Project Canterbury








Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2014


The Seventh Bishop of New York: An Appreciation

Memorial Collects

Historical Address


Outlook of the Diocese for the next Twenty-five Years


[*Address delivered by the Rev. George F. Nelson, D.D., Archdeacon of New York, at the dinner given by the New York Churchman's Association to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Bishop Potter's consecration, and also to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Association, at the Hotel Manhattan, New York on Monday evening, November 9, 1908.]


In his "Reminiscences of Bishops and Archbishops," Bishop Potter applies the word "picturesque" to two of his distinguished brethren of the House of Bishops of whom the Church has long been bereaved. I trust you agree with me that we may adopt the same word and say that Bishop Potter was picturesque. There is a picturesqueness of form and color which appeals to the eye, and there is a picturesqueness of personality which appeals to the understanding. In either case we do not wait to study details; the effect is produced at once. It has been said that we do not "need to examine the sun to know when it is daylight. As the air is filled with the effect of the sun, so is the mind filled with the effect of a noble personality." Such was Bishop Potter's personality, and such was its gracious influence upon all who came in contact with him.

My own impression, due, as you know, to a long period of almost daily intercourse, naturally grew in such a way as to bring some of the Bishop's characteristics into greater prominence than others. In speaking of some of these more prominent characteristics as they appeared to me, I shall make no attempt to sketch the Bishop as a leader in action, or to unveil the splendors of his Episcopate. I wish simply to speak of my impression of what it was in him which gave me as I think it gave the world assurance of a man.

First of all, no one who knew him could fail to recognize the majestic equipoise of his mind. The secret of the athlete's strength is the symmetry of its development, and the harmony with which his will and his muscles work together. It is a fair use of words when Ruskin speaks of the "limbs of the mind." It was a distinction of Bishop Potter's that the limbs of his mind, like the bodily limbs of an athlete, were not only richly [3/4] endowed with vital force, but of remarkable symmetry and well trained to work together. I have often been especially impressed by his power of concentrating his thoughts on a subject with apparent ease when the occasion has been extremely unfavorable. Bishop Harris, of Michigan, once told me that while practising law in the South he had learned how to concentrate his thoughts on his reading or writing in a crowded courtroom, so that wave beats of sound seemed to stop at the threshold of his ear without getting in, or if they got in, to wait until he was ready to give them audience; and he expressed the hope that I had trained myself with a like result. I told him that I was following his example, but at a long distance from his achievement. No man whom I have ever known has seemed to possess in a larger degree than Bishop Potter the innate as well as the trained capacity to keep his mind working in its set groove in spite of influences which to most men would be distracting. As the plant at springtime goes on flowering even when pelted by the hail, so it seemed to make no difference to the calm and steady flowering of the Bishop's thoughts, whether the conditions were favorable or otherwise. I could never imagine anything but his own will interfering with his mental operations when he had set them in motion. He was a notable example of self-mastery in general and of the most difficult of all kinds of self-mastery, which consists in ruling one's own mind as well as one's own spirit, as a motor-man puts on or shuts off power at his will.

The readiness with which he met his tasks and the apparent freedom from haste or flurry with which he performed them, always seemed to me an evidence not merely of his confidence in his own strength but of the spirit of optimism which was, I think, one of his chief traits. Indeed, nothing apparently was a more fundamental quality of his nature than the serene cheerfulness which is called ''the fair weather of the heart." He could have serious, solemnly serious thoughts, and look them, [4/5] but, so far as I could judge, they were never tinged with gloom. He could grieve and weep, but he could not sorrow as men without hope. I have never heard from his lips any note of despondence, or seen in his countenance any sign of depression. Apart from the visitations of affliction he seemed to possess a magic Aeolian harp of the spirit which made a "concord of sweet sound" whether caressed by a breeze from the South, or struck by a blast from the North. Lost hopes are not unknown even to cheerful and successful men, but I could fancy the Bishop's lost hopes drifting through the ether of his memory and finding themselves transformed into beauty by his temperament, like clouds reflecting the sun's rays. As to despair, the possibility of making room for it seemed to have been left out of every article of his constitution. Someone has said

"Despair was never yet so deep
In sinking, as in seeming;
Despair is hope just dropped asleep,
For better chance of dreaming."

And I can guess that this new meaning of hope sinking only to sleep and dream and wake would have seemed to belong to despair if Bishop Potter's soul had been surprised by the presence of so strange a guest.

It was perhaps this strong free spirit of Christian optimism, as well as his insight into character, which explains the Bishop's attitude of unreserved trustfulness toward those who had won his confidence. A more striking example of faith in others I have never seen. It was whole-hearted and unquestioning. Luke-warmness in anything was absolutely foreign to the Bishop's nature. The friends he had and their adoption tried, he grappled to his soul with hoops of steel.

The Bishop was popular without being fond of popularity. A man of genius has said "I could jump down Etna for any great public good, but I hate a mawkish popularity." [5/6] Such, I am sure, was the kind of sentiment which fitted Bishop Potter. It was simply inconceivable that he should say anything or do anything to court popular applause. He was more likely to go against the popular current than with it. It was not only his wise reserve but his indifference to newspaper reputation that made him so dificile to reporters. He often sent them away smarting with disappointment, and he long ago made it a rule never to correct misstatements of the press concerning himself. He possessed a statesman's tact, but it was always an ally and never a hindrance to the courage and constancy of his loyalty to high ideals.

His energy was so well known and was such a logical inference from his achievements that it scarcely seems worth while to mention it, and yet I like to think of it and speak of it. It was energy of the first order, and finds a fitting description in the poet's line, "Steadfast genius toiling gallantly." The Bishop was a gallant toiler. But his appearance never indicated that he was under the pressure of any effort. His abounding vigor seemed to overflow his task and hide it or make it look easy.

You remember it is said of Milgenwater:

"He could take and fire an arrow--
Run right after--go right by it--
Then stop short and say distinctly
Always Jac and sometimes Robbin-sun,
Ere the lazy arrow got there."

Well, there are Milgenwaters of the winged spirit as well as of the winged feet. There are men of such propelling energy that they distance expedition; outstrip their aim; do more than they set out to do; give a fulness of service that is pressed down and running over. Such a man was Bishop Potter. His deed was outdone by the doing. It was outdone by the doing for twenty years before he asked for help.

The sympathy which was one of the Bishop's strongest and [6/7] noblest traits was of no ordinary kind. It was the sympathy of a great soul. It has been said of Lord Bacon's intellect that it seemed to spread itself through every part of a subject like a "diffusive touch." There is a diffusive touch of the heart that spreads itself through every condition of humanity, and that was the kind of sympathy which distinguished Bishop Potter. It was this sympathy which prompted him to assume the financial responsibility of going on with the work of the old Mission in Stanton Street when its former supporters gave it up; it was this sympathy which, notwithstanding the ceaseless claim of other and weightier duties, prompted him to spend a summer month there ministering to the congregation, climbing tenement stairs and visiting the sick and the dying in stifling rooms; it was this sympathy which prompted him to found the Actors' Church Alliance; to manifest an active and helpful interest in civic affairs, in the problems of capital and labor, and in every vital question that concerned the welfare of his fellow-men of high or lowly degree. And it was sympathy rooted and grounded in the love which suffereth long and is kind. Nothing discouraged or dismayed it. We hear sometimes of an imitation sympathy which turns away from every opportunity for works of mercy, if it finds it has been deceived in some former experience by imposture. But Bishop Potter never lost his generous interest in mankind even if it had been sometimes betrayed. I have often thought of his sympathy in the light of a page of Pilgrim's Progress. Christian stood amazed to see a fire burning brightly out in the open under a tempest of rain. But he ceased to wonder when his attention was called to the stream of oil that was constantly pouring into the fire through a hole in an adjoining wall. Bishop Potter's sympathy, like that of other men, was sometimes exposed to the rain, but it never lost its glow, for it was fed by the grace of God.

I often recall instances of the Bishop's loving sympathy for [7/8] his clergy, especially for those of them whose tasks were difficult and burdensome. Only a few days ago one of our city Rectors told me that a Missionary of the Diocese once mentioned to him a pleasant surprise which he had received from the Bishop. This Missionary said he had supposed that the Bishop thought of him only at the time of the Convention, but one day he received a kind note from the Bishop enclosing a bank check for a considerable sum. The Missionary had made no appeal directly or indirectly, and he wondered how his urgent need had become known to his Diocesan. It was always a real pleasure to the Bishop to show his appreciation of any signal service which any of his clergy had rendered to the Church. A few years ago he found out that the Rector of a small parish up the Hudson had been its Rector for nearly fifty years. When the time for the anniversary drew nigh, he gave a dinner and invited the Rector, who like all but one of the other guests supposed it was an ordinary occasion. When the Rector tardily arrived he found that about twenty other elderly clergymen had assembled and that he was the guest of honor. It was a delightful reunion. At the end of the dinner our host made a most felicitous little speech, complimenting and congratulating the Rector on his long and faithful service, wishing him God-speed for the future, and then overwhelming him with surprise by presenting to him a magnificent golden cup which, at a given signal, had just been set upon the table.

In speaking of the Bishop's sympathy, I could hardly hope at this time to do more than touch the surface of a rich mine of remembrance. But I am sure you are sure that no coin ever came from the mint of authority with a truer ring than that of the sympathy which came from his heart. "Great are the symbols of being, but that which is symbolled is greater." Great were the qualities which the world recognized in Bishop Potter, but greater was the manhood in which they found their spring. [8/9] It is no wonder that tribute after tribute to his memory is offered by friends and strangers, near and far. They could no more be unmindful of his fitness for leadership in high places of the field of the militant Church's life than a mariner could be blind to a beacon light staring him in the face from a sea-coast. All men acknowledged his genius for organization, the conspicuous wisdom and efficiency with which he administered our metropolitan Diocese, his gift of graceful and forceful eloquence, his championship of the rights of the poor and the friendless, his readiness to spend and be spent in service to his fellow-men, whatever their creed or lack of creed. But he was more than all this and more than all else that could be said in his praise.

We are sometimes reminded that a mountain can best be seen from a distance. It may be so, but I think we are most conscious of its greatness when we breathe the air of its heights. Perhaps the point of view is not so good for eye measurements, but we feel the exhilaration of our environment and catch its meaning in our quickened pulse. It may be that a great man can best be focused in history's review of his life, but, none the less, Fathers and Brethren, it would be strange indeed if, in our review of Bishop Potter's life, we did not value most the insight into his mind and heart which has come to us from close personal contact with him.

Years ago the Bishop wrote out and set up on his desk some words from Macaulay's Life: "Let me not live when my frame lacks oil, to be the scoff of meaner spirits." As we know, his wish was fulfilled. For many years he had borne many burdens well; he was mercifully spared the burden of infirmity.

We sigh "for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still,"

but no one can doubt that the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bishop's consecration found him at the haven where he would be, because he knew it was time to drop anchor and quit the [9/10] helm. A while before the end came he said to one at his bedside that he thought the clock of his life had run down. Yes, it had run down beyond renewal from the hand of man. But his great work has not run down. It goes on with the swinging pendulum of a progress that seems at every hour to strike with a melody which tells of the life he lived, and finds grateful echoes in the hearts that cherish his memory.


[11] Once upon a time certain of our city clergy began to entertain the thought and indefinite purpose of forming a new professional club more in accordance with the fitness of ecclesiastical things, and more in consonance with their own ideas than seemed to characterize the methods of other bodies of the kind. The force of selective affinity drew one and another of these aspirants together here and there, and, so, in the natural course of things a sabbatical number met by invitation at the home of the Rev. Dr. Davenport, Thursday, November 2d, 1882, for social intercourse and consultation, when the eventual decision was reached to issue at once a brief circular letter addressed to a strictly limited number of clergymen, inviting their presence and co-operation at a meeting to be held Monday, November 13th, 1882, at the residence of the Rev. C. T. Olmsted. This letter was signed by J. R. Davenport, T. Richey, C. E. Swope, J. M. Shackelford, C. T. Olmsted, F. Lobdell and J. N. Blanchard. Five of these worthy men have since passed to the life beyond; two are still spared to us, though no longer of this Diocese; one of whom has been wafted into the episcopate.

At the time and place appointed the projectors again met, and in company with the Rev. Messrs. Applegate, Canedy, Harris and Johnson unanimously agreed to form a club to be known as "The New York Churchman's Association." And the Rev. C. E. Swope, D.D. was then elected president and duly reelected for seven consecutive years; the Rev. F. Lobdell, D.D., secretary, and the Rev. J. R. Davenport, D.D., treasurer. [11/12] On motion of Rev. Dr. Shackelford these officers were constituted an executive committee and as such requested "to provide a place for the members of the Association to meet and lunch together."

The Committee accomplished this duty by securing accommodations at the Hotel Hungaria, Union Square, where our meetings were held for several years. As our number increased we were obliged to seek other quarters from time to time; and in this way became acquainted with the inward parts of many of the city caravansaries. The gastromic habits and privileges of our forebears being of less interest to our present associates than the happy knowledge that every man of us has somehow contrived to get something to eat and a napkin every day of his life, we will merely say: we always paid our scot, and, as a rule, got our money's worth. To this there was one exception. We met twice at a certain place, and on one of these occasions, when we had as our guest a well-known Boston clergyman, who gave an admirable and instructive address on "The Bible and Egyptian Antiquities," we sat down to the poorest luncheon ever served to us. However, we were jolly, treated our visitor as well as we could, and, although mortified, made the best of what we could not help. Judge the relief it must have been to one of our members when, a week or so later, he saw a paragraph in a Boston newspaper which informed the public that the clergyman referred to had just returned from a visit to New York, where he had been the honored guest of the Churchman's Association, which had tendered him a most delightful complimentary breakfast. "How much there is in the art of putting things."

Our earlier meetings were more or less given to parliamentary details, the exercise of superficial courtesy, and the admission of new members, besides the methods common to such bodies. And as our membership increased our consciousness of power, never dormant, expanded likewise. It became evident [12/13] before long that listening to an excellent paper and discussing the subject presented did not seem to meet the requirements of our inherent vitality. So, at the 13th meeting, held in May, 1883, by which time 65 members had been enrolled, a committee of nine was appointed by the chair to consider and report to the association in September following concerning matters of special interest to members. Altho' this wide latitude of instruction left the committee virtually free to range over the planet--the members thereof thought it prudent to limit attention and work to Diocesan affairs, especially those pertaining to the Annual Convention. At all events at the time appointed the chairman of this committee of nine, presented a report which recommended that: All portions of the Diocese should be entitled to representation; that as a rule, no person is to be considered a candidate for more than one position; and that all parties are as far as possible to be recognized. It also nominated a ticket for the Standing Committee, and another for the Missionary Committee, The report was adopted. And in this way a new departure of quasi-political significance was taken, and patiently pursued until the purposes designed were substantially accomplished. Such a movement naturally involved honest differences of opinion both on the part of our members as well as outsiders, but no general feeling of antagonism. In associative bodies generally, especially clerical, there is often a tendency to ultra-conservatism, to fall into a rut, and to follow the line of least resistance. Sooner or later there comes the desire for official changes. This does not imply personal objection to temporary incumbents, but merely an altered perspective, and a wish for what the life-insurance men call "new blood." From time to time also resolutions were discussed in our meetings prior to their presentation to the Diocesan Convention which imparted information and did not in any way interfere with the larger body, nor impair the imperial power of its veto.

[14] A little later our vigilants detected signs that seemed to indicate the importance of looking after the Legislature of the state. So, in due time and form the matter was brought before the Club, and, on notice, an interested member was requested "to associate with himself any member he sees fit and to go to Albany to represent our interests there in reference to proposed legislation on the incorporation of churches." Which he did. Afterwards he was authorized to present the same subject to the Diocesan Convention. And at a later meeting he received a vote of thanks for the efficient manner in which he had accomplished the duty assigned.

It need not be inferred from all this that our Association was in the habit of having State Legislatures and Diocesan Conventions served up as a steady diet. These were occasional luxuries. We usually depended on our own members for our "feast of reason and flow of soul." When any proposition of more than ordinary interest loomed up we gave it such protracted consideration as its importance demanded. In this way such subjects as "Parochial Missions," and the "Enrichment of the Prayer Book" were frequently discussed, and vigorous debates increased the mental flexibility of those who participated in them, and so enabled them to contribute intelligently to the final solution of such questions.

Through the natural process of growth our membership reached the one hundred mark, at which it long remained. The annual gains and losses about balancing each other. There was however within this century of enrolled names a somehow--evolved--inner-circle of the elect, limited in number, unlimited in wisdom, who considered it their prerogative to shape things. These members of this inner circle, while interested in topics usually brought up at our meetings, and indeed prone to monopolise the discussions, were given to much incidental talk also about the dire results of consorting with schismatics, and [14/15] the danger of being clothed with ragged churchmanship. And they were fearfully wrought up on one occasion when they learned that a prominent church clergyman had made an address in company with certain ministers of other religious bodies in one of our city parks. As soon as possible the matter was brought before the Association and immediate action urged. But the Association had a mind of its own and was not disposed to meddle with things beyond its pale. The elect, however, were quite equal to the emergency. At every meeting for an indefinite period as soon as the speaker of the day had finished his address it was moved to take a recess. This being carried, the time until just before the moment of adjournment was devoted to the consideration of the unfortunate condition of the Church in this Diocese. This continued for many weeks before and after the Lenten season; at length a report on a different subject was presented and discussed through several meetings. But the old tactics were not abandoned. Finally one day when something was said that ruffled the composure of the member who had made the report he suddenly moved to lay it on the table. The motion was seconded by one whose voice had not been heard before, and who in so doing suggested that in order to vote intelligently it might be well to take a retrospective glance over bits of our somewhat peculiar experiences during the few preceding months. He then referred to certain things that had been said and done, with a brief, running commentary, which the listeners--so far as one could judge from appearances--did not seem to consider dull. And wound up by reminding his hearers that as they had for a long time been going round and round and never getting anywhere, and had accomplished nothing beyond making one another uncomfortable, it seemed to have fallen to him, although merely a vealy member, to say what a more experienced associate ought to have said at an earlier day, in the hope of putting an end to such lamentable waste of time and energy. [15/16] When he sat down there was a loud noise in the place. Some of the members buzzed about him--forgetful of the parliamentaries--one of whom seizing his two hands, exclaimed: "You have saved us, sir." The amiable and accomplished president soon restored order. Some thoughtful member offered a substitute motion that, the report be placed on file and the committee discharged, with thanks, which was at once carried. Whereupon the scholarly gentleman who had presented the report remarked: "Since my head had to be taken off, I am delighted to be deprived of it in so graceful a manner." On the adjournment of the meeting President Swope hastened to interview the talking freshman, and after some words inaudible to the bystanders was heard to say: "But, my dear sir, if you can talk as you have spoken today in what you call your "vealy" condition what will become of us when you get to be a fullgrown steer."

These impromptu words of our freshman seemed to have voiced the thought of many, and to have brought about a gradual change in our methods and ministrations which could not have been suspected at the time. From that day to this our Association, as such, has taken no interest in schismatics. And among the strange revenges so often perceptible in the whirl-a-gig of time we may note the fact that the presbyter whose alleged irregularity then produced such a tintinnabulation and something worse is now a member of our House of Bishops.

Schism was gone, but churchmanship was still on deck and wonderfully vigorous. At this day it may be difficult for those of us whose experience does not include the olden time to realize what a "burning" topic this was. Now-a-days the word churchmanship is rarely if ever heard in this place, our members usually checking any such perquisites they may have about them with their hats in the ante-room. Now we respect each other's feeling, thought and practice in ecclesiastical matters, or try to do so following the example of our mother Church who bears [16/17] with the aberration, the eccentricity, the weakness of all her children, hoping that as they grow older and think more deeply upon the mystery of human life they will become wiser and better. Then it was very different. The elect were always on the alert, and our meetings while sometimes provocative of impatience were rarely wanting in liveliness. After a while, however, this harping on a single theme became wearisome, and desire for a new departure was frequently expressed. It is said that some of our members even went to the aforesaid freshman and asked his co-operation, and he had told them he had no ambition to pose as a reformer, and suggested that those who built the house had better go to work and remodel it. The uneasy spirits at length decided to approach the matter tentatively by amending the By Laws--which are always convenient to fall back upon--and eventually succeeded in arranging them substantially as we have them now. Every attempted change, however, was opposed. Especially objectionable was the proposal to limit volunteer speakers to five minutes to those who had been accustomed to speak as often as they pleased and as long as they liked. And it was not until after discussions extending, off and on, over several months that the proposed improvements were adopted. Even then when the attempt was made to apply practically the rule relative to the mention of speaker and topic there was a hitch. On the first announcement of the programme for the next meeting a voice was heard saying: "I move that the Association take a vote and decide whether it will accept the subject and speaker announced; which, for my own part, I am not disposed to do." It was stated in rejoinder by the chairman that his committee had acted on the supposition that the Association had appointed such a trio to do for it what it could not conveniently do for itself, for if it could, no committee was needed. But if, as the language of the preceding speaker implied, the design was to allow any gentleman who had accepted [17/18] an invitation of the committee, to incur the risk of being subsequently black balled he would have nothing to do with that kind of work. The way out of the difficulty was easy. His official appointment had come to him as a surprise, and he would now decline to serve. The subject was then discussed at length, every speaker sustaining the committee, and it was moved and carried unanimously that the resignation of the chairman be not accepted, and that the committee be continued with power. The member who had opposed this arrangement never met with us again. And not long after the inner circle of the elect went into a decline and passed peacefully away.

Our regulative machinery gradually got to running more smoothly, and has continued working so easily that few of us ever stop to think it could have moved in any other way. In accomplishing this, however, something was found to be still wanting. Something on which the real worth of the Association was ultimately dependent, and, yet, something that no committee could provide, and no process of voting could accomplish, and that was the creation of a healthy, refined tone and temper, a general sentiment of justice to the individual, fidelity to the Association, and loyalty to the Church. This was seen to be a delicate work, and one that required far-sightedness, patience and time. But a few were soon found who appreciated the difficulties, and yet saw the eventual compensations. Others were gradually enlisted in the undertaking, most of them working zealously yet unobtrusively, through whose thought and endeavor obstacles were quietly overcome, and the propulsive principle inculcated that it is the things which unite men that import not those that separate them. So we have been steadily coming to a clearer apprehension that this body is not merely a collection of independent units, like the sand on the seashore, but a solidarity. It was this notion of an aggregation, with its implicit exaggeration of personality that was at the bottom of [18/19] whatever friction may have been perceptible in our earlier years, as well as of our subsequent phase of what has been called our 'pretense,' but which it would be better form to style our picturesque self-consciousness, under the impression of which we,--a private concourse of clergymen having no legal existence, and holding our permanent headquarters in a drawer of the secretary's writing-table, without even a post office address--we at one time sent a letter to the King of England, and at another to the President of the United States, and were once and again prompted to prod our Diocesan authorities to protest against the persecution of the Jews in Russia, and the Armenians in Turkey. Thereby assuming our ability to cope with the two great curses of humanity, race prejudice and theological persecution, which have racked the minds of statesmen for many generations. Discussions of such subjects may be always advantageous. But to claim through impromptu action power we do not possess and influence we have never earned is very much the reverse. Yet, neither of these two episodes of our collective life, neither our belligerency nor our assumption, ever fairly represented the spirit of this Association. Each was the work of a minority, which however never would have been allowed so to sprawl if the members of the majority had appreciated the fact of the solidarity of the body to which they belonged, with a due sense of the obligations thereby involved, and had remembered that "Thou shalt say no," has often the force of a divine command. But these things cannot be eliminated. We must face them. Take our medicine, and charge all up to the experience account. And thereby, we may hope, gain a still clearer apprehension of the truth that this Association is a consolidation of interests, privileges and responsibilities indicative of a moral personality which has its own substance and content, and possesses ability to understand its own vocation and purpose. And in so doing we must not overlook the fact that every man who has been a member [19/20] long enough to make and take any impression has contributed something toward this. Let no one suppose we should have done better without this or that man, or that we could have thrown out this or that thing to advantage. These are incidents in our history and development the omission of which might have weakened our life. It is on account of our whole experience--criticise it as one may--that we are just what we are today.

For a time the old method of providing an essayist for each meeting from our own membership was continued. Later it was suggested it would add to the interest if we could hear a layman occasionally, and permission was granted. A year or two after a resolution was passed authorizing the Committee to invite clergymen and laymen of other religious bodies to address us. Thus all restrictions were removed. But no such step was ever taken without authority. There may be danger in allowing this liberty. But on the other hand, a committee on speakers and subjects must be governed--whether it clearly recognizes the fact or not--by the dictates of common sense, by its responsibility to the Association, and by its revelation to the Church. If it takes any advantage of the power delegated to it the Association can at any time interfere and assume control. Every committee is the servant of this body not its master.

The practical results of this have been such as to warrant confidence. We have listened profitably to the wisdom of our elder members. Many of the younger men have been brought out, and have encouraged us by their presence and their helpful words. Some of the most intellectual and brilliant men of the city as well as the Diocese, many of them acknowledged experts, have given us words of inspiration and cheer. In this way and through social intercourse, the Association has steadily grown in strength, comprehensiveness and usefulness. It has done much for its own members, it has not been without service to the body [20/21] of our local clergy, and in some ways it has benefitted the Diocese, to which it has made gifts. But never a better one than when it took from our ranks a man who, through his intellectual acumen, his moral stamina, his spiritual perception, and his genial personality was whether present at our meetings or absent, the light of our eyes and the joy of our hearts, and presented him to the Diocese as the honored Bishop Coadjutor.

Among the hundreds of names that have appeared on our roll of membership are many of whom the church has been justly proud, and others equally worthy and duly esteemed though less conspicuous. We have usually our full complement of members, even since our number has been increased to one hundred and fifty. We pursue the even tenor of our way trying to aid in doing the Lord's work as we see it. And, if in recalling past experiences we wonder sometimes at our former demonstrative interest in things that no longer specially attract us, we find this to be a characteristic of human life, and are reminded of Edmund Burke's ejaculation: "What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue."

And now, in looking back through the mists of time, we recognize the familiar forms of those whose companionship was pleasant and often dear to us, who have gone to their rest. And we like to recall them as they were. Peculiarities that may have once jarred our sensibilities or sometimes amused us, we accept as inseparable from the personalities we prize, and we think of them too, as now, divested of earthly weakness and limitation, and clothed with purity and light, of which the snow that sometimes covers their last earthly resting place is a material emblem. And when the drapery of winter is superseded by the flowers of early summer we dwell upon the fragrance of their memories, which we allow to glide quietly into "our study of imagination," and their shadowy forms to grow more clearly definite, and come "apparelled in more precious habit" than when we knew them in the life of sense.

[22] The annals of a clerical association offer few salient points for the historian. Enough has been said to indicate the fact that this Association has shown quite as much of a development as a history. It is not what it was twenty-five years ago, any more than are the individual units of which it is composed what they were then. The times especially the ecclesiastical times are wonderfully different from what they were when we held our first meeting. Evidences of this are all about us. Perceptible for example in Dr. Newman Smyth's irenicon, in the Modernists of the Roman Communion, and quite as clearly, perhaps, in the words contained in a letter written last June to the editor of one of our city newspapers,--presumably in reply to a proposition or suggestion,--by our late respected and beloved Diocesan,--a man who had the sagacity of a statesman, the practical ability of a man of affairs, the grace of one cultured in the humanities, and the devotion of a servant of God--who then wrote: "The whole question of the attitude of the human mind all round the world to religion is a question in which not alone scholars or ecclesiastics are interested, but all men."

"Such a symposium should discuss (a) the origins of ancient religions; (b) their influence upon the civilizations, e. g., as in Judea, China, Japan and elsewhere, in which they have prevailed; (c) the distinctive qualities which Christianity brought to human society; (d) the inevitable restrictions, misapprehensions and racial prejudices by which these influences have been limited." "I am persuaded that the movement of religious thought today in all lands is a movement progressive toward a larger light and higher ideals."

Bishop Potter could not have written that a quarter of a century ago. Neither could Dr. Smyth have attempted to unite the scattered forces of Protestant Christendom in a definite coherency of aim and purpose, for future presentation to a comprehensive church. Nor could Father Tyrrell, Abbe Loisy and [22/23] Senator Fogazzaro have proposed to reform an infallible church.

We will merely say in closing that this body through its manifold experiences has tried to keep abreast of the times while maintaining a firm grasp on the eternities; and has been loyal to the Church, to that Church which baptizes us in infancy, nurtures us in childhood, guards us in youth, in manhood directs us in the ways of wisdom and aesthetic refinement, comforts us in times of infirmity and sorrow, and at last lays the perishable body to rest with its prayers of peace and hope. To that Church which is "a thing of beauty and a joy forever," the New York Churchman's Association has always been loyal; and through the help of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, always will be.


At the 25th Anniversary of the New York Churchman's Association.

[24] Mr. President, Rt. Rev. Father, and Brethren of the New York Churchman's Association. It was kind of you to remember me on this occasion, when you are celebrating the 25th anniversary of your society, and it gives me much pleasure, I assure you, to be with you tonight, and to recall for your information some of the incidents which attended the founding of it. The subject assigned me, as you observe, is "Reminiscence,''--and I ought to be able to speak to it, seeing that I had the honor of being one of the original "seven"--a perfect number, by the way--who met to consult and to make plans for the formation of such an association of the Clergy in the city and diocese of New York, as would be able to supply certain needs which were seriously felt here from twenty-five to thirty years ago.

In the first place, there was no general meeting of the Clergy, except in the Convention, for any purpose at all, theological, literary, or social. There were, I believe, two clubs of a partisan character, and of restricted membership, at the two extremes of Churchmanship, one among the "Broads," and one among the "Catholics"--but they were necessarily limited in scope, and the majority of us were not invited to join them, even if we had desired to do so. There was a feeling, therefore, that we required something of a larger or more comprehensive character, in which those of differing "schools of thought" could meet together, and looking one another in the face find, as we usually do, that the other man is a good fellow after all, and not so narrow as we thought he was.

[25] And, secondly, there was need of some means of conference and co-operation among the Clergy of the diocese, which a society like this would supply, for the purpose of correcting certain methods of procedure in the Diocesan Convention, particularly in the matter of the election of officers. It was the established custom, which had prevailed nobody knew how long, for the Secretary of the Convention, when the time for elections was announced, to hand out from his desk, for distribution among the members, a package of tickets already prepared, with the names of candidates neatly printed on them--and this previously arranged slate was always characterized as "the regular ticket." No nominations were ever called for, but every voter was expected to fold up one of these "regular tickets," and deposit it in the ballot box. Does anyone ask who got up that slate? No one would presume to unravel that mystery, I am sure. The Secretary had it in his possession every time--no doubt he had some share of responsibility for it--and hence the origin of the idea that possibly it would be well to begin the desired reform by electing another Secretary. You will readily see how impossible it was to secure the election of any candidate, whose name was not printed on the regular ticket, unless there could be some pre-arranged agreement among like-minded men as to whose name they should scratch, and for whom they would vote. Here certainly was material enough for a convulsion in the ecclesiastical politics of the Convention; and if you have ever carefully studied the Canon of your diocese on the matter of "Elections," you will probably have noted there the signs of such a convulsion in years gone by, quite as plainly as the geologist reads in "the testimony of the rocks" the record of seismic upheavals and the action of heat during the ages of the past. For you will find in that Canon certain requirements which are not common in diocesan legislation, such as the sending of nominations to the Secretary before the Convention, [25/26] the posting of these on a bulletin board near the entrance to the Church, and the reading or reporting of them to the Convention at the beginning of the second day's session, before the elections take place.

These, then, were the principal reasons which brought those seven men together at luncheon, at the house of the Rev. Dr. Davenport on East 16th Street, to discuss the feasibility of an organization. They were the Rev. Drs. Swope, Lobdell, Shackelford, Richey, Blanchard, Davenport, and your humble servant --and it was then and there decided to call a larger meeting of men supposed to be in sympathy with the movement, on a day not far distant, at No. 38 East 31st Street, which was my residence at that time. Some twenty or more of the Clergy responded to that call, and, as your historian this evening has already told you, the NEW YORK CHURCHMAN'S ASSOCIATION was duty organized, and the Rev. Dr. Cornelius E. Swope was elected the first President. It was provided that any of the Clergy of the diocese of New York might be eligible to membership.

The effect of this movement upon the Convention became apparent very quickly. It reached the ears of the Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Horatio Potter, that there was talk of electing another Secretary. Now it must be remembered, that there had been no change in that office for many years, and the Bishop had learned to depend upon the Secretary, because he knew his ways and understood him. When the Bishop heard, therefore, of the proposed change, he protested. "You must not take away my Secretary, I cannot get on without him.'' Of course there was nothing to be done but to comply with the Bishop's wish, and that would have been done if need had so required. But it so happened that the Bishop was taken sick before the Convention assembled, and he was never able to preside at another session. The Rev. Dr. Swope was appointed Chairman of the Convention of 1883, [26/27] and the Secretary of former years declined a re-election, and the Rev. Dr. Lobdell was chosen for that office. The new Secretary appointed as his assistants the Rev. Messrs. Blanchard and Olmsted, and when we opened the Secretary's desk and prepared to go to work, we found in one corner a neatly folded package duly labeled, "Regular Tickets." It is unnecessary to say, they were not used at that session, nor were they ever heard of afterwards; for it was at that Convention that the Canon "Concerning Elections" was amended and put into the shape that I have before mentioned. That same Convention was still more notable for another reason. The aged Bishop, having already passed his eightieth birthday, and being also in feeble health, sent in his request for the election of an Assistant Bishop, and the Rev. Dr. Henry C. Potter, then Rector of Grace Church, was chosen to that office; the 25th anniversary of whose Consecration has been recently and most sadly commemorated.

Perhaps it may not be out of place to mention here the singular fact that the new Secretary of the Convention and both of his assistants were gone from the diocese before two years had passed from the time of their election. The Rev. Dr. Lobdell became Rector of Trinity Church, Buffalo, the Rev. Mr. Blanchard went to St. John's Church, Detroit, and the Rev. Mr. Olmsted to Grace Church, Utica. Let us hope it was not looked upon as a judgment on them, that they so quickly disappeared from your midst and no longer had part in your councils.

And now it may not be without interest to you, for me to speak a few words, in closing these reminiscences, by way of appreciation of your first President, the Rev. Dr. Swope--particularly as it was my good fortune to have been associated with him for more than fifteen years in the work at Trinity Chapel. Dr. Swope came to New York in the spring of 1867 from Pittsburg, where he was Rector of Trinity Church, and had been influential in the setting off of that diocese from the original diocese of [27/28] Pennsylvania. It was said that he might have been the first Bishop there, but that he refused to allow his name to be used, and worked for the election of his former preceptor, the Rev. Dr. Kerfoot, who did attain that honor. It was after the Consecration of Dr. Neely as Bishop of Maine that Dr. Swope was called to Trinity Chapel, where he held the position of Vicar; though a different terminology was in use in Trinity Parish in those days from that which prevails now. Two Priests were usually assigned to each Chapel, one called the Senior Assistant Minister, corresponding to the Vicar now; the other called the Junior Assistant, who has no exact counterpart at present. It was my privilege to hold this latter position from the autumn of 1868 to the spring of 1884; and I am glad to testify, from that long experience, to Dr. Swope's exceptional fairness, evenness of temper, and freedom from any tendency to domineer, or to take advantage of his own superior position. The situation was not without difficulties; for the Junior Assistant was not subject to the direction of the Senior, and there were possibilities of friction, as one can readily see--indeed, friction was not unknown in some parts of the Parish while that system was in vogue. But there was never any trouble between Dr. Swope and his Junior. He was large minded and generous enough to overlook the Junior's mistakes, when he made them; and the Junior can honestly say that he tried to avoid mistakes as much as possible. Dr. Swope died in 1890, up to which time he held the presidency of this Association without change--after that the present custom was adopted of electing a new President each year.

Let me thank you, Brothers, once more for allowing me to be with you this evening; and let me express the hope most earnestly that the New York Churchman's Association will go forward in its good work, and be prospered for many years to come.



[29] The subject you have assigned me is a difficult one to treat. If you had asked me to speak of what the Church in the past has done or of what it is doing at the present time I could more easily tell you. And yet that would be of course a superfluous undertaking, for you know as I do both what it has already done and what it is doing now. But we do not know, neither you nor I, what it will hereafter do in the years that are to come, and the veil which hides the future is a veil we cannot lift. That is I think especially true of the Church in New York, for no one is wise enough to be able to forecast the future of New York. Just across the way from where we are sitting now they are building a new railroad station. A few years ago the present station was new and was when built supposed to be adequate and ample. But now it is coming down and a larger one is being erected in its place. I wonder how long it will be after it is finished that the railroad people will find that it is not large enough, or is not properly placed, and will begin to plan and think about another and on another site, in Harlem or the Bronx.

And that is an illustration of what is taking place throughout the whole city, more noticeably at present in the Borough of Manhattan because of its peculiar topography and shape. And yet it is not confined to the Borough of Manhattan but is reaching out beyond it, south of the Battery and north of the Harlem River. For that part of the city which goes by the name of Brooklyn I do not have to speak, though that too I presume will witness many changes, and the people will go to Brooklyn, yes, [20/30] even to Brooklyn, not because they want to, but, as the Cabby said to his Fare who hailed him on the street and said "I want to go to Brooklyn;" 'No you don't want to, you've got to!" But that is another question or at least another diocese. I am speaking of New York and of the Church in New York, in the city and the diocese, and when you ask me what will be the story of the Church in this city and diocese for the next quarter of a century, I answer frankly, I do not know. No one knows. I know what it will be eventually, for I believe without misgiving in the ultimate triumph not only here but everywhere of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as this Church hath received it and teaches and proclaims it. We learn however from the past history of the Church that the path in which it moves is not always straight but is often spiral, and while it is always progressive it is not always directly or immediately progressive, but has some deflections and variations in it, sideward or downward and yet in the end upward. But this one thing we can confidently affirm, that whatever the course of the Christian Church, whether straight or spiral, it cannot be stationary.

I was present last summer at a public meeting in the White-chapel district of London, and held in the People's Palace. The meeting was a large one, numbering I presume some five or six thousand people, and had for its speakers eight English Bishops, not only from different parts of England but from different parts of the Empire, who were attending the Lambeth Conference and who had at one time and in some capacity worked in that congested district. They made very good speeches, remarkably good, which I confess surprised me a little. Most of the speakers devoted their time to telling what great and glorious things the English Church had done in the past. One of them however, when it came his time to speak, took a different line, and told the story of a rather clever, self-sufficient young parliamentarian who persisted on one occasion in buttonholing Mr. Gladstone [30/31] and ventilating his views at length on Governmental policy somewhat to the annoyance of that distinguished statesman. And then as the young man with considerable self-satisfaction was retreating into the lobby, Mr. Gladstone stretched out his long arm and pointing his finger towards him said, "There goes a young man with a brilliant future behind him!"

Well, Gentlemen, it is not enough for the Church to have that kind of brilliancy in it which Mr. Gladstone paradoxically called "a brilliant future behind it," it must by its work let its light shine and make its brilliant promise good. And how can it do that? Well, in the first place it must recognize and realise its practical solidarity or catholicity as a Church. The Headmaster of an English school was speaking upon one occasion to his pupils and trying to impress upon them the value and importance of working together in harmony and trying to develop and cultivate a common, kindred spirit, and he ended his remarks by saying, "Now I hope you boys will all hang together. If you don't, I hope to live long enough to see each of you hanged separately!"

Now that is what the Church must do: it must hang together. It must recognize the fact that the Church as a Church is something greater and more than a series of independent and separate congregations and independent parishes. If it doesn't, then in spite of its great and lofty claims it is only a Church in theory and not a Church in fact; it is simply congregationalism. Yes, and further, it must recognize the fact that the Church is something greater and more than any school of thought or party in the Church. We have those different schools of thought and that is right. That is what makes us or helps to make us a Church and not simply a sect. And yet in spite of all these different schools of thought existing and continuing and working side by side, we must hang together, faithfully, steadfastly and loyally, we must hang together. And as a Bishop in the Church [31/32] of God it shall be my endeavor not to try to suppress any one of them but to make them hang together and thus to give to the Church its true and catholic note and spirit as a Church. And if any particular school of thought does not hang together with the rest of the Church, I shall be tempted to echo the sentiment of the Headmaster and hope to live long enough to see it hang separately. But I do not look for any such thing as that: I do not expect it. I believe in the loyalty of the Church and of the whole Church. It is going to hang together; here in this diocese, loyal to itself, loyal to its Master, and in its separate members loyal to one another. Last and least of all I know it is going to give its true and loyal support to me and to help me to make this Church of ours not only in name but in the work which it does the Church of the living God. A traveller starting out to walk to a distant city and meeting a fellow traveller, asked how far he had to walk, and received the answer, "Walk." It was not the answer which he expected to receive but it was the best perhaps which he could receive. It was not by thinking about the distance which he had to cover but by going on that he would reach his destination. And so when you ask me what will be the future of the Church in this diocese in the next quarter of a century, I answer, Let it go on and do what it is doing, faithfully and well; and when any one of us is confronted by some hard and difficult duty let us not say how hard and difficult it is, how rough is the way, how wearisome the task; but rather, I see my Master; I hear His call! then strength and faith and hope will come and courage for the task, and progress will be achieved. It may not seem great and yet it may be much greater than it seems.

"Say not the struggle nought availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faileth not nor fainteth,
And as things have been they remain.
For while the tired waves vainly breaking
Seem here no further inch to gain,
Far back through creeks and inlets making
Comes silent, flooding in, the main."



Vice- President
Executive Committee
Committee on Subjects
Committee on Nominations

Past Presidents of the Association

REV. WM. N. DUNNELL, S.T.D. 1896
REV. WM. M. GEER 1898
THE Rt. REV. C. T. OLMSTED, D.D. 1902
REV. C. W. E. BODY, D.D.  1903

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