Page images


consecration on the 25th of July, 1824, with the Rev. Christopher Lipscombe, Fellow of New College, who was nominated to the See of Jamaica, at the hands of the Primate (Dr. Sutton), and the Bishops of London (Dr. Howley), Lincoln ( Dr. Pelham), and Llandaff (Dr. Van Mildert).

The writer of this brief memoir can bear his testimony to the anxious and considerate attention which Bishop Coleridge bestowed (during the interval between his consecration and departure for his diocese) on all the multifarious details connected with the establishment of a new See on sound ecclesiastical principles. At length he sailed in the Herald, on the 16th of December, 1824, and on the 29th of January, 1825, “made the green shores of Barbados, and cast anchor in Carlisle Bay.”

After about seven weeks' residence in Barbados, he started in H. M. S. Eden, sloop of war, on the visitation of his Diocese, which occupied him until the 24th of June. He shortly after returned to England to confer with the authorities as to the condition and necessities of his See; and in Oct. 1825, was united in marriage to Sarah Elizabeth Rennell, daughter of the Very Reverend the Dean of Winchester, and sister to his dearly loved and lamented friend, the pious and exemplary Vicar of Kensington. A son and daughter are the surviving fruits of this happy union.

The pages of a magazine will ill suffice to chronicle the events of Bishop Coleridge's episcopate, which extended over a space of nearly eighteen years. We must be content, then, with glancing at a few of the most striking facts connected with it.

And, first, in regard to the impulse invariably given to the extension of the Church system by the appointment of a Bishop, it may be affirmed, without fear of contradiction, that the results of Bishop Coleridge's exertions far exceeded the most sanguine expectations. Every portion of his scattered Diocese (consisting of thirteen islands and British Guiana) enjoyed, in turn, the benefits of his personal superintendence; for he was usually out on his Visitation-tours during three months of every year. The entire result of his labours cannot be understood without the help of voluminous statistics, but it may be sufficient here to insert an extract from the Address of the Clergy of Barbados on his retirement, which certifies, that in that island alone, since the Bishop's arrival, the number of Clergy had increased from 15 to 31; the places of worship from 14 to 35; the sittings in Church from 5,000 to 22,505; the schools from

1 Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice, were not originally included in the Diocese of Barbados, but were annexed, by letters patent, in 1826.


8 to 83, and the children receiving their education in those schools from 500 to 7,000.

It must be remembered, moreover, that the progress of improvement in Barbados received a sudden check in August, 1831, by the hurricane, which destroyed 8 churches and 7 consecrated chapels, (these last had all been erected since the Bishop's arrival in 1825,) and occasioned a loss of life, estimated at from 3,000 to 5,000. This calamity, however, only served to give fresh energy to the Bishop's exertions. He was to be found moving among the dying and the dead—administering alike to the bodily and spiritual wants of the sufferers

visiting the few remaining churches, which were verted into so many hospitals for the wounded-exercising the public ministrations of the Church (under the overwhelming necessities of the occasion) in the open air, to crowded congregations, who pressed to hear the word of God under the constraining power of His present judgments—and sharing with the houseless and destitute the only apartments of his own private dwelling-place which the fury of the storm had spared.

Just before this visitation, he had succeeded in placing Codrington College on a more strictly Collegiate footing, in conformity with the original intention of its munificent founder. For the first eighty-five years of its existence it had been little more than a school, with varying success; but in 1829 the young pupils were removed to the residence provided for the Chaplain of the Trust estate, and placed under his care; and in 1830, the College was opened for students “ in Physic and Chirurgery as well as Divinity," under the judicious superintendence of the Rev. J. H. Pinder, who now presides so ably over the Theological College at Wells.

In all his arrangements for this important step, the Bishop met with the most liberal co-operation from the Trustees of the Codrington Estates, who fully entered into his design of rearing a native ministry in this seed-plot of the Colonial Church. And most heartily did he exert himself in this labour of love. The College was ever uppermost in his mind. He made a point of visiting it frequently, taking a warm interest in the well-being of the students individually, and opening his house freely to them during the vacations, if they had no home or private friends to receive them. Personal inconvenience or expense was never allowed to thwart his kind intentions. One, who had the best opportunities of judging, described his liberality as unbounded. His words were—“he was for ever giving :" to public institutions—to private charities—to the establishment of numerous Friendly Societies on Church principles, throughout the Diocese, which were blessed with eminent success,--and, above all, in


secret aid to poor and struggling students, who were hereafter to labour in the Lord's vineyard, many of whom are indebted to Bishop Coleridge for assistance, to an extent which the world will never know until “the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books are opened.”

In 1838, the Emancipation Act took full effect, and the safe result of that momentous experiment is the highest testimony that can be borne to the successful labours of the Bishop and Clergy, in disarming the prejudices of the Planters, awakening them to deeper views of their responsibilities, and preparing the minds of the Negroes to receive the boon of freedom with chastened joy. The memorable first of August was “appointed by proclamation for public supplication and thanksgiving to Almighty God for the happy termination of slavery;" and the Bishop set forth authoritatively a form of prayer to be used on that occasion throughout his Diocese. And the first day of freedom was spent, not in boisterous mirth and ungodly revellings, but in attendance on the solemn services of the Church, throughout the islands, and in praising and glorifying “God's holy name, for that it had pleased Him to dispose the Legislature to seal by a public act the deliverance of so large a portion of His servants from the bondage of the body into the full enjoyment of freedom.”--(Special Service.) Great satisfaction was pressed in England at the crisis having passed so favourably, Titles and distinctions were showered in abundance on the civil functionaries who happened to be in office at the time; but the silent working of the Church and her ministers was left for its reward to Him “ that seeth in secret.”

Hitherto the Bishop had enjoyed excellent health in the midst of his great exertions; his strong constitution and temperate habits having apparently resisted all tropical influences. About this time, however, the anxiety of his friends was excited by occasional fainting fits, and other premonitory symptoms, which gave timely warning, that if he would still serve God in his generation, it must be in some other sphere of duty than that to which the prime of his life had been devoted. He felt within himself that he could not maintain the same activity and energy which had hitherto marked his course of action; and he could not endure that the Church should languish through his lassitude, or inability, from physical causes, " to set in order the things that were wanting. He, therefore, judged it more advantageous to his Diocese that he should avail himself of the arrangements which had been originally made for his retirement, if necessary, at the end of ten years from his consecration. He had now held the See for nearly double that term, when he tendered his resignation, which was accepted most unwillingly,

and he was invited to offer his advice as to the future arrangements of his too-extensive Diocese. At his instance, it was determined to divide it into the Sees of Barbados, Antigua, and Guiana, to which his three excellent Archdeacons were appointed by the Crown; and he had the satisfaction of taking part at their consecration in Westminster Abbey, on the Feast of St. Bartholomew, 1842.

Our limits will not admit of any record of the affectionate regrets which accompanied his retirement. Suffice it to say, that one spirit seemed to pervade the whole population of his Diocese, lay as well as clerical. All alike were eager to testify the sense they entertained of the consummate prudence, kindness, and consistency, with which he had exercised the authority committed to him by the Almighty Head of His Church. And the interval which has since elapsed has only strengthened these impressions. The Ecclesiastical Board of Barbados, (comprising all the Clergy, and a Lay Representative, being a communicant, from each vestry in the island,) in the resolutions passed at their first meeting, upon receiving the news of his decease, speak of “ the incalculable and, we trust, imperishable blessings which God in His great mercy was pleased to bestow upon these Colonies through the memorable Episcopate of Bishop Coleridge ;” and one of those on whom his mantle descended, adds this emphatic testimony,—“Deeply, indeed, are the West Indies indebted to him—far more, I think, than is known in England, or well understood even here."

The next six years of Bishop Coleridge's life were spent chiefly at Salston, in the parish of Ottery St. Mary. He was not, however, the man to crown a youth of labour with an age of ease;" but he sedulously devoted himself to taking an active part in the public charities of the neighbourhood, and advocating, from the pulpit and otherwise, the cause of the great Church Societies. One day in every week he attended at the Savings Bank at Exeter, (one of the most important institutions of its kind in the kingdom,) where he usually filled the Chair at the Committee Meetings. Another day, on alternate weeks, he gave up to the Board of Guardians at Honiton, of which he was a most efficient member, from his intimate knowledge of the habits of the poor, and his earnest endeavours to ameliorate their condition by a merciful administration of the Poor Laws.

He was also a trustee of an important charity in his own parish, involving the almost daily distribution of large funds among deserving objects, not receiving Parochial relief. Upon joining the trust, he was mainly instrumental in placing the whole machinery by which it is worked on a more efficient footing; and the interest which he took in its successful operation will be


best estimated by the fact, that he was in the habit of coming purposely from Canterbury, (a distance of not less than 250 miles,) to attend the Quarterly Meetings. So entirely did he make it a point of conscience to perform strictly the duties of any office which he undertook. Nor, in the midst of these engagements, did he lose sight of yet more important obligations. His connexion with his old Diocese, and his successors in the Episcopate, was never suspended. His correspondence on all matters affecting the interests of the Colonial Church was extensive and unremitted. Kindred spirits going forth to fields of labour similar to that which he had quitted, were drawn to Salston for advice and sympathy and encouragement, and that bond of union was thus established between Bishop Coleridge and the various Colonial Sees, which secured for him the unbounded respect and confidence of all those who should look in after years to that noble Institution, over which he was to be soon called to preside, for fresh supplies of labourers in the Lord's vineyard.

He was at length summoned by his earliest friend, (now advanced to the Metropolitan See of Canterbury,) to accept the Wardenship of St. Augustine's College, and he cheerfully obeyed the call. He commenced his residence in the Warden's Lodge in October, 1848, and proceeded to call up students to residence by slow degrees, exercising great caution in the selection, in order that he might gradually form the roos of his Society in accordance with the great object of their collegiate life, and not, by the introduction of too many freshmen at once, expose the infant Institution to the risk of taking its tone and spirit from the new comers, rather than impressing upon them what he desired to be the stamp and character of the great Missionary College of the English Church.

Bishop Coleridge rightly felt that St. Augustine’s “ was not of an age, but for all time, and in all its arrangements he consulted its permanent stability and practical usefulness. The utmost regularity marked the routine of College duties. The meals were put on a plain and economical, but most comfortable system; and the Warden invariably dined in the hall with the students at 2 o'clock. He also said daily prayers in the chapel at 7 A. M. and 9.30 P. M., preached to the students once every Sunday, and (by statute) administered the Holy Communion on all Sundays and holy days.

The curfew bell tolled at 10.30 P. M., which was a signal for all lights within the College being extinguished.

No more satisfactory testimony to the merits of the rising institution can be produced than the following extracts from an interesting letter inserted in the Guardian paper of Decem

« PreviousContinue »