Chapter XXIV. Letters from the Presiding Bishop of the American Church, Bishop of Maine, Bishop of Albany, Causten Browne, Esq. (Boston, Mass.), the Bishop of Niagara, Colonel Maunsell, Colonel Ewing (Taunton, Eng.), Rev. F. Alexander, Lady Tilley, G. E. Fenety, Mrs. Robinson-Owen (Belfleld, South Wales)--Conclusion
IN the course of his labours in the preparation of this work the author has received many letters of interest from those who had known Bishop Medley intimately. The presiding Bishop of the Church in the United States, the Right Reverend J. Williams, D.D., LL. D., Bishop of Connecticut, writes as follows:
MIDDLETON, Conn., Nov. 17th, 1892.
My Dear Canon Ketchum:
Absence from home and a great press of work since my return have prevented me from making earlier reply to your favour of last month.
I am very glad to know that you are preparing a life of your revered and beloved Metropolitan. It will be as heartily welcomed in the United States as in Canada or England, and I rejoice in knowing that it is in such good hands.
The first time we had the pleasure of seeing your late Bishop in the United States was at the General Convention of 1853, during the session of which he took part in the consecration of the Bishops of North and South Carolina, and preached the sermon on that occasion. I well remember that after that sermon, or, possibly, after one of the addresses which he made, the late Bishop Potter of Pennsylvania said to me, "What a full man he is."
He was with us again at the General Convention of 1883, and I think, at that of 1877. In this way as well as in others he became widely known among us; and for him to be known was also to be honoured and loved. When he "came to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season," there was sorrow and a sense of bereavement far beyond the limits of his own Diocese and Province.
It will always be one of my own cherished remembrances, that he honoured me with his friendship and regard.
Wishing you all success in your labour of love, I am, my dear Canon, Faithfully yours,
Bishop of Connecticut.
P. S.--I hope the volume will be put on sale in our principal book stores.
From the Bishop of the adjoining Diocese of Maine, the Right Reverend H. A. Neely, D. D., the following letter was received:
My Dear Dr. Ketchum:
I feel that your request for some word from me to appear in your forthcoming biography of the late Bishop of Fredericton and Metropolitan of Canada should not be unheeded, and, indeed, I would gladly embrace any opportunity to express my appreciation of the excellence of the man, and of the value of his work. I could not, however, hope in anything I might say from personal knowledge of either to give any information additional to that which will elsewhere be furnished in your volume, and, therefore, in complying with your request, will restrict myself to a brief account of the impressions made upon me when brought into personal contact with my beloved friend, Bishop Medley. My interviews with him were not very frequent or prolonged; for though in charge of adjacent jurisdictions, home duties were very exacting. The first of those interviews was on the occasion of the consecration of your own Church in St. Andrews, twenty-five years ago, and I well remember both the kindness and cordiality of his greeting, and the warm terms of respect and regard with which he alluded to my venerated predecessor, the late Bishop George Burgess. He then struck me as being (according to the common American conception) a typical Englishman of the cultured class, who could, however, both conceive and recognize excellence in other lands, homes and institutions than those of England. A further acquaintance with him strongly developed this first impression, and did not thereby lessen my admiration of his character. Honesty, courage, firmness, resolute persistency in labours and under trials, without show or boasting, these seemed to me to be among his strongest natural traits, and with them may well have been conjoined a temper, which would be impatient, especially of any manifestations in others of cowardice and moral flimsiness. These are the distinguishing moral qualities of a good soldier and successful leader, and to them may doubtless be ascribed some measure of the success which crowned the life-work of this eminent man. But not less conspicuous in him were those spiritual endowments and the tokens of that inward discipline without which a real and worthy success in the work of the Christian ministry is unattainable. One could not fail to note that his eye was single to the service of his Divine Master, and that in that service he had subjected himself, his will and judgment to the methods and precepts of his Chief. He was ruled by no selfish ambition, he sought not his own glory or the praise of men; he was distrustful of his own wisdom. Whatever may have been the dominating natural traits of his character, the meekness and gentleness of Christ had attained in it a manifest supremacy. Strong and tenacious in his own convictions, and frank in the expression of them, he was neither narrow nor harsh in his judgment upon the views or acts, much less the motives, of others. In the exercise of his high office he had no disposition to assert for himself a lordship over God's heritage or demand an unquestioning submission to his personal authority. And how self-sacrificing he was in his labours, how abundant in deeds of kindness, how considerate of the wants of his whole flock, there are hundreds to testify. Of the thoroughness and sturdiness of his churchmanship and of his attainments as a scholar and theologian, I will say no more than that for these the name of no Bishop or Doctor of our sister Church is more honoured among us.
The brief estimate which I have presented of his characteristics as a man and an administrator is, I know, very inadequate, but I trust that it will not be regarded as wholly indiscriminating.
I had thought that I might send you one or two letters in evidence of my own indebtedness to his unfailing kindness and affection, but find that those which I have received should hardly be published.
The Bishop of the Diocese of Albany, the Right Reverend William Croswell Doane, D. D., LL. D., writes as follows:
ALBANY, N.Y., Nov. 9th, 1892.
My Dear Brother:
You put upon me a duty which is really a privilege in asking me to add a word to the life which you are proposing to publish of the venerable Metropolitan of Canada.
My personal association with him dates back to some of the earliest and most sacred memories of my life. He was my father's very true friend, and during the painful and trying days of my dear godfather, Dr. Croswell's difficulties in Massachusetts, he was his brave and loving supporter.
He is indelibly connected in my mind with the founding and supporting of the Church of the Advent in Boston during its troublous time; and I have the most vivid and grateful memories of his clear and courageous positions in the various Lambeth Conferences at which I had the honour of being present with him.
His bright and genial kindness to me when I had the pleasure of being his guest at Bishopscote, at the consecration of the Coadjutor, are lifelong and delightful recollections. And I feel that to no man on the continent of America more than to him is due the great advance in all things that tend to the upholding of the Catholic faith and order in America. He was Nestor and Patriarch really among us all, and was more closely identified, I think, with the Bishops and with the interests of the American Church than any English Colonial Bishop has ever been in America.
I venture to add the words which I have written for my own Convention in regard to his death, which perhaps you will think worthy of insertion in the volume which is to commemorate his long and most useful and distinguished episcopate:
"Almost one of our own Bishops, the beloved Metropolitan of Canada has been so identified with the growth and life of the Church on this continent, that we mourn his death as though one of our own number had been taken away. He was a power in the Catholic revival. He came to America exchanging the sacred shades of Oxford, the companionship of its great scholars and schools, and the serene sweetness of English pastoral life, for the bleak and barren loneliness of what New Brunswick was fifty years ago. He was a scholar of rare ripeness; a born leader of men; strong as a lion in his maintenance of the faith; full of elegant accomplishments--architect as well as musician. And he was a man of most holy, self-denying life, to whom "to live was Christ," to whom we humbly hope "to die" has been "gain," for all the grave and grievous loss to us."
An eminent layman of the Church in the United States, one of the delegates to the General Convention, Causten Browne, Esq., of Boston, writes:
My dear Canon Ketchum:
You have asked me to set down in writing my recollections and my estimate of your late Metropolitan, the revered and beloved Bishop Medley. My first feeling has been that of gratitude for the opportunity of contributing anything, however slight in value, to the memorial you are preparing of that truly great and good man; but now that I set about it, all that I can say seems so inconsiderable and so inadequate that I would gladly be excused from the attempt. We all know how near you were to him in his confidence and affection. You can tell us all more about him than any of us can tell you. And yet it may be well and acceptable to the readers of your memorial if a voice, and particularly a lay voice, comes from the sister Church to say how we too loved and honoured him, claimed our share in the pride of possessing him while he lived, and claim now the right to mingle with yours our grief that so noble and beautiful a life is ended.
It is the simple truth to say that wherever Bishop Medley went among American churchmen he inspired the warmest affection and the profoundest admiration and respect. He was recognized everywhere as an absolutely first rate example of an Anglican bishop. We all knew him for a theologian and scholar of distinguished learning, a forceful preacher and writer, and in social life a most interesting and delightful companion. I believe that no Anglican bishop that ever came among us was more admired and respected than he. I am sure that none ever came nearer to our hearts.
It is delightful to me now to remember my own intercourse with him, if I may not even say the friendship that existed between us. For no man that did not come within the circle of personal friendship could know, or begin to know, the charm of his character and deportment. Never for a moment failing in the truest dignity, he enjoyed social life frankly and heartily, and while he made it radiant and delightful by his genial spirit, he elevated it always by the sweetness, gentleness and simplicity of his bearing. He was indeed a singularly charming gentleman. All the while he was "every inch" a bishop. One's warmest affection for the man never displaced or obscured the sentiment of veneration for his spiritual office.
If I should try to single out one aspect of the Metropolitan's character which was most impressive, it would be the union in him of personal meekness with a lofty conception of the dignity, authority and responsibility which belong to his order. He was utterly without personal pretension or self-assertion of any sort; but with respect to his office, its rights, its powers, its duties, he was as unyielding as the rock.
The last time I saw him he was visiting a very small and poor insular parish in your Diocese, and, manifestly for some good and peculiar reason in the circumstances of the parish, he preached upon the subject of peace, peace-making and peace-keeping. It was a noble sermon in its simple and earnest eloquence; the heartfelt talk of a father to his children. I shall never forget it. The exhortation to brotherly love and to the cultivation of peace among Christian men came from his lips with almost Apostolic authority, while it seemed at the same time to be the spontaneous pouring out of his own sweet and lovely spirit.
I know, my dear Canon, of how very little worth is what I have written; but you must take it as the expression, not only of my own affection and veneration, but of that which I can truly say was inspired by Bishop Medley wherever he went among our American churchmen. You may be perfectly sure of finding here sympathetic and interested listeners to all you will have to tell us of one whom we so loved and honoured.
Believe me, always sincerely yours,
One of the Canadian House of Bishops, the Right Reverend Charles Hamilton, D. D., LL. D., Lord Bishop of Niagara, writes:
HAMILTON, 14th Oct., 1892. My Dear Dr. Ketchum:
My veneration and affection for our Metropolitan prompt me to do all in my power to aid you in gathering up and preserving all that will be of interest in his life and acts and words. I wish that I felt myself in a position to furnish you with some points, which may be overlooked by others. .
My first recollection of him is in the Cathedral of Quebec and its pulpit in 1850, when the North American Bishops assembled there in conference. I was too young to appreciate or remember his sermon, but the remarks of some of my seniors as to the clearness and force with which the Bishop presented the question of Apostolic Succession fastened themselves in my mind. He made many friends in Quebec in his several visits to our venerable Bishop (Mountain) and his son. His advent into our Provincial Synod brought to all a sense of additional power and confidence. You have the sermon which he preached at the opening of the session and his address which produced a strong impression upon all.
Bishop Nicholson, of Milwaukee, in his address to the recent Provincial Synod, as a member of the deputation sent by the American Church to greet us, gave us a very touching and attractive account of a sermon preached by the Metropolitan in Philadelphia on the words: "Speak the Truth in Love." His fatherly interest in me at the time of my consecration went down deep into my heart and bound me very fast to him. It was a relief to me in my troubles and in the hard questions that have beset me since to write freely to him as my Most Reverend Father, and I think that he valued my confidence and affection.
My opportunities of intercourse with him were, however, very few, so that I have no storehouse to draw from for acts and words which are not already and better known to you. Believe me,
Yours very sincerely,
Colonel George J. Maunsell, Deputy Adjutant General of New Brunswick, an old and valued friend of the late Bishop Medley, contributes the following interesting letter:
Dear Dr. Ketchum:
FREDERICTON, St. Andrew's Day, 1892.
You have most unexpectedly asked me to add a few biographical details to the already abundant stock of evidence you possess as to the place in the heart of his people occupied by our dear Metropolitan Bishop. In thus asking a layman, one, though, who has had the great privilege of "sitting under his preaching" for over twenty-five years, and one of the oldest living members of the choir, whose efficiency he had so much at heart, you may naturally expect a fitting reply, yet no words can adequately convey any idea of our sense of veneration, love, respect and esteem for him who has, without our being able to realize his absence from our midst, peacefully passed from a life of incalculable usefulness to the Paradise of God.
"No fading frail memorial" his! Neither the beautiful Cathedral, he laboured with a labour of love and with much faith and prayer to build, and in which he so often worshipped, nor the many spires pointing heavenward, which speak volumes for his valued active influence in this diocese of churches, include all that tends to "keep fond memory in her place and certify a brother's love." "His unconscious influence will endure treasured up in the eternal world, where nothing really great can be lost or pass away, to be revealed at that day when God's Book shall be opened, and the thoughts of all hearts be made known."
Yet one should not hesitate to add a word, however feebly, if it contained anything that may serve to bring to light any of the hidden treasures of a life full of lessons of good, of" duties well performed and days well spent." In the first place may be noted his desire for accuracy, his leaving nothing undone to master every detail. This was always apparent in the training of his choir.
In looking backward to days of Costers and Carters, Streets and Wards, Ewings and Roberts, all remarkable for musical taste and skill, no choir practice was considered complete until every anthem and introit, every chant and hymn was perfect. Happy memories of the choir practices and genuine hospitalities at Bishopscote will linger so long as life lasts. I remember distinctly his asking a member of the choir whether he considered a new piece of music correct in some particular; on receiving in answer, "I take it for granted," he administered a severe rebuke, speedily followed by a kindly smile--and who can forget those well-known "kindly smiles" of our good Bishop?
A word about his own personal musical taste and skill, his rare talent as a composer and lover of music, may not be out of place.
Those competent to offer an opinion have pronounced many of his anthems, introits, chants and hymn tunes as worthy a place amongst the best collections of such music. Amongst others is the opinion of Harvey, the great composer, and Major A. Ewing, his dear friend and companion. His anthem, "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more," is undoubtedly one of his best, though no Christmas anthem gives me more pleasure than that in which he so beautifully gave prominence to hymn 62 A. & M.: "While shepherds watched their flocks by night."
In all his compositions careful study of detail is plainly seen. No inaccuracy, however slight, ill seeking for effect, can be discovered, while there is abundant harmony and proof of genius throughout. In all this is apparent the same principle that prevailed in all his literature, where the pure and undefiled Anglo-Saxon type, in all its freshness and beauty, stamped its every line. There is no straining effort for ornate wandering style or poetic vagueness. His conversation was full of "finesse" and humor, while in condemnation of fraud he "hit from the shoulder." His stock of knowledge was varied and great. Another characteristic was his unfailing care to keep every appointment, to fulfil every engagement, his earnest effort to overcome every difficulty.
"Memory dear" carries me back to a mid-winter appointment of our Bishop to hold an evening week-day service at St. Peter's church, Kingsclear, and to share the evening meal with a friend en route, such appointments in the case of others are subject, at that season, to the proviso, "weather permitting." No such proviso in his case. One of the most severe snow storms ever known in these parts prevailed on the day appointed. The host of the evening made no preparation for the now not-expected guest, the roads being quite impassable it was considered. Knowing, however, the Bishop's determination to overcome difficulties, the would-be host set off on snowshoes along the road, where no track was to be seen.
He had not gone far when, to his surprise, he found the Bishop, in sleigh with weary horses, plodding along through deep snowdrifts! On being remonstrated with for coming on such an evening when there could be no congregation, there was the well known smile as he replied: "No congregation! I fully expect to see you and the sexton in church," and such was almost the extent of the congregation, when after a never-to-be-forgotten drive, encountering heavy drifts and deep snow, though with fresh horses, the host brought the Bishop in safety to the church.
A brief anecdote may not be without interest in proof of the Bishop's desire to teach a practical lesson on every possible occasion, in every-day, common-place life--on this particular occasion the lesson of patience.
In days before the opening of the Intercolonial, Canada Eastern or Canada Pacific railways, a journey to our northern counties was not made so easy as it now is. An "extra" stage, wagon or sleigh, via Chatham, or the sea voyage, Shediac to Dalhousie, had to be resorted to. The Bishop had ample opportunity to test both of these weary means of locomotion. On one of these journeys by "extra" stage both Bishop and driver were long silent, the former, well knowing that the driver was an inveterate smoker, and that the Bishop's presence alone prevented him from smoking. The Bishop at last broke the silence by inquiring after the driver's health. The latter replied, saying he was quite well. "Something is wrong," said the Bishop, "and I know what it is; I only wished to try your patience. You are longing for a smoke; pray smoke to your heart's content." Joy and gladness took the place of dull despair in the heart of the driver. The Prelate's command was immediately obeyed, and the practical sermon on patience will never be forgotten.
As a classical scholar, a divinity student, and a "great Captain" of the Church Militant, Bishop Medley is well known and appreciated. I can speak of his love of military history, of his many valued proofs of being the "soldier's friend." As relaxation he would tarn again and again to "Napier's Peninsular War." He had a thorough knowledge of every detail of the strategy and tactics connected with the battle of Waterloo and the Peninsular campaign generally. He was an ardent admirer of that great military captain the Duke of Wellington. On one occasion he came suddenly into the office of a military officer at Fredericton, and at once put the question to him, "Why did Wellington form groups (oblong form), not squares, at a certain point in the battle of Waterloo?"--a question that might have puzzled many a military student. On receiving an answer he was satisfied. He had, he considered, acquired knowledge not previously possessed by him.
On another occasion he came into the same office with Sullivan's tune for "Onward Christian Soldiers" on his lips, which he rightly said is a grand march tune, and as he hummed the tune and paced the floor to this quick-step he looked every inch a model British general officer, a "great Captain" indeed.
Whenever practicable, too, lover as he was of a military band, and cheering to him as it was to see the soldiers march to its strains to church, he brought the band into his Cathedral in connection with special services. In this he was, he well knew, but praising the Lord "with the sound of the trumpet," while he never ceased to urge upon his people, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord."
No mere outline of a biographical sketch could possibly be complete without a word of reference to his helpmate, the good Mrs. Medley, who has been his stay and comfort amid all the "changes and chances" of his well spent life. The value of her services as the Bishop's wife will never be fully known this side the grave.
To her the chiefest solace, greatest joy--"thoughts of good together done;"--"To us may grace be given to follow in their train
"Yours most faithfully,
G. J. MAUNSELL.
The following letter from Lieutenant Colonel A. Ewing, the composer of the well known hymn tune "Jerusalem the Golden," is particularly interesting in connection with the Bishop's great love of music:
THE LAWN, Taunton, December 28, 1892.
During my residence in Fredericton in the years from July, 1807, to September, 1869, I was much associated with my dear and revered friend, Bishop Medley, in the music of the Cathedral. He was his own precentor and choir-master. The Cathedral choir (which, of course, was a voluntary one) consisted of persons of both sexes and of all ages, of various social stations. Naturally its members were not exempt from the natural (and not unwholesome) rivalry which is so frequent in such circumstances. Musical amateurs are proverbially "kittle cattle," and it required much tact and constant watchfulness to maintain efficient co-operation on the part of all its members, inasmuch as those who considered that they were not allotted their due share of "solos," were sometimes disposed to be recalcitrant (a phenomenon by no means peculiar to the amateur choir of Fredericton Cathedral).
In this field the Bishop laboured with the unceasing energy and assiduity which he displayed in everything to which he set his hand. Besides superintending in person the practices of the choir (a duty in which he was good enough to allow me to assist him), he continually enriched its repertoire by anthems, services, hymn tunes, and chants of his own composing, which, even at the time I am speaking of, formed a large collection of important MS. works. I am, of course, unable to say whether he continued to write music after my departure; but, at the time to which I refer, the music of the Cathedral was completely "up to date," the repertoire comprising everything of importance, both old and new, which one might have met with in any home cathedral.
The music of the church was always one of the Bishop's chief cares. If he went from home he would carefully plan out all the music for the calculated period of his absence, leaving it in my hands to carry out, during my residence there.
He was good enough to allow me to relieve him, to some extent, of his duties as choir-master, as well as to accept one or two compositions of mine, written on purpose for the Cathedral, which are probably in its repertoire now. I consider that it would have been difficult to meet with a better service out of England. I have heard many a worse in this country in places of considerable pretention.
I always remember with much delight my association with him in the Church music, and the fact that he himself took some pleasure in this association. One of my most valued possessions is a collection of Motetts, by Palestrina and other old Italian masters, which he presented to me, and which bears the: following inscription in his handwriting: "Alexander Ewing, from his sincere friend John Fredericton, in remembrance of many happy hours spent in the service of the Church of God. Fredericton, April 8, 1809'" Yours faithfully,
The Rev. F. Alexander, Sub-Dean of the Cathedral at Fredericton, also makes the following fitting reference to the Bishop's musical ability:
A memoir of our late beloved and venerated Metropolitan would be incomplete without a short notice of his musical talent and ability. For the Bishop possessed an enthusiastic love of music and was no mean connoisseur of the art itself. He had studied carefully the famous work of Marx, and was in the habit of minutely examining the compositions of the great masters of church music.
It was in the days of the great Samuel Wesley, under whose care and direction the cathedral choir of Exeter had assumed an importance and efficiency second to none at that time in England, that the Bishop occupied his Prebendal stall, and we may feel assured that it was while thus connected with the Cathedral that he received the most valuable musical impressions of his life. Certain it is that he brought with him to New Brunswick a knowledge of music that enabled him to take his place, and, nemine dissentiente, for forty-five years to keep it, as musical conductor, as well as head and director of his Cathedral choir.
Those who had the privilege of belonging to that choir will retain vivid recollections of the pleasant weekly meetings, for practice, in the drawing-room of Bishopscote, and the kindly welcome extended at such times to each member. Next to his Cathedral, perhaps, the Bishop loved his choir, though, as he has often remarked, nothing, not excepting his Diocese, ever caused him so much trouble as the management of this small, but musically, refractory body of people. But it was a labour which the Bishop loved, and none will forget how, when met together, all cares of office put aside, the often harassed look upon his face would pass away and the features shine with a happiness beautiful to witness. Not less striking was the zeal and enthusiasm with which he would throw himself into his work; the active mind alert to notice the smallest indecision or mistake, while a vigorous movement of hand or foot, oftentimes both, would testify to the importance he attached to time.
Of the Bishop's love of music, and his diligence in its study, his compositions, which are numerous, bear abundant testimony.
Among some twenty anthems he has written, in order of merit, that to the beautiful words, "They shall hunger no more, etc.," occupies, perhaps, the highest place. Remarkable for its religious feeling, its natural and effective progressions strongly impress the listeners with the spirit of the words. Of shorter compositions, "Turn Thee, O Lord," and "Show me Thy ways," characterized by a free and flowing melody and a grave and solemn treatment consistent with the subject he is treating, deservedly take a place among the best of those in anthem form. A very effective feature in the former of these two is introduced at the words "For in death no man remembereth Thee" by a change of key, and the form of harmonic treatment adopted is worthy of our best composers.
Of his "Services," all of which are pleasing, the "Te Deum" in B flat, and the "Deus Misereatur" in E flat, are certainly his best efforts in this form of composition. Often sung in his Cathedral in Fredericton, they are ever hailed with pleasure, indeed are among the compositions of which the congregation never tire.
In the various collections of chants and hymn-tunes which have been published from time to time, may be found several bearing the Bishop's name, while a number of his anthems, published by Novell some years ago, have found a ready sale, and particularly at St.. Augustine's College in Canterbury, and in his former cures are frequently performed and always enjoyed.
The Bishop's great interest in every benevolent enterprise, is seen in the following letter from Lady Tilley:
CARLETON HOUSE, January 22nd, 1893.
Dear Canon Ketchum:
I am sure you will be interested in a letter which the dear Metropolitan once sent me in regard to the Victoria Hospital at Fredericton.
He felt that it was too great an undertaking for a woman to do alone, and advised me to call a public meeting or consult with the older heads of the town, as he would feel keenly should I fail in the attempt. It was all so kindly meant, and I thoroughly appreciated the good advice. But when I wrote and told him that I had laid the matter before God and asked for Divine guidance, and that under His direction I feared no failure, the answer came from him saying, if that was the spirit in which I intended doing my work, he would add a blessing with an enclosed check for $100. It was so like his dear kind way of doing everything, always ready to respond to an appeal for good. His memory will long live in our hearts, and our lives will be better for having felt the sweet influence of his friendship.
The following tribute to the memory of Bishop Medley by Mr. George E. Fenety, of Frederick, is of special interest and value as coming from a layman, whose personal intercourse with the Bishop was intimate and long continued:
If the Bishop was at home in his church so was he at home in the dwellings of the most humble of his flock. Instead of folding his episcopal robes about him and standing aloof upon the dignity of his order, he ever seemed to feel it his duty, no less than if he-were the humblest curate in the land, to visit the poor and sick, the widow and the fatherless in their affliction, and minister to their spiritual comfort and not infrequently to their pecuniary necessities. Many instances might be cited in support of this statement; one or two will suffice.
In a humble dwelling a young man lies sick and near his last. The good Bishop is seen beneath that lonely roof and in the presence of death spends hours together in the dark hours of night, even up to 12 o'clock, and not until all is over does he retire from the scene and wend his way homeward, and this long after he had passed his eightieth birthday and at a season of the year when only the vigorous and strong among the clergy might be supposed to be abroad engaged in the works of mercy and benevolence. A young woman, a domestic, is suffering from an incurable complaint; day after day the good Bishop visits her, talks with her, encourages her as to her future hopes, and to soothe her sensitive mind in regard to her worldly indebtedness, which disturbs her not a little; he promises to assume all liabilities and tells her to make herself easy on that score. The poor girl dies and the Bishop's promises are fulfilled. The very last time he was out of his house was in paying a visit to an old colored woman residing near Government House. It was only a few weeks before his death that he engaged a coach for this express purpose as he had frequently done before.
In the Sunday school he was at home among the children; until recently he was a constant visitor, and the children, even the most infantile prattler, were delighted at his coining and taken up with his fatherly admonition and kindly ways, and his tact in winning them over to a consideration of their childish duties and responsibilities. He sang among the children as though he were a child himself, standing in the centre of the group. He was indeed the great lode of the Sunday school. The children will miss him sadly and the teachers feel they have met with a loss that can never be repaired.
I have (as a journalist) known Bishop Medley since the day he landed in St. John in 1845, most of the time personally and ultimately, and perhaps no other person at the present day has a better knowledge than the writer of all his ways and actions, whether in or out of the church, and therefore in a position to testify without presumption to the great services he has rendered, not only to the Church but to the Province at large, by means of the work he himself had set out to perform at the beginning, and which he lived long enough to see so abundantly blessed. No one can duly estimate the loss of such a man to the Church at large, and it is to be hoped by all Churchmen that the work he so nobly commenced and ably carried on, will continue and prosper, under wholesome guidance, but the place of Bishop Medley is not easily filled.
The Bishop was a man of strong and resolute will in all matters ecclesiastical, due to religious convictions, and yet in asserting himself towards those who differed with him he was gentlemanly and suave. There were times long since gone by when his lordship and some of the churchmen of his Diocese could not see alike; in two cases particularly which led to considerable friction and some irritation, but after a time it was generally conceded by those who took an active part in the respective disagreements that it was for the good of the Church that the Bishop was actuated and so harmony was once more restored.
Since then there has not been a single ripple in the Church as regards the Bishop and his people.
In his habits the Bishop was simple, frugal and unostentatious and always approachable by the most humble. Nor had he any deep-rooted prejudices. While he was convinced that his Church was of Divine origin, and while he was exacting in the loyalty of his people towards her, he frequently bore testimony to the zeal and good works performed by Christian denominations outside the Church of England.
I was present on the delivery of his first and last sermons in this Province in 1845 and 1892. At the time of the Bishop's arrival the Rev. Dr. Gray, of Trinity church, St. John, was pre-eminent as a theologian, able scriptural expounder and pulpit orator. The Rev. Mr. Harrison, of St. Luke's, Portland, was also regarded as a very able man, and his curate, Rev. Harrison Tilley (son of our Lieutenant Governor), gave promise of occupying at no distant day a very high place in the Church, but alas he was cut off prematurely in the midst of his usefulness and prospects. When Bishop Medley arrived in St. John great expectations awaited him, from the knowledge many of us had of his great popularity in England long precedent to his coming out to New Brunswick. His first sermon fulfilled and gratified the hopes entertained of a sure success as time should go on in his new field of labour. As a preacher Bishop Medley was plain, practical, forcible, learned, and easily followed and understood even by the most illiterate; and, after all, the command of attention is the true standard of eloquence. His sermons were masterly pieces of composition, without superfluity of words--rather, every word fitted into its place as in a mould, and there was no room for another in the same sentence; while his delivery was forcible and highly effective, so that his listeners were always firmly held and benefited.
As an instance of the good Bishop's thoughtful regard for the members of his flock, I might state that only a few mouths before his last illness I was confined to the house by an attack of rheumatism, and in consequence, for the time deprived of the privilege of attending the Cathedral services. The Bishop then called upon me on Monday mornings and read to me his sermon of the day before. This he doubtless did with others detained from the house of God by sickness. He was a "Father in God" in the truest sense of the word.
As a composer of church music Bishop Medley would have held rank among the Masters, had not the Church demanded his services. His Anthems, Te Deums, Introits, Chants and Hymns are among the most beautiful sung in the Cathedral at the present day. Indeed, what is called classic music has no such charms as the Bishop's to non-professional ears; and it is to be hoped that his memory will forever be kept green in the Cathedral by a continued performance, at the right seasons, of these beautiful compositions.
Mrs. Robinson-Owen, formerly of Campobello, N. B., an old and highly esteemed friend of the Bishop's, contributes the following letter:
BELFIELD, Tenby, S. Wales,
6th December, 1892.
Dear Dr. Ketchum:
Thank you much for your letter of 8th November, which I only received this morning and hasten to answer it.
I am afraid I have no incidents to record of our dear Bishop's long and valued friendship which could be of general interest. His friendship was steadfast and warm, as you know, and like all his sterling qualities, unfailing. I have a few of his letters written in our times of sorrow and bereavement, but unfortunately when we came here in June for a lengthened period. I left them with other possessions at Dindlesham.
I suppose you know that the first place in his Diocese upon which he landed was Campobello. My father, then Capt. W. F. W. Owen, R. N., in command of the survey of the Bay of Fundy, took H. M. S. "Columbia" to Halifax to await his lordship's arrival in 1845 and brought him and his family, etc., round in the ship, calling at Campobello (on account of the grave illness of one of my children) for a few hours on the way to St. John.
The dear Bishop's interest was shown by deeds in every parish in the Diocese, but Campobello seemed to benefit specially and ever found him a generous patron and most loving shepherd. The experience of many, if not all, must be like my own. In weal or woe he was a sure and tender friend, and the house of mourning always brought his ready presence when possible and his deepest sympathy. Every sorrow found in him a responsive chord as I can well record, and he certainly fulfilled the apostle's injunction to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice," as well as to "Weep with them that weep."
His intense truthfulness, too, made his friendship such a real thing. One knew he never could say a word that he did not mean. I think you will agree with me that wherever he touched the daily life of those committed to his charge, he influenced them for something better than they had thought of before. All this is simply truism and not a bit what you want, I know. No doubt you know the incident at the Pan-Anglican in 1878, at Lambeth Palace, when our dear Bishop spoke so nobly to the Arch-Bishop about the P.W.R. act, for I suppose Canon DeVeber was there. Bishop Medley was so Catholic minded that I hope that incident may be contributed. I don't know whether it was in consequence of that, but I fancy it was, that Mr. Mackonochie presented our Bishop with a gold chalice.
I know Mr. John Medley has written to you, and perhaps has given you much valuable information about the Bishop's life in England.
Yours very cordially,
The labour of love, undertaken by the writer with much diffidence and a deep sense of inability, is now brought to a close. By very many instances of kind encouragement and valuable aid the work has been greatly lightened.
The endeavour has been to present the record of a life and work such as have not often blessed the Church of the Living God.
If in reading these pages any one is led more fully to follow him as he also followed Christ, the chief end proposed will have been attained. A marked, a saintly character is brought out, both by what he has said and by what he has taught.
The name of Bishop Medley may be included among those of whom it is said: "Their reward is worthy of them; their memorial shall never perish; the wide world is their sepulchre; their epitaphs are written in the hearts of mankind; wherever there is speech of noble deeds their names will be held in grateful, loving remembrance."
"HE BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH."