« ПредишнаНапред »
That was Jonathan Boucher's farewell sermon at Annapolis. With more or less outrage and insult the stalwart Loyalists among the English clergy were driven from their churches. 1 One or two admirable men, disarming rancour by meekness, remained at their posts, and did as much of their duty, as the Sons of Liberty permitted, with fidelity and rare discretion. The Reverend John Wiswald, of Falmouth in Maine, continued to serve his parish until one of King George's post-captains burned down the little town, and the English church with it. The Reverend John Sayre, of Fairfield in Connecticut, was sadly harried and oppressed by the Whigs of the vicinity; but his patient manliness at length shamed them into forbearance. During several years he continued to officiate on Sundays, reading the Bible and the Homilies, but none of the Prayer-book; because, since he was forbidden to use the Liturgy in its entirety, he could not find it with his conscience to mutilate it. Half-way through the war Governor Tryon, on one of his customary raids, set fire to the town of Fairfield. The flames spread to the English church and the parsonage; the Communion plate was destroyed, as well as a valuable little library given by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel; and Mr. Sayre was left with "a wife, and eight children, destitute of food, house, and raiment.” 2
Such experiences, in the end, proved too strong even for the most zealous and long-suffering of mankind.
1 There were parishes where the assertion of the popular will was made decently and in order, but to the full as efficaciously as in those where the extreme of violence was employed. In August, 1774, the Curate of St. Michael's, in Charleston, preached a political discourse. Every silly clown," he said, “and every illiterate mechanic, will take upon him to censure the conduct of his Prince or Governor, and will contribute, as much as in him lies, to create and foment misunderstandings which come at last to schisms in the Church, and sedition and rebellion in the State." The Vestry of St. Michael's took official cognisance of the sermon, and dismissed the Curate.
2 Letter addressed by the Reverend John Sayre, towards the close of 1779, to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Episcopalian churches were silent and deserted; 1 and the wisest and best of the Loyalist Episcopalian clergy took their departure from a country where they were no longer useful. English Churchmen, both at home and in the colonies, readily and spontaneously acknowledged their obligation to those honourable and resolute men. Boucher, soon after his arrival in England, became Vicar of Epsom, and his preaching was much admired; Doctor Inglis passed over to Nova Scotia, where he was eventually appointed the first Colonial Bishop in the British dominions in any part of the world; and Jacob Bailey obtained a Rectory in the same province. Some keen clerical politicians, unable to tear themselves from the tumultuous joys and emotions of the strife, stayed behind at New York, or on the islands in the Bay; for they could not with impunity take up their residence beyond the beat of the British drums. Haunting regimental mess-rooms; collecting and dispensing scraps of Tory gossip; writing those satires and lampoons which were the staple political literature of the period, now that serious constitutional argument had been drowned in the roar of battle; and celebrating the most recent military success over a haunch of venison and a dozen of madeira, — they led a desultory and demoralising life, not altogether becoming to their cloth. Each man of them employed, in the furtherance of the Royal cause, such gifts and accomplishments as he individually possessed, — from the Virginian parson of the old school who, with a bowl of grog in his hand, drank victory to the British arms,“ up
1 Out of very near a hundred Virginian incumbents, only twenty-eight remained in their parishes, and saw the war through.
2 Sabine's Loyalists ; Vol. I., page 240.
8 Mr. Bailey's unbounded charity and hospitality, all through his life, kept him poor in pelf; though he was very rich in children. One of his sons got a commission in the British line, and was killed at Chippewa in 1814, fighting with his regiment against the army of the United States.
* This incident took place at “the Ordinary of Mr. John Tankersly." The Reverend Thomas Jackson, of Virginia, was in consequence denounced by the Charlotte County Committee as an enemy to bis country.
to Jonathan Odell, the clergyman-poet, who had been expelled by the New Jersey Whigs from his Rectory at Burlington. That fiery partisan, in imitation of another famous exile, composed an imaginary picture of the Regions of Torment, with immense elaboration and at inordinate length, and peopled it with prominent Congressmen and with Generals of the Continental Army. But, as a consequence of the changes which the lapse of time has wrought in the creed and the taste of the world, certain literary possibilities have passed away, perhaps for ever; and even the genius of Dante, which bore little resemblance to that of Jonathan Odell, would almost certainly have failed over an attempt to produce an eighteenth-century Inferno.1
The political action of the Anglican clergy was seriously, and sometimes very painfully, embarrassing to those lay members of their body who had adopted the opposite view of the great question. Such men were very numerous. Among the first five Presidents of the United States, including all who may fairly be classed as contemporaries of the Revolution, no fewer than three were Episcopalians; and a better Churchman,- or, at all events, a better man who ranked himself as a Churchman,-than George Washington it would have been hard indeed to discover. When at home on the bank of the Potomac, he had always gone of a Sunday morning to what would have been called a distant church by any one
When the officers, who had been made prisoners at Fort Washington, were confined in Long Island, they were invited to the country-house of a rich New York merchant. “After dinner," wrote one of them, “the son of our entertainer, a boy about seven or eight years of age, came into the room; and his father, putting a glass of wine into his hand, asked him what he drank. “Church and King !' pronounced the little fellow in an audible voice. Perhaps it was designed as a delicate mode of assuring us that the civility we received was not to be regarded in any degree as a toleration of our principles.” It is a pretty story, and indicates how completely the political and religious questions were identified in the American mind.
1. The last five paragraphs have been chiefly written by the aid of Sabine's Loyalists, Tyler's Literary History, Garden's Anecdotes, and the American Archives.
except a Virginian equestrian; and he spent Sunday afternoons, alone and unapproachable, in his library. In war he found time for daily prayer and meditation, (as, by no wish of his, the absence of privacy, which is a feature in camp life, revealed to those who were immediately about him ;) he attended public worship himself; and by every available means he encouraged the practice of religion in his soldiers, to whom he habitually stood in a kind of fatherly relation. There are many pages in his Orderly Books which indicate a determination that the multitude of young fellows, who were entrusted to his charge, should have all possible facilities for being as well-behaved as in their native villages. It therefore was the more noticeable that he ceased to be a regular Communicant as long as the war lasted. Washington always had his reasons for what he did, or left undone ; but he seldom gave them; and his motive for abstaining from the Sacrament was not a subject on which he would be inclined to break his ordinary rule of reticence. On one occasion during his campaigns he is known to have taken the Communion under circumstances which throw some light upon his inward convictions. While the army was quartered at Morristown, the Presbyterians of the place were about to hold their half-yearly administration. Washington paid a visit to their minister, and enquired whether it accorded with the canon of his Church to admit Communicants of another denomination. "Most certainly,” the clergyman answered. “Ours is not the Presbyterian table, General, but the Lord's table.” "I am glad of it," said Washington. “ That is as it ought to be. Though a member of the Church of Eng
1 The troops were excused fatigue-duty in order that they might not miss church. If public worship was interrupted on a Sunday by the call to arms, a service was held on a convenient day in the ensuing week. The chaplains were exhorted to urge the soldiers that they ought to live and act like Christian men in times of distress and danger; and after every great victory, and more particularly at the final proclamation of Peace, the Commander-in-Chief earnestly recommended that the army should universally, attend the rendering of thanks to Almighty God “with seriousness of deportment, and gratitude of heart."
land, I have no exclusive partialities." And accordingly on the next Sunday he took his place among the Communicants.
Washington loved his own Church the best, and had no mind to leave it; but he was not hostile to any faith which was sincerely held, and which exerted a restraining and correcting influence upon human conduct.
“I am disposed," (he once told Lafayette, "to indulge the professors of Christianity with that road to Heaven which to them shall seem the most direct, plainest, easiest, and least liable to exception." His feeling on this matter was accurately expressed in the instructions which he wrote out for Benedict Arnold, when that officer led an armed force of fierce and stern New England Protestants against the Roman Catholic settlements in Canada. The whole paper was a lesson in the statesmanship which is founded on respect and consideration for others, and still remains well worth reading. In after years, as President of the United States, Washington enjoyed frequent opportunities for impressing his own sentiments and policy, in all that related to religion, upon the attention of his compatriots. The Churches of America were never tired of framing and presenting Addresses which assured him of their confidence, veneration, and sympathy; and he as invariably replied by congratulating them that in their happy country worship was free, and that men of every creed were eligible to every post of honour and authority.
Washington's views were shared by most Virginians of his class and epoch. On the twelfth of June, 1776,
1 Section fourteen of the Instructions to Colonel Benedict Arnold of September 1775. The Writings of George Washington, Vol. III., page 89.
2 “ We have abundant reason to rejoice,” (so, in January 1793, the President told the Members of the New Church of Baltimore,) “that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened age, and in this land of equal liberty, it is our boast that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining, and of holding, the highest offices that are known in the United States."