On my return from Europe, as I have said, I
took up immediately and most buoyantly the work of my new parish. My
previous occupation of various pulpits, whether long or short, had
always been in the role of a substitute. Now, for the first time, I had
a church of my own, and was to stand or fall by the record made in it.
The ink was barely dry on my diploma from the Boston Theological School,
and, as it happened, the little church to which I was called was in the
hands of two warring factions, whose battles furnished the most fervid
interest of the Cape Cod community. But my inexperience disturbed me
not at all, and I was blissfully ignorant of the division in the
congregation. So I entered my new field as trustfully as a child enters
a garden; and though I was in trouble from the beginning, and resigned
three times in startling succession, I ended by remaining seven years.
My appointment did not cause even a lull in
the warfare among my parishioners. Before I had crossed the threshold
of my church I was made to realize that I was shepherd of a divided
flock. Exactly what had caused the original breach I never learned; but
it had widened with time, until it seemed that no peacemaker could build
a bridge large enough to span it. As soon as I arrived in East Dennis
each faction tried to pour into my ears its bitter criticisms of the
other, but I made and consistently followed the safe rule of refusing to
listen to either side, I announced publicly that I would hear no verbal
charges whatever, but that if my two flocks would state their troubles
in writing I would call a board meeting to discuss and pass upon them.
This they both resolutely refused to do (it was apparently the first
time they had ever agreed on any point); and as I steadily declined to
listen to complaints, they devised an original method of putting them
During the regular Thursday-night
prayer-meeting, held about two weeks after my arrival, and at which, of
course, I presided, they voiced their difficulties in public prayer,
loudly and urgently calling upon the Lord to pardon such and such a
liar, mentioning the gentleman by name, and such and such a slanderer,
whose name was also submitted. By the time the prayers were ended there
were few untarnished reputations in the congregation, and I knew,
perforce, what both sides had to say.
The following Thursday night they did the
same thing, filling their prayers with intimate and surprising details
of one another's history, and I endured the situation solely because I
did not know how to meet it. I was still young, and my theological
course had set no guide-posts on roads as new as these. To interfere
with souls in their communion with God seemed impossible; to let them
continue to utter personal attacks in church, under cover of prayer, was
equally impossible. Any course I could follow seemed to lead away from
my new parish, yet both duty and pride made prompt action necessary. By
the time we gathered for the third prayer-meeting I had decided what to
do, and before the services began I rose and addressed my erring
children. I explained that the character of the prayers at our recent
meetings was making us the laughing-stock of the community, that
unbelievers were ridiculing our religion, and that the discipline of the
church was being wrecked; and I ended with these words, each of which I
had carefully weighed: ``Now one of two things must happen. Either you
will stop this kind of praying, or you will remain away from our
meetings. We will hold prayer-meetings on another night, and I shall
refuse ad- mission to any among you who bring personal criticisms into
your public prayers.''
As I had expected it to do, the announcement
created an immediate uproar. Both factions sprang to their feet, trying
to talk at once. The storm raged until I dismissed the congregation,
telling the members that their conduct was an insult to the Lord, and
that I would not listen to either their protests or their prayers. They
went unwillingly, but they went; and the excitement the next day raised
the sick from their beds to talk of it, and swept the length and breadth
of Cape Cod.
The following Sunday the little church held
the largest attendance in its history. Seemingly, every man and woman
in town had come to hear what more I would say about the trouble, but I
ignored the whole matter. I preached the sermon I had prepared, the
subject of which was as remote from church quarrels as our atmosphere
was remote from peace, and my congregation dispersed with expressions of
such artless disappointment that it was all I could do to preserve a
That night, however, the war was brought
into my camp. At the evening meeting the leader of one of the factions
rose to his feet with the obvious purpose of starting trouble. He was a
retired sea-captain, of the ruthless type that knocks a man down with a
belaying-pin, and he made his attack on me in a characteristically
``straight from the shoulder'' fashion. He began with the proposition
that my morning sermon had been ``entirely contrary to the Scriptures,''
and for ten minutes he quoted and misquoted me, hammering in his
points. I let him goon without interruption. Then he added: ``And this
gal comes to this church and under-takes to tell us how we shall pray.
That's a highhanded measure, and I, for one, ain't goin' to stand it. I
want to say right here that I shall pray as I like, when I like, and
where I like. I have prayed in this heavenly way for fifty years before
that gal was born, and she can't dictate to me now!'' By this time the
whole congregation was aroused, and cries of ``Sit down!'' ``Sit
down!'' came from every side of the church. It was a hard moment, but I
was able to rise with some show of dignity. I was hurt through and
through, but my fighting blood was stirring.
``No,'' I said, ``Captain Sears has the
floor. Let him say now all he wishes to say, for it is the last time he
will ever speak at one of our meetings.''
Captain Sears, whose exertions had already
made him apoplectic, turned a darker purple. ``What's that?'' he
shouted. ``What d'ye mean?''
``I mean,'' I replied, ``that I do not
intend to allow you or anybody else to interfere with my meetings. You
are a sea-captain. What would you do to me if I came on board your ship
and started a mutiny in your crew, or tried to give you orders?''
Captain Sears did not reply. He stood
still, with his legs far apart and braced, as he always stood when
talking, but his eyes shifted a little. I answered my own question.
"You would put me ashore or in irons,'' I
reminded him. ``Now, Captain Sears, I intend to put you ashore. I am
the master of this ship. I have set my course, and I mean to follow
it. If you rebel, either you will get out or I will. But until the
board asks for my resignation, I am in command.''
As it happened, I had put my ultimatum in
the one form the old man could understand. He sat down without a word
and stared at me. We sang the Doxology, and I dismissed the meeting.
Again we had omitted prayers. The next day Captain Sears sent me a
letter recalling his subscription toward the support of the church; and
for weeks he remained away from our services, returning under conditions
I will mention later. Even at the time, however, his attack helped
rather than hurt me. At the regular meeting the following Thursday night
no personal criticisms were included in the prayers, and eventually we
had peace. But many battles were lost and won before that happy day
Captain Sears's vacant place among us was
promptly taken by another captain in East Dennis, whose name was also
Sears. A few days after my encounter with the first captain I met the
second on the street. He had never come to church, and I stopped and
invited him to do so. He replied with simple candor.
"I ain't comin','' he told me. "There ain't
no gal that can teach me nothin'.''
"Perhaps you are wrong, Captain Sears,'' I
replied. "I might teach you something.''
"What?'' demanded the captain, with chilling
"Oh,'' I said, cheerfully, "let us say
tolerance, for one thing.''
"Humph!'' muttered the old man. "The Lord
don't want none of your tolerance, and neither do I.''
I laughed. "He doesn't object to
tolerance,'' I said. "Come to church. You can talk, too; and the Lord
will listen to us both.''
To my surprise, the captain came the
following Sunday, and during the seven years I remained in the church he
was one of my strongest supporters and friends. I needed friends, for
my second battle was not slow in following my first. There was, indeed,
barely time between in which to care for the wounded.
We had in East Dennis what was known as the
"Free Religious Group,'' and when some of the members of my congregation
were not wrangling among themselves, they were usually locking horns
with this group. For years, I was told, one of the prime diversions of
the "Free Religious'' faction was to have a dance in our town hall on
the night when we were using it for our annual church fair. The rules of
the church positively prohibited dancing, so the worldly group took
peculiar pleasure in attending the fair, and during the evening in
getting up a dance and whirling about among us, to the horror of our
members. Then they spent the remainder of the year boasting of the
achievement. It came to my ears that they had decided to follow this
pleasing programme at our Christmas church celebration, so I called the
church trustees together and put the situation to them.
"We must either enforce our discipline,'' I
said, "or give it up. Personally I do not object to dancing, but, as
the church has ruled against it, I intend to uphold the church. To
allow these people to make us ridiculous year after year is impossible.
Let us either tell them that they may dance or that they may not dance;
but whatever we tell them, let us make them obey our ruling.''
The trustees were shocked at the mere
suggestion of letting them dance.
"Very well,'' I ended. "Then they shall not
dance. That is understood.''
Captain Crowell, the father of my dead
friend Mrs. Addy, and himself my best man friend, was a strong supporter
of the Free Religious Group. When its members raced to him with the news
that I had said they could not dance at the church's Christmas party,
Captain Crowell laughed good-humoredly and told them to dance as much as
they pleased, cheerfully adding that he would get them out of any
trouble they got into. Knowing my friendship for him, and that I even
owed my church appointment to him, the Free Religious people were
certain that I would never take issue with him on dancing or on any
other point. They made all their preparations for the dance, therefore,
with entire confidence, and boasted that the affair would be the gayest
they had ever arranged. My people began to look at me with sympathy,
and for a time I felt very sorry for myself. It seemed sufficiently
clear that ``the gal'' was to have more trouble.
On the night of the party things went badly
from the first. There was an evident intention among the worst of the
Free Religious Group to embarrass us at every turn. We opened the
exercises with the Lord's Prayer, which this element loudly applauded. A
live kitten was hung high on the Christmas tree, where it squalled
mournfully beyond reach of rescue, and the young men of the outside
group threw cake at one another across the hall. Finally tiring of
these innocent diversions, they began to prepare for their dance, and I
protested. The spokesman of the group waved me to one side. "Captain
Crowell said we could,'' he remarked, airily.
"Captain Crowell,'' I replied, "has no
authority whatever in this matter. The church trustees have decided
that you cannot dance here, and I intend to enforce their ruling.''
It was interesting to observe how rapidly
the men of my congregation disappeared from that hall. Like shadows they
crept along the walls and vanished through the doors. But the
preparations for the dance went merrily on. I walked to the middle of
the room and raised my voice. I was always listened to, for my hearers
always had the hope, usually realized, that I was about to get into more
trouble. ``You are determined to dance,'' I began. "I cannot keep you
from doing so. But I can and will make you regret that you have done
so. The law of the State of Massachusetts is very definite in regard to
religious meetings and religious gatherings. This hall was engaged and
paid for by the Wesleyan Methodist Church, of which I am pastor, and we
have full control of it to-night. Every man and woman who interrupts
our exercises by attempting to dance, or by creating a disturbance of
any kind, will be arrested to-morrow morning.''
Surprise at first, then consternation, swept
through the ranks of the Free Religious Group. They denied the
existence of such a law as I had mentioned, and I promptly read it aloud
to them. The leaders went off into a corner and consulted. By this
time not one man in my parish was left in the hall. As a result of the
consultation in the corner, a committee of the would-be dancers came to
me and suggested a compromise.
"Will you agree to arrest the men only?''
they wanted to know.
"No,'' I declared. "On the contrary, I
shall have the women arrested first! For the women ought to be standing
with me now in the support of law and order, instead of siding with the
hoodlum element you represent.''
That settled it. No girl or woman dared to
go on the dancing-floor, and no man cared to revolve merrily by
himself. A whisper went round, however, that the dance would begin when
I had left. When the clock struck twelve, at which hour, according to
the town rule, the hall had to be closed, I was the last person to leave
it. Then I locked the door myself, and carried the key away with me.
There had been no Free Religious dance that
night. On the following Sunday morning the attendance at my church broke
all previous records. Every seat was occupied and every aisle was
filled. Men and women came from surrounding towns, and strange horses
were tied to all the fences in East Dennis. Every person in that church
was looking for excitement, and this time my congregation got what it
expected. Before I began my sermon I read my resignation, to take
effect at the discretion of the trustees. Then, as it was presumably my
last chance to tell the people and the place what I thought of them, I
spent an hour and a half in fervidly doing so. In my study of English I
had acquired a fairly large vocabulary. I think I used it all that
morning--certainly I tried to. If ever an erring congregation and
community saw themselves as they really were, mine did on that
occasion. I was heartsick, discouraged, and full of resentment and
indignation, which until then had been pent up. Under the arraignment
my people writhed and squirmed. I ended:
"What I am saying hurts you, but in your
hearts you know you deserve every word of it. It is high time you saw
yourselves as you are--a disgrace to the religion you profess and to the
community you live in.''
I was not sure the congregation would let me
finish, but it did. My hearers seemed torn by conflicting sentiments,
in which anger and curiosity led opposing sides. Many of them left the
church in a white fury, but others--more than I had expected--remained
to speak to me and assure me of their sympathy. Once on the streets,
different groups formed and mingled, and all day the little town rocked
with arguments for and against ``the gal.''
Night brought another surprisingly large
attendance. I expected more trouble, and I faced it with difficulty,
for I was very tired. Just as I took my place in the pulpit, Captain
Sears entered the church and walked down the aisle--the Captain Sears
who had left us at my invitation some weeks before and had not since
attended a church service. I was sure he was there to make another
attack on me while I was down, and, expecting the worst, I wearily gave
him his opportunity. The big old fellow stood up, braced himself on
legs far apart, as if he were standing on a slippery deck during a high
sea, and gave the congregation its biggest surprise of the year.
He said he had come to make a confession.
He had been angry with ``the gal'' in the past, as they all knew. But
he had heard about the sermon she had preached that morning, and this
time she was right. It was high time quarreling and backbiting were
stopped. They had been going on too long, and no good could come of
them. Moreover, in all the years he had been a member of that
congregation he had never until now seen the pulpit occupied by a
minister with enough backbone to uphold the discipline of the church.
"I've come here to say I'm with the gal,''
he ended. "Put me down for my original subscription and ten dollars
So we had the old man back again. He was a
tower of strength, and he stood by me faithfully until he died. The
trustees would not accept my resignation (indeed, they refused to
consider it at all), and the congregation, when it had thought things
over, apparently decided that there might be worse things in the pulpit
than ``the gal.'' It was even known to brag of what it called my
"spunk,'' and perhaps it was this quality, rather than any other, which
I most needed in that particular parish at that time. As for me, when
the fight was over I dropped it from my mind, and it had not entered my
thoughts for years, until I began to summon these memories.
At the end of my first six months in East
Dennis I was asked to take on, also, the temporary charge of the
Congregational Church at Dennis, two miles and a half away. I agreed to
do this until a permanent pastor could be found, on condition that I
should preach at Dennis on Sunday afternoons, using the same sermon I
preached in my own pulpit in the morning. The arrangement worked so
well that it lasted for six and a half years--until I resigned from my
East Dennis church. During that period, more-over, I not only carried
the two churches on my shoulders, holding three meetings each Sunday,
but I entered upon and completed a course in the Boston Medical School,
winning my M.D. in 1885, and I also lectured several times a month
during the winter seasons. These were, therefore, among the most
strenuous as well as the most interesting years of my existence, and I
mention the strain of them only to prove my life-long contention, that
congenial work, no matter how much there is of it, has never yet killed
After my battle with the Free Religious
Group things moved much more smoothly in the parish. Captain Crowell,
instead of resenting my defiance of his ruling, helped to reconcile the
divided factions in the church; and though, as I have said, twice
afterward I submitted my resignation, in each case the fight I was
making was for a cause which I firmly believed in and eventually won.
My second resignation was brought about by
the unwillingness of the church to have me exchange pulpits with the one
minister on Cape Cod broad-minded enough to invite me to preach in his
pulpit. I had done so, and had then sent him a return invitation. He
was a gentleman and a scholar, but he was also a Unitarian; and though
my people were willing to let me preach in his church, they were loath
to let him preach in mine. After a surprising amount of discussion my
resignation put a different aspect on the matter; it also led to the
satisfactory ruling that I could exchange pulpits not only with this
minister, but with any other in good standing in his own church.
My third resignation went before the
trustees in consequence of my protest from the pulpit against a small
drinking and gambling saloon in East Dennis; which was rapidly
demoralizing our boys. Theoretically, only "soft drinks'' were sold, but
the gambling was open, and the resort was constantly filled with boys of
all ages. There were influences back of this place which tried to
protect it, and its owner was very popular in the town. After my first
sermon I was waited upon by a committee, that warmly advised me to "let
East Dennis alone'' and confine my criticisms "to saloons in Boston and
other big towns.'' As I had nothing to do with Boston, and much to do
with East Dennis, I preached on that place three Sundays in succession,
and feeling became so intense that I handed in my resignation and
prepared to depart. Then my friends rallied and the resort was
That was my last big struggle. During the
remaining five years of my pastorate on Cape Cod the relations between
my people and myself were wholly harmonious and beautiful. If I have
seemed to dwell too much on these small victories, it must be remembered
that I find in them such comfort as I can. I have not yet won the great
and vital fight of my life, to which I have given myself, heart and
soul, for the past thirty years--the campaign for woman suffrage. I
have seen victories here and there, and shall see more. But when the
ultimate triumph comes--when American women in every state cast their
ballots as naturally as their husbands do--I may not be in this world to
rejoice over it.
It is interesting to remember that during
the strenuous period of the first few months in East Dennis, and
notwithstanding the division in the congregation, we women of the church
got together and repainted and refurnished the building, raising all the
money and doing much of the work ourselves, as the expense of having it
done was prohibitive. We painted the church, and even cut down and
modernized the pulpit. The total cost of material and furniture was not
half so great as the original estimate had indicated, and we had learned
a valuable lesson. After this we spent very little money for labor, but
did our own cleaning, carpet-laying, and the like; and our little
church, if I may be allowed to say so, was a model of neatness and good
I have said that at the end of two years
from the time of my appointment the long-continued warfare in the church
was ended. I was not immediately allowed, however, to bask in an
atmosphere of harmony, for in October, 1880, the celebrated contest over
my ordination took place at the Methodist Protestant Conference in
Tarrytown, New York; and for three days I was a storm-center around
which a large number of truly good and wholly sincere men fought the
fight of their religious lives. Many of them strongly believed that
women were out of place in the ministry. I did not blame them for this
conviction. But I was in the ministry, and I was greatly handicapped by
the fact that, although I was a licensed preacher and a graduate of the
Boston Theological School, I could not, until I had been regularly
ordained, meet all the functions of my office. I could perform the
marriage service, but I could not baptize. I could bury the dead, but I
could not take members into my church. That had to be done by the
presiding elder or by some other minister. I could not administer the
So at the New England Spring Conference of
the Methodist Episcopal Church, held in Boston in 1880, I formally
applied for ordination. At the same time application was made by
another woman-- Miss Anna Oliver--and as a preliminary step we were both
examined by the Conference board, and were formally reported by that
board as fitted for ordination. Our names were therefore presented at
the Conference, over which Bishop Andrews presided, and he immediately
refused to accept them. Miss Oliver and I were sitting together in the
gallery of the church when the bishop announced his decision, and, while
it staggered us, it did not really surprise us. We had been warned of
this gentleman's deep-seated prejudice against women in the ministry.
After the services were over Miss Oliver and
I called on him and asked him what we should do. He told us calmly that
there was nothing for us to do but to get out of the Church. We
reminded him of our years of study and probation, and that I had been
for two years in charge of two churches. He set his thin lips and
replied that there was no place for women in the ministry, and, as he
then evidently considered the interview ended, we left him with heavy
hearts. While we were walking slowly away, Miss Oliver confided to me
that she did not intend to leave the Church. Instead, she told me, she
would stay in and fight the matter of her ordination to a finish. I,
however, felt differently. I had done considerable fighting during the
past two years, and my heart and soul were weary. I said: "I shall get
out, I am no better and no stronger than a man, and it is all a man can
do to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil, without fighting his
Church as well. I do not intend to fight my Church. But I am called to
preach the gospel; and if I cannot preach it in my own Church, I will
certainly preach it in some other Church!''
As if in response to this outburst, a young
minister named Mark Trafton soon called to see me. He had been present
at our Conference, he had seen my Church refuse to ordain me, and he had
come to suggest that I apply for ordination in his Church--the Methodist
Protestant. To leave my Church, even though urged to do so by its
appointed spokesman, seemed a radical step. Before taking this I
appealed from the decision of the Conference to the General Conference
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which held its session that year in
Cincinnati, Ohio. Miss Oliver also appealed, and again we were both
refused ordination, the General Conference voting to sustain Bishop
Andrews in his decision. Not content with this achievement, the
Conference even took a backward step. It deprived us of the right to be
licensed as local preachers. After this blow I recalled with gratitude
the Reverend Mark Trafton's excellent advice, and I immediately applied
for ordination in the Methodist Protestant Church. My name was
presented at the Conference held in Tarrytown in October, 1880, and the
fight was on.
During these Conferences it is customary for
each candidate to retire while the discussion of his individual fitness
for ordination is in progress. When my name came up I was asked, as my
predecessors had been, to leave the room for a few moments. I went into
an anteroom and waited--a half-hour, an hour, all afternoon, all
evening, and still the battle raged. I varied the monotony of sitting
in the ante-room by strolls around Tarrytown, and I think I learned to
know its every stone and turn.
The next day passed in the same way. At
last, late on Saturday night, it was suddenly announced by my opponents
that I was not even a member of the Church in which I had applied for
ordination. The statement created consternation among my friends. None
of us had thought of that! The bomb, timed to explode at the very end
of the session, threatened to destroy all my hopes. Of course, my
opponents had reasoned, it would be too late for me to do anything, and
my name would be dropped.
But it was not too late. Dr. Lyman Davis,
the pastor of the Methodist Protestant Church in Tarrytown, was very
friendly toward me and my ordination, and he proved his friendship in a
singularly prompt and efficient fashion. Late as it was, he immediately
called together the trustees of his church, and they responded. To them
I made my application for church membership, which they accepted within
five minutes. I was now a member of the Church, but it was too late to
obtain any further action from the Conference. The next day, Sunday,
all the men who had applied for ordination were ordained, and I was left
On Monday morning, however, when the
Conference met in its final business session, my case was reopened, and
I was eventually called before the members to answer questions. Some of
these were extremely interesting, and several of the episodes that
occurred were very amusing. One old gentleman I can see as I write. He
was greatly excited, and he led the opposition by racing up and down the
aisles, quoting from the Scriptures to prove his case against women
ministers. As he ran about he had a trick of putting his arms under the
back of his coat, making his coat-tails stand out like wings and
incidentally revealing two long white tapestrings belonging to a flannel
undergarment. Even in the painful stress of those hours I observed with
interest how beautifully those tape-strings were ironed!
I was there to answer any questions that
were asked of me, and the questions came like hail-stones in a sudden
summer storm."Paul said, 'Wives, obey your husbands,' '' shouted my old
man of the coat-tails. ``Suppose your husband should refuse to allow
you to preach? What then?''
"In the first place,'' I answered, "Paul did
not say so, according to the Scriptures. But even if he did, it would
not concern me, for I am a spinster.''
The old man looked me over. "You might
marry some day,'' he predicted, cautiously.
"Possibly,'' I admitted. "Wiser women than
I am have married. But it is equally possible that I might marry a man
who would command me to preach; and in that case I want to be all ready
to obey him.''
At this another man, a bachelor, also began
to draw from the Scriptures. "An elder,'' he quoted, "shall be the
husband of one wife.'' And he demanded, triumphantly, "How is it
possible for you to be the husband of a wife?''
In response to that I quoted a bit myself.
"Paul said, `Anathema unto him who addeth to or taketh from the
Scriptures,' '' I reminded this gentleman; and added that a twisted
interpretation of the Scriptures was as bad as adding to or taking from
them, and that no one doubted that Paul was warning the elders against
polygamy. Then I went a bit further, for by this time the absurd
character of the questions was getting on my nerves.
"Even if my good brother's interpretation is
correct,'' I said, "he has overlooked two important points. Though he is
an elder, he is also a bachelor; so I am as much of a husband as he
is!'' A good deal of that sort of thing went on. The most satisfactory
episode of the session, to me, was the downfall of three pert young men
who in turn tried to make it appear that as the duty of the Conference
was to provide churches for all its pastors, I might become a burden to
the Church if it proved impossible to provide a pastorate for me. At
that, one of my friends in the council rose to his feet.
"I have had official occasion to examine
into the matter of Miss Shaw's parish and salary,'' he said, "and I know
what salaries the last three speakers are drawing. It may interest the
Conference to know that Miss Shaw's present salary equals the combined
salaries of the three young men who are so afraid she will be a burden
to the Church. If, before being ordained, she can earn three times as
much as they now earn after being ordained, it seems fairly clear that
they will never have to support her. We can only hope that she will
never have to support them.''
The three young ministers subsided into
their seats with painful abruptness, and from that time my opponents
were more careful in their remarks.
Still, many unpleasant things were said, and
too much warmth was shown by both sides. We gained ground through the
day, however, and at the end of the session the Conference, by a large
majority, voted to ordain me.
The ordination service was fixed for the
following evening, and even the gentlemen who had most vigorously
opposed me were not averse to making the occasion a profitable one. The
contention had already enormously advertised the Conference, and the
members now helped the good work along by sending forth widespread
announcements of the result. They also decided that, as the attendance
at the service would be very large, they would take up a collection for
the support of superannuated ministers. The three young men who had
feared I would become a burden were especially active in the matter of
this collection; and, as they had no sense of humor, it did not seem
incongruous to them to use my ordination as a means of raising money for
men who had already become burdens to the Church.
When the great night came (on October 12,
1880), the expected crowd came also. And to the credit of my opponents
I must add that, having lost their fight, they took their defeat in good
part and gracefully assisted in the services. Sitting in one of the
front pews was Mrs. Stiles, the wife of Dr. Stiles, who was
superintendent of the Conference. She was a dear little old lady of
seventy, with a big, maternal heart; and when she saw me rise to walk up
the aisle alone, she immediately rose, too, came to my side, offered me
her arm, and led me to the altar.
The ordination service was very impressive
and beautiful. Its peace and dignity, following the battle that had
raged for days, moved me so deeply that I was nearly overcome. Indeed,
I was on the verge of a breakdown when I was mercifully saved by the
clause in the discipline calling for the pledge all ministers had to
make--that I would not indulge in the use of tobacco. When this vow
fell from my lips a perceptible ripple ran over the congregation.
I was homesick for my Cape Cod parish, and I
returned to East Dennis immediately after my ordination, arriving there
on Saturday night. I knew by the suppressed excitement of my friends
that some surprise awaited me, but I did not learn what it was until I
entered my dear little church the following morning. There I found the
communion-table set forth with a beautiful new communion-service. This
had been purchased during my absence, that I might dedicate it that day
and for the first time administer the sacrament to my people.