IMMEDIATELY after his ordination, the young deacon went to his ordainer's house to dine,--for such was Bishop White's hospitable rule upon these occasions,--and in the afternoon preached his first sermon, in St. James' Church. Kemper was not and never became a great preacher; to explain the curiosity and interest, the high expectations, the veritable sensation excited by that his maiden homiletical effort, it is to be mentioned that the clergy of the city were all men advanced in years. The bishop was sixty-three; Dr. Robert Blackwell, his senior assistant, was ready to resign for age; Dr. Joseph Pilmore, that pioneer of evangelicalism, at St. Paul's Church, was seventy-seven years old,--any of them old enough to be the grandfather of the neophyte of twenty-one, whose personality rather than the quality of his discourse must account for the impression produced. His auditors doubtless felt, and justly so, that they were participating in an event full of promise for the future,--a pledge of the reviving energies of the church after many years of lassitude and depression.
The following Tuesday, he was sounded as to an assistantship by a committee from the united churches. The mother parish of Christ Church with its offshoots, St. Peter's and St. James', were associated under the bishop's supervision, and served by him with the cooperation of assistant clergy. The following Sunday--the third in Lent--Kemper preached three times; in the evening to the colored congregation of St. Thomas' Church. He then returned to New York to fill appointments that he had made before leaving, and this took him several weeks to do. Among them was one with Dr. Nathaniel Bowen of Grace Church (afterward the third bishop of South Carolina) who was anxious to have him settle in the city. He returned a polite, circuitous reply to a communication from the Philadelphia vestry, inviting him to pay their city another visit, for better acquaintance. To his friends he confessed that he deprecated the imputation of ingratitude; he had been treated with the utmost civility and hospitality,--but he felt the delicacy of the situation: to preach on trial went against his grain. Meantime his feelings were being far more deeply harrowed by a yet more delicate situation; for now we reach the romance of his life.
We are acquainted with his impressionable temperament. Something other than clerical engagements had drawn him homeward in a week. He and a well-tried friend of long standing--a college classmate--were both ardently in love with the same young lady,--one of rare beauty of figure, feature and expression, charm of manner, sweetness of disposition; and she (now that they all have long been dust, it can be no breach of confidence to reveal it) was almost equally interested in either. Kemper's bearing throughout this trying situation, in which he suffered acutely, was characterized by truly romantic refinement, sensitive honor, spiritual elevation. His father was impoverished, and he had no resources, no income, or visible means of supporting a family. He felt too that his first duty was to help his aging parents. So he resigned his prospect of happiness to his friend. But the latter was not to be outdone in generosity; he yielded with equal chivalry; both agreed to abide by her decision,--and she decided for the friend.
And so a crisis which by unregulated passion is only too often rendered ridiculous or revolting, made the subject of nauseous rant and sentimentality, settled in some countries by barbarous pistol-shot or stiletto, or followed by equally silly suicide, was here resolved according to the unyielding principles of morality, manliness, and sound good sense.
This forgotten love affair of nigh a hundred years ago is the tenderest, most beautiful passage in our hero's life. He never forgot that early love; it was an idealizing and hallowing presence in after years; but it left a scar upon his heart,--a disappointment that should not have been.
In utter ignorance of the emotional tragedy that was transpiring, the church people of Philadelphia were expressing regret at his refusal of their call. His aunt, Mrs. Jackson, a skilful social diplomatist, now rose to the occasion; telling every one who alluded to it in her presence that he could not well refuse what had never been offered, and that as to the invitation to preach, his engagements in New York prevented his acceptance at that time. The strain of the situation was relieved by the positive resignation of Dr. Blackwell, in whose stead an assistant now had to be chosen. So, on the 14th of May, Kemper was notified of his unanimous election to the position by the vestry, his salary to amount to three hundred and fifty pounds sterling, "with such extra allowance as the vestry vote assistants from time to time; such allowance at present being three hundred dollars." Notice of this action was publicly read in the three associated churches, with the appended proviso (a quaint and early instance of the referendum) that it should be considered final, "unless a majority of the congregation entitled to vote at the annual election for churchwardens and vestrymen shall declare in writing in one month to the churchwardens or either of them that they object to the same election; in which case it shall be considered as null and void." On the twentieth of the same month, Kemper signified his acceptance, and having waited long enough for any objectors to be heard from, journeyed to Philadelphia in June.
Such punctilios were a feature of an age far more formal than ours, and a society that stood stiffly upon its dignity, and were certain to arise when one party to a contract dreaded the mortification of a refusal and the other was sensitively scrupulous against seeming to seek a position. Readers of Bishop Richard Channing Moore's life will recall the protracted negotiations between him and the diocese of Virginia, antecedent to his election to its episcopate. "Come and let us hear you. Would you come if you were elected?" "Elect me, and I will go and see." The intricacies of such correspondence sometimes, to modern sense, touch the ludicrous and overshoot the mark, suggesting the subtleties of the most calculating policy, and mutual suspicion of motive.
Thus at last, providentially, it came to pass that the young minister was brought into the kindliest and most intimate relations, reaching over twenty years, with the distinguished and much experienced bishop who then presided over the American church, whose character he came more and more to resemble, and whose spirit he transmitted to another generation. It was an invaluable discipline. A memorable interweaving of Episcopal influences has been remarked among our older bishops. The high-church Seabury graduated the evangelic Griswold, the moderate White, the high-church Hobart, and the latitudinarian Provoost, the evangelical Channing Moore. In the third generation, while these types generally became more pronounced, they blended, and these oscillations came to equilibrium, in the catholic-minded Kemper,--given as amends, as it were, by Hobart to White,--and in Cobbs, who went forth from Moore's diocese, evangelical, but a stronger churchman than he; while from Griswold's influence Hopkins emerged and steadily grew higher. The lives of these nine sum up as much of the experience of the American church as as yet belongs to history.
Kemper spent the first three months after his arrival in Philadelphia with his Aunt Jackson,--who repeated to him a caution that had been given her, "not to let him be spoiled by such general approbation" as he had received,--and then took rooms at William Murdock's. The population of the city at that time was approaching one hundred thousand; it was the largest in the country,--but New York was rapidly gaining upon it. Having been for a time the seat of government, it had acquired somewhat of a metropolitan character, and during the French Revolution and ascendency of Bonaparte many aristocratic exiles made it their home and contributed to its culture. Some made a livelihood by teaching languages and arts, especially music; others brought scientific knowledge and the principles of the Encyclopaedia. A diversified and party-colored life had replaced the simplicity and monotony of the provincial period: the age of contrasts had begun. Roman Catholicism and deistic infidelity, the social refinements and license of Versailles, were all in evidence. Beside the French emigrants there were many German and Irish Catholics; Michael Egan, a member of the Franciscan order, had just been consecrated their bishop.
Amid these complex conditions, young Kemper maintained the even tenor of his course. The society in which he chiefly mingled boasted itself as the best in America, and doubtless there was none superior. His manners bore to the end the stamp of its elegance, but he was never diverted by its attractions from the active work of the ministry. The communicants of the three parishes that he served numbered two hundred at the time of his arrival; the baptisms that year amounted to upward of that number. Any Sunday morning or afternoon when he happened to be disengaged he devoted to holding service at Germantown, where there was no church; and if he could not visit there on a Sunday, he would give the people a week-day service. He was appointed secretary of the diocesan convention at the first meeting he attended, and was reappointed time after time until the year 1817 inclusive. He was a prime mover in the formation, in the spring of 1812, of the Society for the Advancement of Christianity in Pennsylvania; an organization that marked an epoch in the life of the diocese and, viewed in the light shed upon it by his later career, in general religious history as well. Its primary object was to increase the supply of clergy, and so meet the most pressing need, and thus and by every other means in its power,--for example, the distribution of prayer-books, also a crying need,--to help revive the parishes that were ready to die and to strengthen the feeble ones throughout the diocese. Kem-per was chosen as the first missionary of the society, and, having secured a substitute to perform his parochial duties during his absence, he set out early in August, just after the breaking out of the second war with England, upon his first tour of ecclesiastical discovery and exploration. He held service at Radnor, thence drove, in a sulky, to Lancaster, where Joseph Clarkson, the earliest of Bishop White's ordinands, was rector, and thence to York, Chambersburg, where he had service in the courthouse, and Huntingdon, where he found a log church in a fair state of preservation, a parsonage lapsing to ruin, and a little flock without a pastor, still faithful to the church and attached to her worship. All along his way, he met or heard of scattered families of church people, and at one point a rumor came to him of a settlement of them, from beyond sea, in the upper part of a remote valley. Early in September he reached Pittsburg, and preached in Trinity Church; thence proceeded southward, up the Monongahela valley, to Brownsville, whereabout he found many members of his communion, their churches closed; and then crossed the state line, stopping at Charleston, in the western part of Virginia. Here he found a clergyman settled, the only one in that portion of the state, whose name was Doddridge; and with him enjoyed brotherly intercourse, which vastly widened his missionary horizon. His new friend was of the opinion that half of the original settlers of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee--the only states as yet beyond the Alleghanies--had been Episcopalians, and that it was not too late to follow and endeavor to recover some of them. He had given much anxious thought to the condition of the church in the western part of the United States, and said that the first step should be to form a convention of all the clergy west of the mountains. Two, he knew, were at work in Ohio, and one at least, by the name of Moore, at Lexington, Kentucky. He impressed upon his young guest the necessity of immediate action, for the salvation of the church's prospects in the West. Kemper then retraced his steps, and visited Beaver on the Ohio river, thirty miles below Pittsburg. The people there had worshipped at first in the jail, then in a schoolhouse, at the time of his visit in the courthouse; they seemed to be utterly ignorant of the liturgy. At this point he turned his face eastward and homeward, recrossing the state in the month of October, revisiting upon his way as many as possible of the places he had stopped at before.
He returned to Philadelphia greatly improved in health, which had been poor, partly, no doubt, in consequence of his disappointment,--and with a store of fresh impressions and conclusions drawn from his observation; among others, that "the apathy of a congregation is principally, almost entirely, owing to the pastor who presides over it," that "the custom throughout the state of being anti-rubrical has been attended with most fatal consequences to our Zion,"--that is, with exceeding lukewarmness of ecclesiastical principle,--and above all, that the West offered a wide, extremely important and inviting mission field. He could report beside that upon his tour he had baptized thirteen children. The zeal that his experience awakened in his soul was communicated to others, and his report rendered to the Society that had sent him out, and through it to the diocesan convention at its next meeting, greatly excited if indeed it may not be said to have created interest in domestic missions, raising anew the question of an episcopal appointment for the region beyond the Alleghanies.
Another symptom of increasing strength is the fact that this year a fund was started and collections were made in some of the churches of the diocese for the endowment of the Pennsylvanian episcopate.
Kemper now devoted his spare hours to improving his acquaintance with Hebrew, and corresponded in regard to his studies with the learned Samuel Farmar Jarvis, who enlarged upon the importance and value of Biblical criticism, and regretted that the Socinians by taking it up had created a prejudice against it. He also corresponded with the distinguished evangelical, James Milnor, who had just effected his "breach with the world," abandoning a political career that promised distinction. Milnor addressed his young correspondent in a reverential tone that strikes one as remarkable, coming from a man many years the senior. About this time the young deacon's piety was deepened and his homiletical style received an infusion of unction through readings in an evangelical organ entitled "The Christian Observer," several articles in which affected him profoundly. We have spoken of the persuasiveness of his preaching; among those who were deeply interested and moved by it was the talented young William Augustus Muhlenberg, then a student at the University of Pennsylvania. It seems appropriate here to illustrate his method by a representative sermon on Charity, preached in all the churches of his charge. Its text was taken from the familiar tenth verse of the sixth chapter of St. Paul's epistle to the Galatians. The preacher enforced his theme by (1), the Almighty's command, illustrated by His goodness as shown in the works of nature, and (2), the example of Jesus, in considering which he burst into the following apostrophe and prayer: "And didst Thou, blessed Jesus, spend thy life for us, for our example? Wast thou touched with a feeling for our infirmities? Didst thou enter the hovel of distress, assuage the grief of a sufferer, and dispel from his abode misery and want? O wonderful was thy condescension and infinite thy love! And can we refuse to imitate the pattern which thou hast set us? May our right hands forget their cunning, may our tongues cleave to the roof of our mouths when this is obliterated from our memories! Effuse, Almighty Saviour, thy powerful grace into our hearts, enable us to be continually given to all good works, and in imitation of thee to delight in benefiting the bodies and souls of men.
"Christians, behold your Saviour going from city to city. Crowds of people with the halt and the diseased gather around him. And lo! the eyes of the blind are opened, and the ears of the deaf are unstopped. The lame man leaps as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sings. The demons of hell obey him. Thousands are fed by his power. At his command the billows cease their raging, and the insatiable grave yields up its dead. It was a jubilee in Israel; their habitations sounded with the voice of health and joy. Scarce was sickness known, while fear and dismay fled from the trembling penitent and faith and hope possessed his soul. Thus did the holy Jesus labor in our cause, while, though fatigued in body and in mind, he frequently spent the whole night in praying for us.
"Surely the contemplation of the Saviour's life must kindle the smallest spark of faith into a perfect flame of devotion; it must convince us that without charity we cannot even hope for heaven."
The Saviour removed from poverty its old time stigma and even consecrated it by bearing it himself throughout his earthly life. Henceforth it becomes an occasion for the practice of many Christian virtues and graces, not the least of which is the privilege of relieving it afforded to wealth. "Riches are talents committed to our trust; as they accumulate our obligations increase." And the obligation is also a blessing, affording exercise to "the finest feelings of our nature,--the pure and exalted sensations of beneficence." The thought of judgment to come should impress upon the rich the duty of helping their poor neighbors, while the attendant blessing should make the duty a delight. "The blessing of God accompanies those actions which are well pleasing in his sight. How extremely interesting, how captivating, how endearing is this passage of Holy Writ: 'He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord.' They are his. . . . And for every act of mercy he will repay us tenfold. He considers every kind expression as made to himself, and every benevolent performance we confer upon our fellow-mortals as if they promoted his own happiness.
"Our obligation is complete in one simple truth: This is the will of God."
The foregoing is, no doubt, an immature effort,--naturally and inevitably so. It may be said to lack the graces of style and, with exception of the passages quoted, to be a little dry. "Charity" is perhaps limited too narrowly in it to mere almsgiving; but we must make allowance for this because of the occasion of its delivery: a collection was to be taken up for the poor of the parish. And in truth the few paragraphs quoted unveil the depths of Kemper's spiritual nature and the secret of his success. Familiarity with Scripture, glowing love of his Saviour, imparting to his expressions affecting power, unquestioning and loyal obedience to the divine will,--these are what impressed his hearers; and they were rendered the more engaging by the fresh, boyish face, shapely figure, and pleasant voice of the speaker, appearing in a pulpit where for years only grizzled heads had been seen. As he preached, the delight of beneficence beamed from his features, until he seemed an embodiment of his theme. And, to repeat, the last sentence quoted contains the key and clue to his career: "the will of God,"--that was always his animating principle. Probably no one ever lived to whom the call of duty was more constraining,--who yielded a more implicit obedience to the voice of conscience; for his was absolute.
He used to preach regularly to the negroes of St. Thomas'. We have noticed how freely he would quote Scripture in his sermons; he was not accustomed to quote poetry, save lines and stanzas of hymns. "Rock of Ages" was his favorite hymn:
In my hand no price I bring:
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
He rendered divine service in an ideal manner, with simplicity and feeling. He loved the study of divinity, and made it a practice to read theological works, both the standard Anglican doctors, Hooker, Pearson, Bull, Barrow, Butler, Waterland, etc., and current treatises as well. This is illustrated by a passage in a letter to James Milnor, in answer to a request for a list of theological books: "I recollect being very much pleased a few years ago with a work by Vicesimus Knox on the Lord's Supper. The benefits of that sacrament are fully and clearly explained by good Bishop Wilson in his works. I am at present highly delighted with a book just published which I trust will prove a great blessing to this country: "Magee, on Atonement and Sacrifice." He also made it a rule daily to read a chapter of the New Testament in the original Greek. He used Bishop Andrewes' book of devotion and Bishop Wilson's "Sacra Privata," but, as before said, was exceedingly reticent about his religious frames and feelings, and delicate about discussing those of others. As was inevitable in one who had been trained by Dr. Hobart, he was a strong, hearty and loyal Churchman, but owing to Bishop White's temperate influence, not as stiffly so as his first preceptor. To quote again from his correspondence with Milnor: "I have not infrequently been perplexed in mind, wondering at the mysterious providence of God in permitting a Church whose doctrines are apparently an exact transcript of the Sacred Scriptures to continue in so lifeless a state. But those days of coldness are, I trust, fleeing away. Many are becoming sensible of the vast importance of their immortal souls, who, if they continue seeking, will soon glory in the cross of Christ." To illustrate his ecclesiastical attitude yet more clearly, throwing it into relief against a sharply contrasting background: he learned from Archbishop Seeker's sermons against popery that for six ages before the Reformation "both clergy and laity were so universally ignorant and vicious that nothing was too bad for them to do or too absurd for them to believe. . . . Transubstantiation was an article of their faith." As this was a consequence of admitting, beside Scriptural authority, the rule of tradition, he deduced the conclusion "that the only thing we have to rely on in Christianity is the written word of God. ... Worshipping or praying to saints and angels are expressly forbidden therein," and there is no example of either for at least three hundred years after the Apostles' time; yet Roman Catholics "pray to them in the house of God--and in the same posture in which they pray to God,--to bestow grace, pardon sin, save from hell and place in heaven. They pray to St. Joachim, who, they say, was Mary's father, to use his influence with her, and they even pray her by virtue of her parental authority to command of her son what they want."
His temperament was pastoral rather than sacerdotal or oratorical. He was in his element when making a round of parish visits, which he found to be an easy and eligible means of imparting religious instruction; and his tenderness and personal kindness in times of trouble, sickness, or death endeared him deeply to his people. His prayers and ministrations by the sick bed were especially affecting.
He thoroughly enjoyed simple social visiting, both paying and receiving, and all his life long was very particular about calling on strangers and returning calls. He was a generous giver to every good cause, exemplifying with utmost consistency the principles of his sermon above quoted; indeed, his friends thought him liberal above what he could or ought to afford,--yet he was never in want.
Politically, he was bred in the Federal school, and was never known to express dislike of any one as emphatically as of Thomas Jefferson. This was remarked in one who was exceedingly restrained in criticism of others. On the other hand, he inherited from his New York Dutch ancestry and connections their long-standing prejudice against New England.
He was not a great man intellectually, not a thinker, scholar, writer or eloquent preacher. Such is the testimony of one who knew him best and loved him most,--and none was better aware of these facts than he himself. He had the most modest view of his powers and attainments, and was never satisfied with them but ever strove to improve himself. Like Washington, he felt and lamented his lack of intimate acquaintance with the past, with history and letters. He was lacking in imagination, as is shown by his indifference to poetry, the drama and fiction. He did not care for Shakespeare, and abhorred Byron; to that poet of reprobate nature he had an antipathy second in intensity only to that that he felt toward Jefferson. Among poets he preferred Cowper, and his favorite prose-writer was Addison. He read and enjoyed Scott's romances as they came out. Among American authors, he met and liked both Irving and Cooper. He read newspapers on principle, believing that a minister should keep up with what is going on in the world. He was by no means lacking in humor of a gay and gentle kind; one of his most attractive qualities, which he never lost, was a certain boyish light-heartedness and zest in living. He had a quick and keen appreciation of the ludicrous side of things, expression of which, like Bishop Griswold, he thought it a duty to restrain.
As we have seen, he was affected by beauty and sublimity of landscape and scenery. He loved the mountains, and spoke enthusiastically of the great falls of Niagara. He observed, too, the details of nature, especially the outlines of leaves; he was fond of botany and other branches of natural history,--hence it was a rare pleasure to him to meet, in later years, the ornithologist Audubon.
He had a taste for bright colors and for sweets, but fought off the use of stimulants until the end of his life. He dressed plainly and wore no jewelry, but was scrupulously neat in all his habits. He shared the opinion of his day regarding amusements, holding that attendance at balls, theatres, and horse-races, and all card-playing, were entirely proscribed to the clergy, and were indeed inconsistent with faithful church membership. In Philadelphia in his time card-playing and dancing only began after the clergy had left a party; it was considered an open disrespect to a minister to play or dance in his presence.
In height he was a trifle under the masculine average, being five feet, seven inches tall; his shoulders square, hands and feet shapely and delicate; of erect and graceful figure and springy gait. His voice was sweet but not very strong, and he had no ear for music. His complexion was fair, of good color but not ruddy, save as to the lips. A miniature taken of him by Tott, soon after he was priested, shows a face wide in proportion to its length, thick brown hair combed from left to right, looking as if blown by the wind, short side-whiskers, bright hazel eyes, a kissable mouth, the lower lip ripe and full, chin fine and strong,--altogether a handsome face and pleasant expression.
The degree to which his work was telling is evidenced by the fact that in 1813 the communicants of the united churches numbered three hundred, an increase of fifty per cent, in the two years only that he had labored among them. The confirmation class that year reached the extraordinary number of one hundred and eighty, Muhlenberg being one. To the effect of the war in deepening the sense of dependence on God this veritable revival must largely be ascribed, but far more to the evangelical awakening which had been in progress for some years, whose energies the war may be held to have liberated.
Kemper was now placed upon the Standing Committee of the diocese, upon which he served for many years. Already a friend of his foresaw that he was destined to become a bishop. In July he was called to St. Paul's Church, Baltimore, to assist Dr. James Kemp, who notified him of the election by letter. The salary was fixed at a thousand, three hundred and thirty-three dollars, thirty-three and a third cents, with perquisites amounting to two hundred dollars, and the rent of a fine house. He replied immediately, expressing his "grateful sensibility" of the favor shown him by the offer, and consulted his friends with regard to it. The united vestries, in alarm, applied to Bishop White to prevail upon him to postpone his decision until after their meeting, the end of the month! He promptly notified them that he had decided to decline, and that in any case delay would put him in the indelicate position of seeming to offer himself to the highest bidder.
After a diaconate of nearly three years, he was advanced to the priesthood, in Christ Church, on the 23d of January, the third Sunday after the Epiphany, in the year 1814. Upon this interesting occasion his excellent father wrote: "We do all unite in our most sincere and hearty gratulations on your advancement in the Church. You are now consecrated a Priest of the Lord, and may His good Spirit which first directed your choice to the ministry keep you faithful in the same to your life's end." Abundantly was that paternal petition granted, in ways they little dreamed!
Kemper's was not a nature that needed the discipline of adversity. He was in harmony with his environment; his character and career are an illustration of the truth embodied in the exquisite lines of Tennyson:
The wind that beats the mountain blows
More softly round the open wold;
And gently comes the world to those
That are cast in gentle mold.
The winds of heaven did not often visit his face too roughly, or the censure of the world disturb his pure and peaceful spirit. But now, just after his ordination, he had to experience the first breath of hostile criticism, and his sensitive soul was depressed. He had preached a sermon upon the sacrament of the Lord's Supper which gave great offence; he was accused of teaching that its reception was necessary to salvation. Milnor and another called upon him to inquire about it. "The unusual circumstance of being openly abused has in a measure depressed my spirits," he wrote; "one woe at least is now removed: that of having all persons speak well of me." He confessed to a feeling of compunction at having entered the ministry so young and with so little theological preparation. "I am even growing rusty as respects general literature and the languages," he said. His humble estimate of himself and sense of deficiency, rendered keener by the strictures to which he was subjected, made him long to retire for a time from the world; like St. Paul, he was ready to go for three years into Arabia, for self-discipline and improvement,--but he dared not turn his back upon his active work so long.
His health, which through all these early years of his ministry continued delicate, may partly account for this sensitiveness to the breeze of unpopularity; and that in turn reacted upon it. He began to show symptoms of overwork, most noticeably by a weakening of the voice, and his physician recommended cessation of his regular duties and a tour of several months. The Advancement Society was ready to engage him as its missionary, as before. He did not feel disposed to go, for he wanted to study; but he realized that "to spend and be spent in such a service is not the dictate of affectation or enthusiasm, but is just what Scripture demands." Milnor's ordination was hastened, to supply his place in the city, and in August--the month when Washington was sacked and burned by the British,---he started on his way. One cannot but be struck by this providential ordering of his life; just at the times when his health, both mental and physical, most demanded it, he was enabled to enjoy those months of wandering that are so essential to the experience and perfect development of every young man. He rode a horse that had been bought for the trip, and from his letters on the way we know that a safe beast had been selected, for it proved exceedingly slow. At the outset the heat of the dog-days was very great. He revisited all the towns and settlements where he had stopped before, to see what progress, if any, had been made, and to keep the flame burning, and, further, made a detour to a dilapidated log church of the old Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in the colonies. In the neighborhood of Pittsburg he found that there were four clergymen, but against all of them the people had grounds of complaint from which it would appear that they were of decadent latitudinarian stamp, devoid of zeal, hopelessly secularized,--"a name of dishonor." His notes of a Sunday spent at Butler, thirty miles north of Pittsburg, preserve the memory of a novel and picturesque experience. "As the courthouse was to be occupied by the Presbyterians in the morning, a few Church-people assembled with me in a private room. I began by performing the whole of the baptismal service and baptizing three children; then administered the Communion to six persons, and baptized an adult." In the afternoon he held service in the courthouse, and preached to a throng of hearers; baptized a child in private; and then dined (by that time he must have needed refreshment) with an intelligent lady whose husband had died a few months before, leaving her with a large family of interesting children. "She was very anxious to have me read the burial service over her husband's grave. The request was a strange one, but after consideration I signified my willingness to comply if it would afford any consolation to the widow, and if her friends would accompany us to the grave. Just before sunset we left the house, she having gone before us with her children and servants. After walking a mile, we came to a large field on a hill full of sheep. In the centre was the grave, palisaded by rails and covered with wild flowers. I began the service with feelings somewhat agitated. The setting sun, the bird's-eye view of the town, the sheep, the variegated landscape, and the mourners opposite me, all rendered the scene deeply interesting."
He now crossed the state line, penetrating further west than he had gone on the previous journey, into the northeastern corner of Ohio, becoming thus the first missionary of the Church to enter what had been and was still known as "the Connecticut Reserve." Here he passed good part of the autumn. He encountered extremely primitive conditions: "In the same place which serves as kitchen, drawing-room and parlor I have slept at night."
Sometimes a single drinking cup did duty for a whole family! The roads were shockingly bad; his horse had to wade and pick his way over logs; once he was thrown from his horse, and contracted rheumatism from a severe wetting. "For a month I was traveling through a country nearly inundated with rain; the people were poor, the accommodations bad; sometimes I was benighted and sometimes exposed to dangers. To all these things it appeared to me I would soon become reconciled." In truth, the underlying bent of his religious nature, his particular taste, endowment, and vocation, were then and there fully revealed to him. In many counties through which he rode long vistas of usefulness opened upon his mental gaze. The people, however destitute of apparent necessaries of life, proved to be highly intelligent; true Yankees that they were, they had already begun to establish public libraries! Church people, he discovered, were scattered about like sheep in a wilderness; many there were who had not lost their zeal, and who read the service and a sermon every Sunday in their homes. He preached at Canfield, Poland, and Boardman, baptized, upon this part of his tour, one hundred and twenty-five souls, and administered the Communion to many "who had despaired of ever enjoying its reception again." He helped to form several congregations, and to create a demand for the prayer-book to the extent of a thousand copies. He pleaded with the parents of a promising youth to let him study for the ministry in Philadelphia; and retraversed his steps, filled with enthusiasm by his new experiences, seriously considering within himself whether he were not called to this fresh field of work. He was ready and desirous to cast in his lot with the rising West, if only it were consistent with "some filial duties of a pecuniary nature," (that is, the support of his aging parents, to which, all through these years, and for some time to come, he largely contributed). It was now the latter part of November; the weather was cold, and snow was daily expected, as he rode back through Pennsylvania. He reached home again in December, having accomplished his mission, as his bishop testified, in a manner "preeminently conducive to the interesting purposes contemplated by the Society."
Soon after his return, the country was gladdened by news of Jackson's victory at New Orleans, and of peace with England.
In his address to the diocesan convention of 1815, Bishop White spoke of the disturbed state of the country for some time past, and of the concurrent spread of a serious spirit and interest in religious subjects. He urged the clergy to distinguish carefully between genuine religious affection and mere animal sensibility or faulty passion, causing impiety, pharisaical ostentation or infidelity in different natures. One happy consequence of the revival was that at Norristown, where for many years "the Episcopal religion" had been at a low ebb, a large and elegant church was built and consecrated. At this period, moreover, the custom of sitting during singing of the psalms and hymns in public worship began to give way "to the more comely posture of standing." James Milnor took priest's orders this year, while young Muhlenberg became a candidate, and began to visit the sick and poor in Kemper's company.
The daughters of General William Lyman, lately deceased, (he had been a special consul in London, under President Madison), had returned from Europe and opened a large and fashionable boarding-school for girls in Philadelphia. Kemper became deeply interested in the eldest of these, Jerusha. (Unfeeling parents, to inflict a name that sounds like profane swearing upon an unoffending and helpless girl!) Miss Lyman was three years older than he, and a person of rare cultivation. For some time the obligation he was under to help support his father conflicted with their marriage, but at length, in the year 1816, the way was made plain, and after a wedding-tour to Lakes George and Champlain,--the only pleasure trip he ever took,--they began housekeeping in Dr. Benjamin Rush's old home. His marriage added to the interest felt in him by the people of Philadelphia; it was a stimulating influence to him mentally: it was always hard for him to write, and his wife helped him greatly by criticism of his sermons; altogether, it was an ideal union, marked by a harmony of opinion and sentiment that was broken only by her untimely death, after two years.
In the period so far covered by this chapter, several children were born the threads of whose lives were destined to be intertwined with our hero's life. It is to be remarked how many of these were from the South. In 1812, Cicero Stephens Hawks was born in Newberne, North Carolina, and Thomas Hubbard Vail in Richmond, Virginia. The latter, however, was of Northern parentage; he was baptized in the Monumental Church at Richmond; after his father's death the family returned to New England. In 1815, Henry Washington Lee was born in Hamden, Connecticut, and in 1816, Joseph Cruikshank Talbot in Alexandria, Virginia. Meantime young Henry Whitehouse finished school in New York, and at the age of fourteen entered Columbia College. At the same age, George Upfold had entered Union College, Schenectady, then under the presidency of Dr. Eliphalet Nott. His life there was happy; he had been well prepared, was a hard student, excelling in English composition, reading widely outside the requirements of the curriculum; he was also a good companion,--in fact, both at school and college he was a leader in both study and sport.
At Schenectady he was well grounded in Greek, ancient history, and the English classics, especially Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton; but the highest privilege he enjoyed there was, without doubt, contact with the distinguished educator then at the head of the institution. That was an influence for a lifetime; and he used often to say that he had never met a man who understood boys and their management better than Dr. Nott. While yet a mere lad, he improved his college vacations by the study of medicine, which he continued, after taking his degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1814, under the direction of a physician in Albany, until the end of the following year, when he went to New York to become a pupil of the celebrated Dr. Valentine Mott, and to attend lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, whence he was graduated in May, 1816, just after he had passed his twentieth birthday; when the degree had been conferred he was asked his age, and was told that if it had been known before he would have had to wait a year for graduation, until he had attained his majority,--but it was admitted that he had fairly earned it. He now began the practice of medicine at Albany, and also the study of divinity. His mother's prayer had always been that her only son might become one of God's ministers, and nothing more than this is known regarding his change of profession. In June, 1817, he was married to Miss Sarah Graves, a churchwoman, of New York, both having just completed their twenty-first year, and from that time his wife's calm, strong, and unvarying good sense was the dominant influence of his life. A few months after, he was admitted as a candidate for Holy Orders, and the following winter returned to New York, to prosecute his theological studies under the direction of Bishop Hobart, whose influence over him, ecclesiastically, was thenceforth profound.
It is time to return to Philander Chase, who, in the year that we have reached, was entering his period of highest activity. We are acquainted with the leading points of his experience and character, sufficiently to comprehend his ruling passion and to interpret his life's work. He knew what college had done for him,--how it had opened his eyes, enlightened his mind, expanded his soul,--and afterward he had had experience as a teacher in Poughkeepsie and New Orleans. So he became, first and foremost, an ardent believer in the transcendent benefits of education. But he had seen enough of infidelity and the effects of an education without religion to realize that such divorce was deeply to be deplored, and of the most injurious consequences. He had a religious nature; his conversion to the church's ways was wholehearted and his attachment to her sincere and deep; he was accordingly fully persuaded of the importance of Christian education, under the auspices of the church. And further, he was born on a frontier, when he was grown he made a missionary journey to the frontier, in Louisiana he encountered frontier conditions, meeting the hardy frontiersmen of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys; all his life long he followed the westering frontier. Such, then, was his ruling passion, such is his position in church, yea, and American, history; he was the great Christian educator of the frontier.
He left his school and parish in New Orleans, in 1811, and returned North to educate his growing boys; finding infidelity prevalent in his early home and its neighborhood, he decided to send them to the Episcopal academy at Cheshire, and, to be near them, gladly accepted the rectorship of Christ Church, Hartford. Here he spent six pleasant years, the most peaceful, as he said, looking back at its close, of his whole life. But he could not rest content amid so much civilization, so, when his sons' education was finished, he resigned his position, leaving behind him many good and warm friends, and late in the winter of 1817 started for the wilderness, having no audible call, no prospect of support, but only the constraining inward call of Providence and his own nature; and, the middle of March, preached his first sermon in Ohio.
In the year 1800, the southeastern corner of the vast Northwest Territory was erected into a separate territory by the name of Ohio. A majority of its settlers were, naturally, hardy young men, and a majority of these were from New England; self-reliant, aggressive spirits, hard drinkers, after the fashion of that day,--and little wonder, when we consider the tedium of life during the long winter's cold and the chills and fever of summer-time upon the frontier. The territorial governor, Arthur St. Clair, was bitterly unpopular; his aristocratic tendencies excited to fever heat the fierce democracy of Ohio. Desire to be rid of him inspired much of the agitation for statehood, and out of a very broth of politics the new state emerged. "A people's beginning," said Aristotle, "is more than half of the whole;" and a peculiar intensity of partisan politics henceforth characterized the people of Ohio. The territorial officers had carried their slaves thither, and in the convention summoned in 1802 to draft a constitution there was a majority of one in favor of the establishment of slavery, as an inducement to Southern immigration,--but an eloquent dissuasive turned the scale. Even at this distance of time it almost brings one's heart into one's mouth to think of all that hung in the balance at that unconscious moment,--of all that was implicated in that vote, in that single speech; for if slavery had been domesticated there, state after state to westward would have followed suit. As it turned out, no loss whatever was involved in the defeat of the measure, for, mild as was the type of slavery in Virginia and Kentucky, many natives of those states removed to Ohio in order to escape it entirely. About the year 1804, the new commonwealth was visited by the peculiar religious epidemic known as "the jerks,"--the delirium tremens of emotional religion. In 1805, Michigan was made a separate territory, and the setting off of Illinois in 1809 reduced Indiana to its present proportions.
A summary of the various economic frontiers--for the term is by no means a simple one--will help to an understanding of the situation. First, outermost, and ever receding was what may be called the hunter's frontier, that of the Indian, the wild animal, and the white hunter; then, pursuing the first, came that of the trapper and trader in fur; the third, ever advancing upon the former two, might be distinguished as the pastoral,--that of the wool-growers and cattlemen; and the fourth and fifth were agricultural, marked by rotating crops of Indian corn and wheat and by intenser, diversified cultivation respectively. The sixth was marked by the rise of towns; it was that of the manufacturer, and might be called the commercial, unless the latter term be regarded as forming a fresh distinction. We may go a step further and describe a seventh and final frontier,--that of culture, depending upon great cities; of literature, architecture, music, and all the refinements of a high and complex civilization. And in America it needed a marvellously short space of time to run up the whole gamut; the experience of a border state in the first half, the first generation even, of the nineteenth century foreshortened the history of civilization. The successive waves resembled the ripples that spread from a stone dropped in a pool, the first being the furthest and swiftest; only in the historical instance the undulations of advancing civilization continually overlapped. This is illustrated at the period of Chase's arrival in Ohio: Columbus was then a village five years of age, Cleveland had just reached its majority, Cincinnati boasted a population of upward of three thousand souls and was rapidly growing,--and yet for some time after, bounties were offered in the state for wolves' and panthers' heads.
Only three months after his arrival, Chase was appointed principal of an incipient academy at Worthington, a place settled by New Englanders, and accordingly made it his home, purchasing a farm on the outskirts of the town. He made a tour of exploration in the southern half of the state, organizing parishes at Zanesville, then in its eighteenth year, and Columbus, before the stumps had disappeared from its main road, and visiting Dayton, Cincinnati, and Chillicothe. A convention to organize the diocese was held at Columbus in January, 1818; two clergymen and nine lay delegates were present; they adjourned to meet at Worthington the following June, in order to complete their organization by the election of a bishop; and there Philander Chase was chosen to be the first bishop of Ohio,--the first west of the Alleghany Mountains. He left immediately for Baltimore and Philadelphia, to consult Bishops Kemp and White.
For many years the subject of a western bishopric had been under consideration. It afforded an agreeable topic for speculation and conversation,--which so far had ended in deliberation. Now that Ohio had acted, the church was thrown upon the defensive, did not know what to do in the premises; that action seemed premature, precipitate. So the standing committees refused to move, that is, withheld their consent to the consecration. It was the beginning of troubles for the bishop elect, against whom personally objections began to be alleged. His episcopate began in dissension. His whole career was passed in review, and this naturally consumed much time. Investigations having been made in every place where he had lived, his character was triumphantly cleared, and on the eleventh of February, 1819, he was consecrated by Bishops White, Hobart and Kemp, in St. James" Church, Philadelphia. We can imagine how absorbingly interesting this event, so momentous in the history of American Christianity, must have been to Jackson Kemper.
On his return to his diocese in the spring, the new bishop organized parishes at Steubenville and Wheeling, and on the first Sunday in June confirmed seventy-nine souls at Worthington. He had the oversight of three parishes, beside that of the diocese,--from which he received no salary; he had to cut wood, make fires, and feed his live-stock with his own hands. This Episcopal type contrasted picturesquely with the bewigged, British type, of which Provoost was an example, that was already perishing in its propriety. In 1821, Bishop Chase moved to Cincinnati, which then numbered ten thousand inhabitants, to assume the presidency of the college of that city; and there he matured his plans for a diocesan institution of learning. Because of the originality of his ideas, and because in the course of their application all the arguments and objections in the case were elicited, all the problems started, and innumerable suggestions afforded regarding the relation of the church to education, this passage of history deserves the close attention of every American churchman.
Only a little experience was enough to convince Bishop Chase that the west must breed its own ministry, for a sufficient and satisfactory supply of clergy could not be hoped for from the east, and that western candidates for orders must be educated on the spot, for in those days of poor travelling facilities and scanty specie on the frontier it was out of the question that young men should go east to the General Seminary and there be supported for three years. And further, preparatory schools were few and inferior in the west; Chase's design included, perforce, an academy or college; he never forgot what Dartmouth had done for him, and was inspired by the noble ambition to provide classical and literary instruction for any western youth who had zeal and willingness to work for it. He had himself been brought up on a farm, and had managed a farm at Worthington; there was dearth of capital and specie in the west; he proposed therefore that the students should help support themselves by working on a farm held in common. Thus, he was persuaded, from his knowledge of the situation, any boy, youth or young man could obtain school, college or seminary education. It was certainly a magnanimous idea,--but from the first it had to encounter doubt, discouragement, and opposition that only served fully to bring out its author's magnificent force of character and will. Even in Ohio the scheme seemed visionary, and received perfunctory support. When communicated to his compeers of the east it won the approval only of the bishops of the Carolinas, Ravenscroft and Bowen; White ignored, Hobart actively opposed it. The latter's interest was all bound up, of course, with the General Seminary; he was all for centralization, and opposed diocesan seminaries as tending to create prejudice and division; he did not believe in the collegiate feature of Chase's plan,--theological and literary courses plus farming: altogether it seemed to him badly mixed, an uncouth innovation, foredoomed to failure. Hopeless of obtaining in his own church and land the funds necessary for the inception of his great work, but otherwise undaunted, Bishop Chase sailed for England in the autumn of 1823, to submit the whole matter to the judgment of English churchmen. But Bishop Hobart was beforehand with him; he too had just arrived in England, and there, by every means in his power and in a manner that one cannot regard as justifiable, he endeavored, in private and public, even to the extent of printed circulars and warning notices in newspapers, to create suspicion and prejudice against his brother, and to embarrass and if possible utterly defeat him in the execution of his plan, which, because he had antagonized it at home, Hobart now pursued abroad with the animosity of a persecutor, intent upon its destruction. One of his loudest objections had been the impropriety of begging money from the British; and now, consistently enough, one of his measures for diverting the attention and means of English churchmen from the Ohio school was to beg himself for the Seminary in New York and cooperate in begging for a proposed Episcopal college in Connecticut.
A letter of introduction from Henry Clay with which he had fortunately come provided enabled Chase to triumph over these machinations, securing him a hearing from Lord Gambler, a liberal, influential, and devoted Christian and churchman, and through him from Lord Kenyon, the son of the distinguished Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench. He was now fairly launched, and enjoyed beside the patronage of the Countess Dowager of Rosse, who gave him two hundred pounds sterling, to which she soon after added a hundred pounds, which he resolved to devote to the erection of a chapel, and soon after yet another hundred, for church-building in Ohio. He visited Sir Thomas Acland in Devon, calling on the way, by invitation, upon the venerable Hannah More. Lady Acland opened a subscription which was ultimately invested in a printing press and types. Everywhere the bishop met with kindness and generosity, and his remarkable personality, unprecedented in the old world, seems deeply to have interested and impressed the church people of England. He returned to America late in the summer of 1824, having achieved decided success; he had received about twenty thousand dollars for his project,--equivalent in purchasing power in Ohio then to several times the amount to-day. He had all along determined to secure a rural site and an extensive domain for his school, in order to remove the students from the temptations of town-life. He himself had been a country boy; and he had a deep-seated dread of intemperance, then disastrously common. This aspect of his project, however, awakened strong opposition in the convention at Zanesville in 1825; it was sneered at as "a literary penitentiary"; almost all the deputies preferred a suburban site, but as each wanted it near his town they neutralized each others' efforts, and their opposition was ineffectual. Some prominent deputies, moreover, objected to the academic feature, believing in a theological seminary pure and simple, and that all the students should take orders. Here and now, accordingly, sprouted up some flourishing controversies. There was a certain clearness, definiteness and consistency about his opponents' view of a seminary solely that made the bishop's idea seem inchoate,--but his was the larger view, and so far he was undoubtedly in the right. He understood the intention of the English donors, with their experience of Oxford and Cambridge, to whom theological seminaries distinctively were unknown; their only care was that their donation should be devoted to the instruction of candidates for the ministry. It should be remembered that Chase was a pioneer in his field, and had no models for his guidance; his conception was bound to be misunderstood and to be somewhat confused; he had to feel his way, and was bound to make some mistakes,--and a man who never makes mistakes never amounts to anything. But it was unfortunate that in his conduct of the affair he produced an impression of arbitrariness and ambiguity. He had the institution incorporated as a theological seminary and then secured an amendment authorizing its faculty to act as the faculty of a college, in granting degrees. This provision, evidently designed to shelter the academic department from the attacks of its enemies and to ensure its dependence upon himself, became the fountain of his bitterest woes.
On the third of June, 1825, occurred the first meeting of the trustees of the Theological Seminary of Ohio, which it was arranged to open on the bishop's farm at Worthington. A canvass of the diocese for subscriptions resulted in a sad exposure of human nature, its contracted, local policy, its "selfish and mercenary spirit:" none would take an interest in the school unless it were so located as to enhance the value of his property. Lands were at last secured, to important advantage, in Knox county,--with the result of a decline and fall of the institution in favor everywhere else! Now began grave misunderstandings between the bishop and the diocese: its convention legislated, he complained, but made no appropriations; and he contrasted the irresponsibility of legislative bodies with the onerous responsibility resting upon the individual: were he remiss, what an outcry would be raised!
In June, 1826, the bishop and his family went into camp on Gambier hill, and there, just a year after, the cornerstone of Kenyon College was laid. When in England he had been much impressed by the beauty of the pointed style of architecture, and so now he engaged the celebrated architect Bulfinch to furnish designs for the building, which is hence a quaint and curious example of early American Gothic. The rising walls appeared so thick and formidable that among the ignorant rustics of the neighborhood a rumor ran that it was really a fort constructed with British gold (so only could they explain the liberality of their late enemies) and that the bishop was an intriguer, designing to reduce the country again to subjection to the British crown!
A regulation on which the bishop justly prided himself was the banishment from Gambier, for both laborers and students, of intoxicating liquors, which he characterized as "the greatest enemy of the human race."
Meantime the school was flourishing at Worthington under the care of an able evangelical clergyman named William Sparrow; it numbered over fifty scholars, not one of whom was a student of divinity,--and this number rapidly increased at Gambier, whither it was removed as soon as accommodations were ready; in 1829, seventy boys gathered there, and in 1830, one hundred and thirty,--an increase in a single year of nearly a hundred per cent. They worked at intervals upon the college farm, cut wood and stacked it in piles for winter, and drew water from the well. Their board cost only a dollar a week apiece,--five cents a meal! They slept on straw mattresses in bunks or berths piled one above another, and made their own beds, "proving unskilful chambermaids;" they suffered from a plague of fleas. Mrs. Chase took charge of all the linen of the establishment. Doubtless the bishop's judgment was sound in respect to all this manual labor during the critical, incipient stage of his undertaking; but such primitive conditions, while not without their compensations, bore, of course, the stamp of transiency. And now the supreme crisis drew near.
Bishop Chase liked to have his own way,--but who among Eve's descendants doesn't? He had made enemies on all hands; there was hardly a leading man in the diocese who did not take issue with him on one point or another. Rumors regarding misapplication of funds began to circulate,--rumors fatally easy to start, hard to quiet, and always damaging. Yet it is admitted that owing to the commingling of the two ideas, the literary and the theological, and to the exigency of the occasion, moneys intended for one purpose may have been applied, temporarily at least, to another. Were it so, that was not the only time or place at which such expedients have been justified on the ground of imperious necessity,--in childish ignorance of the fact that any the least departure from the straight line is the costliest of errors, and the wreck of confidence and credit. The development of his plans had involved the bishop in financial embarrassment and had created friction between him and his faculty; and there were only too many hostile bystanders who were ready and desirous to improve against him the first opportunity that offered. It occurred in the summer of 1831.
The faculty of the seminary were willing to grant him the casting vote in case of a tie in their proceedings, but this could never satisfy the strong-willed bishop; he would not submit to be made a cipher, as he phrased it, and insisted upon his right to veto any action of theirs. Thereupon they appealed to the public in a letter composed, or certainly inspired, by William Sparrow, in which they charged him with arbitrary conduct in the government of the institution. The matter was considered in the diocesan convention, which failed to sustain the bishop, and referred everything to the trustees, who sympathized with the faculty. Chase thereupon, wrought up to a pitch of intense feeling, resigned both presidency and bishopric: "to preside over such a diocese," he exclaimed, "would be but the carrying on of a perpetual war." As soon as he could complete his arrangements, he abandoned forever his once loved Gambier, and having bought a tract of land in Michigan, near the Indiana line, the indomitable pioneer entered that virginal mission field. A bishop, but only one, had been seen already within the confines of the territory of Michigan, but only at Detroit. In the summer of 1827 Bishop Hobart laid there the cornerstone of the first Episcopal church, and administered the rite of confirmation; and a year after returned to consecrate the church.
Bishop Chase was at times, no doubt, imperious and hot-tempered. His own nephew, a schoolboy at Gambier in his day, afterward bore witness that "he was determined to have everything just as he thought it ought to be;" a not unprecedented determination. We may admit, with an impartial reviewer of the affair, that "there may have been a groundwork of personal ambition underneath his purpose," while we are forced to conclude with him that "there was hardly so much tenderness shown to his temperament as he had earned by his long suffering, heroic endurance, and persistent energy." In casting up the account, we must charge much of the bitterness of the conflict to the environment and the atmosphere,--to the partisan politics, the polemical spirit so rife at that time and in that commonwealth in particular. From another point of view, the quarrel may be regarded as the growing pains attendant upon the evolution of the institution. The bishop's general idea was wise and good: its soundness has been attested by the vitality of the schools at Gambier. There can be little doubt that in his idea lay latent the germ of a church university; that beside preparatory school, academic and theological departments as instituted, he would have liked, had the possibility ever dawned upon his horizon, to educate Christian physicians and legists also. It is to be regretted that in the realization of his design he yielded to the temptation that always besets the idealist after a little experience of a refractory world,--the temptation to manoeuvre, to descend from right to expediency, as the thing hoped for seems to travel with the horizon. And if in the ideal there is the least alloy of self-love, such scheming becomes inevitable in the execution. In connection with this, one notes something unpleasant in the quality of the bishop's style; an unctuous vein of religious reflection, with Yankee shrewdness gleaming through, and in describing his transactions, a self-conscious, declamatory tone, designed to win his auditors' adherence. He speaks of his humble dwelling, his thorny path, his agonizing pangs and holy triumph; he has to encounter jealousy, selfishness, intrigue, malignity and hypocrisy: his opponents are consummately and wickedly artful men. His notion that a bishop should or could be a college president was utterly erroneous; either position, if efficiently filled, would take up a man's whole time. It was altogether well that he left Ohio; the writer is far from defending the American uncatholic practice by which a bishop is placed in a diocese and there bidden to remain forever though nature, experience, and God Himself would have him sometime go elsewhere; but Chase's identification of the presidency of Kenyon College and the bishopric of Ohio, so that resignation of the first involved that also of the other, was enough to reveal, by its absurdity, the untenability of his position.
One is irresistibly drawn, by the retrospect just concluded, into some consideration of the causes of the educational wrecks that strew the course of American church history. The extremely utilitarian character of our people accounts for many; practical American parents can see the advantage of schooling up to the age of sixteen to eighteen years, but after that they are apt to think that a youth should be earning something,--and he is quite likely to agree with them. To a vast majority, college education seems a mere luxury. This idea is in rapid process of modification, as it becomes evident more and more that a thorough education unlocks in every direction the portals of success, steadily becoming more difficult of attainment; but at all times it bore equally upon all higher education, so for an explanation of the frequent failure of church colleges we must look closer,--and we find it in diocesan control. The support of a single diocese can never assure a college success, but at best a pitiably attenuated thread of existence. After a century of bitter experience, our colleges that still live must gather about them whole provinces of dioceses, if they would improve the opportunities of the brighter era now opening for education. And finally, not the least important consideration: these institutions must guard themselves scrupulously against imparting a clericalized education. There has always been and still is a highly injurious suspicion of obscurantism, among hosts of people who have never heard the term, in the teaching at church colleges; and it is only too well justified. Good and earnest men are peculiarly prone to fall into an apologetic and polemic strain, and science and philosophy, history, literature and art, can all assume a distorted cast and astonishing color when handled and regarded from the clerical point of view. This would-be patrons feel and eschew; they do not want a Protestant Episcopal education in these branches but one that is whole, sound, and sincere. And God is best served by teaching the whole truth. Our educators should conscientiously avoid anything that may give credence to the popular belief that their colleges are really feeders to theological seminaries in disguise, and should study to impart an exact education, without prejudice and without reservations.
After his ordination by Bishop Hobart, Upfold accepted a position as assistant minister of Trinity parish, in 1821, and at the same time began to gather a congregation and became the first rector of St. Luke's Church, New York. He ever after looked back to this period of his life with tender recollection; he was happy in his rectorship and pastoral relations, and had as a fellow assistant at Trinity a young minister of extraordinary promise named George Washington Doane, with whom he struck up a hearty and life-long friendship. He was reluctant to break with these congenial surroundings; but St. Thomas' Church, in the same city, being without a rector, and its vestry, after serious division, having been able to agree only upon him, he yielded to the representations of his advisers that acceptance would be for the good of the church, and removed thither in 1828. He came to regret the change, and, three years after, resigned. He then received and accepted a call to the rectorship of Trinity Church, Pittsburg; and at the same time received his doctorate in divinity from Columbia College.
From the same college Whitehouse was graduated in 1821, having given evidence of exceptional mental endowments, and immediately began the study of divinity at the General Theological Seminary, just opened. Upon his graduation thence, in 1824, he was made a deacon, having just reached his majority, and as soon thereafter as the canon permitted, a priest. He could now boast of the most varied attainments: beside a thorough acquaintance with Hebrew and the classic tongues, he was familiar with both French and Italian (to which he afterward added some knowledge of German), had proved himself proficient in exegesis and theology, and was well read in medicine and law. He was disposed to pride himself particularly upon his knowledge of the last mentioned branch, and he would undoubtedly have made an excellent lawyer, but his acquaintance with this subject proved, spiritually, somewhat of a siren in after years. Beside moral qualities of a high order, he possessed, without question, the most remarkable intellectual powers, improved by the most thorough scholarship and varied culture, of all the group of great men whose careers we are tracing. In 1827, immediately after his advancement to the priesthood by Bishop White, in Christ Church, Philadelphia,--his own bishop being absent upon the visitation to Detroit before mentioned,--he became rector of Christ Church, Reading; and could report at the diocesan convention next year that beside his stated duties and catechetical instruction he had delivered a course of lectures to his parishioners upon the nature, ministry, and worship of the Church. In 1829, he reported that he administered the Holy Communion once every eight weeks, opening the church for prayer on the Wednesday and Friday just before each administration, and that there was a gratifying increase in attendance upon a Bible class that he had started. Bishop Hobart was desirous that he should return to his diocese, and secured him a call, which he accepted, to the important parish of St. Luke's, Rochester. In December of the above year he began his ministrations there; and within the next two years the roll of communicants was more than doubled. Here he signalized his acquaintance with apostology and interest therein,--an interest which he imparted to his hearers; it goes far to explain the spiritual revival just indicated,--by a course of lectures on missions and on the internal condition of Turkey in Asia, with special reference thereto. His researches in this field plainly exerted a powerful attraction over him, for in the summer of 1833, when his health and strength, naturally good, but exhausted by incessant application, forced upon his notice the need of recuperation, he entered upon a long-protracted course of travel in Europe and the Orient.
Meanwhile the youths whose births were noted in the middle of this chapter were prosecuting their studies, Hawks at the University of his native state, Vail at Washington--now Trinity--College, Hartford, Lee at the Cheshire Academy, Talbot at an academy in his native town; while we have to note the birth, in 1822, of Henry Benjamin Whipple, at Adams, New York; in 1826, of Robert Harper Clarkson, grandson of Joseph Clarkson, of Lancaster, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; and in 1830, of William Edmond Armitage, in the city of New York.
Jackson Kemper, as we know, was of an affectionate, domestic, hospitable disposition; having tasted for a time the sweets of home life, he could not forego them forever. In the autumn of 1821, three years after the loss of his first wife, and toward the close of his thirty-second year, he was married to Miss Ann Relf, of a wealthy family of Philadelphia. Her parents gave her a liberal allowance, so that the newly wedded pair could entertain in the quiet way they both enjoyed. Mrs. Kemper identified herself heartily with all her husband's interests. They took a house on Fifth Street, near Spruce; and there their children were born: the eldest, a daughter, named Elizabeth Marius, after her father's mother, in 1824, and the boys Samuel and Lewis in 1827 and 1829 respectively. An extract from Kemper's journal, recording some reflections upon the discipline of his infant daughter, illustrates the general truth that a man's first child is, often to its great grief, the child of theory, a subject for experiment.
"If I would succeed in the great work of education, I must begin by conquering vanity and indolence in self.
"Make it a constant rule never to give her what she obstinately cries for. Encourage humility, but discourage fear and timidity; selfishness is almost always connected with extreme timidity.
"The object I would accomplish by education is to train up my child in the knowledge, love, and application of those principles of conduct which, under the superintending influence of divine mercy, will probably lead to a considerable share of happiness in this life, but assuredly to a full measure of it in that which is to come."
He loved his children tenderly, and shrank from inflicting corporal punishment,--which in fact, he practically never had to apply, for they revered him, and a word was enough to ensure their obedience. Once he had to whip one of his boys,--and the child turned and threw his arms around his father's neck.
All through these years, he was involved in all the routine and carried along by the current of diocesan life. He was active and helpful in ministering to vacant parishes and missions, and in serving upon committees too numerous to name. He was a trustee of the General Seminary, and traveled widely in behalf of its endowment; was one of the managers of the newly organized Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society; and served on a committee on the enlargement of the hymnary. In regard to his view of the relative force of the claims of foreign and domestic missions: he followed Bishop White, who thought that our own immense country was our proper field; but inasmuch as many good people would give to foreign missions, believed it better to enable them to do so under the direction of the church, rather than that they should support sectarian missions. As to his views of the various sects by which he was surrounded: he could have no sympathy with bodies that had separated themselves from the church, as he held, without reason. Of Unitarians he expressed unqualified condemnation; toward Presbyterians, Quakers, and the Dutch Reformed he had kindlier feelings. In his relations with them all he was governed by Bishop White's practice, as denned in an address to his convention, in 1822, which recommended unvarying courtesy, with scrupulous avoidance of any mixture of administration, which always creates ill feeling, in faith or polity: "Our church affirms episcopacy to rest on Scriptural institution," believes in forms of prayer, teaches the doctrines of grace. And the plea of "liberality" only too often cloaks a surrender of some of our institutions.
It is worthy of remark that in the above the bishop expressed the sentiment of the convention, which passed him a vote of thanks for his address.
In ensuing years, Kemper accompanied his venerable bishop upon some interesting diocesan missionary tours. In October, 1824, they started on what was designed to be an extensive tour, but an accident cut it short: after consecrating a church at Lewistown, a fall from his carriage so shook the old bishop, then seventy-six years of age, that he had to return home. The following May they started again, with better success, and arrived at Pittsburg, where John Henry Hopkins was beginning his ministry. It was the furthest point to the westward that Bishop White had ever reached, and he never got so far again.
At this time the general Missionary Society reported that it was sustaining missions in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, and at Green Bay, off the western shore of Lake Michigan. The last named was the most popular of the evangelizing efforts of the church; it was loudly advertised and heartily befriended by Bishop Hobart, and was a favorite object of offerings of congregations and Sunday-schools, and of the charity of wealthy women.
About this time also the Pennsylvanian clergy roll began rapidly to increase, and the reports from the parishes grew longer. Younger ministers were now coming to the front, and though of course there was no diminution in the regard felt for him, the extraordinary popularity that had greeted Kemper's early ministry and the unprecedented interest in his preaching had for some time declined. The report from the united churches for the year 1825 gives us a glimpse of his parochial routine: prayers are said on Wednesdays and Fridays "in imitation of the stationary days of the primitive church, and agreeably to the usage of the Church of England;" lectures on the catechism are given during Passion and the two preceding weeks, and on the doctrines of grace in Easter week, for candidates for confirmation; there is a lecture on the Bible every Friday afternoon; and Sunday-schools are attached to all the three churches, the children being catechised after service on Sunday afternoons.
The vehement controversies over the election of an assistant to its aged bishop which convulsed the diocese of Pennsylvania and its convention in the years 1826 and 1827, and in fact, sounded the tocsin of party spirit throughout the church at large, disturbed Kemper greatly, and made him ready to depart. The strife began with the nomination of William Meade, a partisan low-churchman of Virginia; and something in that name and the propaganda of its adherents made it distasteful to Kemper for the remainder of his days. He was teller at the time of the final vote, and announced the election of Henry Ustick Onderdonk; but the divisions were not healed. Other causes conspired with these to make him anxious to leave the diocese: the bishop was now fast set in his ways and harder to please, and Kemper realized that the term of his greater usefulness in Philadelphia was over.
He met Nicholas Hamner Cobbs, a clerical deputy from Virginia, in the general convention which sat in that city in 1829, and to which George Upfold was admitted as a visitor. The same year he received the degree of doctor of sacred theology from his alma mater, but at the same time his heart was saddened by the death of his well-beloved mother.
Owing to his extreme diffidence about seeking a position, some years elapsed before it became known that he was willing to make a change. He could have had the position at Pittsburg afterward offered to Upfold, but removal from Philadelphia alone would not satisfy him; he wished to escape from the tempest-tossed diocese, and its contentious convention, with its endless divisions over words in resolutions and points of order, and an eligible opportunity was offered after twenty years of faithful service in it. In 1831, Bishop Brownell of Connecticut had him called to St. Paul's, Norwalk, one of the four most important parishes in that diocese, the others being those of New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport. Had he been invited merely to pay the congregation a visit he would have declined, so fastidious was he about preaching on trial; as it was he went to Norwalk in June to see whether it promised to be a congenial field, and was so much pleased that he accepted the rectorship. He immediately took and held a prominent position in the church life of Connecticut; he was appointed to open with morning prayer the first convention he attended, and was placed upon the standing committee of the diocese; at the following meeting he served as secretary, and was elected diocesan trustee of the General Seminary. He could report steady and substantial growth in his parish; a constant increase in the number of baptisms and confirmations, a gain of fifty per cent, in the list of communicants in three years; and could also give a good account of several missions that he had inaugurated. But at Norwalk he had to encounter the deepest grief of his life in the death of his excellent wife, after a union of eleven years in which she had proved a loving helpmeet to him. She died in the year 1832, and was laid to rest in the churchyard of St. Paul's, leaving him with their three young children of the ages of eight, five, and three years.
It is interesting to find record, in the reports of the meetings of convention above mentioned, of the candidacy for Holy Orders of Thomas Hubbard Vail and Cicero Stephens Hawks. It is probable, therefore, that thus early, as a member of the standing committee, Kemper met these young men, both of whom were destined to build upon foundations that he was to lay.
In 1834, in company with his old friend James Milnor, he went further afield than he had ever gone before, even as far as to Green Bay, on a visit of inspection to the Indian mission there, in what was then the remotest west. The year 1835 was one of missionary advance all along the line. In March, a corporal's guard of clergy and delegates in convention at Peoria chose Philander Chase for bishop of Illinois. He immediately accepted, as providential, the unexpected call, and visited Chicago, "a newly built town, of a few houses," Peoria, Springfield and Jacksonville. The last named place boasted the only church building in the frontier diocese, which contained four presbyters and parishes (not even a parish for the bishop!) and thirty-nine communicants. At the general convention that year a committee of bishops was appointed to consider the matter; it reported that the case was certainly unprecedented, but that the action of Illinois was recommended by "especial considerations,"--and the house of bishops concurred in the report. They had plainly been embarrassed by having one of their number at large, and, like the subject of the election, regarded it as a providential disposition. Meantime Chase's four years' occupation of Michigan, and investment in land for church objects, had taken effect there; a diocese was organized, and in June Whitehouse was elected bishop, but declined. There were at that time in Michigan eight clergymen, including a navy chaplain, ten parishes, two hundred communicants, and three church buildings, whose sites were Detroit, Tecumseh, and Monroe. In 1835, too, Bishop Brownell undertook a visitation of the southwestern states that had far-reaching results; and the crown of all this activity was the appointment of our hero as missionary bishop of Indiana and Missouri.
It sounds strange, but only for an instant, for the providential nature of those dispensations becomes immediately apparent, to say that deaths in his family released Kemper for this work. The death of his mother relieved him, to his sorrow, of one charge upon his purse; his father had just been granted a pension for service in the Revolutionary War, which relieved him of another; and the loss of his wife broke the most constraining domestic bond, freeing him for the arduous and unceasing labors of his large mission field, while it disposed him for just such a change. In this case there was no rival candidate, no one as well qualified for that field, both by nature and experience, as he. After a fervent sermon in which Bishop Doane struck the keynote of the convention, declaring that every church member was, by the terms of his baptism, a member also of the Missionary Society, Kemper's name was sent by the house of bishops to the house of deputies, and there approved. The walls that had seen his ordination to the diaconate, a quarter of a century before, witnessed also his elevation to the highest office that the church has to confer. On the twenty-fifth of September, 1835, he was consecrated first missionary bishop of the American church, in St. Peter's, Philadelphia, by the presiding bishop, so many years his diocesan, counsellor, and friend, assisted by Bishops Channing Moore, Philander Chase, both the Onderdonks, Bosworth Smith, and Doane. It was the twenty-seventh consecration and the last in which the patriarchal White took part.