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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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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…

CAPTAIN COURAGEOUS

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Drawing of the ketch Intrepid, in a letter of 1804. (Papers of William Henry Allen, mss AN 51, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. Used with permission.)

In the month of May 1801, men acting on orders of Pasha Yusuf Karamanli ceremonially cut down the flag of the United States in the city of Tripoli, beginning four years of hostilities known as the First Barbary War.  In the same month but a world away, Lieutenant Richard Somers was enjoying a brief shore leave, perhaps spending some quiet moments at the old brick homestead bearing his family name, which stands today in Somers Point, Atlantic County.  Read more…

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