Project Canterbury

Bishop Montgomery: A Memoir

By M.M.

[London] The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1933.

Chapter XII. The Bishop as traveller

In this short Life of Bishop Montgomery it is not possible to give any detailed account of the journeys he took on behalf of S.P.G. The bishop kept very full diaries of each journey, but they all make frequent and intimate mention of people still living. Also events move with such rapidity in the mission field that many of the conclusions he came to would now be out of date.

In 1906 the bishop went to Canada. On the journey, as indeed on every voyage, he became a prime favourite with all the passengers. He was a born traveller; never seasick in the roughest weather; he could put up with every alternation of heat or cold; he never had a headache in his life and, best of all, "fleas," the bugbear of most travellers in tropical countries, never bit him.

Although he was an intensely home-loving man, he could throw himself into the present and seldom suffered from home-sickness. His journals show an unbounded love of travel and of his fellow beings. He made friends wherever he went, and brought cheer and inspiration to countless workers on the prairie, in lonely homesteads, in crowded cities. He never spared himself in his travels. When not actually sight-seeing, his days were one long round of services, addresses, confirmations, visits to schools and hospitals, always at the end of every function, whether missionary or social, shaking hands with every one present.

He went right through Canada to Vancouver. His book, The Church on the Prairie, which he wrote on his return, describes the problems of Church development in Canada and especially on the prairie. On this trip he was able to interest the Church in Canada in the Pan-Anglican Congress, to be held two years later. He was away two months.

In 1907 he was off again to America, and this time he was accompanied by his daughter, Una. He sailed from Moville on September 12th and landed there again on October 25th. The Bishop claimed that his visit to the States would have been a failure but for Una. "People came to me and asked to be introduced to my beautiful daughter." Una said that at receptions people came up to her and said, "Who is that fine-looking man with a star on his breast?"" The Americans loved what the bishop called his "war paint." A bishop's evening dress created the greatest delight, being quite unknown in the States. "Purple coat, silk stockings, buckles, Orders, etc. They walk round one in delight. One girl rushed up to me, examined coat and Cross and Order, knelt down and inspected stockings and shoes, got up and said with a sigh of gratification, 'You are almost as good-looking as your daughter'."

The Bishop of London was also on this trip. Of course he was immensely popular and drew great crowds whenever he preached. Both the bishops had come out to be present at the laying of the foundation stone of Washington Cathedral. On September 29th, as it was the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, Bishop Montgomery was allowed to celebrate in the morning in Bishop Satterlee's private chapel. At the great service the Bishop of London spoke; fifty bishops were present and an immense congregation. In the afternoon there was a great open-air service for the St. Andrew's Brotherhood, and in the evening Bishop Montgomery preached at the pro-cathedral. The new cathedral was designed by Bodley, and £250,000 had been spent on site and buildings. A great stone altar was cut from the quarries in the Valley of Kedron. The font stands on stones brought out of the Jordan. The pulpit is made up of stones from Canterbury Cathedral and there is a "Glastonbury thorn" nearby.

On October nth the visiting bishops went on to Richmond. The next day Bishop Montgomery met the Woman's Auxiliary. He made friends there with Mr. George Thomas, a wealthy retired banker, full of good works. On hearing that Bishop Montgomery had come out at his own charges, he sent him the following letter: "My dear Bishop,--May I ask your acceptance of the enclosed with my very sincere appreciation of your visit to America and the good your presence has done to us all. Will you also allow me to designate ioo dollars for your daughter's special use. Believe me, etc." Enclosed was a cheque for £120. The bishop wrote back most gratefully and said that after paying expenses he would make a thank-offering to S.P.G. on his return for American blessings.

His sixtieth birthday, October 3rd, was kept at Richmond, where he was the guest of Miss Coles, and was celebrated with flowers and a cake with sixty candles. He enjoyed the Virginian food--waffles, corn pudding, pancakes with syrup.

He was of course much interested in the negro problem; and here, too, he was in the country of his great heroes--General Lee and Stonewall Jackson. People's hearts warmed to him when he told them he had had General Lee's picture in his study for thirty years. They visited a tobacco factory and were shown the actual tobacco brought by Sir Walter Raleigh to England, and only grown there.

At Bruton Parish Church, Williamburg, they placed the Bible sent by King Edward to mark the tercentenary of Walter Raleigh.

From Virginia the bishop and his daughter went to Princetown, New York, where they were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Russell in their wonderful house, Edgerstowne. This house became a second home to Una, and after her father left she stayed on for some months and made it her headquarters. Bishop Montgomery received the greatest kindness from Mr. and Mrs. Russell. When he visited the States again in 1916 with his daughter Winsome, she too made it her home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Russell have passed away, but the friendship has been kept up between the two families. Bishop Montgomery was much impressed by the kindness and hospitality of the Americans. "We were allowed to pay for nothing. Carriages waited at the door all day long. My writing table was supplied with stamps."

The bishop sailed for home in the Asteria, and after the second day out he made the delightful discovery that it was his old ship, the Tainui, in which he and his family had first gone out to Tasmania. He wondered why it was that he took an affection for the ship the moment he got on board. The saloon was unaltered. There was the table at which he sat all the morning writing, while the children did their lessons, and the corner was called Bishopscourt.

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