Project Canterbury

Mahlon Norris Gilbert: Bishop Coadjutor of Minnesota 1886-1900.

By Francis Leseure Palmer
with an Introduction by Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, Presiding Bishop of the American Church.

Milwaukee: The Young Churchman, 1912.
London: Mowbray, 1912.

Chapter XX. The End.

THE LAST RECORD of Bishop Gilbert's Journal, as printed in the Church Record, is--"Jan. 9th. Confined to the house with a bad throat." However, he was soon better, and a short time later he went to the East in the interest of the Diocese. For some years Seabury Divinity School had been in financial straits, and he hoped to raise much-needed funds. It was thought, also, that the change might be good for his health, and at first this seemed to be the case. Mrs. Gilbert spent the time of his absence in Faribault, with friends at Seabury Hall. On February 6, she wrote to her friend, Mrs. S. E. McMasters of St. Paul:

I am enjoying Seabury with all of my old-time ardor--Chapel services--cheerful rooms (southern exposure)--noisy men (boys), full of fun and frolic-- Miss White [Matron] and Mrs. Camp [mother of Professor Camp] and the Pooles--and a daily drive (except three cold days) in the St. Mary's carriage with Miss Eels--all make my daily life very pleasant. Frances comes over [from St. Mary's Hall] every Monday and spends the day, and for a little while on Saturday.

My "Lord Bishop" is now in New York, but the shekels for Seabury do not come in, only a few, to his disappointment. However, he had a nice time with my cousins in Philadelphia, and writes that he is "quite well." I would rather have him say his usual "never felt better in my life." . . .



While in New York, Bishop Gilbert was entertained at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. Van Vechten Olcott, and was in the best of spirits. He had passed the stage of feeling "quite well," and gave them his customary answer, that he "never felt better in his life." It was a great relief that Mrs. Gilbert was so comfortable, and he was going to enjoy this visit, and rest.

To rest, except in vacation time, was impossible. During his stay, he spoke in four churches in New York City. On February 8, a stormy day, he addressed a large congregation in St. James' Church, Derby, Connecticut, on behalf of the Board of Missions, and "won the closest interest." "In closing he asked if the Episcopal Church was the one to carry to the people what they needed, or was it only the Church for the cultivated, the learned, the refined? . . . He had preached the Gospel on the frontier, and to all sorts and conditions of men, and had ever found that the Church was able, with God's help, to reach them all."

The day following, he spoke, also in behalf of Missions, to a large congregation in Christ Church, New Haven.

Of the last fortnight the Spirit of Missions has this record:

Less than a fortnight before his death, Bishop Gilbert was at the Church Missions House, in New York, stimulating everyone to harder work and better living by his cheerful confidence. He spoke with great power to the students of the General Theological School of the needs of the West. A few days later he was at the convention of the Church Students' Missionary Association in Gambier [at Kenyon College], and spoke of the opportunities offered to men for shaping the life of western communities. It was to be [almost] his last public utterance. Its burden was characteristic of his life--service.3

The story of how the end came is best told in a letter written by Mrs. May Goodrich McMasters, who was present at his death. This letter was written on March 9, 1900, to her father, Mr. Earle S. Goodrich, then in the City of Washington:

I will simply go over the last few days before the blow struck, which so stunned me, that it seems as though it were a dream from which I must awaken. I knew that the Bishop was expected home on Saturday morning, February twenty-four, and that he would leave for Faribault that afternoon. We had planned a reception for him and Mr. Andrews at the Guild House the following Monday evening. On that afternoon I was at the rectory, when I learned that on account of a bad cold the Bishop would not be down.

Fearing he was alone, I went up to the house, where I found him very ill in bed, the doctor having already seen him. It seems that on his way from the East he went to Lehigh University to visit his nephew. While there he had a chill, but again stopped at Gambier, Ohio, to address some young men. He was delayed in Chicago some hours, and reached home late, and hurried through his business, so as to get to Faribault for another address Saturday night. [This was at the Guild House of the Cathedral, at a meeting of the Men's Club, and was his last public utterance.]

On Sunday he remained quietly with Mrs. Gilbert, who had been ill for ten days. He was greatly disappointed in finding her so sick, and frequently referred to it during his illness. [On Monday he returned alone to St. Paul, planning to attend a meeting of the Board of Missions, but sent word that he could not come, on account of a raging headache.]

I went to him every day, remaining until the doctor came at night, and though he had pneumonia, his symptoms were more favorable than in the severe attack of some years ago, but what I did not realize was. that his best lung was affected, and his other one could do no work. All of Wednesday night and Thursday oxygen was given him. On Thursday at half-past six, the symptoms were more favorable than they had been, temperature lower, respirations better, but he was alarmingly weak. I decided to remain through the night, feeling anxious. The doctor came at ten, remaining until twelve, when he left the Bishop resting quietly. At two the nurse telephoned for him, the breathing having suddenly become very quick and loud.

Dr. Ogden also was summoned, but all our united efforts failed to help, and at twenty minutes of four, Friday morning [March 2], the strong, gentle spirit returned to God who gave it.

On the early morning train Mrs. Edgerton and I went to Faribault, carrying the dread news--half hoping to bring Mrs. Gilbert back with us--but she was so alarmingly weak that it was thought best to leave her there, and on Monday a special car went down for her, with Dr. Greene and the nurse. On Tuesday morning early, Mrs. Gilbert was carried into the room where the Bishop lay, and there, beside him, the Holy Communion was administered by Mr. Poole, the old friend of the Bishop, who had married them. Prances was to have been confirmed at Easter, and it will always remain a beautiful memory to her, that she first received the Holy Communion by her father.

At ten o'clock, there was a service at the house for the close friends. Mr. Andrews read the most comforting words from the Scriptures and the hymn, "Art thou weary, art thou languid?" with great tenderness. I am sure as Mrs. Gilbert heard it from her sick-bed she must have been helped and uplifted. At half-past two, the service was held at the church--before which the body had lain in state from eleven until two. Dear Bishop Tuttle officiated there; and our hearts went out to him in his great bereavement, losing a son, brother Bishop, and life-long friend.

At Oakland Bishop Tuttle conducted the service until Bishop Millspaugh took it up, singing "I heard a voice from Heaven," etc. Beginning very softly, gradually his voice rose until "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord," was a shout of triumph. It was indescribably beautiful. There we left him.

Through the long days, as the Bishop lay on his bier, I have never seen a more beautiful sight. It was the peace of God. He had much color in his face, the ears were pink and the cheeks, while it seemed as though the eyes must unclose, and hold us with the clear, magnetic gaze which had so often thrilled us.

To stand as I did at his side with strong men and women utterly heartbroken, as they told what he had been to them in their hour of need, was to realize in some measure the boundless sympathy of his great heart. Now will come the hard task of living without him, of missing the strong, hearty hand clasp, the cheering tones of his dear voice. Life will often be difficult, unless we can gain inspiration from his unselfish life. God grant we may.

During the Bishop's illness two nurses from St. Luke's Hospital were in attendance, the physician in charge being Dr. Henry Hutchinson. Each day the Rev. Mr. Andrews came to see him, and on his last visit, though he still expected a recovery, he was moved to read the Commendatory Prayer.

Very few were aware of the severity of the Bishop's illness, and the news of his death came as a great shock. As the report spread, the whole city was moved. The morning newspapers were printed too early for an announcement, but the evening papers devoted many columns to the story of his life.

In an editorial headed "Bishop Gilbert," the St. Paul Globe of March 3 speaks of the praise that is rightly given to the pioneers who have developed "the material resources of the American wilderness of a few years ago," and adds:

But if we have honor to bestow on such men, what meed of praise and love should we extend to men like the noble gentleman who has just brought his career as a Christian minister to a close in this city and has gone to the reward which he so signally earned! The late Bishop Gilbert was possessed of intellectual powers so grand that they are rarely to he found even among the most distinguished men in the great centers of the world's activity. And these splendid acquirements he gave with all the devotion of a true soldier of the cross to the redemption of the souls of men in regions so far removed from the civilized centers of his time that he might be said to have voluntarily suffered banishment from the face of his kind in the pursuit of his divine calling. . . .

From the humble missionary, working at the outset among the savages and outcasts of society, the late Bishop Gilbert evolved into the eloquent and influential Bishop of a powerful Church, known and respected wherever men gather to worship God under its protection. Such men as he must inevitably find their true level, and devotion such as his does not always pass away without receiving the recognition that it merits.

The death of no man, however rich or powerful, will bring with it more of true sorrow to the hearts of the kindly Christian men and women of Minnesota than will result from the death of this eloquent and zealous pastor.

On the day of the funeral, Tuesday, March 6, a sorrowing multitude, estimated at five thousand persons, passed in endless line into Christ Church to look at the dear face of their friend.

On the bier was a large cross of Easter lilies, lilies of the valley, and violets, the gift of the clergy. The Bishop's chair in the chancel was decorated with the Episcopal purple, and the altar and chancel were trimmed with the green that speaks of immortality. Conspicuous among the many beautiful floral offerings was a large wreath of violets sent by the Sons of the Revolution, a floral compass, a Masonic emblem, . . . and a wreath of white roses from the Indian agency.

Before the time set for the public service in Christ Church it was filled with such a throng as never before, "and a mass of people were surging about the doors, seeking an entrance. It was no crowd of curiosity seekers, but one of mourners."

The Bishop's vicar, the Rev. Ernest Dray, led the long funeral procession, and the cross was carried by the Rev. M. J. Simpson. The honorary pallbearers followed, a long line representing many institutions and societies within and without the Church. Among them were Dr. G. R. Metcalf, for the Minnesota Masonic Veteran's Association; Henry P. Upham, for the Bishop's Masonic Lodge; representatives of patriotic societies; Rev. Dr. Dobbin of Shattuck; Rev. Dr. Wilson of Seabury; Rev. E. S. Peake of St. Mary's; Rev. Dr. Tanner of Breck School; Judge Atwater of Minneapolis, and Judge Wilder of Red Wing representing the older generation of laymen; besides these there were the Standing Committee of the Diocese, the wardens of Christ Church and of St. Clement's, and over forty vested clergymen. Eight of the younger clergy served as active pall bearers. There were three Bishops present, all of whom took part in the service: Bishop Tuttle, Bishop Millspaugh, and Bishop Edsall.

During the service the choir sang "My Faith looks up to Thee," and at its close, "For all the Saints who from their Labours rest." As the cortege left the church the Nunc Dimittis was chanted, and then the organ took up the solemn strains of Handel's "Dead March in Saul."

It was a service of appropriate dignity and simplicity. The Prayer Book service alone was used, there being no eulogy, such being the custom of the Episcopal Church.

At this time Bishop Whipple was absent on a mission in Porto Rico, and was of course unable to be present. The Rev. Mr. Andrews sent him a telegram telling of Bishop Gilbert's death, and there came the prompt reply: "Our hearts overflow to bereaved family and Diocese. Philippians second, verse 22," which is, "Ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel." In a letter written March 3d "To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Minnesota," Bishop Whipple said:

I have just received the sad news of the death of dear Bishop Gilbert. For more than twenty-five years he has been as my son, and God knows how I have loved him. I have watched the development of his mind and heart with the joy of a father, and for more than thirteen years he has been my right hand in the administration of the diocese. As I look back upon the past, in all our relations, I have not a memory to blot. He entered into all of my plans along the lines which have made Minnesota so blessed a field for the work of the Church. . . .

I have no words to express the overwhelming sorrow at this loss. Our Heavenly Father cannot do wrong to His children. He alone can comfort our hearts and overrule this Providence for the good of His Church. I ask your united prayers for the diocese and myself.

Praying God to bless you, I am, with the deepest love and sympathy in our bereavement,

Yours faithfully,
Bishop of Minnesota.

To the Diocese, filled with those who admired and loved him, Bishop Gilbert's death came as a profound and unexpected grief. Though they knew his hold on life was frail, yet the many years of energetic service led them to expect many years to come. What the death of Phillips Brooks was to Massachusetts, in its overwhelming sorrow, the death of Mahlon Gilbert was to Minnesota. Tributes, almost without number, were printed of which only a few extracts can here be given.

A committee of the clergy, of whom the Rev. George H. Mueller was chairman, said:

We, the clergy of the Diocese, shall especially miss him as our friend and adviser, for by his strong and radiant faith he always set before us the best type of a true shepherd of souls.

From the record of the Council of the Church Club:

He lived and died a Bishop Coadjutor. He brought to that subordinate position loyalty to his diocesan, entire self-abnegation, burning zeal, intense earnestness, sustained enthusiasm, unfailing cheerfulness, a willingness to spend and to be spent in the Master's service. As he could literally say with the Psalmist, "My zeal hath consumed me," so also he could truly say with St. Paul, "Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus."

He rests with the saints of God. Be it ours to follow him, even as he also followed Christ.

"Grant him, O Lord, eternal rest, and may light perpetual shine upon him."

The minute of the Standing Committee has this significant commendation:

No part of his work ever lagged because he loved other parts of it better. None of it was left undone because he felt he owed himself an indulgence in rest.

A most intimate friend said of him, "I never saw a man so absolutely free from self-interest as Bishop Gilbert." Another said, "He had the most perfect, best-balanced, Christian character I ever knew."

Other tributes of great variety and beauty came from the Sheltering Arms, the Church Hospitals, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, the Daughters of the King, and from many vestries and individual Churchmen.

The women of the Minnesota Auxiliary published a small brochure, "In Memoriam." It begins:

All eyes, as we look into them these days, seem to ask, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?"

Several patriotic societies, the Sons of the Revolution, and the Society of Colonial Wars, together with the Sons of the American Revolution (of which he was not a member), bore witness to his high patriotism. His own Masonic Lodge, Ancient Landmark, No. 5, and also St. Paul Lodge, No. 3, spread on their minutes no perfunctory testimonial, but warm expressions of fraternal attachment, with grateful memories of his uplifting words.

Volume IX. of the Minnesota Historical Society Collections has a short sketch of the Bishop, and he was specially commemorated in their regular meeting following his death.

The resolutions of the Chamber of Commerce are of special significance. One sentence must be quoted here:

This city has an enviable reputation as being free from sectarian differences, and no one has contributed more to this happy condition than Bishop Gilbert.

A tribute from "the Methodist Ministers of the Twin Cities" expresses great admiration for his Christian character, and for his breadth of mind.

No tribute would have given the Bishop greater joy than that of an assembly of "wageworkers:"

By his death the workingman loses one of his staunchest friends, one who was always ready to advise and assist the needy in times of trouble and trial, whose heart always beat in sympathy with the poor and oppressed, whose great and noble soul was filled with love for the lowly, and whose every effort was directed to smooth the rough places in the journey of life, an earnest worker in the cause of his Master, a devout and honest man.4

The Living Church in its issue of March 10 published the news of Bishop Gilbert's death, together with a long letter from St. Paul, with the heading, "A Bereaved Diocese." In the same number appeared "An Appreciation," by the Rev. Alford A. Butler, warden of Seabury Divinity School. His opening words say what is undoubtedly true, that the Church at large had not yet learned the worth of Bishop Gilbert:

It is doubtful if Churchmen outside of Minnesota have any realization of the loss that has come to the American Church in the death of Bishop Gilbert. Within Minnesota all our eyes are wet with tears, all our hearts are sore. Yet it is those who have been the most closely associated with him in his life and work, that most appreciate the nobleness of the man and the greatness of the Church's loss.

For fourteen years he has done, practically, the whole work of the diocese. No diocesan ever had a more affectionate, faithful, and loyal Coadjutor. No diocese ever had a harder working or more unselfish Bishop. His whole strength and his whole heart went into his labor. Not of strong physique, and needing always to care for himself, he never thought of himself, except when his friends insisted that he should take a vacation, or his family physician ordered him to stop work and go to his bed.

And the beauty of all his intense activity was this: it was not the labor of duty, hut the labor of love. The beauty of his self-sacrifice came from the fact that it was not a deliberate or conscious denial of self, but an utter forgetfulness of self. His love and labor for the Master was so great to him, that it made self too small to be considered. He was too absorbed in the glory of God to sound his own praises, or to ask another to sound them for him.

The Churchman of March 10 prints two notable tributes to Bishop Gilbert. The first is from the Rev. Harry P. Nichols, who had been rector of St. Mark's Church in Minneapolis from 1892 to 1899. He said in part:

Bishop Gilbert's distinctive characteristic was his sturdy Christian manhood. This was manifest in every relation; as friend, as pastor, as citizen, as Bishop. He was dear to those who knew him because he gave them his love freely, frankly. His presence in the home, his companionship on journeys was a joy; for he cared for his friends, he gave them his best, he was interested and enthusiastic, . . .

Whether priest or bishop, he was always a citizen, because he was first a man. He made education, patriotism, public philanthropy, his intelligent concern, and the community where he lived was proud of his presence. We thought him the first citizen of St. Paul when he passed on. ...

As a counsellor to his clergy and parishes, Bishop Gilbert was generous, forbearing even when not in full sympathy, hopeful and encouraging even in the darkest times; having tolerance for all methods where the man's heart was serving; intolerant of nothing but indifference and idleness. The little places loved his coming, felt the warmth of his heart and the wisdom of his head. The rectors of larger parishes welcomed his strong words, his large outlook, his confidence in the sure triumph of the right; and it may be said that his only weakness was his boundless optimism.

The Swedish work of our Church will ever regard him as prophet and statesman. The General Convention knew him as a man of convictions and a man of power, to be listened to with respect, to be differed from with caution.

Bishop Gilbert will be the more honored the more his spirit and his work are known. Bishops in the Church of God, of his build, father, friend, man, are the hope and the necessity of our American Church.

In the same number of the Churchman appeared an open letter from Bishop Hare, with the heading, "The Late Bishop Gilbert." Nothing could exceed the charm of his expression or the height of his praise:

I have just read in the daily papers a telegraphic announcement of the death of Bishop Gilbert, the Coadjutor of Minnesota, and I must give immediately, out of my wounded heart, some expression to my keen sense of the Church's loss as well as my own.

Bishop Gilbert was as manly a man as I ever knew. Something about him proclaimed him open as the day and transparent as the light. His carriage was erect and forceful, his heart happy, and his manner cheery, though he knew that he had need to be always ready to parry the thrusts of an insidious disease. He was a vigorous thinker and endowed with the gift of conveying his thoughts to others with directness and fervor. Sound in the faith and devoted to the historic Church, he yet was in sympathy with the independent thought of the age in which he lived, and with the free spirit of the people among whom he dwelt. Earnest in his own purposes and confident of his own plans, he yet never harbored evil feelings toward those who opposed or thwarted him. Always throwing himself with self-abandonment and with hopefulness and sympathy into the work which was before him, he was a healthy breeze in every committee, mission, and parish, to which he went, and always left the atmosphere clearer and sweeter. Unconscious of himself, never a self-seeker, never parading his achievements and never inflated by vanity, he has done a noble work, of which the general Church has never known, but which the diocese of Minnesota knows and will never forget.

My nearest neighbor in the Episcopate, my trusted counsellor, one of my dearest friends--shall I ever find his like again? WILLIAM H. HARE.

Philadelphia, March 4, 1900.

Bishop Morrison of Duluth, who would naturally have come to the funeral of Bishop Gilbert, was at that time in the East. In his address to the Convocation of Duluth in June, he spoke of Bishop Gilbert with affection and praise:

His rare unselfishness, his absolute devotion to duty, his cheery optimism, and his strong gift of leadership, had drawn him very close to his brethren wherever he was known, and had enabled him to do good and effective service in every department of Church activity.

The remarkable tributes of Bishop Potter and Bishop Tuttle were given in the introduction to this volume. Few men have received eulogy, so high and so sincere. Bishop Doane of Albany, in the Appendix to the Bishop's Address, as printed in the diocesan Journal of 1900, also pays to Bishop Gilbert a remarkable tribute:

There are more reasons than usual why the Diocese should make note of the death of the Bishop Coadjutor of Minnesota. Bishop Gilbert came from that same staunch parish of Zion Church, Morris, from which Tuttle and Rulison went to the Episcopate; and he was even more "of us," than they were, because his family were Morris Church people, and his first drawing to the ministry, and his first training for it, came to him there through the influence of the beloved Bishop and Mrs. Tuttle. There is no need to tell here the story of his life. Dead at fifty-two, he has given fourteen years of truly apostolic and missionary work in the Diocese of Minnesota, and won for himself a high place of honor and a deep place of affection among his brethren and in the Church at large. Alert and eager, alive with the cheerfulness of hope, burning with zeal, a ready and effective speaker, strong and clear in his convictions and his utterance, he had a marked influence in the House of Bishops, and stirred the Church, whenever he spoke upon matters concerning our missionary work. Above all, he was a devoted and untiring laborer in the field where God put him; instant and incessant in visitations, consecrated alike in service and in character to fold and feed and tend the flock committed to his charge. Surely the zeal of God's house consumed him, and he has gone early to his rest, because he had crowded into the brief space of his ministry the full service of a longer life. May the Lord grant unto him that only "long life, even for ever and ever." W. C. D.

Bishop Edsall, of North Dakota, in his annual address thus commemorates the one whom he was to succeed in office:

The death of no man in our Church could have produced a more widespread feeling of personal sorrow than did that of Bishop Gilbert. He exactly fulfilled my ideal of a Western Bishop, and leaves to us, who live after him, the inspiration of an example which we may strive to follow.

The Church Standard of Philadelphia says:

Bishop Gilbert was a man of simplicity and godly sincerity, full of the spirit of the highest manliness, and with great personal charm. Strong in brain and pure in heart, he was indeed a workman who needed not to be ashamed. The Church's loss is great, and will be felt not only in the diocese to which he gave his "last full measure of devotion," but in our Eastern cities also, where he was widely known and most highly esteemed.

An editorial in the Spirit of Missions for March, 1900, is headed "A Lost Leader," and says that in the death of Bishop Gilbert "the Church on earth has lost one of her most devoted missionaries." The article proceeds:

Bishop Gilbert was a missionary to the manner born. Although he carried his full share of the detail involved in the administration of a Diocese so large as Minnesota, he made time and opportunity for a vast amount of genuine missionary work. He was a familiar and welcome visitor to the many new communities in the state. . . . He planned to spend a part of each year among the Ojibway Indians in northern Minnesota. He entered heartily into the life of the woods and the plains. In the best sense, he was one with those whose welfare he sought, sharing their rude comforts, leading them on and up to better things, teaching them to be men. He loved to be with them, and to share with them his own unwavering faith in the love of God and His purpose for all men. The 0 jib ways recognized this, and were his devoted followers. He was indeed their Bishop, because he was their father, adviser, and leader. When the setting off of the District of Duluth removed the Ojibways from his care, he continued to be a regular visitor to the Indian mission at Birch Coulee, and other stations within the Diocese of Minnesota. He seemed to be very conscious of the inherent manhood of his Indian friends. He would often exclaim to some fellow-worker, "Now just look at--------, what a fine old gentleman he is!"

Bishop Gilbert was more than a missionary. He was a leader of men. If responsibility was to be borne, he shouldered it. If work was to be done, he met it more than half way. If a choice were offered between a difficult and an easy task, he allowed some one eke to have the lighter burden. If one asked his counsel, he never asked in vain. If directions were to be given, they were given positively, yet tenderly. Virility, humaneness, hopefulness, charity, these were some of the characteristics that caused the Bishop to be loved and followed. And all were fused together by a true reverence for God and for his fellow-men.

Of other printed tributes mention can be made of only a few. The diocesan magazine, the Church Record^ devoted most of the March number and much of that of April to letters of appreciation and sympathy, and to formal resolutions from many sources. The Diocesan Journal of the Council, held in June at Christ Church, contains fitting memorials. The Courant, a Minnesota magazine, gave the first pages of the issue of March 15 to an affectionate appreciation. The Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post (p. 1216), under the heading, "A Hero of the Northwest," told several of his startling adventures on the frontier. The reminiscences published in the Shield of Theta Delta Chi for June, 1900, have been cited already in the chapter on the Bishop's life at Hobart College.

On the Sunday following the Bishop's death, in every parish there was some commemoration of the departed Bishop, and in many churches, special memorial services were held. At Christ Church, there was a large congregation mourning the loss of Bishop, rector, and friend. Rev. Mr. Andrew's sermon was a pathetic tribute which touched every heart. At St. Ansgarius' Swedish Episcopal Church, in Minneapolis, there was a notable commemoration. The rector, Rev. O. A. Toffteen, was assisted by the Rev. William Wilkinson, who had been with the Bishop in New York City, only a fortnight before, and who spoke with his usual earnestness of the Bishop's "princely" nature, and loving heart. On the same day, in the evening, at St. Paul's Church, Duluth, there was a special service of memorial, at which the rector, the Rev. Dr. Ryan, spoke from his intimate knowledge of the Bishop's faith, and wisdom, and love.

The memorial service at Faribault is thus described by the Very Reverend Charles Lewis Slattery, Dean of the Cathedral, in a pamphlet containing the memorial sermon:

The first Sunday morning in Lent, a service in memory of Bishop Gilbert was held in the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour. There were present in the chancel, beside the Dean of the Cathedral, the Rev. Doctors Dobbin, Tanner, and Wilson; and the Rev. Messrs. Peake and Budlong.

After the processional hymn, "For all the saints who from their labors rest," the Rev. Dr. Wilson, . . . offered the prayers for the afflicted family and the Diocese, and the Thanksgiving for the faithful departed. The hymn, "O God, our Help in ages past," was then sung; and the Dean proceeded to the service of the Holy Communion. . . . The sermon was from the text, "All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod?" (Jeremiah xlviii. 17).

One sentence from the Dean's sermon may be quoted: "No soldier ever gave his life for his country more truly than this man gave his life for us."

On the same Sunday morning, at the First Methodist Church, in St. Paul, the Presiding Elder paid a high tribute to Bishop Gilbert as one who had left the world richer for the services he had rendered.

On Friday evening, March 16, Gethsemane Church, Minneapolis, was filled by a large congregation drawn from many parishes. The rector, the Rev. Dr. Faude, presided, the order of service being that for All Saints' Day. The rector of St. Paul's Church, the Rev. Dr. Frederick T. Webb, who for eleven years was rector at Helena, Montana, told of the place which Mr. Gilbert held in the hearts of the people of the mountains. The rector of Holy Trinity Church, the Rev. Stuart B. Purves, formerly a parishioner of Mr. Gilbert at Christ Church, spoke of his influence on young men; and the Rev. William Wilkinson related many remarkable incidents of Dr. Gilbert's episcopate, completing the portrait of the man so greatly loved.

Most notable of all commemorations was that held at the People's Church in St. Paul. This service, planned, and largely carried out, by those outside the Episcopal Church, showed, as nothing else could, the universal esteem for Bishop Gilbert. The printed programme bears this wording: "Public Meeting in loving memory of the late Rt. Rev. Mahlon N. Gilbert, D.D., LL.D., Bishop Coadjutor of Minnesota. People's Church. Saint Paul. Tuesday evening, March 20, 1900."

His excellency, the Hon. John Lind, Governor of Minnesota, presided, and with him on the platform were many of the most eminent men of the State. Among them were: Ex-Governor Alexander Ramsey; Ex-Governor Yale; the Hon. A. R. Kiefer, Mayor of St. Paul; Major General James F. Wade, II. S. A.; the Hon. Charles E. Flandrau; the Hon. Edwin A. Jaggard, Judge of the District Court; the Hon. K. R. Nelson; Mr. A. J. Lindeke, president of the Chamber of Commerce; Rabbi Isaac L. Rypins; Rev. Father Ambrose McNulty; the pastors of many prominent churches; representatives of educational boards, patriotic and fraternal and literary societies--a remarkable assemblage.

Music was rendered by the vested choir of St. Paul's Church, the hymns being:

"From all the saints in warfare, for all Thy saints at rest."
"Asleep in Jesus! blessed sleep."
"Jerusalem, the golden."

The presiding officer, Governor Lind, spoke briefly of Bishop Gilbert's worth and the appropriateness of the service. Prayer was offered by the rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, the Rev. Dr. Dudley W. Rhodes. The first address had been assigned to the noted Roman Catholic prelate, the Most Reverend John Ireland, Archbishop of St. Paul. Being unable to be present, his Grace had carefully written his address, and in some respects it thus gained in force, since it was evidently not the hasty expression of a sudden enthusiasm, but a deliberate and thoughtful tribute. It was read for him by one of his honored priests, the Rev. Ambrose McNulty.

I am honored in being permitted to unite with my fellow citizens in paying to the memory of the late Et. Rev. Mahlon N. Gilbert the tribute of esteem and endearment which is so justly due to his personal virtues, and his intelligent and energetic labors for the public weal. . . .

Bishop Gilbert will not obtain this evening praise above his deserts, for these are of no mean degree. By nature quiet and unobtrusive, he was not one to thrust himself upon the gaze of the world, and in such simple and unostentatious manner did he perform the work allotted to him that public applause was not his customary reward. But goodness does not demand, I am sure, as its daily accompaniment, noise and clatter; it is the greater when its seeming obscurity does not discourage it; and, when only by virtue of its fragrance it wins to itself attention and regard, its strength and its power are made the more manifest.

Bishop Gilbert was at work some time in our city and state, as rector of a parish, and as an Assistant Bishop of the Episcopal Church, before much was known of him beyond the limited circle to whom his ecclesiastical ministrations were addressed; but during that time such was his manner of life, and such his labors, that he laid deep and broad the foundation for that general esteem which was at a later day awarded to him. . . .

A representative and leader of a Church that gathers within its fold only a part of the community has no small effort to make in gaining such general esteem as has come to Bishop Gilbert. He is of course bound by every tie of duty and of loyalty to champion the principles and subserve the interests of his special constituency; and such limitations tend, unless the man be truly strong-hearted and large-minded, to bring into a narrow channel the outpour of his soul, and to reduce his fitness and power for the sympathy and the work that would place him amid a broader humanity, and enable him through his services to this broader humanity to merit and obtain its respect and esteem.

Members of the Episcopal Church better than others can tell how zealously and successfully Bishop Gilbert labored for the interests of that Church. Their verdict is given in the deep and sincere sorrow of their hearts at his departure from earth. In my own journeys through the state I have had frequent opportunities to observe the untiring earnestness, the utter forgetfulness of self, the intelligent zeal which marked his career as Assistant Bishop.

In addition to such zeal, Bishop Gilbert brought to his ministerial work an irreproachable manner of life, a suave temper, a well-stored mind, a facile and graceful diction. No wonder that his people were fond and proud of him; no wonder that they pray that none inferior to him may take his place. The Episcopal Church in Minnesota has been blest in its leadership; a Whipple and a Gilbert are names it may well love and revere.

In his relations with men outside his Church he was most amiable, most respectful toward the individual conscience; ever ready to join with others in works of charity, of patriotism, of social reform, or of aught that might uplift humanity, reduce its sorrows, or add to its joys. As became a ruler in a Church which points with some pride to its prudent steppings and its conservative love of traditions, he guarded against the shadow of rashness; he never rushed into novelties or experiments, but his movements were but the surer, and his cooperation, when given, the more effective.

Bishop Gilbert and I were no strangers to each other; we met, conversed together, agreed, disagreed, united on some points, separated on others--always with kindliest feelings for each other, always with best wishes for each other's happiness. This should surprise no one. There may be some who wonder that a Bishop of the Catholic Church and a Bishop of the Episcopal Church should speak of each other, as Bishop Gilbert, on a recent public occasion, spoke of me, and as I this evening speak of him. But why should some wonder at this? We did differ as to the requisites of Christ's Gospel; but we respected the conscience one of the other; and each one rejoiced that the other invoked Christ and appealed to Christ's Gospel.

For my part, my position as a Catholic Bishop is too well known to be doubted; I hold with all the strength of my soul to every doctrine and every precept which I believe to be needed to make up the plenitude of Christ's religion; never do I allow myself by word or act to be understood as detracting one iota from that plenitude. But unfaithful should I be to what as a Catholic I believe, were I not to respect in my friend and neighbor a sincere conscience, and were I not glad that others, while setting aside stones that I hold to be necessary in the walls of the temple, adore with me the Jehovah of Sinai and the Christ of Olivet, and looking upward to the skies would fain impel thither our poor humanity, and would thus save it from the fatal billows of materialism and sensuality, which, in their fury, are threatening to engulf it.

Scarcely three months ago, at a gathering of citizens in St. Paul, Bishop Gilbert addressed to me words of friendship and of hopefulness, the music of which will soothe my soul as I journey toward the goal which he has already reached. Would that, when the opportunity is given to me to speak of him, he stood before me full of life's strength and promise! He has gone from us, so has the Eternal Father decreed. His spirit, I trust, heareth me.

The next address was by the Rev. C. M. Andrews, who succeeded Dr. Gilbert at Christ Church, and spoke from his own observation of his work as a parish priest and as Bishop. He emphasized the Bishop's kindliness, his energy, and his broad tolerance. After this affectionate, personal tribute, the choir sang the anthem: "Who are these that are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they?" The Hon. Walter H. Sanborn, Judge of the United States Circuit Court, then delivered an oration, touching and eloquent, as follows:

The world seems smaller and the heavens wider. A good and great man has gone, a scholar whose wisdom passed the learning of the schools, a teacher whose life taught more and better than any precepts, a logician whose candor and affection convinced more than the demonstrations of any logic, a philanthropist whose sympathy for the distraught and disconsolate, the love of woman did not excel, a Christian whose cogent reasons for the faith that was in him persuaded the faithless and comforted the believer, a Mason whose love and hope for his fellows knew no creed or sect or class, a citizen whose devotion to the exacting duties of preserving and supporting good government in city, state, and nation, raised him to the ideal stature of a patriot and a man.

His mind was stored with history, science, literature; but it was not in the knowledge of these, but in his personal experience and unerring perception of the motives, passions, and emotions which stir the heart of our common humanity, that his marvellous power of attraction and persuasion lay. He rested in unfaltering faith on the "Thus saith the Lord" of the holy writings, but he never scorned to give the reasons for his belief and no man could marshall the evidences of Christianity to a more perfect demonstration or present them with more fervent or convincing zeal. And yet it was not so much the logical clearness of his proofs and the persuasive eloquence of his arguments, as it was the evident candor of his belief in them, that silenced the cavils of the doubting, arrested and persuaded the thoughtless, and inspired the untiring devotion of the faithful, until none heard him but to love him.

Bishop Gilbert was an orator. No one ever doubted that who heard him on life, redemption, judgment, immortality, or any of the great themes which were the familiar subjects of his constant contemplation. He had the inspiring thought, the clearness of statement, the striking antithesis, the apt illustration, the rounded sentence, the perfect elocution, that conduce to forceful speech. But his speech was far more than the eloquence of thought, action, and rounded sentence. It was the eloquence of the man, of the brother, of love and hope for all mankind, which warmed his whole being, shone forth in his daily life, and carried his words glowing with affection to the hearts of his hearers.

How his presence calmed passion, soothed suffering, cheered and strengthened to endure the trials and bear the burdens of life! How his soothing words bore peace and comfort to the sick and despairing, rest and hope to the eyes that were used to weep! How his speech taught love of God, love of man, self-sacrifice, and nobler living! How his daily life illumined the city, the state, the nation, and incited us all to an existence here in which our necessary daily avocations shall be the means to loftier ends rather than the end of means!

What a lesson and a rebuke was this life to that dolorous pessimism which bemoans the intellectual and spiritual decadence of our race. Men of greater intellect have thought, reasoned, and become silent, Plato, Bacon, Shakespeare. Men of mightier action have swayed the course of events on broader fields, Caesar, Napoleon, William the Silent. Men of equal devotion have testified to the truth, Socrates, Latimer, Campian. But where in all the story of the centuries has there lived a more complete and manly man? Where one whose life you would rather have lived to-night?

Possessed of an ingenious and powerful mind, ha devoted all its energies to the consolation and inspiration of mankind. Familiar with the learning of the ages he poured it forth to inform and instruct his fellows. Firm in his belief in the creed of his Church and instant and effective in its defense, he was charitable, kindly, and persuasive to all who failed to assent. Burdened with the cares of his office and the responsibility of his Church, he never wanted time to advocate any cause which, as he often said, "made for righteousness."

Was a foolish or degrading municipal policy suggested? He was against it with thought and act and speech. Was the cause of education in peril? His trenchant pen and fiery tongue leaped to its defense. Were the foundations of civil government assailed by conspiracy, sedition, or violence? He was for law and order, for justice and liberty. Was the proposition broached to withdraw the flag and abandon the islands of the sea to anarchy and international strife? All the generous enthusiasm and patriotism of his fervent nature were on fire to uphold the flag and to teach under its folds the gospel of a Christian and an American civilization to the waiting denizens of the Orient. Yonder memorial window beneath the portrait of a seer of the nineteenth century bears this inscription. "From those whom this man has helped." No man ever heard the voice, saw the eye, felt the hand, or enjoyed the genial presence of Bishop Gilbert without help. If he was not inspired like holy men of old, certain it is that his work and his life are an inspiration, and through the thoughts, acts, and lives of those who knew him here and of those who follow them, the sweet and gentle influence of his genial form, the cheering glance of his kindly eye, the soothing accents of his winning voice, and the cogent pleadings of his persuasive eloquence shall not fail to comfort, to cheer, to teach higher aims and better living, and to beckon us on to that immortal life of peace and happiness, to which he sought to lead us, until men and memory shall be no more.

Of the speech of the pastor of the People's Church, the Rev. Dr. Samuel G. Smith, only an abstract is now available. He said that Bishop Gilbert had a mind which instantly grasped situations which his fellows did not comprehend without careful study. He had exceptional ability in reading the human heart, and hence exceptional ability to help others. He pronounced him a man of the broadest sympathies, and of largest tolerance, a man with the love of God ever in his heart. He spoke feelingly of his devotion to his fellowmen and his untiring efforts to turn the erring into the way of life. In his death the church lost one of her best servants, a true exponent of the best in modern religious life.

The benediction was pronounced by the Rev. Dr. Maurice D. Edwards, pastor of the Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church. The ushers at this service were from the patriotic societies to which Bishop Gilbert belonged; the congregation, which filled the great church, was estimated at two thousand. There was a notable reverence in the great gathering, and the impression made upon all was one never to be forgotten.

With a short poem written by the Bishop's close friend, the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Poole, the chapter may well end:

He sleeps. His work is finished and well done.
The glory of his life it was to make
The service of the Master, for himself,
And for His friends, an offering of love.
Sincere, devout, a loyal friend and true,
A spirit bathed in sunshine, joyous, full
Of hope, he breathed the inspiration of
His radiant soul into the souls of men,
And bade them rise to greater deeds of faith.
Official rank no false distinction marked
'Twixt him and other men, nor served to keep
From him the sorrows or the joys that fill
The common cup. For very love of Christ
He magnified his office as God gave.
Let us not weep for him. His guerdon's won.
Nay, rather, may we hope to share his crown!
He cannot die. In loving hearts enshrined,
The memory of his name is fixed secure.
On lips of prayer a Eucharist will rise
For such example as he gave of faith
And hope and charity.
The eager work of Church and school and life
Will be more bravely done--his influence felt,
Inspiring, cheering, and uplifting all

Project Canterbury