THERE is ample evidence in the passages already cited to indicate the physical and mental strain inseparable from these early experiences of Bishop Hare. Carrying his message through a wild country, struggling frequently against the handicaps of poor health, harassed by the problems of both the spiritual and the temporal welfare of the Indians, there could have been none to blame him had he found his task impossible. To the evidence of his own words the more specific testimony of a fellow worker, an observer at close range, may well be added. Looking back upon the long perspective of a twenty-fifth anniversary, the Rev. Joseph W. Cook spoke in 1893 as follows:
"Who in any small measure can enter into the burden of it? The anxious thought and care, the weary explorations in the almost pathless wilds to prepare the way of the Lord, the hardships of the pilgrimages, the conferences with wild men often opposed to the white man's way and utterly misunderstanding motives and needing to be dealt with with so much tact and self-restraint to make them see their own best interests, and to save them from themselves, the disappointments and desolating sins of some workers in the field; the lack of sympathy of some, apathy and failure in others to enter heartily into his plans. And again, there is the financial burden--enough in itself to crush any ordinary mortal--for the Bishop very soon discovered that it was left largely to him to raise the funds, and he must go before the churchmen and churchwomen and plead, and call them to their duty and privilege to become fellow-workers with God and him in this field. The vexations of seeing golden opportunities passing by, or the impossibility of enlargement of important work, and, sometimes, the curtailing or abandonment because the funds were insufficient. Again, the disbursement of the funds--for often 'the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.' The funds, whether from white persons, or congregations, or societies, or from the Indians, who in most cases have assisted according to their ability, for all the many churches, chapels, parsonages and schools, have passed through the Bishop's hands, and the plans also have been devised or approved by him. And then there is the correspondence, the incessant writing in the cars, in camps, in the few minutes caught here and there while waiting, as well as in hours stolen from much needed rest and sleep. And all this, and much more, in a body often tortured by weakness and serious ailments, craving rest and recuperation. Nolo episcopari, we are safe in saying, is the sentiment of most, if not all of us."
While the struggle was still in its early stages the spirit of one in sore straits cried out in this passage from a letter of Bishop Hare to his sister, July 18, 1874:
"I am on my way to the Santee Mission and write from a wayside ranch where I have had to lay by for a few hours a little indisposed. What with a prolonged term of excessive heat and drouth which tried human nature sorely and blighted the Indians' hope of fair crops, a plague of grasshoppers which have alighted on the corn in such numbers that the stalks are hardly visible, the general muss in Indian affairs both at Washington and out in the Indian country, and the half truth, half lie, which the telegraph sends weekly from this part of the world to the papers, and the disgusting liberties which the press is taking with my name both East and West, I find it hard to preserve my equanimity. I should utterly faint by the way, but that faith can discover in this country as well as in Palestine the footprints of a weary Lord."
To the strength which his own faith gave him was added the stimulus of the faith which his friends in the East reposed in him. This faith expressed itself in the letter of a devoted woman in New York:
"21 BIBLE HOUSE, December 5, 1874.
"My Dear Bishop:
"I have been a little troubled lately by a new anxiety about our Indian work. There is a rumor in the air that it will not be hard to persuade the Bishop of Niobrara to change his Missionary Episcopate for one of less hardship and privation, and give up to another shepherd the care of his few sheep in the wilderness. This would be very sorrowful, if it could be true, not because any one should dare to doubt that God can fill any place that He sees fit to leave vacant for a time; but because missionary zeal at home is very weak, and such a shock would do untold harm among those whose faith in the man is only just beginning to lead on to some measure of faith in that for which he labors.
"Please do not think it very impertinent of me to write this. I could not help it. It is impossible that you should know, as I do not pretend to know myself, how many watch anxiously to see if in these days of self-indulgence, it can be that there really is one man willing to renounce the social comforts to which he has been used, and the dearer happiness of home, that he may be the father of a despised and neglected people."
The two ensuing letters to a trusted friend were written in a time of sorest doubt, when it appeared that Bishop Hare's own fears and those of his friends might be realized. During this period there were friends who bestirred themselves to put easier work definitely in his way, and sought his election as Bishop first of Southern Ohio and then of Iowa. But there is no indication that he sought either of these elections himself or entertained the least regret that he was not called from Niobrara.
"YANKTON AG'Y, D. T., December 13, 1874.
"My Dear Friend:
"I have been so unwilling to dwell upon or talk of a matter which has weighed upon my mind that I have not touched upon it when I have seen you, and only take my pen for a few words about it now because it might seem out of harmony with our affectionate friendship if I did not. I write now to you personally and solely. I am face to face with the necessity of leaving the Indian work either by resignation and idleness, or by a transfer to another field. A year ago I received a warning from my physician at the East that I had made a mistake in entering upon my present life. The physician at Fort Randall tells me that he discovered a year ago that I could not live in this climate; if I were a soldier he would discharge me at once, and that he never hears of my return here but with misgiving and regret. Dr. [Weir] Mitchell writes me that I am 'running an immense risk and that it is imperative and a duty that I should leave and seek a gentler life as soon as I can do so consistently with duty.' An affection which they both say need cause me no alarm under ordinary conditions is here aggravated and threatens fatal disaster.
"The distress which this causes me, independently of physical suffering, God only knows; your love may imagine it. The bare thought of seeming to turn aside like a broken bow in the hands of the Church has been so horrible that I could not at first so much as look at the course which after much reflection and prayer, I have resolved upon, viz., to accept any easier work which may open to me. I know that this simple statement will call out your sympathy and prayer, and, happy in knowing this, I am with warm regard,
"Yours very affectionately,
"WILLIAM H. HARE."
"YANKTON, D. T., February 4, 1875.
"My Dear Friend:
"Many hearty thanks for your very sympathizing letter, but I fear that I have drawn forth more sympathy than I deserve. I am better than I was when I wrote to you, indeed I think I have been gaining ever since I went East in September last, and, were it not that I have reason to fear that the citadel has been shaken, should be quite composed.
"I am thinking seriously of a two-months' trip to the South, to which I am urged by my physician, and may start East any day. I wish to slip off unobserved, as I dread the name of an invalid, and think the Church is tired of hearing of over-worked and sick Bishops.
"Our work moves on with steady step, but the winter has been the worst ever known--terrible storms have scoured earth and sky while the mercury has been 30° below zero. We have had it down to 44° below. This morning at seven, it was 33°.
"In warm affection,
"Yours most truly,
"WILLIAM H. HARE."
"P.S.--My proposed trip is a secret."
Bishop Hare's diary does not show that the proposed trip to the South took place. In March it places him in Washington, presumably on Indian business which frequently called him there for consultation with the President and the Secretary of the Interior. In May he was back again in the mission field, having devoted two months to the presentation of his cause in the East. In October of 1875, his friend, the Rev. Dr. Heman Dyer, begged him in writing to withhold a letter of resignation from the House of Bishops. His Fourth Annual Report, dated October 7, 1876, opens with a brief statement of the actual event and its consequences: "Taking advantage of a Resolution of the House of Bishops, in which they most kindly urged me to seek the restoration of my health in absence from my field of labor, I spent nine months of the year past abroad. I beg now to report, with thankfulness to God, that my health is so much improved that I am able to resume my duties in Niobrara."
The months in Europe, but for an attack of fever in Venice in the spring of 1876, which brought him nearer than ever to the door of death, contained their full measure of pleasant experiences. The record of the pleasures supplies a grateful interlude in a chronicle of many hardships. Both for the brighter days and for the perils of the nearly fatal illness his letters from abroad speak with sufficient fullness. Many descriptions of places and persons may be passed over. In the following passages the few repetitions permitted to appear are bound up with details which one would be sorry to lose.
"Sunday, December 5, 1875.
"My Dearest Mary:
"Yesterday was your birthday and I fully intended writing you a letter in loving recognition of it, for I remember well your first birthday and have learned well since then how much of blessing for me was wrapped up in it; but it was impossible to carry my plan into action for we have had cheerless, stormy, rainy weather every day since we left New York until to-day, when it cleared; the vessel has been pitching about at a terrible rate and I, who held out so well on my previous voyage, had to succumb after the first two days, and yesterday and the preceding day was miserably seasick.
"The ship's doctor read the service this A. M. and I made a short address. This P. M. I went into the steerage where there are over one hundred passengers and had a service for them. Lord Houghton accompanied me and Dr. Parks. In answer to my question, 'Is there anyone here who can sing?' a good fellow turned up with one of Moody and Sankey's Hymnbooks and so we sang, 'Come, thou Fount of every blessing,' 'All Hail the power of Jesus' Name,' and 'There is rest for the weary.' We had a most successful service and when, at the close, I suggested that I would have service again on Wednesday, a cordial assent welcomed the proposal. . . . Dr. Parks I find a capital fellow. He asked me when I wrote to present his kindest remembrances to those of the family whom he met. He speaks very cordially of the friendship which he and they struck up.
"Lord Houghton, in true English style, was quite offish the first few days, but has relaxed and become quite affable. He is an old man, short and thick-set, somewhat neuralgic, somewhat peremptory, fumbles out his words from a mouth kept nearly closed, and not a spendthrift in his courtesies." . . .
Before reaching England, Lord Houghton and Bishop Hare found each other out more fully. The traveling acquaintance evidently had its very agreeable consequences.
"THE PALACE, GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND,
"January 2, 1876.
"My Dearest Mary:
"I wrote a week ago from Crewe Hall, where my visit was as delightful to its close on Wednesday last as it was at its commencement. I was pressed on all hands to stay longer, and Lord Crewe urged that I would come again to him January 24, when he expects several friends, among others, the Bishops of Manchester and Lichfield and one or two other great people, hut I expect to be on the Continent at that date and had to decline.
"The day before I left Lord Crewe, Lord Houghton and I went over to see Peckforton Castle, a country seat of Mr. Tollemache of Helmingham, an inspiring structure built in the ancient style, with round tower, etc., and planted upon a high and somewhat precipitous hill. It reminded me of the Drachenfels. We lunched with the proprietor, a charming man. He has one of the finest studs of horses in England. I saw twenty-four noble horses in one row of stalls and I heard of others being elsewhere. He is a splendid whip, sits on the box like a king, and guides his four-in-hand with whispers. He drove us over the country at an exhilarating rate, and as I was on the box beside him I enjoyed the drive the more. He is the father of twenty-five children (hide your diminished heads, Father and Mr. Miller), and, curiously enough, his elevation to the peerage was announced the day of our visit. He was very courteous to me, and pressed me to come and see him in the spring at his London residence. I left Crewe Hall on Wednesday last for Lichfield, where I spent two days with his Lordship, the Bishop, and saw the Cathedral; but I was not well and did not much enjoy my visit. Thence I went to Hereford, where I dined with the Bishop. He regretted that his house was full of Christmas company, which precluded him from asking me to pass the night with him. I enjoyed what I saw of him much. Last evening I came here where the Bishop received me with the greatest cordiality. He is a well-known Biblical scholar and I found him very cordial and ready to talk. He took me all over his two studies and showed me his methods of work. He is the pink of order and has box upon box filled with pamphlets, slips from newspapers, etc., etc., all methodically arranged and labeled. Before I left he handed me a copy of his "Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles," with my name in it and 'with the brotherly regard of J. C., Glouc. & Bristol.' His wife is a handsome woman, a well-known musician. . . . The Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol and Mrs. Ellicott both pressed me to stay with them in London in May, when they will be in residence and offered me all sorts of inducements in the way of concerts, a visit to the House of Lords, and meeting all sorts of distinguished people, literary, civil and ecclesiastical. My visit to Gloucester was really an event in my life, for the Bishop quite devoted himself to me, venerable though he is, and I learned his views on many subjects in which I feel interest.
"I was gladdened by receiving while at Crewe Hall your letter of the 15th ult., enclosing one from Father, for which please thank him. Would that he could have enjoyed the Bishop of G. & B! OpwV and ina would have flown through the air like shuttlecocks. By the bye, tell Father that the Bishop quite agrees with him as to ekporeuomenon as referring to the temporal mission, says that para (not ek) indicates that this is what is referred to, and that Theodore of Mopsuestia was the first to suggest another meaning."
An item of clerical gossip jotted in Bishop Hare's fragmentary diary while he was at Crewe Hall seems worth preserving:
"Friday, December 24. Bishop Wilberforce, Lord H. says, was terribly disappointed when he was not made Archbishop of Canterbury, arguing, 'The ministry is a profession, and, as in other professions, a man has a right to its honors. Having confessedly reached next to the highest honor, I had a right to the highest.'"
The postscript of a letter from Bishop Hare while in London to the Rev. Dr. Dyer, January 7, 1876, is one of many indications that the thoughts of his work were constantly with him:
"It occurs to me to add, in view of the prospect of this being a winter of Congressional investigations and of my being out of reach and of the possibility of charges and innuendoes flying hither and thither, that my friends may be sure that should any suspicion be thrown upon anything I have had a hand in, there is nothing to fear from investigation. Let it be pushed. I may have lacked wisdom, never truth and honesty."
"CANNES, FRANCE, HOTEL DE PAVILLON,
"February 5, 1876.
"My Dear Friend:
"I had what our English cousins would call a 'beastly' voyage across the Atlantic, but landed safe in due season in Liverpool, where, as you know, there is little to detain one and much to hasten one away. I went therefore straight to London after a day's rest, where I stayed ten days, but was very wretched during the whole time and saw nothing but St. Paul's, where I heard Dr. Vaughan in the A. M. deliver one of his lucid excellent sermons and Canon Liddon in the P. M. preach a much more pretentious, but less satisfactory one. He was not up to his mark, I should judge from the sermons of his which I have read; but the sight of the immense concourse of people (about 3,000) of all classes who assemble Sunday after Sunday under the dome to hear him was most impressive and a most moving sermon.
"The next ten days I spent in visiting, first, Lord Crewe at Crewe Hall, one of the most palatial of England's lordly mansions; . . . then in visits of two days each to the Bishops of Lichfield and Gloucester--also a dinner with the Bishop of Hereford; and lastly in a visit to the Earl of Buckinghamshire, a kinsman, his name Hobart, he a clergyman and also a son of his, William Hobart, curiously enough. The latter, however, died not long ago.
"I was very kindly entertained at all these houses and it was very charming, as you may suppose. The enjoyment par excellence was my stay with the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, Dr. Ellicott, the Commentator. He was very affable, quite devoted himself to me, talked for hours on subjects in which I was deeply interested, and showed me his sanctum, with a new Commentary on the anvil; etc., etc.
"I left England reluctantly, pressed by the desire to find a warmer climate, and came directly here where the climate, the roses and jessamines, the orange groves loaded with fruit, the azure sky above, the blue sea to the south and the snowcapped Maritime Alps to the north, charm the senses and seem to proclaim that everyone is without excuse if he does not get well and exclaim, 'Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy works and I will--'
"I have not got to Egypt yet. I doubt if I shall. The truth is that I suffer so much in traveling that I cannot get my courage up to undertake so much of a journey. Still I am sorely tempted, if only for a visit to Alexandria and Cairo and their neighborhood.
"As to my health, the doctor in London and the one here whom I have consulted, quite confirm the diagnosis of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Barker of New York, and give me to understand that I have to cope with serious ailment; but I have had no return of my hemorrhages, my difficulty in breathing is much relieved, and my general health is decidedly better. I have good news too from several of the brethren in Niobrara and from my darling boy. God be thanked; so that, you see 'goodness and mercy' still follow me. . . .
"Always your sincere and affectionate friend,
"WILLIAM H. HARE."
"NAPLES, ITALY, March 5, 1876. ". . . You ask about my health. Well, I have had my ups and downs. I suppose that, if I had been on duty, I should have worked on and at last have been reined up short by a hemorrhage; but I have had nothing to do but to take care of myself, and have had the advice of a good and cheery doctor and have felt, notwithstanding some new symptoms which discouraged me at first, that I was on the road to getting well, and I have improved decidedly within the last two weeks. The doctor read me some very emphatic and serious lessons and told me in very plain English at last, when he found that I raised the question whether a man ought always to obey his physician in mapping out his life, that nothing but great care and obedience would save me from hopeless invalidism (dropsy and other rather unpleasant things). So I agreed with him that I should just go out to Niobrara long enough this June to meet the brethren in Convocation, abstaining from traveling in the wild country, spend the summer months at the East in comparative rest, and then make another short visit in the fall. This I shall do, but I confess to feeling very unhappy often when I think of others 'in the open field,' while I am surrounded by comforts and of the disappointment my breaking down is to many people's hopes. I must try to make up for less activity by more prayer and love." . . .
"MERAN, May 5, 1876.
. . . "This will reach you about my birthday, May 17. The more I learn of what occurred during the darkest days of my illness, e. g., that Dr. Potter, during his visit to me instructed Mrs. Littlejohn what disposition had better be made of my effects and my body in case their fears were realized, the more strange I feel in the midst of the exuberant verdure of the new life of spring which surrounds me, and the daily increasing strength which I feel in my own body, and, for the time being, feel that I have had a birthday which for the moment at least eclipses that which launched me into life. [Bishop Littlejohn of Long Island was at this time in charge of the American Episcopal churches in Europe.] I fear that I write too much about myself, but I am not very strong as yet and I suppose have hardly energy enough to lift myself out of my own wandering thoughts.
"My illness swept everything before it and I am better, except weakness, than I have been for a year." ...
"MERAN, TYROL, May 12, 1876.
"My Dear Doctor Dyer:
"I think Dr. Potter wrote you from Venice, about April 16, of my illness. I lay only half conscious during the first week of my fever and it is a complete blank; but I was emerging into consciousness and use of my memory when Dr. Potter was with me, and, if I am not much mistaken, he wrote to you for me to say how ill I; had been, that independent of my illness at Venice, the physicians had decided that I must spend the summer at one of the German baths, and that I could not be reckoned upon for work in any capacity till fall. I cannot tell you what a bitter trial this is to me. I sent out circular letters, such as the one I enclose, to all the missionaries last February, hoping to be fully posted by their replies for taking up my work on my return at the end of May. Their answers have reached me and find me consigned to continued absence. I trust that I am not utterly useless, for I am in correspondence, as my strength permits, with them all, seeking to direct and cheer them; hut I feel the hand of God very heavy upon me and find it hard, in the midst of my disappointment and mortification, to he patient and submissive. I am recuperating in this high but sheltered town as fast as man can and am in general vastly better than when I left New York; hut the pains of which you perhaps more than once heard me complain and which rendered my trips in Niobrara sometimes so trying seem to the physicians to proceed from spinal irritation and it is to its treatment that my summer must be devoted. . . .
"In warmest regard, dear Doctor,
"Ever most faithfully yours,
"WILLIAM H. HARE."
"P. S.--Now for a few words with you yourself. I don't know whether you ever recovered in springtime from an illness which had brought you to the very jaws of death. If you did, you can understand something of the wondering, bewildered, joyous, thankful frame of mind in which I found myself as I was brought away from Venice, the scene of my sickness, where I felt that I had been almost entombed, and found myself speeding away in the cars among green fields and budding trees and blossoming shrubs, all seeming to exult in the warm sunshine and to say to the invalid, 'Behold with what a vivifying energy the Good Creator has endowed even plants! You, too, shall soon feel a like life coursing through your veins and rejoice to put into exercise your recuperated powers.' The solemn, yet peaceful, lesson of an illness that brings you near to death, how precious it is! And how strong the wish to make one's recovery a birth into a freer, better and more filial life!" . . .
About a month after the writing of this letter he was joined at Rippoldsau in Germany, to his great delight, by his son, then nearly fourteen years old. July and August were devoted to the further recuperation of health, on the continent and in England, and at the beginning of September he sailed for home. Within a month from landing in New York, where it was possible at once to resume activities on behalf of his mission, he was on his way to the Indian country. During the journey thither, he wrote as follows to his father-in-law:
[To the Right Rev. M. A. DeW. Howe.]
"FISHKILL-ON-HUDSON, September 24, 1876.
"My Dear Bishop Howe:
"I ran up here last night to pass a quiet Sunday with my aunt and found your letter of the 21st.
"How glad I was to receive it and to see in it the evidence of your affection and solicitude for my health I cannot tell you, and what you will say to me when I reveal to you the fact that this note, which I was obliged to lay aside just after beginning it, I am finishing in Chicago where I am resting on my way to Niobrara, I do not know.
"But, believe me, I weighed well the considerations against my immediate return to my work which you urged in your letter, and those which were pressed upon me by other friends (amongst them the Presiding Bishop, and Dr. Dyer, the Chairman of the Indian Commission). On the other side were these considerations; that the Mission was exposed by reason of the critical condition of Indian affairs to many dangers and needed my presence; that the brethren and sisters in it were expecting me and I longed to do something to cheer and comfort them; that mortification at having come so far short of what the Church expected of me when she sent me out was gnawing at my heart and confusing my face when I met my brethren at the East; that, while I might be of some use in the Board of Missions and House of Bishops, a man can generally best serve the Church in general by looking well to his own special work; and, finally, that the months which are now flying by are those in which I can travel in Niobrara with least injury to my health.
"Pray do not think me disregardful of your advice. I may have mistaken views of duty, but I have done my best to find my way after having entered into my closet and shut to the door.
"If an opportunity offers I beg that you will let the Bishops know how much I have dwelt in hours of pain upon their kind consideration for me last fall and of how much service to me my absence has been.
"In warm affection,
"Yours most sincerely,
"WILLIAM H. HARE.
"CHICAGO, October 7, 1876."
In the month after returning to his work he wrote a letter which may fitly bring this episode of physical trials to a close:
"YANKTON AG'Y, November 23, 1876.
"My Very Dear Friend:
"I must begin a letter the very moment I have finished reading yours of the 12th to utter the thought which springs from my head and heart. Never let a shadow of a shadow rest upon your mind because you had a share in sending me out here. 'It was not you that sent me but God.' I never doubted this except when in hours of distress or spiritual weakness my faith was clouded, and just so long as the conviction dwells in my mind that He who sent me here wills that I should stay I trust that I shall have grace to stay, by the help of many prayers of you and such as yours. Never did I take up anything in my life more from the action of my own soul, weak and evil as it is, than I took up this work. I chanced upon a copy of a letter the other day which I wrote when I was passing out of my struggle into the conviction that God meant me to leave the Foreign Secretaryship for the Indian work--I enclose it; you may care to see it. It will at least indicate that if I made a mistake it was my own.
"Very much distressed I have often been, I confess, for humanly speaking a stronger man is needed for this field, and I have had hard work to keep my head above water, and then, as the Church can never know just what exposure and mishaps and dangers I have undergone because I cannot parade these things, I have feared that the Church was weary of an instrument which did not meet its expectations. Yes, all sorts of spiritual conflict I have had; but I know that I deserve to be cast off by God and made use of no more; but use me He does and I bless His name.
"I was never more hopeful in regard to the work here than I am to-day and shall come East feeling stronger and bolder to speak in behalf of the work than ever. It seems wise that I should spend the winter East for the work's sake (i. e., for sympathy and money's sake), and for my own health which is better than it has been for two years, and which I wish to keep so.
"With much love to your sister,
"Your affectionate friend,
"W. H. HARE."
"This is a very gushing letter, but you will understand it."
Before the following year, 1877, was far advanced, a proposal came to Bishop Hare from the East not to abridge but to increase his activities. It was suggested that he should assume the superintendency of St. Luke's Hospital in New York, recently made vacant by the death of the Rev. Dr. Muhlenberg, and should devote such time to the work as he could spare from his duties in the Indian country. "I am extremely interested," he wrote to a friend a few days after receiving Sister Anne's letter broaching the subject, "in woman's work and in the organization of it for the good of man"; but when he was duly elected to the post and gave it his full consideration, it was decided that he should confine himself exclusively to his chosen field. This was probably a fortunate decision, for an overwhelming trial of his spirit, calling for all his outward and inward strength, was about to be made.
As a consequence of events culminating in 1878, Bishop Hare became the defendant in a suit for libel. At first the plaintiff won it, then the verdict was reversed, and subsequently the case was dropped by consent of plaintiff and defendant. It would be utterly unprofitable at this time to repeat and revive the whole unsavory story of the controversy. But the painful episode bore so important a part in the life of Bishop Hare that it cannot be ignored. When he learned in 1895 that a brief sketch of his life was on the point of preparation, he wrote to the author of the book which was to contain it: "You will, of course, understand that I do not wish at all that any notice should be taken of the H----- case; it is dead and buried, and he, too, has passed away--de mortuis nil nisi bonum." The requirements of a brief sketch and of a comprehensive biography are different. The present narrative will confine itself to a bare statement of accessible facts, supplemented by hitherto unpublished passages from private letters. Since the plaintiff in the suit is here to be considered only with reference to Bishop Hare, it seems sufficient, and in keeping with the spirit of the de mortuis injunction, to identify him merely as Mr. H.
Bishop Hare had been in Niobrara but a short time when disturbing rumors about one of his most conspicuous missionaries came to his ears. On October 3, 1873, he wrote to his sister: "I wrote Mother on Sunday last from Santee. Since then a cloud, which has hung over my soul for three or four months, arising from charges involving the character of Mr. H. has been dispelled by a prolonged inquiry by Bishop Whipple and Clarkson and me, which ended in his vindication, and for the first time in many weary weeks my heart is light." An Omaha paper contained a humorous account of the manner in which the three bishops were rowed across the Missouri River, to their conference in a wind "of which it might be said that a man would rather face it 'per alium' than face it 'per se.'" The hearty welcome and good cheer which met them on the farther side soon made them "forget the cheerlessness and the chill, and the peril of their crossing." It was a good omen for the result of the investigation, and for several years Bishop Hare and Mr. H. worked together in unity. Indeed, the presbyter's knowledge and experience of Indian affairs were often of the greatest service to the bishop and his work. In April of 1877, he wrote to his friend, Dr. Dyer, in complaint of the shortcomings of one of the pieces of work in charge of his subordinate: "All things considered, I think that the course to be pursued is to use Mr. H. and not to fling him off. He is a peculiar man, and can't be made to lie straight in a pile of sticks, but still there is good fuel in him. I shall spare no effort to make it burn for God, though in the effort I do burn my fingers sometimes."
The effort continued for nearly a year more, and then, persuaded at last in his heart that the work of the mission was suffering grievous injury through Mr. H.'s connection with it, Bishop Hare exercised his authority to bring that connection abruptly to an end. A persistent disregard of pecuniary obligations and an evil report in the neighborhood were given to Mr. H., in a letter of March 25, 1878, as the specific reasons for the severance of relations--an action taken, in the words of Bishop Hare, "only from a sense of duty and with the most painful reluctance." A few days later (April 5, 1878), he wrote to Dr. Dyer from a ferryboat on the Missouri River: "Mr. H.'s connection with the Mission was severed last Monday, week. ... I am thankful for deliverance from his presence thus easily obtained. Every day's experience adds to my conviction that my action was right and that, when the first shock is over, the gain to the Mission will be tremendous. Only let the Church in the East confide in my integrity and good sense, I fear nothing here. ... I expect a painful time, for H. does not renounce his ministry and it looks as if I shall have to bring him to trial. ... I have felt sometimes as if I should die of a broken heart; but the Master had in Judas a sorrow like mine." About a month later (on May 8), he wrote to Miss Biddle: "Mr. H.'s case almost broke me down. I had some return of ominous symptoms during some trying days, trying to the body because of the weather, and trying to the mind and heart for another reason; but I am better now, and quite at peace in my own heart in the conviction that I have acted wisely and that I have relieved the Mission of a horrible incubus. Mr. H. has demanded a trial, and one has been appointed for June 4." On May 29, he wrote in the course of a letter to Bishop Howe: "I trust that Mrs. Howe and all your family are well. How delightful and sustaining it is to think of the quiet innocence of a Christian home in these days, when faith in goodness receives such shocks! God be thanked that I have known so well so many good women, and that so many home circles are adorned by them where I am welcomed, which, by a little effort of the imagination, seem to me right at hand! I should be like a man asphyxiated in a cesspool, so much that is loathsome submerges me here, but that the recollection of such scenes, and of Him by whose grace they exist, enables me to keep my head in the pure air."
A court of presbyters, appointed to meet on June 4, for the trial of Mr. H., assembled in July, and adjourned after taking measures for the securing of testimony. Several attempts were subsequently made, both by Bishop Hare and Mr. H., to bring the matter to a conclusion; but, partly through the difficulty of bringing together at one time and place missionaries so widely separated as those of Niobrara, these efforts were not successful. The court indeed rendered a verdict of guilty on three important points, but since the sentence of deposition which it pronounced lacked, in Bishop Hare's opinion, "formal completeness and technical validity" no disciplinary measures were taken. Whereupon Mr. H. laid his case, in a letter of March 1,1879, before the Board of Managers of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, detailing his grievances and making what were afterwards denned as "false, defamatory and calumnious charges" regarding Bishop Hare's action. This letter was soon afterwards printed in a pamphlet and widely circulated.
To sit silent under the accusations of this pamphlet would have seemed almost a confession of wrong-doing. Accordingly Bishop Hare took the occasion to write what he called a "Rehearsal of Facts" addressed to the Bishops of the Church and the other members of the Board of Managers of the Missionary Society. This statement set forth in detail the grave offenses against morality credibly imputed to Mr. H. throughout the Indian country. It was shown to be based upon testimony which Bishop Hare, as head of the mission, could not possibly ignore. It exhibited a state of affairs completely injurious, in its effects, to the work of the mission--a state of affairs which the official in charge of the work could not have permitted to continue without an unpardonable neglect of his duty. Bishop Hare had recently introduced a hand printing-press at St. Paul's School, Yankton Agency, and, without any more modern appliances within reach for the limited circulation of his "Rehearsal," to which he gave the heading "Private," employed this press for his immediate purpose. Here, perhaps, was a mistake. It may have been another to mail the "Rehearsal" to a few deeply interested friends, not more than eight, beside the officials for whom it was primarily intended. Whatever injury may have been done to Mr. H. by this action was vastly extended by the printing and wide circulation of a reply from the discharged missionary to the "Rehearsal of Facts" in which the "Rehearsal" itself was reprinted entire.
The next step in the wretched business transferred it from the field of ecclesiastical to that of civil dispute. In February of 1880 Mr. H. brought suit against Bishop Hare in New York State for libel, charging a malicious intent in the publication of the "Rehearsal of Facts," and claiming damages of twenty-five thousand dollars. The case was tried in New York. Bishop Hare's defense, as the Judge summed it up, was "in substance, that the publication of which complaint is made, was privileged, that it was made in good faith, and was justified by the occasion or the circumstances under which it was prepared and published." But the difficulty of establishing by witnesses in New York what Bishop Hare had fully believed to be true in Niobrara were too great. The jury had to cope with a mass of revolting evidence, with the intricacies of the law of libel, with fine-spun definitions of malice and good faith--and the result of its deliberations was a verdict against Bishop Hare, but reducing the damages to ten thousand dollars.
The case was immediately appealed, but while the verdict stood the situation was nearly intolerable. One humiliation was that Bishop Hare could not set foot upon New York soil except between midnight of Saturday and Sunday. Another lay in the consciousness that there were those within the Church who, realizing the necessity under which Bishop Hare had acted, yet questioned seriously the wisdom of the precise course his action took. As he had told the Indian chief of early days to wait and see how the missionaries lived, so he must justify his own course by the patience and dignity with which he should abide its results. The people of his mission rose loyally to his support. A letter signed with more than fifty names of various significance in the Indian country struck no uncertain note:
"We intend by this letter to assure you of our undiminished faith in the righteousness of your cause, and of our united sympathy with you in this hour of trial. . . . To us you seem to have been actuated by the best motives, and, in the face of constant vexatious opposition, -with great personal sacrifices and reluctance of the natural man, to have persevered unflinchingly in what you believed to be (and what it seems to us clearly was) your duty." A member of the Mission, recently recalling the days of direst trial, has written: "We believed he suffered physically from it, the strain upon him seemed to age him ten years in six months' time, when our constant prayer was, 'O Lord, help us to justify our Bishop in this trial'--and the effort that was made he ever deeply appreciated." There were other sacrifices than those of the spirit. His slender means were severely taxed, in spite of the generous fund raised by friends to meet legal expenses. In the summer of 1882 he sold his horses and wrote to his sister: "The privilege of suing and being sued is very precious--and very expensive." Through it all he bore himself with true manfulness. A passage from his Tenth Annual Report (1882) adequately represents his position:
"The libel suit to which I was subjected last spring by a Presbyter, formerly a Missionary of the Board, has forced upon me a painful notoriety, and has doubtless made my reputation equivocal with some whose esteem is to be valued.
"Far more important, however, than the question what others will think of one, is the question what one thinks of oneself. 'If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God.'
"While sensible of my shortcomings, and not doubting that I might have acted more wisely in some minor points, I believe that in a case of extraordinary complications and difficulties, I acted with at least ordinary wisdom. Conscious of rectitude of intend, firmly persuaded that the course which I pursued was in all its substantial points required by the condition of things by which I was confronted, and that it has been conducive in its issue to the purity and healthfulness of the Mission, I review the past with an uplifting satisfaction. And as for my reputation, I leave that without a doubt to time, which is a great revealer, and to that larger jury which, after all, ultimately decides in all such controversies as this."
Five years had to pass before the controversy was finally settled. In the New York Court of Appeals the Judge reversed the decision of the lower court and recommended that the case be "left to the wise and judicious arbitrament of mutual friends." Accordingly in 1887 it was agreed that both plaintiff and defendant should appear personally or by counsel before the Presiding Bishop, agreeing to sign any paper which he, after mature deliberation, might draw up. The essential result of the arbitration was that Bishop Hare signed a paper containing his declaration that while the acts imputed to Mr. H. "were not established at the first trial, I, nevertheless, fully believed the testimony on which they were reported to me to be credible, and thought them, and think now, that, with my convictions of duty, I could not do otherwise than believe and act on it." In the paper signed by Mr. H. he asserted his "innocence of all the imputations contained in the Rehearsal," yet declared, "I have no doubt that Bishop Hare has fully believed me to be guilty and has acted on that belief."
Nine years of scandal and vexation of spirit were thus brought to an end by means so simple that one can only marvel and lament that they were not employed at the beginning. So far as Bishop Hare himself was concerned, the scars of the experience were enduring. The letter of 1895, already quoted, set forth his later view of the whole matter. It was so obviously written for private reading that a single further passage is all that should be taken from it: "I shall never recover from the tremendous strain to which that libel suit subjected me, nor from the pecuniary loss; for it cost me $12,000 in lawyers' and witness fees, over and above what my friends contributed; and for years it sadly injured my good name. Perhaps as we grow older and feel that we shall leave our reputation at the mercy of posterity, we become more solicitous about it, and perhaps this is the explanation of my venturing this letter."
Still later, even in his final illness, he said one day to his son: "If I had been an older man, I suppose I should have done it differently; but"--raising himself up on his bed--"it was my duty, and I am glad I did it."