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Bishop of the Diocese.







My Reverend Brethren, and
Faithful Brethren of the Laity,

I write this letter with the greatest reluctance, as the subject of it compels me to speak mainly of myself. But necessity is laid upon me. A bold and unscrupulous charge has been made against your Bishop, implying a gross sacrifice of moral principle on his part in order to obtain the sacred office which he holds. This charge appeared in a document entitled, "A second Appeal to the Right Reverend the College of Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, by the Rev. James Mackay, of St John's, Inverness." That "Appeal" the Bishops refused to receive, as being informal. But it had been already printed and circulated; while through its informality I was debarred the opportunity of defending myself before the Court to which it had professed to be an Appeal. It is clear that the document itself might legitimately be made the subject of a formal charge on my part against the writer; but such a step would not give that same publicity to my refutation of the only charge I care to meet in it, which that charge itself had already obtained, through the unfair and improper printing and circulation of the document. I am, therefore, constrained to have recourse to this method of defending myself by addressing you in a public letter.

The following passage occurs in the document to which I alluded:--

"It will be recollected that the Rev. Robert Eden's election to the Bishopric of Moray and Ross was brought about [3/4] by means of an extraordinary character; that although the College of Bishops did not feel at liberty to disallow the vote of a disguised Papist recorded in Mr Eden's favour, your Reverences were very far from justifying the fraud; and that even this fraud would have failed to accomplish the end in view, had not a Clergyman, who was publicly pledged to support me, been induced to absent himself on the day of election. The Rev. Robert Eden, however, availed himself of the equality of votes thus produced, although he was made fully aware of the circumstances; and at the second election two of the Clergymen who had subscribed their names to the requisition, inviting me to become a candidate, were persuaded to vote for my opponent. The Trustees and Vestry of my Chapel, and all my friends, thought that I had great reason to complain of the proceedings. Accordingly, the whole correspondence was in type and ready for publication; but as a prosecution, under the law of libel, was threatened against the publisher if I circulated the correspondence, the Pamphlet was suppressed. I was unwilling to subject the publisher to the risk of a legal process; and it was suggested that, however just it might be to expose conduct so disreputable, our Church must be injured by the publication. Dr Eden's first act as Bishop of the Diocese was to displace from the Deanship the Very Reverend H. B. Moffat, my principal supporter, and to appoint in his stead the Rev. H. W. Jermyn, my principal opponent.

"I shall now mention a few facts which, although in themselves of small importance, may serve to illustrate the manner in which I have since conducted myself towards Bishop Eden; and I leave it to your Reverences to say whether I have not, as in duty bound, returned good for evil."

These last words, which I have marked by italics, serve to show that the preceding paragraph is intended to embody the evil which the Bishop had done to Mr Mackay in the matter of the election, and it is not possible, I think, for any one to read the paragraph without feeling that it is intended to [4/5] convey the impression, that the Rev. Robert Eden had used "means "of an "extraordinary character "to "bring about "his own election; that some of these moans were of an under-hand character; that while there is a certain mysterious vagueness in the charges, yet that the impression could not fail to be made on the mind of any person on reading them, and ignorant of the facts, that the Rev Robert Eden did knowingly avail himself of a fraudulent vote given in his favour by a disguised Papist; that he did this although the Bishops, as a body, disapproved of this vote; that he had something to do with persuading the Clergymen who had promised to vote for Mr Mackay, not to vote for Mr Mackay, but to vote for him; that the Trustees and Vestry of his Chapel, and all his friends, thought he (Mr Mackay) had great reason to complain of these proceedings; and that, in some way or other, the Rev. Robert Eden was concerned in the suppression of a Pamphlet which was to "disclose disreputable conduct;" and as a climax to such proceedings on the part of the Rev. Robert Eden, that his first act, as Bishop, was to displace from an office which ho held Mr Mackay's principal supporter at the election, because he had been the Bishop's opponent.

And that Mr Mackay intended that "the circumstances adverted to "in this paragraph should be believed as attaching to me, that they implied, on my part, the adoption of measures towards securing my own election, which could be viewed in no other light than as Canonically irregular and utterly unprincipled, is shown, beyond a doubt, by his stating that this impression was made upon his own mind respecting me by these very circumstances. For, after detailing the manner in which he had returned "good for the evil," which the Bishop had thus done to him, he adds, in his Appeal, these words, "When Dr Eden came into this Diocese, for the first time, I could not, under the circumstances adverted to above, regard him in any other light than as an intruder, whose 'cupiditas regnandi' had got the better of his 'mens conscia recti.'" [These Italics are mine.]

[6] Had such a charge as this been brought against me in England, I should have been quite content to have left it unanswered. But I am here comparatively a stranger; and I am unwilling that those amongst whom I have come to pass the remainder of my life should for one moment think that my position here was obtained by "disreputable conduct," or was the result of an "unprincipled ambition." I am happy in the conviction that certainly not more than one other of the Clergy of my Diocese entertains so contemptible an opinion of the individual whom they chose for their Bishop, as to believe him capable of sacrificing his conscience in order to obtain the position to which they saw fit to elect him. I am equally happy in the conviction that but few of the Laity of my Diocese concur in believing me capable of conduct so disgraceful; and that others may be disposed to remember, that this most serious imputation against me is made by one, who was himself a disappointed candidate for the office to which his brethren of the Clergy thought good to elect me. I should, indeed, have been disposed to treat this charge with the silence and contempt which it deserves, did I not know that it has boon extensively read beyond the limits of my own Diocese, and beyond the limits of our own Communion also; and did I not feel that there are those who would think that no man could be so rash, to say the least of it, as to make public such a charge unless it had some foundation in truth; and, however unwilling, would be compelled to believe it, unless it were fairly and honestly met. I shall meet it by a simple narrative of the facts and circumstances which brought me to Scotland.

In the year 1848 I was requested by some of the Clergy of the Diocese of Glasgow to allow myself to be put in nomination, to supply the vacancy in that See, created by the death of Bishop Russell. In the month of August in that year the election took place, and my old and valued friend, the Rev. Walter John Trower, was, by the Clergy of that Diocese, preferred before me, and was chosen to be their Bishop. I had the privilege and happiness of preaching the Sermon on the [6/7] occasion of his Consecration in the following month, and of congratulating the Clergy on the wise and happy choice which they had made.

Before the close of that same year I declined a proposal, which was made to me in the kindest terms by a person of great influence, to allow myself to be nominated as a Candidate for the office of Coadjutor-Bishop in another Diocese in Scotland.

Thus began, and thus, I supposed, had terminated all personal connection on my part with the Church in Scotland. [Of what occurred in the Diocese of Moray and Ross, in the interval between the end of 1848 and 1850, I knew nothing until very recently, when a curious correspondence, not bearing upon the election of 1850, was placed in my hands, showing certain steps which were taken towards obtaining a Coadjutor-Bishop for the Diocese, should the Venerable Bishop Low desire such an assistant.] With the exception of the Bishops, to whom I had the honour of being introduced at Glasgow, on the occasion of Bishop Trower's Consecration, and some of the Clergy of that Diocese, I was not personally acquainted with any of the Clergy of Scotland. But in the month of October 1850, without any previous communication with me on the subject, I received a letter from the Rev. Mr Jermyn (an entire stranger to me), who was at that time Synod-Clerk of the Diocese, informing me that I had been elected Bishop-Coadjutor, to the Right Reverend Bishop Low, of the Diocese of Moray and Ross. That four of the Clergy had voted for me, and four for a Mr Mackay, and that the Dean of the Diocese, who presided at the Synod, had given his casting vote in my favour, He further stated, that objection had been taken to the Dean's easting vote, and that the question as to its validity would rest with the Bishops for their decision. Before I could make up my mind as to the proper course for me to pursue, under circumstances so entirely unexpected, I received a second letter from Mr Jermyn, informing me that the Dean, who had given his second or casting vote in my favour, had since joined the [7/8] Church of Rome, and that he, Mr Jermyn, had felt it his duty to make me at once acquainted with this fact. On receiving this communication, I lost no time in informing Mr Jermyn that, whatever might be the decision of the Bishops on the question pending before them, relative to the casting vote of the Dean, nothing would induce me to accept the election procured by the vote of one who had acted as Dean Maclaurin had done; and I begged that this my decision might at once be made known to the Clergy of the Diocese, and this was immediately done. I subsequently learnt that the Bishops refused to confirm the election of either Mr Eden or Mr Mackay, on the ground that, as the Dean did not by Canon possess a casting vote, there was no clear majority for either candidate. I further learnt that, after this decision, Bishop Low withdrew his application to the Bishops for a Coadjutor; and thus again, as far as I was concerned, the matter was at an end. I had been made a Candidate without my knowledge; I had refused the election even if the Bishops should have determined the casting vote in my favour; and Bishop Low's withdrawal of his application for a Coadjutor prevented any further correspondence with me, and I had reason to hope that I should be allowed to remain in quiet at my living in England--but this was not to be the case.

On the 19th of December, in that same year, 1850, Bishop Low formally resigned into the hands of his Right Reverend Brethren his charge of the Diocese of Moray and Ross; and, in his letter of resignation, expressed his "earnest wish that a Successor might be immediately appointed." Two days after Bishop Low did me the honour, though personally unknown to him, to communicate to me the fact that he had formally resigned his Bishopric. On the 26th of December a mandate was issued to the Clergy of the Diocese, requiring them, within thirty days, to elect a Bishop to supply the vacancy thus created. Immediately upon the issuing of this mandate, I received a formal request, accompanied with the most earnest [8/9] and pressing solicitation, that I would allow myself to be put in nomination for the now vacant Diocese, and to accept if elected. It is unnecessary for me to state what my feelings were on receiving this communication. I had in England every thing which I could desire. I had the interests and happiness of others to consider, before I could, for a second time, resolve upon a step which should remove many of them from the only home they had ever known, and plant them amongst strangers. I had also to consider how far I should be justified in resigning the position which 1 was at that time occupying in England, and which must of necessity, amongst other things, involve a considerable pecuniary sacrifice. On the other hand, I felt that, as a Clergyman, as a Priest in the service of Christ, I was not my own master; that I was as much bound to go whithersoever He, by the leadings of His Providence, should call me, as any one holding a commission from the Crown is bound to go whithersoever the Queen may see fit to send him. If it were indeed a call from God, He knew the sacrifice which He was requiring me to make, and I dared not, merely because it involved a sacrifice, refuse to listen to it. The circumstances which I have already detailed were sufficiently peculiar to demand my attention; that a body of Clergymen, utterly unknown to me, and to whom I had every reason to suppose I was utterly unknown, without any communication to or from me, and while I was in entire ignorance as to any Bishop being needed or sought for in their Diocese, should have selected and nominated me as a candidate for that office; that when that election was set aside they should still not only wish, but most earnestly solicit me to become their Bishop; that when in urging their appeal to me they expressed their conviction that my consenting to come would tend to promote the best and the highest interests of the Church in their Diocese, and that injury might result if I refused, I felt myself placed in a position of such exceeding difficulty that I thought the safest course for me to choose was that which should involve a sacrifice. I consented to accept, if duly and Canonically elected.

[10] It was about this time that I received, from two different quarters, copies of a printed statement and correspondence relating to circumstances which had occurred prior to and at the former election, which election the Bishops had set aside as invalid. This, I presume, is "the Pamphlet" alluded to in the extract from the Appeal, which I have given above. I am not surprised that it was considered libellous. My own impression I remember, on reading it--being at the time an entire stranger to all the parties concerned, and having had nothing whatever to do with the election until it was over--was that it told so little in favour of the parties concerned, that I was surprised at the attempt to make the matter public. But I was not aware, until I read the statement in the Appeal, that the Pamphlet had been suppressed for the reason stated. It was sent to me as "private and confidential;" but it was sent by perfect strangers, who had no claim upon me for either privacy or confidence. There was, I remember, an untrue statement in it, which reflected upon the character of a deceased friend of mine in England, and which I required to be struck out from the said Pamphlet, but I was in no way concerned in its suppression, its publication being a matter of entire indifference to me.

Some short time prior to the day fixed for the second election, I was strongly urged by a Layman, not connected with the Diocese, to go down to the North that I might be introduced to the Clergy of the Diocese, and thus, as he was pleased to say, strengthen the prospect of my election. My answer was to this effect, "No! not if the Bishopric were worth £20,000 a-year." I stated "that I felt too deeply the awful responsibility of the Episcopate, and my own unfitness for so high an office, to allow of my taking any step which might influence the electors in my favour--they had sought me, and not I the office. If, uninfluenced in any way by me, they should see fit to elect me, I should regard such election as God's call to me, and should be prepared to obey it." And I felt very deeply the comfort of being nearly 600 miles from the place of election,

[11] On the 21st of January 1851, the election took place at n, under the Presidency of the Very Reverend Hugh B. Moffat (who had been appointed Dean on the secession of Dean Maclaurin), when, as I was informed, five Presbyters voted for the Rev. Robert Eden, and two for the Rev. James Mackay. In an Episcopal Synod, holden at Aberdeen, on the 19th of February, the Bishops confirmed my election. On the 9th of March following I was consecrated in St Paul's Church, Edinburgh, and on the same day was collated to the United Dioceses of Moray and Ross. My consecration and collation to the Diocese had displaced Mr Moffat from the Deanship; and one of the first duties which, as Bishop, I had to perform, in accordance with the Canons of our Church, was to "appoint a Dean," whose duty it would be, amongst other things, to preside and represent me, in my absence, in Diocesan Synods, and who, ex-officio, would be a member of all General Synods. Personally unacquainted with a single Clergyman in the Diocese, I was bound to seek the counsel of others as to the fittest person for such an office. The choice which I was led to make met with the almost unanimous approval of the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese; and the departure of Dean Jermyn, when he resigned the Deanship last year, on his appointment to the Archdeaconry of St Kitts, in the West Indies, was universally regretted. I was quite sure that there were minds capable of attributing to me a low motive for not re-appointing the late Dean; but I had a duty to perform to the Diocese and to the Church, and I am thankful to know that the Diocese at least, and I believe the Church at large, felt that I had faithfully discharged this duty, by appointing the Rev. Hugh Willoughby Jermyn to the office of Dean.

Such are the "circumstances" which, as far as I am concerned, brought me to Scotland; and how do they bear out even one of the insinuations against me contained in Mr Mackay's statements? I certainly had less to do with my own election than any other human being who felt or took any interest in it. I "availed myself" of no "fraudulent vote "of a [11/12] "disguised Papist," for I refused the election in which Dean Maclaurin had taken part. I "availed myself" of no "equality of votes." How could I do so? The "equality of votes "at that election was the very ground upon which the College of Bishops, and not I, determined that neither Mr Eden nor Mr Mackay was elected. I had no voice in this decision. It was the judicial finding of the only Court competent to determine the question. That Court had quashed the election. It disallowed the "disguised Papist's" casting vote, not because he was a disguised Papist, but because the Canons of the Church gave him no casting vote. It allowed his first or deliberative vote, because he was, at the time he gave it, an Instituted Presbyter of the Church, and as such was by Canon entitled to a vote. If his own conscience did not forbid his exercising the privilege which his institution gave him, and as the Canons have not ventured to declare secret sins to be a disqualification for a Presbyter's voting, the Bishops could not deprive him of that privilege, however strongly they might have disapproved of his conduct. [As far as I can at all form a judgment, my offence would appear to lie in my having accepted the election to the Bishopric. From Mr Mackay objecting that "I availed myself of the equality of votes," I can only conceive his meaning to be, that as I declined to be elected by the casting vote of "a disguised Papist," I ought not to have accepted any subsequent election. For any subsequent election could only have arisen from the Bishops having recognised Dean Maclaurin's first or deliberative vote; for that, if they had rejected it, Mr Mackay would have been elected by one vote. That my acceptance of the election, which took place in consequence of Bishop Low's subsequent resignation, was in fact a recognition on my part of the justice of the Bishops' decision, "That there was no legal majority for either Mr Eden or Mr Mackay." Can this be the meaning of my "availing myself of the equality of votes?" But, if so, do I wrong Mr Mackay by recognising a sentence which he was bound, by his obedience to the Canons, to hold "as final and conclusive?" The College of Bishops possesses by Canon a veto upon the choice made by the Presbyters in their election of a Bishop. They exercised this veto by "refusing to confirm either of the returns "made in favour of Mr Eden and Mr Mackay, "on the ground that there was no legal majority for either." Messrs Mackay and Moffat protested against their decision, and the Bishops in Synod heard them both at considerable length; but, "though thus made aware of all the circumstances," they saw no reason to alter their previous decision. As Mr Blackay was Canonically bound to receive this "sentence "of the Bishops, "as final and conclusive," he was certainly barred from raising any objection to my concurrence in that decision, if this is what is intended by the charge of "availing myself of the equality of votes, though made fully aware of all the circumstances." If not, I know not what he means.]

[13] When, two months afterwards, Bishop Low resigned, and the Presbyters were required, by mandate, to elect a Successor, and they saw good to elect me, I took no part in that election; I knew none of the Clergy; I declined to become acquainted with them until after the election; I asked no Clergyman for his vote, no Layman for his influence. I had too strong an inclination to remain where I was, to take any step which might lead to my removal. And if, at the first election, a Presbyter disappointed Mr Mackay, by not voting for him, I can only presume that he had some reason for doing so which satisfied himself, but I had nothing to do with it. As I have stated, I did not know that any election had been going on until it was over. If two Presbyters who had voted for Mr Mackay at the first election, in accordance with their promise, saw fit, as it appears they did, to withdraw their confidence in him at the second, and not to vote for him again, I had nothing to do with their change of mind. I held out neither threat nor promise to them--I knew not who they were.

Then, as to the suppression of the Pamphlet. I cannot do better than, in addition to what I have before said, give the following extract from a letter which I recently received from the intended publisher of that Pamphlet. "I can have no hesitation "in saying that you knew nothing, so far as I am aware, of the "suppression of the Pamphlet which Mr Mackay contemplated "publishing. I had no intercourse with you, direct or indirect, "on the subject."

And lastly, "I did not displace" Mr Moffat "from the Deanship." On my consecration, Mr Moffat, "ipso facto," ceased to be Dean. My duty was at once to appoint another Bean, the office being vacant, and to seek the best man for that office. Mr Moffat had a primary claim on my Consideration, [13/14] from his having already held the office, though only for a few months. But neither that fact, nor his having voted against me, could have justified me in setting aside the far superior recommendations which I received of Mr Jermyn (although he had voted for me), who was a much older Priest, and older Incumbent in the Diocese; and I therefore appointed him to the Deanship, to the great satisfaction of the Diocese. Mr Moffat appealed to the College of Bishops against Dean Jermyn's appointment, but the Bishops sustained it, and dismissed Mr Moffat's appeal.

Having thus shown the utter groundlessness of the insinuations against me contained in this most unjust charge, as my sole object has been to vindicate myself from the aspersions which it was attempted to cast upon me, I shall abstain from offering any comments. To do so would be extremely painful. I will, however, conclude with the expression of a hope, that a deeper sense of individual responsibility may serve to check in future unguarded charges against the personal character of those who are placed in a position of authority; and that you, my Brethren of the Clergy and Laity, without expecting me to notice every calumny which may be raised against me, will be induced to weigh well the sources from whence such calumny may spring, and that you will not for the future account my silence under it as an acknowledgment of inability to refute it. "Charity thinketh no evil."

Praying that the blessing of Peace may rest upon you all,

Believe me to be,

Your faithful and affectionate Servant and Pastor,

Bishop of Moray and Ross.

Hedgefield, Inverness, January 1855.

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