The “poor bloke’s parson” is dead; and the costermonger at Hoxton, the tradesman at Carlisle, and the gas-stoker at Manchester have lost a friend. (p.153)
“The Dean who never wore gaiters” is gone from among us, and unconventional ecclesiasticism is the poorer. (p. 153)
John Oakley has passed away; the working classes will miss a teacher who would have done much to bring them back to a belief that Church dignitaries were not idlers, but working men themselves. (p. 153)….
A contradiction in terms as the words radical and sacerdotal appear to be, Dean Oakley will be remembered as one who, by being a human being first and an ecclesiastic second, a man and brother first and afterwards a priest, made it possible for the contradiction to be seen to be no contradiction at all; whatever in the High Church movement savours of reform, and is in opinion liberal and progressive, received both spirit and enthusiasm from that “darkened heart that beats no more.” For Dean Oakley had not been an indefatigable worker among the poorest of the poor in London for more than twenty years for nothing. He had not served an apprenticeship to Harry Jones or Prebendary Kempe for nought. He had learned that actual personal contact with sorrow and need and ignorance and infidelity and narrow-mindedness would do much, but that a human heart would do more, and Dean Oakley kept that human heart within him to the last. (p. 153)….
But it was the public spirit and the approachableness of the man, the constant simplicity and width of sympathy, that leaves a lasting wreath of immortelles upon the grave of the “poor bloke’s parson;” all England as well as Manchester mourns for a brave servant of Christ, and the Church of England as well as Manchester grieves for the untimely decease of an unconventional Dean. (p. 156)
(The Newberry House Magazine, III (August 1890), 153-6)