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Bishop Bury: Late Bishop of North and Central Europe
A Memoir

By Sophie McDougall Hine

Milwaukee: Morehouse, 1933.

Chapter VII. Glimpses Here and There

IN a closing chapter let us see if we can pick up this truly remarkable traveller on some of his 'meteorlike' journeyings. He loved the sea and services on board ship, and was himself a good sailor. Here is one instance:

'I left Port Said on February 15th, and had a most excellent voyage with a very unusual Captain on board who was very anxious to make the most of the services. He pressed me, though of course I required no pressing, to give an early Celebration at seven o'clock, and attended it himself, having seen that everything was as carefully prepared as it would have been if I had been in a church on shore. He read the lessons at the 10.30 service, when we had a very fine choir of the stewards, and the largest attendance I have ever seen on board ship.'

The Bishop had a similar experience in the following year, when travelling by the Orient line, but with another Captain, 'a very real Churchman."

'The men who go down in ships' must always be our first line of defence, no matter what development the Air Service may see in the future, said Bishop Bury on one occasion, and he always kept a very special corner of his heart reserved for Jack. A glance at the coast line of Northern Europe shows how many ports there are to which British ships were coming and going throughout the year. When the North Fleet had been in Christiania for six weeks--and 'Jack ashore is, to say the least, very lively and full of spirits'--Bishop Bury was told, on arrival afterwards, that when it sailed away there had not been a single case of misdemeanour reported nor one British sailor brought up before a Norwegian court. This made a deep impression, he said--for the Norwegians themselves are seamen--upon public opinion in Christiania, as Oslo was then called.

Then there were those lads connected with the Turf, who had in Bishop Bury a very real friend. English boys are greatly in request in the racing centres of Europe, and one of the Bishop's happiest recollections, which he always related with joy and pride, was of one of the most popular and successful English jockeys in France, who was the son of a trainer, married to the daughter of a trainer, and who became a trainer himself, Mr. Jack Jennings, whom the Bishop counted as a much-respected and personal friend, whom he had known intimately since 1911, when he consecrated a little church at Maisons Laffitte.

'I was much amused at Jack coming in to see me one Sunday at the Embassy Church, Bishop Ormsby being chaplain at the time, and having included us both in his invitation to lunch with him after the service. On my telling Jack this, he said, "Oh, dear, I shan't know myself, lunching with two bishops." I said, "Try and bear it, Jack, for there will be three," Bishop Jagger, of the American Church, being another guest. Great amusement was caused by the smart waiters at luncheon, learning who our youthful-looking guest was, and giving him their chief attention. In their estimation the bishops were simply nowhere. Their choicest dishes and most attentive services were all at the disposal of our well-known jockey friend. He had already at that time won the Grand Prix de Paris. Some time after he only lost the Gold Cup at Ascot by half a length, and since then has won the Grand Prix once more. I wonder how many who saw him flash past to the winning-post realized that he had been at the early Celebration that morning, had been admitted lay reader for France in the Embassy Church at the eleven o'clock service, and, if I remember rightly, would be taking his usual Bible Class in the evening? I cannot imagine the time coming when, notwithstanding all our modern inventions, there will not be horse-racing. Every one knows the evils connected with it, though there need be none, but it seems to me impossible to overestimate the tremendous influence that one man has had throughout the whole of France from its being known that, though a jockey and cradled in sport, one might almost say, he is one of the most devout of men, and neither drinks, bets, nor swears.'

After his return from a visit to America in 1920, Bishop Bury said, 'The heart of the American Church is full of affection and sympathy for us in Europe.' He preached and gave addresses in almost all the leading cities in the East, Middle, and North-West, and said that it had been a great privilege to come to know and gain the friendship of such men as the Bishops of New York, Massachusetts, Western New York (Bishop Brent), Ohio, Minnesota, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Pitts-burg, Southern Virginia, Maryland, Harrisburg, Tennessee (Bishop Gailor), Missouri (the Presiding Bishop), New Mexico, Washington, and Panama.

'When we arrived in New York I knew two of the leading families, but when I left, such is the wonderful and gracious hospitality of Americans, it seemed to me as if I knew everybody.'

He preached in the cathedral, and said, as he usually tried to do, a few words to the choir afterwards.

'Sitting at luncheon my surprise can be well imagined when I received this note," The choirboys of the Cathedral thank the Bishop for his few words to them this morning, and invite him to have luncheon with them to-morrow and give them a little talk afterwards." Imagine the choirboys of any church, or cathedral, in our own country making such a venture, and yet it seemed all perfectly natural, and I never enjoyed a luncheon or a talk, which was in the library of the Cathedral, more in my life.'

In the course of this visit he addressed great meetings in the leading Chambers of Commerce, and at Minneapolis, or St. Paul, though the two are practically one, and he wrote:

'I was rather taken aback at finding half my audience were ladies. "I thought," said I, turning to my host, "that we were to be men only." "Oh, no," he said, "this is our Forum"--it is not called Chamber in that place--"and those are some of our leading business women and, of course, they are as welcome, I take it, as the men." "Certainly," I said. "I did not understand that they were members, but thought they might be visitors." I hesitate in repeating what the chairman said on that occasion, but as he addressed some six hundred people, including ladies, perhaps I may: "I have a few words to say in introducing the Bishop, but I shall keep in mind what I heard the other day as an ideal chairman's speech--It ought to be like ladies' frocks of the present day [1920], long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting!"

'Humorous, earnest common sense, devout and really spiritual, is the atmosphere which I always recall as I think of that wonderful time I spent as the deeply appreciative guest of the United States of America,' said the Bishop on his return. And there is one other amusing little story which he told of this visit:

'Unconventionality,' he said, 'not by any means divorced from earnestness, characterizes American clergy, even in their services. Gaiters and apron--short cassock it really is--created much surprise. On my arrival in New York I was walking in Central Park, Brooklyn, and we were a party of four. Two of our party stayed a little behind us while one of them lighted his pipe, and so heard the following from two men who had just passed us. "And what do you call that?" said one of them to the other, looking after me. "I don't know at all," said the other, "but I think it's Harry Lauder. I see in the papers he arrived last night, and I think that black thing that he is wearing is called a kilt"!'

And now we must halt. Throughout his long life Herbert Bury moved up and down the world on his Father's business, from the days of his youth until those last two weeks when he received the call Home.

'Grant, O Lord, that we may all use this time of work, while it is called to-day, remembering gladly and thankfully those who have gone before, who have stood by us in past days, who have cheered us by their sympathy, and strengthened us by their example; that when the time of our departure hence shall come, we may rest with them in peace, and with them be found worthy of the resurrection to eternal life which Thou hast promised to Thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'

That was the final prayer at the service for Herbert Bury, Bishop, at S. Stephen's Church, Westminster, on Thursday, January 19, 1933.

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