IN 1873 I was elected one of the trustees of the Peabody Fund for Education in the South. George Peabody, whose lifelong personal economy and prudence in little things permitted him to be prodigal in his generosity to others, after most generous benefactions to build houses for the poor in London, and having founded an institute in Baltimore, a library in Danvers, and given a generous endowment to Yale College, left the balance of his fortune, two millions of dollars, for the establishment of public schools in the Southern states. The South was at that time desolate and was without a single public school.
The Hon. Robert C. Winthrop was made the President of the Board of Trustees. The trustees have been the Hon. Hamilton Fish, the Rt. Rev. Charles P. Mcllvaine, General Grant, Admiral Farragut, Hon. William C. Rives, Hon. John H. Clifford, Hon. William Aiken, Hon. William M. Evarts, Hon. William A. Graham, Charles Macalister, George W. Riggs, Samuel Wetmore, Edward A. Bradford, George N. Eaton, George Peabody Russell, Hon. Samuel Watson, Hon. A. H. H. Stuart, General Richard Taylor, Surgeon-General J. K. Barnes, Chief Justice Waite, Rt. Rev. Henry B. Whipple, Hon. Henry R. Jackson, Colonel Theodore Lyman, Ex-President Hayes, Hon. Thomas Manning, Anthony J. Drexel, Hon. Samuel Green, Hon. James D. Porter, J. Pierpont Morgan, Ex-President Cleveland, Hon. William A. Courtenay, Hon. Charles Devens, Hon. Randall L. Gibson, Chief Justice Fuller, Hon. William Wirt Henry, Hon. H. M. Somerville, Hon. William C. Endicott, Hon. Joseph H. Choate, George W. Childs, Hon. Charles E. Fenner, Daniel Gilman, Hon. George Peabody Wetmore, Hon. John Lowell, Hon. George F. Hoar. At the last meeting in 1898 Hon. Richard Olney was elected to the Board.
By the request of Mr. Peabody an annual dinner in his memory is given in New York, including the wives of the trustees, and perhaps no gatherings of the kind in the United States have been more brilliant.
There are now nearly three millions of pupils in the public schools of the Southern states. The work which has been so wisely done is due to the general agents, who have carefully carried out the plans of the trustees. The first general agent was the Rev. Dr. Sears, formerly President of Brown University. Public opinion in the South was not favorable to common schools, but addresses were made by Dr. Sears to the legislatures, and appeals made to the people through the press. The plan was for the Pea-body Trustees to offer to defray a portion of the expense of these schools. President Sears possessed great wisdom, and patiently and lovingly met and overcame all obstacles. His mantle fell on Hon. J. L. M. Curry, one of the wisest administrators and a leader of men. At our meeting in 1875, knowing the condition of the South, I offered the resolution:--
That the Executive Committee with the General Agent be requested to take into consideration the propriety of establishing scholarships for the education of teachers in a limited number of schools or colleges in the more destitute portions of the South.
There were grave problems to be met. Four millions of slaves had been made citizens; the people of the Southern states were poor, and most of their children would be dependent upon common schools for education. Trained teachers were greatly needed, and by establishing normal schools an honorable avocation could be offered to these children.
General Taylor seconded the resolution, which was unanimously adopted. It led to the founding of the Peabody Normal College in Nashville, Tennessee, now in charge of President Payne, under whose wise administration it has become one of the best normal schools in the country. The Winthrop Normal College in South Carolina was named in honor of President Winthrop, a graceful tribute of South Carolina to one of the foremost men in the Republic.
Many of the children of the so-called "Crackers "have found their way to these public schools and will become excellent citizens. General Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, was a man of remarkable experience as a civilian and a soldier. He was a brilliant conversationalist, a welcome guest in the palaces of Europe, and beloved in the South as the associate of Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War. At one of the meetings of the Peabody Trustees, I alluded to the difficulty of reaching the poor white population, and after we adjourned Mr. Evarts said:--
"General Taylor, what did you think of the bishop's description of your constituents?"
"Before you answer, General," I said, "let me draw a picture. The place is in the piney woods; there is a store at the four corners which contains dry goods, some hardware, a few groceries, and a never empty barrel of whiskey. A group of men are pitching quoits in front of the store, and some horses are tied under the trees. A negro drives up with an old mule and wagon and a bale of cotton. One of the white men asks:--
"'Sam, whose cotton is that?'
"'How much have you, Sam?'
"'Specs about two bale, Massa.'
"'Why, Sam, you're getting rich; you ought to treat.' And they all file in and take a drink of whiskey at the negro's expense; and he is the only one who has done anything to bless the body politic."
The general laughed, and answered, "That is all true, Bishop; I see that you have been there." He then added, "When our chairman nominated you as a trustee, I thought to myself, why does Mr. Win-throp want that Indian enthusiast elected trustee. How thankful I am, Bishop, that you are a trustee."
At the time of our meeting at the White Sulphur Springs, Mr. Winthrop said to me:--
"If you will preach to us on Sunday, Bishop, I can promise that all of our trustees will be present unless it is General Taylor, who seldom attends church."
Sunday morning, happening to meet the general alone, I said, "Officers of the army are often careless about such matters, and thinking you might have left your Prayer Book at home, I have written your name in this one." He thanked me and was present at both the morning and evening services.
The next morning he said to Mr. Winthrop, "I have been in a study as to whether the bishop did not catch me with guile yesterday; but be that as it may, I am glad that I attended church."
It is pleasant to remember that General Taylor received the Holy Communion in his last illness.
Much of the success of the Peabody Trust is due to Mr. Winthrop's intimate knowledge of the wise plans of its founder. Mr. Winthrop succeeded Henry Clay as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Daniel Webster in the United States Senate. He was an orator whose speeches were invariably in classic form. Always in the forefront of good works, a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ, and a loving son of the Church, no American knew more intimately the lives of his country's patriots and statesmen, and no one was so often called upon to pronounce their eulogy. His speeches at the laying of the corner-stone of the Washington monument and at its completion, and his oration at the centennial of the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, are epics of history. He was one of the last surviving links between the fathers of the Republic and the present generation.
From an interesting correspondence between this beloved friend and myself, which covered many years, I publish the following letters. Unfortunately the letters which, more truly reveal the loving soul of the man are of too confidential a character for publication.
BOSTON, 90 MARLBOBOUGH STREET, 21st Jan., 1883.
My dear Bishop: Your favor of the 13th was duly welcomed. I am always glad to be assured of your well-being. Your well-doing goes without saying. I often envy those who enjoy the consciousness of doing such work for Christ and humanity as you are doing. I wish I could do more in my humble sphere.
Your letter touches two points on which I am tempted to say a word. I do not think you have given the true construction to my ancestor's phrase about the Indians. He was always kind to them and sympathized with John Eliot in his missionary work. But one of his great perplexities in coining over was as to the right of the Colony to take possession of the lands which the Indians were occupying. A Providential intervention settled that question. That is all he meant to say--" The Lord hath cleared our title to what we possesse." It certainly was a very striking Providence, which he could not fail to recognize, and I do not believe that there was a particle of "self-righteousness "in his heart.
Now, 2dly, as to Herbert Spencer and the higher education. It may well be a matter of doubt whether our Government, National or State, should go beyond "Free Common Schools." A few Classical Schools and High Schools may be supported by our great cities; but I am strongly inclined to think that such luxuries should be left to those able to pay for them or to endow them. Morality is certainly the one thing needful. But Washington well said, in his Farewell Address, "Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that Morality can be maintained without Religion." And what is becoming of Religion in these days! Have you read the E. C. Bishop McQuaid's article in the Feb'y North American, on "The Decay of Protestantism?" It is a very suggestive paper. Its true influence should be,--not to carry us back to Romanism, but to make Protestants awake and rouse themselves to greater efforts. I do not mean controversial efforts to break down the Pope and his Church, but efforts to build up true Christianity, and to sustain Christian Institutions and promote Christian living. But, as you say, the subject is beyond the limits of a letter, and I desist from any further attempt to deal with it.
We have General H. B. Carrington here this winter. I observe he quotes you, in relation to some Indian Converts, in a book, "Ab-sa-ra-ka," of which he gave me a copy. He is a remarkable man. Having made a name by his "Battles of the Revolution," he is now engaged on the "Battles of the Bible," and I heard him vindicate the strategy of Gideon with great force.
Meantime our friend, Dr. George E. Ellis, has recently published an elaborate volume on the Indians which you ought to see. I trust he has sent you a copy of it.
Good-bye, dear Bishop. The world somehow seems dark to me. Yet now and then there is a hopeful gleam of light,--as in the Civil Service Reform Bill, and in the tardy justice to Fitz-John Porter.
Believe me ever
ROBT. C. WINTHROP.
P.S. We must not forget that we cannot have an educated Ministry without something more than Common Schools. This was the original idea of Harvard College, and of other institutions for higher education. But it is for the rich to establish and support such Institutions in these days. Oh, what might not be done for every good cause by some of the colossal fortunes which have been amassed of late! Luxury and Fine Arts get the lion's share.
UPLANDS, BROOKLINE, MASS., 17th July, 1890.
Dear Bishop Whipple: The newspaper containing your Baccalaureate sermon, came a day or two since, and I read it with great admiration. The same mail brought me a letter from my old friend, of the same age with myself, the Dowager Lady Hatherton, whose husband was Sec'y for Ireland under the old Duke of Wellington. I had sent her, at Easter, your "Five Sermons." She says: "I cannot say how much I admire the sermons of Bishop Whipple. I wonder if you often see him." So I shall send her your Baccalaureate, and tell her that I do not see you often enough. She acknowledges, in the same letter, my Bible Society Report, of which, I believe, I sent you a copy, with a few introductory sentences which I thought up to my highest standard. But the heat and drought of this month have exhausted me not a little, and the terrible catastrophes by flood and fire in all parts of the country, and especially in yours, seem almost like a fulfilment of Bible prophecies. Fremont's death (four years my junior) recalls him to me as the gallant young Pathfinder of the Rocky Mountains, with so many of the Stanley characteristics; and, in 1851, as he took his seat at my side in the U. S. Senate, as the first Senator, or one of the two original Senators, of California.
I trust your friend and my friend, General Sibley, holds his own. He could not have a better holding. My love to him when you see him. . . .
Your affectionate friend,
ROBT. C. WINTHROP.
90 MARLBOROUGH ST., BOSTON, 22nd Feby., 1892.
My dear Bishop: Another box of delicious oranges reached us last week, and we have enjoyed them at breakfast and dinner. A thousand thanks from us all for your repeated remembrances.
We have reached the great Secular Holiday to-day. How can we ever be grateful enough to God for giving us Washington to lead our Armies, to guide our Councils, and to furnish a model for mingled patriotism and piety for all generations! Such a model man for the example of old and young, as the figurehead of our Ship of State, is an unspeakable blessing. The character of Washington does as much for us in this 93d year since he died, as his wisdom and valour did for us in achieving our liberty and independence. We must never be tired of commemorating his services, nor allow any later men, civil or military, to supersede or equal him in our respect, admiration, and, if possible, imitation.
We have a charming sunshine to-day, after a week of snow, and cold, and fogs, and the people are rejoicing in it. ...
Visitors are coming in upon me, and I must cease writing.
We all send love and thanks.
ROBT. C. WINTHROP.
UPLANDS, BROOKLINE, MASS. 10th July, 1888.
My dear Bishop: I received yesterday, by the last steamer from England, a copy of the Cambridge Review of June 7th, which contained your sermon at Great St. Mary's on the 3rd. I read it at once with great interest and gratification. Your allusions to Webster and George Peabody were specially impressive. I was with Webster in Congress when that double bereavement came upon him, and had occasion to witness his agony when he was called from Washington to Boston to attend those "two burials."
I observe, too, that you have received an LL.D. from the University. It is fourteen years since I had the same honor, and I vividly recall the pride with which I donned the red gown. My wife and I were guests of good Dr. Atkinson. If you happen to see him, pray present our kindest remembrances.
I congratulate you heartily on the success of your visit. I did not fail to communicate your request for prayers on the sea to Phillips Brooks, and we had them at our Brookline Church also.
I was at our Cambridge Commencement, a fortnight ago, and made a little speech for my class on the 60th anniversary of our graduation. Only ten of us are left.
Of the English Bishops whom I have known best, but four remain. Good Lord Arthur Hervey, of Bath and Wells, however, is still active, and I would gladly assure him of my affectionate regards. Harold Browne, too, now of Winchester, I knew at Ely and in London, and was always impressed by his ability.
While I was at Beverly, last week, spending the 4th of July with my only grandson, I learned that the father of his private Tutor had been the Tutor of the poor Emperor Frederick, in Germany, forty years ago. It seemed to bring the heroic figure, whose loss is so sad, nearer to me. I travelled along the road to St. Moritz with him and his family, six or seven years ago, and saw enough of him to form a high estimate of his character.
But I am writing at random, and only desire you to be assured of my remembrance and regard, and those of A------ and her mother.
Believe me, dear Bishop,
ROBERT C. WINTHROP.
NAHANT, MASS. 11th Sept., 1893, Monday.
My most dear Bishop: Your interesting letter of the 4th inst. was duly welcomed. I doubt if there be any one else this side of the equator who can boast of having a correspondent who had just finished a Consecration Sermon, and who had caught ninety trout on a single fishing excursion! I knew that you were a "fisher of men," but had not dreamed of your skill in angling. I doubt whether any of the old Apostles could have beaten you in the piscatorial line. . . .
But I turn from all jocular thoughts. Meantime, our good friend, Governor Fish, has gone. His funeral takes place today. I have known him intimately for fifty years. His wife was a noble woman, and a very dear friend of my wife. But you know all about them, and have enjoyed their hospitality in town and country as I have. His death makes a fourth vacancy in our Peabody Board. ... So far we have had excellent and eminent associates, and everything has gone along harmoniously. Dr. Sears carried us on successfully for the first half of our term, and Dr. Curry will see us safely to its close. If I may claim to have helped in the good work, I cannot be too grateful to a kind Providence. Your affectionate friend,
ROBERT C. WINTHROP.
I first met Mr. George Peabody, years before I became associated with the Peabody Trustees, in Ireland, where he was salmon fishing with my friend, Sir Curtis Lampson; and as a souvenir of our pleasant days of angling he gave me a beautiful Irish green-heart fishing rod.
The peculiar circumstances will be remembered under which Rutherford B. Hayes became the President of the United States. The South was bitterly opposed to him because the vote of Louisiana and Florida had made him President. It has been the custom of the Board of Peabody Trustees when a Northern member dies for Northern members to nominate a successor, and for Southern members to make the nomination when a Southern member dies. After the death of one of the Southern members, Mr. Alexander Stuart who was Secretary of the Interior in President Fillmore's administration arose and said:--
"I desire, on behalf of all the Southern trustees, to nominate as trustee, Rutherford B. Hayes,--for his pure, upright character, and his even-handed justice to the South."
It was a noble testimony to one of the purest statesmen who had graced the presidential chair.
After Mr. Hayes retired from office he devoted himself to philanthropic work. He was active in labors for prison reform and as a trustee of the Slater Fund for the elevation of the black race. In one of his letters to me about the prison contract system in many of the Southern states he says:--
TERMONT, O., 19th June, 1890.
My dear Friend: I return Dr.------'s letter . . . The shocking system which is at fault in the matter referred to, is under fire in all the states where it is found, and must go down. Active meddling by Northern people will do harm. Men and women in the South are enlisted against the abuse. We can do something, but not a great deal. Hope and faith. With warm regards,
RUTHERFORD B. HAYES.
Prison work is one of the channels through which Christian hearts of all communions are being stirred to lead wanderers out of darkness. The Church owes a debt of gratitude to Bishop Gillespie for his labors in the field of prison reform; and among many of my brethren who have been foremost in this blessed work the memory looms up brightly of the late Bishop Knickerbacker, who throughout his ministry in Minnesota made the city prison a weekly charge.
But I know of no place where a labor of love has been crowned with greater success than it has been at the Massachusetts State Reformatory for Women, an institution so perfectly conceived and organized that it has become a model for all institutions of this kind; it is the work of the late superintendent, Mrs. Ellen Cheney Johnson, who had been a member of the Board of Commissioners of Prisons since 1879 until her appointment as superintendent of the Women's Reformatory in 1884.
The state has suffered one of its greatest losses in the death of Mrs. Johnson. Her Christlike work cannot be measured by words, nor can an adequate idea be given of her marvellous executive ability as exhibited in her government of the prison and its industries. Her system of reform, modelled after that of her Master, was thoroughly practical, not experimental. Her management of the three or four hundred women, from the young girl to the aged woman, committed to her care was the result of the highest thought consecrated to the one idea of saving the lost and equipping them for a new beginning in life when forced to confront the old temptations.
"The study of the prisoner as an individual," said Mrs. Johnson, "will suggest her needs by revealing the defects of character and training which have made her what she has become. Discipline should aid a change of character rather than a change of behavior, otherwise we rule by repression, by fear; and if a woman does right because she is afraid to do wrong, how long will she continue to do right after she has passed beyond reach of the authority she fears and is again subjected to the temptations under which she first fell?"
After every visit of the many which I have made to this reformatory I have been more and more impressed by the realization of the Saviour's hopefulness for the outcast and the wretched. My heart has never been more deeply moved than when preaching to those poor souls who had missed the road, but who were finding it through the Christ love of this noble woman.
Mrs. Johnson's call to a higher service was a glorious ending to her great life, coming as it did shortly after she had delivered her impressive address before the International Prison Congress in London where she was the guest of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Talbot, Bishop of Rochester. In a letter from the bishop, he says:--
"I knew how much you would feel Mrs. Johnson's death from the way in which you talked to us about her. I felt it a great privilege to have seen her face to face, and I heard her last talk on earth (except what few words she may have said to Mrs. Barrows when she went upstairs). The burthen of it was the inspiration of her life: faith in the accessible point in every one. 'Didn't / believe that it was there in each?' I hesitated and said that it was perhaps more truly a matter of hope than of faith. 'Then you couldn't do the work,' she said."
It is a cause for thankfulness that in many of our states the necessity is recognized for providing situations for discharged prisoners where they may be free from the temptations of the criminal classes and may begin a new life. In the past we have too often felt like saying to these unfortunate ones, "It is too late, the way heavenward for you is hedged up!"
Years ago I was holding service on the frontier when suddenly I saw in the congregation a man who as a boy lived in my native town and was sentenced from there to the state prison. It was evident from the look of dread in his blanched face that he feared my recognition. After service, without waiting to disrobe, I walked down the aisle and took him by the hand. I did not call him by name, thinking that he might have changed it, but turning to the curious by-standers said, "We knew each other when we were boys, and it is a pleasant thought that we meet here to-day to tell and hear the story of Christ's love." The dread vanished from the man's eyes, and when we were left alone he said with choking voice, "I can never forget your kindness to-day. I am trying to lead a Christian life, and no one here knows that I have been in prison."
One of the hopeful signs of the times has been that of the Lambeth Conferences, which have drawn into closer union all branches of the Anglican Church and which under God may hasten the reunion of Christendom.
The first Lambeth Conference was convened under the presidency of the Most Rev. Dr. Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury, in September, 1867. The unsettled condition of our Indian affairs and the pressing claims of our schools prevented my attendance, but in reply to the archbishop's letter inviting me to be present and asking for any suggestions which might occur to me I wrote:--
The eyes of the world are upon us. This meeting will be watched with hope and followed by the prayers of many, and by the fears and hatred of others. If, which may God grant, the Ever Blessed Spirit should guide your deliberations, none can tell what under God you may do to strengthen the weak, to confirm the doubting, to rebuke heresy, and to bring unity to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ. There are questions which loom on the horizon of the future which we cannot ignore. A Church which stands dumb when the world asks for guidance will forfeit the love of others and lose her hold on her own children. It will be an unspeakable comfort if the lonely and isolated missionaries of the cross shall hear your voice ring out in unmistakable language in defence of primitive truth and apostolic order. The first grave question is to secure a closer union between all branches of the Anglican Church. We should no longer exhibit the painful spectacle of the same Church holding rival jurisdictions in heathen countries. In matters of discipline we are sadly deficient. These questions touch the sanctity of wedlock, the purity of homes, and the morality of national life. In the great misery which has come to us by the fall of the Bishop of Natal we owe it to ourselves, to the flocks of which we are overseers, that as a Church we shall place our loyalty to the revealed word of God beyond the possibility of a question.
Of questions of ritual, I said, We owe it to an office received from the Lord Jesus Christ that all changes in the Church's worship shall be by authority, and that we do not symbolize doctrines which the Church does not teach.
Of the questions moving people's hearts, I said, The great deep of Society seems broken up by the efforts of the masses who seek enfranchisement and freedom. The world to-day cares little for questions of authority. Our succession may be unmistakable, our canons may be perfect, our creed may be primitive, but we cannot vindicate our apostolicity except by apostolic work. If the signs of the Church are "the lame walk, the deaf hear, and to the poor the gospel is preached," the world will believe. Passing events show that the Spirit of God is moving the hearts of Christian folk and kindling desires for reunion. We may hasten it by brotherly love. The terms of that union, the time when, or how it shall be effected, we can leave with God.
I received from the Rt. Rev. Dr. Whittingham the following letter, in which, placing a far higher estimation of me than I deserved, he urged my attendance.
BALTIMORE, August 13th, 1867.
My dear Friend and Brother: I wish I had been able not merely to shake your decision, but to make it such as the case seems to me to require.
My thoughts have turned again and again to the subject during the interval since I wrote, and I am now, as the result, still more firm in the opinion that there are not three in the number of American bishops whom it is more important to have at the approaching meeting than you. I say this, not in the least as your friend, but as the judgment of a calm onlooker, taking into account all the ends of the meeting, and the expectations that may be reasonably entertained concerning the shares of the several persons concerned in it, in contributing to the advancement of those ends. I think this deliberate expression of my opinion ought to relieve you from all uncertainty about seeming forward and presumptuous. I take it on me, as a good deal your senior in our common cares and burdens, to express the opinion for that very end, and in full conviction that I am thereby doing my duty to the Church.
I wish that the difficulty arising from your obligations in regard to your schools were as easily to be disposed of. It is important, and of a kind which does not allow of settlement by the judgment of one ignorant of all the circumstances. You alone can settle it; only, do not let diocesan interests loom too largely in the foreground, in comparison with those of a higher and wider range.
The representation of parties in the Council does not trouble me a moment, nor is it in the least on that account that I am anxious for your attendance. Our Master is able to take care of His own interests and will do so. Let who will attend, certain themes have to come up: the duty on our part is to take care that the men whom His Providence our Lord has called to deal with those themes in their ordinary ministry, be at their posts on this extraordinary occasion to give the Church the benefit of their acquired experience.
My not going is only an additional reason why you should not be absent too. Whether I should be able to serve if there, is a matter of so much doubt as to make my going of little consequence.
Ever lovingly yours,
W. R. WHITTINGHAM.