtenstall
Members of the Haslingden Liberal Club,
Haslingden Liberal Association,
Haslingden Blue Ribbon Club,
Members of the Irish League,
Haslingden Tradesmens Association,
Haslingden Cricket Club Committee.

Service at Bury Road,
Sermon by the Rev. J.W. Nairn

The Rev. D.B. Davies pastor of Bury Road Chapel, was in South Wales when Mr. Whitaker died, and came home in order to take part in the funeral.  As he had to fulfil an engagement in Merthyr Tydvil on Sunday, the services at Bury Road on Sunday morning and evening were taken by the Rev. J.W. Nairn, pastor of Haslingden Congregational Chapel, and a neighbour and close friend of Mr. Whitaker.  Special hymns were not used, but Whittier's hymn, "We may not climb the heavenly steeps," a favourite of Mr. Whitaker's, was sung, and the organist, Mr. J. R. Bradshaw, played "O rest in the Lord."


The Rev J.W. Nairn based his sermon on two texts, "Our friend...... sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep" (John xi., II.); and "God hath provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. xi., 40). The first text, he said takes our thoughts to the home at Bethany, and there is no sweeter name in the range of Christian history than that of the household which contained Mary and her sister and Lazarus.  We must all feel that these three are personal friends of ours, just as, in their lifetime, they were friends of Christ.  Many beautiful traditions had gathered round their flames.  The figure of Lazarus remains in our minds chiefly because of the wonderful miracle by which he was called back from the other side of death by the voice of the Master.   We remember, too, that the raising of Lazarus was, humanly speaking, the immediate cause of the death of Jesus.
Saying that he wished that morning to deal with the question of how it was that after such a notable occurrence as the raising of Lazarus, the mystery of death remains as impenetrable as before, the preacher pointed out that Lazarus never told whathe knew about it.  To the end of his life the seal of silence was unbroken, and it may be that was because he had nothing to say. Perhaps our Lord described the facts literally when he said, "Our friend sleepeth," True, it was the sleep of death.  The soul of this friend of Jesus had quitted the frail tenement of the flesh, but perhaps it had not yet awakened in that glory land, and ere that awakening could take place the voice of Jesus summoned back again the departed spirit to a further experience of love and suffering in this grim world of ours.  When next Lazarus died, however, whenever that may have been, he must have heard the voice of Jesus on the other side of the tomb - the further side, the glory side - bidding him awake out of sleep.  Yet so far as his testimony is concerned, that mystery remains a mystery. Some of us are tempted to exclaim. "Would that Lazarus had spoken!"
"Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who,
Before us passed the Door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the road
Which to discover we must travel too."


The great thing we learn at the grave of Lazarusis the wondrous declaration, "I am the Resurrection and the Life."  It is Jesus who summons the soul from either side of the tomb. Nothing is more inevitable than that we must each face this conflict, and face it alone.  There is no fear of contradiction, no room for argument in the proposition.  You and I must die.  And when death enters our homes and claims one of our loved ones, it compels us to face the fact that to each and all of us the end must come; and we know not how soon.  It was Lord Macaulay who said, and I think with truth, that it is easier for a man to die well than to live well.  Cicero wrote eloquently and beautifully about this great transition.  He compared old age to ripening fruit, and death to the falling of the fruit from the tree. And yet poor Cicero, great and wise and learned as he was, died a pitiful death, shrinking from the steel when the sword of Caesar came.
Sometimes a wicken man dies bravely and to all appearance fearlessly.  Some of you will remember such a character as Sergeant Bothwell,  portrayed for us in a wonderful fashion by Sir Walter Scott in "Old Moriality," He was a bad man, fierce and rude, who lived for life passions and took each day as it came.  On the battle field he was struck down, and in response to his enemy's cry that "he should die as he had lived; hoping nothing, believing nothing," he added "and fearing nothing." But I always think that Bunyan, the poor tinker of Bedford, was a true artist when he painted Christian passing through the cold River of Death, shrinking and fearing, and crying out for help; while all the time his brother Hopeful, whose battles he had fought, was sustaining him in the dread experience, and pointing to the glory on the other side.  Some of the best men die like Christian, and some of the worst like Bothwell.  None of us can be sure in which category we shall be found when the last hour comes.  It were better to prepare to live than to prepare to die.


Said General Wolfe on his way to the taking of Quebec: "I had rather be the author of Gray's "Elegy" than take this city," and as he spoke he repeated the lines -
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth o're gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave."
Os tjat a;;? Is that what we think about death? No; a thousand times No.  Our thoughts dwell on the dread enemy because he ushers into life. The problem is how to meet the change.
"And though, in this lean age forlorn,
Too many a voice may cry
That now shall have no alter morn.
Not yet of these am I.
The man remains, and whatso'er
He wrought of good or brave
Will mould him through the cycle year
That dawns behind the grave."
No, it is not death which is the problem, and least of all our own death.  If you think of death solemnly this morning, it is because it holds in pledge for you some whose souls were and are dearer to you than your own.  Life only has value in relations.  The persistence of a lonely ego is a worthless immortality.  Many here this morning live more in the unseen than they do in the seen.
Thought, feeling, and interest are centred beyond, and the question of questions to them is.  Shall I see my dead again? Ah! surely there has been a glorious awakening in the presence of Jesus, and at the touch of the Master -
"Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through the cypress trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath no learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That life is ever Lord of Death,
And love can never lose its own!"


Permit me to tell you in homely fashion my thoughts about the Great Transition. Our flesly garment is the soul's expression; but it is also the soul's limitation.  By it we know and by it we are hindered from knowing.  Death is emancipation. It is the removal of limitations; it is the expansion of consciousness; it is like opening a door and going into the next room; or, better than that, it is like opening a door and going into the wide sunshine.  Life is lived in illusions; death is the key to realities.  Living is dreaming; dying is sinking into dreamless sleep.  Then comes the great awakening.  It is a psychological truth that consciousness is only a corner of personality.
We are more than we are aware of, and to find ourselves we must die.  This is the place of shadows; there is the perfect vision.  Here we gaze upon a picture, a veil, a curtain, a camera obscura on which the light of heaven falls.  There all things are to be discovered in their right relations.  We shall not need to ask what is truth. Questions shall be answered and desires satisfied.
"So when Time's veil shall fall asunder,
The soul may know
No fearful change, nor sudden wonder,
Nor think the weight of mystery under,
But with the upward rise, and with the vastness grow."


But what does this mean? Grow!  How does the soul grow here, save in sacramental relations of love and pain? We only know ourselves, and come to ourselves as we live in the being of others.  Without them we cannot grow, we cannot be made perfect.  It is, therefore, a beautiful reversal of the normal experience when we are assured by the Divine Voice that God has provided some better thing, that even they without us shall not be made perfect.  In a very real sense when death comes to our loved ones, it is we who do the dying.  Yesterday our friends were with us and helped up to enrich our lives.  Today, it may be, all that is left is the dust in the coffin.  The living fact is gone, just as that cloud in the void last night, illumined by the sunshine has melted into nothingness. But we are wrong. Neither of them is gone.  All that existed yesterday exists to-day.  The shutter has descended upon one corner of our experience, but the experience is there all the same.  We have died to it for the time being, but is not some better thing preparing that we may meet it again, glorified? 
Not so long ago, perhaps, some lived their life with you who were very precious to you.  They made you all the man you are.  You learned upon them, looked to them, Lived for them.  Life only had meaning as they entered into it, and has been entirely different since they went away.  Death has taken these dear ones out of your ken.  Are we out of theirs?  I'm not sure; but I believe not. One thing is certain; it is we who have died.  They have fallen asleep, have heard the Master's Voice, and have awakened to the real life, the life that knows no dying.  Has their emancipation expelled us from their thoughts?
Have they forgotten us? And can they forge? "The perfection of the blessed dead," said Dr. Robertson Nicoll, in "The Return from the Cross," "cannot be achieved till the living they wait for come.  We feel we are not worthy now to loose their shoe latebet, or to touch their garment's hem, but since love is love, that must not trouble us.  While they themselves are in regions beyond our views we are to remember them, to look for them, to prepare for them." Death sometimes gives more than it takes.  It is a sacrament. The death of our loved ones lifts us in faith and hope nearer to things eternal.  In the shadow of death we learn many things.  As we think of the holy dead, let us look to the triumph that is to be.
We have something to do for ourselves, for the world, and for God.  Let us do it, as in the light of eternity.  Let us do it as those who watch for the morning, not as those who mourn without hope. Let us do it in the strenth of Him who said, "I am the resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whomsoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die."


It is natural this morning that alter the events of the past week our thoughts should run along such lines.  God in His providence has taken to Himself our friend and brother - beloved Mr. Whitaker.  I am not believer in funeral sermons; the life ought to be the sermon.  And the scene yesterday proved, if proof were needed, that his life had been a living sermon, that it had appealed to hundreds of his fellows, and I am conscious that no words of mine are needed to commend the departed to those gathered here this morning.
And yet I feel that for the glory of the Master whose servant I am  I cannot close without a further word.  The many sided life of our departed brother appended to all sections of the community.  Many who have had token of his love and goodness could rise up today and call him blessed. It was significant of much to watch the anxious faces on Wednesday last and to hear the whispered inquiries as to shether the life of our brother might yet be spared.
The news of his death came as a sad blow to all.  Within a few minutes I was stopped at least half a dozen times with the inquiry. "Is it true?"
And the estimony spoken by each inquirer spoke volumes.  One, a pliceman, said the police in Rossendale had lost a true friend - one who in the police courts never appealed to the gallery, who was ever fair and never tried to score at another's expense, who won the esteem and regards of thos to whom he was opposed.  Another, a political opponent, said "We have too few of his kind, we can ill spare him."  Another declared, "He has been a brother to me and has influenced me to a better life," Yet another, a father, declared,
"He has been a father to my boy, and has made him what he is" And most significant of all, this many sided brother had a very warm place in the hearts of little children.  More than one declared, when the sad news was broken, "We have lost our best friend,"  I have lived long enough beside him to see how implicitly he was trusted by the little ones, and how his large heartedness drew from them their little confidences.  Busy man as he was, he could not deny a hearing to the little child.  He would make time rather than disappoint them. He was their confidant, their friend.
Memories of his goodness of heart, too numerous to relate, crowd in upon me.  One which was characteristic of the man I must relate. Some time ago he came to my door in a hurry, and asked me if I would do him a favour.  He had learned on the way from his office to catch a train for a well earned Easter holiday that a workman known to both of us was seriously ill and in want. And his request was that I should go and do all that was needful, and when he returned like the good Samaritan, he would repay me all. 
His large heartedness would not permit him to enjoy a holiday when he knew another was in suffering and want.  And almost his first call upon his return was to find out what had been done and to personally undertake all responsibility.  I could give many similar instances, but it is unnececesary here amongst those who have known him and loved him so long. Counted by years, his life was short, but counted by deeds he had lived long and accomplished much.  Like the Master he loved and served, he went about doing good and literally gave his life for others.


This church had a warm place in his regard, and the welfare of its young men he had constantly at heart.  He was a born optimist, and was always thinking of the bells that were to ring in the brighter and better times that are yet to be.
And he cherished the thoughts that the young men were to be the heralds of that new Age. He hoped for much from the young men of this church and the town hadlanned for some time the banding together of the young men of all the churches for the furtherance of all that is true and honourable and of good report.  Is it too much to hope that the young men will translate into reality what was in our brother's mind and thought, and carry out this scheme as a memorial of him who is enshrined in all our hearts?  You young men have been greatly priviledge in having such a teacher; great also is your responsibility.
The last evening I spent with him, a fortnight before his death, a friend present related some of his experiences while resident in India.  And among other things he told of a wealthy old Hindoo chief who built huts upon the hillsides in the country to which he sent the convalescent sick and poor from the towns to recruit, and how he regarded his wealth as a talent to be used for the betterment of his fellows.  Meeting Mr. Whitaker the following night, he referred to the conversation of the previous evening and said, "Wasn't he a grand old man that Indian chief! Would that we had more of that Pagan's love in Christian England" These were the last words that he ever spoke to me.  Can each of us here present this morning not resolve that so far as in us lies we will do something to bring about the better times, "When man to man the world o'er shall brothers be."
You would not wish me to close without expressing in a word our heartfelt sympathy with those who have lost more than a friend.  The home at Well Bank always reminded me, as it must have reminded others, of the home at Bethany. Peace, love, and concord seemed always to reign there; and the centre of attraction was an affectionate and loving husband, a devoted father, and a brother beloved. The tie is now severed, andwhat can we say to comfort and console? Shall we not each one pray that the God of all comfort may be very near to them in affliction, that their sorrow may bind them closer to each other and to their Heavenly Father, and that they may have grace given them to be able to say, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord."  "Thy will be "done." And shall we not all before we close thank God, the Giver of all gracious gifts for the life lent to us, to be brother and friend and leader through so many years, and pray very earnestly that the memory of his unselfish devotion to the best interests of this church and town may ever be an impulse to like faithful service in the cause of our common Lord and Master Jesus Christ.


At the Haslingden Police Court, on Monday morning, the chairman, Mr. James Barlow, said that before they proceded with the business he felt that he could do no less than express the feelings of the Bench and of the general public in regard to the great loss sustained by the death of the late Mr. J.L. Whitaker. His death had entailed a loss to Haslingden, but more especially to those who were associated with the conduct of affairs in that Court.  The magistrates most sincerely regretted the death of an esteemed friend.
The Clerk (Mr. Wright) said he had been privleged to know the late Mr. Whitaker for the last twenty five years, and so far as he and his associates were concerned they would miss him very greatly in the Courts of the Rossendale division. He endorsed the sentiments of the chairman and tendered sincere sympathy with the widow and children.
Mr. C. E Sutcliffe, on behalf of himself and the bar, and also of the wider circle of professional gentlemen and others who had come in contact with the late Mr. Whitaker, said he desired to offer a very sincere tribute not only for the universal kindness he had shown, but for the admirable way in which he always conducted the business placed in his hands, and more particularly for the fair and generous way in which he met and treated opponents.  One could wish for no better friend and no better opponent.  Outside the sphere of a lawyer he held a most honourable position in the borough, and he had countless friends who would sincerely deplore his loss.
Mr. Oswald C. Evans said that as a partner with the late Mr. Whitaker, he felt that he must associate himself with the sentiments expressed in that Court.  During the time he was articled with Mr. Whitaker and since he was taken into partnership he had known him intimately in connection with his work for the period of fourteen years, and perhaps he knew more than the other members of the bar with regard to his discharge of his duties, and his conscientious conduct in professional and other capacities.  He had always the highest ideals with regard to his profession and he always desired to see that profession respected.  He felt that the best and most appropriate epitaph that could be written was that he was a good man.