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The Life of John Travers Lewis, D.D.
First Archbishop of Ontario

By His Wife

London: Skeffington and Son, no date.

Chapter VIII. The End of an Active Life

In 1899 the Archbishop visited England and attended the Church Congress in October, at the close of which he moved a vote of thanks to the Bishop of London for his statesmanlike presidency which had contributed to its high tone, free discussion, and conspicuous toleration and harmony. He had doubted whether London was a suitable place for a Congress, but its brilliant success had shown such anxiety to have been groundless.

On his return to Canada the Archbishop attended the jubilee services held at the Cathedral in Montreal on St. Luke's Day, October 18th. The Cathedral services always seemed to inspire him, and on this occasion, although entering as a man much fatigued, he came away with a triumphant smile, very much strengthened.

The Archbishop had arranged to give up the See House, which had never been properly paid for, and prepared to leave for England as soon as another Bishop of Ontario could be appointed, as his increasing weakness made it impossible for him to undertake the long journeys which were so essential for the work. The Venerable Archdeacon W. L. Mills, of Montreal, had been chosen to succeed him, a man worthy of great confidence and well fitted for the position. Before his consecration, however, certain business matters, such as the [125/126] See House being paid for, had to be arranged with the Synod.

On All Saints' Day, 1900, Archdeacon Mills was consecrated Bishop in St. George's Cathedral by the Archbishop of Ontario and other Bishops.

The Archbishop joined the Recessional with his usual reverent steps. He had presided at the Consecration of his successor. His day was spent.

Later that day the visiting Bishops met. He accepted their advice and the following resolution was passed:

Moved by the Bishop of Toronto. Seconded by the Bishop of Ottawa;

That the House of Bishops in accepting the resignation of his office of Metropolitan of this Province do assure His Grace of their warm and loving appreciation of his kindness in acting on their advice and their grateful acknowledgment of his long, faithful and extended service during thirty-nine years of labour as a Bishop in the Church--and

It is hereby resolved that his seat in the House of Bishops, as secured by the Constitution, shall be continued to him and that his title as Archbishop of Ontario shall be maintained by his brother Bishops and recognised by the Church in Canada.

Nov. 1st, 1900.

A reception was held in the evening to welcome the new Bishop, when several gifts were presented to him upon his assuming the care of the diocese.

A few days later the Archbishop and Mrs. Travers [126/127] Lewis left to spend Christmas with her brother at Wollaston, near Boston, Mass. Early in the New Year they went to New York, thinking to spend the winter in the Southern States. On their way South they stopped at Baltimore in order that the Archbishop might fulfil his promise to preach for the Ada Leigh Homes in Paris (founded by his wife), which he did at the Church of S. Michaels and All Angels on January 20th, 1901. This was his last sermon.

Whilst in Baltimore they heard of the death of Queen Victoria, and the Archbishop was asked by the Rev. Dr. Morgan-Dix, Rector of Old Trinity, New York, to attend the memorial service on February 2nd, for Her Majesty, and give the Episcopal blessing. The end of January therefore found the Archbishop and his wife at the Hotel Empire, New York. He attended the service and was received with great dignity. The service was a very solemn one and the church was crowded. The church itself has a history, being one of the first to be built in New York. It stands in a unique position in its own "God's Acre," bearing historical reminders of past centuries, touching the silent dead, and the living in Broadway, as if silently pleading with each passer-by to spell Eternity.

On leaving the church the young man who had carried his train during the service walked by his side with his case of robes, and when they were partly through the churchyard, which was covered with snow, he suddenly stopped, went before the Archbishop, who stopped also, thinking something had gone wrong, and threw himself on his knees in the snow, clasping him and saying with great fervour;

[128] "Bless me, even me, also, O! my father. I too seek Holy Orders."

The Archbishop, greatly touched, handing his gloves to his wife, solemnly blessed the young fellow as he still knelt there. Then he raised him from the ground. The parting was pathetic. Each countenance bore a distinct expression which, being interpreted, meant: "Ye shall see my face no more." In that solemn moment of blessing they had met. One was leaving the battlefield, the other eagerly seeking to be well equipped to enter its ranks. No name was asked for, or given, but possibly this reminder may yet reach the spot where that young soldier is faithfully serving his Master.

The Archbishop asked his wife to find out who the young man was and to see that a Prayer Book of the Church of England was presented to him--"but wait," said he, "a new one will be printed with King Edward's name, now that Queen Victoria has passed away."

The next day the Archbishop's last illness began, so that it was impossible (as promised) to attend the reception at the residence of Dr. and Mrs. Morgan-Dix.

During this time many friends enquired after him, and the Rev. Dr. Potter, Bishop of New York, visited him, and the Rev. Provost Body, D.D., of Trinity College, Toronto, came to stay, and watched by him for several nights.

He was propped up in bed to sign his vote for the Bishop of Montreal to be chosen as Metropolitan.

[129] His son, John Travers Lewis, Chancellor of the diocese of Ottawa, often visited his father before he left. Enquiries came from far and near. One night twenty-two reporters were waiting until after midnight to interview Mrs. Lewis and to hear the latest news. Flowers and delicacies were sent him anonymously from time to time by those who had listened to his preaching in Old Trinity Church, the Church of St. Thomas, Grace Church, the Church of the Heavenly Rest, and others. They had, alas, to remain unacknowledged for lack of addresses.

It was evident that the Archbishop's strength was failing, and after several weeks at the Hotel Empire, where they received the greatest consideration, the doctors suggested a sea voyage, to which the Archbishop assented, as he was fond of the sea and nearly all the members of his family were in England, the thought of meeting whom brought a smile of acquiescence.

He seemed lost in silent communion, and one could mark the ties of earth loosening. His moving lips and beautiful smile appeared to spell a deeper meaning to those around him. "I forgive my enemies, and they have been active in my beautiful diocese, but God has helped me to build my work on so sure a foundation that the Church in Canada will not forget me, nor the principles I have laid down--and 'yet not I'."

Spring was in the air, and removal from New York imperative. Could he reach England in time? The sea air would refresh him and he might be spared for two years. The thought of his life being prolonged, [129/130] and a home where he would be within reach of his loved ones, came like water on a parched earth after the tension of the long stay in a crowded hotel, where many were coming and going and where well-meant kindnesses lacked that hush which would have made them a boon. New York, like all great cities, never sleeps. In its comparative quiet there floats the hum of humanity.

On May 1st he was transferred as gently as possible to the steamship Menommie, and he seemed greatly relieved to find, himself in his narrow cabin with an open porthole--the gentle reminder of life being the soothing and emphatic lapping of the waves. For days he lay still, often with parted lips, telling of his silent communion, the only words which were distinguishable being: "O God, continue to teach me."

Early during the night of May 5th, two doctors took it in turns to watch and, as the morning of the 6th broke, both were present, one with a watch in his hand.

A wonderful smile covered the Archbishop's face, as if in response to some hidden spiritual revelation. It lingered--the race was run--and the Standard-Bearer, who had striven to uphold the flag of truth, received the recognition of his Master. Thoughtfully and gently the doctors and nurses withdrew, leaving his wife with him--alone?

Every possible respect was paid to his remains while on board ship. His body was embalmed and covered with the Union Jack, which was the pall he himself would have chosen.

[131] As the ship steamed into port, with its flag half-mast, the sad intelligence quickly sped. The ambulance and nurses which awaited him were dismissed.

The funeral cortege stayed at Holy Trinity Church, Paddington, where, after the celebration of the Holy Communion, the first part of the burial service was read by the late Rev. Edgar Sheppard, Sub-Dean of the Chapels Royal. Afterwards it was taken to Hawkhurst, Kent, and the committal sentences said in the churchyard of St. Lawrence, where so many connected with his family are laid to rest.

The open grave was hung with flowers by his three remaining daughters--Mrs. Robert Craigie Hamilton, Mrs. Llewellyn Foster Loyd, and Sister Evangeline--and the service was not one of grief, but rather of triumph.

Death is the Veil which those who live call Life.
They sleep--and it is lifted!

Report on Memorials to Deceased Members Archbishop Lewis

The Most Rev. John Travers Lewis, D.D., LL.D., D.C.L., was born in Ireland in 1825, and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Chester in 1848, and Priest by the Bishop of Down in the following year. He then came to Canada and was appointed Missionary at Hawkesbury. In 1862 he became Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Ontario, and was the first [131/132] Bishop consecrated in the Colonies. He was elected Metropolitan of Canada, and received the title of Archbishop of Ontario in 1893. He died at sea on the 6th of May, 1901, and was buried at Hawkhurst, England.

Archbishop Lewis was a man of marked intellectual ability, and of great force of character. Immediately after his consecration, he addressed himself with great energy and wisdom of administration to the overtaking of the vast arrearages of mission work in the districts over which he presided. He was more than a Diocesan Bishop. The interests of the Church at large were ever in his eye, and he will always be remembered as having, to say the least, crystallised the conception of a Pan-American Conference for the giving forth of the living voice of the Church. He executed the duties of his episcopal office for 39 years.


Report of the Joint Committee Relating to the Late Archbishop Lewis

The General Synod meets without the presence of a distinguished and exalted member, in the person of the late Most Reverend Dr. John Travers Lewis, Lord Archbishop of Ontario, and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada, who died on the 8th of May, 1901, as he was proceeding to England.

It is permitted to few Bishops to exercise their high and responsible duties for so long a period as thirty-nine years. His distinguished university record, his [132/133] rare abilities, his keen, searching intellect, his extensive reading and accurate memory, and his power of clear, forcible and incisive speech pointed him out at a very early age for the office of a Bishop. One conspicuous trait of his character was his perfect freedom fro any feeling of personal resentment, and his readiness at all times not merely to forgive, but to forget, any action or language against himself. We shall honour his memory by following his example in this respect. Such charity is more excellent than even the brightest and most attractive intellectual gifts.

The work which he accomplished in the early days of his undivided Diocese was undoubtedly most arduous and trying. When he took charge of the Diocese there were in it 48 clergy and 89 congregations; and when the Diocese was divided there were 133 clergy and 283 congregations, showing the enormous growth which had taken place, and witnessing to his wise and judicious oversight.

"Marlborough House,
"Pall Mall, S.W.
"May 18,1901.

"Dear Madam,

"I am commanded by the King to acknowledge the receipt of your letter and at the same time to convey to you the expression of His Majesty's sincere sympathy with you in the irreparable loss you have sustained by the death of your husband.

"The King deplores the death of so distinguished a prelate of the Church, but with regard to the place of [133/134] interment it would hardly be, as you may understand, a matter on which His Majesty would wish to exercise any personal interference as it rests entirely with the Dean and Chapter. [A petition had been signed by the Chief of the Mohawks of that day, and others, that at his death his remains should be interred either at St. Paul's Cathedral, or Westminster Abbey.]

"Believe me, Madam,

"Yours very truly,

(Signed) F. M. Ponsonby."

"Mrs. Lewis.

"Lambeth Palace, S.E.
"May 20th, 1901.

"My Dear Mrs. Lewis,

"Let me assure you how deeply I sympathise with your heavy loss, a loss indeed to all of us, but to you beyond all others.

"I am sorry that my official engagements make it impossible for me to be present at the Holy Communion to-morrow morning.

"But my heart and my prayers be with you.

"I was away when your letter came but received it late on my return.

"Yours very truly,

"(Signed) F. Cantuar."

"May 23rd, 1901.

"My Dear Madam,

"I have been ill and unequal to much correspondence or I would not have waited until now to express to you, as well as I may, in the name of all [134/135] the Church in India the sorrow that is felt for the death of your beloved husband, the Archbishop of Ontario. The unity of the Church in all parts of the world has become a fact, at once so vivid and so evident, in modern life that S. Paul's words are fraught with meaning unknown before 'whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it.' But to you the sense of public loss must be overshadowed by personal sorrow, and I pray that God may give you comfort m the memory of your husband's long beneficent episcopate and in the hope of meeting him again in the land where sorrows are no more. "Believe me, my dear Madam, in much sympathy, "Sincerely yours,

(Signed) J. E. C. Calcutta."

"Foreign Office,
"21 May, 1901.

"Dear Mrs. Lewis,

"I greatly regret that your letter of yesterday did not reach me until it was too late for me to avail myself of your permission.

"Pray allow me to offer you the expression of Lady Lansdowne's sympathy and my own in your loss.

"We have both a very pleasant recollection of the time when we used constantly to meet the Archbishop and of our intercourse with him.

"Believe me, dear Mrs. Lewis,

"Yours faithfully,

"(Signed) Lansdowne."

[136] "Derby House,
"St. James's Square, S.W.
"May 21st, 1901.

"Dear Mrs. Lewis,

"I thank you for your kind note and for the thought which dictated it. I am deeply grieved that I cannot attend the service to-day--but I am leaving home early to fulfil an engagement of some importance near Buxton and I cannot now alter or cancel it. I should have desired greatly to have been able to pay my last tribute of respect and affection to your late husband--whom, whether in 'public' or in private life, I had learned to appreciate and to admire--but it is not possible.

"I cannot venture to trespass on your great sorrow further than to hope that you may be able to sustain it--and that the sympathy of the many friends whom you have gathered around you through life may alleviate your distress and be of comfort and support to you in your great trial.

"Lady Derby is in France, or I am certain that she would have wished me to add the expression of her own feelings towards you at this sad time.

"I remain, dear Mrs. Lewis,

"Yours very truly,

"(Signed) Derby."

"53 Cadogan Square, S.W.
"Monday, 20th May, 1901.

"Dear Mrs. Lewis.

"For your note just received I am much obliged and I shall not fail to be at Holy Trinity [136/137] Church, Paddington, at half-past 9 to-morrow morning. I should also have felt it a duty to have attended the funeral of the late Archbishop at Hawkhurst were it not that I am suffering from a very severe cold on account of which Sir Thomas Barlow forbad my leaving the house to-day.

"My wife and I sympathise with you most deeply in the irreparable loss you have sustained and grieve with you in your great sorrow.

"The sympathy of the King as expressed to you is only such as might be expected from one who has shown himself full of consideration for all who have done their duty well, whether in the Mother Country or in any position of the Empire. "With sincere regards,

"I am, dear Mrs. Lewis, in haste but

"Very sincerely yours,

"(Signed) Strathcona."

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