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Vincit qui patitur: THE TRIALS OF A GREAT-HEARTED BISHOP

December 6, 2015 Leave a comment
diram qui contudit hydram Ev’n he who crush’d the far-famed Hydra’s rage
notaque fatali portenta labore And dared so long a fateful war to wage
subegit, With monsters dire, those monsters all o’erthrown,
comperit invidiam supremo Found Envy could be quell’d by Death alone.
fine domari. — Horace Ep. 2.1.10-12 Tr. Francis Howes (London 1845)
George Washington Doane, the Bishop of New Jersey 1832-1859, in an early photograph. Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress.

George Washington Doane, Bishop of New Jersey 1832-1859, in an early photograph. Brady-Handy Collection, Library of Congress.

A tale is told that in Burlington, one October morning, a snake met a swift and grisly end beneath the heel of George Washington Doane.

On the streets of a small riverfront city of the mid-1800s, seeing a snake would have been fairly commonplace, but the man in this encounter was far from ordinary. Soon to complete his twentieth year as the bishop of New Jersey, he had long held a place of eminence not only in his church but in the civic and cultural life of the state and nation. Thanks to a rare combination of exceptional intellect, talent and zeal, together with a genial nature and seemingly boundless energy, he was at once venerated and controversial. Any preacher might have thought, as he “kicked the now harmless carcass off the sidewalk, and quietly went on his way,” of the biblical curse on the serpent, doomed to eternal enmity with the human race. But on this day Doane faced a more personal foe: he was fighting for his very survival as a bishop, and this had emerged as a day of destiny.[1]

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Hic inter flumina nota : IN THE STEPS OF THE NEW JERSEY VERGIL

December 5, 2015 1 comment

 

A view of Crosswicks Creek from the former estate of Joseph Bonaparte, Bordentown.

For centuries, familiarity with Vergil’s poetry was such that the employment of his verses in inscriptions could be habitual, even unconscious. While these traces are far less frequent in the Garden State than in places of greater antiquity, the poet is no stranger to our landscape. Most citations still to be found are conscious and deliberate, and each has a story to tell. Read more…

PARSIPPANY’S MUSE

October 11, 2014 Leave a comment
Henry Inman, Unidentified lady, c. 1835. Oil on canvas. Gift of Prosper Guerry, New-York Historical Society, 1951.371.

Henry Inman, Unidentified lady, c. 1835. Oil on canvas. Collection of the New-York Historical Society. Used with permission.

As dusk settled over the dozen or so dwellings clustered along Parsippany Brook, locals and visitors bundled against the cold began to congregate in front of the brick Academy building. This small community had every right to be proud of its theater, newly installed in the school’s upper room, and of the homegrown talent that would bring the night’s dramatic and musical offerings to life. But, while the crowd took its seats in excited anticipation, within the mind of at least one audience member there was much unease. Read more…

THE SOLDIER AND THE SCULPTOR

William Joyce Sewell

A Camden landmark best known as Walt Whitman’s last address, Harleigh Cemetery is also the final resting place of Major-General William Joyce Sewell.  He cast a long shadow in nineteenth-century New Jersey, but is known to very few today.

Sewell, a self-made Irish immigrant who had just settled in Camden when the Civil War broke out, recruited a company of New Jersey Volunteers, was commissioned its captain, and rose to the rank of colonel.  Read more…

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