Project Canterbury

Memoir of Bishop Seabury

By William Jones Seabury, D.D.

New York: Edwin S. Gorham, 1908.
London: Rivingtons, 1908.

Chapter XVII. Last Days in England. 1784-1785.

BISHOP SEABURY'S JOURNAL, to which we shall later have occasion to refer as recording some of his Episcopal experiences in America, is marked by him as Journal B. From this it is natural to infer that he had kept an earlier Journal marked A. This earlier volume, however, has not been preserved among his papers, and, if it be in fact still extant, has not been elsewhere discovered. One can only regret that no such source of information as to the manner of his life during the period between his consecration and his departure for home, is accessible. As it is, the information as to his experience in that period is but scant, and is to be obtained mostly from letters of his which have survived, and from occasional references to him in the letters of others.

It would appear from these sources that, in the afternoon of the Sunday on which he was consecrated, he preached in Aberdeen at the chapel in which the consecration took place; that he went from Aberdeen some time before the third of December, to Edinburgh, whence he went on to London about the middle of December, remaining there until he sailed. [Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, pp. 156-7.] His letter to Dr. Boucher, hereafter quoted, is dated "Edinburgh, Dec. 3. 1784;" and in this he speaks of his purpose to be in London in ten days. He was expected in London December 17th, as appears from a letter of Rev. Jacob Duche. [Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, p. 170.] He was at 38 Norton Street London, in the first part of January, as appears from a letter of Dr. Home addressed to him at that place under date of January 3, 1785. He dates the letter to the Connecticut Clergy, "London, January, 5, 1785" and one to Dr. Morice, "London February 27, 1785;" and Dr. Chandler, writing of him to Bishop Skinner, April 23, 1785, says "he left the Downs on the 15th of last month; on the 19th was sixty-five leagues west of the Lizzard with a fair prospect of a good passage, at which time he wrote to me." [Ibid., p. 179.] This report of Dr. Chandler is confirmed by two notes written by Bishop Seabury to his friend Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, one dated at the Downs March 15th, and the other at 65 miles west of the Lizzard. [For the use of these notes I am indebted to the Rev'd. Henry A. Parker who was allowed to copy the originals in possession of the late Mrs. Margaret Elton, a great-granddaughter of Dr. Gardiner.] The first of these notes is particularly valuable, containing evidence which I have nowhere else seen as to the due observance of the proprieties, on the part of Bishop Seabury, by a farewell call on the Archbishops; and, on their part, by their polite reception of the same; and also as to the name of the ship in which he sailed, concerning which he seems to have changed the purpose expressed in one of his letters; and further, as to the fact that he went to Halifax to see his children--though which of them were then there does not appear. The following extract from this note bears upon these points:

"My business in Scotland was completed on the 14th of Nov. In December I returned to London, and had no intercourse with the great men of the Church till the last of February when I went to take leave of the two Archbishops. They received me with the greatest politeness, and parted with me in the most friendly and affectionate manner. So that I hope I shall be able to keep up a proper intercourse with them. I have taken my passage in the Ship Chapman Capt. Dawson, for Halifax, that I may visit my children before I sit down in Connecticut, where I hope to be sometime in May."

These references give us all the knowledge that seems attainable in reference to this part of Bishop Seabury's life. Why he should have delayed for four months the return which he had during the last year been so anxious to expedite, does not appear: but, presumably, he had good reasons for the delay; and, certainly, the letters which he wrote in the last days of his sojourn in Great Britain are not among the least valuable of his works, as it is hoped will by and by more fully appear.

One event which occurred during his stay in London, which Dr. Beardsley does not mention, and of which so far as I am aware, no written account has ever been given, is nevertheless of considerable interest. The Revd. Jacob Duche, above mentioned, who appears to have contracted a strong regard and admiration for Bishop Seabury, of which he writes to the Revd. Mr. White in Philadelphia, speaks in his letter of expecting Bishop Seabury in London on the 17th of December. Whether he expected him as his guest, or merely as a sojourner in the town, does not appear; but it was, no doubt, through this connection that the acquaintance of Bishop Seabury was then made by the Rev. Mr. Duche's son, Mr. Thomas Spence Duche, who was an artist, and had been a pupil of the celebrated Benjamin West. This acquaintance led to the painting of the portrait of Bishop Seabury by Mr. Duche, a picture which is said to have received its finishing touches from West himself. Whether the portrait was then finished is uncertain, but it must have been at this time that the Bishop sat, or rather stood, for it. The portrait was engraved by William Sharp an eminent engraver of that day: and the engraving is well known in England and Scotland, as well as in the United States; and, wherever it exists, perpetuates a very noble presentation of its subject. What became of the plate of this engraving I do not know. Perhaps some one of those who are curious in such matters may ascertain its whereabouts some day, as the reputation of Sharp seems to have been such as to make his works worth considering. But there are some associations which the portrait has which dispose me to dwell a moment on its history.

The Revd. Dr. Duche was, at the first breaking out of the Revolution in this Country the Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia; and, being apparently sympathetic with the Patriots, was appointed the Chaplain of the Congress at its first session; but observing, I suppose, what took place at this Congress, and "doubting whereunto these things would grow," he thought it prudent to transfer his residence to England. Upon his retirement he was succeeded in the Philadelphia Rectorate, and the Chaplaincy of Congress, by the Rev. Mr. White; and at a later period of his life, after Mr. White had become Bishop of Pennsylvania, he returned to Philadelphia. From his regard for Bishop Seabury, and the consequent interest of his son Mr. Thomas Spence Duche, it may be imagined that the painting of this portrait was a labour of love. The fruit of love's labour, however, was not bestowed upon the Bishop, but remained with the artist. I have been informed that, having been afterwards brought to this Country, the Portrait was presented by Bishop White, on behalf of a sister of the artist, to the Diocese of Connecticut; and was lodged in Trinity College where it still exists in good preservation. Some years later when Dean Hoffman was enriching the General Theological Seminary in New York with his many beneficences, he procured the loan of this portrait, and had a copy of it made by Mr. Yewell, and presented it to the Seminary; in the Refectory of which, in Hoffman Hall, it now hangs. Recently, in the autumn of 1907, another copy of the portrait, made by Miss Mildred Jordan, was, through the liberality and public spirit of Mr. George Dudley Seymour, presented to Yale College, in commemoration of Bishop Seabury's association with that College as one of its graduates in the class of 1748.5

Three of the letters to which reference has been made it will be necessary to present in full, both because of their historical value, and because they reflect so much honour upon their writer that it would be inexcusable to omit them from an account of his life. They are the letter which he addressed to the Clergy of Connecticut after his consecration, the letter which he wrote to his friend the Revd. Jonathan Boucher, and that which he addressed to the Society for propagating the Gospel, through its secretary, the Revd. Dr. Morice. It is proposed to present them in this order, although the Boucher letter is of the earliest date, because of the bearing which the Boucher and Morice letters have upon the effort which he was making to preserve for the aid of the Church in Connecticut the stipends of the Society upon which the Clergy had hitherto been so largely dependent for their support. These letters will speak for themselves and need no comment.

5. It may perhaps be as well to mention in this connection, that two portraits of Bishop Seabury were painted in this Country after his return; one by Earle and the other by an artist whose name I never heard. Both of these are excellent paintings. That by Earle, in the Episcopal robes, represents the subject as in a sitting posture. This painting was inherited by my father, and was given by him to his 'daughter Lydia, wife of Samuel Peters Bell, Esqr., and is now the property of their son, Mr. Samuel Seabury Bell. The other portrait is in a standing position, and also in the Episcopal dress. The Bishop's son, Mr. Edward Seabury, had this portrait of his father made, and gave it to his sister Violetta, wife of Charles Nicol Taylor, Esq., by whose daughter, Sarah Maria, wife of Capt. Thomas H. Merry, it was presented to my father, who left it to me.--W. J. S,

But before presenting them it will not be amiss to notice the interchange of notes, in January, 1785, between the Bishop and Dr. George Home the Dean of Canterbury. The Dean's note has already been referred to in another connection. The entire passage from which the extract was previously made is as follows:

"You do me but justice in supposing me a hearty friend to the American Episcopacy. I am truly sorry that our Cabinet here would not save you the trouble of going to Scotland for it. There is some uneasiness about it, I find, since it is done. It is said you have been precipitate about it. I should be inclined to think so too, had any hopes been left of obtaining consecration from England. But if none were left, what could you do but what you have done?"

Dr. Beardsley quotes, though without giving any authority for the quotation, an extract from Bishop Seabury's reply to the Dean, which is as follows:

"God grant that I may never have greater cause to condemn myself than in the conduct of this business. I have endeavoured to get it forward easily and quietly, without noise, party or heat; and I cannot but be pleased that no fault but precipitancy is brought against me. That implies that I have needlessly hurried the matter, but is an acknowledgment that the matter was right in itself. . . . From education and habit, as well as from a sense of her real excellence, I have a sincere veneration for the Church of England, and I am grieved to see the power of her Bishops restrained by her connection with the State. Had it been otherwise, my application, I am confident, would have met with a very different reception." [Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, p. 164.]

No doubt the Bishop's confidence in this respect was not misplaced. It is not difficult to make an allowance for the fettered condition of the Bishops to whom he refers; nor to understand that tied and bound as they were, they could not have granted his application. But that affords no excuse for the freezing out policy, which their settled resentment of his success without their permission induced them afterwards to inaugurate, and scrupulously to impart to their American successors. In the one course they deserve some sympathy: as to the other--the least that can justly be said is that it savours more of the earthen vessel, than of the grace which that vessel is supposed to contain.

To the Revd. Messrs. Learning, Jarvis and Hubbard, of the Connecticut Clergy, the following letter was written from London, January 5th, 1785:

"My very dear and worthy friends,--

It is with very great pleasure that I now inform you, that my business here is perfectly completed, in the best way that I have been able to transact it. Your letter, and also a letter from Mr. Learning, which accompanied the act of your Legislature, certified by Mr. Secretary Wyllys, overtook me at Edinburgh, in my journey to the north, and not only gave me great satisfaction, but were of great service to me.

I met with a very kind reception from the Scotch Bishops, who having read and considered such papers as I laid before them, consisting of the copies of my original letters and testimonial, and of your subsequent letters, declared themselves perfectly satisfied, and said that they conceived themselves called upon, in the course of God's Providence, without regard to any human policy, to impart a pure, valid, and free Episcopacy to the western world; and that they trusted that God, who had begun so good a work, would water the infant Church in Connecticut with his heavenly grace, and protect it by his good providence, and make it the glory and pattern of the pure Episcopal Church in the world; and that as it was freed from all incumbrance arising from connection with civil establishments and human policy, the future splendor of its primitive simplicity and Christian piety would appear to be eminently and entirely the work of God and not of man. On the 14th of Nov. my consecration took place, at Aberdeen (520 miles from hence). It was the most solemn day I ever passed; God grant I may never forget it!

I now only wait for a good ship in which to return. None will sail before the last of February or first of March. The ship Triumph, Capt. Stout, will be among the first. With this same Stout, commander, and in the Triumph, I expect to embark, and hope to be in New York some time in April; your prayers and good wishes will, I know, attend me.

A new scene will now, my dear Gentlemen, in all probability open in America. Much do I depend on you and the other good Clergymen in Connecticut, for advice and support, in an office which will otherwise prove too heavy for me. Their support, I assure myself, I shall have; and I flatter myself they will not doubt of my hearty desire, and earnest endeavor, to do everything in my power for the welfare of the Church, and promotion of religion and piety. You will be pleased to consider whether New London be the proper place for me to reside at; or whether some other place would do better. At New London, however, I suppose they make some dependence upon me. This ought to be taken into the consideration. If I settle at New London, I must have an assistant. Look out, then for some good clever young gentleman who will go immediately into deacon's orders, and who would be willing to be with me in that capacity. And indeed I must think it a matter of propriety, that as many worthy candidates be in readiness for orders as can be procured. Make the way, I beseech you, as plain and easy for me as you can.

Since my return from Scotland, I have seen none of the Bishops, but I have been informed that the step I have taken has displeased the two Archbishops, and it is now a matter of doubt whether I shall be continued on the Society's list. The day before I set out on my northern journey, I had an interview with each of the Archbishops, when my design was avowed; so that the measure was known, though it has made no noise.

My own poverty is one of the greatest discouragements I have. Two years' absence from my family, and expensive residence here, has more than expended all I had. But in so good a cause, and of such magnitude, something must be risked by somebody. To my lot it has fallen; I have done it cheerfully, and despair not of a happy issue.

This I believe is the last time I shall write to you from this country. Will you then accept your Bishop's blessing, and hearty prayers for your happiness in this world and the next? May God bless also, and keep, all the Good Clergy of Connecticut!

I am, reverend and dear brethren, your affectionate brother, and very humble servant,

Samuel Seabury."

The letter to the Revd. Jonathan Boucher now follows:

"Edinburgh, December 3, 1784. My very dear sir:

I promised to write you as soon as a certain event took place, and I have not till now made good my promise. In truth, I have not had opportunity to collect my thoughts on the subject on which I wished to write you; and even now I expect every minute to be called upon, and probably this letter will go unfinished to you.

Dr. Chandler, I suppose, has informed you that my consecration took place on the 14th of November at Aberdeen. I found great candor, piety, and good sense among the Scotch Bishops and also among the Clergy with whom I have conversed. The Bishops expect the Clergy of Connecticut will form their own Liturgy and Offices; yet they hope the English Liturgy, which is the one they use, will be retained, except the Communion Office, and that they wish should give place to the one in Edward the Sixth's Prayer Book. This matter I have engaged to lay before the Clergy of Connecticut, and they will be left to their own judgment which to prefer. Some of the Congregations in Scotland use one and some the other Office; but they communicate with each other on every occasion that offers. On political subjects not a word was said. Indeed, their attachment to a particular family is wearing off, and I am persuaded a little good policy in England would have great effect here.

Upon the whole, I know nothing, and am conscious that I have clone nothing that ought to interrupt my connection with the Church of England. The Church in Connecticut has only done her duty in endeavoring to obtain an Episcopacy for herself, and I have only done my duty in carrying her endeavors into execution. Political reasons prevented her application from being complied with in England. It was natural in the next instance to apply to Scotland, whose Episcopacy, though now under a cloud, is the very same in every ecclesiastical sense, with the English.

His Grace of Canterbury apprehended that my obtaining consecration in Scotland would create jealousies and schisms in the Church, that the Moravian Bishops in America would be hereby induced to ordain clergymen, and that the Philadelphian clergy would be encouraged to carry into effect their plan of constituting a nominal Episcopacy by the joint suffrages of clergymen and laymen.

But when it is considered that the Moravian Bishops cannot ordain Clergymen of our Church, unless requested to do so, and that when there shall be a Bishop in America, there will be no ground to make such a request; and that the Philadelphian plan was only proposed on the supposition of real and absolute necessity; which necessity cannot exist when there is a Bishop resident in America, every apprehension of this kind must, I think, vanish and be no more. My own inclination is to cultivate as close a connection and union with the Church of England, as that Church and the political state of the two countries shall permit. I have grown up and lived hitherto under the influence of the highest veneration for and attachment to the Church of England, and in the service of the Society, and my hope is to promote the interest of that Church with greater effect than ever, and to establish it in the full enjoyment of its whole government and discipline.

And I think it highly probable that I may be of real service to this Country, by promoting a connection with that country in religious matters without any breach of duty to the State in which I shall live. I cannot help considering it as an instance of bad policy, that my application for consecration was rejected in England; and I intend no offense when I say, that I think the policy would still be worse should the Society on this occasion discharge me from their service, which his Grace of York, in my last interview with him, said would certainly be the case. That indeed would make a schism between the two Churches, and put it out of my power to preserve that friendly intercourse and communion which I earnestly wish. It might also bring on explanations which would be disagreeable to me, and, I imagine, to the Society also. However, should the Society itself be obliged to take such a step, though I shall be sorry for it, and hurt by it, I shall not be dejected. If my father and my mother forsake me, if the Governors of the Church and the Society discard me, I shall still be that humble pensioner of Divine Providence which I have been through my whole life. God, I trust, will take me up, continue his goodness to me, and bless my endeavors to serve the cause of his infant Church in Connecticut. I trust, sir, that it is not the loss of £50 per annum that I dread,--though that is an object of some importance to a man who has nothing,--but the consequences that must ensue, the total alienation of regard and affection.

You can make such use of this letter as you think proper. If I can command so much time, I will write to Dr. Morice on the subject. If not, I will see him as soon as I return to London, which will be in ten days.

Please to present my regards to Mr. Stevens and all friends, and believe me to be, with the greatest esteem,

Your affectionate, humble servant,

S. S."

Fortunately, Bishop Seabury was able to command so much time as to write to Dr. Morice, otherwise posterity would have suffered the loss of a very good letter, the copy of which in the Letter Book follows the copy of that to Mr. Boucher:

"From Bp. Seabury to Dr. Morice, Secretary to the Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, on the Bps. leaving England to return to America dated London, Feby. 27. 1785. Reverend Sir,

When the articles of the late peace were published in America, it is natural to suppose that the members of the Church of England must have been under many anxious apprehensions concerning the fate of the church. The great distance between England and America had always subjected them to many difficulties in the essential article of ordination: and the independency of that Country gave rise to new ones that appeared unsurmountable. Candidates for Holy Orders could no longer take the oaths required in the English ordination Offices, and without doing so, they could not be ordained. The Episcopal Church in America must, under such circumstances, cease, whenever it should please God to take their present ministers from them, unless some adequate means could be adopted to procure a regular succession of clergymen. Under these impressions the Clergy of Connecticut met together as soon as they possibly could; and on the most deliberate consideration, they saw no remedy but the actual settlement of a Bishop among them. They therefore determined to make an effort to procure that blessing from the English Church, to which they hoped, under every change of civil polity, to remain united: and commissioned The Revd. Mr. Abraham Jarvis of Middletown in Connecticut to go to New York and consult such of the Clergy there as he thought prudent on the subject and procure their concurrence. He was also directed to try to prevail on the Revd. Mr. Learning or me to undertake a voyage to England and endeavor to obtain Episcopal Consecration for Connecticut. Mr. Learning declined on account of his age and infirmities: and the Clergy who were consulted by Mr. Jarvis gave it as their decided opinion that I ought, in duty to the Church, to comply with the request of the Connecticut Clergy. Though I foresaw many and great difficulties in the way, yet as I hoped they might all be overcome; and as Mr. Jarvis had no instruction to make the proposal to any one besides, and was, with the other Clergy, of opinion the design would drop if I declined it, I gave my consent; and arrived in England the beginning of July, 1*783, endeavoring according to the best of my ability and discretion to accomplish the business on which I came. It would be disagreeable to me to recapitulate the difficulties which arose and defeated the measure; and to enter on a detail of my own conduct in the matter is needless, as his Grace of Canty., and his Grace of York with other members of the Society, are well acquainted with all the circumstances.

Finding at the end of the last session of Parliament, that no permission was given for consecrating a Bishop for Connecticut or any of the American States, in the Act enabling the Lord Bishop of London to ordain foreign candidates for Deacons and Priests orders; and understanding that a requisition or at least a formal acquiescence of Congress or of the Supreme Authority in some particular State, would be expected before such permission would be granted; and that a diocese must be formed, and a stated revenue appointed for the Bishop, previously to his consecration, I absolutely despaired of ever seeing such a measure succeed in England. I therefore thought it not only justifiable but a matter of duty to endeavour to obtain wherever it could be had a valid Episcopacy for the Church in Connecticut which consists of more than 30,000 members. I knew that the Bishops in Scotland derived their succession from England, and that their Liturgy, Doctrines and discipline scarcely differed from those of the English Church. And as only the spiritual or purely Ecclesiastical powers of Episcopacy are wanted in Connecticut, I saw no impropriety in applying to the Scotch Bishops for Consecration. If I succeeded I was to exercise the Episcopal Authority in Connecticut out of the British Dominions, and therefore could cause no disturbance in the ecclesiastical or civil state of this Country.

The reasons why this step should be taken immediately appeared also to me to be very strong. Before I left America a disposition to run into irregular practices had showed itself. For some had proposed to apply to the Moravian, some to the Swedish Bishops for Ordination: and a pamphlet had been published at Philadelphia urging the appointment of a number of Presbyters and laymen to ordain Ministers for the Episcopal Church. Necessity was pleaded as the foundation of all these schemes. And this plea could be effectually silenced only by having a resident Bishop in America.

I have entered into no political engagements in Scotland nor were any mentioned to me; and I shall return to America, bound indeed to hold communion with the Episcopal Church of Scotland, because I believe that, as I do the Church of England, to be the Church of Christ.

It is the first wish of my heart, and will be the endeavor of my life, to maintain this unity with the Church of England, agreeable to those general laws of Christ's Church which depend not on any human power, and which lay the strongest obligations on all its members to live in peace and unity with each other: and I trust no obstacles will arise, or hinder an event so desirable and so consonant to the principles of the Christian Religion, as the union of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of America would be. Such a union must be of great advantage to the Church in America, and may also be so at some future period to the Church of England. The sameness of Religion will have an influence on the political conduct of both countries, and in that view may be an object of some consideration to Great Britain.

How far the venerable Society may think themselves justifiable in continuing me their Missionary, they only can determine. Should they do so, I shall esteem it a favour. Should they do otherwise, I can have no right to complain. Whatever may be their resolution, I beg them to believe that I shall ever retain a grateful sense of their favours to me, during thirty one years that I have been their Missionary: and that I shall remember, with the utmost respect, the kind attention which they have so long paid to the Church in that country for which I am now to embark. Very happy would it make me could I be assured they would continue that attention if not in the same, yet in some degree, if not longer, yet during the lives of their present Missionaries, whose conduct in the late commotions has been irreproachable and has procured esteem to themselves and respect to that Church to which they belong.

The fate of individuals is, however, of inferior moment when compared with that of the whole Church. Whenever the Society shall wholly cease to interest itself in the concerns of Religion in America it will be a heavy calamity to the Church in that country. Yet this is to be expected: and calamity will be heavier if proper steps be not previously taken to secure to that Church various property of lands &c in the different States (now indeed of small value but gradually increasing) to which the Society alone has a legal claim. It is humbly submitted to them how far it may be consistent with their views, to give me authority to assert, and secure to the Church there, the lands in Vermont and elsewhere. This it is hoped might now be easily done: but a few years may render their recovery impracticable.

The Society has also a library of books in New York, which was sent thither for the use of their Missionaries in that neighborhood. As there is now only one Missionary in that State, and several in Connecticut, I beg leave to ask their permission to have it removed into Connecticut, where it will answer the most valuable purposes, there being no library of consequence in that State to which the Clergy can resort on any occasion.

Whatever the Society may determine with regard to me I hope it will not be thought an impropriety that I should correspond with them. I think many advantages would arise from such a correspondence both to the Church and to the Society. Their interests are indeed the same: and I trust the Society will do me the justice to believe, that with such ability as I have, and such influence as my station may give me, I shall steadily endeavor to promote the interest of both.

I am, with the greatest respect and esteem, Revd Sir your and the Society's most ob4 and very humble Serv'.

S. S."

The next entry in the letter book is as follows:

"From the Revd Dr. Wm Morice Secretary to the Society, to the Revd Dr. Seabury, New London, Connecticut (so directed) dated Hatton Garden April 25th 1785. [Attention is called to the words--{so directed)--inserted by the Bishop in this introduction of the letter; as showing that he noticed the breach of good manners, and the insulting implication, involved in the direction.] Revd Sir

Your letter of February 27th was read to the Society &c at their first meeting subsequent to my receiving it.

I am directed by the Society to express their approbation of your services as their Missionary: and to acquaint you that finding they cannot consistently with their Charter employ any Missionaries except in the Plantations, Colonies and Factories belonging to the Kingdom of Great Britain your case is of course comprehended under that general rule. No decided opinion is yet formed respecting the Lands you mention. For the rest--The Society without doubt will always readily receive such information as may contribute to promote their invariable object, the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts. I am Revd Sir

Your affectionate brother and most humble Servant

WM Morice Secretary"

The very great importance of the interests of the Church in Connecticut involved in his appeal to the Society, would naturally make the Bishop's application of deep concern to himself, apart from any interests of his own in the matter: and would be likely to demand his utmost care in the preparation of the letter in which he presented the application. Certainly such care was bestowed upon the letter, and certainly the result fully justified his labour in the composition of it. There remain among his manuscripts two papers which he drafted in preparation for that composition; so that the letter in its final form represents the third effort which he had made to shape his thoughts on the subject before him in the most effective way for the purpose which he had in view. The result of his re-writing was, as it would be apt to be, that his thoughts were more concisely expressed; and that, as to various points, conclusions are expressed without the process of reasoning by which he had reached them. But although this course was better for the purpose of arresting and retaining the attention of those to whom he wrote, it had the disadvantage, for those who might afterwards come to regard his letter from the historical point of view, of not presenting his full thought as to some of the matters to which he referred. For this reason I venture to think that certain passages of those drafts have a value to posterity which it did not occur to him to attach to them, and which justifies their reproduction here, especially as they have not heretofore been printed.

It seems to have been constantly present to the mind of the Bishop while he was writing, that he was to some extent--perhaps he hardly realized to how great an extent--under censure for the course which he had pursued,; and therefore he seems to take pains to put his conduct, throughout the whole process of the quest for the Episcopate in such a light as to show that it could not justly be condemned. He does this sufficiently in the letter which he sent; but in the drafts he goes somewhat more at length into the consideration of the grounds upon which he had acted, and thus has left for us some account of his own principles as to matters in which others had differed from him.

It will perhaps have been noticed that while he reported fully in his letters to Connecticut the objections which had been made to consecrating him in England, he touched very lightly if at all upon the answers capable of being made to those objections. In the first of the drafts above mentioned he considers two of the objections as follows:

"I. The impropriety of sending a Bp. into Connecticut, now a sovereign, independent and foreign State, without the desire or formal permission of that State.

But, with the utmost deference, it is presumed, that the consecrating a Bp. of the Christian Church at large, with a view to his going to reside in a foreign State, where there is an Episcopal Church but no Bp. cannot, in strict propriety, be called sending a Bp. to that foreign State. At most it is but permitting him to go into it. The act is his; the risk is his; the impropriety, if any there be, is his, and not theirs who consecrate him. And if it must be deemed a sending a Bp. he is sent, not to that State, but to the Episcopal Church in the State, and there can be no more impropriety in a Missionary Bp. than a Missionary Presbyter.

The other objection is the impropriety of sending a Bp. where there is no established diocese, nor any provision made for his decent support. . . .

It cannot be expected that a State the rulers of which are independents will ever establish a regular diocese, or make provision for the support of a Bp. But . . . there are in Connecticut 80 Episcopal Congregations, and 13 resident Presbyters. Before the late commotions began there were 21. Were a Bp. settled there, these would naturally become his diocese, and their number would be great enough to employ all his time and attention. But the whole benefit of permitting a Bp. to go to Connecticut would not centre in that State. Other parts of the Continent might from thence receive the great blessing of the Episcopal order, and at least a million of souls preserved in that Church, who without an Episcopate will be left, in a manner, without God and without Christ in the world.

In the infancy of Christianity Bps. went and resided where there were no established dioceses, nor even Christians to form a single congregation. They did not wait till the ruling powers, who were generally averse from Christianity, sent for them, but they went, and by converting the people established those dioceses over which they afterward presided, or else they appointed them a Bp. and proceeded in propagating their religion. . . .

With regard to the support of a Bp. in Connecticut, it is readily acknowledged that not much is to be expected there at present. The emoluments arising from the station can be no object with any one. Nor can the views of ambition be gratified by the appointment. Trouble and labour, perhaps reproach and ill treatment, will be the necessary attendants. But still it is presumed some support may be obtained for him, and with such support as can be obtained he ought to be content."

In the second of the drafts, the Bishop again refers to certain objections made to his consecration in England, and considers them, showing plainly his ground and principle, with regard to them: and he also puts on record a bit of personal (and diplomatic) history, of which so far as I am aware, this draft furnishes the only extant evidence. Several difficulties, he says, presented themselves to the Archbishop of Canterbury:

"1. The oaths in the Consecration office.

2. The uncertainty that I should be permitted, by the civil authority, to reside in Connecticut, and exercise Episcopal powers there.

3. There was no diocese formed in that Country, nor any stated adequate support for a Bp.

The first of these difficulties I had foreseen, and hoped that a dispensation from the King would have been sufficient to remove it, if not, that a short act of Parliament might be obtained; especially as the object, in a religious view, was great, and the necessity urgent; and in a political view must have a good effect by keeping up a friendly intercourse with that country on the strong foundation of a common religion, in its mode as well as substance.

The third objection, though it had occurred to me, never appeared of any weight. It is not to be expected that dioceses should be formed by legal authority in a country where the prevailing mode of religion is presbyterian: nor that any stated revenue should be appropriated, for the Bp's support, by a government who denied the necessity of Bps. in the Church. But that the whole number of Episcopalians in Connecticut would of course be his diocese, and their voluntary contributions must be his support, till funds for that purpose could be gradually raised: In short, that the Bishop must be of the primitive kind, such as were in the Christian Church before it became the religion of the State--His powers merely spiritual, and his support such as the people could give him.

The second objection appeared to me of much more consequence, and I hoped if I could fairly get over it, the rest would sink of themselves. I had no doubt that I should be permitted to live and discharge the duties of the Episcopal Office in Connecticut. This persuasion arose from the knowledge I had of the state of that country, the temper and disposition of the people, the number and influence of the members of the Episcopal Church in it. No positive assurances, however, had been given me by that Government; and it appeared to me unreasonable to expect that his Grace should take any decided step in favour of the measure till that matter was ascertained. In one conversation with his Grace, about September, 1783, I was led to believe that, if I could get, though not a direct permission from the government of Connecticut to come thither in the character of Bp., yet an acquiescence in the measure, all other difficulties would probably be easily surmounted. I therefore wrote to the Clergy of Connecticut, requesting that an application should be made to the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut to obtain such permission, or at least an assurance of legal protection. It was so long before I received any answer to my letters, that I really despaired of their being able to do anything in that way, and had given up the matter in my own mind, and was wishing to provide for myself in some other way; when, in April, I think, I received accounts from the Clergy to this purpose.--That the State of Connecticut had, in January, 1784, passed an Act by which the Church of England so called was put upon an equal footing of privileges and legal protection, with any other denomination of Christians, and enabled to manage their religious affairs according to their own principles. . . .

Upon the receipt of these accounts I determined with myself to exert every ability to carry their views into effect, but at the same time not to abandon the idea of securing some provision for myself should my endeavours prove abortive.

His Grace of Cant, seemed to think the letter gave some ground on which to proceed, though he, at the same time, observed that it was not so clear and explicit as he could wish. The copy of the Act of the State I received after the letter; and upon my waiting on his Grace with it, he kindly said he would make the best use of that and the letter that he could, and hoped he should be able to succeed. And that he would lay them before some principal persons of both Houses of Parliament, and if possible get the permission to consecrate Bps. for the States of America included in the bill relating to the ordination of Candidates for foreign States. Here the matter rested till the end of the last session of Parliament, when his Grace informed me that he had not succeeded in his views--That the Minister, or Ministry, had refused to let the bill pass with a clause for the consecration of Bps. The reason, if I rightly understood his Grace, was, lest they should give offense to the American States; and that it would seem very odd to send a Bp. thither now they were independent, when we had sent none while they were British Colonies: and that therefore no Bp. could be sent thither without the requisition of the American Congress. Here I beg leave to make a few remarks.--

1. That there was no good reason to apprehend that the State of Connecticut would take my consecration amiss. They had passed an Act by which the Episcopal Church is put on an equality with any other denomination of Christians--The Governor and the leading men of the two houses of Assembly had declared to the Committee of the Connecticut Clergy who corresponded with me--Messrs. Learning, Jarvis & Hub-bard, that they approved both of the plan and the person nominated; and that the Bp. would be equally under the protection of the laws of the State with any other Clergyman.

2. That having neglected to send a Bp. to America while those States were British Colonies was no good reason why it should be neglected now, when so fair a prospect of doing it easily and quietly presented itself in Connecticut.

3. That the American Congress is incompetent to the business of making such a requisition. All religious affairs being, by the Articles of Confederation, reserved to the particular States, and therefore out of the power of Congress.

4. To expect such a requisition from the State of Connecticut is also unreasonable. The Government is presbyterian and wants no Bps. and therefore cannot be expected to make a requisition for any.

5. The phrase of sending a Bp. to America is, with regard to me, an improper one. I came from America to ask for Consecration, and had I obtained it and returned, there would have been no sending in the case.

6. To put the issue of my business upon conditions in their own nature impossible to be complied with, was equal to a positive denial; and so his Grace of Cant, seemed to understand the determination of the Ministry at the time he acquainted me with it.

In this situation I had every reason to suppose that all prospects of success here were at an end; especially when I considered the Act passed in the last session of Parliament, empowering the Bp. of London to ordain priests and deacons for foreign States, as being intended to preclude the necessity of having resident Bps. in America at all; though it left all the former inconveniences unremedied. This Act had certainly a greater tendency to alarm the Americans, by its confining the power of ordaining their Clergy to this Country, than Consecrating a Bp. for them, and permitting them to have a Bp. 01-Bps, of their own; and it is astonishing to me that it never struck the Ministry in this light, especially when their apprehensions of giving offense to the Americans were so very easily excited.

I submit it to every candid mind whether under these circumstances I was not justifiable in seeking a valid Episcopacy wherever it was to be had. Legal restrictions there were none upon me. From those I had been set free when the supreme authority of this nation declared the independency of America. I was therefore bound only by the general laws of Christ's Church as it stands independent of all human power; and I trust I have broken none of these. . . .

Let me here mention that after I had written to the Scotch Bps., and before I received their answer a Mission was, by Dr. Morice, at the direction of the Abp of Cant, offered to me in New Brunswick. As the Dr. pressed for an early answer that he might inform the Society at their next meeting; I could not give up that prospect till I knew of the application in Scotland, I therefore consented; telling the Dr. at the same time I did not think it equal to what I had a right to expect from Government, and that I must do better for myself if I could. This I said in full confidence that my merit toward this Government was at least equal to that of any man in my station: and from Government I never had before, nor have I since, been favoured with the least notice or attention. As soon, however, as I received my information from Scotland, his G. of Cant, was made acquainted with it. So that the Mission was not kept unsupplied, nor could any inconvenience on that account, arise from my conduct. . . ."

So--with all due acknowledgment of the considerate prudence of the Establishmentarians, in their endeavour safely to bestow the man whom they had disappointed in a remote corner of the British dominions--we may bid farewell to England, and pass on to the consideration of the experiences of the subject of our Memoir on his return to his western home.

Project Canterbury