"How beautiful your presence, how benign,
Servants of God! who not a thought will share
With the vain world; who, outwardly as bare
As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign
That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine."
THE stay in Bermuda on this occasion was unusually protracted, but it was only in the interests of the Church that the bishop stayed so long amid the tropical heats of these islands. His work during this period is described at length in the following letter to Canon Seymour:--
"BERMUDA, April 19, 1872.
"My dear Friend,--I am now acting as rector of two parishes, and have so been acting in sole charge for the last three months, and one of these parishes, the largest and most important in Bermuda; this has come upon me in consequence of the somewhat sudden death (after a fortnight's illness) of the rector of the parish in which I reside; and there being no other idle clergyman in Bermuda, I could not do otherwise than offer to take charge of his two parishes and two churches, the latter four miles apart.
I undertake, and have hitherto, by God's great mercy, been enabled to perform, all the duties of the parish priest--two full services every Sunday, with baptisms and burials, visiting the sick, &c. Among other duties, I have had to instruct and prepare the candidates for Confirmation in this parish, whom I afterwards confirmed, nearly fifty in number, and I have had my Confirmations as usual. In Passion Week I preached ten times in eight different churches, addressed candidates and confirmed them in six churches, instructed my own candidates, confirmed them, and baptized one infant and buried another, both of the negro tribe. On Easter Sunday I took chief part in an early celebration, assisted by one clergyman; took the whole service with second celebration at 11 o'clock, and the whole evening service in my other church, in each unassisted. After long disuse I find it difficult to administer both the bread and cup to many communicants, and I do not wonder at Roman Catholics, who get or give themselves easy dispensation, choosing to abridge the service; but I am none the less opposed to such abridgment--such, I mean, as three or four only out of a congregation receiving the blessed Sacrament.
Enough of self and Bermuda!--enough, more than enough, of what will, I fear, appear boastful, or boasting, to which no person has compelled me; but I feel pretty sure you will rejoice with me, and for me, that strength has been given me at my threescore years and ten, to undertake, and, however imperfectly, to perform these additional duties.
I dare not enter on the various matters which are agitating, distracting, and I fear dividing the Church in England. They make me miserable. I hardly know whether to be glad or sorry, that I cannot take part in the discussions, though I must feel that the Church in the colonies is most unjustly treated in being excluded, when alterations of the Prayer-book and Creeds, to say nothing of the version of the Holy Scriptures, are under consideration."
To another friend a few days later (April 27, 1872), the bishop wrote:--
"To-morrow is the day of my consecration twenty-eight years ago; this year I reach my threescore years and ten." In June of the same year he wrote:--"My stay is prolonged in Bermuda in consequence of our being still unable to obtain a successor to Mr. Lightbourne. I am still in sole charge of his two parishes, and perform the duties of rector, or rather of curate, in both. I cannot feel satisfied to leave these parishes without some clergyman to carry on the work; better to have a bishop than nobody. If I do not quite melt away, I shall hope to move what remains of me to S. John's on June 30." As it turned out the bishop could not leave until the end of August. To yet another correspondent he wrote on the same subject, on May 28:--
"I have to perform two full services every Sunday, to baptize, bury, and visit the sick, as I did at Kidlington, just forty-five years ago. Thank God, I am enabled, by His grace and mercy, to get through the routine duties without much difficulty, though you will easily believe the addition of forty-five years and the dreadful heat of the Bermuda summer, and the mixture of black and white, the former preponderating, do not help me in the work. I confess to some repugnance at first to baptizing black babies, but that was soon conquered. What pains me far more is the loss of many of my black flock through the introduction of a black preacher of the so-called Methodist Episcopal Church, a very large and powerful body in the United States; and as surely as 'birds of a feather flock together,' so will my poor black people follow one of their own colour and race. I shall be glad and thankful if the young man you spoke of is at last persuaded to join us in Newfoundland.
"On Ascension Day I consecrated the nave of a very beautiful church, the chancel and transepts of which I consecrated on the same holy-day seventeen years ago."
While the bishop was thus engaged in one part of his diocese, a munificent gift was being prepared for the benefit of another portion. An officer of the Royal Engineers, Lieutenant Curling, who had served in Bermuda, and there had learned to admire the life and labours of the apostolic bishop, determined to replace the lost Star by his own yacht, the Lamock. . . . Everything that experience or forethought could suggest was provided, and in the spring of 1872 the kind donor navigated the yacht across the Atlantic and consecrated her to the service of God. The bishop wrote in July, concerning the offering that had been made to the Church:--
"What a noble gift that was! A yacht, with every item and article required for a Church ship, even to surplices for the chaplain, communion table and plate, &c. And given all so modestly and cheerfully! I believe I told you that he has given a beautiful organ, and five windows by Clayton and Bell, a corona lucis, standard for lights, candlesticks and vases, to our Trinity Church in Bermuda."
The new Church ship was utilized without delay, the coadjutor-bishop going in her on Visitation to the northward to Labrador, to White Bay, Fogo, and Twillingate, after which he left for England, with a view of obtaining help for the endowment of the See. The "old Bishop," as Bishop Feild had by this time come to be called, stayed in Newfoundland. His sympathies were ever fresh, and his recollections of England, and the happy scenes in which his lot had been cast, were always green, although not once did he look back, either with regret at having left them, or with a desire to return to them. A correspondent who had visited his old parish of English Bicknor, and seen some of the aged parishioners with whom "Mr. Feild" was still a precious tradition, had written to him a full account of what had been seen and heard, and the following reply was the result:--
"HALIFAX, N. S. Sept. 6, 1872.
"Your letter received just before I left Bermuda was a rich treat, and I wish I could worthily acknowledge it. I was carried back by it to places and people which and whom I dearly love; and to ramble with you in the woods, and to talk with my good neighbours, even in thought, was very pleasant, and I thank you for giving me that pleasure. I must confess, however, it made me long and sigh for the reality; that I should have been with you in person would have been a gratification of a higher degree. I was so glad to hear that you found our old friends so kind and as ready to welcome you as in former days. I lament the intrusion of the railroad on the sylvan banks of the winding river. It will strangely and sadly intermix and interfere with the natural beauty and repose of the scene. An old lady at New Weir used to say, that 'a sight of quality came across Symond's Rock, and she could not think what they came for.' And another, hearing of the speed of the travelling on the railroad, asked me seriously if I did not think it 'wicked 'to travel so fast. They are gone to their rest, and I presume their children will have different, and what people call 'enlarged,' views; but I doubt whether they will be better or happier than their simple-minded fathers and mothers. Certainly some of the best of my flock were among those nestled under Symond's Rock------and------some of the worst! I thank you for the piece of scented geranium, which breathes of both Bicknor and Budleigh, or of her who plucked and her who sent it--very sweet. The rectory garden, I presume, is greatly improved; but I am afraid that, like the old ladies at New Weir, I am too much behind the age to approve of a croquet-ground on a clergyman's lawn. Am I safe in saying this to a rector's wife? Well! we shall agree about the almshouses; they are an improvement on 'The Bear.' "
On his return to S. John's the bishop had again to serve as a parish priest, for the coadjutor-bishop had gone to England, as has already been mentioned, and there was no "incumbent" of the cathedral. Bishop Kelly was in England on the first "Day of Intercession for Missions," December 20, 1872, and the results of the day to Newfoundland alone were visible in the offers of several men who are now labouring in that diocese. The donor of the Lavrock now added to his munificent gift the still nobler and more valuable surrender of himself, coupling with his offer the expression of a desire that if deemed worthy of being-ordained he might be sent to some mission which it had been found more than ordinarily difficult to fill. In the spring of 1873 Bishop Kelly returned, with those who had thus volunteered to throw in their lot with the poor fisher-folk of Newfoundland. In June the bishop presided over the newly-constituted Synod, and, that over, with unimpaired zeal he was ready, and even more than ready, for another experience of the sea. On July 2, he wrote:--
"I am about to make a last voyage of Visitation in the Church ship. [It proved not to be the last, as he made another voyage in 1874.] I expect to be absent from S. John's three months. I hope to leave to-day, if we can get the business of the Synod (now sitting ten days) sufficiently advanced. The coadjutor-bishop, who has been confirmed by the Synod in his office with the right of succession, will remain in S. John's. My chief object in undertaking the voyage is to ascertain the condition of the Bay of Islands and Bonne Bay, and to visit all the missions on the north-east coast. I shall "be very thankful to be remembered and mentioned in your prayers with my companions in the Church ship."
In the midst of this voyage the following letter was written, which gives the bishop's own account of his doings, with an expression of his views on questions much discussed in England:--
To the Rev. Canon Seymour.
"THE CHURCH SHIP, OFF QUIRPON, Aug. 2, 1873.
"My dear Friend,--Being once more afloat in Visitation, I make use of occasional leisure, or rather freedom from interruption in passing from harbour to harbour, to discharge some of my obligations in the matter of correspondence, which I am forced to neglect when on shore. Since you last wrote to me, you have made the acquaintance of my excellent coadjutor, and observing as I think you would do, his ability and zeal, you probably supposed that I must be relieved of the greater part of my work and duty, and have abundance of leisure. But while he does undertake and ably perform many engagements which would otherwise devolve on me, I still tind enough, and more than enough, for all the time and thought which I can command, and my correspondence with him is a new additional engagement of some importance and frequent recurrence. You will easily understand this to have been the case while he was in England pleading for men and money, when he thought it right frequently to refer to me; and it so happened that during the time of his absence, in addition to my own duties, I had (in consequence of the sudden and unexpected departure of the incumbent of the cathedral) to perform the work of the parish priest. After Bishop Kelly's return came the business of the Synod and a Visitation of the clergy, in both of which I, of course, was the chief actor, and I went from the chair of the Synod to the Church ship, only, in passing, attending evening prayer in the cathedral; from thence direct to the wharf. I was anxious once more to make a voyage of Visitation, and there were circumstances which seemed to make it expedient that I, rather than Bishop Kelly (who was prepared to undertake the duty) should visit some particular missions. Some peculiar inducements and facilities were afforded in our generous friend, Mr. Curling, offering to navigate the vessel he has so kindly given us, and to make all provision for the expenses of the voyage. You, no doubt, heard from Bishop Kelly of the noble gift of his yacht, and the more noble gift of himself, which this good young officer has made to the Church in this diocese. One object of his now accompanying me was to be introduced to the district, which we intend hereafter, God willing, to make his mission. It is an immense district, comprehending two large bays and some adjacent harbours. We remained in it, moving from settlement to settlement, about ten days, making plans for future operations. The bays are on the western side of the island (Bay of Islands and Bonne Bay, &c.), on what is called the French shore, thirty miles apart, and with several populous outlying harbours. The late missionary, who was also the first in this district, after eight years of hard work and hard fare, has been obliged to retire; and as the missionary is not provided for by the S. P.G., I should have found great difficulty in obtaining a successor if Mr. Curling had not willingly offered himself. He proposes to return to it in November. We have now been absent from S. John's a month, and I expect at least two months more will be required for my official work. I have already visited (since leaving the Bay of Islands) another mission, unhappily vacant on the Labrador coast, having three churches, alas! not served. This is very sad and depressing. The voyage itself is not unpleasant, barring fogs and icebergs, of which latter there is this summer an unusually large number near the coast.
I have to thank you (and in truth it was with this object in view that I began my letter) for the copy you kindly sent me of your speech on the reservation of the Holy Sacrament. I have touched upon the subject in my late Charge to the clergy, and I said, that while I should not object to removing the consecrated bread and wine from the church, to a sick person earnestly desiring to receive the Sacrament in extremis, and unable to sustain the service, I should consider the administration imperfect and incomplete, inasmuch as I believe it to be both the duty and privilege of the communicant, if possible, to witness the consecration. And we cannot, I suppose, presume that any one who sincerely desires to receive the Sacrament (and you would hardly carry it to one who did not desire it) will lose or suffer hereafter, if, through no fault of his own, it is denied him. I should strongly object, on other grounds, to any general reservation for unforeseen possible cases.
Always, my dear Friend,
This letter was despatched, and soon afterwards a chance vessel brought a file of English papers, in one of which the bishop read that Mr. Seymour had been appointed to a Canonry at Worcester. He wrote (August 18) offering cordial congratulations on "this most just and justly deserved recognition of labours and services in and for our dear Mother Church--the Church of our second birth."
The bishop's thoughts, not unnaturally, carried him to scenes which he had known from his earliest days; and he continued, "A canonry in the cathedral church of my native city, among the few surviving friends left, would be like, too much like, sinking into a bed of roses after lying on a cargo of fish. But I am content; ought to be, and I trust am, more than content to abide by and with my fish, my only grief being that so many turn out unsavoury, notwithstanding the salt they have received, and are receiving daily. But I have not forgotten--I have too much reason to know and remember--that the salt may lose its saltness, and that the results I lament may be due to my own faults and failings. But who and what am I, that I should be permitted still to speak and preach in our Master's name and holy cause, when the eloquent, gifted, and ever ready tongue of the great and good Bishop of Winchester has been so sadly, suddenly silenced?1 I do not know why I may not mention to you that I have been always, but lately more especially, vexed and distressed by my slowness of speech, my inability to address a congregation of even poor fishermen, with readiness and effect, but the stammering tongue may speak when the dead is silenced for ever. The sad news reached me on the 12th of this month. On the following Friday, the Second Lesson at Evensong was taken from the twenty-fourth chapter of S. Matthew, 29th to 51st verses. I preached, as I generally do on Friday evenings, and the 40th verse, 'Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left,' seemed to be impressively illustrated by the awful removal of the good bishop, and furnished accordingly the text of my discourse; and I related the event to my simple congregation as plainly as I could, for their instruction."
On his return from this voyage, a carbuncle at the back of the neck, whose existence, he said, "I can only believe in, for I cannot see it," confined him to his room for some time, and delayed his departure for Bermuda. Mr. Curling was ordained deacon on All Saints' Day, and started immediately for the Bay of Islands, and early in December the bishop reached Bermuda. In May, 1874, he paid his last visit to this country: there were many details connected with the endowment of his see which required his presence, and he was anxious to try to persuade some young clergymen to accept work in his diocese. On June 1, the coadjutor-bishop started for an unusually long and arduous Visitation, in which he hoped not only to visit the whole of the Newfoundland coasts, but also the Labrador and, by the desire of the Bishop of Quebec, some portion of that diocese on the Gulf of S. Lawrence. He had visited Bay de Verds, the Bay of Islands, and Bonne Bay, and had reached the Labrador, when he was taken seriously ill from exposure during a stormy night on a dangerous part of the coast, and was compelled to return without delay to S. John's. The telegraph brought the news to England, and the bishop, with the alacrity, but alas! no longer with the strength, of a young man, hastened back by the first steamer, and without any delay embarked immediately on his arrival in the Lavrock and completed the projected Visitation; another Visitation of Conception Bay was made in November. It is generally felt that from these tremendous exertions, sufficient to tax the strength of a man in full vigour, the bishop never entirely rallied, but certainly to those who only read the record of his labours there appears no sign or semblance of abated powers.
In January, 1875, it became necessary that a clergyman, the Rev. J. C. Harvey, of Port-de-Grave, should visit England, for the purpose of promptly obtaining medical advice. There was no one to be found who could be placed in charge of the mission, and Mr. Harvey had made arrangements with the nearest clergy to give one Sunday a mouth to his flock, and had appointed two schoolmasters to act as lay-readers during his absence. Mr. Harvey writes--"When I arrived at S. John's on my way to England the bishop said he had no one to put in my place, and he did not like to leave so large a parish without a clergyman; and then he asked if Mrs. Harvey could receive him at the parsonage, as if so he would go himself; so before I sailed it was decided that the bishop and Mrs. Feild should live with my family, and in the following week, Friday, February 5, they started round the bay in two sleighs, reaching Brigus the same night; the weather was very inclement and it was no slight undertaking to travel sixty miles in snow and wind for ten hours or more." Thus writes Mr. Harvey, and he is probably unconscious to this day that the bishop was most anxious that he should go to England, and that the necessary expenses of his journey should be lessened as much as possible; that he paid for telegraphic messages to and from England on the subject, and wrote to friends at home bespeaking "a fitting welcome for this missionary of thirty-three years' standing,"--but it was so.
The journey was broken at Brigus, about fifty miles from the capital, and the excellent clergyman of that station, the Rev. E. H. Taylor, who was his bishop's host that night, has kindly sent me the following striking account of the bishop's doings:--
"February is commonly the coldest month in the Newfoundland year, and Friday, 11th February, was one of the coldest of days in this coldest of months. A heavy breeze of northerly wind had succeeded a sudden thaw, and travelling-was disagreeable in the extreme, even for the young and vigorous. The writer well remembers walking over the hills to morning service at an out-station called Burnt Head, and the unpleasant walk back in the teeth of half a gale of wind which seemed to cut like a razor. At one portion of the journey, where an overflowing stream was now converted into a broad expanse of glassy ice, it was impossible to stand, and I was blown off my feet repeatedly, and had extreme difficulty in gaining the solid earth on the opposite side.
Yet on this day, through wind and snow-drift, the bishop and Mrs. Feild were journeying from S. John's to Brigus en route for Port-de-Grave. Judging from the character of the day I deemed it an utter impossibility for anyone to achieve the journey; and had it been any other person than the bishop I should never have expected him on so cold, wild, and stormy a day as this. The thick shades of a February evening closed ill early upon us, and at seven o'clock the church-bell began to chime for Evensong, and I was setting out for prayers, leaving directions with the servant for the bishop's comfort, should he arrive in my enforced absence. All at once sleigh-bells were heard, and the bishop and Mrs. Feild drove up to the door. They were soon in my sitting-room, where tea was all ready, and I ventured to suggest that they should gradually thaw and then take tea, intimating at the same time that I hoped his lordship would kindly excuse me while I went to church. To my utter astonishment the bishop at once expressed his intention of attending service, and without waiting to warm himself, or even to take off his overcoat or wrappers, and refusing Mrs. Feild's and my earnest entreaties to take some refreshment before going out again, he insisted on accompanying me, and preceded by my good parishioner Mr. John Bartlett, who piloted us with a lantern and showed the dangerous icy places, the saintly Bishop of Newfoundland paid his last visit to S. George's Church, Brigus. The congregation was, alas! very scanty, for my parishioners thought it too disagreeable a night to risk themselves even the short distance from their fireside to the church; but the noble bishop in his seventy-fourth year, at the termination of that fearful journey of fifty miles, wended his way to the House of God, even before partaking of bodily refreshment, to join in the holy service in the poor little wooden church of Brigus.
The storm of wind and drift continued all through the next day, but, after an early dinner, the bishop pushed on for Port-de-Grave, in order that he might be in time for Sunday duty."
The bishop's own version of his journey was much simpler, and only mentioned the discomfort which such travelling necessarily caused to a lady. He wrote:--
"On February 5, I came with Mrs. Feild to Port-de-Grave, no small undertaking for a lady at this season, upwards of fifty miles in an open sleigh, and as it happens the bitterest cold I ever remember. Yesterday was my first Sunday, and I had Morning Prayer and Holy Communion with forty-two communicants, in Port-de-Grave church, and Morning and Evening Prayer in Bare Need church. In Port-de-Grave church a fire was lighted, but allowed to go out, as it was feared the piping of the stove would be blown down; in Bare Need church there was no fire,--and oh! the cold!"
To a friend at Oxford he wrote:--"We are enduring the longest, coldest winter, ever known to any living person in Newfoundland. Since Christmas the frost has been almost continuous, and the quantity of snow which has accumulated is wonderful. I am now living with Mrs. Feild on the shores of a large bay, and for weeks we have not seen either land or water--the former being covered and hidden by snow, the latter by ice. As far as the eye can see and farther, there is nothing but snow and ice--and people walk or drive over the sea chained down, and smooth and still,
"Peaceful as some immeasurable plain,"
as safely and securely as, and much more easily than, the snowclad land.
We are come to this place (Port-de-Grave) an out-harbour mission, about sixty miles (by land) from S. John's, and have been here now about six weeks, in order that I may supply the place and perform the work of the missionary, who is gone to England to consult an oculist. It is a very large and important mission, with two churches (and a Methodist chapel and resident preacher), and in our dearth of clergy, would have been left without any clerical superintendent or service if I, being the only idle clergyman, had not come to the rescue. Although the churches are little more than a mile and a quarter apart, I have been twice prevented going from the one near which I reside to the other, by the violent snow-storms. We expect to remain here till May, when I hope the missionary (Mr. Harvey) will have returned."
Mr. Harvey has kindly informed me that during the fourteen weeks which the bishop spent in his parish he preached sixty-seven times, celebrated the Holy Communion twenty-one times, and in addition to the numerous functions which a parish priest has to perform, was visiting the sick and the whole in all weathers and at all hours. In the rough notes of his doings, which he left behind him, there are only two days with the entry Dies Non. After the Lenten Ordination a newly-ordained deacon, the Rev. A. C. Waghorne, who had just arrived from England, was sent to assist the bishop at Bare Need. Mr. Waghorne has given his impressions in a very appreciative spirit, as though conscious of the privilege of commencing his ministry as he did, and his testimony as a novice has its value by the side of those of the older missionaries who have been quoted. He writes:--
"On arriving at S. John's I found that Bishop Feild was taking temporary charge of the mission of Port-de-Grave, in Conception Bay--some sixty miles from S. John's, during the absence in England of the pastor, Mr. Harvey.
After some little delay it was at length decided that I should join the bishop, and relieve him of part of the work, especially, as I understood, by taking charge of one of the settlements, and thus obviate the necessity for the bishop's exposing himself to the severity of the weather and the possible dangers in going from one place to another. From the beginning I experienced nothing but the greatest kindness and consideration from the bishop, for which I cannot be sufficiently thankful. Respect and reverence, of course, I felt towards him for his work's sake, but it was not long before those feelings deepened into an almost filial love.
The mission of Port-de-Grave consists of several settlements, lying along a reach of land some six or eight miles in extent, which chiefly forms the northern shore of one of the many bays or harbours which are so abundant in Conception Bay; indeed, it may be said, along the whole of the coast. The two largest and most important places, Port-de-Grave and Bare Need, have each both a church and school, while at Northern Gut, five miles from Bare Need, was a school which was used weekly for service.
The day after my arrival the bishop took me to Bare Need for service, and to introduce me to his people. The church I found to be a good sized building, and of its sort a fine specimen. It will seat, I suppose, 500 or 600 people. It was now the middle of winter, and that the most severe, so people say, for many a year past,--and in such a large church and no stove in it, no wonder the bishop was almost frozen.
Though nominally helping the bishop, I could never really see how I did so to any material extent, as he still continued to come to Bare Need for service, and visited the sick people in my district, quite as much as before, and strangely enough, as it appeared to me, he would not allow me to help him in the Port-de-Grave end of the mission, either with the services or by visiting. Regularly every Sunday, and twice or thrice in the week besides, would the bishop come to Bare Need, often, going to the dock, a mile further, in all weather, coming on foot along the rough and exposed road. On Good Friday, when the winter was beginning to break up, it blew a perfect gale of wind, and rained in torrents; we at Bare Need of course did not for a moment look for the bishop, for had I not been sent there especially to obviate the necessity for the bishop's exposing himself so much to the inclemency of the weather? Punctually, however, he came, and wet through. So stormy was the weather, that the bishop only saved himself from being carried off his feet by the constant firm pressure of his stout walking-stick to the ground; his thumb was in consequence very badly swollen, and continued so for some time afterwards. The gale moderated about noon; but still he would not, in spite of his good example, allow me to go to my service at Northern Gut, five miles off; and on venturing to remonstrate at the apparent inconsistency between his own conduct and his rule for us, he replied, with that beautiful, placid smile of his, that it didn't matter about himself, as he was old and useless (!), but I was young, and therefore must take care of myself!"
A winter of such severity was not likely to pass away without leaving some legacy in the shape of vacant missions and sorrowing households: while the bishop was at Port-de-Grave a young schoolmaster perished in a snowdrift at the western point of the diocese, and of two young men sent out from England with a view to their entering the Theological College, one, the son of a London clergyman, had died at Halifax of fever. The bishop poured out his sorrows to his Commissary in England in the following letter:--
To the Rev. E. Josselyn Beck.
"PORT-DE-GRAVE, March 17, 1875.
"My dear kind Friend,--'Wave upon wave!' you have, I believe, been informed of a severe trial we have lately experienced in the loss of a promising young schoolmaster in a snowstorm which he encountered in returning to his place of residence from a neighbouring settlement about five or six miles distant. He was an Englishman, brought out about a year ago by the Rev. Mr. Goode, who hoped that he might shortly be admitted to Deacon's Orders. In ignorance of the danger, he ventured to walk alone (for allowing him to do so the people are much to be blamed), and, being overtaken by a heavy drift, was, no doubt, bewildered, lost his way, and perished; and, sad to say! when Mr. Goode wrote, more than a week after the sad event, his body had not been found, and I have not hoard that it has up to the present time.
I was recovering from this grief, and was greatly cheered by the announcement that two young men were on their way to enter as students our little college. I wrote to S.P.G-. to express my joy and thankfulness, and while I was writing one of them, the son of a clergyman in London, was lying dead at Halifax. This was communicated to us by telegram, and we know no further particulars, only that he died of typhoid fever, whether contracted on board steamer between England and Halifax (as seems probable) or after landing, we cannot tell. Neither do we know whether his companion remained with him, or is on board the steamer which left Halifax for S. John's more than a week ago, and would have, in due course, arrived, but cannot encounter the vast barrier of ice, which has surrounded us for nearly a month, farther than our eyes can see. Is not this very sad? Pray remember our need of a good man as the vice-principal of our little college."
There is no doubt that the good bishop gave his life for the people at Port-de-Grave. He had barely returned to S. John's when he became seriously ill; a letter lies before me now, dated May 18, 1875, to which a postscript was written subsequently in another hand, the bishop adding only the significant signature, 'Edward Newfoundland, a Colonial Bishop used up.' He had not been confined to his bed for a week at a time for more than thirty-one years; he was now plainly told that he must never again be beyond the reach of medical advice; but he would not allow that his sickness was caused by working too hard in the Port-de-Grave mission. To Mr. Taylor, his host at Brigus, he wrote, June 18, 1875:--
"Many thanks for your kind congratulation on my improved and improving health. I have to-day, for the first time since the attack began, been out for a drive in a close carriage; a very different condition and state of things from what I was and had in my walks from Bare Need and Port-de-Grave, &c. I do not believe the little voyage across the bay in any degree accelerated or aggravated the attack.
I may ascribe my late attack far more to the effects of my journey to Brigus in the winter than to my pleasant passage across the bay. Then were the seeds sown or developed which were growing, and not insensibly, during my stay at Port-de-Grave, but happily, by God's mercy, did not come to maturity till my work in Mr. Harvey's mission was finished and I had returned to my own home in S. John's, where relief much needed could be obtained. I thank God for the chastisement and for the relief.
Bishop Kelly's visits and prayers were of great comfort and help."
But he fully knew what his condition was. To a friend in England, to whom he sent on business connected with the Endowment of the See, he wrote in the same month of June:--
"I have had a very plain warning that no time must be lost. It has been said to me very plainly, 'Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live;' and though I have not neglected this important duty, I find there are many secular matters, as well as others of higher obligation, which require to be settled."
The bishop had more than once expressed his wish to end his days at S. Augustine's College if the time should come when he would be past work: it may be supposed to be natural for people who are exiled from their fatherland not only to dream of, but also to express a wish for, a calm ending of their days in their native land, but probably such expressions are rarely more than daydreams. Mr. Waghorne, in his reminiscences of the bishop, mentions that on showing him some photographs of S. Augustine's College, he told him that he should like to end his days there: it will be remembered that he once expressed a similar desire to occupy one of the alms-houses which had taken the place of the "Old Bear" at Bicknor. During his stay in England in 1874 one who loved him well suggested to him, that "a quiet retirement with 200l. a year "would be gladly provided for him if he should at any time find himself in a position to accept it; the idea seemed to be agreeable to the bishop, and now that he appeared to be indeed past his work, the same friend wrote and asked if the idea might assume a definite form. The suggestion drew forth the following letter, which is remarkable on many grounds, but specially as showing how far removed from the bishop's mind was any idea of returning to England, and how, while laying down (and acting on) the highest principles, he could write with humour that was wholly free from levity:--
"S. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND, July 14, 1875.
"My dear Friend,--It is very good and kind of you to remember, with a view to my benefit, words which I had entirely forgotten; indeed, strange as it may appear, I had, or rather have (for I cannot recall them) entirely forgotten having entertained, when last in England, the desire or thought of returning to England if I could find 'a quiet place and 200l. a year.' I remember a good many years ago writing to the Warden of Canterbury that I should much enjoy spending my last days, when my work was done, under the shadow of the great cathedral, perhaps within the walls of his college. But that idea took no permanent hold of my mind, and, as far as I can remember, the wish was never repeated.
When last in England my chief desire was to get away as fast as possible, and return to my diocese and work, as, thank God, I did, and made a ten weeks' voyage of Visitation, and after that confirmed and consecrated churches in Conception Bay district. Let me say then, that I have no intention or desire to retire to England, and that if circumstances should seem to make it expedient, I should not think of asking for any pension or retiring allowance. If I should resign my office and remain in my diocese, I should not be ashamed to receive money which I should spend in the diocese and, I trust, for the benefit of the diocese.
The great heathen moralist could say 'Ne fas est injussu Dei e statione vitae decedere;' and I have always felt that the sentiment is still more true and touching in the case of Christian men, and specially of Christian clergy, and most specially of bishops. And I long ago made up my mind, God helping me, to act upon it. But our great moralist, Lord Bacon, says, When a man cannot perform his work and duty, he is no longer a man but a statue; and as I should make but a poor statue in any sense or shape, it certainly does seem to me that God, by taking from me my power of working, does permit me, if not command me, to resign or retire. But as I said before, I have no desire or intention to leave the diocese. Perhaps, unattached I might render some service. I certainly hope to pay Bermuda another visit as bishop, and, if spared so long, to return to Newfoundland--and then--how presumptuous to speak or think of things to be done a year hence! especially after three weeks of sickness and suffering; but if spared so long I may engage to remain, as I am, Your faithful brother and friend,
The bishop, as soon as he rallied from his attack, removed to Topsail for rest and change; and here he wrote on July 25, apparently in high spirits:--
"I am now staying in my country 'box' (literally, for it is all of wood, and has neither paint nor paper), for rest."
His letters were always models of their kind; few knew better how to offer words of consolation and sympathy with the sorrowing, for with him no words were commonplace: he was so intensely, sternly, truthful in word and act and thought, that nothing save what was sterling and real ever came from his lips, or his pen, or found place in his thoughts.
To a friend, a clergyman who was in sorrow, he wrote the following letter of sympathy--
"By a letter which I received yesterday I learnt that your dear sister has been released from her suffering and sorrow, and sleeps in Jesus. It would be idle, if not presumptuous, in me to suggest topics of consolation. It must be quite unnecessary to remind you that as a heathen poet has said:--
'Sunt verba et voces quibus hunc lenire dolorem
or to point out where and what are those words of far deeper and truer comfort than heathen poet or philosopher ever uttered or conceived; your joy and thankfulness, on your departed sister's account now beyond the reach of evil without or within, would suffice to prevent the indulgence of selfish sorrow; and the hope and prospect of a happy reunion will mitigate the pain which must be felt at the present separation. My object, I say, is not to remind you of what you know and feel, but to assure you that I sincerely sympathize with you; and while I rejoice in the departed soul's rest and peace, can grieve for you, at the loss of one so justly valued and beloved."
To another he wrote:--"I have wished that I could have found time to refer to the very solemn subject on which you touched in one of your letters, viz., whether, or how far, the happiness of the saints and glorified spirits in heaven may be affected by the absence of any whom we have loved on earth, and who will have gone into 'that place of torment.' Not that I pretend to throw any light upon the subject other than we gather from holy scripture; but I presume the solution is to be found (if any person can find it) in our Lord's declaration, that in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. They who have loved each other with a holy love, that is, Christ's image in each other, on earth, will surely see and know and love the same image, then perfected, in each other, in heaven. I have been much pleased with the following epitaph, for which you perhaps may find an application:--
'Reader, here lies under this stone
The dust of two that were but one:
Long had they lived and loved: she fled the way
To heaven first; he could no longer stay,
But straight pursued her to that throne above,
Which saints surround, crowned with eternal love.'
On the other side of the picture, who can look now without trembling? but how do the angels regard it?"
With the approach of autumn the bishop prepared to fulfil his intention of visiting Bermuda once more officially, and on October 27 the clergy and churchwardens, on behalf of the several congregations in S. John's, presented to him an address, which is so full and unvarnished a resume of the work of his glorious episcopate, that it fitly finds a place here. This was the last public appearance of the bishop in S. John's.
"To the Right Reverend Father in GOD, EDWARD Lord Bishop of Newfoundland.
"We, the undersigned--as well on behalf of ourselves as of the respective congregations in S. John's, of the Cathedral, of S. Thomas' Church and of S. Mary's Church--desire to convey to your lordship on the eve of your departure for the southern portion of your diocese, our affectionate wishes for your safe arrival at Bermuda, and your speedy restoration to health.
Thirty-one years have passed since you assumed the spiritual supervision of this diocese, and none of us can be unmindful of the vast benefits you have been instrumental in conferring upon our Church during that long period; your own consistent life of self-denial and sympathy has done much to support and cheer your clergy amidst their many toils and privations.
When you entered upon your episcopate our ecclesiastical system was unorganized and feeble. Now, synodical order and unity prevail.
Then, we had only about twelve clergymen in the colony, now upwards of fifty are labouring therein, whilst churches and parsonages have been multiplied in a like proportion.
A College for the education of candidates for the ministry has, by your exertions, been adequately and permanently endowed.
Separate Seminaries for boys and girls have been established, and are in successful operation.
Distinct Orphanages for destitute children of both sexes have been founded under your auspices, and are effectively conducted.
Our beautiful Cathedral was designed and partially built under your care, and the necessary funds for its completion are in process of collection.
A Coadjutor Bishopric has been created solely through your disinterested assistance, and the services of a divine--eminent for his piety and conspicuous for his abilities--have been happily secured for that important office.
For the future support of the episcopate, an Endowment has been provided, and many a desolate settlement on our rugged shores has, year after year, been solely indebted for the ministrations of religion to the Visitations made by you and your coadjutor in the Church ship.
That the Almighty has permitted you to be His instrument in effecting so much good and for so long a time, that He has preserved you through so many labours and dangers, and (until recently) has upheld you in health and strength, has been a cause to us of wonder, and of gratitude to God.
We sincerely hope that a temporary sojourn in a more genial climate than that of a Newfoundland winter may prove beneficial to your impaired health, and we pray that you may be permitted to return from Bermuda in renewed vigour, and long be spared to your grateful flock. S. John's, Oct. 27, 1875."
The reply winch the bishop gave was very affecting in itself, but doubly so when it is regarded as the farewell words of one who had for more than thirty-one years laboured unceasingly for the highest good of those whom he addressed. It was in the following terms:--
"To the Clergy and Church-wardens, and the respective. Congregations of the Cathedral, S. Thomas' Church and S. Mary's Church, in S. Johns.
"Dearly Beloved in the Lord,--If, in the share which ] have taken in initiating or forwarding the various objects you have mentioned in your address, (as likely to promote the spiritual interests, present or future, of the diocese,) I have merited your grateful approval--having but one higher object in view,--I am more than repaid for all I have spent or spared, borne or forborne (and there have been trials and difficulties), in all the long thirty-one years of my episcopate; nor can I forget how much I owe to your unvarying sympathy and encouragement in every work, or undertaking, which has been brought to a happy completion, or forwarded with good hope of future success and benefit; not to mention the kind allowance-, made for many failures, and imperfect, unfinished attempts.
I cannot now (having, as you are aware, been interrupted in the midst of my preparations for a distant journey and long absence, by the unexpectedly early arrival of the steamer), allude to all the objects you have kindly referred to as having engaged my care and attention for the welfare of the diocese,--and I will therefore only mention the one which, I believe, you, with me, consider of chief and special importance, as likely, with God's blessing, to be of chief and special benefit to yourselves and the diocese at large; I mean, the appointment of Bishop Kelly as my coadjutor. That appointment having, as you are aware, been, by the gracious and wise act of the Synod, confirmed, with the right of succession, he may immediately enter upon all the duties and all the privileges of the bishop's office, whenever it shall please God that my connection with the diocese shall cease. Thus you will both be spared the troubles and anxieties of an election, and the man whom you have learnt to know and admire in the discharge of the episcopal office, and who has himself learnt and felt its duties and obligations, will be secured to you and your children, as your and their spiritual chief ruler and Father in God. For the manner in which my views and wishes in that matter were seconded, I am deeply grateful,--and why? but because I am satisfied that the object of my views and wishes, which was nothing less than your edification, and the glory of God therein and thereby,) will be attained to an extent I could never have otherwise hoped for. I will not enter more fully upon a subject which affords ample materials for enlargement and illustration, because you have all enjoyed sufficient opportunities of verifying the high esteem I have always had and expressed of Bishop Kelly's various and manifold qualifications for the high and important office to which he has been appointed. May your mutual wishes, endeavours and prayers, be abundantly blessed to your mutual edification, your peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
A few words, and they must be few (for even if I had the necessary time I could hardly entrust myself to enlarge on the subject); a few words on an act this day consummated;--my resignation of that charge of the cathedral and parish church and rectory of S. John's, which for nearly twenty years has been the enjoyment and pride of my life.
You will easily believe that in resigning such a charge and divesting myself of such treasures, I had and could have but one object in view,--the honour of the Church and parish, and the benefit of the congregation and parishioners at large. And again I thank God, who inclined the hearts of those chiefly concerned, wisely and generously to second my wishes in accepting as my successor in that office also, my faithful, able and experienced coadjutor. I pray God to bless, guide, and strengthen him in and for the duties and services in which, I am sure, he will take delight, and all for your edification and growth in grace. Among other endeavours for your benefit and the honour of the Church, I trust he will be well supported in his desire to complete the not yet half-finished cathedral; provision being first made for the repairs, as they will be needed, of the present fabric (may I not say the present holy and beautiful House?) which, I trust, has been to many, besides myself, a comfort and a joy.
As I can in all sincerity, however humbly and at a distance, adopt the Apostle's words, and say 'I seek not yours but you/ it is hard indeed to take leave of you. But God our heavenly Father is, and will be, with you, and to His holy keeping I commend you, for Jesus Christ's His Son's sake, now and for evermore. EDWARD NEWFOUNDLAND.
S. John's, Oct. 27,1875."
But the "more genial climate" of Bermuda did not produce the effect which was hoped for; it was clear, increasingly clear day by day, that the saintly prelate's rest was well-nigh won. In the month of January, 1876, he wrote:--
"My doctors tell me they shall be able to build me up, but it is not easy (perhaps hardly worth while) to build up decayed materials. However, I am in His hands "Who made me and fashioned me, and in and to them I cheerfully resign myself and wait, not impatiently, the result."
He was able to attend to business, to write letters, and to see people: very often he saw people, when he ought to have remained quiet, lest they should feel hurt at being refused. The coadjutor-bishop came to Bermuda to hold Confirmations and to perform the duties to which the elder bishop was now unequal. In the month of March it was clear that, however his days might he prolonged on earth, he would never again be competent to discharge the duties of his office; accordingly he gave notice of his intention to resign his See to the authorities of the Colonial Office in the following letter:--
"BISHOP'S LODGE, BERMUDA, March 5, 1876.
"My Lord,--I have the honour to inform your lordship that it is my wish and intention (D.V.) to resign my Bishopric--the See of Newfoundland, with the Bermudas or Somers Islands, and part of the Labrador Coast; the resignation to take effect (if my life is spared so long) on and after the 31st of July next.
My reasons for wishing and intending to resign are, that I shall then have entered upon the seventy-sixth year of my life, the fiftieth of my ministry, and the thirty-third of my episcopate. I may add, that for several months I have been, and still continue very unwell.
Your lordship is probably aware that for the last nine years I have been assisted by a coadjutor, to whom I have transferred wholly the stipend allowed me by the Government.
If, in consideration of these circumstances, your lordship should consider that I am entitled to expect a pension for the probably few, if any, remaining years of my life, it will be thankfully accepted.
It was my earnest hope and desire to spend and be spent wholly in and for Newfoundland, but my present illness convinces me that I cannot expect to endure the severity of another Newfoundland winter. I have, &c.
The Right Hon. the Earl of Carnarvon, H.M.'s Secretary of State for the Colonies, &c., &c."
The expression "if my life is spared so long" showed that he had a presentiment that his days were well-nigh spent. On June 8 he closed his eyes (and this he did with his own hands) on his earthly labours. All who knew and loved him felt glad that he had entered into his rest as Bishop of Newfoundland, the title which he had made to be known and honoured far and wide, and with which his noble episcopate will for ever be connected. He had desired, and others had shared the wish, that his last hours should have been spent in S. John's, and that his body should rest in the noble cathedral, in whose erection he had had so large a share, and under whose roof he had ministered and worshipped for so many years; but it was otherwise ordered, and with the beautiful humility which was prominent among the many graces which adorned his character, he had submitted readily. His last days were entirely consistent with the life which he had led. The Rev. L. Lough, the rector of Paget, whose privilege it was to minister to him until the end came, has kindly written to me the following particulars:--
"His characteristic features of humility and thoughtfulness for others were beautifully illustrated under very trying circumstances, when, in great bodily pain, he was lying on the bed of extreme sickness, and it was manifest to all that he could not survive many days. We were celebrating the Holy Communion in his chamber, to which he invited some of his specially loved friends, and at which he had desired the presence of a poor coloured woman, who had been very attentive to him as a nurse. When the celebrant approached him (last of course) with the paten, he seemed to fear that this poor woman had not been ministered to before him, and in his effort to assure himself that this had been done he made some slight change in his position, which brought on an intensely painful spasm, to which he was, in that stage of his sickness, occasionally subject. His suffering was most alarming to all present, and we feared for a while that his spirit would at once pass away. When he was informed that all was done rightly, and, after a few minutes he was again able to compose himself, the service was proceeded with to the end, and he was at last able to convey to us a few loving words of thankfulness and blessing.
His death took place a few days later, and this last scene can never, I think, pass away from the memory of any of us who witnessed it.
The bishop was apparently unconscious for some hours before his death, but during that time the Rev. M. James, rector of the parish, and myself continued to offer prayer by his bedside at short intervals. About half-past ten on the morning of Thursday the 8th of June (the day after his birthday), calmly, and with no appearance of pain, his spirit passed to the more immediate presence of the Master whom he had loved and served so faithfully, amid the prayers of some of us who had long admired and revered him; and so confident were we that what was our loss was his gain, and an occasion of rejoicing and thankful triumph for him, that ere we left the room we repeated together the Nunc Dimittis and the Gloria in excelsis, as both an expression of our thankfulness to God for giving us such a beautiful example of a true-hearted bishop and saint, and also as the act in which we might even believe he was himself at that moment engaged."
He was buried in the parish churchyard in a spot which he had himself selected; minute directions concerning his funeral he had given long before; it was divested of aL the gloomy paraphernalia which modern custom has been wont to prescribe, and everything was suggestive of Christian hope.
He lay in his Episcopal robes, the coffin covered with purple satin, the nails and handles of silver, and a silver cross on which was engraved his name and age. The hearse was trimmed with black and purple, and each of the bearers wore a scarf of purple satin. All the clergy on the island, thirteen in number, in surplices, were present. His widow was accompanied by the wives of the clergy, all of whom carried little bouquets tied with white ribbon to put into the grave. The Governor of the island, with his staff; the members of Her Majesty's Council; members of the Colonial Parliament; officers in the army and navy--all were there to do him reverence. The flags of all the public buildings and of the ships of war were at half mast.
That a "larger concourse than had ever before been seen at any ceremony on the island, religious or civil," should have been gathered round his grave is a very small matter, but the feeling of absolute bereavement, as at the loss of a well-loved parent, which pervaded all parts of the extended diocese on which he had bestowed so many years of care and self-denying labours, while it was creditable to the people, was no more than was due to the memory of such a man.
The Governor of Newfoundland officially communicated to the Colonial Secretary the decease of the bishop, and the following despatch from the Earl of Carnarvon is a valuable testimony to the esteem in which the bishop was held by the authorities of the Crown, with whom he had had official relations for so many years:--
"DOWNING STREET, July 5, 1876.
"Sir,--I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, No. 77, of the 12th of June, reporting the death of the Right Rev. Dr. Feild, Lord Bishop of the diocese of Newfoundland, and the succession to the See of the Right Rev. Dr. Kelly, coadjutor-bishop.
Although I had been led to infer from a recent letter from Dr. Feild that he was in a critical state of health, yet I have not the less experienced a sense of profound regret at the intelligence of the death of so devoted and exemplary a bishop.
I have, &c., (Signed) CARNARVON.
Governor Sir John Glover, G.G.M.G., &c. &c."