THE romance of that stormy petrel of the American Revolution, Admiral John Paul Jones, the most inspiring name in the annals of the United States Navy, did not end with his death in Paris in 1792. He had been buried in the long-forgotten and entirely obliterated cemetery of the French Protestants in the rue de l'Hôpital Saint-Louis. Although laid to rest with great ceremony by a delegation of the Constitutional Assembly, the exact site of his burial was not known. To the patriotism and perseverance of the American Ambassador, General Horace Porter, we owe its discovery in April 1905, after six years of research which involved excavating underneath the houses then occupying the site. How the honored remains of the Father of the American Navy were escorted to their final resting place at Annapolis by a squadron of American war vessels is common knowledge to every American school boy.
But the documents unearthed by General Porter and his aides disclosed another interesting historic fact. Among the records on the burial registers at the Protestant temple of the Oratoire in Paris were found the accounts of the burials of a number of foreigners---English, Scots, Swiss, Swedes and others---interred according to the simple rites of the Reformed Church of France. One notation of especial interest is as follows:
"1729---30th October. Henry LICH of Plymouth, New England, a sailor with Captain Moore on Ship 'LES AMIS AVENTURIERS'---aged thirty years."
This sea-faring lad of old Plymouth appears to head the long list of those "Friendly Adventurers"(1) of the new world, who, far from their home land, have for these two hundred years received the consolations of the Faith in life and death at the hands of the Christian brotherhood of French Protestants.
In the effort to secure redress for their grievances against the mother country the American colonies had dispatched to London one of the most acute minds in colonial politics, the astute and diplomatic Benjamin Franklin. He brought with him a young Philadelphian by the name of Benjamin Rush, a graduate of Princeton College. Rush was a descendent of a Captain of Cavalry in the army of Cromwell, and a nephew of Samuel Finley, President of Princeton. Chafing under the diplomatic rigueurs of the court of George III, and greatly desiring to pursue his studies in his chosen profession of medicine, young Benjamin in the year 1769 went to Paris, which was then the medical center of the world, Franklin generously promising to pay the expenses of his brilliant protégé.
Rush was but twenty-four years of age, but so well did he acquit himself that on his return to Philadelphia he rose to great prominence as a physician. He entered earnestly into the political struggles of his time and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was called the "Sydenham of America." He not only founded the Jefferson medical college in Philadelphia but devoted his spare energies to establishing Bible Societies, and had part in organizing the first Société Biblique de France.
Benjamin Rush has the notable distinction of being the first recorded American medical student in Paris and the forerunner of American interest in Protestant evangelization in France.
It is interesting to recall that General Washington organized what might be considered the first "Department of Morale" in the American Army. The struggle against apparently overwhelming odds demanded of his soldiers a high quality of courage which at critical junctures was found wanting. Dire lack of the ordinary necessities of the campaign--- clothing, food, ammunition transport---was bound to break the spirit of the patriots at times of greatest need.
General Washington determined that something must be done to fire his troops with an ardour that transcended all their sufferings and privations. He therefore called into a special form of service four Yale graduates who were to form a unit of morale. The method adopted was naïve but effective. These young men were called upon to compose "Lyrics" to be sung by the soldiers. No "Barrack Room Ballads" were they, but religious songs. These Yale men were chaplains and sons of ministers and their compositions were shot through with fervent piety.
At the end of the war they engaged in collecting and enlarging Dr. Watts' "Imitation of the Psalms of David."
The risibilities of the British public were aroused when these songs crossed the water. A London wag brought out a counter-revolutionary song beginning:
"Four bards with Scripture names
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
David and Jonathan, Joel and Timothy,
Over the water set up the hymn o' the-"---
rebellious American colonies.
The "David" referred to was Col. David Humphreys, son of a Connecticut minister and Washington's aide-de-camp. After the surrender of Cornwallis the commander-in-chief appointed Humphreys secretary of the American Legation to France. His superiors were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They were entrusted with the mission of negotiating the first treaties of the infant Republic with the Powers of Europe.
The second member of the quartette satirized ---"Jonathan"---was really" John", a cousin of Governor Trumbull of Connecticut. The latter is the original of our historic national nick-name "Brother Jonathan" which was more familiar to the London satirist. It arose from the custom Washington had in war council of appealing to Trumbull for advice : "Let us hear what Brother Jonathan has to say. "(2)
Joel Barlow, the main target of British satire, might be termed America's first Simon-pure "expatriate."
It is still assumed by a certain type of American citizen that there must be something radically wrong with the patriotism of one who chooses to live outside the boundaries of his native country. Be that as it may, poor "Joel" paid the penalty of living and dying abroad. His seventeen years residence in Europe spent in following his muse and the vagaries of politics, alienated his friends at home, and it was given out that he had lost his religion. Despite the fact that he was America's Minister to France from 1810 to 1812 under appointment by President Madison, and that President Washington had commissioned him to rescue two hundred American citizens held in slavery in the Barbary States, a task which he magnificently performed, he lost his good name as a Christian among his former friends in New England, his revision of Watts being laid aside in the churches.
In the last year of his life Barlow wrote to friends at home : "I am a sincere believer in Christianity." The Reverend Rufus Griswold, after the death of Barlow presented irrefutable evidence that he was "a man of honorable sentiments and blameless life." He died in Poland while endeavoring to reach Napoleon on the latter's disastrous Russian campaign. His burial place was discovered in 1929 in the lonely Polish village of Zarnovich.
The fourth member of Washington's hymn-writers, the "Timothy" of the London lampoon, was Timothy Dwight, grandson of Jonathan Edwards, the New England theologian. Dwight became a distinguished president of "Old Eli," stamping his rugged character on Yale throughout an administration lasting for twenty-two years.
Timothy Dwight did not follow his lyrical friends to Paris. But his heart was in the missionary movement spreading through the Atlantic States. The evangelical churches in England and America had begun to be greatly concerned with the future of Protestantism on the Continent. They were in touch with the Huguenot movement that was crying out for assistance, weakened as it had been for two centuries of almost uninterrupted oppression, political and religious. The spread of infidelity through the writings of Voltaire, Thomas Paine and their followers stirred the Puritan soul to its depths. Thus, while the pioneer missionaries were being sent forth to bear the light of the gospel to the lands further east, the call of the Reformed churches in Europe was not unheeded. It was a sermon preached by Timothy Dwight in 1813 before the newly created American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions that acted like a spark in tinder. It produced a profound impression among the American churches, directing men's minds and hearts to the spiritual needs of a war-desolated continent. The repercussions of that sermon were felt in Paris for years thereafter.
Meanwhile we turn to the activities of a group of American business men of the early days, the pioneers of the colony in Paris today, men no less interesting and important because they brought with them a zeal for religion and along with it a hunger for community worship.
AT the beginning of the nineteenth century America began seriously to seek European markets. Theretofore trading had been on a small scale but at the close of the eighteenth century the prosperous merchants of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore began to send their representatives abroad in larger numbers for the purpose of building up the growing international trade. Their families, descendants of pioneering folk, were, for the most part, unaccustomed to European manners and especially to the sophistications of the French élite.
Albert Gallatin, the first Minister to France after the fall of Napoleon, had a young son who amused himself by keeping a diary. He remarks patronizingly:
"There are few Americans and those who are here mostly in commerce and without education. . . The only women Mamma finds anything in common with are the ladies of the English Embassy and some of the English residents in Paris."
Though lacking in the canons of culture set by the French capital there was a common bond between these Americans and the Protestants of France---the bond of religion. Fortunately for both English and American residents in Paris there was a meeting place open to them of which many gladly availed, the historic "Temple" of the Oratoire in the rue de Rivoli. In the year 1811, Napoleon, impressed by the principle of religious freedom established in the United States, turned over to the Protestants of Paris four Roman Catholic churches which had been disaffected since the days of the Revolution. Under the terms of the "Concordat" the Réformés (French Calvinists) who, under the old regime, were not permitted to have churches of their own, were given the Oratoire and two others, the Alsatian Lutherans being allotted still another.
Three years after this concession Napoleon signed his abdication and was exiled to the island of Elba. Under the Bourbon Restoration in 1814 the English flocked into Paris and with them came a chaplain of the Church of England who forthwith sought a place to hold divine worship. The pastors of the Oratoire graciously accorded him the use of their Sanctuary for Sunday afternoon services. Thus the year 1814 marks the first recorded public worship in the English language in France.
Within less than a year, however, on the return of Napoleon from his short exile, the English fled from Paris. English services were not resumed until after Waterloo, when Louis XVIII again ascended the throne of the Bourbons. In 1817 Church of England services at the Oratoire were formally instituted by the Rev. Mr. Bruen.
Shortly thereafter a rumor circulated throughout England that the French King, who had implored the help of Protestant England in behalf of his restoration, promising in return for this assistance full toleration for the Protestant cause, was not keeping faith with those who had afforded him asylum in his exile and influence in behalf of his return to the throne. He was charged with restricting the free exercise of religion among his Protestant subjects, especially in the south of France.
The Whig party, among whose leaders were evangelicals, decided to send a confidential agent to France to make a thorough investigation of the situation and secure relief from these disabilities. They chose a prominent Congregational minister of London, high in the counsels of the party, the Reverend Mark Wilks.
Wilks combined the qualities of a man of the world with a burning zeal to bring men to a knowledge of God. He had the advantage of a thorough understanding of French politics and manners, speaking the language with a voluble incorrectness that intrigued his French colleagues. One of his Sunday School boys wrote of him fifty years later:
"He was no Puritan except in doctrine. He lived in a fine apartment and largely. He was an Independent. No power on earth would have made him submit to the authority of a bishop or even of a synod, or wear a clerical robe or receive a half penny from the State." The thorough-going Congregationalism of Mark Wilks was the spirit under which the American Church in Paris was to be developed. In a very real sense this English evangelical of London may be said to be its spiritual father. Indeed he was known as "pastor of the American congregation."
The English Embassy opened its doors of a Sunday morning to adherents of the Church of England. Although a staunch evangelical and supporter of the American meetings, hither came from time to time the wife of the American Minister, Mrs. Gallatin, with her friend Mrs. Patterson of Baltimore, the sister-in-law of "Betsy" Patterson who married Prince Jerome Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon. Mrs. Gallatin had a strong aversion to the continental Sunday. Invited to a "Court Sunday" on New Year Day 1817, she declined to be present. Mr. Gallatin took occasion to explain to the King her conscientious scruples, her son James noting in his diary the result:
"His Majesty called, in coach, apologised for not getting out of the carriage (he is very infirm), handed Mamma a large roll which was a very fine engraving of himself. Written in English is : 'To Madame Gallatin, with all the respect to a woman who has principles. Signed LOUIS."
The service attended by the two distinguished American ladies was sometimes held in the dining room and on special occasions in the great ball room which Princess Pauline Bonaparte, the owner of the palace leased by the English Embassy, had decorated in flamboyant pagan style. One Sunday as the eloquent and rotund Sydney Smith was preaching, Lady Granville, "the Ambassadress," looking to the ceiling, where flying cupids mingled with undraped goddesses, remarked that the preacher was "something between Cato and Punch."
It was not long after the arrival of the Rev. Mark Wilks and his family that he reached the conclusion that it were better for him to confine his efforts to the building up of a strong evangelical constituency among his English compatriots and the Americans in Paris than to meddle with the alleged political difficulties of the French Protestants. He therefore sought a suitable meeting place for his gatherings.
The body of the Oratoire, used on Sunday afternoons by the Church of England Chaplain, was already used by Americans on Monday evenings. These meetings were called the "American Meetings."
They were the germ from which grew first the American Congregation and later the Chapel in the rue de Berri.
The Oratoire was then, as it is now, the leading Church of the French Reformed Communion. The spiritual movement known as "Le Réveil"---The Awakening---had begun. It was a congenial atmosphere for the evangelical brethren from America and the British Isles. They found themselves largely indebted to that great religious leader, Jean Monod the elder, for friendly advice and cooperation. In these years a separate meeting place for the American congregation was built into the side vaulting of the Oratoire, thus providing an "upper room" where the foreigners might worship on Sundays. This Upper Room is now the Consistory Hall of that historic edifice.
Two years later a chapel on the corner of the Avenue des Champs Elysées and the rue Marbeuf was built and furnished by the Rev. Lewis Way, a Church of England clergyman. This property remained in the possession of the Way family until 1880. The English Church---St. George's in the rue Auguste-Vacquerie,--- was organized from the congregation of the Way chapel.
The outstanding Christian layman of the American colony during the Mark Wilks pastorate was Samson Vryling Stoddard Wilder. As a young man Wilder was associated with Dr. Rush in missionary activities in Philadelphia, assisting in the founding of the Philadelphia Bible Society. He became, during a brief residence in London, an intimate of the great Rowland Hill. On taking up his residence in Paris he entered actively into religious work, his large business operations not being allowed to interfere. He realized that what France needed most sorely was a vital type of religion. He identified himself with the cause of evangelicalism with the utmost ardour and sincerity. The Wilder letters and reports preserved in the archives of the various French Protestant Societies, where he figured as founder and trustee, are a glowing background to that Franco-American community of interest in the gospel of Christ which later generations have inherited. His large apartment was for years a center for devotional and missionary gatherings. From the Wilder "Salon" went forth light into many a dark corner of France.
All honor to the all-but-forgotten names of Wilder and Wilks. They are written on the foundation stones of those apostles and prophets whose labors made glorious the spiritual superstructure of the later years.
And now, with the opening of the Upper Room, comes another flaming spirit to cement more closely the ties already formed. This was the Rev. Jonas King who will go down in history as the first American minister to preach the gospel to his fellow countrymen in Paris. He had come for the purpose of studying oriental languages in preparation for a professorship in the newly founded Amherst College. But the need of religious leadership was too great and the missionary call too strong for him to deny the challenge. And so with Wilks and Wilder he became one of the founders of the first French Protestant Missionary Society. This organization, before it had developed missionary personnel, turned to Jonas King as its emissary to carry the gospel to Syria, where he labored for three years under the direction of the French.
It is interesting to note that the close accord between the French and the American protestants of that day bore this unexpected and precious fruit. The Missionary Society of the French was born of American initiative and their first missionary was an American.
It was Jonas King who, on his return to his native land, joined forces with a young minister fresh from Princeton Theological Seminary in a campaign to arouse interest in Foreign Missions through the Southern states. King made known to his colleague the spiritual needs of the American colony in Paris and the opportunity there for opening a preaching station. The name of King's team-mate was Edward N. Kirk who, thirty years later, was to build the first American Church of Paris. Kirk often referred in after years to the powerful influence King had exerted upon his character in its formative period. In May 1828 Kirk wrote to King as follows: "My dear Brother King: You have been to me the instrument of more benefit than you are probably aware of. I bless the Lord who without doubt sent you to me, and I thank you. But now you go and I shall see your face no more---perhaps forever. That you will present my wants in your prayers to God I have no doubt. That I shall remember you, I think, is certain."
NOTED in the annual reports of the French Bible, Tract, Missionary and other societies is the fact that the Rev. Mark Wilks was permanent "pastor of the American Congregation." Many of these societies the congregation had helped to found. During the pastor's absence in the summer of 1835 his place was filled by an American minister, Robert Baird. He records the fact that "over two hundred and fifty English and Americans attended services during that summer."
Mr. Baird's interest in France dates from his marriage, while principal of Princeton academy, with a descendant of an exiled French Huguenot family. Mrs. Baird's maiden name was Firmine Ophélie d'Amaryllis du Buisson.(3) The Scotch-Irish blood of young Baird was thus fired at the altar of the Huguenot struggle for religious liberty. When certain New Yorkers proposed to form an association to assist the Protestant churches of France, Robert Baird embraced the opportunity, and entered heartily into the movement. Like Jonas King he was prepared to abandon an academic career for the life of a missionary, and when the French Association of New York decided that the work would require a resident agent in France, Baird accepted the post offered him, and sailed with his family for Paris on the steamship "Poland" February 26, 1835.
On his arrival he was received with the utmost cordiality by both native and foreign residents, who saw in his coming the bright prospect of active American cooperation in the spread of the truth through France. Mr. Baird was also requested to call upon the most active Christian men, both American and English, in order to learn their feelings with reference to establishing a permanent preaching station for English-speaking residents.
The record of this great soul is an astounding one. His ability to combine the functions of pastor and preacher in Paris with those of a missionary propagandist was incredible. His executive ability was of the highest order. Within a few years he had traversed his field so well and organized so ably that the entire Protestant movement in western Europe felt the impulse. Temperance societies sprang into being and the Waldensian cause in northern Italy was given a place in the forward program. He kept the friends in America in touch with the work by nine visits to the homeland, and travelled over three hundred thousand miles upon the field. Largely through his efforts the French Association in America was expanded into a general Foreign Evangelical Society.
The year after Dr. Baird's coming to Paris, General Lewis Cass of Michigan arrived as American Minister to France. The General lost no time in making it known to the colony that he did not regard his diplomatic relations as any bar to his religious activities. During the six years of his service his light was never "under a bushel." He collaborated with Dr. Baird in the preparation of temperance publications which achieved instant success and were translated into several European languages.
General Cass soon realized the need of a resident clergyman for the American colony. Dr. Baird, between missionary tours, conducted services for Mark Wilks, but Baird's duties were in the field and he too felt that the time had arrived for a full-time American minister.
After Jonas King had left for Syria the famous American revivalist, John Summerfield, conducted the meetings in the "Upper Room" of the Oratoire. In 1830 the congregation moved from the "Upper Room" to a hired hall in the rue Taitbout which came to be known as the Chapelle Taitbout. This chapel kept its name when it moved in 1840 to 42 rue de Provence.
It is now the spring of 1837. Edward Kirk's pastorate of eight years in Albany was terminating. He had built a new church edifice, the Fourth Presbyterian, under the jealous eyes of many detractors. In his farewell discourse he alludes to the persecution to which he had been subjected "The enemies of God said it was an unholy enterprise, unwise and uncalled for; I was charged with fanaticism and boyish indiscretion. When this building was commenced some ridiculed ; obstructions met us in the usual financial arrangements, suspicions were set afloat concerning the safety of crediting anyone connected even indirectly with the enterprise... but I had confidence because I knew I was surrounded by a praying band... Christians engaged in prayer from sunrise to sunset..."
The membership of the Albany church had grown during the Kirk pastorate from a mere handful to over a thousand. The utterances from the pulpit were fearless and powerful appeals for a higher moral order and a deeper spirituality. He had to face the "wets" of that day and the opponents of the antislavery movement. With fiery courage he stirred his audiences to the depths, and equally aroused the animosity of the advocates of the old social order. They even went so far as to threaten to burn down his church. Martin Van Buren, future president of the United States, said after hearing a sermon on "The Day of Judgment": "I am accustomed when men are preaching to occupy my mind with my political schemes ; but politics seemed to be very folly that day. I had to hear the preacher."
So this prophetic soul was to retire for a much needed rest. Naturally after eight stormy years he was fatigued in body and mind. He purposed going abroad for a period of quiet study, his first objective being Paris where his beloved Jonas King had labored. Following this he intended to spend some time in the German Universities, then go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Kirk knew that Baird would welcome him with open arms in Paris for they had been fellow students at Princeton Theological Seminary and Kirk had kept in close touch with Baird's activities. Immediately on Kirk's arrival in April 1837 Baird introduced him to General Cass. Then and there it was proposed that Kirk's "vacation" in Paris should begin with preaching in the Chapelle Taitbout. He accepted, and so vital were his messages to the English-speaking congregation that the French also sought him to give them the word of life.
In a side street of central Paris---the rue Sainte Anne---Dr. Baird had fitted up a large room used for his executive work, with benches and a platform. It was American Headquarters, the first public meeting place in Paris under solely American auspices. He now turned it into a chapel where his own compatriots could gather to sing and pray and hear the gospel in their own tongue. The result was electric. The eloquence of young Kirk attracted large throngs. American residents and tourists flocked around him. Minister Cass was jubilant. He considered it "an American institution, preventing the youth of our country from being swept away from the morality of their fathers and the love of their country." Mr. Kirk used playfully to call Governor Cass "Deacon".
"The Governor not only used to persuade his friends, American and English, to attend service, but performed the sexton's part in seating the people, often himself sitting on the steps of the desk to accommodate others. It was a strange sight in the midst of gay Paris, the long line of coaches of the nobility and the elite waiting in front of the little chapel every Sabbath."(4)
Lady Granville, wife of the British Ambassador, passed by her own chapel and became an habitual attendant on Dr. Kirk's services. Despite her penchant for biting satire she had a devout nature. "When I am tired and perplexed," she wrote to her sister, "I say my prayers and read my Bible." She admired Dr. Kirk's sincerity and was moved by his unstudied appeal to both reason and the emotions. His voice was mellow and rich, disciplined to clarity of enunciation without clamor. He spoke extempore but not without written preparation.
It was remarked that the daughters of the American Minister were not seen at the British Embassy receptions, and gossip set down as the reason the supposed anti-British feeling of their father who had won his military rank in the war of 1812. "This did not render him less acceptable to the French, whose memories of Waterloo were still green."(5) Be this as it may the American Minister's daughters and Lady Granville might have been seen Sunday after Sunday sitting side by side on the hard benches of the bare little American chapel.
Wrote Dr. Kirk, in later years : "I must pay a tribute to Governor Cass's amiable family whose kind civilities were so agreeable to me in that land of strangers; and none of them will think it invidious if I should mention with special interest that amiable, modest, godly woman, the wife and mother, who gave to Europeans so beautiful an exhibition of the spirit of Christ in her high position."
The American Minister took an early opportunity to present his pastor to the King. Writing to his sister January 9, 1838, Edward Kirk describes the affair:
"I have postponed writing till this evening supposing that you would be interested in hearing the report of my presentation at the Court of France. Understanding from Governor Cass that I might go in a black dress with white gloves, I determined to be introduced to the Royal family. I went with eight or ten Americans. We passed through the long suite of rooms in the Tuileries, brilliantly lighted, with a livened usher at each door. After waiting half an hour in the salon which contains the throne, we were arranged in single file all around the room under our respective ambassadors...
"The Royal family was at last ushered in. First the King receives each person by name. The Queen follows, the Princess Clementine leaning on her arm. She speaks to each one, the princess merely bowing. Then the Princess Adelaide, the King's sister, follows. And finally the heir apparent, the Duke of Orleans.
"The King asked me what part of New York I was from ; stated that he had never seen Albany. Mr. Cass observed to him that I had not a sword because I was a clergyman.
"'That is just as it should be,' he remarked. I said that by his majesty's clemency I was permitted to appear in my simple garb.
"'I am delighted to see you here,' he said. The Queen male remarks upon the propriety of my appearing in the robes of peace ; so did the Duke. The King and his son were in uniform ; the ladies were dressed simply, the two elder having little riding hats with the rim turned up in front, and feathers... the princess with a hat and a white boa around her neck... This Court is the most simple and unostentatious that France has had for years. Think what it was under Napoleon! Tomorrow night comes the grand ball, to which I am invited of course from having been presented tonight. But I will not go."(6)
A no less interesting but totally different experience was Kirk's association with an old friend, Samuel Finley Breese Morse. Morse had been pursuing his studies at the Louvre, copying in miniature some of its most valuable treasures. His artistic instincts, however, gave way to his interest in science. He had been developing his telegraph instrument, and at the time of Dr. Kirk's arrival in Paris, was endeavoring to interest the French Government in his invention. Morse invited Kirk to room with him, and together they discussed the details of the new and wonderful instrument.
Kirk notes in his diary that "when the model telegraph had been set up in our rooms, Mr. Morse desired to exhibit it to the savants of Paris, but as he had less of the talking propensity than myself, I was made the grand exhibitor... For weeks we received the visits of distinguished visitors and strangers to whom I explained the principles and operations of the telegraph,... creating a deep sensation of delighted wonder." Such famous men as Humboldt, Arago and Daguerre were among the visitors.
Eventually the French Government granted Morse a patent, but he realised nothing from it.
It might be stated here that the eminent inventor resided in Paris in 1866 and 1867. His daughter, Mrs. Leila Morse Rummel, is still living in Paris and gives her recollections of the connection of the Morse family with the American Chapel, as follows: "I lived then (a girl of sixteen)---with my parents in an apartment in. the Avenue du Roi de Rome (now Avenue Kléber), and we had a pew in the Rue de Berri church for those two winters. We never missed a service. I think the name of the pastor was then Eldridge, and on his asking one day for volunteers to begin the first Sunday School of the church, I was very happy to take charge of the first 'Infant Class' of the new Sunday School and kept it for two winters."
Kirk was anxious to realize his dream of a visit to the Holy Land. "But," he wrote "I am afraid want of time and money will disappoint my hopes."
The rue Sainte Anne Chapel was abandoned on the departure of Baird, and Kirk went to the Chapelle Taitbout, holding services in both English and French. Thomas Waddington, the English manufacturer had taken the place of Wilder in the many activities---missions and schools---which had been organized in this period. Wilder had been his closest friend until the former's return to New York in 1823. Mr. Waddington was a tower of strength at the Taitbout chapel. His son William, afterward Prime Minister of the French Republic after 1870, received his religious training in the Sunday School. Mary King Waddington, daughter of Rufus King, minister of America to the Papal States, married William and shared with him a distinguished career at the courts of Europe, as her charming "Memoirs" so well relate.
The spring of 1839 finds Edward Kirk in Rome. During the weeks spent there he studied every great monument of art, every temple and palace, and recorded his impressions in his voluminous diary. Then on to the important cities and points of historic interest throughout Italy, making copious notes of his impressions. He spent some time in Geneva, making friends among the Swiss pastors, and, returning to Paris, plunged once more into the pastoral duties that crowded upon his mind and heart.
The regime of Louis Philippe was attracting an increasing number of wealthy Americans to Paris, and among them was one of the most picturesque personalities who ever came to spend money with lavish prodigality.
This was the celebrated Colonel Thorn. A former purser in the United States Navy, he had married a fortune and enjoyed an income---enormous in those days---of a hundred thousand dollars a year. He leased the Hotel Monaco in the aristocratic Faubourg St. Germain, owned by the King's sister Princesse Adelaide, and formerly occupied by Talleyrand.
Thorn lived like a prince, his equipages vying with royalty in magnificence. Although the American Minister and his family were devoted members of Dr. Kirk's American mission, the simple evangelicalism of the Taitbout Chapel did not attract Colonel Thorn, who, in keeping with royalty, must have a chapel of his own.
Although Colonel Thorn relied on clergymen of the Church of England for the conduct of worship he had imported American Episcopal prayer books. On his return to America he presented the prayer books to the English chapel of the Rev Lewis Way.
Charles Sumner, the distinguished statesman, who was destined for forty years to play a leading part in American history, tells of his visit to the Thorn chapel March 11, 1838:
"I went to church in the chapel of Colonel Thorn. The Colonel lives so en prince that he has his private chapel and chaplain, and all the world are at liberty to enjoy them. The room is not larger than a good-sized salon ; it is furnished very neatly with a handsome carpet and chairs and a pretty desk and pulpit. The American Episcopal service was used ; the prayer ran for the President of the United States, the King of France and the Queen of England, in that order."
In September 1839 Edward Kirk, after his two years of "rest and study" set his face towards home. There were some regrets in his mind, more among those who had learned to value and love him as pastor and friend.
"However I may have failed," he wrote, "in the main object there certainly resulted a great impulse to the intellectual faculties."
Results he was unable at that time to appraise were to appear in after years.
GENERAL Cass and his American associates in the Chapelle Taitbout considered the going of Edward Kirk to be a great blow to their hopes of having a resident minister. Without assistance from outside they were unable to support one, and the French Association of New York, (Foreign Evangelical Society) was at that time without means for this purpose.
But it must not be supposed that Americans in Paris were lacking in community worship. The Chapelle Taitbout continued to enjoy the services of the devoted Mark Wilks, and was a spiritual center of evangelicalism long after he terminated his pastorate in 1848. Wilks retired to London but made frequent visits to his English-Scottish-American flock until his death in 1854.
In 1840 Dr. Baird sent over Ezra Eastman Adams as Chaplain for the American sailors at the port of Le Havre. During his ten years service there he would often come to Paris and supply at the Chapelle Taitbout, as did also the Rev. Mr. Croggon, an Irish Wesleyan who was looking after the religious welfare of the British workmen at Charenton, a suburb of Paris. Thus the Evangelical group could hear the Gospel in their own language with more or less regularity. The Episcopalians mingled with their English brethren of the Anglican Church at the private Chapel of Colonel Thorn and the public service of the Rev. Lewis Way. There was also a Quaker Meeting maintained by the Darbyist brothers in the Cité de Retiro, near the rue Royale. The American Baptists had begun a mission to the French, and their American director, the Rev. Erastus Willard, after 1850, began an English service for members of that denomination. Both he and his associate, Mr. Devan, served the parishioners of the Chapelle Taitbout. The Presbyterian Church of Scotland was for several years accorded the use of the "Upper Room" of the Oratoire.
In addition to these more or less isolated groups there continued open house and cordial welcome at the Chapelle Taitbout which was owned by the Eglise Réformée Evangélique, where, after the liberty granted in the establishment of the Republic in 1848, Frederic Monod, (son of the Jean Monod, who had opened the Oratoire to the American Meetings in 1816), had a devoted following. Many Americans of that day felt more at home with their brethren of the independent French Church than with their own countrymen of the Anglican order. It was this group that was so sympathetic toward the "Union Church" idea, as it was afterward developed in the American Church in the rue de Berri.
Mention should here be made, as part of this narrative, of the establishing of the Anglican Chapel in the rue d'Aguesseau. Bishop Luscombe, of the Church of England, who had lived in Paris from the days of Minister Cass, as Chaplain of the British Embassy, now bought for himself and opened a new chapel in the rue d'Aguesseau, with the help of his English and American friends, in the year 1847. His health failing, he sold the property for a life annuity to another Anglican clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Chaumier.
The latter, in a desperate effort to support himself and the work, devised the scheme of charging an admission fee of one franc per worshipper. This expedient ultimately produced a strong reaction and was apparently one of the causes of a disagreement between priest and people. Calling a special meeting of his parishioners, Mr. Chaumier proposed that the English members of the Congregation take the chapel off his hands by purchase. The offer was summarily rejected. The distracted parson then closed the chapel and in 1856 offered it to an influential American, Dr. Thomas W. Evans, dentist to the royal family.
Dr. Evans was born in Philadelphia in 1820,(7) establishing himself in Paris in November 1847, having been encouraged to settle in Paris by his compatriot, Cyrus J. Brewster.
Dr. Evans was greatly impressed with the desirability of erecting a chapel for Americans in Paris as he foresaw the continued growth of the American colony. Unlike many a professional man he had a keen business sense and was familiar with the advancing values of real estate. Though the price asked for the property in the rue d'Aguesseau was high, he arranged for an option, considering the time ripe for a bold move.
Shortly before this interesting episode, there had been a merger of missionary societies in America, bringing into being a new organization known as "The American and Foreign Christian Union." The societies merged were "The French Association" (now "Foreign Evangelical Society"), "The American Protestant Society," and "The Christian Alliance." The new society, becoming very active, was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York and succeeded to the activities formerly undertaken by the smaller groups. Dr. Robert Baird, now returned to America, became the energetic Corresponding Secretary.
WE must briefly sketch the immediate background of Edward Kirk's career, dating from his return to America in 1839 until what might be called the crowning year of his life---that in which he founded the American Church in Paris.
Upon his arrival in New York, Dr. Baird persuaded him to accept the secretaryship of the Foreign Evangelical Society which had succeeded to the work of the French Association. This task he combined with preaching tours throughout the Atlantic States. He was in great demand for revival meetings in the large cities where he moved great audiences with his fervent Gospel messages. In 1842 Boston claimed him for her own. He was called to the pastorate of the Mount Vernon Congregational Church where he was regarded as one of the outstanding preachers of his time.
When the Ecumenical Council of Protestant Churches met in London in 1846, Dr. Kirk was sent as a representative of the Mount Vernon Church along with one of his Deacons, Daniel Safford. The preparatory meeting of the Ecumenical Council had been held a few years before in the city of Liverpool. The objective of this movement was the closer union of the Protestant churches both in Europe and America. This movement, eventuating in the organization of the "World's Evangelical Alliance", was the object of much suspicion on the part of Roman Catholic leaders who feared lest this might be a sinister attempt of the Protestants to gain undue control and to foment political revolution, especially in Italy. One of the Boston papers expressed the opinion that "the governments of Italy would have the right to demand the suppression of this Alliance, and in case it did not suppress it, to vindicate themselves by hanging or imprisoning any American citizen they could find within their dominions... All ardent minds, all young enthusiasms will enroll themselves under its banner, and follow the Rev. E. N. Kirk of Mount Vernon Church, in Boston, as generalissimo, to the demolition of the time-battered church, which has withstood all the beating of the winds and waves of Paganism." By this it appears that Dr. Kirk's influence for good or evil was taker very seriously, his leadership at the age of forty-four being recognized by both Protestants and Catholics.
At the meetings in London he made friends with the leaders of Protestantism in Europe-Baptist Noël, Bickersteth, Tholuck, Adolphe Monod, and others. He spent a part of June in Paris where he experienced "deep enthusiasm inspired by the memories of his sojourn there eight years before". Jean Monod, patriarch of the Oratoire and host of the "Upper Room", was then living to greet and embrace him. Paris had become a part of his very soul, "gay, wicked, learned, royal Paris," as he called it. Its charm had intrigued him as it has intrigued all who come to Paris. But its haunting loveliness spoke to him in terms of spiritual need. Its beguilement was the cry of souls. "One may live in Paris and feel that he is in a world without souls," he said. "One may live in Paris and find a thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
In the fall of 1846 he was back in the Mount Vernon pulpit. He had become an international character. London, Paris, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, came daily to his door through a wide correspondence.
Dr. Kirk had served the Mount Vernon Church fourteen years when the overture from the American and Foreign Christian Union came for him to "proceed to Paris for five months as a special commissioner to attend to the establishment of an American congregation and house of worship" in that city.
He was assured that he was "better qualified than any other person." Reluctantly giving its consent to his acceptance, Mount Vernon Church secured his promise to return to his American pulpit after he had accomplished his mission.
Dr. Kirk sailed on the steamer "Asia," arriving in Paris February 6, 1857. He called immediately upon the member of the Committee appointed to raise subscriptions, Mr. J. R. Curtis, finding at the latter's office a letter requesting him to call without delay on Dr. Thomas Evans. From him Dr. Kirk learned that the Church in the rue d'Aguesseau was held subject to his decision, but that a serious complication had arisen. The British constituency of the English Chapel had been profoundly shocked by the turn of events, the repercussions being felt even in royal circles. Her Majesty Queen Victoria had expressed her amazement and requested Lord Cowley, British Ambassador in Paris, to bend all his efforts toward the prevention of the sale.
The two Americans proceeded to the British Embassy where the Ambassador, with much feeling, requested a withdrawal from the situation by the Americans. It was the expressed wish of her gracious Majesty that negotiations should proceed no further. Dr. Kirk gave the only answer possible under the circumstances : "My Lord, you may be assured that nothing will be done by me that shall give needless offense to our English brothers ; but while your lordship is acting under grave responsibilities, I, in a more limited sphere, equally represent the rights and interests of others." The final correspondence in the case follows
Paris, Feb. 20, 1857.
To his Excellency Lord Cowley, British Ambassador, Paris
My Lord, I am happy in the privilege of congratulating Your Excellency on the issue of our negotiations in reference to the Chapel in the rue d'Aguesseau. A source of inquietude to the worshippers in that edifice has thus been removed, and what might have been an occasion of national animosity has been taken out of the way. Let us thankfully recognize the guidance of Him from whom proceed all good dispensations and all favorable events.
In returning the accompanying volume with thanks for the favor of perusing it, permit me to assure you that the considerateness and kindness with which your lordship has acted in all the trying circumstances of this affair, are fully appreciated by
EDWARD N. KIRK.
Paris, Feb. 21, 1857.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday's post, in which you are kind enough to congratulate me on the issue of the negotiations in reference to the Chapel in the rue d'Aguesseau. I shall never forget the spirit of moderation and conciliation which you and others have shown during the progress of them, and which prove you to be true sons of that great Nation whence missionaries for the propagation of religious truth are spread over the world.
I trust that the Church which you are come to found will soon rear its head and under the Blessing of Divine Providence become a source of benefit and blessing to your countrymen.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obed't Serv't,
The same day on which Lord Cowley's reply was written the Honorable John Y. Mason, American Minister, wrote to Count Walewski, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, informing him of the desire of his countrymen to "purchase a site, erect a chapel and establish it as a place of regular Christian Worship." He requested the Imperial Government of France to "take the necessary measures to enable the Reverend Doctor Kirk to purchase and hold to himself and his successors as Pastors of said chapel, the land necessary for the site, with the Chapel when erected, and to conduct worship at the same, according to the Protestant faith."
In due course a permit was issued as requested, with one restriction added, namely that no services should be conducted in the French language. This restriction was supposed to be a concession to priestly apprehension that the Americans were planning a proselytizing enterprise, but there is no evidence to bear out this supposition.
Dr. Kirk and Dr. Evans lost no time in searching for a suitable location. In his report to the Building Committee, on March 2, Dr. Kirk says:
"The first eligible position we could find was on the Rond-Point. Here the land was held at prices entirely beyond our means, present or prospective. The rue du Cirque presented the next eligible lot but that we found to be held at 500 to 600 francs the meter. Thus we were driven still further from the center of the city. We found in the rue de Berri two sites. The one was held at 250 francs the meter, the other at 170. This appeared to offer the last hope that we could find a site at all within our prospective means of purchase. We then employed an architect to draw a plan of the building with an estimate of cost. This enabled me to make a comparison with the d'Aguesseau property."
This comparison showed that the cost of building in the rue de Berri would be less than the cost of the rue d'Aguesseau property, including repairs, transfer tax, etc. Dr. Kirk defended the criticism that the rue de Berri was too far from the center of the city by declaring that there was good prospect of the "current of population tending toward the west," and that the English pastor, the Rev. Mr. Shedlock, had for eighteen months been endeavoring to persuade the Congregationalists of Great Britain to purchase this very site, 21 rue de Berri, for a Church.
Dr. Kirk's arrival in Paris was on a Friday, and on Sunday he preached in the Chapel Taitbout, reading a notice that it was his purpose to "establish a service and to open as soon as possible a house of worship." Furthermore:
"This is therefore not a Denominational but a Catholic institution and service. With the successful example of our Wesleyan brethren before me I deem the proper course to be the employment of the book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in the United States."
A daily paper of the time speaks of this important occasion as follows:
"On his first Sunday Dr. Kirk preached in the Chapel Taitbout on the Prodigal Son. The congregation on this occasion was not large because it was three o'clock in the afternoon of a remarkably fine day, after a long confinement by bad weather, when most people preferred to go to the Bois de Boulogne in their carriages. But at the end of the sermon it must have been a source of gratification to the minister to find himself surrounded by so many friends, for it seemed that the majority in the congregation were all parishioners from Boston."
The energetic parson did not relish the task of raising the necessary funds, for he says:
"Having once had experience in that hard service, it was my first annoyance to find myself shut up to this unpleasant work. But to the honor of my countrymen I found it only the occasion of forming many very pleasant acquaintances."
His first call was on a gentleman who had already subscribed. This man began to dwell on the difficulties. He was not sure that the enterprise was well conceived. It might be better to wait, possibly to abandon the entire idea. He had grave doubts, and so forth.
The subscription paper was presented to him, the minister remarking
"I have come here to build the American Chapel, Sir, and it is to be built. If you have any reluctance to pay your subscription will you be so kind as to erase your name from this paper."
The subscription was paid and the man became a warm supporter of the cause.
Dr. Kirk's long-cherished desire to visit the Holy Land was now to be fulfilled. The arrangements for the Chapel building had become so far advanced that in the early summer of 1857 he and his great friend, the Rev. R. H. Neale, D. D., of Boston, began their travels, proceeding to Alexandria and then to Jerusalem.
Returning to Paris in the early fall, Dr. Kirk busied himself with the final arrangements for the progress of the building operation, preaching his farewell discourse in the Chapel Taitbout on September 6th. His message, truly eloquent and prophetic, was in part as follows:
"We owe it to our God to recognize Him by erecting here a new house of prayer. We are a Christian nation ; we believe in God ; we believe in Jesus Christ ; we believe in the providence of God as the source of our blessings ; in the Christian Scriptures as the foundation of our institutions, the charter of our freedom ; and it becomes us to erect here a monument to our national faith, and to that faith a national monument. Not a monument to the glory of our republican institutions ; that would be out of place. Not a monument to our great names and great achievements; those are appropriate to our own land. But a monument to the glory of God our Maker, and Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
"And here according to our purpose and our compact the services are to be Christian, simply and purely Christian. That is, they are to be evangelical but never denominational. Just so far as Christian men can agree to compromise some of their denominational peculiarities for the sake of Christian charity and Christian fellowship, so far they may be satisfied with these services. But let it be most definitely understood that, except by a violation of compact, the chapel we are erecting can never become exclusively devoted to the forms of any one sect. Some have complained of this. I glory in it.
"This is the first church the citizens of our republic have erected in Europe, to meet their own religious wants. As an American, I am more rejoiced to see it than to see the proudest monument we ever erected to immortalize the fame of our mechanical skill, our military prowess, or our literary achievements. Here the American Republic declares that she honors God. Here she says to her absent sons, 'Remember the God of your fathers and honor Him among strangers. Remember the Saviour who redeemed you, and honor Him among the nations of the earth. Remember that your dignity is consistent with an unpretending simplicity; that loftiness of principle and purity of manners were the glory of your fathers; that the starting-place of our national greatness was virtue and godliness.' We have erected a noble national monument. Americans, sustain it! And not as a dead monument; but as a living offering to the Author of our being and our blessings."
In connection with the selection and purchase of the rue de Berri site Dr. Kirk refers to two interesting incidents:
"One day, dining at the house of a friend with James Lenox, Esq., of New York, Mr. Lenox remarked: 'It seems to me you have selected the site a little too distant from the centre of the city.' Had I then possessed a prophetic vision, I might have made a very sensible reply : 'The emperor is about to revolutionize Paris architecturally, and extend its western boundary so far as to make the Rue de Berry the real centre of residences.' But having no prophetic vision, I made the perhaps equally sensible reply : 'If Mr. Lenox had been here a month ago and said to me : 'Here are twenty thousand dollars which will enable you to purchase a site in the Rue Royale, the chapel had been located there; but as I had not the twenty thousand dollars, a lot was selected suited to the state of our exchequer.'
"To recur to the interview with the two widows, the owner of the land, and her daughter. We were present, silver in hand, to pay the first installment on the land, give our mortgages, and take the deed. Two features of the interview were quite amusing. The first was, that when the deed had been read the mother remarked: 'I wish you would insert a clause binding the chapel society to forfeit their title to my heirs if that building is ever sold to the Roman Catholics.' 'Madame,' I replied, 'make that clause of iron, if you please. But why do you, a Catholic, insert that ?' Her reply revealed simply her French aversion to anything funereal near her residence. When the last signatures were about to be made, the daughter, turning to me, observed: 'You intend, of course, to pay the pin-money ?' 'Pin-money ?' I replied, 'what do you mean by that ?' 'Why, sir every transfer of property is accompanied by a gift of pin-money to the ladies of the family.' My Yankee blood was stirred, and I believe I spent one hour in discussing that subject with her. I began with logic: 'Madame, I am but an agent; the money is not mine to give. I have made for my employers a fair bargain with your mother to pay a definite sum for her land. I am ready to fulfill my part of the contract when she is ready to fulfill hers. Giving money to you or any one else, has nothing to do with the affair.' 'Sir, it is the custom of our country to pay pin-money, if only a cow is purchased.' I tried the vein of raillery : 'Just think, madame, that your amiable countenance is daguerreotyped on my memory, and I am to carry it through life; and am I always to see an out-stretched beggar-hand, and to hear the cry, 'Pin-Money! Pin-Money!' But her feminine heart responded to nothing but the hope of three or four hundred francs.
"Seeing my efforts vain, I took my hat, bade the ladies good-morning, and nodded to my attendants, retiring with as many bows as a Frenchman from the scene. Now the contest was between mother and daughter. The difficulty was speedily surmounted. Seeing that bag of silver carried from the room, the finer sensibilities of the mother were overcome and a servant was sent to call me back. There was no more about 'l'épingle.' The papers were signed and the site of the American Chapel was secured."
This eminent religious leader and founder of the American Church in Paris was never privileged to return to this scene of his distinguished labors.
As we have seen, it had been decided that Dr. Kirk would take title to the property in his own name, French law not permitting a foreign corporation to own real estate. The American and Foreign Christian Union received the necessary legal documents barring the heirs of Dr. Kirk from succeeding to the ownership, along with a testament by the Doctor bequeathing the property in trust to another individual. His first intention was to transfer title to Anson G. Phelps of the New York firm of Phelps, Dodge and Company, a generous friend of the cause, but he eventually transferred it to Jacob D. Vermilye, a trusted supporter. When legislation was finally accomplished, permitting it to be held in the name of a corporation, it was transferred by Mr. Vermilye to the American and Foreign Christian Union, which had been incorporated under the laws of New York State. The "Association Culturelle" by which name the church is recognized in French law since 1907, enjoys the tenancy of the church property in consideration of the agreement to maintain it in good order and repair, and to pay all the French taxes. This arrangement likewise applies to the newly acquired site on the quai d'Orsay. The American and Foreign Christian Union is also trustee of the Church's endowment fund.
ON the return of Dr. Kirk to Boston in September 1857 the American and Foreign Christian Union urged him to consider the acceptance of the post of Chaplain to the infant church, but he felt that the claims of his Boston flock had right of way. He remained with them until his death, March 7, 1874.
On Dr. Kirk's declination the Union turned to the Reverend Doctor Joseph P. Thompson, the eminent pastor of Broadway Tabernacle New York City, but after serious consideration he felt constrained to decline.
In January 1858 the Reverend R. H. Seeley, a congregational minister of Springfield, Massachusetts, was invited to assume the position. He was said to be "a man of impressive personality, of ability, of earnest religious character and large influence."
Before Mr. Seeley's arrival the local committee had its hands full in forming an organization and attending to the details of the building operation. The first formal meeting of the executive committee was held on February 18, 1858, at the residence of Dr. Thomas W. Evans in what is now the Avenue Foch. The Committee described its functions as follows : "To take charge and manage the local affairs of the house, such as renting the pews, collecting the rents, appointing Organist and Sexton, and doing such other matters as appertain to the convenience of worshippers, and the proper conduct and support of the service held in the chapel." The names of the members of the first Committee were: E. J. Woolsey, chairman; James W. Tucker, Secretary and Treasurer; Dr. Thomas W. Evans, Thomas N. Dale and J. D. B. Tucker.
After many vexatious delays and misunderstandings with contractors the chapel was dedicated on May 2, 1858, Dr. Seeley preaching the sermon. It was printed, but apparently no copy has been preserved. He was assisted in the service by the Rev. Dr. Patton of New York City and the Rev. Dr. Greeves of the Wesleyan chapel of Paris. Following the sermon Pastors Grand-Pierre in behalf of the French Reformed Church, Shedlock for the English Independent Church of Paris, and Fisch in the name of the Free Churches of France not under the Concordat of Napoleon, offered fraternal greetings and congratulations. A full account of this memorable gathering is found in the weekly journal of the French Protestant Church, "Les Archives du Christianisme" for May 22, 1858.
The building cost about $46.000, the organ being presented by Mr. E. J. Woolsey.
Mr. Seeley's pastorate was brief, lasting only until September 1859, but his brilliant preaching brought delighted throngs to the chapel and his stalwart Christian manhood endeared him to the people. A letter written by one of his successors, the Rev. Dr. Beard, read at the Fiftieth Anniversary, is a striking testimony to the power of Mr. Seeley's sermonic appeals. As a human document it is worthy a place in this volume:
"It was on the July 3, 1859 when I made my first acquaintance with the American Chapel in Paris... It had been an exceptional day, even for Paris. Napoleon III was with the French Army in Italy, and the Empress was celebrating with great pomp in Notre-Dame the victory of Solferino. I had attended that function in the forenoon, having somehow obtained entrance to the Cathedral. I might better have been in the American chapel, but the temptation was great, and the somewhat comfortable conscience can sometimes be easily accommodated in Paris. I made peace, however, with myself by deciding that the American Chapel should be attended for the afternoon service.
"I found the Chapel at that time as plain within as it was without, the walls and ceiling undecorated, and the auditorium severely contrasting with what I had seen in the Cathedral. The attendance was not large, probably not more than one hundred persons. The sermon of the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Seeley, whose discourse without manuscript was from the first verse of the Fourth Chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians : 'I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.'
"I mention this to indicate the kind of influence that goes forth from this church, and the way in which this pulpit extends itself . . . . Dr. Seeley proceeded to exalt the dignity and largeness of a life of true consecration. It was quietly spoken, but was like an arrow from a bow drawn at a venture. It hit an unknown person and hit him in the right place. It went straight to his heart. No sermon that he had ever heard had made so profound an impression on him; and when, soon after, he left Paris, it journeyed with him. It swept away his indecisions as to his calling. It went back to New York with him, renewing his purpose to study for the ministry.
"That young man, as he sat in the Chapel that afternoon, reconsidering the great question of life, little thought that twenty-four years after he would be called to the same pastorate, a successor of the preacher who never knew how his sermon had lodged in the heart of the passing stranger, for they never met.
"As the pastor. of this Church I came to learn that incidents like this were not altogether singular. I could mention for example one which occurred during my ministry here of a young graduate of Yale University who, befogged in doubts and questionings, had decided to forego his intention for the ministry and had left the Theological Seminary with a lost faith. In this American Church he recovered his faith, was afterward a Deacon serving in this church, and has since abundantly proved in a fruitful ministry the worthiness of the 'high calling.'
"Yes indeed, this American Church is a unique place for Christian influence. The strangers who pass through these aisles---away from their homes---often present many special reasons in themselves and in their experiences why the Gospel of Christ is the power of God to them. The influences are mainly untraceable, but not infrequently they are as lasting as life itself."
Mr. Seeley left Paris to become the pastor of the North Congregational Church of Haverill, Mass., where his long and successful ministry ended with his death September 7, 1885.
There was never any question as to ecclesiastical relations or control of the new enterprise. In all the appeals for contributions it was thoroughly understood that its sponsor, the American and Foreign Christian Union, was a corporation independent of denominational affiliations, its members being drawn from various evangelical bodies -Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Dutch Reformed. The Union had sent Dr. Kirk over with express instructions to organize a union chapel. This was an inheritance from the days of Dr. Robert Baird in the early years of the century.
But there had been from the first a number of loyal supporters to whom the Episcopal form of service was more appealing than the simpler modes of worship favored by the evangelicals. Dr. Kirk, fully alive to these sentiments, felt it was due them to recognize their devotion to a ritualistic form.
"To the credit of our Episcopal friends my largest receipts for this union evangelical enterprise were from members of that body," wrote the founder. This fact justified him in suggesting that the Episcopal form of service be adopted, which suggestion was heartily concurred in by all concerned. This order was maintained for twelve years. Dr. Hitchcock at a later date observed that "it would doubtless have been in use today had not a separate Episcopal church been organized by our side which drew many away."(8)
Shortly after the departure of Mr. Seeley the Prudential Committee received a communication from the vestry of the Episcopal church of the Holy Trinity, enclosing the following resolutions
Whereas, the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America at its recent meeting at Richmond, Virginia, considered the position of the American Episcopal Church in Paris and by special enactment provided for placing it in legitimate relations with Convention and under the Episcopal jurisdiction and government of the senior Bishop of the church, thus substantiating its existence and commending it to the support of the church at large, and
Whereas, largely increased attendance upon the services of the church admonishes the Vestry of the necessity of immediate measures for providing a larger and worthier place of worship and of availing themselves of the action of the General Convention, thus encouraging the establishment of the church upon a stable and permanent basis, and
Whereas, the Vestry not desiring needlessly to multiply places of public worship for Americans in Paris, would first ascertain the practicability of the views entertained by many members of the congregation and others not of it who have contributed to the erection of the American chapel in the rue de Berri that that chapel might be made available for the services of the church under some equitable arrangement,---it is therefore
Resolved, that a committee of four be appointed to ascertain by conference with the committee of the American chapel in the rue de Berri if any and what arrangement can be made for the use of that chapel for the use of the church---and in the impractibility of such an arrangement to inquire into the probable cost and speediest means for providing a separate and suitable place of public worship and to report at the earliest conclusion of their labors.
Rev. WILLIAM O. LAMSON
WILLIAM H. TOWNSEND
H. J. LANSING
After full discussion pro and con the following resolution was adopted by the Prudential Committee:
"Resolved, That Mr. Curtis as chairman of this Committee be authorized to advise the Committee of the American Episcopal Church in Paris of our happiness to accord them the use of the chapel in the rue de Berri when not occupied for the regular service, with the understanding that should it be deemed advisable, on hearing from the Society in New York, to request them to discontinue their services in the chapel, they will forthwith do so.
On motion it was resolved to invite Mr. Lamson with his congregation to worship with us next Christmas Day and that it be left to the two clergymen to divide the services between them as may seem practicable."
What occurred to mar the beauty and solemnity of the joint Christmas service may never be known. The Prudential Committee records a few days later its "regret at the undignified and unchristian manner in which the service had been conducted." A choice of hours was thereupon offered for separate services with suggestions as to division of current expenses.
Doubtless the petty irritations of Christmas-tide were forgotten in the coming to the chapel in February of the eminent English evangelist, Charles H. Spurgeon. The offerings at his meetings were devoted to the fund being raised to build the great tabernacle for Mr. Spurgeon in London.
In December 1859 Dr. George L. Prentiss, whose long connection with Union Theological Seminary, New York, is still gratefully remembered, was appointed to fill the pulpit until a permanent pastor could be secured. After six months service he was called back to New York to assume the pastorate of the new Church of the Covenant which his friends had built for him on Park Avenue.
A letter written by Dr. Prentiss to Dr. Hitchcock in 1876 gives his impressions of the importance of the place occupied by the chapel in the life of the American colony
"My pastoral services commenced about New Year's day 1860 and continued until after the first Sabbath in June the same year. My health did not permit me to do much more than take charge of the pulpit on the Sabbath, but I carry with me the most delightful memories of those five months in Paris. The attendance at the chapel at least in the morning was excellent. My brief connection with the chapel gave me a very strong feeling of its value and importance as a center of American religious life and influence in Paris. It seemed to me an inestimable blessing to my countrymen and countrywomen sojourning in that metropolis of fashion and pleasure. All I have heard of its history during the eventful years that have since elapsed has only deepened and confirmed the opinions then formed.
"One of its principle founders and most liberal patrons in the days of its early struggles was a very dear friend of mine, the late Anson G. Phelps, Junior. Mr. Phelps did many noble things, but what he did for the American chapel in Paris was, in my view, among his greatest services, if not his greatest service, to the cause of the divine Master he so much loved. 1 am sure you will take delight in doing honor to his memory."
The last living link with the beginning of the work in the rue de Berri chapel was severed on November 12, 1930, by the death of the Baronne des Contes du Bucamps who recently gave a short account of her recollections as follows:
"What memories of my childhood you have awakened My dear mother and grandmother had their pew among the first in the rue de Berri, 1857, '58. I well remember the clergymen of that day-the Seeleys, McClintocks, Sunderlands. The enclosed---I wish it were more---I would like to give in memory of my mother Mrs. J. Cleaves Dodge, my grandmother Mrs. Peter Clarke (who helped in the founding of the church) and my uncle James C. Clarke, who was for several years Secretary of Legation in Paris in the early '60s."(9)
THE ominous cloud which had been gathering over the destinies of the American republic was about to break in the agonizing fury of Civil War.
Dr. John McClintock's pastorate in the American chapel extended over three years of this greatest crisis in our history as a nation. He came in June 1860 and closed his labors in April 1864. For reasons of health he felt unequal to the task unsupported and therefore invited as his assistant the Rev. Andrew Longacre of Philadelphia who accompanied him and remained for two years as a faithful and able coadjutor.
The choice of Dr. McClintock by the American and Foreign Christian Union was an inspired one.
A less wise and tactful man would have wrecked the institution. He combined the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove and brought the precious freightage of troubled souls safe through angry waters.
Since his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania in 1835 McClintock had risen to a position of outstanding importance in the Methodist Church, perhaps the most representative minister of his denomination. For twelve years he had held a professorship in one of those small Christian colleges famous for breeding great men for the ministry and the learned professions Dickinson. He had been eight years editor of the "Methodist Quarterly Review" which he lifted to a position of high scholarship. He dealt fearlessly with the moral aspects of political affairs. He attacked the proposal in Congress to acknowledge the temporal power of the Pope by keeping a legation at the Vatican. He aligned his forces on the side of the abolition of slavery.
Dr. McClintock's scholarship was profound and his literary product prodigious. Sermons, addresses, college text books, theological treatises, flowed from his pen. His monumental work was the "Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature" (McClintock and Strong) which for many years was the standard work of this kind. His Alma Mater, Dickinson College, and Rutgers College honored him with doctorates.
Dr. McClintock found himself in a position of extreme difficulty. He was pastor alike of Northerners and Southerners and some Northerners who were southern sympathizers. Could he and would he endeavor to steer a middle course, suppressing his convictions as a loyal Unionist ? Was it a time to preach the "simple Gospel" shorn of its moral demands upon conscience and conviction ? The course he took is admirably described by the pen of Dr. Hitchcock in his Fiftieth Anniversary sermon:
"It was impossible for a man of Dr. McClintock's character to occupy a neutral position or to conceal his convictions, once formed. Attached, with all his heart to the cause of the Union, he found himself in a position eminently fitted to mould and direct public opinion in Europe in reference to it, and there was abundant need of such moulding and directing. By tongue, pen, on the platform and in the press, he sought to enlighten judgment, shape conviction, stimulate courage and awaken hope.
"He kept the American public well informed as to the state of opinion and feeling in France through the columns of the "Methodist". He boldly challenged the London Times, the oracle of the English aristocracy, and whose thunderings echoed through the land, on the platform of Exeter Hall ; and the Wesleyan ministers, at least, who had come up to their conference, went back to their parishes with minds enlightened as to the principles and issues involved in the conflict.
"But in the Chapel congregation itself, how embarrassing, how difficult, how delicate his position. The South as well as the North was represented and he would be a considerate and helpful pastor to all. But the same views could not please, the same reasoning could not convince all. Education differed; interests conflicted; men argued from different premises. It was impossible to bring them to see alike or to accept the same conclusions. . . . In reading some of his private letters, nothing has touched me more than the keen delight with which he refers to the triumph of Christian love over sectional animosity and the return to the Church of Southern families that had been for a time estranged."
As the Civil war was still in its most critical phase when Dr. McClintock left Paris in 1864, this reconciliation must have been made with him directly. Mr. Longacre gives a few details which are quoted by Dr. Hitchcock
"The actual outbreak of the war carried off from the Chapel many from the South. Until then they had been Dr. McClintock's warmest friends; and even afterwards some of them lingered in the congregation, in spite of his well-known loyalty to the government. One accomplished girl from South Carolina, whose father was minister to Spain he had the happiness of receiving into the church by baptism. Many he visited as Pastor, comforting the sick and burying their dead. Later, when the cutting off of communications with home had brought many of them to want, they turned to him with a confidence that was nobly justified by his untiring efforts to relieve them. To the honor of our countrymen, it may be said that he found the hearts and the purses of the most loyal Americans open to all such appeals."
Dr. McClintock's activities in these fateful years extended far beyond the ordinary duties of pulpit and parish. As a publicist he had had wide experience in America, and now utilized his experience to mould public opinion in France and Britain as well as to keep his American connection informed of the trend of sentiment in Europe.
He was not dealing with an academic question. It was not a mere matter of French and English opinion concerning a conflict far removed. The war had crossed the Atlantic ! The British Government was on the point of recognizing the Confederacy as a separate nation. The Mason and Slidell capture aggravated the situation. Gladstone at the Newcastle dinner virtually announced the Government's policy by declaring that Jefferson Davis had not only made an army and a navy but a nation.
Napoleon III had pronounced sympathies with the South and was supposed to be secretly urging Britain to declare for the Confederacy. Gladstone stated that the French Emperor desired "the severance as a diminution of a dangerous power." Napoleon was only awaiting the action of John Bull before swinging into line against the Yankee menace. The outlook for the Republic was dark indeed. The North could only regard the recognition of the Confederacy by Britain or by France, or both, as a hostile act. President Lincoln, keenly aware of the crisis sent two confidential agents to Britain and France "to avert the danger of foreign war." When foreign intervention seemed almost certain in September '63 our American Minister in London said to Lord John Russell "It would be superfluous for me to point out to your Lordship that this is war."
Borne in upon the soul of this American parson in Paris was the burning conviction that he must do what he could to help save the Union in this critical hour. He proceeded to map out a course of education of French and English opinion which included collaboration with a distinguished and powerful champion of the Union cause in the person of Count Agenor de Gasparin. He was the grandson of that Gasparin remembered in the will of the great Napoleon, and the son of a Peer of France under Louis Philippe. Count Agenor's pen was more than that of a ready writer. It was a rapier. He allied himself with the cause of the American Union and wrote a book setting forth the arguments for the preservation of American liberties under the Stars and Stripes, bearing the title "The Uprising of a Great People." It produced a powerful impression among French readers, and McClintock at once translated it and sent it forth to the English-speaking world.
It is impossible to estimate in precise terms the weight of influence exerted by the pastor of the American Church when the balance turned almost on the weight of a hair. Perhaps history may not record his name as a factor in interpreting to foreigners our conception of American Government and in moulding opinion in favor of the Union. But his was a brave clear voice and a loving heart and he did what he could as a Christian patriot. Who can do more ?
Dr. McClintock's ripe scholarship was eagerly sought by Drew Theological Seminary, on his return to the States, which made him President of the institution, in which capacity he ably served until his death, March 4, 1870.