Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 online

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safety, until Triggs, fearing they might outstay their time, gave them a
hint it would not do to linger long; and, with a view to their
leavetaking being unconstrained, he volunteered to take the few
remaining things down to the boat and stow them safely away, adding that
when they should hear his whistle given it would be the signal that they
must start without delay.

The spot they had fixed on for the starting-place was one but little
used and well removed from all the bustle of a more frequented landing.
A waterman lounged here and there, but seeing the party was another's
fare vouchsafed to them no further interest. The ragged mud-imps stayed
their noisy pranks to scrutinize the country build of Triggs's boat,
leaving the four, unnoticed, to stand apart and see each in the other's
face the reflection of that misery which filled his own.

Parting for ever! no hopes, no expectations, no looking forward, nothing
to whisper "We shall meet again"! "Good-bye for ever" was written on
each face and echoed in each heart. Words could not soothe that
suffering which turned this common sorrow into an individual torture,
which each must bear unaided and alone; and so they stood silent and
with outward calm, knowing that on that brink of woe the quiver of an
eye might overthrow their all but lost control.

The sun was sinking fast; the gathering mists of eventide were rising to
shadow all around; the toil of day was drawing to its close; labor was
past, repose was near at hand; its spirit seemed to hover around and
breathe its calm upon those worn, tried souls. Suddenly a shrill whistle
sounds upon their ears and breaks the spell: the women start and throw
their arms around each other's necks. Adam stretches his hand out, and
Reuben grasps it in his own.

"Reuben, good-bye. God deal with you as you shall deal with those you're
going among!"

"Adam, be true to her, and I'll be true to those you leave behind."

"Joan!" and Adam's voice sounds hard and strained, and then a choking
comes into his throat, and, though he wants to tell her what he feels,
to ask her to forgive all he has made her suffer, he cannot speak a
word. Vainly he strives, but not a sound will come; and these two, whose
lives, so grown together, are now to be rent asunder, stand stricken and
dumb, looking from out their eyes that last farewell which their poor
quivering lips refuse to utter.

"God bless and keep you, Eve!" Reuben's voice is saying as, taking her
hands within his own, he holds them to his heart and for a moment lets
them rest there. - "Oh, friends," he says, "there is a land where
partings never come: upon that shore may we four meet again!"

Then for a moment all their hands are clasped and held as in a vice, and
then they turn, and two are gone and two are left behind.

And now the two on land stand with their eyes strained on the boat,
which slowly fades away into the vapory mist which lies beyond: then
Reuben turns and takes Joan by the hand, and silently the two go back
together, while Adam and Eve draw near the ship which is to take them
to that far-off shore to which Hope's torch, rekindled, now is pointing.

Good-bye is said to Triggs, the boat pushes off, and the two left
standing side by side watch it away until it seems a speck, which
suddenly is swallowed up and disappears from sight. Then Adam puts his
arm round Eve, and as they draw closer together from out their lips come
sighing forth the whispered words, "Fare-well! farewell!"

_The Author of "Dorothy Fox"_.


If on the fourteenth day of May, 1607, when the Rev. Robert Hunt
celebrated the first sacramental service of the Church of England on
American soil, there had suddenly sprung up at Jamestown the pillars and
arches of a fully-equipped cathedral, whose stones had remained to tell
us of the days when they first enshrined the worship of the earliest
colonists, our most ancient Christian church would still be less than
three hundred years old - a hopelessly modern structure in comparison
with many an abbey and cathedral of England and the Continent.

[Illustration: THE OLD SOUTH, BOSTON.]

In a comparative sense, we look in vain for old churches in a new
country, for in our architecture, if nowhere else, we are still a land
of yesterday, where age seems venerable only when we refuse to look
beyond the ocean, and where even a short two hundred years have taken
away the larger share of such perishable ecclesiastical monuments as we
once had. Our grandfathers' temples, whether they stood on the banks of
the James River or on the colder shores of Massachusetts Bay, were built
cheaply for a scanty population: their material was usually wood,
sometimes unshapen logs, and their sites, chosen before the people and
the country had become fitted to each other, were afterward often needed
for other uses. So long as London tears down historic churches, even in
the present days of fashionable devotion to the old and the quaint, and
so long as the Rome of 1880 is still in danger from vandal hands, we
need only be surprised that the list of existing American churches of
former days is so long and so honorable as it is. If we have no York
Minster or St. Alban's Abbey or Canterbury Cathedral, we may still turn
to an Old South, a St. Paul's and a Christ Church. It is something,
after all, to be able to count our most famous old churches on the
fingers of both hands, and then to enumerate by tens those other temples
whose legacy from bygone times is scarcely less rich.

[Illustration: KING'S CHAPEL, BOSTON, IN 1872.]

The American churches of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were
plain structures, unpretending without and unadorned within; and this
for other reasons than the poverty of the community, the lack of the
best building-materials, and the absence both of architects and of
artistic tastes. It was a simple ritual which most of them were to
house, and the absence of an ornate service demanded the absence of
ornamentation, which would be meaningless because it would symbolize
nothing. The influence of the Puritans in Massachusetts, the Baptists in
Rhode Island, the Dutch Reformed in New York, the Lutherans and
Presbyterians in the Middle and Southern colonies, and the Friends in
Pennsylvania, whatever their denominational differences, was a unit in
favor of the utmost simplicity consistent with decency and order; and
though there was a difference between Congregational churches like the
Old South in Boston and the Friends' meeting-houses in Philadelphia, the
difference was far less marked than that existing between the new and
old buildings of the Old South society, which the modern tourist may
compare at his leisure in the Boston of to-day. Even the Episcopalians
shared, or deferred to, the prevailing spirit of the time: they put no
cross upon their Christ Church in Cambridge, nearly a hundred and thirty
years after the settlement of the place, lest they should offend the
tastes of their neighbors. The Methodists, the "Christians," the
Swedenborgians, the Unitarians and the Universalists were not yet, and
the Moravians were a small and little-understood body in Eastern

[Illustration: KING'S CHAPEL BOSTON, IN 1872.]

Nearly all the colonists, of whatever name, brought from Europe a
conscientious love of religious simplicity and unpretentiousness: for
the most part, the English-speaking settlers were dissenters from the
Church which owned all the splendid architectural monuments of the
country whence they came; and it was not strange that out of their
religious thought grew churches that symbolized the sturdy qualities of
a faith which, right or wrong, had to endure exile and poverty and
privation - privation not only from social wealth, but from the rich
store of ecclesiastical traditions which had accumulated for centuries
in cathedral choirs and abbey cloisters.

[Illustration: CHRIST CHURCH, BOSTON.]

Therefore, the typical New England meeting-house of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries may perhaps be taken as the best original example
of what America has to show in the way of church-building. To be sure,
its cost was modest, its material was perishable wood, its architectural
design was often a curious medley of old ideas and new uses, and even
its few ornaments were likely to be devoid of the beauty their designers
fancied that they possessed. But it was, at any rate, an honest
embodiment of a sincere idea - the idea of "freedom to worship God;" and
it was adapted to the uses which it was designed to serve. It stood upon
a hill, a square box with square windows cut in its sides - grim without
and grim within, save as the mellowing seasons toned down its ruder
aspects, and green grass and waving boughs framed it as if it were a
picture. Within, the high pulpit, surmounted by a sounding-board,
towered over the square-backed pews, facing a congregation kept orderly
by stern tithing-man and sterner tradition. There was at first neither
organ nor stove nor clock. The shivering congregation warmed itself as
best it might by the aid of foot-stoves; the parson timed his sermon by
an hour-glass; and in the singing-seats the fiddle and the bass - viol
formed the sole link (and an unconscious one) between the simple
song-service of the Puritan meeting-house and the orchestral
accompaniments to the high masses of European cathedrals. The men still
sat at the end of the pew - a custom which had grown up in the days when
they went to the meeting-house gun in hand, not knowing when they should
be hastily summoned forth to fight the Indians. In the earliest days the
drum was the martial summons to worship, but soon European bells sent
forth their milder call. Behind the meeting-houses were the horse-sheds
for the use of distant comers - a species of ecclesiastical edifice still
adorning the greater number of American country churches, and not likely
to disappear for many a year to come.

In the elder day there was no such difference as now between city and
country churches, for the limitations of money and material bore upon
both more evenly. But with growing wealth and the choice of permanent
locations for building came brick and stone; English architects received
orders; and the prevailing revival led by Sir Christopher Wren and his
followers dotted the Northern colonies with more pretentious churches,
boasting spires not wholly unlike those which were then piercing London
skies. With costlier churches of permanent material there came also the
English fashion of burial in churchyards and chancel-vaults, and mural
tablets and horizontal tombstones were laid into the mortar which has
been permitted, in not a few cases, to preserve them for our own eyes.


But our oldest churches, as a rule, have been made more notable by the
political events with which they have been associated than by the
honorable interments that have taken place beneath their shadow. Their
connection with the living has endeared them to our memories more than
their relations to the dead. Not because it is Boston's Westminster
Abbey or Temple Church has the Old South been permitted to come down to
us as the best example of the Congregational meeting-houses of the
eighteenth century, but because of the Revolutionary episodes of which
it was the scene, and which are commemorated in the stone tablet upon
its front. The Old South Church, built in 1729, belonged to the common
class of brick structures which replaced wooden ones; for, like
Solomon's temple, its predecessor had been built of cedar sixty years
before. The convenient location of the Old South and the capaciousness
of its interior brought to it the colonial meetings which preceded the
Revolution, and especially that famous gathering of December 13, 1773,
whence marched the disguised patriots to destroy the taxed tea in Boston
harbor. The convenient access and spacious audience-room of the old
church also led to its occupancy as a riding-school for British cavalry
in 1775. Even now, in the quiet days following the recent excitement
attending its escape from fire and from sale and demolition, the ancient
church still finds occasional use as a place for lectures and public
gatherings. Its chequered days within the past decade have at least
served to make its appearance and its part in colonial history more
familiar to us, and have done something to save other churches from the
destruction which might have overtaken them.

As the Old South stands as the brick-and-mortar enshrinement of the best
Puritan thought of the eighteenth century, so King's Chapel in Boston,
built twenty-five years later, represents the statelier social customs
and the more conservative political opinions of the early New England
Episcopalians. Its predecessor, of wood, was the first building of the
Church of England in New England. The present King's Chapel, with its
sombre granite walls and its gently-lighted interior, suggests to the
mind an impression of independence of time rather than of age. One reads
on the walls, to be sure, such high-sounding old names as Vassall and
Shirley and Abthorp, and on a tomb in the old graveyard near by one sees
the inscriptions commemorating Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts
and his son John, governor of Connecticut. But King's Chapel seems the
home of churchly peace and gracious content; so that, as we sit within
its quaint three-sided pews, it is hard to remember the stormy scenes in
which it has had part. Its Tory congregation, almost to a man, fled from
its walls when the British general, Gage, evacuated Boston; the sterner
worshippers of the Old South occupied its Anglican pews for a time; and
later it was the scene of a theological movement which caused, in 1785,
the first Episcopal church in New England - or rather its remnant - to
become the first Unitarian society in America.

In Salem street, Boston, left almost alone at the extreme north end of
the city, is Christ Church, built in 1723. Its tower contains the oldest
chime of bells in America, and from it, according to some antiquarians,
was hung the lantern which on April 18, 1775, announced to the waiting
Paul Revere, and through him to the Middlesex patriots in all the
surrounding country, that General Gage had despatched eight hundred men
to seize and destroy the military stores gathered at Concord by the
Massachusetts Committees of Safety and Supplies. Thus opened the
Revolutionary war, for the battles at Lexington and Concord took place
only the next day.

The white-spired building at the corner of Park and Tremont streets,
Boston, known as the Park Street Church, is hardly so old as its
extended fame would lead one to suppose, for it dates no farther back
than the first quarter of the present century. Its position as the
central point of the great theological controversies of 1820 in the
Congregational churches of Eastern Massachusetts has made it almost as
familiar as the "Saybrook Platform." The meeting-house was built at the
time when the greater part of the Boston churches were modifying their
creeds, and when the Old South itself would have changed its
denominational relations but for the vote of a State official, cast to
break a tie. Its inelegance and rawness are excused in part by its
evident solidity and sincerity of appearance. In its shadow rest
Faneuil, Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

Boston has other churches which, like the Park Street, are neither
ancient nor modern, the Hollis Street Church and the First Church in
Roxbury being good examples. New England has hardly a better specimen of
the old-fashioned meeting-house on a hill than this old weather-beaten
wooden First Church in Roxbury, the home of a parish to which John
Eliot, the apostle to the Indians, once ministered. Another quaint
memorial of the old colonial days survives in the current name,
"Meeting-house Hill," of a part of the annexed Dorchester district of

[Ilustration: ST. PAUL'S CHAPEL, NEW YORK.]

St. Paul's Church, on Boston Common, was the first attempt of the
Episcopalians of the city, after the loss of King's Chapel,
to build a temple of imposing appearance. Controversies theological and
architectural rose with its walls, and young Edward Everett, if report
is to be credited, was the author of a tract, still in circulation, in
which its design and its principles formed the text for a criticism on
the religion to whose furtherance it was devoted. Standing as it does
next the United States court-house, the uses of the two buildings seem
to have been confused in the builders' minds; for there is something
ecclesiastical in the appearance of the hall of justice, which was
originally a Masonic temple, and something judicial in the face of the

In Cambridge, three miles from Boston, the eighteenth-century
Episcopalians not only possessed a church, but also displayed to
unwilling eyes a veritable "Bishop's Palace" - the stately house of the
Rev. East Apthorp, "missionary to New England" and reputed candidate for
the bishopric of that region. Mr. Apthorp was rich and influential, but
his social and ecclesiastical lot was not an easy one, and he soon
returned to England discouraged, leaving his "palace" to come down to
the view of our own eyes, which find in it nothing more dangerous to
republican institutions than is to be discovered in a hundred other of
the three-story wooden houses which used so to abound in Massachusetts.
Christ Church, Cambridge, in which the bishop _in posse_ used to
minister, and which stands opposite Harvard College, was designed by the
architect of King's Chapel, and has always been praised for a certain
shapely beauty of proportion. For the last twenty years it has boasted
the only chime of bells in Cambridge, whose quiet shades of a Sunday
evening have been sweetly stirred by the music struck from them by the
hands of a worthy successor of the mediæval bell-ringers, to whom bells
are books, and who can tell the story of every ounce of bell-metal
within twenty miles of his tower. It was of this church, with its
Unitarian neighbor just across the ancient churchyard where so many old
Harvard and colonial worthies sleep, that Holmes wrote:

Like sentinel and nun, they keep
Their vigil on the green:
One seems to guard, and one to weep,
The dead that lie between.

The suburbs of Boston are not poor in churches of the eighteenth, or
even of the seventeenth, century. The oldest church in New England - the
oldest, indeed, in the Northern States - still standing in Salem, was
built in 1634, and its low walls and tiny-paned windows have shaken
under the eloquence of Roger Williams. It has not been used for
religious purposes since 1672. In Newburyport is one of the American
churches, once many but now few, in which George Whitefield preached,
and beneath it the great preacher lies buried. A curious little reminder
of St. Paul's, London, is found here in the shape of a whispering
gallery. Another landmark is the venerable meeting-house of the
Unitarian society in Hingham, popularly known as the "Old Ship." Built
in 1681, it was a Congregational place of worship for nearly a century
and a half. Its sturdiness and rude beauty form a striking illustration
of the lasting quality of good, sound wooden beams as material for the
sanctuary. Preparations have already been undertaken for celebrating the
second centennial of the ancient building. Nearly as old, and still more
picturesque with its quaint roof, its venerable hanging chandelier of
brass, its sober old reredos and its age-hallowed communion-service, is
St. Michael's, Marblehead, built in 1714, where faithful rectors have
endeavored to reach six generations of the fishermen and aristocracy of
the rocky old port. The antiquarian who has seen these old temples and
asks for others on the New England coast will turn with scarcely less
interest to St. John's, Portsmouth; the forsaken Trinity Church,
Wickford, Rhode Island, built in 1706; or Trinity, Newport, where Bishop
Berkeley used to preach. In Newport, indeed, one may also speculate
beneath the Old Mill on the fanciful theory that the curious little
structure was a baptistery long before the days of Columbus - the most
ancient Christian temple on this side the sea.

It is not uncommon to find comparatively new American churches to which
their surroundings or their sober material or their quiet architecture
have given a somewhat exaggerated appearance of age. Such is the case
with the curious row of three churches - the North and Centre
Congregational and Trinity Episcopalstanding side by side on the New
Haven green in a fashion unknown elsewhere in our own country. Any one
of these three churches looks quite as old as that shapely memorial of
pre-Revolutionary days, St. Paul's Chapel, New York, built in 1766 in
the prevailing fashion of the London churches. As with St. Paul's, there
was also no marked appearance of antiquity in the North Dutch Church,
New York, removed in recent years. The poor old Middle Dutch Church in
the same city, with its ignoble modern additions and its swarm of busy
tenants, would have looked old if it could have done so, but for modern
New Yorkers it has no more venerable memory, in its disfigurement and
disguise, than that furnished by its use, for a time, as the city


New York is poor in old buildings, and especially poor in old churches.
Besides St. Paul's, the comparatively modern St. John's Chapel and the
John Street Methodist Church, it really has nothing to show to the
tourist in search of ancient places of worship. The vicinity can boast a
few colonial temples - the quaint old Dutch church at Tarrytown, dear to
the readers of Irving; the Tennent Church on the battle-ground of
Monmouth, New Jersey, with its blood-stains of wounded British soldiers;
and a charmingly plain little Friends' meeting-house, no bigger than a
small parlor, near Squan, New Jersey, being the most strikingly
attractive. In Newark one notes the deep-set windows and solid stone
walls of the old First Presbyterian Church, and the quiet plainness of
Trinity Episcopal Church, which looks like Boston's King's Chapel, with
the addition of a white wooden spire.

Philadelphia is richer than any other American city in buildings of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the older streets it is a
frequent sight to see quaint little houses of imported English brick
modestly laid in alternate red and black, curiously like the latest
modern fashion. The ample room for growth possessed by this
widespreading city has saved many an ancient house for present use as
dwelling or store. One is not surprised, therefore, to find on the old
streets near the Delaware three churches of weather-stained brick which
seem trying to make the piety of an elder age useful to the worshippers
of to-day. All three of these churches - Gloria Dei, Christ and St.
Peter's - now have their chief work among the poor people whom one always
finds in a business quarter near the river-front, but each attracts, by
its old-time associations and its modern missionary spirit, a goodly
circle of attendants from the western parts of the city. Gloria Dei
Church, the oldest of the three, was built in 1700 by Swedish Lutherans
on the spot where the Swedish predecessors of the Friends had located
their fortified log church twenty-three years earlier. Its bell and
communion-service and some of its ornamental woodwork were presented by
the king of Sweden. It is surrounded by the usual graveyard, in which
lies Alexander Wilson, the lover and biographer of birds, who asked to
be buried here, in a "silent, shady place, where the birds will be apt
to come and sing over my grave." The Old Swedes' Church retained its
Lutheran connection until recent years, when it became an Episcopal

Christ Church and St. Peter's were formerly united in one parochial
government, and to the two parishes ministered William White, the first
Church-of-England minister in Pennsylvania, the friend and pastor of
Washington, the chaplain of Congress and one of the first two bishops of
the American Church. The present structure of Christ Church was begun in
1727, but not finished for some years. The parish is older, dating from
1695. Queen Anne gave it a communion-service in 1708. In 1754 came from
England its still-used chime of bells, which were laboriously
transferred during the Revolution to Allentown, Pennsylvania, lest they
should fall into British hands and be melted up for cannon. At Christ

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Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 → online text (page 5 of 20)