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ContentsPrevious: Chapter 19

Granite Crags (1884) by Constance Gordon-Cumming


Reference to page 9, last paragraph.

This partial use of the Scotch office, recalls the fact that America received her first Bishop from the persecuted Episcopal Church in Scotland, in memory of which the peculiar office of that Church was at first adopted in America in its simplicity, though subsequently modified.

The circumstance was one of peculiar interest. Previous to the War of Independence there were no American Bishops, and all candidates for Holy Orders had to come to England to receive ordination. At the conclusion of the war, it was found that so many of the clergy had either died or been banished, that in the four colonies of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, there were seventy vacant churches, and in many parts of the country, clergy were required, but there was no means of obtaining ordination.

In the State of Connecticut only fourteen of the Episcopal clergy survived. These agreed that the time had come when America must have her own Episcopate, and that a meeting should be held to decide what steps must be taken. Only seven of this little band were able to assemble. They met in a small cottage at Woodbury, and, having elected one of their number to that honour (Dr Samuel Seabury), they sent him to Britain to seek consecration from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Should difficulties arise on the subject, he was enjoined to seek consecration at the hands of the Scottish Bishops. This course was fully approved by all the clergy of New York.

Dr Seabury was courteously received by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishop of London, who, however, found endless causes for delay, fearing to offend the ruling powers, and finally announced that they could not consecrate any person who, from any cause, was unable to take the oath of allegiance.

The candidate for the Episcopate then suggested that he must appeal to the Scottish Bishops—a solution of the difficulty which had actually never occurred to the Archbishops. For the sister Church had passed through such fiery persecution during the last half-century, that her very existence seemed endangered. Two years after the battle of Culloden, penal laws had been enacted (A.D. 1748) which forbade any clergyman of the Episcopal Church to officiate in any church or chapel. He might hold service in his own house, but if more than four persons besides his family were present, he was liable to six months’ imprisonment for the first offence, and TRANSPORTATION FOR LIFE on the second!

Under this crushing system, the persecuted Church seemed really to be melting away; for whereas at the time of her disestablishment in 1689 she numbered two Archbishops, twelve Bishops, and a thousand clergy, now when America came to claim her aid, she possessed only four Bishops, and forty-two clergy.

As those dared not meet in any recognised chapel, they assembled in an upper chamber, which had been fitted up as such, in the house of the Bishop of Aberdeen, (Robert Kilgour, Primus) who, together with his Bishop-coadjutor, John Skinner, and Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Ross and Moray, consecrated Dr Seabury, as first Bishop of Connecticut and Rhode Island, on the 14th Nov. 1784.

As it was necessary that America should possess three Bishops, to carry on the succession, the Archbishop of Canterbury got an Act of Parliament passed, for one year only, to authorise the consecration of Bishops for foreign countries, without requiring the oath of allegiance. Two more Bishops-elect were then sent over from America to be consecrated at Lambeth. And thus the American Church owes her Episcopal succession alike to England and Scotland.

But her people have not forgotten the upper chamber in Aberdeen, and though Bishop Skinner’s house was demolished not many years after this memorable event, its materials were employed to build a chapel on the same site, which chapel was sold to the Wesleyans in 1817 when its Episcopal congregation removed to a larger place of worship. It is purposed therein to hold a centenary service of no ordinary interest in the autumn of 1884, at which it is hoped that the Anglican Church of the three countries will be well represented.

For the days of persecution are happily a tale of the past. Scotland’s penal laws were repealed in 1792. She now numbers seven Bishops and 242 Episcopal clergy, while the Church in America possesses more than sixty Bishops, and numbers her clergy by thousands.

The remains of Bishop Seabury were, in 1849, removed from their first resting-place in the public cemetery of New London, to the crypt beneath the chancel of the Church of St James, built on the site of his own church. A tablet on the wall records that:—

“Under the pavement of the Altar, as the final place of rest until the
Judgment of the Great Day, now repose the mortal remains of
The Right Rev. Prelate, SAMUEL SEABURY, D.D. Oxon.
who first brought from scotland
into the anglo-american republic of the new world
the apostolic succession,
Nov. 14, 1784.”

Reference to page 17, third paragraph.

That such fears are by no means groundless, has been shown this autumn of 1883, when even favoured California has shivered in sympathy with the widespread volcanic commotion. The daily papers of October 11 thus record the event: “At one o’clock this morning a severe earthquake shook San Francisco. Three hours earlier there had been a slight shock, which passed without general notice, but there was no mistaking the visit at one this morning. The houses rocked as if violently shaken by a strong hand. Windows rattled as if they would fall to pieces. The air was filled with a strange rushing noise, and an indescribable tremor shook the earth. This lasted several seconds, and, wakening people suddenly from sleep, created widespread terror. I do not hear of any injury being done. It is more than twenty years since anything approaching this was felt in San Francisco.”

Six weeks previously, on the 28th August— i.e., the day after the terrific earthquake in Java—a series of great waves swept the coast of California, creating considerable astonishment even within the landlocked harbour of San Francisco, where, during several hours, the water rose and fell about one foot per hour.

Such warnings as these cannot but suggest the possibility of some more serious shock. In these matters, as in most others, history occasionally repeats itself; and there are points in the brief history of this City of Sandhills, which suggest an unpleasant resemblance to that of another great commercial centre, the fate of which has pointed many a moral in the last two hundred years.

One of the most terrible earthquakes on record occurred in Jamaica in the year 1692, when, without the very slightest warning, the large and flourishing town of Port Royal was totally destroyed, and two thousand persons—whites and negroes—perished, all within the space of three minutes!—a catastrophe so appalling, that to this day its anniversary is observed by many of the Creoles as a day of solemn fasting and prayer.

Like the modern San Francisco in California, this wealthy city had sprung up with extraordinary rapidity, on a low sandy shore, busy business streets being actually built on land reclaimed from the sea, by driving piles into the sand. Unmindful not only of the wisdom which forbade building on such an unstable foundation, but also of the practical experience which has taught men accustomed to earthquakes to provide against them by building low wooden houses, these merchants of Port Royal built strong substantial brick houses, several storeys in height, with churches, schools, forts, and a luxurious palace for the governor. Of all these, only a very small number were founded upon rock. Within the short space of thirty years the insignificant village had developed into a very wealthy commercial centre, with a population of 3500 persons. Then, as now, an occasional very slight tremor of the earth afforded food for conversation, but of serious danger there was no fear. All seemed peaceful and safe till the 7th June 1692, a bright beautiful day of cloudless sunlight. Half an hour before noon, when all men were intent on their business, a very slight quivering of the earth was observed, followed a few seconds later by another, and a hollow subterranean rumbling. A moment later there came a third earthquake-shock, and in an instant the earth opened her mouth (as at the judgment of Korah and his presumptuous brethren), and in the very sight of the survivors, swallowed up all the principal streets on the reclaimed ground, with the busy multitude, as they hurried to and fro without one thought of their impending fate. Then, in one monstrous wave, the sea swept inland to claim her own, as if mocking the puny mortals who had striven to infringe on her boundaries.

Of the sixteen hundred human beings who were engulfed in that awful moment, only one survived, as if by a miracle. The mighty wave caught him up ere he was hopelessly buried, and carried him into the harbour, where he contrived to swim till he reached a boat—a true ark of safety. The life thus wonderfully preserved was prolonged for forty-four years of active usefulness, and a monument in the renewed city to the memory of Louis Galdy, bearing date 1736, records this history.

Meanwhile fresh earthquake-waves overswept the city, which was submerged to the depth of several fathoms, and large ships, torn from their moorings, were floated over the roofs of the houses in the main streets, and were able in some cases to rescue the perishing inhabitants. All through the day and the following night the earthquake-shocks continued, and horrible were the sights witnessed by the survivors. The harbour was covered with floating human bodies—not only those of the victims of the previous day, but the corpses washed up from the cemetery; while some poor wretches had been caught in yawning fissures, which held them prisoners, only their heads above ground—and these had, in some cases, been gnawed by ravenous dogs.

Of the whole town, only about two hundred houses were left standing, and most of these were houses built on posts, and only one storey high. Such brick houses as survived the great shock, were so shaken and shattered that the majority fell within a few days. Slight shocks were felt at intervals for upwards of a month, and pestilential exhalations arose from innumerable fissures in the ground. A sensible increase in temperature was observed. The heavens became lurid by reason of the discharge of sulphurous vapours, and unparalleled swarms of mosquitoes appeared on the scene to vex the survivors, the majority of whom fled to the plains of Liguanea, where they built wretched huts, and there abode, exposed to sun and rain, half starved, and inhaling such noxious vapours that a pestilence broke out, which extended to other districts, and carried off about three thousand persons—so that they who died of this plague were more in number than they who perished by the earthquake.

Such is the lamentable history of a city founded on the sand!

Long may San Francisco be spared from a similar fate!

Reference to page 167.

While these pages are passing through the press, another train has been attacked by white brigands. One Sunday morning in the month of September, a gang of “cowboys” attacked the express train on the Atchison, Topoka, and Santa Fé Railway, at Coolidge, west of Dodge City, Kansas. They opened fire on the train hands, killed the driver, and fatally wounded the stoker. They fired several shots at the guard, who, however, escaped injury. They then endeavoured to break into the express car, but were repulsed, and, an alarm being given, they decamped. The travelling correspondent of the ‘Daily News’ states that the attack took place an hour after midnight, while the train had stopped to take in water. The passengers in the sleeping-car had all turned in, and the other passengers were more or less comfortably sleeping. Suddenly a shot was fired, followed by another, and then came what appeared to be a regular fusilade. Some of the passengers who were armed turned out, but the rattle of pistol-shots ceased as suddenly as it had commenced, and they found only the engine-driver lying dead at his post, riddled with shots, and the fireman close by, apparently fatally wounded. They learned from the fireman that as soon as the engine pulled up, a gang of men jumped on and ordered the driver to leave the engine. He refused, and they shot him dead. Two men who remained blazed away at the fireman, while the rest went off in search of the treasure which they believed was in charge of the express messenger. The firing had put this man on his guard. He barricaded the doors of his car, and through the window fired on the highwaymen, who vigorously returned the shots, but without effect. The appearance of the passengers on the scene suggested the wisdom of flight, and the robbers rode off without any other result of their raid than the murder of the hapless engine-driver. Coolidge is a little roadside station near the confines of Kansas, with nothing at hand but a water-tank and a telegraphic apparatus. This last was called into requisition, and a message was sent off to Dodge City. Thence a special train was promptly despatched with the sheriff and a band of armed citizens, but the highwaymen had already got a four hours’ start, and it is presumable that they had well considered their plan of escape. It is believed that they have crossed into Colorado and made for the mountains.

Reference to page 197.—“ Preserved Smiths.”

Such designations were by no means uncommon among the Puritans. The Frewens of Sussex bestowed on their children such names as “Thankful” and “Accepted.” A member of this family, Archbishop Accepted Frewen—A.D. 1660—lies buried under the east window of the Lady Chapel in York Minster. The ladies of the family were graced by such names as Mercy and Prudence, Faith, Hope, and Charity.

No doubt Miss Heavensent Harwood and Miss Remarkable Pettibones bore their strange names as pleasantly as though their godmothers had started them in life as Molly and Dolly.

David Hume, the historian, has told us that some of Cromwell’s saints, rejecting such unregenerate names as Henry, Edward, or William, sometimes adopted a whole godly sentence. Thus the brother of “Praise-God Barebones” decided on being called “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-you-you-had-been-damned Barebones.” But the people soon wearied of this long name, and so retained only the last word. Hence he was commonly known as “Damned Barebones!!” Thus John Bradford, in assuming the name of “Blood-bought,” proved the wisdom of brevity.

Hume gives the names of eighteen persons who were impannelled as a jury in Sussex, in the days of the Commonwealth. They were as follows:—

Accepted Trevor, of Norsham.
Be-faithful Joiner, of Britling.
Called Lower, of Warbleton.
Earth Adams, of Warbleton.
Faint-not Hewit, of Heathfield.
Fly-debate Roberts, of Briling.
Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith White,  
   of Emer.
God-reward Smart, of Fivehurst.
Graceful Harding, of Lewes.
Hope-for Bending, of East Halley.
Kill-sin Pimple, of Witham.
More-fruit Fowler, of East Halley.
Meek Brewer, of Okeham.
Make-peace Heaton, of Hare.
Return Spelman, of Watling.
Standfast-on-high Stringer, of
Redeemed Compton, of Battle.
Weep-not Billing, of Lewes.

Reference to page 198.

As an instance of the laxity of the law of divorce in many of the States, a New York paper recently quoted the case of a man who had fled from his wife in England, and who, on arriving in one of the Western States, instituted proceedings of divorce against her. She was summoned by notice, which was published for three consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. Before the woman had time even to receive notice of the proceedings, the man obtained his legal divorce.

I may add that a precisely similar case has occurred within my own knowledge, where a man left his respectable wife and family in Scotland, went to America, and was no more heard of by his relations. In the New World he went through this singular form of divorce, married a new wife, by whom he has a second family.



Map of the Yosemité Valley.
[Map of the Yosemité Valley.]
[click to enlarge]


[Editor’s Note: the 24-page catalogue is omitted from the web edition of this book—DEA.]

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