Project Canterbury

Alexander Gregg, First Bishop of Texas

By His Son, the Late Wilson Gregg

Edited and Extended by the Reverend Arthur Howard Noll.

Sewanee, Tennesee: The University Press, 1912.

Chapter IX. The Lambeth Conference.

WHILE the Civil War was in progress, Bishop Gregg completed his history of the "Old Cheraws," which he had begun while he was incumbent of St. David's Parish, Cheraw, and in 1867 was ready for its publication. That year he received an invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury (the Rt. Rev. Dr. Longley) to be present at a Pan-Anglican Conference to be held in Lambeth Palace the following September, and this he was privileged to accept; and as he learned that his book could be more advantageously brought out through the London publishing houses than in America, he made that one of the objects of his visit abroad. The home in San Antonio was broken up, the library and furniture stored, and after the adjournment of the Diocesan Convention, he met the members of his family at the terminus of the Texas railroad and proceeded with them to South Carolina. After a brief visit in Cheraw, the Bishop went on to New York, and there taking the "City of Antwerp," he arrived in London early in August.

He took with him letters from W. Gilmore Sims, and other distinguished literary men, to aid him in securing the publication of his book, and for some [102/103] time, though he responded to cordial invitations received from the Archbishop of Canterbury and other dignitaries, he was engaged in seeing his book through the press. And after he had by his literary industry earned a holiday, and before the meeting of the Conference, he made a visit to Paris. After the adjournment of the Conference he extended his investigations of London, and went to Ireland, Scotland and Wales. He met Lord Devon and was taken by him to witness the prorogation of Parliament. He noted on this occasion the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Bedford, the Earl of Beaufort, and Disraeli, "the great Jewish Commoner." He was apparently not deeply impressed with the proceedings of the Lambeth Conference, but noted in his letters the presence of Dean Trench, the author of the books on words, etc., now Archbishop of Dublin--a heavy-looking man with a miserable voice and no speaker at all. .. . The Bishop of St. Asaph, Short, author of Short's History of the Church of England. . . . I thought be was in his grave long ago. He is a rather queer looking old man. . . . The Bishop of Cape Town (Gray), who had so much trouble with the heretic Colenso; and Bishop Selwyn of New Zealand, are noble men and were leaders in the Conference. The Bishop of Oxford, Wilberforce, is, however, one of the best men on the English Bench and was by all odds [103/104] the best speaker in the Conference. The Bishop of Ely, Harold Browne, the author of that great work on the Articles, which I esteem so highly, is a fine man. . . . Thirlwall, author of the history of Greece, was present, an old and rather hard man, said to be the most learned Bishop in England."

In his letters he made more explicit mention of the American Bishops whom he met, many of them apparently for the first time, for it will be observed that he had been present at but one General Convention, the one in Richmond in 1859, when he was consecrated Bishop. He met Bishop McIlvaine on the steamer going over, and mentions Bishop Payne, Williams (of the China Mission), Clarke, Hopkins, Talbot (of Indiana), and Eastburn. Bishop Whitehouse preached the sermon at the opening of the Conference, which Bishop Gregg thought quite unworthy of the occasion. The sermon of the Bishop of Montreal (Fulford), at the close, he characterized as "tolerable," and mentioned one of his Texas clergymen who "could have excelled it."

He met several eminent scholars, among them Professor Owens, the scientist, by whom he was accorded the privileges of the British Museum. He received invitations or other marks of respect from the "Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge," the "Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign [104/105] Parts," "The National Association for the Freedom of Worship," and the "Anthropological Society of London." He was applied to for information about Texas, which was still terra incognita to most of the world, though the influx of English settlers in Texas had begun. He was invited to preach on several occasions, and honorary degrees were conferred upon him, but he felt about these, as about others, that none could take the place in his affectionate regard of that received from his alma mater.

In Wales he was invited to spend a Sunday at the residence of a wealthy Churchman. Upon going to Church on Sunday morning he was met at the door by the rector and other parish functionaries and obsequiously escorted to the robing room, furnished with official vestments of a type quite strange to him, and was made acquainted with the details of parochial affairs. It slowly dawned upon him that he was being mistaken for the new Bishop of the Diocese who was expected about that time. When explanations were made, the rector insisted upon his officiating, which he did.

He started upon his return to America in the latter part of October. From New York he hastened to Texas, making but a brief visit in Cheraw on the way. He found that yellow fever had been epidemic in Texas during the summer and had committed great [105/106] ravages, and among those who had succumbed to the disease were two of his faithful priests. Upon reaching San Antonio the care of the parish devolved upon him for about two months, after which he made his spring visitations.

The London edition of "The History of Old Cheraw," embracing an account of Indian Tribes in the Valley of the Pee Dee, South Carolina; the first White Settlements and Organization of St. David's Parish; Revolutionary History of that Region, etc. (1 vol. 8vo, 1867) was shipped to Charleston, whence it had a large sale, not only in South Carolina but elsewhere. Its value to students of history is great. [The only copy of this valuable work accessible to the Editor is that in the Library of the University of the South, at Sewanee. It has the following title-page:--"History of the Old Cheraws: containing an account of the Aborigines of the Pedee; the First White Settlements, their subsequent Progress; Civil Changes, and Struggle of the Revolution and growth of the country afterward, extending from about A.D. 1730 to 181o, with numerous notices of Families and Sketches of Individuals. New York: Richardson & Company. 1867." This copy was presented to the Library by Prof. Maximilian La Borde, a distinguished scholar of South Carolina.]

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