Memoir of Bishop Elliott

The following memoir of the first Bishop of Georgia was published in “Sermons by The Right Reverend Stephen Elliott, D.D., Late Bishop of Georgia with a Memoir by Thomas M. Hanckel, Esq.” (New York: Pott and Amery, 1867).


The book from which this memoir was takenTHE Right Reverend Stephen Elliott, for more than twenty-five years Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia, and whom God has recently called to his rest, was born in the town of Beaufort in the State of South Carolina, on the 31st of August, 1806. He was the oldest son of Stephen Elliott of South Carolina, who sues known in that day as a scholar, an eloquent writer, and an enthusiastic student of science, especially of the beautiful science of Botany; and -whose name and character are among the grateful traditions of the society in which he lived. His mother was Esther Habersham of Georgia; and his family have always maintained close and affectionate relations with that great State. He himself claimed that he belonged to both States. Especially after he was called to preside over the Diocese of Georgia, with that gracious wisdom which was eminently characteristic of the man, it was his habit freely and heartily to declare that he was a true son of Georgia, and that he was ready to serve her with the love of a grateful child, as well as with the zeal of a faithful Bishop.

When his father removed to Charleston in 1812, young Stephen Elliott came with him, and was prepared for College at the school of Mr. Hurlburt, at that time a distinguished and successful teacher in that city. In the Fall of 1822, he went to Harvard College, and entered the Sophomore Class in that Institution. He remained at Harvard until the Fall of 1823, when, at the desire of his father, ‘who wished him to graduate in his native State, he took an ad eundem to the South Carolina College, and in November of that year was there admitted to the Junior Class. Among his classmates was the late Hon. James H. Hammond, afterwards widely known as Governor of South Carolina, a gifted writer, and an eloquent debater upon the floor of the Senate of the United States. Another was the late Hon. Thomas I. Withers, who became a distinguished jurist, and one of the ablest and most learned judges of the Supreme Court of South Carolina. He graduated in 1825, with the third honor of his class. Upon his graduation he studied law in the office of the lamented James L. Petigru, the foremost lawyer of his day, who was the intimate friend of his father, and for whom he retained through life a most affectionate reverence and regard. He was called to the bar in1827.

It was at this period of his life that the great political questions of State Sovereignty and Free Trade arose, and shook the country by the weight and magnitude of the argument. Subsequent events have given grave importance to the opinions he then formed on this agitating subject. Our readers would be unable to understand or appreciate a most eventful portion of his life and a well-known phase of his character, if we were to pass over these early impressions. The ardent and talented young scholar and lawyer took a keen and active interest in the momentous issues of that high debate. Upon clear conviction, he was a States’ Rights man in the highest and best meaning of those words, and was through life the warm and unwavering supporter of that school of political doctrine. He believed in the simple story of the Sovereignty of the States of the Federal Union as he read it in every child’s history of the early settlement of the Colonies, and the later independence of the States. He believed that this Sovereignty was the true and almost the only conservative element of the Constitution, and the only effective check upon the usurpations of the central Government, when the latter should be controlled by the selfish interests of classes, the mad passions of party, or the wild delusions of the populace ; — that conservative element which alone made a free and magnificent republic possible. He believed that the liberty of the States was the Heaven-given shield of the liberties of the peoples ; — that the freedom of the Union was the real strength and perfect health of the Union. He loved his own State very dearly, and he believed that an honest, genuine and practical love of the country, was best felt and expressed in a just and generous love of the State. Some will call this weak, will call it narrow; but let us consider if it is not that weakness and narrowness of Nature itself, which is stronger and broader than the fictions of men, which is deeper than the creed of the philosopher and wiser than the calculations of the statesman. It is the sacred and unchangeable love of the child for his home, and, through his home, for his father-land. But let us not wrangle over his bier to pass judgment on these opinions. There is enough else that all can admire, and honor, and love. It were well, however, for Christian people to remember, that these opinions have been held by men who have served the whole country with unquestioned devotion and illustrious success, and of whom history must speak with unqualified honor. It would be wise, it would be happy, for the country to respect at least the honesty and earnestness of their convictions and their self-sacrificing devotion to what they believed to be truth.

The book from which this memoir was takenIt was at this time also, that, as a junior colleague and one of the younger friends and companions of the gifted Hugh S. Legare, be shared in the fortunes of the renowned old “Southern Quarterly Review,” and the brilliant literature it illustrated. His father had founded this Review, and he worked enthusiastically for its success. He was probably too young at the time to have contributed many articles: it is known, however, that he wrote, and wrote well, for its pages, and helped to make it what it was. In after years he always spoke with pride and enthusiasm of the power and brilliant though brief career of that famous journal, as a noble monument of the scholarship of his native State at that day.

He practised law in Charleston for several years, when, upon the retirement of a distinguished practitioner from the Bar of Beaufort, he removed to the latter place to succeed to his office and business. His return to his birthplace was a happy hour for him. He dearly loved the old place and its people. He loved the bright waters and the broad bays of the country round; and through life it was the delight of the stately Bishop to come back among those scenes from time to time, and, wandering along the neighboring seashore, breathe again the boisterous breath of the Atlantic, while he gathered with the keen zest of no mean naturalist the beautiful shells and the curious things which the seething surf brought to his feet: nothing loath, either, to join with eager energy in the bold and stirring sports of the sturdy young boatmen around him.

He came back to Beaufort to practice law, but a different destiny awaited him there. At this time, not long after the period when the Church of England had roused itself from its lethargy to a deeper and quicker sense of its high mission and duty, and the teachers of a more active and energetic faith had become a power in the Church, and when the eloquent energies of CHALMERS had begun to wake the Church of Scotland also from the deep slumber of the “Moderates,” the truths of religion known as evangelical were preached with unusual fervency, power and effect in the ancient and secluded town of Beaufort. Aside from the mysterious breathings of the Divine Spirit, as accepted by many, it was a community peculiarly open to impressions from such a source. Thoroughly educated, cultivated and refined; isolated from the turmoil of life and from the tide of the work l; bred to a high, self-reliant and unflinching sense of duty and a generous devotion to truth: the solemnity and pathos, the overwhelming obligation, the supreme necessity and the self-sacrificing spirit of the doctrines then preached, appealed with irresistible power to its people.

Among a somewhat remarkable group of young men, not unknown, who, at that time, made open profession of their faith and high resolve, and have since truly kept the word and honor they then pledged, was the gifted, accomplished and graceful young advocate who had recently come back to his early home. Not many days later he turned away from the allurements of pleasure, and the hopes, honors and emoluments of public and professional life, to enroll himself as a teacher of the truths he believed, and a Minister at the Altars of the Church in which he worshipped.

Early in the year 1833 he became a Candidate for the Ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and entered with characteristic ardor upon the work of preparation for the duties of the sacred office. He threw himself into his new studies with all the devotion of a most earnest Christian, the vigor of a profound thinker, and the high aims and disciplined tastes of a scholar. To save the souls of sinful men he esteemed the greatest and noblest work that could engage the energies of earnest men, — the most necessary work, indeed, demanded of man by the piteous wants of his race. To teach the truth and preach the Gospel of God’s grace and Christ’s Atonement, he believed to be the ordained and most effectual means of saving men and reforming the world. His work of preparation for his duties, therefore, was honest, thorough, varied, and unsparing, as knowing that the teacher and defender of the Truth must win power over strong men. He was ordained a Deacon by the Eight Reverend Nathaniel Bowen, Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, at Charleston in that State, in the Fall of 1835. He officiated as minister in charge of the Parish of Wilton, South Carolina, for one month, when he was elected by the Trustees of the South Carolina College to the chair of Sacred Literature and the Evidences of Christianity in that Institution, to which also the Chaplaincy of the College was attached. He was ordained Priest in the year 1836.

Thus early was he called to high offices. And perhaps the reader who never sat, him will follow us more fully and easily in what we have further to say, if we here endeavor to describe the very striking form and presence of the late Bishop. Long of limb and tall of stature, with a full and vigorous frame, thoroughly yet easily erect, with full high brow, finely chiselled features and lofty crest; with a soft, beaming blue eye, and a complexion fair and fresh, without being ruddy; exquisitely graceful in his carriage, and quiet and easy in his movement, with his thin dark hair floating lightly around and from his bead: his was a figure, as he passed along the crowded thoroughfare, upon which men turned to gaze, and the eyes of women rested with tenderness and veneration.

“His presence, though graceful, was eminently dignified and commanding. It quietly expressed a very sensitive deference for the opinions and feelings of others, ready to hear and quick to appreciate: yet a full and steady reliance on himself. It is told of him that once, at a country tavern where he had stopped for the night, a poor inebriate was recklessly bantering the bystanders, when his attention was arrested by the appearance of the stately Bishop, and awed and sobered for the moment by his commanding look and towering form, he turned to him and exclaimed, “And who are you? Are you a Judge ? or a Member of Congress ? or Governor of the State ? Well, if you ain’t any of these, you ought to be!” That which was felt by this poor fellow has been felt by the highest, and wisest and best in the land in the same presence. Often have we watched that tall and graceful figure come swinging along the College grounds in company with grave professor or cheerful student, in serious talk, or with his rich, soft, hearty laugh ringing out at some merry jest, and been conscious that a living grace was added to the picturesque scene -within the bounds of the venerable school.

It must be left to his biographer to speak fully of his career as a Professor, and of the manner in -which he performed the duties of his Chair. But we can say that each and every one of those whose names stand upon the roll of the proud old College in those bright days, as well as all others who -watched and cherished its progress at that time, learned to love, admire, honor, and revere him there. He was the pillar, the pride and the ornament of the College. It as his Alma Mater, and he took the deepest interest in its welfare. Its students formed the congregation to whom he preached the Gospel, and over whose expanding thoughts and hearts he watched and prayed. He yearned to make it a school of high learning, a rich source of truth and refinement, and the centre of a generous intellectual citizenship to the State. “Will you let other States breed your scholars ?” exclaimed he, on one occasion to one of the classes, “and will you be content to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to them ? ” In his own person he showed them how high and gracious and precious a thing was the pure gift of learning and the culture of letters, the charm and the power of the scholar. In the lecture room his clear and vigorous analysis, and his rich, polished, and often passionate words, taught them how to think, and how to utter their thoughts. His hopeful voice cheered everybody. And he here exhibited a marked characteristic of his whole life. He deeply and gladly sympathized with every aspiration after a higher culture, however humble. He encouraged each to do his best, although that best might be but little. To him the aspiration itself was a grace, the effort itself was elevating. To him there was every imaginable difference between the high aims of even the weak, and the dull recklessness of aimless strength. Among the best scholars in the College, there came at that time from the rural districts many uncouth and awkward youths. No man had a keener sense of the humorous than our lamented Bishop, the then Professor, or found it harder to keep from laughing when moved by mirth. It was not in nature, therefore, for him not to laugh heartily sometimes, at these queer fellows. But while he laughed, he loved them. The very grotesqueness of their simple and earnest strength seemed to charm him. It was like the joy of a mother in the babbling blunders of her brightest child. It was beautiful to see how tenderly he protected them, how hopefully he guided them, how quickly he felt the weight and caught the gleam of the pure gold in the rugged ore. We here recall an incident which illustrates the exquisite tact and kindness with which he cheered and guided his scholars. A young student, little more than a boy in years, but among the foremost in his class, was standing his first examination in mathematics before the assembled members of the Faculty. He was nervous and excited, and as he answered the questions which were propounded to him, he kept snapping and wasting the piece of chalk which he held in his hand, until there was but a scrap left, with which to write his figures and draw his diagrams. Professor Elliott was watching his examination with curious and pleased interest, when he saw the predicament in which he was placed. Rising quietly from his seat, he strolled down the room, picked up a handful of chalk, which could neither be broken or wasted, and with a droll and inimitable grace, handed it to the excited youth. A smile, a grateful look, a “Thank you, sir,” in reply, and the frightened probationer was at his ease before his examiners, and passed triumphantly through the ordeal, without any more faltering, or again scratching his nails on the blackboard. It was but a little thing to do ; but it was kindly and wisely done, and shows us, in miniature, the gracious arts, the gentle wisdom, and the practical sagacity, with which afterwards, as a Bishop, he governed his Diocese, and by which he won the confidence and affection of all portions of his State, all denominations of Christians, and all classes of men. He dearly loved books; to be among them, and to handle them. He was a connoisseur in print and paper and binding. He took an eager and active interest in the new library building, the foundation of which was laid under his auspices. He sedulously watched and pushed forward its construction. And when it was finished and all was ready, carefully were the books carried under his eye from the old room where they had stood so long, to a fitter resting-place. Right gladly he called his pupils around him to help him to receive and arrange them. When the great boxes which contained the recent importations of the best and richest English editions of the best and greatest authors — brought there by the prodigal bounty of the State to her favorite Institution —were opened, his enthusiasm broke forth, and he dwelt with all a scholar’s delight upon their beauty and value. And when all the work of arrangement was nearly done, he turned to the group around him and said, in his own rich tender tones: “Now, young gentlemen, I will expect in after years, each one of you who can afford it, to bring some work of art, some statue, bust or picture to adorn these alcoves.” It was thus he taught the young novices of his school to love books, and art, and letters, and. learning. We turn sadly away to think how many proud hopes and glad anticipations, -which then swelled in his generous heart, have been crushed and buried under the red floods of war, in ruin, grief, desolation and blood.

But it was for a comparatively brief period that he was permitted to fill the Professor’s chair. The Church at whose Altar he served, and to whose Ministry he had been ordained, summoned him to her work. She called him to a higher and larger sphere of usefulness. He obeyed without a question. In the summer of 1840, he was elected the first Bishop of Georgia. In December of the same year, not without some natural regrets, he took leave of the College which he had loved and served so well, and early in 1841 he was consecrated to his Bishopric at Christ Church, Savannah, by Bishops Meade, Ives, and Gadsden.

The limits of this Memoir will not permit us to speak fully of the manner in which the duties of his holy office were discharged. The task of organizing and building up a new Diocese was a trying one. We know that his Diocese loved him sincerely, and was heartily proud of him. It has recently declared its sense of bereavement at his death,” as too deep to find expression in the common terms of grief and mourning ; ” and that they ” desire to place on record their high appreciation of his remarkable qualifications for the Episcopal office, exercised for more than twenty-five years; his profound acquaintance with human and divine learning; his preeminent power as a preacher of the Gospel of the grace of God; his keen insight into the motives and instincts of men; his tact and ability in administering his Diocese; his watchfulness and tender sympathy for all the flock committed to his care ; his interest in the welfare of our colored population; his careful avoidance of party issues and all extremes in doctrine, discipline and worship; and his cautious endeavors to pursue the quiet, conservative paths trodden by the wisest and most honored Fathers of the American Church.”

As a pulpit orator, without aiming to be subtle or metaphysically profound, he was clear, vigorous, eloquent, and often strikingly original in the defence and illustration of accepted truth. His style was passionate as well as exceedingly pure and graceful. He had rather the rich, massive and commanding manner of Milton, South, and Jeremy Taylor, than that of the polished its and piquant essayists of Queen Anne’s reign; with some touch, also, of the quaintness of those earlier worthies. To his students he always commended the first as the better models.

It was in the earlier days of his Episcopal administration that he sacrificed his private fortune, and reduced himself to poverty and want, in his uncalculating efforts to establish an eminent school for female education at Montpelier, in the centre of his Diocese. No man had a higher estimate of the blessings of a healthy and thorough education. His zeal in this work rose to enthusiasm. He therefore established this school at Montpelier, for the instruction of the young women of his Diocese in that learning and those accomplishments which, according to his conception of her “character and duties, a Christian woman, whose station in life permitted it, ought to know and acquire. Large sums had to be expended in the erection of suitable buildings and the necessary outfit of the Institution. It was his ardent wish that every thing should be thoroughly done. When the fiends at his disposal were exhausted, he unhesitatingly pledged his private property and credit for the completion of the undertaking. His obligations were all faithfully met, and the debts he incurred were all paid. But it left him without a dollar ; and he had scarcely the means of providing the daily bread of his family. He had been accustomed from early youth to the refinement, independence and dignity of an ample fortune. He had never known what it was to owe what he could not punctually pay. The cares, anxieties and heavy burdens therefore of this period of his life were keenly felt, and his spirit was deeply wounded. But he met them all with the firmness, patience, gentleness, and humility of one who had counted the cost of his holy service. Up to this time he had received but a comparatively small salary as Bishop, and this had been chiefly expended for Church objects and for charitable purposes. The people of his Diocese now came forward affectionately and generously to his aid, and provided an adequate income for his support. It was well done, and was gratefully received. We spoke only the simple truth when we said that his people loved and honored him.

At a later period, in the same spirit of generous and untiring devotion to the cause of education, together with the heroic Bishop of Louisiana and the gentle and eloquent Bishop of Tennessee, – and when these three stately men stood together it was a group for the painter’s pencil, — he projected and labored earnestly to lay the foundation of a great Southern University, which he trusted would one day become a beneficent centre of learning and letters to our Southern land. And this he did in no spirit of narrow prejudice against other sections or other seats of learning. As we have said before, he did indeed dearly love the South. He cherished and honored her traditional spirit of social order and conservative republican liberty. He believed that there was much that was peculiar and valuable in the life, society, character, traditions and history of her people that ought to be fostered and sheltered. But, besides this, he was also firmly persuaded, that even as regards the development of a national life embracing all sections and latitudes of the Union, a better, healthier and nobler national life and character would be developed by the establishment of many centres of wealth, power, education and influence, than could be produced under a system by -which whole territories — equal each of them in extent to great European kingdoms — should be overshadowed, provincialized, and materially, morally and intellectually enfeebled and impoverished, by an abject dependence on one stupendous, turbulent and despotic centre of commerce, arts, manufactures, publication, science, literature, learning and government. It was in this faith that he labored so earnestly for the establishment of a great Southern school as a balance of power in the country.

The work was begun. But the fair prospects of the splendid enterprise were blighted by the opening of that tremendous struggle for the political independence of the Southern States—their society, institutions, civilization, constitutional law, and traditional policy — which was to agitate and overshadow the closing scenes of his life. In this struggle, holding the views of public law and policy which he did, trained in the political school to which we have referred, it was not difficult to see where Bishop Elliott would stand.

But the story is too sad to dwell upon. He shared in the labors of a thousand other heroes who suffered, or bled, or died, all in vain. He placed his Church by the side of the State. He cheered and comforted his suffering, bleeding, fainting people with words of the deepest pathos and tenderness, He sent his sons to the battle, with his pure kiss on their brows and a father’s blessing in their hearts. And when all was over—and all in vain — and the cause was lost, he bowed his head without a murmur to the will of his God, and turned to the new duties which lay before him with the hope and energy of an unflinching faith, and the calm dignity of an unconquered heart.

In looking back at the life of Bishop Elliott, there are one or two points of his character upon which it will be grateful to touch.

In Church and State he was eminently conservative. He dearly loved that which was old as well as excellent — the truth and the practice that is taught by ancient precedent, and established by ancient custom. But so ardent a temper, and a nature so sensitive, aesthetic and enthusiastic, could not but sympathize with all honest and genuine progress. In matters of religious faith he rested in Revelation, believing that a Creed was perfect at the time it was revealed. In questions of public liberty he rested immovably in great principles. But in other matters of Church and State he clung to the ancient landmarks of history, rather as tests by which to measure the truth and the earnestness of the new and progressive, than as impassable barriers to change. And in the fields of science, and commercial and material progress, he was full of enterprise and enthusiasm, and passionately anxious that his fair Southern land should press forward with unflagging stride in the great march of modern civilization.

His, too, was an exceedingly happy temper. “The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places,” were words which not unfrequently dropped from him in confidential intercourse. It was this buoyant, happy nature which so often brought the healing of life to the sad and wounded spirits of his people. Doubtless there was in this a deeper, ghostly joy in his holy office, on which we dwell reverently; but there was also, we can see, a human and exulting gladness in the vigorous exercise of his intellectual gifts, and in the beneficent use of the graceful power which he wielded.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott

In harmony with this conservative yet aspiring nature, this steadfast yet progressive spirit, this faithful yet happy temper, this love of the true combined with an enthusiastic appreciation of the beautiful, was the grace, dignity, justice, and kindness of his personal and official intercourse with his colleagues on the Bench of Bishops. They will gladly and affectionately bear witness, that he was courteous and generous in debate; that he was too well aware of the imperfection of human language in the expression of spiritual ideas, too profoundly conscious of the mystery of religious thought, and yet too clearly convinced of the essential harmony of a Scriptural faith, to be indignant at formulas which were not altogether like his own, or alarmed at methods of argument which, while they embraced the whole circle of Heavenly truth, might begin and end at a part of its circumference different from his own stand-point; that he was too earnestly devoted to fundamental truth to be vindictive towards error that was less than heresy; that his was too great a heart and too noble a nature to suffer him to be the adherent of a clique, or the follower of a party; that in his judicial acts, he was fair, wise, gentle, clear in his knowledge of law and his perceptions of right, and utterly scornful of a shade of selfishness or malice; and that in counsel he was a peacemaker among his brethren, and a bond of union amidst discordant opinions and conflicting policies_ The heart of many a venerable prelate has been made sad by the thought that they shall see his face no more.

Such is a brief outline of the life and the nurture, culture and graces, of the distinguished Bishop for whom Georgia mourns.

In contemplating his character, we feel that he was the representative of much that is highest and best in Southern society; and we rejoice that so much at least of Southern history is safe beyond danger or question. Such a life and character ought to be the full and sufficient answer to those who believe or declare, that the traditional institution which has heretofore existed in the South, and which has been made the occasion of so much grief and agony to the country, was of necessity degrading to all classes and conditions of its people. If we turn to the higher forms of a cultivated social life and a beneficent civilization, and look at the representative men of the South, the country may well remember and rejoice, that nothing can strike from their history the life and the labors, the name and the fame, of Georgia’s great Bishop, and men like him. If we consider on the other hand the results to the African race, of the institution under which they lived, as it was practically administered, even here, — whatever may be our abstract opinions as to its policy or our moral judgments as to its justice, — all right-minded and candid men who know the facts, will admit that, under the providence of God, the negro has been greatly benefited, his best qualities have been developed, and the whole race has been greatly elevated. Whether that institution was righteous or not, it has been mercifully administered. The South received from the coast of Africa about one million of degraded savages; and under its generous and wholesome discipline, they grew to be four millions of skillful, thrifty, cheerful and industrious laborers, a larger number of civilized and christianized people than have – ever been directly reclaimed from the barbarian heathen, since the early days of Christianity: — not wholly contented with their lot, it may be, but as contented, perhaps, as the poor of any country are contented with their poverty. The South received them, a debased, brutish and repulsive people, to whom chastity was an unknown virtue and a strange idea, and honesty was the fear of punishment or the want of opportunity; whose notion of public justice was the trial by poison; whose native tongue was a barbarous gibberish; who trusted in fetishes, believed in greegrees, and alone of human kind worshipped the Evil Spirit. These are the people whom their Southern rulers, by their mingled kindness and discipline, by their justice and their gentleness, have made such a people as to call forth the extravagant eulogies of those who now have charge of their welfare, and who now claim for them the full rights and the highest privileges of the proudest and most enlightened American citizen. It is not our office nor is this the place, to say whether these eulogies are wholly merited, or these claims well founded. But what these people are, all men can see; and such as they are, no man will deny that the South, under God’s providence, has made them. No other portion of the world has contributed a man or a dollar to the work; while eminent scholars of the South like our gifted Bishop, as masters and teachers, have been conspicuous laborers in the merciful though humble task. He was earnestly devoted to the duty of preaching the Gospel to the negroes of his Diocese. He summoned his -whole people to the work, as the great mission to which they were called, the special field of Christian labor to which they were dedicated. Some of his most eloquent and impassioned addresses were devoted to this theme. He spoke often and plainly, earnestly and solemnly, the subject. He held his people to a strict responsibility for the spiritual and eternal, as well as the physical and temporal, welfare of those over whom they ruled. He sent missionaries and established missions among the negroes wherever he could, He led the way by his personal labors. He founded S. Stephen’s Church for colored people in the city of Savannah. He placed its secular affairs under the charge of a colored vestry. They looked up to him as their firmest, wisest, and noblest friend. At his burial they gave a touching and beautiful evidence of the love and reverence they bore him. The colored vestry of S. Stephen’s asked to have the honor of carrying him to the grave; and it was granted to them. It did honor to them, and to their Bishop. Considering the peculiar and momentous issues of the time, we think it was the grandest and most instructive spectacle, amidst all the solemn, mournful, and agitating ceremonies of that day, on which the city of Savannah was hushed to listen to the footfalls of those who thus bore their Bishop to the tomb.

We have paused to speak of this feature of Bishop Elliott’s character, because no readers of the following pages will be able to forget that he was a Southern slaveholder, and a representative of Southern society. The sinfulness or the righteousness of African slavery, its evils or its wisdom, are no longer practical questions. Under the Providence of God. the institution itself has been decisively and forever ended. The questions pertaining to it belong to the issues of the past, to be reviewed only at the judgment-seat of God, and before the tribunal of History. But the real character of Southern society and Southern men is indeed at this time a most practical question. It is of momentous import that the country should see it as it is, and judge of it with wisdom and with justice.

Since the close of the fearful struggle which has shaken the very foundations of American society, the people of the South have exhibited a kindly sympathy with their former dependents, an intelligent submission to necessity, an obedience to law and a regard for social order, combined with a firm self-respect, which have merited, we think, the approbation of all men. What it has cost them to do this, is known only to God. That they have been able to do it, has in some measure been the result of the habit of self-control, the daily sense of responsibility, the patient encounter with necessary evils, the carefulness for the welfare of their laborers, and the frequent interchange of acts of kindness, to all of which they were compelled by their Anglo-Saxon education, by the spirit of liberty and Christianity within them, by the very necessities of their anomalous institution, and by its practical administration in the presence of Christendom. Of these great qualities, in their grace and power, Bishop Elliott himself was a splendid example. And when the representatives of these Southern Dioceses shall again enter that august Council of the Church, which will meet not two years hence, they will think mournfully and regretfully of him who, by right of age and service, would have stood at their head. They will recall the exquisite grace, the sensitive delicacy, the lofty wisdom and charity, the calm dignity, the unblenching crest, and the commanding presence which could neither be overawed by the disapprobation of others, nor yet could ever needlessly and unbecomingly offend their opinions or provoke their prejudices. May the full and complete folds of his shining mantle fall on other shoulders equal to the high office which would have devolved upon him !

In looking at his completed life, there was one remarkable gift of this remarkable man on which we dwell with deep and grateful emotion, and which all who ever knew him will recognize at once. We speak of the thorough humanity of his nature : and by this we mean the wealth and strength, the breadth and fullness, of the deep human sympathies in which the learning, wisdom and graces of his nature were veiled — veiled as light is veiled in color, as thought is veiled in words, as feeling is veiled in music. His life seems to have been the rich, healthy growth of early training and happy influences. He grew as the tree grows from the bursting germ, outwards and upwards, year by year, circle upon circle, into strength and majesty: yet with the life and form of the germ all there, with the fibre and firmness of each circle there, all thoroughly sound, — sound to the core; all lending strength to its growth, proportion to its column, and grandeur to its sheltering arms. His childhood took on his boyhood, and his boyhood his manhood, and his manhood passed into the wisdom of years, all complete in the fullness of that great and bounteous nature, whose deep, broad, human sympathies thus made him the friend and companion of young and old and of all classes and conditions of men: made him, too, as mindful of the gentle courtesies and sweet charities of life with little boys and girls’ and humble men, as he was easily at home amidst the grander graces of social and official intercourse with the wise, the great, the learned and honored in the land. friend and companion of young and old and of all classes and conditions of men: made him, too, as mindful of the gentle courtesies and sweet charities of life with little boys and girls and humble men, as he was easily at home amidst the grander graces of social and official intercourse with the wise, the great, the learned and honored in the land.

Doubtless to the eye of that Omniscience which heeds the life and service, the death and fall, of the humblest sparrow among all the feathered tribes that praise Him, the whole life of a man is the man. As the spirit of the living man penetrates and is bounded by every nerve and atom of his living body: so, to that Eye, the soul of every man is incarnate in his life, from the first wail of the infant to the last sigh before the grave which thus completes the full measure of his being, and the perfect “image and superscription” of his identity. So, to some special natures, it is given to carry in their memory a clear and sensitive consciousness of each period of their lives, and each vital shape of their humanity. And thus did the gifted man whom we mourn seem to have grasped the full outline of his own life, and with the sensitive glance of genius, conceived and realized each part and character in which he had lived, and was thus vividly conscious of himself to himself. His merry childhood, his bounding boyhood, his lusty youth and aspiring manhood, were all the familiar companions and friends of the genial man, the allies and counsellors of the august sage. And so the happy child that climbed to his breast laughed and kissed with the happy child which, as from a mirror, laughed and kissed back again; and the gallant boy shouted to the bright lover of fun within, who shouted back in echo; and the vigorous youth felt his outstretched hand clasped by the hand of companion whose steady grasp closed faithfully over his own. And the pale and impassioned student met the answering glance of youth-flit student with “eyes of speculation” rapt in study. And the struggling man found, in this wise confessor, one who could understand the story of his life, because he retained a vivid memory of his own. Higher than all, he seemed to have kept the memory of mother and sister; and the shrinking maiden might look into that loving heart without faltering, to see a pure, sweet’ image of herself reflected there, and to feel that she shared in the knightly tenderness for the ideal woman there enshrined. But yet deeper and holier still was kept the memory of his own errors and frailties; and the penitent Magdalen and the contrite man met, in that true soul, a fellow-sinner who knew how to forgive, as he had known what it is to be forgiven.

It was this humanity of his nature, these pure, strong, earthly sympathies, this veil of the flesh in which his piety was clothed, which added so much to the power of his life and doctrine. His was, indeed, a truly and deeply spiritual life, in the religious sense of that word. But there was, besides this, a human soulfulness, a sensitive sympathy with all that was charming in Nature, beautiful in .Art, inspiring in life, or useful to his country, which won for him the regard and affection of men, who were afterwards subdued by the teachings of his faith and the example of his piety. Thus it often happened that the generous host or the genial friend who received him as the gentleman, the scholar, the lover of art, the student of science, or the unselfish patriot, learned to know that there was something deeper and holier still; and it softly stole upon his consciousness that, in entertaining this gifted stranger, he had “entertained an angel unawares.” Nor was the grateful influence of his teaching less felt because it was thus associated with the human sympathies of common interests, the winning courtesy of a gentleman, the charms of a graceful nature, and the strength of a vigorous and comprehensive intellect.

We have thus endeavored to present to our readers a true likeness of this faithful son of the Church, this noble child of her nurture, this chosen ruler over an important portion of her heritage, this Father in God to a large number of her people. It has been our wish to describe him just as he was, — as be lived, and acted, and spoke, and worked. Bishop Elliott held opinions which are not held by some who will read this volume; he believed it to be his duty to do things which we know they have not approved. We have not felt at liberty to disguise these opinions, or to pass over these acts, or even to soften the sharpness of their antagonism. We have endeavored to speak of them in words and in a manner that might not offend the convictions or the feelings of others. We have desired to be as respectful to their opposing opinions, as we earnestly crave them to be respectful to his. But we have deemed it our duty to present him, as he himself would have wished to stand before them, —modestly, respectfully, but frankly and manfully, himself. In these things he must be judged as he Sods. In how many other things can the whole country and Church unite to praise and honor him !

After a laborious life freely spent in the service of God, the Church, and the country, Bishop Elliott, being in his sixty-first year, died suddenly in the city of Savannah, Georgia, on the evening of the 21st of December, 1866. He had been absent from home in the discharge of his Episcopal duties, and had just returned to the welcome of those who loved him so dearly and reverently; be had just taken his last meal with those who were the objects of his tender solicitude: when, suddenly, he fell lifeless, and was at rest. To close and dear friends, he had often dwelt upon the blessedness of a sudden death to the faithful Christian. This blessing was granted him. Amidst the cares and labors of his Holy office, amidst the yearnings of his heart for his country, amidst the peace and beauty of his domestic happiness, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” his earthly life was ended, and his soul was with God.

It is interesting to recall that thrice, during one year, has the name of Stephen Elliott been borne in mourning through two States, and each time with -words of honor, regard, and profoundest respect. On the first occasion, the young hero and soldier and humble Christian “was laid gently and reverently upon the bosom of the State he loved,” with the eloquent words of genius for his requiem. But a few days later, and the pious and scholarly father of the noble youth, the Rev. Stephen Elliott, — who had trained him for his high duties, and who could truly and proudly say with Lord Ormond, “I would not give my dead son for any living son in Christendom,” — was laid by his side. And then, alas ! the shining name of Georgia’s great Bishop was added to the fatal list. This last startling message carried gloom and sorrow throughout the limits of Georgia and South Carolina, and to many churches, hearts, and homes, in every portion of the country. Men seeking for sympathy met and repeated the mournful intelligence, and the mute but eloquent gesture of grief gave token of their love and reverence for a great and good man thus snatched away, of their bitter sense of irreparable loss and bereavement.

It as keenly felt that a brilliant light and representative of Southern life, society, tradition and history was suddenly gone; and that from Churches, and States, and disciples, and friends, a prop upon which they had used to lean, had silently sunk away: and that they must henceforth learn to stand in their own strength, or look elsewhere for support. And in the first blindness of their grief they knew not where to look. The Church which he governed will mourn the loss of the calm, clear, just and graceful wisdom which guided her, and the great heart which cheered her. The society in which he moved will lament that its pride and ornament is veiled. Many a younger man, struggling in the battle of life, will miss his voice from among the good and wise, whose approbation is reward, whose praise is wealth. And hundreds have lost forever their friend, example, teacher, guide and comforter — a comforter whose rich, sweet, happy voice of itself brought cheer and hope amidst sorrow and despondency.

His death was very sudden. And yet, to those who knew and considered the man, it was what might have been looked for. We have said that his life was the rich growth of the cherished memories of the past. And the tempest of desolation and ruin which had scourged the face of his loved Southern land had torn also through the branches of this stately tree, and strained it to its foundations. The scathing bolts of war had fallen deep amidst its roots. Many ties of kindred had been broken. Many proud and generous associations with the past had been destroyed. The homes of many of his blood and lineage had been made desolate; the accustomed fires of their hearths had gone out in bitter ashes; and their sons and daughters were wandering among strangers. His hopes of constitutional liberty had been defeated. His aspirations for his country had been blighted. Thus, all unseen, the great roots of his mortal life were snapped, and the rich sources of his earthly strength were dried up. And although, like a beautiful tree with its roots all broken and bruised, he still, for a time, stood poised in the perfect balance of his character and the symmetrical proportions of his nature: yet the great props of his life had been taken away. And so it happened that, stirred by some cold, mysterious breath of the night, with the growth and foliage of his life all heavy with the dew of heavenly cares, he tottered and fell — fell with perhaps one last, loving pang, for the cruel blow with which his sudden and resounding fall was to crash upon the trembling hearts of Churches and States and friends and family.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott

And thus he lay in the majesty of death; and little children and pure women, young men and old, the meek and the gentle, the proud and the lowly, the rich and the poor, the great and the wise, Bishops, priests, patriots, soldiers, scholars and statesmen, came to mourn around the bier of Georgia’s great Bishop.

Fortuna non mutat genus, was the rallying cry of the ancient worthies. From father to son, is the law of Nature. From generation to generation, is the promise and commandment of God. Amidst the private ruin, social change, and political disaster which now surround them, let those that bear the unsullied name of the soldier of Christ who thus in full armor has fallen on sleep, and names like his, remember, —let every true Southern heart remember, — Fortuna non mutat genus. If their fathers, in their day, have trusted in God, submitted to His will, and conquered difficulties; they, in the same faith and with like patience, can retrieve disaster, bring good out of evil, and triumph over misfortune.

The time is surely coming when it will task all the virtue, wisdom; strength and courage of the whole country, to save the ancient liberties of the people, and to purge the administration of the Governments from legislative corruption and official rapacity. The time is not far distant when the true children of God’s Church, and the whole brotherhood of Christian men, will be compelled to stand together for the defence of their faith, against the assaults of an infidel philosophy and a material humanitarianism on the one hand, and the narrow despotism of priestly power on the other. Let the country remember that the people of the South have always been ardently attached to the great principles of constitutional liberty, social order and conservative law, and that they can proudly and thankfully call the country to witness, that their public men have ever been uncorrupted and incorruptible in the discharge of their public duties. Let the Church remember that her children of the South have been simple and reverent in their Creed, honest in their piety, and the staunch defenders of the great doctrines of Christ’s Divinity, Resurrection, and Atonement; and that, like this beloved Bishop, “they have endeavored to pursue the quiet conservative paths trodden by the wisest and most honored Fathers of the American Church.” Ere the time of trial come, let the country and the Church remember Fortuna non mutat genus.

T. M. H.

Bishop Elliott’s grave is in Savannah’s Laurel Grove Cemetary.