Abbildungen der Seite

pepper-cruet, is a late erection, made sacred professedly "to the memory of those brave and good men who died whilst imprisoned in the city, for their devotion to the cause of American Independence," but, in reality, as is well known, built to prevent the municipality from cutting a street through the old churchyard. An irreverent but democratic alderman might not, it was thought, hesitate to despoil a place dedicated to Deity, but would hardly dare touch that consecrated to a popular human idol.

Before the present unimpressive be-Gothicized structure was erected, there had been on the same site three other Trinity Churches. The first was built in 1696, on a spot then at the extreme end, as it is now at the very beginning, of the city. A nucleus for a parish had been formed when New York was taken possession of by the English in 1664, at the fort on the Battery, where a British chaplain read the service of the Church of England. The attendants were few, composed principally of officials, for there were hardly any other English Churchmen in New York at that early day. "Here bee not many of the Church of England," said Governor Dongan in his report,* dated Feb. 22, 1687, to the British Government; "few Roman Catholicks; abundance of Quakers, preachers, men and Women especially; Singing Quakers, Ranting Quakers; Sabbatarians, Antisabbatarians; some Anabaptists, some Independents, some Jews: in short, of all sorts of opinion there are some, and the most part of none at all." Each sect, as in more modern times, was a great stickler for its own doctrine; and "it is the endeavour of all persons here," added the Governor, "to bring up their children and servants in that opinion which themselves profess; but this I observe, that they take no care of the conversion of their slaves."

Clergymen of the Established Church, it appears, were scarce in New York in those days; nor was it surprising: for as the Governor testifies in regard to "the king's natural-born subjects, I find it a hard. task to make them pay their ministers." That official, finding it in consequence difficult to recruit for his army of martyrs among the Church clergy, was obliged to have recourse to the enemy's camp. He therefore selected a Mr. Vesey, "who," to use the words of the colonial document, "was at that time a Dissenting preacher on Long Island. He had received his education in Harvard College, under that rigid Independent, Increase Mather, and was sent from thence by him to confirm the minds of those who had removed for their con'Documentary History of New York," Albany, 1850, p. 116.

venience from New England to this Province (New York). For Mr. Mather, having advice that there was a minister of the Established Church of England, come over in quality of chaplain to the forces, and fearing that the Common Prayer and the hated ceremonies of our Church might gain ground, he spared no pains or care to spread the warmest of his emissaries through this Province (New York)."

Colonel Fletcher, then Governor, who "saw into this design" of the rigid Mather, determined to frustrate it. He accordingly secured this Mr. Vesey, the proselytizing emissary of the Independents, by converting him to a Church of England apostle. This was effected by nothing more miraculous than an invitation to the new Trinity Church, with £100 per annum, and a promise to advance his stipend considerably, and recommend him for holy orders to his Lordship the Bishop of London. This colonial Saul of Tarsus thus converted, and the Governor having performed his part of the contract, Mr. Vesey was duly installed Rector of Trinity Church; and though the process of his transformation was somewhat different, he is said to have rivalled his great predecessor St. Paul as a disseminator of the true faith.*

Mr. Vesey was also honoured with the appointment of Commissary to his lordship of London, and thus became a quasi Bishop, in addition , to his other dignities. Withal, however, he had great difficulty in getting money enough to support him. It became necessary, in consequence, to raise the prices of burials, the tariff for which was accordingly fixed as follows:-For burying an adult, £5; for a child above ten years of age, £2 10s. ; and for one below, £1 15s.

Even when the parish of Trinity was endowed with the gift by Queen Anne of what was called the Queen's farm, it remained for a long time so poor, that it was forced to place itself constantly in a begging attitude, now soliciting subscriptions to raise the steeple, or eke out the meagre stipend of the parson, or again demanding alms for the poor curate, or other needs.

This Queen's farm, which in colonial times was rented for the paltry sum of £35 a year, and gave but a meagre product of cabbage and potatoes, now forms, with a long front in Broadway, and a large stretch of crowded and busy streets in various directions, one of the richest portions of the city. Trinity Church, which still owns the property, derives from it now a princely revenue, which, in the course of not many years, when certain leases shall have expired, will be

*** Documentary History of New York," vol. iii., p. 264.

increased a hundredfold. The parish will be then probably the wealthiest ecclesiastical establishment in the world.

The rectors and curates of Trinity Church during colonial times were chiefly supplied from the missionaries, sent out to America for the conversion of the Indians and other heathen, by the London Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. These were mostly devoted sons of the Church, and equally faithful subjects of king or queen, whether royal William, Anue, or the Georges, held the sceptre of British dominion. Thus, when faction divided, and finally revolution triumphed in New York, the clergy of Trinity Church were arrayed on the side of the throne, and being opposed to the sentiment of the people, became objects of their menaces and violence. The Rev. Dr. Anchmuty, reviled as a Tory, and fearing for his life, closed his church, and putting the key into his pocket, escaped from New York, then held by Washington's forces, to the British camp in New Jersey.*

With the increase of the English colonial population there came the necessity for new churches. The Trinity Church vestry accordingly built first the chapel of St. George in 1752, and subsequently in 1766, that of St. Paul's. The latter still exists in its primitive state, and though scorned by the admirers of the sham Gothic, is with its Italian grace of proportion, its lofty Corinthian portico, and its frank expansive air, a far more imposing sanctuary than the lank and almost bodiless Trinity Church, with its frivolous mimicries of inimitable medieval art.

The site of St. Paul's was, at the time its first stone was laid, a little more than a hundred years ago, a field of wheat. Now that

When the English again took possession of New York, Dr. Anchmuty applied to General Washington for permission to pass through his lines, which was necessary in order to reach the city, but was refused. He therefore did so without it, and after a toilsome journey on foot reached New York, but found his church in ruins, it having been burnt on the retreat of the colonial army. He then returned to New Jersey, where he died soon after. Dr. Inglis, who was the clergyman of St. Paul's, stayed in the city during the whole revolution. When Washington entered New York, one of his generals asked the doctor to desist from reading the "violent" prayers for the king, but Inglis refused. Dr. Inglis left New York finally with the British troops, and subsequently became Bishop of Nova Scotia.

+ Trinity Church has besides two other chapels in New York-St. John's, a comparatively modern structure, and Trinity Chapel, a still later erection.

So stood the new church beyond the city limits; away off in the fields, surrounded by groves and orchards, and hard by the broad, bright river. An object of surprise to the good burghers, who scrupled not to comment with just severity on the

part of Broadway which the church faces, is in the very centre of "down town," the busiest part of the city, and is paced by a daily throng more dense than that of the Strand in London.

: When Trinity Church was burned during the revolution, it was left for a long time in ruins. St. Paul's then became temporarily the parish church. It was here that a grand official pew, with a canopy supported by pillars, and emblazoned with the royal arms, was set apart for the Colonial Governor. This was afterwards occupied by General and Lady Washington, as she was then termed, when New York was the seat of the Federal Government; and old inhabitants still speak of recollecting to have seen them drive up to the church in a coach and four, and take their reserved places with stately decorum.

Opposite to the President's pew, as it was called, and where, of course, the king's lion and unicorn had given way to the people's spread-eagle and striped shield, there was soon erected another seat of state. This was emblazoned with the arms of New York, and set apart for the Governor. Whether the object was only to establish an architectural balance, or to vindicate State rights in the face of Federal dignity, it is not easy to say; but the two pews, directly opposite to each other, corresponded in stateliness of upholstery and in every other respect, with the exception of the arms.

Old Trinity, with its traditional importance and its wealth, has become a power in the American Church. From its clergy it has supplied the diocese of New York with all its bishops except one, and from its treasury endowed churches, colleges, and theological seminaries; and supported missionaries all over the country.*

folly of that visionary set of men, the vestry of Trinity Church, who had put so large and ornate a building in a place so remote and sequestered, so difficult of access, and to which the population could never extend.-"Historical Recollections of St. Paul's Chapel," by Rev. Morgan Dix, S.T.D.

Bishops Prevost, Moore,† Hobart, Onderdonk, and Wainwright were all clergymen of Trinity.

†This Bishop Moore married the sister of the mother of Lady Holland. These two ladies were the daughters of a Captain Clarke, who figures in the records of Trinity as a churchwarden. The grandchildren of Bishop Moore rejoice in a princely revenue, derived from a humble farm he left, now a populous part of New York. This property belonged originally to old Captain Clarke, a hearty, portly, official-looking person, as he is represented in his portrait, with a scarlet waistcoat and a rubicund face, hardly less intense in colour. He was an easy-going, contented personage,

Without venturing to touch on the question whether the Episcopal Church of the United States is the Catholic Church, the true Church, or the Church, all of which titles are occasionally claimed for it, it will be prudent here to rest on the safe statement that it forms a large and respectable sect. Its supposed respectability, in fact, apart from its higher and possibly apostolical claims to pious sympathy, has been doubtless one of the chief causes of its steady progress. It has always derived a reflected glory from the aristocratic hierarchy of the English Established Church, of which it boasts itself a faithful offspring. Its own associations, moreover, from the earliest colonial to the present times, have been dignified. The royal governors, for the most part, were of its faith, as were also the chief dignitaries and the leading men of the provinces. The revolutionary statesmen, military chiefs, and influential civilians of New York and Virginia, especially, generally belonged to it. Washington, the Lees, Gates, Hamilton, Jay, and the Morrises, all professed its creed. At the present day, many of the most notable men, governors of states, cabinet ministers, senators, judges, generals, and renowned professional men throughout the country, are not only of its communion, but bear an active part in its councils, for the Episcopal Church of the United States is represented in its conventions,* not only by clerical but lay deputies.

Even while it is conceded that the spiritual influence of the Episcopal Church may be great, it must be acknowledged that its worldly importance has proved a no slight attractive force in bringing many within its fold. Public opinion in the United States exacts from all its respectable citizens, if not membership of some church, at least an attendance upon its services. Among the miscellaneous people of the New World, there are of course many who, from low origin and early neglect, are at first indifferent in matters of religion. These, however, no sooner become, by that rapid transformation so frequent in America, what is termed respectable citizens, than in concession to changing his politics with the times as readily as a well-oiled weathercock. There is a tradition in the family that he refused the grant of the whole of Staten Island offered to him in return for some public service or other. His grand-daughter, who became finally Lady Holland, of Holland House, first married a Sir Godfrey Webster, from whom she was divorced, and then became the wife of the nephew of Charles Fox.

* Each diocese has its annual convention, presided over by the bishop, and composed of clerical and lay deputies from each parish. There is also a general convention, meeting every three years, composed of an upper house of bishops and a lower one of clerical and lay deputies representing each diocese.

« ZurückWeiter »