The earthly end was drawing nigh, although the ones nearest to the central personality knew it not; they had no premonition.
The Jubilee had been celebrated, and all had settled down to the routine of Church and school life, looking forward to a sequence of happy years. There was one severe attack of illness, but the sufferer rallied well and soon dismissed the thought of it from his mind.
When the heavy blow had fallen, after the first shock was over, people began to recall the last things precedent to that sad event. Upon the streets of Troy it was not unusual to sec the erect figure of the Rector in a barouche or carriage, but his final appearance is now spoken of as characteristic.
There was in his parish a woman, not counted among the rich, unable to get about with convenience to herself, who had often expressed a desire to visit Oakland, a picturesque bit of landscape to which good Trojans are carried after they depart this life. Doctor Tucker asked Mrs.------to be ready on a certain day. The barouche came; he handed her in and took his seat alongside; had she been a queen he could not have treated her with greater consideration or more unfeigned politeness. The Rector's last ride constituted a scene yet recalled in vivid remembrance.
During Lent, on a week-day evening, it had been the custom of the Pastor to deliver a course of lectures upon a special subject. In the spring of 1895, at the beginning of the fast, Doctor Tucker asked the larger girls about the choice of a topic. He desired their preference--whether he should give his own reminiscences, including the telling of many things known to himself alone, or deliver a course of instruction in some department of doctrine. Strange to say, they chose the latter. The cause seemed to be that they would tolerate no thought which involved the idea of his departure. They could not bear even the suggestion.
So, at a rehearsal, when the conductor made the remark that they must learn self-dependence, for that the day was coming when they must go on without him, tears were the speedy response.
On another practice night, occurring about the middle of August, Culley's Anthem, "I will wash my hands in innocency," was in course of study. As it was midsummer, men-singers were few. The organist was on the other side of the water. Doubt was expressed whether the anthem would "go well "in service. Doctor Tucker turned to the temporary organist, saying: "I think we shall be able to get through all right." At one point in the anthem the basses made the attack, starting alone. Just here the Rector's voice was particularly helpful.
The Sunday following, at Morning Prayer--the very last of his life--when the anthem was sung all went well. That evening, at the residence of a parishioner, some one remarked to him, "I never heard you sing better than you did to-day." "Yes," replied the Doctor, "I did pull out all my stops," recalling the phraseology adopted in the story which he had dictated.
The very next day--the fateful Monday--the Rector was engaged in his ordinary round of duty. He had left the school, had gone into the Church, thence entering the Rectory, to partake of his luncheon at noon. He had just seated himself at the table when he was stricken with the blow xvhich meant the last of earth for him.
Tuesday morning he rallied slightly from the paralysis. During a short period he recognized those about him, but he spoke no word to any. Gradually he relapsed into unconsciousness, which continued until the end, which was peace. He died at ten minutes before noon on Saturday, the I7th of August, 1895. Near relatives, dear friends, were gathered at his bedside.
At noon the bell of the Holy Cross was tolled, announcing to the citizens of Troy the passing of this pure soul. It was a fact in which they all had living interest. Then there began a long-continued expression of universal regret, of wide-spreading sorrow, manifested in many ways. The Daily Times, in its issue of that Saturday afternoon, voiced the popular idea and feeling when it headed its column, "A Saint of Modern Days Translated." Tributes of highest esteem, of stronger signifi-cancy than the ordinary newspaper notice, appeared in various journals.
Troy's oldest clergyman, the Rev. Peter Haver-mans, was pastor of a Roman Catholic congregation. He had come to Troy in 1843, one year earlier than Doctor Tucker. The two soon became friends. While the Rector of the Holy Cross lay ill the Pastor of St. Peter's called often, to make inquiry at the parsonage. When the latter learned that the end had come he was deeply moved. At the time, Father Havermans was ninety years of age, the oldest priest of his communion in America. Other clergy, of diverse titles, united in one expression of sorrow and affection.
The Bishop of the Diocese had been away--in residence at his summer home at North East Harbor, Maine. He came on at once to attend the services. Arriving about three o'clock on Monday afternoon, Bishop Doane entered the Church where lay the body of the much loved and honored priest, clad in a vestment of white embroidered with gold--a valued offering made months before by one of the guilds of the parish. The coffin was placed in the ante-chapel. There, through Monday afternoon, some twenty-five hundred parishioners and other friends came to look upon the familiar, classic features.
At the hour of the Bishop's arrival--about three o'clock in the day--there appeared a boy nine or ten years of age, clad plainly but neatly, evidently belonging to a family--not of this faith--which had been blessed by the benefactor, whose alms had been unseen, unknown, but measureless. The boy passed into the sacred enclosure, stepped to the side of the oaken coffin and looked upon the quiet face. Then he knelt by the side of the dead, crossed himself, and prayed. All the onlookers, standing round, bowed their heads in unison with the child's devotion.
At that moment the Bishop stepped in. He saw at once the state of the case. First he laid his hand upon the head of the boy, giving his blessing; then he, chief pastor, knelt to take part in the intercession, ever mindful of his loyal priest.
Mr. W. W. Rousseau is the organist of the Church--the devoted friend and faithful coworker of the Rector so highly valued. Air. Rousseau had been abroad during the summer. lie reached his home only on Saturday--the day of the Rector's death--not in time to see his dear friend yet alive, yet in season to take the musical direction of the Burial Office. It was a sorrowful but sweet undertaking for him. Like the members of his choir, his affections were so enlisted that they were overwrought.
Mr. Rousseau wrote me about the one subject: "You will observe that the last care he had in mind was his Church, as he had but just conic from it and gone into his dining-room and seated himself for his usual noon lunch when he was stricken with the fatal malady. ... So has departed one whose like we shall never see on earth." The organist pays his own heartfelt tribute in a few paragraphs published in the Troy Times:
After an absence of six weeks, the writer returns to find a desolate house, a bereaved community, a void in a Church-life that can never be filled, and the hand I know would have been most warmly extended to welcome me home cold in death; while the great pleasure we both anticipated in recounting together the results of my visits to the many European Cathedrals has been suddenly banished. But it is a satisfaction beyond expression to know that Dr. Tucker died as he wanted to die--in the harness.
And it is a gratifying fact that the Church he loved so well, and at which he had ministered so faithfully, was perhaps the last object of his care, as he had just left the Church and entered his home when he was stricken. But the day before (Sunday), he waited upon the Lord in His holy temple as usual.
But all is over. No more shall we be greeted with his ever-kindly smile; never again on earth shall we listen to the voice that we al! had learned to love and revere. Noblest, truest, best of friends, farewell! How truly has been fulfilled the motto that adorned his private room; "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life! "
During the time in which the cherished form lay in state there were palm branches about him, placed, as it were, within reach of his hand. Members of St. Stephen's Guild kept faithful watch during' the night preceding the burial.
On Sunday morning there had been a Celebration held at eight o'clock, at which the Rev. Dr. Maxcy was celebrant. The whole Church was filled absolutely. Each worshipper present received the Holy Communion at this especial service. It was a great congregation of loving, sorrowing, and praying friends.
Thereafter no service was held in the Church until the Office of Burial on Tuesday morning. Then Bishops Doane and Potter were in attendance, with some forty vested clergy. The space within the Church was insufficient to accommodate the throngs of people who strove to enter; many waited without.
Although the service was of tenderest feeling, yet the scene was bright and joyous, just as he who had gone would have liked to have had it. The altar was vested in white. There was an abundance of lights in the chancel. Doctor Tucker was accustomed to say, "Let us have plenty of light." Beautiful flowers were on every side. Fresh roses shed fragrance. The palm branches still foretold triumph. Violet hangings were apparent only within the limits of the choir. The first hymn was the exultant strain, "Ten thousand times ten thousand "--a favorite of the one remembered.
The choir of the Church, devoted every soul of them to the Pastor, were so moved by their personal sorrow that, at the Burial Office, they could scarcely sing plain chants and hymns. The organist was so persuaded beforehand of their unusual attachment and feeling that he did not venture to place even a single anthem upon the programme for the day--this with reference to a choir which is accustomed to sing anthems all the time.
Was there ever such a Burial Service as this? When, after the office, the treasured body was carried along the alley-way, the singers broke down on account of their grief. The congregation joined them in audible sobs. What a tribute of affection it was! All along the street there were constant manifestations of respect and true grief. It might appear that, after all, the great mass cares more for its true saints than for princes or conquerors.
A line of fifty coaches was filled with actual mourners. Arrived at Oakwood, after the body had been committed to the earth, nearly every member of the multitude cast fresh flowers into the open grave. Throughout the time occupied by service and procession, the bell of St. Paul's--the mother Church--was tolled.
Trojans are glad that their saint lies buried close at hand, within the confines of their own interesting city, of that which had become his true home by adoption and long residence.
The place of resting for his body is, as he wished it, in a spot "where the sun might shine upon his grave." He lies in the midst of a plot, with space about him in which, according to his own request, any of the poor of the Church, who so desire, may be buried.
The feeling of Church musicians outside of his own city is summed up in a letter which arrived soon after the burial, addressed to a musical friend in Troy. Dr. George William Warren, organist of St. Thomas' Church, New York, writes from his summer home:
Aug. 22, 1895.
DEAR MRS. MARY:
It was an added sorrow to my constant grief for the death of our sainted friend, that I could not be at Holy Cross Church last Tuesday, but it was entirely impossible to leave home either on Monday or Tuesday. Today I could have been with all you mourners.
I feel so lost now that I never can see him again in this world. His regard and sympathy, and the consolation of being with him at the parsonage as occasion allowed me, was everything to me, and now I am desolate indeed; and if so for me, think of you who could see him every day. Truly we are afflicted.
On the 26th of August Dr. Warren writes again:
Many, many thanks for your letter of Saturday, every item of which I read with a melancholy interest, almost morbid.
I hope some consolation will come to us by and by, yes, and to the Parish and School of the Holy Cross. All good things end in this world, and our minds should be trained to meet trouble, and yet we are never ready for these appalling changes; and when I think of the parsonage without him, I am desolate. We are, however, comforted, for our dear saint is at rest and in bliss everlasting. Amen.
Truly your friend
GEO. WM. WARREN.
One-half hour after the return from the cemetery a message was received by cable, from Tours in France, conveying an order for flowers for the burial. It was followed by a letter from Mrs. Percy Alden, stating that, in the Paris Herald, she had just seen the announcement of the death. She expressed her great sorrow, and hoped that her "cable "would be in time.
The Rev. Arthur B. Moorhouse wrote from Boston: "Doctor Tucker was a most remarkable man; none like him in my estimation. He was always deeply sympathetic, in musical matters particularly. I used to steal away from Boston on every opportunity, to come to the Holy Cross to hear that wonderful service. I had a most delightful visit with the Doctor just after Easter. Although he did not seem so strong as usual, yet I did not think he was really breaking down. His loss will be felt all over the country."
J. D. Shaw of Irvington, N. J., wrote 28th August, 1895:
I have seen the Churchman. It has a short account of his life with a good portrait, but in no way does it go into all the particulars that a paper from Troy would. Every word of eulogy was truthful.
He was my Sunday-school teacher 55 years ago, and in every way took great interest in me. If you had seen his father, you would not have forgotten him. He was Major Tucker, President of one of the Wall St. banks, N. Y. He was nearly seven feet in height, with a strong military air. You could not but observe him in passing.
Of the son, Rev. Dr. Tucker, we may well say
Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ.
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master's joy.
The Standing Committee at once met and adopted a minute:
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Albany, N. Y., assembled on this the 20th day of August, 1895, to attend upon the funeral obsequies of the Rev. John Ireland Tucker, D.D., desire to place on record the following minute:
Born 1819--Died 1895. These are the periods that mark the earthly pilgrimage of our associate, wherein were fulfilled the Psalmist's promise: "With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." . . .
In the formation of the Diocese of Albany he took a prominent and active part, and ever since that time he has given of his time, advice, labor and aid to further its progress. His pride in the prosperity of the same was great; the honors heaped upon its first Bishop caused him more joy than had they been his own, so unselfish was his nature; interest in diocesan institutions never flagged; loyalty to his Bishop was strong and continuous; honors did not have to be conferred on him before he would rouse himself to higher thought and generous deed; to him honors were as mere accidents, for the reason he himself was above, beyond and greater than them all.
From the formation of the Diocese he has been a member of the Standing Committee and since the death of the Rev. William Payne, D.D., four and one-half years ago, its honored and revered president. It has been the lot of few dioceses as old as ours, to have had only two presidents and those two such saintly characters as were Drs. Payne and Tucker. It is not our place to linger with detail in the various spheres of activity wherein our departed brother exercised his gifts so conspicuously and so successfully, but rather to think of him as our associate in the Standing Committee of this Diocese. . . .
In our councils we saw at work in him constantly the strong intellect and the warm heart; in him mercy and truth met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other; impetuous, yet so calm; gentle, yet so strong; modest, yet so brave; retiring, yet so conspicuous; simple, yet so learned; manly, yet so Christlike. His whole life was a sweet song, which as the days flew by grew sweeter and stronger, as though it was a preparedness for leadership in the choirs of the New Jerusalem.
Dear Dr. Tucker, we, thine associates of the Standing Committee, hid thee "Farewell," knowing it will not be so long a time before we shall have the joy of reunion and of thy welcome to become partakers with thee of those blessings prepared for those who love God, and upon which thou art entered. "Farewell! "but only for a brief time, for that strange voice of thine that so fascinated us in our earthly worship will yet in louder and clearer and sweeter tones help us the better to sing the song of the redeemed--"Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be unto our God forever and ever. Amen." "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."
For the Committee.
At the Diocesan Convention holden a few months later, the Bishop, in his address, recalled the vivid scene of the burial:
I received on Saturday, the 17th of August, in North East Harbor, news of the death of dear Dr. Tucker, for which I was somewhat prepared by Dr. Ferguson's thoughtfulness in telegraphing me of his sudden illness. I came at once of course to Troy and took my part in the solemn and touching office of his burial, the Bishop of New York being with me, and about forty clergymen, many of whom had come long distances, and all of whom had come out of the deep sense of personal love and personal loss. I print, in the appendix of this address, the minute of the Standing Committee, the minute adopted by the Bishops and clergy present, all too faint and feeble utterances of our true and reverent affection for this holy man. It is a strange coincidence, that this same address should contain the notice of the Jubilee, which we kept on Christmas eve, in the Church of the Holy Cross, with proud and thankful hearts. And I am sure that you will agree with me, that our sorrow ought to be unselfish enough and full enough of faith, to realize that if we called that golden, we ought to call this the jewel jubilee for him. It is idle to attempt to put in words the estimate of such a life and such a character. He was so many-sided that the sense of his loss touches hundreds of people; who knew him, from the far outside, only as the reverent priest, the rare musician, the composer and compiler of what I believe to be the best musical hymnal in the Anglican Communion; who knew him, in the closer relations, either of official counsel or of close and intimate personal friendship; who loved him and looked up to him as their guide and teacher in spiritual things, their devoted pastor, their friend, so prompt and keen in sympathy with every joy and sorrow of their lives; his fellow-citizens, whose leader and example he was in all that made for righteousness and truth and honor; his own immediate family, whose personal bereavement we may not forget in the great sorrow of our own loss.
I am sure none who were there that day, either in the Church or about the grave, can ever forget the well-won tribute poured out, by every sign and token of grief and love. As we passed out between the double file of singing men and girls, bearing the body for the last time from the Church which he had created and served, while the voices of the choir half sang, half sobbed, the words of the "Paradise hymn "--keeping their sobs in tune and time--I said to the Bishop of New York: "It was worth living to have won such a tribute as that." I am free to say after a friendship of forty years, the latter half of which has been filled with constant and intimate intercourse, that I have never known a priest in whom God had so beautifully combined all gifts of nature and of grace^ that go to make a rounded and completed man. He was a theologian, one of very few, accurate in all the definitions of the truth, keeping his mind fresh with al! the newest publications of the day; and staunch and true in his convictions of the Catholic faith. He was a gentleman with every instinct of kindly courtesy, and with all the grace and finish and polish which a rare and fine nature gets from the manners of a gentleman. And in his inner life, into whose sacred places the eyes of man could only imperfectly look, he showed by every unstudied and instinctive act and word, that he was one of the men who "walk with God." He has left behind him many a memory and many a memorial which will only freshen and brighten as time goes on.