"To be suspected, thwarted, and withstood,
Even when he labours for his country's good;
To win no praise when well-wrought plans prevail,
But to be rudely censured when they fail."--Cowper, Table-Talk.
"Most of our ecclesiastical biographies are written as flowers are pressed. Amiability excludes everything that may not be agreeable to others, until the result is perfectly dry and quite flat. ... To omit these would be like writing the life of a great general and omitting all his battles."--Life of Bishop Hopkins of Vermont.
Early in the following year (1874) the Diocesan Synod reassembled at Nassau, and the Bishop was very anxious to amend the unsatisfactory character of the assembly, considered as a representation of the diocese. Its existing constitution was necessarily a compromise of principles, and had been so from the first. In opposition to the Bishop a strong and influential party, which he was very unwilling to alienate, insisted upon the exclusion of the unbeneficed clergy from the Synod, and was for enforcing in the Bahamas the decisions of the English Privy Council; while the Bishop on his part claimed as essential the consent of all three orders, and [74/75] consequently his own prerogative of Veto, in the passing of any Synodical canon. In this way each side had hitherto tacitly accepted the principles of the other, and, in the absence of a general agreement on these points, the existing Synod seemed as far distant as ever from acquiring its properly legalised status. But it was only too evident that the narrow and restrictive policy of the Opposition would be most prejudicial to the free and healthy action of the young Church of Nassau; and at the risk of appearing to be the champion of a party, the Bishop, at the outset of the session of this year, proposed a reopening of the whole question, and moved for parliamentary powers for convoking a fresh Synod.
The situation of affairs and future prospects are perhaps best seen in a letter written at the time.
"January 1874.--We are now in the middle of the session of our Synod, before which I have brought two very important matters.
"1. Re-creation of the Synod, in order to procure for it the recognition of the Legislature. This is needed, as the present Synod is incapable of holding property.
"2. The formation of a 'provincial' Synod.
"As far as I can see, the sentiments of the Synod, at any rate of the laity, are against both these proposals. They object to joining the West India Province, supposing that by so doing they would sever their connection with England: for the same reason, they do not wish for [75/76] the reconstruction of the Synod, as that would oblige the surrender of one of the fundamental provisions of our present Synod, which binds us hard and fast to the Privy Council, and makes 'Provincial' union in our case impossible. I believe they will propose application to the Legislature to legalise our present body, but to this I cannot assent; as, although I at first yielded to the introduction of that provision, because I saw that otherwise the laity would not join the Synod, I cannot agree to give the provision a permanent character by legalising it, and to make it impossible for the diocese ever to retrace what I believe was originally a false step. I do not suppose they will like the exercise of my Veto, but I cannot help it. I fancy the end of it will be that we shall agree to leave things as they are, and that Nassau's place in the West India Province will have to remain vacant until wider sentiments prevail. I certainly do not mean to allow myself to be involved in a contest with the laity on the subject, as that would only make it more difficult for them to come round at a future time."
As he thus himself apprehended, the Bishop's proposals were eventually defeated. For this, indeed, he was already more than half prepared, but not for the manifestation of ill-will and bitter feeling with which the whole question was being invested.
The Synod adjourned, neither side having carried its point,--the Bishop having failed to recommend his [76/77] measures to the majority of Synodsmen, and the Opposition, in the rejection of their motion for legalising the Privy Council judgments in the Church Courts of Nassau. Hardly, however, had the meeting dispersed, and the out-island members returned to their homes, before an attempt was made by the leaders of the Opposition to convoke the Synod afresh, with a view of reopening the whole question, and, if possible, retrieving their late defeat. This the Bishop, for sufficient reasons, steadily declined to do; but the refusal, based as it was on strict justice, roused his opponents into a very defiant attitude; and thwarted in their endeavour to have the question reconsidered for their own benefit, they resolved to turn the tables upon the Bishop by a decision in Council at Nassau, stopping all supplies, and thus, amongst other things, throwing the whole payment of the salaried catechists throughout the diocese upon the Bishop. In accordance with the same vote, it was also announced that the Council declined to receive any further donations for diocesan purposes. All action, therefore, in the way either of receipt or supply, was by this means completely suspended. The Bishop was, of course, considerably startled and much pained by this sudden move of the Council, but he was not to be coerced by such means, into yielding to a measure which he still considered to be subversive of the well-being of his Church; and with this additional burden thus suddenly thrown upon him, as the Council had closed their hands in the matter, he instructed one of his clergy to act as [77/78] receiver of whatever sums might be paid in at Nassau for the maintenance of the catechists. Not long after, a sum of £5 was, in fact, sent from one of the out-islands for this very object; and simple as this circumstance may seem, it becomes necessary to state the fact, in consequence of the handle which it was made for a most gross charge against the Bishop himself. An error, trivial enough in itself, contributed moreover to this result. The clergyman appointed to receive the money was also 'Secretary to the Council,' and as such had acknowledged the contribution. What was the consequence? The Council claimed the money! It need hardly be pointed out that the Council was at the time precluded, by its own act, from receiving any diocesan monies, to say nothing of the intention with which the sum in question had been given. However, at the next meeting of Council, the Bishop of the diocese was actually accused to his face of having "taken" the Council's money! He was, as may be supposed, perfectly astounded at the charge, and on its being repeated, 'Our money has found its way into your Lordship's pocket!' 'Your Lordship has taken our money!' the Bishop asked if the words were seriously meant, and when there could no longer be any doubt on the matter, he said, "To 'take' implies deliberation, which I understand you to impute to me. I cannot, however, rest under such an imputation for a moment, and therefore must order the repayment of the money, [This was a mistake, as it was almost an admission that he had received the subscription in the sense in which the Council spoke of it.] [78/79] and resign the chair." And having signed the order, he rose at once and left the room.
Yet, when it was all over, it is very characteristic of him, that it was not resentment at the baseless nature of the charge preferred against him, so much as concern at what he thought might have been the too great warmth and harshness of his own reply, that chiefly troubled him. On the Sunday following this attack, it is curious that the anthem at the cathedral, quite unintentionally selected, was the verse--"He shall make thy righteousness as clear as the light, and thy just dealing as the noonday." "And how truly and wonderfully," adds his wife, "has it come to pass!"
Thwarted in his endeavours to reform the constitution of his Synod in the session of this year, the Bishop, nevertheless, kept looking ahead, and busied himself meanwhile in preparing a bill applying to the Legislature for powers necessary to the calling a fresh Synod into existence, which, after being submitted to the Synod of the year following, was, as will be seen, eventually passed.
In this, as in other ways, the troublesome effects of disendowment began to increase round the Bishop's head. Indeed, the worries and anxieties of his position became almost interminable. Clergy, catechists, churches, parsonages, schools, schoolmasters, &c, ad infinitum, had in some way or other to be procured, and when procured, then had to be maintained.
The supply of missionaries, alone, as one after another was removed by death or resignation, in so distant, [79/80] unknown, and uninviting a field, became of itself a most anxious task. And the candidates for the mission-field were not always of the kind required.
The Bishop writes:--
"------does not seem to have an idea in his head! We do not need a high education in men for the colonies, but good natural abilities are more necessary here than in England. There, things go on so mechanically, that a goose or an injudicious man could come into a parish without disturbing it, especially if associated with others. Here, on the contrary, such a man would reduce his parish to stagnation, or turn it topsy-turvy. I confess that I am disappointed in some of the men of the new school. In many ways they have not the stuff in them that is often found in the old heathens of my day."
The impulsive spirit of a younger generation, with its new ideas and favourite terminology, was somewhat alien to the Bishop's habits of thought, nor could he himself feel the nervous importance attached to externals which was characterising the rising school in the Church. He had inherited an older fashion perhaps; but he was not prevented, on that account, from recognising more recent developments as a sign of the Church's 'manifold' life.
Theologically, the Bishop stood in the rank of what were the advanced Churchmen in England before the Ritualistic movement began. The great verities of the Catholic Church--in her Creeds, Sacraments, and Apostolic Ministry--were by him firmly upheld. He recognised that private confession had a place in the Church's system; and [80/81] on being asked by some one in doubt as to its use, he wrote: "I believe that the judicious use of Confession would be a blessing to most men, especially at certain periods of life, but I can imagine that some persons' consciences might suffer from its too frequent practice. . . . Select a clergyman of piety and experience; endeavour to forget the minister in the Saviour Who forgives by his voice, and see that a loving faith in His merits accompanies the penitence of your previous self-examination."
But an Address from the members of one of the churches in Nassau, in which the practice of Confession had been inculcated, appealing to the Bishop, as chief pastor, to pronounce upon the legality of such teaching in the English Church, drew from him a more elaborate statement.
And in answer to the address, after adverting to the continuity of the Church of England, its comprehensive character, and the consequent latitude of religious opinion permitted within its limits, he goes on to say: "Let us never forget that the same Church gave birth both to Overall and to Hooper, to Andrewes and to Whitgift, to Ken and to Burnet, and that in later days, Simeon and John Keble have knelt at the same altar. A narrower creed would doubtless, by confining the Church to a single party, get rid of much of our present dissensions, but at what a sacrifice would such a uniformity be obtained! And so long as the present comprehensive character of our Church is retained, differences [81/82] of opinion in religious matters must be expected, and, unhappily, differences of opinion cannot always prevail without divisions sometimes resulting from them. With regard to the doctrines of Confession and Absolution, as taught in the Churches of St. Mary and St. Agnes, I can give no opinion, as I am ignorant what that teaching has been; but I cannot refuse, at your request, to give my own views on the subject. It appears to me to be evident--
"I. That the universal Church, by its continuous practice, has ever regarded our Lord's words in St. John xx. 23, 'Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them,' as being of no temporary significance, but as applying as well to His ministers in all ages as to the Apostles to whom they were directly spoken.
"II. It seems equally plain that the Church of England, by adopting these words in her Ordinal, and requiring bishops to address them to each person on his Ordination to the Priesthood, does claim for her priests the same power of Absolution as was conferred upon the Apostles.
"III. And further, from the Exhortation to the Holy Communion in the Prayer Book, in which persons with troubled consciences are exhorted to "open their grief" to God's ministers, that they may receive "the benefit of Absolution," and from the rubrics in the Visitation of the Sick, which require the priest to move the sick person to confession, and to absolve him in these words: 'Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to His [82/83] Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences; and by His authority committed unto me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the Name of, &c, &c.,' it appears that the Church of England intends her priests to use the power given them at their ordination.
"I understand, therefore, the teaching of the Church of England, as regards Sacerdotal Absolution, to be--
(1.) That our Lord Jesus Christ, of His great mercy, is pleased to forgive, through His ministers, the sins of those who truly repent and believe in Him.
(2.) That, inasmuch as the Church of England nowhere teaches Absolution to be, like Baptism and the Supper of our Lord, generally necessary to salvation, she does not limit Christ's forgiveness to that Ordinance; and therefore that Confession--though an inestimable privilege--cannot be made a matter of obligation. If this has been the teaching at St. Mary's and St. Agnes's on the subject, I cannot see in it anything contrary to that of the Church of England. I can quite understand persons not believing in the doctrine of Ministerial Absolution, regretting to find it in the Prayer-Book, and putting their own interpretation on a Church doctrine which is distasteful to them; and I can understand clergymen not recognising any obligation on themselves to carry out the apparent teaching of the Prayer-Book on this point; but I cannot think that the intelligent persons who now, as you say, declare the doctrines in question to be contrary to the teaching of the Prayer-Book, will, when [83/84] they have studied the formularies of the English Church, and the writings of her greatest divines, continue to maintain so ungenerous a charge. We must remember that the opposition which the doctrine of Absolution has met with is, after all, very natural. Although it has ever been embodied in our Prayer-Book, it has been allowed for many years to lie dormant there; and though, from time to time, it has been inculcated by holy and learned men, yet, as regards general practice, it had, until the last twenty or thirty years, fallen very much into disuse. In this diocese its revival is only a thing of to-day, and therefore the doctrine, old and Catholic though it be, comes to us with all the air of novelty. Can we be surprised, then, if, like all novelties, it is met with suspicion; and is not the temper which looks with some distrust on what is new, to a certain degree a wholesome one?
"But there is another ground of opposition to this doctrine, which more especially deserves our sympathy. It is regarded by many as derogating from the office of our Blessed Lord, and as placing the priest in the room of his Master. Surely one ought to appreciate any jealousy for the honour of the blessed Jesus! Yet I need hardly say how unfounded such an idea is. No one rightly holds the doctrine of Absolution who does not see Christ, the sole Absolver, acting through His minister. To Him the confession is made, and from Him are the words of pardon awaited. To one who fully grasps the truth that Christ works in His minister, it is no greater difficulty [84/85] to believe that He forgives actual sin through His priest in Absolution, than to believe that He forgives original sin through the same person in Baptism.
"For these reasons, I would urge upon you to receive all conscientious opposition with forbearance and even with sympathy. Even where the opposition is of this world, and springs from partisanship, still it should be met with patience. Let us remember that efforts made for the salvation of souls will always be opposed. Paul was received as one who 'turned the world upside down,' and the woman in the parable, sweeping her house in search of her lost piece of money, did not do so without raising a cloud of dust about her. I cannot therefore wholly regret the prominence lately given to the doctrine of Absolution, since I believe it to be part of the Gospel of the grace of God, the means of winning many sinners to Christ, and of affording to many a soul relief from a burdened conscience. To very many, Confession would, I believe, be at certain periods of their lives of inestimable use, and at a time of spiritual awakening it often becomes the very turning-point in a man's history. I have used it myself for fourteen years, and, I trust, not without advantage. In conclusion, I would urge upon those who use Confession to remember that the grace of all Christ's ordinances depends on the disposition of heart with which we approach Him. No absolution would avail where there are not true contrition, true confession to Christ Himself, a true intention to lead a new life, and to make all satisfaction in [85/86] our power for wrongs done to God and man; a true charity with our neighbour, and a loving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His compassion as the ground of all pardon. And, both to those who use confession and to those who do not, I would recommend for consideration the weighty words which, in the first Prayer Book of King Edward VI., form part of the Exhortation to the Holy Communion: 'Requiring such as shall be satisfied with a general confession not to be offended with them that do use to their further satisfying the auricular and secret confession to the priest; nor those also who think needful or convenient for the quietness of their own consciences, particularly to open their sins to the priest, to be offended with them that are satisfied with their humble confession to God, and the general confession to the Church; but in all things to follow and keep the rule of charity, and every man to be satisfied with his own conscience, not judging other men's minds and consciences, whereas he hath no warrant of God's Word for the same.'
"Assuring you of my continued prayers that God would grant to His Church in this diocese that peace which is in accordance with His will, and asking your prayers for the same object, I remain, gentlemen, your affectionate brother in Christ Jesus,
O si sic omnes! Were this more generally the tone and teaching of Authoritative utterances, it would not [86/87] have to be lamented, as there is some reason to do, that the cure of souls was so often successless and unreal, because one of the most potent weapons of God's armoury in the warfare against sin was being allowed to rust in disuse within its scabbard. Yet here the dead speaketh! And the testimony, as a faithful expression of the mind of the English Church and of her greatest divines, is one that the present generation can least of all afford to dispense with. [See Canon Cooke's "The Power of the Priesthood in Absolution." J. H. Parker & Co., Oxford and London.]
How jealously the Bishop guards throughout the position of the Saviour, as the Fount of all Mercy, will have been seen already. Nor, being what he was, could he have spoken otherwise. With St. Paul, he ever desired "to know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified;" and few preached the doctrine more constantly or more consistently than he, because to him the theme represented the very spring of his whole life, and the ground of all his hope. Two of Ms own letters, lately received, will illustrate perhaps as well as anything else, the truly evangelical tone of the Bishop's mind on this and kindred doctrines of the Faith. The first letter is addressed to one of his clergy, in criticism of a sermon which had been delivered in his presence.
"Nassau, September 14, 1874.
"I am afraid you will think that I am always finding fault with your sermons, when I say that the sermon [87/88] you preached last night, though all about the Cross, had very little of the Cross in it.
"The story of its finding was certainly interesting and appropriately introduced, but it would have been better if it could have been compressed into five or ten minutes, and the rest of the time given to showing the power of the sacrifice of the Cross on a man's conscience and life. What do you think St. Paul would have made of his own text? [It was probably Gal. vi. 14.] Would he not have been carried away with the theme? and would he, do you think, have considered he had done his hearers justice if he had given them the story of the material cross, and had left untouched the story of Christ crucified?
"I do not dislike--nay, I like, though too old-fashioned to adopt--the practice of crossing one's self which you advocated; and I can, moreover, have patience with the minute details of ceremonial and ecclesiastical prettinesses which some indulge in, if these are connected with robust work and a full preaching of the Gospel. But you must excuse me if I do feel somewhat impatient, at seeing such a glorious text as that which you took, used merely as a peg on which to hang an apology for the Sign of the Cross, without one word being said of the Gospel of the grace of God which comes to us from the Cross. I can't imagine a man who knows the power of the Gospel in his heart and life keeping back that Gospel with such a text to preach from. There were present last night two sailor fellows, who had evidently dropped [88/89] in; who knows but what one of them might have gone home glorying in the Cross, if you had told him that on it his God had died for him? And I am quite sure that, however you might have stumbled through your sermon, every heart amongst us would have responded, had you, in a simple, loving way, told us the old, old story of the Cross. You must not be surprised if souls that need spiritual food will seek it in Dissenting chapels, where they can get part, if not the whole of the Gospel, when they get from you only dry exhortations to reverence and to use the sign of the Cross.
"If I seem to you to write too feelingly, please set it down to a jealousy at any apparent keeping back of the tale of the love of the Cross, in which all my own hopes are bound up. Perhaps I am wrong in arguing from the only two sermons which I have heard. I shall rejoice to hear that you have preached others more thoroughly evangelical.--Affectionately yours,
After receiving from his correspondent a packet of various sermons, the Bishop resumes.
"Nassau, September 21, 1S74.
"I am much pleased with the spirit in which you have taken my remarks upon your sermon, and I am very sorry if, by expressing my opinion too strongly, I have hurt your feelings.
"I have looked over the sermons you sent me. I [89/90] think they want some arrangement, and that the different parts of your subject should be kept more distinct. Be careful, in borrowing matter from other sources, that it properly dovetails in with your own. Never take a passage, good as it may be in itself, unless it fit into the part of your sermon in which it is introduced. Perhaps the "joins" would be less apparent, if you were to take the thoughts of others, and express them in your own language.
"In your sermon on 'Reverence,' you allude to the destruction of the metropolitan Churches. Don't fetch your illustrations from circumstances of which your hearers are ignorant. Seek them rather from everyday life. I see from the sermon on St. Paul's Cross that you are partial to Newman. You might, I think, have brought out more than you do, the lesson he draws of our own sorrows enabling us to feel for others. Beautiful, however, as Newman's sermons are, I doubt if they be a good model for a popular style, which you must aim at, if you want our people to listen. His sermons are better suited for a cultivated congregation, and are more adapted for reading than preaching. Few persons can preach them. The only person who, I suppose, can deliver them as they should be preached is the author, whose style was striking from its peculiarity. I like your sermon on 'The Good Samaritan' the best, as dealing more with personal appeal. I think, however, that you should set forth God's mercy in Christ more absolutely than you did in that sermon, and that neither Holy [90/91] Scripture nor the testimony of antiquity, warrant the inseparable connection of it with Absolution, which is practically implied in what you said. I say practically, because I am sure in theory you would not admit the necessary connection. Christ's priests must not in any way narrow His mercy nor limit His offers of pardon, which must be made as freely as they are made by Himself in His Holy Word. 'Come unto Me,' He says, 'all,' without condition. Whosoever comes is welcomed, come he in whatever way; whether immediately to Christ Himself, or mediately through His minister. And His priest must be equally general in His invitations. But if he only invites men to come to Christ in Confession, he practically omits to invite those who do not use that means of grace. There are many whom it will take time to convince of the value of Confession; more still who will never learn it. Are we, then, to withhold from such the consolations of the Cross?
"It is better, I think, to treat Confession, not as a condition of forgiveness, but as a special exhibition of God's love; e.g., the preacher may introduce the subject thus: 'But does the message of forgiveness seem to any too good to be true? Dost thou, my brother, say it is for others and not for me? There are circumstances in my case which make me unworthy of His grace. Well then, I have a special message for thee! Come to me, His minister, with thy tale of sorrow, and I have His words of pardon personally for thee,' etc. I think we shall better recommend Confession to our people by [91/92] representing it rather as part of God's dispensation of grace than as a condition of forgiveness--a sort of bitter pill which must be swallowed before the patient can be restored to health. Force it on a conscience, and you will never get that loving contrition which can alone make it valuable; but offer it as supplying a want of the soul, and it will be welcomed by those by whom the want is felt.--Affectionately yours,
The Public Worship Regulation Act, when it passed in England, naturally attracted attention in Nassau, where it was thought that its clauses might be brought to bear upon some of the churches and congregations in the diocese. The Bishop's view of the case is as follows: "I do not anticipate much mischief from the Bill. There has been such an expression of feeling in favour of toleration, that I don't think Bishops can dare to put the Act in force, except in very extreme cases; and it is evident that a revision of the rubrics by Convocation must come, so that good will come out of evil. My only fear is, that the extreme men will not be satisfied with concessions to the reasonable demands of the Church party, and thus being isolated from the main body, will without mercy be cut off in detail, or else will secede. On this account I am so glad to see Pusey and Liddon speaking as they do."
By the end of the year (1874) the Bishop was looking forward to returning to England in the following spring, [92/93] and he writes to the Rev. John Rigaud acknowledging a paper of his in the Net, upon the needs of the diocese:--
"MY DEAR JOHN,--What a thoroughly good fellow you are! It was most kind of you to cry me up as you have done in the Net, and when your partial commendation of me has borne such fruit for the diocese, I must not complain. But really I do not deserve all you say. It was not such a sacrifice to me to come out here--or rather, I did not know then what the sacrifice was, and that new friends cannot take the place of old ones. I will write to Miss Mackenzie when I have anything to say, but I cannot dress up a pretty story. Wakefield would be the man. He always dips his pen in rose-coloured ink. Please excuse a longer letter, for I am getting ready for visitation. The hurricane season is over, and I am only waiting for a shift of wind, which has been nailed in one quarter for the last three weeks.--Yours affectionately,
The postscript refers to the news just received of the death of his old Oxford vicar, the Rev. Alfred Hackman.
"P.S.--Thanks for the papers. I had not heard of dear Hackman's illness. Indeed, last mail brought me a letter from him. Losing him is like losing a big piece of one's own life. As year after year carries off some old friend, I feel less and less anchored to England. [93/94] You, Ogle, Warburton, Benson, and Butler are pretty near all that are left to me. Were it not for need of rest and bracing up, I could get on here without a change. Dear old Hackman! He occupied an important place in the Church's battle at one time. But I think the most pleasant thing to remember of him is, that hardly any one ever did or said so many kind things; and there was such a delicacy about his kindnesses. The letter I refer to enclosed £10 for a watch for my youngest boy--his namesake. I hope, please God, to be home for a holiday next year, for I am pretty well worn-out. Tell Ogle to keep me a place at his table, for I don't know where else I could stretch my legs so comfortably."
The visitation cruise, upon which the Bishop was just then embarking, the last in the year (1874), was attended with circumstances of considerable danger. The schooner encountered a heavy "sou'-wester" off the reefs and breakers of the Grand Bahama coast--the worst spot for such a wind--and they were almost cast away. Indeed, the wonder is, that in all these years of missionary cruis-ings the Bishop should have escaped with life. "God," he says, at one time, after returning from one of his visitations with no further damage than "the carrying away of the schooner's stern-post by a sunken rock,"--"God has been very merciful to me in my wanderings amongst these islands, intricate as our navigation is from the many shoals and reefs with which our waters abound." However, on this occasion, fearless as he was, and always [94/95] making light of his own danger, the Bishop was compelled to own afterwards that "it was the hardest time I have ever had of it. Philpot was with me, and, as I see L------ has told one of your sisters, said we were nearly cast away. No such thing! so don't put it in your next letter; but we had a bad time of it, and the little schooner behaved very well." Mr. Philpot, however, gives a rather more startling account of their adventures, on a voyage which he for one thought would have been his last. The visitation was of part of Mr. Philpot's enormous district--Abaco, Grand Bahama, and Binimi (always a long and difficult journey); and, in threatening November weather, and with high seas running, the party proceeded from station to station, holding Confirmations and Church Consecrations, until Barnard's Point in Grand Bahama was reached. Here Mr. Philpot takes up the story. "The people at Barnard's Point are building their Church, and were, besides, awaiting the Bishop's arrival for a Confirmation; but as we neared the settlement, towards sunset a peculiar stillness came all at once over sea and sky. Any one not acquainted with the phenomena of these latitudes, would have hailed the change with pleasure, and been delighted with the becalmed sea, and glowing colours of the sunset. Not so the Bishop; he remarked to me that the lull was but the precursor of rough, stormy weather, and that, instead of visiting the settlement, we should have to put to sea, and ride out the gale, as the yacht would be dashed to pieces if we remained on the rocky Bahama coast. His Lordship [95/96] sent down into the cabin for his barometer, and ordered the canvas to be set for a run across the channel to Stirrup's Cay Harbour, in the Berry Islands. As soon as we left soundings, the wind, which had been rising for some time, blew pretty stiffly: the yacht rolled a good deal, and the captain expressed some fears as to his sails holding; still we did not apprehend any danger, and about nine o'clock I turned in, leaving the Bishop on deck. I had not slept long when I was awakened by a great noise and the heavy pitching of the vessel. I went up the companion, and found that heavy seas were being shipped on our quarter, as we were sailing across a chopping sea, with a strong current rushing through the channel.
"The Bishop was still on deck, clad in his dreadnought coat and heavy sea-boots, and the captain was taking the 'bonnet' out of the foresail. Sleep was now out of the question. The sea, although scientific men tell us that it cannot rise above a certain number of yards, appeared to run 'mountains high,' and the white foam crests gleamed like banks of snow in the clear moonlight, for fortunately the moon was at the full. The wind all this time was increasing in violence, and orders were soon given to take the 'bonnet' out of the jib, and with sail thus shortened the captain thought we might live out the gale till morning. Our prospects revived, but only for a short period, for about midnight a tremendous sea--heavier than any we had yet encountered--struck the vessel on her quarter, overturning the spirit-compass, [96/97] and dashing the man away from the wheel, poured down the ladder into the cabin. Two men were now put to the wheel, and orders given to double reef the mainsail. Just now occurred the most startling incident of our night's voyage. As the Bishop would not leave the deck, I went below again, and crawled into one of the wet berths; but I had not been down many minutes before I was startled by the cry of 'Man overboard!' and heard the Bishop exclaim, 'Is Joe gone?' The man (the ship's cook), in helping to reef the mainsail, had fallen from the boom, but happily caught the foot-rope as he fell, with his forefinger; and the Bishop's servant, Oscar, catching him by his shirt, dragged him on board. About two o'clock in the morning, the Bishop was assisted down into the cabin more dead than alive. Sea after sea had broken over him, the panels of the bulwarks where he stood had been carried away: and now, having done all he could to encourage the crew, he lay down thoroughly exhausted, and from sheer weariness was soon asleep. This state of things continued till dawn, when the captain discovered that we were sailing down the lee side of the Berry Islands; and in the course of two hours, by constant tacking, we got into harbour, when the Bishop returned thanks for our safe deliverance. This," (adds Mr. Philpot), "is but a specimen of what the Bishop and clergy of the Bahamas have often to. undergo in sailing among these islands, although the Bishop admitted that this was the worst, night he ever spent at sea. I wish I had as firm a faith [97/98] as his. I must confess that at one time I thought it was our last voyage, and yet I could not think that God would leave the Bishop's dear children, and indeed the families of the crew, orphans. I believe I was the only unmarried man on board."